Please sign in to post.

Christmas Markets 2023--Berlin, Saxony, Prague

Who: my husband and I, in our mid-60's. When: November/December 2023 (17 nights) Where: Stayed in Berlin, Leipzig, Seiffen, Freiberg, Goerlitz, Dresden, and Prague. How: Delta flights to Berlin/from Prague via Amsterdam; trains (individual tickets for the end of November, Deutschland Ticket for December), two day car rental for Seiffen. Why? For Christmas Market atmosphere! Shopping was not a priority...so how did we end up with our extra bags packed full?

Berlin (2 nights) Arrived around noon; easily found the S-Bahn station, bought 24 hour passes, and were on our way to our hotel near Savignyplatz. Very easy access to public transit. We stored our luggage, and the desk clerk guided us to a nearby Chinese noodle restaurant. Busy little restaurant crowded with locals. A few flurries of snow off and on...the beginning of below-freezing temperatures that held on until we left Germany. I had purchased tickets for the Christmas Garden at Berlin's Botanischergarten; it was a beautiful evening and the lighting displays were lovely. The next day we were off to opening day for the markets at Charlottenburg Palace, Gendarmenmarkt (held at Bebelplatz), and Breitscheidplatz. Our favorite was Gendarmenmarkt. Tents were set up to create an indoor area for the vendors, a great place to both explore and warm up:). Very nice selection of primarily German-made merchandise. Also visited Ritter Sport and Rausch chocolate shops. Time to open the first shopping bag! Bonus: the memorial at Bebelplatz. We had visited Berlin before, but hadn't seen this. It's not just about the Markets.

Leipzig (3 nights) We REALLY enjoyed Leipzig. We stayed in the Altstadt in Oelssner's Passage. I had purchased Sparpreis tickets for the ICE train, as the journey by regional trains takes nearly twice as long. Lunch at the Panorama Tower; lovely except for the heavy cloud cover. That night was opening night at the Leipzig markets. We liked that the different themed markets were spread out throughout the Altstadt. Very walkable! Heard a group from the Boy's Choir perform at the opening ceremony. VIsited Thomaskirche and the Monument to the Battle of the Nations. Also took a day trip to Quedlinburg; viewed the Quedlinburg Treasure (very interesting history) and strolled the town. It is so beautiful! It was a two-hour train ride from Leipzig; we almost didn't go but were so glad we made Quedlinburg a priority.

Seiffen (1 night) We took the train from Leipzig to Chemnitz, where we picked up a rental car. It was about an hour's drive to Seiffen. The closer we got, the deeper the snow...and deeper...but the roads were very well maintained and my husband didn't mind driving. Stayed at a beautiful lodge a ten minute walk from town, with a view of the iconic church midway between the lodge and town. Would have happily stayed a week! The seasonal Christmas market here is small--because the entire town is a year-round market, with store after store of wooden pyramids, schwiboggen, ornaments, etc. Had a delicious meal at Buntes Haus. On Saturday morning was the "klein" parade--the local miner's band, children of all ages in traditional clothing carrying/pushing/pulling wooden toys. It snowed overnight, so there was about a foot of snow on the ground! So beautiful. On our walk to town we passed a home with a display case of wooden ornaments beside the road; the "Offnen" sign pointed us to the house so in we went. We shopped in a room off the couple's entryway; beautiful hand-crafted ornaments.

Advice: To visit the Erzgebirge (Ore Mountain) area on an Advent weekend, RESERVE EARLY!!! Due to "life events" we couldn't plan this trip until late summer. We would have happily stayed another night. As it was an Advent weekend that wasn't possible--I kept checking for cancellations until our arrival date, but nothing was available anywhere in the area.

To be continued...

Posted by
478 posts

Freiberg (1 night) Returned the car to Chemnitz; then a half-hour train ride to Freiberg. Not enough time here to get a true feel for the town. Made a quick visit to the (crowded) Christmas market, ate an early dinner at the Ratskeller, and attended a concert at the Dom. Beautiful acoustics, and a variety of musicians from Germany and Czech Republic.

Goerlitz (3 nights) Such a beautiful town! Very walkable. Visited the Barockhaus--the library is stunning. We were the only visitors. When we reached the library a docent started explaining its history...in German. I speak some; my husband doesn't. This patient gentleman spoke a few sentences (simplified I'm certain!); I translated for my husband. This went on for quite some time; I actually understood all but one part of his explanation. Guess that Duolingo practice helped:). The Goerlitz Christmas market was spread out throughout the Altstadt. There was a sizeable skating rink. Of all the markets we visited, this had the most enjoyable entertainment--many groups appeared to be families or friends singing or playing instruments. We walked across the bridge to Zgorzelec, Poland and happened upon the Dom Kultury. Lots of students visiting that day! Most of the building was not accessible to us, but there were interesting displays to explain its history. Beautiful views of Goerlitz from the Polish side of the river.

Our daytrip was to Boleslawiec, the home of Polish pottery. We took the train; even though we don't understand Polish we quickly figured out the train was late when everyone went back into the station and that it was on the way when everyone headed back to the platform. Beautiful town square--but when it's 19 degrees outside one doesn't feel like lingering at a cafe:). Did some shopping here--and managed to pack all of it into just one of our two collapsible tote bags. I would love to return and spend some more time exploring this area.

Dresden (4 nights) We had visited Dresden before; this time we stayed in the Neustadt area. Loved it! Just a block to the Augustusplatz market, restaurants, and tram stops. An easy walk across the bridge to the Altstadt. Ten minutes to the Neustadt Station. Visited Pfund's Molkerei and just walked and explored. Heard the Dresden Kreuzchor sing in the Kreuzkirche. Sublime! I preferred the Dresden Christmas Market to Nuremberg's; the booths were individually decorated and it was interesting to see the creative ideas on display. Since we had the Deutschland ticket we took half-day trips to Bautzen and Meissen.

Prague (3 nights) This was our third visit to Prague. It is a beautiful city; we always find more to explore. I would not recommend it just for Christmas markets. There's no comparison to those in Germany! We did find one at Namesti Miru that we enjoyed; we were there on a weekday morning with locals shopping and preschool children viewing the Nativity and the Church (St. Ludmilla's). We stayed just south of the Jewish Quarter. Visited the Strahov Library, the Brevnov Monastery (walked the grounds), and Mala Strana. Generally we just wandered and explored. For our early morning flight home we arranged a transfer through Prague Transport.

Some general observations:

  • Dinner reservations were necessary in most restaurants, even on weeknights and for Saturday lunch. We watched many people get turned away. We made weekend reservations before leaving home; others we made once we arrived.
  • If you want to bring home mugs from the Markets, check the dates on them. I didn't want a mug with the year 2020 or 2021 on it!
  • The Deutschland ticket worked very well. A big thank you to those of you who posted helpful tips based on your experiences.
  • The Saxony tourism website (visitsaxony.com) is very helpful for planning travel in this part of Germany.

A big thank you to all who have previously posted on these cities and towns. Your advice helped to make this a very memorable trip.

Posted by
420 posts

Thanks for the trip report! I'm thinking about planning a Christmas Market trip with my husband for our 45th wedding anniversary this coming December. I'll bookmark your report.

Posted by
8938 posts

Great trip report. So lovely to see someone visit other cities in Germany that do not get a lot of press here on the forum. The markets sound wonderful.