I simply spent a wonderful ten days in Germany and France taking in a few of 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 12 months made me notice 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 one of the best issues to do.
For those who’re on the lookout for the Finest 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 regularly 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 come back down the chimney.
Christmas Market Suggestions
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 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 few 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 provides you with one of the best tips about experiencing Christmas markets and my itinerary for a wonderful journey.
There’s a lot that goes into planning an epic journey overseas, particularly throughout the holidays! With my European Christmas market highway journey itinerary, it can hopefully make your journey planning course of a breeze.
How lengthy must you plan for a visit? This may in fact 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’ll 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 loads in much less time! One week remains to be loads of time to see and do loads, you may simply need to lower out a number of stops alongside the way in which.
Now whereas we have been touring we did must 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 value it.
Many will let you know to e-book lodges forward of time, and I agree, however be sure the cancellation coverage is versatile, particularly in the event you anticipate there could be adjustments 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 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 loads… 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 loads! To me, this did not really feel rushed. I used to be touring with my mother and he or she saved up as properly. I do are likely to pack in loads once I journey, however I would not have it another means.
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 excellent, and did not in any respect really feel like we have been within the automotive an excessive amount of.
Renting a Automotive
I like to recommend utilizing a finances web site like Priceline or Hotwire to discover a rental automotive. Nonetheless, I keep away from automotive rental locations like Thrifty and Price range! 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 typically drop off your rental automotive at a distinct location, however normally it must be inside the identical nation. Hold that in thoughts when renting.
I do not normally add automotive rental insurance coverage, since I’ve insurance coverage already.
I ended up paying about $600 in complete with taxes and charges to hire 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 the town with over-the-top decor, themed markets, and unbeatable Christmas spirit.
The Kölner Christkindelsmärik is held yearly normally from November twenty fourth till December twenty third, with greater than 100 stalls promoting all the pieces 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 most well-liked 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 good looking 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 adorned stalls, and a festive environment. Cologne’s “Heinzelmännchen” legend is certainly one of my favorites. The Heinzelmännchen are pleasant family spirits which might be used all through the market as decor. You may 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). Positioned 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 will not be solely an extremely spectacular cathedral, however you will additionally discover the three smart 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!
The town is crammed with nice historical past, lovely church buildings and beautiful cafe retailers. It is certainly one of my favourite cities, particularly throughout 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 few of 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 provides 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 a beautiful environment throughout the Christmas season. Aachen can also be dwelling to the Cathedral of Aachen, which is a good looking cathedral and one of many oldest in Europe.
I like to recommend visiting the Charlemagne Middle 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 a beautiful vacation spot.
I like to recommend spending two days right here (we spent two nights right here) exploring the city – it’s extremely 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 method to the gorgeous 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 citadel and affords a bevy of gorgeous buildings and a captivating setting for strolling. The Christmas market right here can also be very fairly, filled with conventional German foods and drinks, crafts, decorations, and music! I extremely suggest exploring Monschau in the event you’re ever in Western Europe throughout winter time – it is completely lovely!
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 frivolously falling snow and take a number of footage! This might even be a improbable 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 individuals milling about grabbing their favourite vacation decorations or chit-chatting with associates whereas having fun with heat drinks or scrumptious meals.
The Christmas Market in Trier is among the oldest in Germany and is about up within the medieval predominant sq. by the unimaginable Trier Cathedral. Practically 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. Through the Center Ages it grew to become some of the essential cities in Europe and it stays an essential web site for commerce and schooling right now.
I like to recommend visiting Trier Cathedral – its Gothic structure dates again to about 1300 A.D., making it some of the spectacular church buildings in Western Europe! The cathedral accommodates quite a few items from earlier than then as properly, 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 shocked at how a lot there’s 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 value visiting as properly – Notre Dame d’Auschwitz, the fashionable artwork heart Centre Pompidou-Metz, and Le Temple Neuf is a good looking church that appears extra like a citadel.
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’ll find connoisseur 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 good looking gentle show, and Place Saint Jacques for nice meals. See all of the Christmas markets right here.
On our means 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 good looking, 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 right 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 the medieval streets admiring vacation decorations whereas listening to stay music. You may 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 arms 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 really certainly one of my favourite locations I’ve ever been!
