I simply spent a wonderful ten days in Germany and France taking in a number of the greatest Christmas Markets that Europe has to supply! I’ve completely adored the Christmas Markets in Europe ever since I moved overseas, and exploring some new markets this yr made me notice there isn’t any scarcity of magical locations in Europe.
Whether or not you’re eager to plan a Christmas Market highway journey itinerary or simply need to see my route, this information will share what we did, the place we stayed, and my suggestions for the most effective issues to do.
When you’re in search of the Finest Christmas Markets in Europe take a look at this information. This additionally shares the main points about Christmas Markets all through Europe: Germany, France, Switzerland, Austria, and extra. It additionally shares essential dates and ceaselessly requested questions.
Touring by Europe at Christmas makes me really feel like a child once more. I get these excited butterflies and anticipation like I am ready for Santa to return down the chimney.
Christmas Market Suggestions
For this specific journey, I used to be touring with my mother in Germany and France. We flew from Dallas to Frankfurt, picked up a rental automotive, and headed straight to Cologne. I am ALWAYS requested about rental automobiles. Sure, Europe does have glorious public transportation, however I personally love renting a automotive for ease of journey and never having to attend. Particularly for visiting a number of the smaller cities, it is only a lot simpler. Plus, you are by yourself schedule and may pull off wherever you want! Like we did when it began snowing in Germany!
I’ve traveled Europe extensively for the previous 6 years, so this information offers you the most effective tips about experiencing Christmas markets and my itinerary for a wonderful journey.
There may be a lot that goes into planning an epic journey overseas, particularly in the course of the holidays! With my European Christmas market highway journey itinerary, it can hopefully make your journey planning course of a breeze.
How lengthy do you have to plan for a visit? This may after all depend upon what you need to see and do, we spent about 11 days touring which is an excellent journey that was jam-packed with Christmas markets, museums, sightseeing, and nice meals.
Do not have 11 days? That is okay! I will share the cities that you must discover, what it’s best to undoubtedly see/do, and the way lengthy it takes to journey from metropolis to metropolis.
You may completely see quite a bit in much less time! One week continues to be loads of time to see and do quite a bit, you would possibly simply need to reduce out just a few stops alongside the way in which.
Now whereas we have been touring we did need to drastically change our plans since Christmas markets have been canceled in some cities. However since we have been versatile, and had a automotive, we have been capable of re-route our journey! And it was so price it.
Many will let you know to ebook motels forward of time, and I agree, however be sure that the cancellation coverage is versatile, particularly if you happen to anticipate there is perhaps modifications alongside the way in which. We have been going to spend extra time in Germany, however for the reason that markets have been canceled, we ended up staying longer in France and getting final minute motels.
Our European Christmas Market Street Journey Itinerary
This is a short have a look at our stops on our 10-day journey.
If that looks like quite a bit… it is as a result of it’s! With a automotive and a can do perspective, together with a plan, you actually can see and do quite a bit! To me, this did not really feel rushed. I used to be touring with my mother and she or he saved up as properly. I do are inclined to pack in quite a bit after I journey, however I would not have it every other approach.
Whereas there are 14 cities listed, some are so small, we noticed a number of in a day. Right here was our journey itinerary:
Day 1: Flew into Frankfurt and explored Cologne (2 hour drive from Frankfurt to Cologne)
Day 2: Cologne, drove to Aachen (1 hour drive from Cologne to Aachen)
Day 3: Aachen
Day 4: Aachen, drove to Monschau (45 minute drive) and explored Monschau, drove to Trier, Christmas Market in Trier at evening (Monschau to Trier is about an hour and a half drive)
Day 5: Trier, drove to Metz, Christmas markets at evening in Metz (1 hour, 15 minute drive from Trier to Metz)
Day 6: Metz, drove to Ribeauvillé, explored Ribeauvillé (Our longest drive of the journey, 2 hours and 18 minutes from Metz to Ribeauvillé, since you are going by the Vosges mountains)
Day 7: Explored Kayersberg, Eguisheim, Riquewihr, drove to Colmar (all of those cities are inside half-hour of each other!)
Day 8: Colmar, drove to Strasbourg (1 hour to drive from Colmar to Strasbourg)
Day 9: Strasbourg, drove to Baden-Baden (45 minute drive from Strasbourg to Baden-Baden)
Day 10: Baden-Baden, cease within the Black Forest, drove to Heidelberg (an hour drive from Baden-Baden to Heidelberg)
Day 11: Heidelberg and drove to Frankfurt (1-hour drive from Heidelberg to Frankfurt)
Our complete drive time was about 14 hours in 11 days. To me, that is good, and did not in any respect really feel like we have been within the automotive an excessive amount of.
