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Christmas Markets in Germany, 2022

After the weirdness that was the Christmas market season last year, was super excited about this year, plus last year, I had Covid right when the markets started and by the time I could leave the house, Baden Württemburg had shut down their markets already.

Markets visited:
* Frankfurt
* Ravenna Gorge
* Mainz
* Wiesbaden
* Büdingen
* Idstein
* Rüdesheim
* Koblenz (see trip report about Koblenz)
* Gelnhausen
* Offenbach
* Frankfurt Höchst

My absolute favorite was Ravenna Gorge. Took a train there from Frankfurt and stayed overnight in Hinterzarten at a lovely hotel about a 10 min. walk from the station. A single room that included breakfast buffet was 67€. Good deal. Also booked a torch walk for 35€ that began at 16:00, walked to the market, and included the entry fee of 6€ and the shuttle back to Hinterzarten. Something very unique and we laughed so much walking with our torches, being silly. The market itself is stunning, with the high train bridge lit up and the small market under the bridge. Only 40 stands, but all local, regional food, drink, and goods.

I enjoyed the Frankfurt market which has now spread out nicely, as well as the Mainz and Wiesbaden markets about equally. Good number of stands selling crafts, hand-made items and lots of delicious food and drink choices. All 3 are popular with people that live in the Rhein Main region.
The smaller markets of Koblenz and Büdingen were also enjoyable, though Koblenz was a 2-hour train ride which was a bit farther than what I wanted, but really wanted to go to their Christmas Garden, which was another high point this year. Well worth the trip there.
Büdigen is like Rothenburg, but all original, with massive stone walls and towers, 100s of half-timbered buildings, an 8 sided palace and the town does a beautiful, 5 day Christmas market. Lots of hand-made items and great food choices. Regional train from Frankfurt takes about 1 hour, with a switch in Gelnhausen.

Rüdesheim is a favorite of Americans stationed here in Wiesbaden. They call themselves an international Christmas market, but that seems to have really gone by the wayside. Lots of stands, but they were missing the international feel. Except for the Polish pottery, the Mongolian yurt, and carved wood from Jerusalem, everything else seemed to have been made in China? The saving grace here is the gondola ride and going to the Rhein Wein Welt for the wine tasting. There are some small, artisinal shops back in the former Asbach factory, but I think they are only open on the weekends. Lovely, items.

Idstein seemed a bit smaller this year, but still a beautiful town with lots of half-timbered houses and a Hexen Turm. If you go here, make sure to visit the Union church. One of the most unique churches I have seen. Lots of hand-made items here. They had no market the last 2 years.

Offenbach opened really early this year and is small, but it was fun to visit on the 14th of Nov. Mainly food and drink.

Frankfurt Höchst is usually a favorite, but for some reason they jammed the whole market into the space in front of the Justinus church and it was very overfull. Not enjoyable, which is a shame. They usually have a medieval section down in the moat of the schloss, but not this year. Maybe next year?

Gelnhausen also seemed a bit smaller this year, with maybe 20 stands and only a few of them were selling anything. The locals were pouring in by 17:00 though, cause there hadn't been a market here the last 2 years.

Frankfurt has other markets, Gibson Xmas, which is by the Alte Oper and just food and drink, City Christmas on top of a parking garage and again just food and drink, the Market in the City Forest by the Goethe Turm with small rides, a few stands for gifts, food and drink, and in the Thurn and Taxis Palace which just has food and drink.

Posted by
8938 posts

Markets that were on my list to visit, but ran out of time: Worms, Speyer, Obernai, Erfurt, Dresden, Cologne, Dusseldorf, and Berlin.

Have been to Limburg, Marburg, Esslingen, Stuttgart, Colmar and Strassbourg before, but kind of wanted to visit them again. Oh well, there is next year.

Posted by
2394 posts

By ‘torch’ do you mean the American version of the word - an open flame - or the British version - what Americans call a flashlight ?

Posted by
8938 posts

Torches, with fire. I am an American, a torch is always with fire. :-)
It was fun, as this was certainly not anything I had ever done before.

Posted by
3948 posts

Thanks for the wrap up Jo. So much variety in your choices. Hope to come back one of these years for some markets on my to see list too.

Posted by
2446 posts

That hotel in Hinterzarten says something about a card that covers the bus and train during the guest's stay -- what does that mean?

Do you have some kind of train pass that you use to get to these stations or is it one ticket each time?

Posted by
32700 posts

That hotel in Hinterzarten says something about a card that covers the bus and train during the guest's stay

KONUS card - the whole of the Bundesland

Posted by
413 posts

@Ms. Jo, I was in Berlin last week and went to a few markets. Not as many as I had hoped - it was so cold and we were sightseeing all day, and several nights just wanted to go back to our apartment hotel and be warm.

