I simply spent an excellent ten days in Germany and France taking in among the finest 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 understand there isn’t a scarcity of magical locations in Europe.
Whether or not you might be 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 perfect issues to do.
When you’re on the lookout for the Greatest Christmas Markets in Europe take a look at this information. This additionally shares the small print about Christmas Markets all through Europe: Germany, France, Switzerland, Austria, and extra. It additionally shares essential dates and often requested questions.
Touring by means of 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 Ideas
For this explicit journey, I used to be touring with my mother in Germany and France. We flew from Dallas to Frankfurt, picked up a rental automobile, and headed straight to Cologne. I am ALWAYS requested about rental vehicles. Sure, Europe does have glorious public transportation, however I personally love renting a automobile for ease of journey and never having to attend. Particularly for visiting among 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 gives you the perfect recommendations on experiencing Christmas markets and my itinerary for a wonderful journey.
There may be a lot that goes into planning an epic journey overseas, particularly through the holidays! With my European Christmas market highway journey itinerary, it should hopefully make your journey planning course of a breeze.
How lengthy must you plan for a visit? It will after all rely on 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.
Haven’t got 11 days? That is okay! I am going to share the cities that you want to discover, what it’s best to positively see/do, and the way lengthy it takes to journey from metropolis to metropolis.
You possibly can 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 minimize out a number of stops alongside the way in which.
Now whereas we had been touring we did need to drastically change our plans since Christmas markets had been canceled in some cities. However since we had been versatile, and had a automobile, we had been in a position to re-route our journey! And it was so price it.
Many will let you know to e book lodges forward of time, and I agree, however ensure that the cancellation coverage is versatile, particularly in case you anticipate there may be modifications alongside the way in which. We had been going to spend extra time in Germany, however for the reason that markets had been canceled, we ended up staying longer in France and getting final minute lodges.
Our European Christmas Market Highway Journey Itinerary
This is a quick 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 automobile 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 he or she stored up as nicely. I do are inclined to pack in quite a bit once I journey, however I would not have it every other manner.
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 means of 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 had been within the automobile an excessive amount of.
Renting a Automobile
I like to recommend utilizing a finances web site like Priceline or Hotwire to discover a rental automobile. Nonetheless, I keep away from automobile rental locations like Thrifty and Price range! I rented a automobile with Sixt and thought the customer support was nice.
As quickly as we landed in Frankfurt I used to be in a position to get the rental automobile 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 automobile at a distinct location, however often it must be throughout the similar nation. Maintain that in thoughts when renting.
I do not often add automobile rental insurance coverage, since I’ve insurance coverage already.
I ended up paying about $600 in complete with taxes and charges to lease a automobile.
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 likely one of the most well-known Christmas market locations in Germany. The markets in Cologne are unfold all through the 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 the whole lot from natural meals to conventional German decorations. The most well-liked stall is undoubtedly the Bratwurst stand, the place you should buy freshly grilled sausages with scrumptious mustard and toppings.
A few of my favourite markets are:
Cologne Cathedral (Kölner Dom) – that is the most well-liked market and is held in entrance of the dazzling Cologne Cathedral with a stage for music, a big, glowing Christmas tree, and loads of stunning stalls within the Roncalliplatz.
Angel Market – This stunning market is positioned at Neumarkt and options fairly white stalls with darkish shingled roofs and a myriad of stars. There’s a lovely carousel and loads of nice treats and Glühwein. Look ahead to the angels using horseback handing out sweet to youngsters!
Heinzel’s Winter Fairytale – That is only a sensational spot with ice skating, sparkly decorations, lavishly adorned stalls, and a festive ambiance. Cologne’s “Heinzelmännchen” legend is one in all my favorites. The Heinzelmännchen are pleasant family spirits which can be used all through the market as decor. You will additionally discover numerous wooden crafts right here.
Nicholas Village – I completely ADORE this stunning market! You are greeted with a speaking moose, joyous Christmas music, and sizzling 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 the 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 isn’t solely an extremely spectacular cathedral, however you may 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 complete day journey in itself!
The town is full of nice historical past, stunning church buildings and wonderful cafe outlets. It is one in all my favourite cities, particularly through the vacation season – you may 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 among the finest Christmas markets in Europe and it is simple 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, Nonetheless, you may simply head to Liege, Belgium, and Maastricht, The Netherlands. Being on the border offers it a sure feeling of worldliness.