Renting a Automobile
I like to recommend utilizing a finances web site like Priceline or Hotwire to discover a rental automotive. Nevertheless, I keep away from automotive rental locations like Thrifty and Funds! I rented a automotive with Sixt and thought the customer support was nice.
As quickly as we landed in Frankfurt I used to be capable of get the rental automotive on the airport and drive it for the size of our journey. I returned it again to the airport in Frankfurt on the finish of our 11 days.
Now, you may generally drop off your rental automotive at a unique location, however often it must be throughout the identical nation. Hold that in thoughts when renting.
I do not often add automotive rental insurance coverage, since I’ve insurance coverage already.
I ended up paying about $600 in complete with taxes and charges to lease a automotive.
Now, let’s hit the highway for Christmas markets in Europe!
Cease 1: Cologne
Christmas markets are a European custom that date again to the thirteenth century, and Cologne is among the most well-known Christmas market locations in Germany. The markets in Cologne are unfold all through town with over-the-top decor, themed markets, and unbeatable Christmas spirit.
The Kölner Christkindelsmärik is held yearly often from November twenty fourth till December twenty third, with greater than 100 stalls promoting every part from natural meals to conventional German decorations. The preferred stall is undoubtedly the Bratwurst stand, the place you should purchase freshly grilled sausages with scrumptious mustard and toppings.
A few of my favourite markets are:
Cologne Cathedral (Kölner Dom) – that is the preferred market and is held in entrance of the dazzling Cologne Cathedral with a stage for music, a huge, glowing Christmas tree, and loads of lovely stalls within the Roncalliplatz.
Angel Market – This lovely market is situated at Neumarkt and options fairly white stalls with darkish shingled roofs and a myriad of stars. There’s a wonderful carousel and loads of nice treats and Glühwein. Look ahead to the angels driving horseback handing out sweet to children!
Heinzel’s Winter Fairytale – That is only a sensational spot with ice skating, sparkly decorations, lavishly embellished stalls, and a festive ambiance. Cologne’s “Heinzelmännchen” legend is one in every of my favorites. The Heinzelmännchen are pleasant family spirits which might be used all through the market as decor. You will additionally discover a number of wooden crafts right here.
Nicholas Village – I completely ADORE this lovely market! You are greeted with a speaking moose, joyous Christmas music, and scorching Kartofelpufer (see what to eat at a Christmas Market right here). Situated in entrance of the attractive and historic Hahnentorburg, you may sip Glühwein out of a boot!
There are 7 markets all through town and I like to recommend you discover all of them! On our first day, we explored the Cologne Cathedral Christmas Market, Heizel’s and Kolner Hafen- Weihnachtsmarkt.
On our second day in Cologne, we toured the Cologne Cathedral. Right here is just not solely an extremely spectacular cathedral, however you will additionally discover the three clever males’s bones preserved! The well-known Shrine of the Three Kings is a spectacular gold field! The cathedral alone is a whole day journey in itself!
Town is full of nice historical past, lovely church buildings and beautiful cafe outlets. It is one in every of my favourite cities, particularly in the course of the vacation season – you will really feel such as you’re in a real-life Christmas film!
We additionally continued exploring the Christmas markets, the Angel Market and Nicholas Village. Then that evening drove on to cease 2!
Cease 2: Aachen
I am unable to imagine I lived in Germany for 3 years and by no means visited Aachen! This metropolis has been named as having a number of the greatest Christmas markets in Europe and it is easy to see why. Aachen is a spa city and borders each Belgium and the Netherlands. Our plan was to go to each Belgium and The Netherlands on this journey however we determined to skip and keep in France and Germany, Nevertheless, you may simply head to Liege, Belgium, and Maastricht, The Netherlands. Being on the border provides it a sure feeling of worldliness.
Charlemagne constructed a monumental palace advanced of buildings which is now the place the Christmas Market takes place. Round 800 A.D., the Aachen Cathedral was constructed, then later a Gothic chancel. The Domschatzkammer (treasury) homes medieval relics together with Charlemagne’s shrine, which was erected over his burial place in 814 A.D.
Town has a wealthy historical past and a beautiful ambiance in the course of the Christmas season. Aachen can also be dwelling to the Cathedral of Aachen, which is a wonderful cathedral and one of many oldest in Europe.
I like to recommend visiting the Charlemagne Middle which tells the historical past of town of Aachen and Charlemagne. Aachen was the 2nd largest metropolis in Germany, after Cologne in 1250, however WWII devastated the city. Now, although it is not as massive because it was earlier than, the attractive structure and wealthy historical past, together with the Christmas markets, make it a beautiful vacation spot.