The first one I went to alone - the market at Kaiser Wilhem Memorial Church. We were staying in Wilmersdorf, so it was an easy bus ride. I have to say, it was a little disappointing. It's bounded on one side by the church, which is lovely, but at the other end is a neon-lit multi-level shopping center. Not very atmospheric. Many of the stands were typical tourist souvenirs - Berlin shotglasses and sweatshirts and whatnot. The piped in music was largely of the overplayed American variety. It's a large market, was quite crowded with large groups, and there's plenty to eat and drink but it didn't feel authentic.

The next day we were at the Kulturbrauerei. I'm not sure what neighborhood that's in - Prenzlauer Berg? We were visiting the Everyday Life in the DDR exhibit, and when we left the museum, the Lucia Christmas Market was just opening in the courtyard. It's a very small, Scandinavian market but very charming. Reindeer sausages, glogg, a small merry go round, Nordic atmosphere. Saint Lucia herself was supposed to visit the market later, but we didn't want to stay that long.

The last one we went to was the market that is normally at the Gendarmenmarkt, but apparently it is under scaffolding so the market was at Bebelplatz instead. This market charged one euro to get in and it was much, much nicer than the one at Kaiser Wilhelm. It was a nice size, not too big or small, with lovely decorated trees all around the perimeter, beautiful lighting, and much nicer, more authentic options for food, drink and crafts. We had gluhwein, hot eggnog, and then currywurst at an enclosed beer garden type setup. This place was also serving other German foods like enormous pork knuckles, leberkase, assorted sausages, kartoffeln etc. I bought some really lovely German-made ornaments there.

I hoped to get to the market at Charlottenburg Palace, because the setting looked wonderful, and apparently this is the last year there will be a market there, but that afternoon we made the mistake of going back to the hotel before going back out...and we just never made it back out.

Posted by
2288 posts

I'm not sure you missed much by not making it to the Charlottenburg Palace market - yeah the Palace does provide a great back-drop for the market, but attendance is cheek-to-jowl and public transport is a nightmare. I never go to markets for the chachka, only the food and drink and I thought they even fell short on that.

As for the market at Kaiser Wilhem Memorial Church, that's disappointing to hear - I always thought it had the best food and drink options of the markets. Maybe it never bounced back from the events of 2016.

Posted by
2446 posts

"KONUS card - the whole of the Bundesland"

What I'm trying to understand is is the hotel website link above saying that a KONUS card is included in the price of lodging, like breakfast and a bed?
That would mean that as a car-free traveler I would only need the ticket necessary to get to the hotel, and so long as I'm there as a guest I would be using the transit card they provide. Is that correct?

Posted by
32700 posts

avirosemail - yes, that's right. You get it when you arrive, as part of the check in process, and it is then valid on all local transport in all of Baden-Württemberg, including as far as Basel Bad Bf in Basel Switzerland (must not use IC or ICE), even in localities like Freiburg im Breisgau where it is not issued.

Posted by
2446 posts

I still can't get my mind around this -- Ms Jo got a room that included breakfast buffet for 67€ and it also included transit to anywhere within an hour, so one could basically be getting the bed for about half that charge if you use the KONUS card well.

Posted by
47 posts

Happy New Year!

I am planing our trip to Germany next December. I know, its 12 months away, but I love the planning part! How would you recommend getting from market to market...Eurail or car? Where would you fly into Munich?

Any suggestions to help me get started on this trip would be greatly appreciated


Posted by
4675 posts

how much time on the ground will you have, and how experienced are you in European travel? One idea would be fly into Munich and out of Frankfurt, to visit a variety of markets.
Train travel is preferable, as most of the trains serve the old town centers, where the markets are usually held. Driving forces you to pay high gas costs, high car rental charges, parking fees, and the walks from the designated parking areas.
You could easily train travel to the Salzburg markets from Munich, maybe spend the night in this magical city.
From my experience precovid, reasonably-prices hotels were booked by June, especially on weekends dates.
You have so many choices, but my favorite markets in Germany were Stuttgart, Esslingen, and Rothenburg. (Regensburg is not far from Rothenburg, and seems highly recommended. )
You have so much great advice here, so when you have an idea of how much time you'll have, come back with more specific questions and we will try to help out more. It's probably best to start your own thread, and do a Search here on the Forum on Xmas markets, for some background research.
Have a great time planning!

Posted by
233 posts

Thank you Ms Jo, I really depended on you and Pat in my research. I popped in to prep my own trip report from a December trip to the markets, so happy to read your update.

Have heard of Ravenna Gorge, sounds like the hype is justified!

We visted Offenbach in Dec 86, when I made my first international trip to see my bf (who proposed to me that week and who is still my travelling partner). It was incredibly magical, and I'd love to get back in December. We did stop by briefly in May this year, but it's not the same without the white lights, the steam calliope and the chocolate-covered fruit skewers! As you said, maybe next year...

Our very favourite thing was chatting with locals. We were aware of tour groups around us, but we heard very little English unless people were talking to us. :) Did you find the same at the markets you attended? Standing at the pub-height tables outside drinking gluhwein and eating wurst, we struck up wonderful conversations with Germans. It felt like a real "back door" to us, everyone was in such a good mood and happy to chat.