For a number of years friends and family have told me I must go see the Christmas Markets in Germany. ‘Magical’ was the adjective most frequently used to describe the markets. ‘Special’ came in a close second, then ‘amazing’ and ‘phenomenal’ was never in short supply either. With these types of recommendations, how could I pass up the chance to book a flight and spend 5 days visiting 3 different markets in Germany?
And I will tell you this upfront: the reality matched the hype.
Christmas Markets can be found in cities throughout Germany with the tradition dating back hundreds of years. The festivities follow the advent calendar and start around the end of November and run through Christmas. The markets are filled with vendor stalls selling ornaments, confectionary goods, regional foods and the famous glühwein (a most delicious warm, spiced wine served in little ceramic mugs.)
For my trip I decided to visit Frankfurt, Nuremberg and Rothenburg ob der Tauber which allowed me to get the experience I was looking for in the short timeframe I had available.
The city has a large international airport which means there are lots of direct daily flights from New York City. Since it isn’t peak travel season the flights are all really affordable. And my red-eye flight took just over 7 hours city to city. Win, win, win.
On top of the travel benefits, Frankfurt boasts one stellar Christmas Market. As with all the markets, there will be large crowds but it’s all part of the festive atmosphere and celebrating the season with friends and family.
As you walk around the market, be sure to pick up your first of what will be many glühweins. They are around 3-4 euros each but don’t be surprised when you are charged 6 euros (the extra money is a deposit on the ceramic mug that is then given back when you return it to the vendor.) You might also be asked if you want a ‘schuss’ which is a shot of liquor in your glühwein. I was pacing myself and opted to pass on the extra shots.
One of the most well known Christmas Markets in Germany and where I spent most of my time during the trip. Nuremberg is a short 2 hour train ride from Frankfurt and a perfect base if you then want to do day trips from there. The market has around 180 different vendors selling some of the best ginger bread I have ever had along with little sausages and of course more glühwein. I also tried apfelwein in both cities (a warm, spiced apple wine) that is also not to be missed on your trip.
Nuremberg is also a large city and between market visits there are lots of museums to visit as well as Nuremberg Castle which is on a hill and provides spectacular views of the city.
Rothenburg ob der Tauber
A one hour train ride from Nuremberg (that does require 2 train changes) is a perfect day trip. The Christmas Market is smaller than the other two cities but there are also lots of fun bakeries and regional food restaurants to try. The town also has a wall around the perimeter that is accessible to the public and perfect for photo opportunities.
Germany’s Christmas Markets are memorable and something that should definitely be added to your future travel plans.
Categories: Escape from New York: Extended Travel