I like to recommend spending two days right here (we spent two nights right here) exploring the city – it is very walkable, taking within the Christmas markets, and exploring the cathedral and museums.
Cease 3: Monschau
As we left Aachen the snow began falling in nice, massive, fats flakes! It was beautiful. We meandered our approach to the beautiful city of Monschau. Monschau, a city within the Eifel area of Germany is a captivating and picturesque vacation spot with countless half-timbered structure and a river working by it.
Monschau was initially constructed round a fortress and presents a bevy of lovely buildings and a captivating setting for strolling. The Christmas market right here can also be very fairly, stuffed with conventional German food and drinks, crafts, decorations, and music! I extremely advocate exploring Monschau if you happen to’re ever in Western Europe throughout winter time – it is completely lovely!
It is a quick cease and a really walkable city. Simply get misplaced and discover!
As we drove out of Monschau we stopped within the forest close by to see the frivolously falling snow and take just a few photos! This is able to even be a implausible place for a hike.
Cease 4: Trier
After Monschau we drove to Trier, about an hour and a half drive. I’ve traveled to Trier in the summertime earlier than so it was good to see it for Christmas. We spent the night on the Christmas market, and the morning exploring the city.
It was a chilly winter night in Trier, Germany. The Christmas market was damaged into two and stretched throughout the principle sq. the place I had simply walked as much as get some mulled wine and roasted chestnuts. It was busy with folks milling about grabbing their favourite vacation decorations or chit-chatting with buddies whereas having fun with heat drinks or scrumptious meals.
The Christmas Market in Trier is among the oldest in Germany and is ready up within the medieval essential sq. by the unbelievable Trier Cathedral. Almost 100 embellished cubicles promote scrumptious Langos, mulled wine and humanities and crafts.
Trier is a city in Germany with a wealthy historical past and tradition.
Trier was the oldest Roman metropolis in Europe, based by Emperor Augustus of Rome. It is also the place the primary Christian bishopric exterior Palestine was established, by Saint Helena of Constantinople round 300 AD. Throughout the Center Ages it turned probably the most essential cities in Europe and it stays an essential website for commerce and training right now.
I like to recommend visiting Trier Cathedral – its Gothic structure dates again to about 1300 A.D., making it probably the most spectacular church buildings in Western Europe! The cathedral incorporates quite a few items from earlier than then as properly, together with an altar that’s mentioned to be over 1,300 years previous. There are many Roman ruins and exquisite palaces all through the city. Some highlights are the Porta Nigra, Karl Marx Home, the Roman Amphitheater, Aula Palatina, and Kurfürstlicher Palace.
Cease 5: Metz
I used to be pleasantly stunned at how a lot there may be to do in Metz! The primary cease on our tour was the Cathedral Saint-Étienne de Metz, which dates again to the eleventh century. Inside are lovely stained glass home windows that have been constructed by well-known artists like Marc Chagall and Jean Cocteau. Metz has loads of different locations price visiting as properly – Notre Dame d’Auschwitz, the fashionable artwork heart Centre Pompidou-Metz, and Le Temple Neuf is a wonderful church that appears extra like a fortress.
Like different bigger cities, the Christmas market is unfold all through town. Not solely are there markets, however there are additionally the magical mild shows, “Sentiers des Lanternes“, all through. I like to recommend stopping by the cathedral on the tourism workplace to get a map of every of the markets and locations for mild shows.
Subsequent to the Cathedral is a neon Ferris wheel together with a market. You will discover gourmand meals markets on Place de la Comédie.
I additionally advocate the standard Christmas market at Place Saint Louis, the Place de la République-Esplanade with the Christmas pyramid, Place d’Armes J-F Blondel with a wonderful mild show, and Place Saint Jacques for nice meals. See all of the Christmas markets right here.
On our approach out of Metz the following day, we stopped at Porte des Allemands, the unique fortress and gatehouse to town of Metz. It is a fast and simple cease.
Subsequent, we took our longest drive of the journey from Metz to Ribeauvillé.
Cease 6: Ribeauvillé
This was my favourite and most stunning cease on on journey! Ribeauvillé is a wonderful, festive city in Alsace, France with a wealthy historical past and tradition. It is also recognized for its TRUE medieval Christmas market! This tiny village packs a punch with magnificence, spirit, and enjoyable. Everybody within the city will get in on the standard Christmas market.
