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Best Weihnactmarkts in Germany?

I've seen this discussed here before but not currently on the board. What do people think are the best Weihnachtmarkts? I am liking them way more than I expected (I think it's the Gluhewein!) and am trying to plan for my husband's days off before Christmas to visit two more within a few hours (slow trains!) from Stuttgart. We were considering going to Nuremberg on Saturday, but I have read here that other people think that are nearby ones that are better. I've been to several in Berlin, and in this area, Esslingen (which is fantastic b/c it has a renfaire in it! Totally unexpected and fun!) So, which cities have your favorites? Even if they're not close enough for this year, it's good to keep in mind for next year.

Posted by
12040 posts

"Best" is too subjective for me, but I particularly enjoy the Mannheim Weihnachtsmarkt. The merchandise is the same stuff you find at all the rest, but it's just a fun atmosphere. Crowded but not so crowded that you feel overwhelmed. I probably would have enjoyed the Frankfurt market more, but I could barely move, is was so crowded... even worse, I had my dog with me and she was getting pretty jumpy with all the crush of people. Perhaps it would have been better on a less crowded night.

Posted by
3050 posts

Yeah, unfortunately any sort of trip outside the immediate area we can take will have to be on a weekend so we can use the schoenes wochende ticket so recommendations to not-horrifically-packed markets are especially appreciated. Might be a good reason to nix Nuremberg this year.

Posted by
1633 posts

I just returned from visiting 14 markets in two weeks. I really enjoyed the Mainz market. It had a little bit of everything to purchase with good prices. The lights and decorations were really pretty. Also enjoyed Wurzburg. For small towns, the Ingolstadt market was wonderful. To see pics and more about the ones we went to check out my blog at: www.christmasmarkets2011.blogspot.com

Posted by
19169 posts

"any sort of trip outside the immediate area we can take will have to be on a weekend so we can use the schoenes wochende ticket" On weekdays there is also the Quer durchs Land Ticket, kind of an oversized Länder-Ticket, for travel entirely through the country (Quer durchs Land), like a Länder-Ticket, on regional trains and after 9 AM. Price is a little more than the Schönes Wochenende Ticket, €42 for the first person, €6 more for cotravelers 2-5, so for two people €48 vs €40.

Posted by
9039 posts

Strolled through the Mainz Christmas market today. Didn't seem to be anything special, but the Dom, and St. Stephens are worth the trip. Wiesbaden is pretty. Lots of people like the one in Ruedesheim, due to the location, though the stands leave a lot to be desired IMHO. Just too much tacky, cheap crap. The town is decorated beautifully though. Ride the chairlift up to Germania. You get blankets. Germania is still under scaffolding, but the view up there is great. For this weekend, I would go with Bad Homburg. Tour the palace while there and visit the Erloeser church next door. Fabulous ceilings! This is my list of markets still going on in the Rhine Main area if you are coming this way. * 21 Nov. - 23 Dec. - Rüdesheim Christmas Market * 21 Nov. - 23 Dec. - Darmstadt Christmas Market * 21 Nov. - 23 Dec. - Offenbach Christmas Market * 23 Nov. - 22 Dec. - Frankfurt Christmas Market * 22 Nov. - 23 Dec. - Wiesbaden Twinkling Star Market * 24 Nov. - 23 Dec. - Mainz Christmas Market * 24 Nov. - 22 Dec. - Aschaffenburg Christmas Market * 25 Nov. - 22 Dec. - Hanau Magical Christmas Market * 26 Nov. - 23 Dec. - Limburg Christmas Fair * 27 Nov. - 18 Dec. - Bad Homburg v.d.Hohe Romantic Christmas Market (on Sat. & Sun. only) * 12-18 Dec. - Seligenstadt, Christmas Market Magic
* 17-18 Dec. - Friedrichsdorf, Christmas Market

Posted by
3050 posts

Denise - Thanks for the advice and the link! Lee - That is very helpful information, for some reason my brain skipped when I priced tickets on bahn.com today and I assumed the 48 Euro was per person each way. This opens up our flexibility a bit. Jo - Thanks for the list ! It's funny you mention Bad Homburg, I have a potential job lead based out of there (mostly telecommuting but I think I'd have to visit on a regular basis as well). I'll talk to my husband to see if he's interested in the trip and send you a message!

Posted by
12040 posts

Hey Jo, have you ever been to the Idstein market? I walked around the old town there a few weeks ago (pre-market), and it looked like a fantastic place to hold a market. I also enjoyed the Darmstadt market last year.

