If you are considering visiting Germany at Christmas time, definitely go! Germany transforms into a winter wonderland in December, with twinkling lights and festive spirit filling the air. From charismatic markets to snow-covered castles, the country offers a magical Christmas experience.
However, with so many amazing places in Germany, it can be hard to work out where to go especially if you want a magical Christmas experience. This article is a list of our top 10 destinations in Germany that embody everything festive in the holiday season.
When we made this list we looked for destinations that aren’t just popular but also rich in Christmas traditions and festivities. Each spot has been selected for its unique celebrations, vibrant markets, and the unparalleled cheer they offer during the Yuletide. A whirl of aroma from festive treats and the sound of holiday music envelop these places, making them perfect for a December visit.
As someone who has wandered through these enchanting spots during the Christmas season, I bring to you a personal guide to the best places that are sure to fill your holidays with joy and Christmas cheer.
Traveling to Germany? Click here to download your free Germany Trip Planning checklist. We’ll help you get ready for your trip!
10 Places To Visit In Germany At Christmas
Quedlinburg, with its cobblestone streets and half-timbered houses, is like stepping into a medieval Christmas card. The town, a UNESCO World Heritage site, brims with history, dating back over a thousand years.
As you wander through the Christmas market in Quedlinburg, the aroma of mulled wine and roasted almonds is irresistible. The festive stalls are a showcase of local craftsmanship, with intricate woodwork and unique Christmas ornaments that you won’t find anywhere else.
Even more special is the “Advent in the Courtyards”. On the second and third weekends of Advent, 20+ inner courtyards in Quedlinburg, which are usually not publicly accessible, open up. Small treasures are offered in the courtyards especially made for these weekends.
There is also the “largest Advent calendar in Germany”. Every day in December in the lead up to Christmas, one of 24 houses around Castle Hill with special Christmas decorations is opened to the public. Each day at 4:30pm outside of Klopstockhaus, everyone taking part meets and then searches together for the house that is opening that day. It has a shining star on the door. Inside, there are surprises.
Trust me, Quedlinburg is not just a place to see; it’s a seasonal experience to be felt. The Christmas market here is beautifully understated yet deeply memorable. Add in the unique Advent calendar experience and you’ll truly capture the essence of the holidays.
Visiting Nuremberg during Christmas is like stepping into the very heart of holiday spirit. The city, with its rich history, transforms into a Christmas wonderland. As you wander through the cobblestone streets, the air is filled with the aroma of mulled wine and roasted almonds, leading you to the heart of the festivities: the Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt.
The Christkindlesmarkt is one of the oldest in Europe. It was first mentioned in 1628, but it’s suspected that markets were held here for around 100 years before this.
Nuremberg is famous for its gingerbread (lebkuchen in German), and this is a great time to try some along with an “Original Nuremberger” sausage and some blueberry glühwein. These sausages are made with pork and spiced with marjoram. They are only 23 grams each and about the size of a little finger. They are usually sold with multiple pieces.
For families, there’s also a Children’s Christmas Market on Hans-Sachs-Platz with a special family program and rides. The carousel looks amazing, and it’s fun to walk around here as well.
The Nuremberg Christkind is a special tradition. It’s a young woman who serves as the symbol and ambassador of the Christmas market. She wears a gold and white robe with a crown to resemble an angelic figure, which harks back to the Protestant Reformation when angels were substituted for the Catholic gift-giver St. Nicholas. The Christkind inaugurates the Christmas market by reciting a prologue from the balcony of the Church of Our Lady and makes appearances throughout the event and across the city and media.
I have a personal fondness for the Nuremberg market. It’s the nostalgic blend of sights and sounds that I grew up with, and no matter where I’ve lived, this yuletide charm calls me back. So join in the celebrations, taste the famous food and let Nuremberg become a part of your holiday tradition. It truly is a Christmas memory waiting to be made.
Dresden shines during the Christmas season. Its festive spirit is unfurled across the historical town, which boasts an array of traditional markets and events that capture the essence of a German Christmas.
Stepping into Dresden’s Christmas markets feels like entering a storybook. The Striezelmarkt, one of the oldest Christmas markets in the world, dating back to the 15th century, offers a magical experience with its array of handcrafted goods and the scent of mulled wine and stollen – a Dresden Christmas staple.
This market is a big one with over 240 stands, and it attracts over 2.5 million people a year.
Stollenfest, which celebrates the local stollen Christmas bread (it’s a light fruitcake), typically occurs on the Saturday before the second Sunday in Advent although it can vary. A giant Stollen is paraded through the city and then ceremonially cut and distributed among the attendees. Try to visit for this if you can.
You will also find Prager Straße which is known as a “Christmas mile” of stalls. There is a 15 meter high Christmas tree here, Christmas lights and Santa Claus’ house! It can feel like there are Christmas markets everywhere.