The Ribeauvillé Christmas Market is the proper place to get into the winter spirit. The market stretches from Place du Temple to Place Saint-Louis and has greater than 100 cubicles of all sizes promoting scrumptious mulled wine, meals, arts and crafts, ornaments and souvenirs. You can get misplaced among the many stalls whereas having fun with conventional French meals like scalloped potatoes with cheese or strolling by the medieval streets admiring vacation decorations whereas listening to stay music. You would possibly even see a camel or two strolling the road!
Simply park and stroll across the city! Put together to be entertained by the road performers, acrobats, stilt walkers, and extra. You even flip in your cash for some beads to pay to your Vin Chaud (mulled wine!). Stick round at evening for unfamiliar beings from fairy tales and legends will roam the road!
Heat your arms by the fireplace logs in the course of the road, comply with the parade of lights or have conventional cider mashed by hand with an enormous stone grinder. This was really one in every of my favourite locations I’ve ever been!
Ribeauvillé is a good cease in your European journey as a result of it is probably the most distinctive and exquisite cities with top-of-the-line Christmas markets I’ve ever been to! Everybody on the town is in costume, the meals is scrumptious, and also you get a style of actual, medieval specialties.
The Alsatian area is really a gem and top-of-the-line locations for Christmas with a mixture of German and French traditions.
Vital notice: the Ribeauvillé Christmas market is ONLY two weekends a yr! So plan accordingly. Often the primary and second weekend of December.
Cease 7: Kayersberg
The following few stops have been really going down over simply someday since these cities are so small and simple to discover. Beginning with Kayersberg.
Kayersberg is a small city on the outskirts of Colmar, France. It’s recognized for its medieval structure and Christmas market.
Kayersberg is among the most picturesque cities in Alsace with cobblestone streets, half-timbered buildings, and slim alleys lined with outlets promoting all kinds of issues from meals to crafts to jewellery.
You will be unable to withstand in any respect the scrumptious specialties, particularly, bredeles, their well-known Christmas biscuits with almonds, nuts, anise, chocolate or vanilla. Candy or salty kougelhopfs, which is a hoop cake made with brioche, fruitcakes, or beraweckas, or little brioche males referred to as mannalas!
We spent the morning right here earlier than driving simply quarter-hour to Eguisheim.
Cease 8: Eguisheim
Eguisheim is the smallest of the Alsace cities I visited on this journey, however a gem and definitely worth the cease! This picturesque city has tiny, slim streets, generally even half streets laden with half-timbered buildings strewn with garlands, teddy bears, and extra.
That is named probably the most lovely cities within the Alsace with a wonderful village heart tucked away from the hustle of the bigger cities.
Eguisheim is nestled within the wine area, so all of the Vin Chaud tastes scrumptious! When you’re right here at evening, stick round for a tour from the Evening Watchman who will let you know tales of Eguisheim’s previous!
Cease 9: Riquewihr
Of the three stops of our Alsace Christmas market tour right now: Kayersberg, Eguisheim, and Riquewihr, Riquewihr was my favourite. Town is ablaze with twinkling lights and festive decorations.
You will discover an abundance of half-timbered, pastel-colored buildings, fairly streets, and a myriad of stalls promoting your favourite Christmas treats.
Riquewihr is the smallest of the Alsace cities I visited on this journey, however a gem and definitely worth the cease! This picturesque city has tiny, slim streets, generally even half streets laden with half-timbered buildings strewn with garlands, teddy bears, and extra.
We drove from Riquewihr on to Colmar so we would have the day to discover Colmar, solely a few 30-minute drive.
Cease 10: Colmar
I have been to Colmar many instances and I by no means tire of this fairytale metropolis that was the inspiration for Disney’s Magnificence and the Beast.
Colmar is a metropolis within the coronary heart of Alsace and it is surrounded by half-timbered buildings, cobblestone streets, and comfy cafes. It is a wonderful place to go to any time of the yr however good for Christmas! There are six Christmas markets all inside strolling distance and every prettier than the following.
La Petite Venise is one in every of my favourite areas with pleasant structure curving across the water. Additionally right here is one in every of my favourite eating places within the area, Winstub de la Petite Venise. This Michelin star restaurant presents a 35 euro plat du jour that makes my mouth water simply interested by it! I’ve eaten right here twice and it is simply a number of the greatest meals you will have in Europe.
The Christmas market is filled with picket chalets with fantastically illuminated streets and loads of photograph alternatives.
On our approach to Strasbourg, we stopped on the enormous Koenigsbourg Fort, a medieval fortress on high of a mountain within the Alsace with a terrific view of the area. Once we went it was nearing nightfall and a cloud of fog engulfed the fortress, a lot in order that we may barely see! We nonetheless loved roaming across the spectacular fortress.
