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Christmas markets

What cities are best know for their markets? How far in advance can you get tickets for the Christmas markets?

And do the Christmas markets mean that it's more difficult to find accommodation?

I would like to go to a few cities and see the markets and other sites - I would be travelling by train. I have no desire to rent a car and find parking in the city centres.

Posted by
4675 posts

https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/trip-reports/christmas-markets-switzerland-france-germany-2019

Above is my Trip Report from 2019. It was a truly magical trip. You can find additional info here on the Forum by doing a Search.
Christmas markets originated in Germany, and have been going on for hundreds of years in many of those cities. There are so many markets all over Europe that you will need to just Search and Google and read up on the various markets, to see which catch your interest, and plan a route that is efficient geographically . Train travel worked out very well for us.
Most markets don't sell admission tickets, unless maybe they are indoors or enclosed.
Yes, you are late for securing lodging. In 2019, I found many hotels were already fully booked by June, especially for the weekends.
Each market usually has a website with theme, opening / closing dates and hours.
Mrs Jo here on the Forum is the resident expert, so try to find her posts. She lives in Germany and explores new markets each season.
Good luck with your planning !

https://community.ricksteves.com/users/12707

Posted by
1479 posts

Good Christmas Markets are all over Germany. Best to pick a town that you want to see and then check for markets in the area. We usually fly into Frankfurt and out of Munich with 2 day stops along the way. It would be easy to adjust to the idea of a base city.

We have lived in an area known as Franken (Franconia) and especially like to visit there in Christmas Market season. You might stay in Würzburg (with a castle and an archbishop's residenz). From there you could travel to the famous Nürnberg Market, to Rothenburg ob der Tauber and to Bamberg. All are scenic places with markets. Nürnberg is the one of the most famous markets but can be a mob scene.

We also like Regensburg and its markets. From Regensburg you can visit Landshut and Munich. Regensburg is our favorite Christmas Market Stop. Munich is great as well but the crowd can be overwhelming.

Stuttgart is another good Christmas Market destination. It has one of best big city Christmas markets to my taste and it close to the medieval Christmas Market in Esslingen.

I am sure that others can make great suggestions in the other areas of Germany.

I will repeat that I would pick an area that you want to visit and take the Christmas Markets as frosting on the cake.

Posted by
20 posts

While the most famous Christmas markets are in Germany, there are some good ones elsewhere. We decided just a couple of weeks ago to go to Zagreb and Ljubljana in December, and found hotel options in each town right in the middle of the festivities (we'll be sure to bring our official Rick Steves earplugs so we can sleep at night). I'm hoping crowds are smaller than in Germany , since most people think Germany when they think Christmas markets.

Posted by
160 posts

We've actually found that the off-the-beaten-path Christmas markets are more fun: less touristy, full of locals, nicer products and authentic foods for sale. Our favorites have been in Lisbon and Nice!

Posted by
2303 posts

Most Christmas markets do not require tickets. There are some exceptions - like markers held at castles.

Yes, it is more difficult to find lodging during the markets, and much more expensive. We stayed in Colmar in June and we are returning for the markets in December. The price at the place we stayed more than doubled, so we are staying in Strasbourg (bigger city, more options) and taking the train. Strasbourg is also known for its markets. There are many towns nearby that have markets also.

The timing of your visit is important. Many markets open around 11/27. Many markets in Germany close on 12/23 or 12/24. Some markets in Austria are open until 12/31. You need to look at the official website for each market to be sure.

We are flying into Frankfurt, spending one night then taking the train to Strasbourg for 4 nights, then Cologne for 3 nights. Each city has several markets, plus many more within an hour by train.

Salzburg would be lovely during the markets. It’s a gorgeous city with tons to see any time of year. You could easily combine it with Munich.

Posted by
38 posts

I'm thinking for 2024. I'm not a person that travels on a whim at the last minute. I research and plan. It would be interesting to see the Christmas markets in Slovenia. It a country I haven't been to yet. Though my poor German learned by hearing it is likely better than my long ago high school French and non Existent Slovenian, though in larger towns I would guess many know some English.

Posted by
2188 posts

In Berlin we have so many Christmas markets (link) that you can visit every day one or two during advent time without seeing one twice. The ones in the outskirts are often less partyish and touristy, e. g. Arts and Crafts market in Frohnau.

Posted by
450 posts

A lot of German is spoken in Slovenia, and of course they speak English ;)

Small towns often have markets only on weekends or even on only one weekend, while in the cities the market is open all afternoon/evening every night, though weekends are often quite crowded. So I would recommend visiting cities during the week and smaller places on weekends.

Some favourites of mine include Bremen (especially the Schnoor neighbourhood), Lübeck, and Strasbourg, though perhaps my all time favourite is the Austrian trio of St. Wolfgang, St. Gilgen, and Strobl.