Posted by
3696 posts

Just returned a few weeks ago and did a few markets... loved Salzburg(nice market plus lots of great shopping in the Old Town ), Rothenberg (great food and I found it to be more fun than in the summertime), Dinkelsbuhl (really tiny but lots of fun... typical small town type of gathering) Frankfurt (visited with Jo and it was wonderful) and also Heidelberg which was very fun and I also enjoyed it as much in the cold as I have in the summer. Lots of renovations going on at the Castle, so not as beautiful as usual. I could spend lots of time going to these markets, not necessairly for shopping, but just for the Christmas ambience and the food. Have fun! (Wanted to go to Idstein, but ran out of time)

Posted by
9039 posts

We went to the Christmas Market in Idstein last year and loved it. Just about my favorite of all. The Bad Homburg one is really nice too, as it is partly set in the courtyard of the summer palace of Kaiser Wilhelm II. Running out of time this year though. Only 1 more week more or less. The FF market can be a crushing experience! I look at the stands in the morning when it is still rather empty and join one of the fringe stands in the evening for the warm drinks, music, etc.

Posted by
144 posts

I have been to dozens of Weinachtsmarkts, and i never get tired of them ! For me, it is about the experience of just being there - There's just nothing like being outside in the cold nite air, among all the white lights and brightly lit stalls, smelling the cinnamon, the crepes, the hot Glühwein, and watching all the little children all bundled up. Love it all !! A few thoughts: 1). Do go to Nürnberg (next year, if not this one) it is super busy, yes, but there are lots and lots of stalls, and it is really the granddaddy of them all. Must be experienced. 2). If you like Glühwein, the best i have had, by far, is at the market in Leipzig. 3). Regensburg has a regular market in the center of town, but also a more upscale one at the Schloss Thurn u. Taxis. It has an admission charge, but it is an interesting difference between the two. 4). The merchandise IS often similar from one place to another, but in some markets you can find things that you won't see in other areas .... you will notice something distinctive when you see it, like the little figures made from dried fruit, called Zwetschgenmänner, that you find mostly only around Nürnberg, for example.
Some markets are larger than others, some sell more interesting items, but it doesn't matter that much to me ... I just wanna go back to ANY of them ! Sadly, Kathe Wohlfahrt's stall here in Philly will have to do for this year.

Posted by
227 posts

I just returned from 10 days and, except for Nurenburg, covered different markets than I did 3 years ago. I second Laura's comment about Regensberg....especially the shops! I thought the Schloss Thurn u. Taxis Market was really nice. Different experience than most - really a village like atmosphere and the booths were pretty nice! We were there from about 2 in the afternoon till 7:30.....remember to take a tour of the palace. But my favorite stop of all was 3 years ago....Seiffen! Also, the Vienna Markets in very beautiful settings and the booth layouts gorgeous, though the merchandise was pretty much the same.

Posted by
12040 posts

Sarah, don't go out of your way to visit the Heidelberg market, which I saw tonight. I'm usually a big defender of Heidelberg against Mr. Steves' trashing of it, but the market... just left me a little flat. At least they had an ice rink. Forgot to mention the best Christmas market I've ever seen, although it's not in Germany- Winterland in Hasselt, Belgium.

Posted by
676 posts

I've always loved the Trier market, but I'm a lot closer to it than you Sarah! But, there are a lot of other things to do in Trier-Roman things-so maybe next year when you can spend a night and sightsee too. It's especially nice at night with all the lights around the Cathedral.

Posted by
12040 posts

Add another one to the list- Lindau on the Bodensee. I stopped off here briefly over the weekend. The actual market was pretty much par for the course, although they were selling some interesting food specialties from the Allgäu region that I have never seen before. The biggest reason to visit the market, though, is that it sits right on the harbor, which offers one of the most stunning views in all of Germany. Even the most gemütlich fachwerk village can't match the setting of the Lindau harbor... in my humble opinion.

Posted by
485 posts

I just returned from a Christmas tour and loved the markets in Regensburg and in the Schwabing district of Munich. Both markets featured hand-crafted items by local artisans and craftsmen, not the typical stuff seen in the bigger markets. It's nice to have both options.

Posted by
3050 posts

So many great recs, but ran out of time. Did go to Ulm even though no one recommended it, just because I hadn't been there before. They had both a traditional markt and a renfaire, but separated. The combined one in Esslingen am Neckar was much nicer, but I appreciated seeing the cathedral and the Danube. Next year though I'm definitely gonna hit up most of these recommendations. Froehe Weihnachten everyone!