We drove to Strasbourg that night to benefit from the wondrous lights of Strasbourg at evening.
Cease 11: Strasbourg
A go to to the Alsace simply is not full with no cease in Strasbourg. The most important metropolis and capital of the area, Strasbourg is one in every of my favourite cities. It is dwelling to the European Parliament, an unbelievable cathedral, and is among the oldest (and prettiest) cities in all of France.
Throughout Christmas, Strasbourg comes alive with decor, lights, and a magical setting of joyous meals and wine.
The Christmas markets in Strasbourg are a number of the greatest in Europe with a towering Christmas tree (virtually 100 ft excessive), festive lights, and beautiful stalls promoting all kinds of goodies. I may wander round these markets for hours! The Christmas tree at Place Kleber the image of “Strasbourg, Capital of Christmas” can also be the tallest embellished Christmas tree in Europe
I urge you to ensure you go away sufficient time to see Strasbourg each in the course of the day and at evening to actually get a really feel for its magic. There are 300 stalls unfold all through town and a number of the greatest mild shows unfold all through the streets!
You may see my full information to Strasbourg at Christmas right here!
Cease 12: Baden-Baden
Baden-Baden is a chic metropolis famed for its spas and thermal baths.
Town is dwelling to probably the most spectacular Christmas markets in Germany with round 200 stalls, that includes conventional picket chalets promoting native produce and festive trinkets. Sadly, this yr’s Christmas market is closed.
There’s additionally a well-known on line casino right here. However my favourite half about this metropolis is its proximity to the attractive Black Forest!
We took a brief drive from Baden-Baden as much as the attractive ski resort Mehilskopf. The snow on the bottom made for a picturesque setting.
Cease 13: Heidelberg
Heidelberg is a small metropolis with a wonderful fortress and a well-preserved Sixteenth-century city. I really lived in Heidelberg for 3 years so I do know my approach round this metropolis very properly! I am keen on the Christmas market right here that is additionally unfold all through the principle road, Hauptstrasse.
The market is small however charming with quite a lot of native distributors promoting their wares. I additionally love the market by the ice skating rink that is proper beneath the fortress. Such a wonderful spot! See my full information to the Heidelberg Christmas market right here. Heidelberg can also be dwelling to the oldest college in Germany so there’s loads of historical past and tradition to be explored right here.
Cease 14: Frankfurt
We drove an hour from Heidelberg to Frankfurt which is a extra industrial metropolis with skyscrapers and high-rise buildings. Nevertheless, the Christmas market here’s a conventional really feel with a big sq. within the heart of town.
The “Christkindlesmarkt” and has round 180 stalls promoting all kinds of goodies from gluhwein to sausages.
Frankfurt can also be dwelling to the Christmas markets on the Römerberg, a wonderful sq. within the coronary heart of downtown. Right here you will discover a Christmas tree that is over 10 meters excessive (about32 ft) and stroll alongside the outlets promoting conventional German crafts.
The place to remain
We stayed at principally finances properties, all-around $100 or much less an evening with quick access for parking and to town facilities.
Cologne – Lowenbrau Cologne: My favourite keep! That is proper within the coronary heart of the previous city and a wonderful place to stick with a terrific view, a terrific restaurant, and a surprisingly budget-friendly worth.
Aachen – B&B Lodge Aachen-Metropolis – I’ve stayed at many B&Bs, they’re easy, and budget-friendly however sensible motels.
Trier – Vacation Inn Categorical – Additionally an enormous fan of Vacation Inn Categorical, easy however good motels.
Metz – Campanile Metz Centre Gare. Simple place to discover Metz with free road parking.
Colmar – Lodge Ibis – essentially the most finances keep.
Strasbourg – Vacation Inn Categorical Strasbourg.
Baden-Baden – Aparthotel Volgergasse, a bit pricier however this keep is essentially the most luxurious! A full residence, hearth, lovely views, and two full bedrooms.
Heidelberg – Lodge Panorama – a terrific resort on the high of the Hauptstrasse.
Frankfurt – Moxy Airport Lodge – a terrific finances spot if in case you have an early morning flight.
READ ALL THE CHRISTMAS MARKET GUIDES!
Finest Christmas Markets in Europe
I hope this European Christmas Market Street Journey itinerary will aid you plan your subsequent journey! From Strasbourg to Metz and Cologne, you actually cannot go improper exploring these lovely cities with their festive lights and bustling streets stuffed with distributors promoting all kinds of goodies!
What a implausible journey! When you’re in search of a festive and charming European journey, remember to take a look at these superb cities throughout Christmas.