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Virtual traveler: The best Christmas markets of Germany 

Goslar Market

Mapics | Shutterstock

V. M. Traverso - published on 11/30/20

Most of the country's famed Christmas markets have been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. Here's a helpful list to help you plan for 2021.

Normally at this time of year, Christmas market lovers from all around the world are starting the countdown to December, when towns and cities around Europe become the setting of wondrous winter markets. Germany is especially renowned for its Christmas Market scene. From Cologne to Dresden, here is a list of the most important Christmas Markets in Germany:

  1. Cologne Market

Cologne is known all around the world for its Gothic cathedral built in 1322 and measuring 474 feet. Cologne’s most important Christmas market takes place in front of this stunning church. Beginning in November, the square becomes dotted with small red booths decorated with golden Christmas banners. While strolling along the booths you will find carved wood decorations, traditional Christmas candles and a variety of gifts. Make sure to try the handbrot, typical bread with cheese, ham and mushrooms, and the iconic mulled wine.

Mapics | Shutterstock
  1. Dresden Market

Dresden is home to the oldest Christmas market in Germany. The local Christmas market, known as Striezelmarkt, was first started in 1434. During winter, the main square of Dresden takes on a magical atmosphere created by fairy lights, Christmas choirs and the scent of mulled wine. Among the many gift options, it is perhaps the wooden crafts from the Ore Mountains that steal the scene, including gnome sculptures.

Dresden Market
Mapics | Shutterstock
  1. Hamburg Market

Located on the North Sea, the northern German city of Hamburg hosts one of Germany’s most iconic Christmas markets right in the heart of the city. The Weihnachtsmarkt takes place in front of the 19th-century town hall right next to one of the city’s water canals. The atmosphere of a Christmas market set up on the water is unique to Hamburg.

Gerckens-Photo-Hamburg | Shutterstock
  1. Nuremberg Market

The Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt, as the Christmas market of Nuremberg is called, has been a beloved institution since its creation in the 17th century in the city’s old town square. One of the most interesting aspects of this Christmas tradition is the Nuremberg Christkind, or Christ Child, impersonated by a young woman dressed in white and gold. The opening of the market, held each year on the Friday before the First Sunday of Advent, features the apparition of the famous “Christkind.”

Nuremberg Market 
Mapics | Shutterstock
  1. Breitnau-Hollsteig Market
    The prize for most spectacular Christmas market location probably goes to the town of Breitnau-Hollsteig, located in a gorge of the Upper Rhine Valley crossed by the impressive Hollentalbahn (literally Hell Valley Railway Viaduct) in Germany’s Black Forest. When snow falls on the gorge, the local Christmas market, featuring arts and craftsfrom the surrounding Black Forest region, looks like something out of a fairytale.
Breitnau-Hollsteig Market
Olga Niekrasova | Shutterstock
  1. Aachen Market

Aachen is famous for its UNESCO World Heritage Site cathedral, where the Holy Roman Empire ruler Charlemagne is buried. During winter, the square in front of this historic cathedral hosts one of Germany’s most important Christmas markets, featuringgingerbread sweets, mulled wine and eierpunsch, a kind of local eggnog.

Aachen Market | Shutterstock
  1. Niederegger

Marzipan was actually invented in the Hanseatic harbor town of Niederegger, home to a wondrous Christmas market held on the cobblestone street in front of the town hall. Do not miss the marzipan treats!

MARKUS SCHOLZ | dpa Picture-Alliance | AFP
  1. Goslar Market
    If you are looking for something different from the usual wooden booths next to a Gothic cathedral, Goslar Christmas Market may suit your needs. Each year, the town sets up a Christmas forest rather than just a market, featuring snow-capped pine trees illuminated by Christmas lights.
    Goslar Market
    Mapics | Shutterstock
  2. Augsburg Market

The prize for most playful market probably goes to Augsburg, in Bavaria, where on top of the typical Bavarian sausage you can enjoy a life-sized Advent calendar featuring 24 angels appearing in each of the windows, marking the 24 days until Christmas.

Augsburg Market | Shutterstock

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