Ribeauvillé is a superb cease in your European journey as a result of it is some of the distinctive and delightful cities with the most effective 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 the most effective locations for Christmas with a mixture of German and French traditions.
Necessary be aware: the Ribeauvillé Christmas market is ONLY two weekends a 12 months! So plan accordingly. Often the primary and second weekend of December.
Cease 7: Kayersberg
The following few stops have been really happening over simply sooner or later 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 among the most picturesque cities in Alsace with cobblestone streets, half-timbered buildings, and slim alleys lined with retailers 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 well worth the cease! This picturesque city has tiny, slim streets, typically even half streets laden with half-timbered buildings strewn with garlands, teddy bears, and extra.
That is named some of the lovely cities within the Alsace with a good looking 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! For those who’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. The town is ablaze with twinkling lights and festive decorations.
You may 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, typically even half streets laden with half-timbered buildings strewn with garlands, teddy bears, and extra.
We drove from Riquewihr on to Colmar so we might have the day to discover Colmar, solely a couple of 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 good looking place to go to any time of the 12 months however excellent for Christmas! There are six Christmas markets all inside strolling distance and every prettier than the subsequent.
La Petite Venise is certainly one of my favourite areas with pleasant structure curving across the water. Additionally right here is certainly one of my favourite eating places within the area, Winstub de la Petite Venise. This Michelin star restaurant affords a 35 euro plat du jour that makes my mouth water simply serious about it! I’ve eaten right here twice and it is simply a few of the finest meals you will have in Europe.
The Christmas market is stuffed with picket chalets with fantastically illuminated streets and loads of picture alternatives.
On our method to Strasbourg, we stopped on the enormous Koenigsbourg Citadel, a medieval citadel on prime of a mountain within the Alsace with an incredible view of the area. Once we went it was nearing nightfall and a cloud of fog engulfed the citadel, a lot in order that we may barely see! We nonetheless loved roaming across the spectacular citadel.
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 out a cease in Strasbourg. The biggest metropolis and capital of the area, Strasbourg is certainly one of my favourite cities. It is dwelling to the European Parliament, an unimaginable 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 few of the finest in Europe with a towering Christmas tree (nearly 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 adorned Christmas tree in Europe
I urge you to be sure to depart sufficient time to see Strasbourg each throughout the day and at evening to actually get a really feel for its magic. There are 300 stalls unfold all through the town and a few of 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 sublime metropolis famed for its spas and thermal baths.
The town is dwelling to some of the spectacular Christmas markets in Germany with round 200 stalls, that includes conventional picket chalets promoting native produce and festive trinkets. Sadly, this 12 months’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 good looking citadel and a well-preserved Sixteenth-century city. I really lived in Heidelberg for 3 years so I do know my means 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 plenty of native distributors promoting their wares. I additionally love the market by the ice skating rink that is proper beneath the citadel. Such a good looking 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.
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 heart of the 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 good looking sq. within the coronary heart of downtown. Right here you’ll find a Christmas tree that is over 10 meters excessive (about32 ft) and stroll alongside the retailers 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 good looking place to stick with an incredible view, an incredible restaurant, and a surprisingly budget-friendly worth.
Aachen – B&B Resort Aachen-Metropolis – I’ve stayed at many B&Bs, they’re easy, and budget-friendly however sensible lodges.
Trier – Vacation Inn Specific – Additionally an enormous fan of Vacation Inn Specific, easy however good lodges.
Metz – Campanile Metz Centre Gare. Simple place to discover Metz with free road parking.
Colmar – Resort 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 condo, hearth, lovely views, and two full bedrooms.
Heidelberg – Resort Panorama – an incredible resort on the prime of the Hauptstrasse.
Frankfurt – Moxy Airport Resort – an incredible finances spot you probably have an early morning flight.
READ ALL THE CHRISTMAS MARKET GUIDES!
Finest Christmas Markets in Europe
I hope this European Christmas Market Highway Journey itinerary will assist you to 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 filled with distributors promoting all kinds of goodies!
What a improbable journey! For those who’re on the lookout for a festive and charming European journey, be sure you take a look at these wonderful cities throughout Christmas.