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Christmas Markets’ Itinerary

We are putting together our third Xmas Markets’ trip ( first one covering Germany) flying in and out of Frankfurt over a 14 day period and all travel will be by train.
We plan to first visit Cologne for two nights, then on to Nuremberg for four nights, but possibly having a one night stay in Wurzburg en route. While in Nuremberg we may pop into Munich for a day and plan a day trip to Rothenburg .Next, we will travel to Heidelberg (unless we stay in Stuttgart and day visit Heidelberg) for three nights from where we will visit Esslingen, Ludwigsburg and Stuttgart on day trips.

Next, we plan a return trip to Strasbourg for two nights and then back to Frankfurt where we will stay a night or two before flying home.
Our trip is somewhat ambitious, but our past Markets’ trips have also covered a lot of ground. We prefer quaint and historic over large cities.
Any suggestions or comments on our itinerary are welcome.

Posted by
2440 posts

I wouldn’t do Munich as a day trip from Nuremberg, but you might consider Regensburg. I’d stay in Stuttgart rather than do it , Esslingen, and Ludwigsburg frm Heidelburg.

Posted by
11 posts

I'm planning a VERY similiar trip. I'm playing to fly in and out of Frankfurt for a 12-13 day trip. It will also be my 3rd Christmas Market trip. My initial plans look like this:
Cologne - 2 nights. Only sight I'm interested in besides the Christmas markets is the Cathedral. On the 2nd day - a day trip to Aachen. I think its about an hour train ride.
Heidelberg - 1 night - been there 20-30 years ago, so this trip is primarily for the Christmas markets.
Stuttgart - 2 nights - Stuttgart Christmas markets and Esslingen
Munich - 3 nights (I have friends to visit there)
Strasbourg - 2 nights - day trip to Colmar
Frankfurt - 1 night - fly home

Might make a stop/half day trip to Ulm, as it is pretty much on a direct route between Stuttgart and Munich.
I've been to Stuttgart long time ago also. So it doesn't hold much interest other than the Christmas Markets. I'd also rather be in a more quaint town than 2 nights in Stuttgart, but travel wise I can't come up with anything.

I've been to Christmas markets in Nuremberg, Rothenburg, Regensburg, and Dresden before. They are all wonderful.

Posted by
6672 posts

I'd also rather be in a more quaint town than 2 nights in Stuttgart,
but travel wise I can't come up with anything.

After Nuremberg, traveling to Heidelberg takes 3.5 - 4 hours with 1-2 transfers. Traveling to Stuttgart OTOH is direct and possible in just over 2 hours. If you want quaint, Esslingen is separated from Stuttgart by only 10 minutes.

My choice would be to book in Esslingen. Day-trip from there to Stuttgart and to Heidelberg; most trips from Esslingen to Heidelberg take 1 - 1.5 hours.

Posted by
113 posts

“Cologne - 2 nights. Only sight I'm interested in besides the Christmas markets is the Cathedral. On the 2nd day - a day trip to Aachen. I think it’s about an hour train ride.”

We are adding a third night to Cologne to allow for jet lag and a day trip to Bonn Christmas Market, but we now will look at Aachen as well or instead for the day trip.
We want very much to carve out a couple of nights for a hotel stay in Rothenburg, but are nervous about struggling with multiple transfers and train platform changes en route from Nuremburg and then onto Stuttgart, Heidelberg or Esslingen, wherever we settle for about four nights before likely heading for Frankfurt a few nights before flying home. As of now, we are dropping Strasbourg. Because we worry about getting hit with a train strike in France on a day we need to travel to and from Strasbourg to Germany. We went through it in 2022 during a France-Belgium Christmas Markets’ Trip. According to information we have found, there will be no train strikes in Germany this year.

Posted by
6672 posts

We want very much to carve out a couple of nights for a hotel stay in
Rothenburg, but are nervous about struggling with multiple transfers
and train platform changes en route from Nuremburg and then onto
Stuttgart, Heidelberg or Esslingen, wherever we settle for about four
nights before likely heading for Frankfurt a few nights before flying
home.

A night or two in Rothenburg of course will mean baggage handling during those changes of train, both on the way to and out of Rothenburg. So if it's the bags that are troubling you, just leave the bags in Nuremberg and make Rothenburg a day trip. In November and December you do not have to sleep in Rothenburg to see Rothenburg after dark! Sunset will be around 4:30 pm.

After dinner there you can still hang out for a while... trains back to Nuremberg are very accommodating to lingerers... leave Rothenburg at 19:05, 20:05, or as late as 22:05, if you wish...

Then head to Stuttgart from Nuremberg when you leave there (you can use one of the DIRECT Regional Express trains to Stuttgart! They come around every 2 hours or so... 8:37? 10:38? 12:34?)

I tend to see MAINZ as a very fine place to visit at Christmas, either as an add-on or as base-town alternative to Frankfurt.

Posted by
2440 posts

If you have never been to Rothenburg, then certainly go, but it’s Christmas market is not much

Posted by
8973 posts

I would certainly plan to spend some time at the Frankfurt market. It has expanded over the last couple of years and is quite a bit better than it used to be. Consider Mainz and Wiesbaden too, or if you have time, the towns of Marburg and Limburg or on the weekends, Bad Homburg. On certain weekends, there will be wonderful markets in Büdingen, Idstein and Hessen Park Open Air Museum.

Posted by
991 posts

Cologne, Nuremberg, and Heidelberg Christmas markets are good. Stuttgart was nothing special this past year. Strasbourg was better than Nuremberg in my opinion (and I lived by Nuremberg for 4 years). Rothenburg odT is pretty when there's snow, but the Christmas market is mainly a weekend thing (unlike the bigger cities).

My suggestion would be Cologne, Koblenz (you should see what they do to Ehrenbreitstein), Mainz, Nuremberg, Heidelberg, Strasbourg. Ulm and Augsburg are okay, but nothing special. Trier is pretty good.