Charlemagne constructed a monumental palace complicated 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.
The town has a wealthy historical past and an exquisite ambiance through the Christmas season. Aachen can also be house to the Cathedral of Aachen, which is a lovely cathedral and one of many oldest in Europe.
I like to recommend visiting the Charlemagne Heart which tells the historical past of the 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 isn’t as massive because it was earlier than, the attractive structure and wealthy historical past, together with the Christmas markets, make it an exquisite 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 gorgeous. We meandered our approach to the gorgeous city of Monschau. Monschau, a city within the Eifel area of Germany is an enthralling and picturesque vacation spot with limitless half-timbered structure and a river operating by means of it.
Monschau was initially constructed round a fortress and provides a bevy of lovely buildings and an enthralling setting for strolling. The Christmas market right here can also be very fairly, filled with conventional German food and drinks, crafts, decorations, and music! I extremely suggest exploring Monschau in case you’re ever in Western Europe throughout winter time – it is completely stunning!
It is a brief 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 evenly falling snow and take a number of footage! This is able to even be a unbelievable 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 primary 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 mates whereas having fun with heat drinks or scrumptious meals.
The Christmas Market in Trier is likely one of the oldest in Germany and is about up within the medieval primary sq. by the unimaginable Trier Cathedral. Almost 100 adorned 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 outdoors Palestine was established, by Saint Helena of Constantinople round 300 AD. Throughout the Center Ages it grew to become probably the most essential cities in Europe and it stays an essential web site for commerce and schooling right this moment.
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 accommodates quite a few items from earlier than then as nicely, together with an altar that’s stated to be over 1,300 years previous. There are many Roman ruins and delightful 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 stunning stained glass home windows that had been constructed by well-known artists like Marc Chagall and Jean Cocteau. Metz has loads of different locations price visiting as nicely – Notre Dame d’Auschwitz, the trendy artwork middle Centre Pompidou-Metz, and Le Temple Neuf is a lovely church that appears extra like a fortress.
Like different bigger cities, the Christmas market is unfold all through the town. Not solely are there markets, however there are additionally the magical gentle 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 gentle 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 suggest 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 lovely gentle show, and Place Saint Jacques for excellent meals. See all of the Christmas markets right here.
On our manner out of Metz the subsequent day, we stopped at Porte des Allemands, the unique fortress and gatehouse to the town of Metz. It is a fast and straightforward cease.
Subsequent, we took our longest drive of the journey from Metz to Ribeauvillé.
Cease 6: Ribeauvillé
This was my favourite and most surprising cease on on journey! Ribeauvillé is a lovely, festive city in Alsace, France with a wealthy historical past and tradition. It is also identified 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’ll get misplaced among the many stalls whereas having fun with conventional French meals like scalloped potatoes with cheese or strolling by means of the medieval streets admiring vacation decorations whereas listening to reside 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 on your Vin Chaud (mulled wine!). Stick round at evening for unknown creatures from fairy tales and legends will roam the road!
Heat your fingers by the fireplace logs in the midst of the road, observe the parade of lights or have conventional cider mashed by hand with an enormous stone grinder. This was actually one in all my favourite locations I’ve ever been!
Ribeauvillé is a superb cease in your European journey as a result of it is probably the most distinctive and delightful cities with among the best 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 actually a gem and among the best locations for Christmas with a mixture of German and French traditions.
Vital word: the Ribeauvillé Christmas market is ONLY two weekends a yr! So plan accordingly. Normally the primary and second weekend of December.
Cease 7: Kayersberg
The subsequent few stops had been really happening over simply someday since these cities are so small and straightforward to discover. Beginning with Kayersberg.
Kayersberg is a small city on the outskirts of Colmar, France. It’s identified for its medieval structure and Christmas market.
Kayersberg is likely one of the most picturesque cities in Alsace with cobblestone streets, half-timbered buildings, and slim alleys lined with outlets promoting all types of issues from meals to crafts to jewellery.
You won’t be able 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 known 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 well 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 stunning cities within the Alsace with a lovely village middle 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 this moment: Kayersberg, Eguisheim, and Riquewihr, Riquewihr was my favourite. The 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 well 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 couple of 30-minute drive.
