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Deck the halls
After the barrels of beer have been emptied out at Oktoberfest and the season turns dark and cold, Germany has the perfect way to keep you warm: Christmas markets. They pop up all over the country from the first Advent at the end of November and are an absolute must-see on your travels with your InterRail pass.
Every city, every town and little village in Germany transforms their main square, usually located close to the main train station, into a magical winter wonderland with beautifully decorated wooden stalls that sell anything from mulled wine and gingerbread to handcrafted Christmas decorations and traditional toys. With merry-go-rounds, Christmas pyramids, nativity scenes, there’s so much to see and enjoy! The sights, smells and sounds all tell you that Christmas is nigh, and no doubt you’ll be humming along with the carolers: "‘tis the season to be jolly!"
With Christmas markets abound, your challenge is to choose the one you’d like to visit. To make this a little easier for you we’ve selected only a few of the largest, most famous, most romantic and picturesque.
Christmas market in Frankfurt
One of the biggest markets in the country with many extras on the programme like a visit from Santa Clause on 6 december, the chiming of the church bells, a life size nativity scene, carolers in the market place and rides on an historical steam engine. The scenic surroundings of Römerberg, Paulsplatz and Mainkai ensure a very merry Christmas in Frankfurt. More information
The Frankfurt Christmas market is only a 5 minute walk from the main train station
Nuremberg's Christmas Angel
The very famous Christmas market at Nuremburg is opened by their own Christmas Angel each year, reciting the solemn prologue from the gallery of the church of Our Lady. Other highlights are the lantern procession to Nuremberg Castle on 8 December, round trips on the historical mail coach and a special children’s dreamland. More information
The Nuremberg Christmas market is located at Hauptmarkt, a 20 minute walk from the main train station.
Nutcrackers and Pyramids in Dresden
Germany’s oldest Christmas market dates back to 1434 and is traditionally called Striezelmarkt. Its name derives from Hefestriezel, a sweet delicacy which centuries later has become known as “Dresden Christstollen” (German Christmas Cake). In the center of the Dresden Christmas Market you’ll find a huge Christmas pyramid, a 45 feet high wooden carousel with life-size angels and nativity scene and the world’s biggest nutcracker, the iconic wooden toy. The Dresden market is the best place to buy these and other traditional wooden toys. More information
The Christmas market in Dresden is on the Münzgasse, a 15 minute walk from Dresden Hauptbahnhof
Romantic Rothenburg ob der Tauer
In Rothenburg ob der Tauer, home to the German Christmas Museum, it’s Christmas all year long. So it will come as no surprise that it also hosts one of the most romantic Christmas markets. With some of the most impressive medieval architecture in the background the Rothenburg market is nothing short of a fairytale. More information
The Christmas market in Rothenburg is located at the Marktplatz, a 5 minute walk from the train station
Other markets worth a visit are in Hamburg, where the food and crafts are slightly different from the rest of the country; Erfurt in Thuringia, which is very busy on weekends; the very famous market of Heidelberg; and some smaller ones in Erbach and Bad Wimpfen. So get on the train to a very merry Christmas in Germany!