We are going to fly from the US into Frankfurt for the first 10 days of December for the German Christmas market experience. We can choose a few days in each city and I’m thinking Cologne and perhaps Heidelberg, along with the few days we’ll stay in Frankfurt. The train will be our transportation. I’m just beginning to plan, so I’d love some input! We are 68 yrs old and fairly active. Thanks in advance!
It would help to know if you are also flying out of Frankfurt.
We (wife, 2 sisters and self) will be in Germany at the same time but flying into Frankfurt and out of Munich. This is our 5th visit and there are great markets all over Germany. We really like traveling by train as well. There is a little learning curve if you have not done so before; be patient and it works. Target your stops to places that you would like to visit otherwise and take the markets as a bonus.
While you are in Frankfurt, consider taking a walking tour with one this board's participants: Jo. It starts within a couple blocks of the main Christmas Market.
We really liked Würzburg and Mainz, both fairly near Frankfurt. That is not to say that they are better than Cologne (Köln) and Heidelberg.
If you are staying in Frankfurt for a few days, you can easily visit these markets that are an hour or less from Frankfurt: Mainz, Wiesbaden, Limburg, Marburg or Seligenstadt. Heidelberg and Rüdesheim are a bit farther, but they are an easy train ride. These are some smaller markets held the first 10 days of Dec. (not sure if you are staying in Frankfurt at the beginning or the end of your trip)
Idstein – 2-4.12
Büdingen – 30.11-4.12
Gelnhausen – 8-11.12
Choose cities/towns that would appeal to you without a Christmas market. Consider the markets as a bonus.
for example, Jo mentions Limbrug ( Lahn ), a town not really known to American tourists, but worth a visit - I spent 3 days there last trip.
Fellow travelers…your input is much appreciated! We are flying in and out of Frankfurt. I love your suggestions of the smaller towns nearby. We actually prefer small quaint towns! We have an open schedule and can hotel in any of them for a few days. I do appreciate a good Christmas market, but a few of them is plenty. Train travel in Europe is how we prefer to travel, & we have a fair amount of experience with it. Keep the tips coming! I so appreciate them!
Mainz has a truly wonderful Christmas market and is an easy ride from Frankfurt. One destination that I think gets overlooked is Bonn, but we found it fascinating (one of Germany's best museums is there) as well as great Christmas markets, including a medieval market that was so much fun. Koblenz and Trier are also very beautiful and fun, both as destinations in their own right and for their markets. Assuming they have it again this year, Cologne has a VERY small and very kitschy Harbour Christmas market, but I can't help but recommend it with a fond smile. The pirate ship glühwein bar is a scream. Finally, if you can fit in Speyer, it is a wonderful town and a beautiful market. All of these recommendations are based on our Christmas Markets trip last year, and sadly, Heidelberg's was cancelled before we got there. Still, Heidelberg is an amazing base and a stellar destination. With an actual Christmas market I suspect it is off the charts! Happy to help with deeper recommendations if this sounds of interest...
I've heard good things about the Christmas Markets in Stuttgart and Esslingen (suburb of Stuttgart). We are going to both this December, but coming over from Paris. Also has the Mercedes Benz museum for a change of pace.
Hello traveler- My family is originally from Eningen unter Achalm near Stuttgart. I also lived in Germany for three years and have visited frequently over the years, including Christmas. Honestly, Frankfurt is a large business oriented city. I would stay there the night before your flight home but otherwise head out to other places. I am going to the markets this year. I'm going back to Nurenburg because I haven't been in 30 years. I'm also doing Stuttgart, Bamburg, Wurtzburg and Rothenburg. I'll be in Rothenburg December 22-26. Definitely try and find a place outside of Frankfurt for the bulk of your time. The places I've mentioned are an easy train ride away.
We're a few years younger and also fairly active ... planning a little bit more aggressive market trip, going over end of November for 12-13 days, flying into MUC and leaving from FRA ... got the 7 day twin Flexi Pass from DB so will be riding the rails between cities ... visiting a mix of smaller type markets and several of the big ones ... starting with the Munich and Augsburg markets, then on to 7 markets that are north and east of FRA (Cologne, Aachen, Duisburg, Essen, Dortmund, Dusseldorf and Koblenz), then 6 markets west and south (Nuremburg, Stuttgart, Ludwigsburg, Esslingen, Karlsruhe and Mannheim) ... will also be touring some historical places and cathedrals ... here's a few websites to check put for more information ... have a great trip!
DQ, Koblenz spreads their Christmas Market out over several squares in the city. By far the best and most beautiful was the "Baroque Square" at Willi-Hörter-Platz / Rathaushof. Of course, I recommend checking them all out, but I suspect you'll want to linger over this one. It was pretty spectacular.
Strasbourg's market is on most "Best of" lists. It's about 2 hours from Frankfurt.
CNN: 17 best Christmas markets around the world
Travel & Leisure: 10 Best Christmas Markets in Europe
Times of London: Best Christmas markets in Europe for 2022
By far the best and most beautiful was the "Baroque Square" at Willi-Hörter-Platz / Rathaushof.
Thanks for the tip @historiangifford ... I read somewhere Koblenz had several market locations so have the AM Plan, Jesuitenplatz and Gorresplatz on my list ... looks like Willi-Hörter-Platz is right next to Jesuitenplatz so I'll check out the Baroque Square.
Looking forward to seeing the market in Koblenz, plus ride the gondola up to the fortress. There, they have the Christmas Garden, which are popping up all over the country. I think Koblenz may have lots of interesting spots to see.
Looking forward to seeing the market in Koblenz, plus ride the gondola up to the fortress. There, they have the Christmas Garden
Yep, riding the gondola up to the fortress also but didn't know about the Christmas Garden there, that goes on the list now also! ... glad I have an evening plus 1 full day in Koblenz :-)
We have been to several towns for Christmas Markets in Germany and planning to return for two weeks in December. Also, I echo the suggestion that you just spend a minimal amount of time in Frankfurt, maybe stay at the Hamburger Hot Hotel across from the main station for a quick train ride to and from the airport. We recommend Nurnberg, Regensburg, Heidelberg, Cologne, Aachen (easy day trip from Cologne) This year we are returning to Nurnberg, Regensburg, , Heidelberg, Esslingen, Freiburg (maybe a day trip to Staufen). Also, be sure to pick towns with sites to see that interest you during the day hours. The Markets are a fun way to get into the Christmas spirit. Many travelers will suggest just buying your train tickets either ahead or the day of your travel at the station but we have sometimes bought a German train pass for a few days within a month's period so we have the flexibility of choosing our time of departure, etc. Maybe we spend a little more but we do not have to spend time in ticket lines or be bound by a specific departure time. Have a fun trip!! Be sure to pack light but have warm coat, hat, gloves, and scarf!