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Christmas Markets-Recommended Stops Between Cities

My husband and I will be visiting Germany from December 7-December 18 flying in and out of Frankfurt and renting a car. Below is our itinerary. We plan to visit Christmas markets in each location as well as a variety of sightseeing. Our interests: Christmas markets, live festive music/theatrical performances, castles, churches/cathedrals. We enjoy unique, cultural experiences. This is our second visit to Germany and we visited Neuschwanstein Castle on our first visit. I have to stay in Frankfurt the first two nights for work, so we're going to explore the Frankfurt markets those nights but are open to visiting close markets we could visit by train as well.
Itinerary: Frankfurt, Weimar, (plan to visit Erfurt on drive to Weimar), Leipzig, Dresden, Nuremberg, Rothenberg, Stuttgart, Frankfurt airport (plan to visit Heidelberg or other recommended Christmas market on drive back to Frankfurt.)
I have two questions:
1. Are there recommended places we should stop on our drive between cities? For instance, unique/recommended Christmas markets, churches/cathedrals or castles?
2. I’ve read about the following Christmas markets, but wonder if anyone has insight or recommendations for Esslingen, Ludwigsburg, Wurzburg, Regensburg, Bayreuth, Bamberg or any other markets and if we should make an effort to stop at any of them?
Thank you! I have done a considerable amount of Googling, reading and planning. There's so much information out there, I greatly appreciate your first-hand knowledge and recommendations.

Posted by
701 posts

I'll send you a PM later, we go over every year. I would recommend flying MultiCity as not to have to circle back to Frankfurt - whose markets aren't that great compared to many others. I'm working now and don't have time to respond, but I'd also recommend a train and NOT a car as parking will be VERY hard. We go yearly and NEVER drive.

Posted by
5726 posts

Our interests: Christmas markets, live festive music/theatrical performances, castles, churches/cathedrals. We enjoy unique, cultural experiences.

Curious... what sort of music and cultural experiences? An example of what you're looking for might trigger some helpful suggestions.

For theater... do you speak/understand German? A general suggestion would be to check the town websites for scheduled events that might interest you. Some pages for Nuremberg and Bamberg:

https://tourismus.nuernberg.de/en/experience/events/
https://en.bamberg.info/veranstaltungen/

Be sure to spell the "b-rg" in Rothenburg with a "u" when you search or you may pull up events, churches, etc. in some other place. like this one:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rothenberg

"...wonder if anyone has insight or recommendations for Esslingen, Ludwigsburg, Wurzburg, Regensburg, Bayreuth, Bamberg or any other markets and if we should make an effort to stop at any of them?"

With the time you have, there's more than enough on your plate if you're doing just the normal tourist things on your stated itinerary. You're planning to visit Heidelberg as well... True, Bamberg, Bayreuth, and Würzburg are not far from your route, and all three are worthwhile, but you may have to subtract some of those concerts, churches, and cultural experiences from your stated itinerary if you're serious about visiting them. It takes time to make time for these places.

Can't see how you'd manage Esslingen, Ludwigsburg, and Regensburg either if your stated itinerary is primary.

Mainz and Rüdesheim, both near FRA airport, have very nice Christmas markets as well as other things to see and do in the event you plan to stay near FRA on either end of your trip.

Posted by
8362 posts

The Frankfurt Christmas market has expanded and in my opinion is a lot nicer now than it used to be. Stop by the Rosa Market, the City Alm market (on top of a parking garage) the market at the Alte Oper and the market in the Thurn and Taxis palace. Head out to the City Forest for the market next to the Goethe Turm. http://sachsenhaeuser-weihnachtsmarkt.de/

Nearby markets that I like a lot would be Mainz, Wiesbaden, Marburg, Limburg, Seligenstadt, and Rüdesheim. Weekends, the market in Bad Homburg and the medieval market in Ronneburg Castle are good too.

Esslingen and Stuttgart are favorites of mine too.

This week am heading to the markets in Worms, Koblenz, Heidelberg, and Ravenna Gorge (torch light tour!), so will report back soon.

Posted by
151 posts

Agree that Mainz is a good one, and very easy to reach from Frankfurt. I'd also recommend a little detour after Stuttgart to visit Speyer. Another great Christmas market as well as two churches worth seeing: the cathedral and The Lutheran Trinity Church. Plus Speyer is a great town for wandering before continuing on to Heidelberg.

Also right on that route back up to Frankfurt is Lorsch and Lorsch Abbey. Definitely recommend the stop to see architecture remarkably preserved from the Carolingian Era (it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site) plus a very good interpretive museum there.

Posted by
3999 posts

I agree that you really should rethink your choice of transportation, doing this trip by train would be much easier.