Cease 10: Colmar
I have been to Colmar many occasions 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 comfortable cafes. It is a lovely 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 subsequent.
La Petite Venise is one in all my favourite areas with pleasant structure curving across the water. Additionally right here is one in all my favourite eating places within the area, Winstub de la Petite Venise. This Michelin star restaurant provides a 35 euro plat du jour that makes my mouth water simply occupied with it! I’ve eaten right here twice and it is simply among the finest meals you may have in Europe.
The Christmas market is filled with wood chalets with fantastically illuminated streets and loads of photograph alternatives.
On our approach to Strasbourg, we stopped on the large Koenigsbourg Fort, a medieval fortress on high of a mountain within the Alsace with an ideal 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 might 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 and not using a cease in Strasbourg. The biggest metropolis and capital of the area, Strasbourg is one in all my favourite cities. It is house to the European Parliament, an unimaginable cathedral, and is likely one of 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 among the finest in Europe with a towering Christmas tree (nearly 100 toes excessive), festive lights, and wonderful stalls promoting all types of goodies. I might wander round these markets for hours! The Christmas tree at Place Kleber the image of “Strasbourg, Capital of Christmas” can also be the tallest adorned Christmas tree in Europe
I urge you to be sure to depart sufficient time to see Strasbourg each through the day and at evening to essentially get a really feel for its magic. There are 300 stalls unfold all through the town and among the finest gentle shows unfold all through the streets!
You possibly can 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.
The town is house to probably the most spectacular Christmas markets in Germany with round 200 stalls, that includes conventional wood 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 lovely fortress and a well-preserved Sixteenth-century city. I really lived in Heidelberg for 3 years so I do know my manner round this metropolis very nicely! I am keen on the Christmas market right here that is additionally unfold all through the primary avenue, Hauptstrasse.
The market is small however charming with a number of native distributors promoting their wares. I additionally love the market by the ice skating rink that is proper beneath the fortress. Such a lovely spot! See my full information to the Heidelberg Christmas market right here. Heidelberg can also be house to the oldest college in Germany so there’s loads of historical past and tradition to be explored right here.
You possibly can see my full information to Heidelberg 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. Nonetheless, the Christmas market here’s a conventional really feel with a big sq. within the middle of the town.
The “Christkindlesmarkt” and has round 180 stalls promoting all types of goodies from gluhwein to sausages.
Frankfurt can also be house to the Christmas markets on the Römerberg, a lovely sq. within the coronary heart of downtown. Right here you will discover a Christmas tree that is over 10 meters excessive (about32 toes) and stroll alongside the outlets promoting conventional German crafts.
The place to remain
We stayed at largely finances properties, all-around $100 or much less an evening with easy accessibility for parking and to the town facilities.
Cologne – Lowenbrau Cologne: My favourite keep! That is proper within the coronary heart of the previous city and a lovely place to stick with an ideal view, an ideal restaurant, and a surprisingly budget-friendly value.
Aachen – B&B Lodge Aachen-Metropolis – I’ve stayed at many B&Bs, they’re easy, and budget-friendly however sensible lodges.
Trier – Vacation Inn Specific – Additionally a giant fan of Vacation Inn Specific, easy however good lodges.
Metz – Campanile Metz Centre Gare. Straightforward place to discover Metz with free avenue parking.
Colmar – Lodge Ibis – probably the most finances keep.
Strasbourg – Vacation Inn Specific Strasbourg.
Baden-Baden – Aparthotel Volgergasse, a bit pricier however this keep is probably the most luxurious! A full condominium, hearth, stunning views, and two full bedrooms.
Heidelberg – Lodge Panorama – an ideal lodge on the high of the Hauptstrasse.
Frankfurt – Moxy Airport Lodge – an ideal finances spot if in case you have an early morning flight.
READ ALL THE CHRISTMAS MARKET GUIDES!
Greatest Christmas Markets in Europe
I hope this European Christmas Market Highway Journey itinerary will show you how to plan your subsequent journey! From Strasbourg to Metz and Cologne, you actually cannot go mistaken exploring these stunning cities with their festive lights and bustling streets filled with distributors promoting all types of goodies!
What a unbelievable journey! When you’re on the lookout for a festive and charming European journey, make sure to take a look at these superb cities throughout Christmas.