Additionally, the city’s baroque architecture creates a stunning backdrop for the festivities. The illuminated Frauenkirche and the resplendent Zwinger palace are sights to behold, draped in the soft light of the holiday season. You can also ice skate at the inner courtyard at Palais Taschenberg. Between the lights and the decorations, it’s quite magical.
Dresden is one of my favorite places to visit in Germany at Christmas. I love the unique traditions found here. These traditional events bring to life customs that have been celebrated for generations, and there’s maybe nowhere better to soak up the Christmas spirit.
Rothenburg ob der Tauber
If you’re seeking a genuine Christmas experience, Rothenburg ob der Tauber is like stepping into a holiday snow globe. This medieval town, with its cobbled streets and half-timbered houses, becomes a festive wonderland during the holiday season.
The Rothenburg Christmas Market, or “Reiterlesmarkt,” has been a yuletide tradition for over 500 years, enchanting visitors with its old-world charm and warmth. I wander through the illuminated stalls, the scent of mulled wine and roasted almonds in the air, and the sounds of traditional carols enveloping the frosty atmosphere. It’s not just shopping; it’s an immersion into centuries of festive tradition.
Venture beyond the market, and you’ll find shops like Käthe Wohlfahrt’s Christmas Village, a year-round Christmas store offering ornaments and decorations, some based on European folklore. The famous ‘Schneeball’ (snowball), a local pastry, is a must-try, a delightful treat that has been a part of the town’s culinary heritage for generations.
As dusk falls, the town glows warmly under the lights, and it feels as if time stands still. The only downside is that this town is popular. Try to avoid weekends if you can. However, it really does offer a storybook Christmas.
When you think of a German Christmas, Cologne should come to mind. The city transforms into a Christmas wonderland, with the scent of mulled wine and roasted almonds wafting through the air. The highlight is the Christmas markets, particularly the one in front of the majestic Cologne Cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage site with a history spanning over a millennia. You can see it above.
Walking through these markets (there are seven!), you’ll be enveloped in a festive ambiance that twinkles with lights and echoes with Christmas carols. Each stall brims with handmade trinkets and traditional treats, offering you not just a souvenir, but a snippet of German craftsmanship.
Having experienced Cologne’s festive cheer firsthand, I can attest to its warmth and joy. The city holds a special place in my heart, evoking memories of festive seasons spent with family and that unique sense of homecoming that only a place like Cologne can inspire.
For you, Cologne offers not just a trip to another Christmas market, but an immersive experience into Germany’s yuletide spirit—where every corner, every snowflake, speaks to the grandeur of Christmas in a city that embraces tradition with open arms. Venture there, and you’ll carry away more than just gifts; you’ll capture memories that last a lifetime.
Munich truly sparkles during the Christmas season. The city’s deep-rooted history sets a stunning backdrop to its vibrant holiday festivities. Imagine, walking through the snowy streets as the scent of roasted chestnuts fills the air.
Visit Marienplatz where you’ll find the heart of Munich’s Christmas market, the Christkindlmarkt, a tradition dating back to the 14th century. The twinkling lights and traditional carols blend harmoniously, casting a spell of yuletide cheer.
Stalls overflow with unique crafts, offering you the perfect opportunity to find those one-of-a-kind gifts. Indulge in the famous glühwein (mulled wine) and lebkuchen, a treat I look forward to every visit. These Christmas staples warm you from the inside.
If you ever tire of this Christmas market, head to Wittelsbacherplatz, the medieval Christmas market with medieval-themed performers, vendors dressed in period costumes, and handcrafted goods.
At Theresienwiese, the same grounds as Oktoberfest, you can find the Tollwood Winter Festival. It has a mix of craft market, food stalls, live music, and cultural performances with an emphasis on international and ethnic goods.
There’s also another three Christmas markets across the city with their own themes and Christmas cheer.
The ice rink in Karlsplatz promises laughter and gliding joy under the winter sky. Even if you’ve grown up with different traditions, Munich’s Christmas spirit is contagious. It’s a city that has mastered the art of inviting everyone in to create warm memories in the cold of winter.
Munich is truly special at Christmas time and definitely another city worth visiting during your Christmas vacation in Germany.
Berlin transforms into a winter wonderland as Christmas approaches, with its festive charm coming alive in the crisp air. Imagine, strolling through the Gendarmenmarkt, one of the most enchanting Christmas markets, where the backdrop of historic German and French cathedrals adds a timeless feel to the modern festivities. You’ll be greeted by the scent of roasted chestnuts and the sound of classic carols.
The city’s history, ever-present in its architecture, gains a festive accent. From the Brandenburg Gate to the remnants of the Berlin Wall, these monuments stand as silent witnesses to the holiday joy that embraces the city. Bundled up in scarf and mittens, I’ve felt the unique blend of solemn history and festive joy that only Berlin offers.
