Your advice about the best Christmas markets in Germany? As well as what to see and do at each one? I am planning on hitting Dresden, Berlin, Nuremberg, and Munich this December... but I am open to adding another city as well. What are your best tips for experiencing Germany during a Christmas holiday? Thanks!!
I have been on the Christmas Markets in Dresden and in Nuremberg (I lived there several years) and I like them very much. But my favorite Christmas Market in Germany is in a little town called Rothenburg Ob der Tauber, which is a 1:15 hour drive from Nuremberg. Another little and wonderful town to visit is Dinkelsbuhl, but I haven't visited the Christmas Market there. Maybe this year. ;)
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The oldest and best of them all is the Christkindle's Mart in Nuremberg. The spiced cookies and wooden toys are legendary. From there, a short trip up the autobahn to Wurzburg is in order. Depending on where you start and end, include these two. You will find Wurzburg to be a delight. A hidden gem. I lived in Germany for 5 years. Trust me!
If it is not much of a detour, I recommend you the Christmas Market in Braunschweig. I have been to all the Christmas Markets mentioned in the other posts and it is worth the visit! Try the Mozart-Mumme!
If you're thinking about adding another city, Vienna has great atmosphere at Christmas, plenty of lights and several markets to choose from. The one at Schönbrunn Palace just outside the city, has locally-made items, like "Krampus" themed (the Christmas troll) decorations.
One of the many markets in Vienna's old town, keep warm with punsch!
If you were to add another market/region, I'd suggest heading west to see the markets in Cologne. There are actually five markets to see there and you can take a small train to each one. This market can get insanely crowded though, so to enjoy it, go early in the day on a weekday. Don't go on a weekend or evening.
Just an hour from Cologne by train (one of the markets is at the COLOGNE DOME near the Dom/Hbf train station), is Aachen. Aachen was the seat of Charlemagne's empire. Their Christmas market fills the large square in front of the Aachener Rathaus (city hall) and spills down the hill towards the Aachen Cathedral, Charlemagne's church. Aachen is known for their printen, a local spicy gingerbread cookie. You'll see printen shops in several places with gorgeously decorated windows. It's not a taste for everyone, but it's local and very traditional, so try one.
If you'd like to escape the big cities and see something different, but close, head just about 30 minutes south of Aachen to Monschau. This is one of the small towns that escaped the war, so the half-timbered buildings are original and pristine. It lies in a small valley with a stream running through it. Try the many mustards made here (senf) and the many, many flavors of liqueur. I really like the champagne liqueur. Delicious.
My favorite souvenirs:
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