Berlin is also renowned for its festive Christmas lights and decorations. Each year during the Christmas season, the city is illuminated with a variety of light installations and decorated trees. Areas like Potsdamer Platz, Kurfürstendamm, and the Gendarmenmarkt are particularly well-known for their Christmas displays.
Whether it’s peeking at intricate handmade crafts or warming up with a mug of Glühwein, the Christmas markets of Berlin cater to every taste and storytelling imagination. Each visit brings new delights, as I have savored Berliner Pfannkuchen (similar to a doughnut with no central hole) amidst the twinkling lights and discovered new artisan trinkets to add to my collection.
Heidelberg is always one of the most stunning cities in Germany. However, visiting at Christmas time takes this to the next level. It’s like stepping into a living postcard where historic charm meets festive delight. The city itself is a jewel of German tradition, with the iconic Heidelberg Castle overlooking the old town, adorned with twinkling lights during the holiday season.
The Christmas market here is not just a market; it’s an experience. In fact, there are six Christmas markets. As you wander through the Yuletide stalls, the scent of roasted almonds and mulled wine seems to dance in the air. The atmosphere is alive with festive folklore, where each booth offers unique crafts and treats, ensuring you’ll find something to cherish.
In fact, it can feel like the whole Old Town is just a series of Christmas Markets which, in fact, it is! You can generally find them at Bismarckplatz, Anatomiegarten, Universitätsplatz, Marktplatz, Kornmarkt and Karlsplatz. In Karlsplatz, you can also ice skate at this atmospheric location. These locations can vary though so double check before visiting.
I always find the Heidelberg Christmas market to be a personal highlight, where the spirit of the holidays is tangible. The warm glows of the market stands contrast the crisp winter air, making the sips of Glühwein even more comforting. Carolers often dot the streets, their melodies a testament to the city’s deep-rooted cultural heritage.
Don’t miss a stroll by the Neckar River, where the reflections of holiday lights remind you that this time of year, Heidelberg isn’t just a place you visit—it’s a part of your own Christmas story.
Leipzig during Christmas is a wonder to behold, truly capturing the festive spirit. Walking through its Christmas market, one of the oldest and biggest in Germany, you’re transported into a Yuletide dream. The aroma of Glühwein, mingling with the scents of gingerbread and roasted chestnuts, creates an intoxicating blend that is quintessentially German.
The city itself is steeped in history, with traditions dating back to 1458. As you wander around, the historical backdrop of ancient buildings adds to the charm of the market stalls. You’ll encounter local crafts that make perfect, unique gifts, and the sounds of classic Christmas music fill the air, often with live performances that seem to bring the whole city together.
There is also a traditional performance of trombonists every evening on the balcony at the Old Town Hall, a festive historical market reenactment and its famous ‘Bach Christmas Oratorio’ performances.
For me, the highlight is always the medieval market held in the old town. It’s as if you’ve stepped back in time. Artisans in period costumes craft their wares as they would have centuries ago. There’s an authenticity to it that feels personal, celebrating not just Christmas, but a living history. It’s this blend of old and new, huge Christmas markets and traditions, that make Leipzig a fantastic choice of destination in December.
You can also find Christmas Markets at Augustusplatz, behind the Old Town and by Nikolaikirche.
Stuttgart at Christmas is a festive symphony of lights, traditions, and culinary delights. The Stuttgart Christmas Market is a particular highlight, known as one of Europe’s largest and oldest, dating back to the 17th century. Wander through over 300 stalls, beneath a canopy of sparkling lights.
I always find the blend of aromatic spices wafting through the air irresistible, mingling with the sounds of Christmas carols and festive cheer. The market’s backdrop is equally impressive, with the Old Palace and surrounding architecture offering a storybook setting. The craftsmanship on display is stunning, from intricate wooden ornaments to hand-blown glass.
What sets Stuttgart’s market apart is the uniquely themed Wintertraum (Winter Dream) on the Schlossplatz, which includes an ice rink that invites you to lace up your skates.
There are also many other Christmas delights in Stuttgart. For example, you can experience the Stuttgart Winter Woods (Stuttgarter Winterwald) which is a forest-like setting in the city with Christmas trees and winter decorations or head to Christmas Garden Stuttgart which has light installations and displays. Families will enjoy the Stuttgart Christmas Circus.
I also love making the short trip to the Esslingen Medieval Market and Christmas Market which is medieval themed. Stuttgart is full of festive wonder.
There’s really nothing better than visiting Germany at Christmas time. The traditions, festive events and the Christmas markets lead to a wonderful Christmas spirit that can’t be beat anywhere.
I hope you can visit the towns and cities above and experience it for yourself!
Still not convinved you should visit Germany at Christmas? Read all our reasons why you should visit at Christmas here and our guide to the top places to visit in winter here. Read our guide to the best Christmas Markets in Germany here. You can also find our best places to visit in Germany in winter here.
Looking for more information? You can find all our planning guides here.