I simply spent a wonderful ten days in Germany and France taking in among the greatest 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 understand there isn’t any scarcity of magical locations in Europe.
Whether or not you might be desirous 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 most effective issues to do.
Should you’re on the lookout for the Greatest Christmas Markets in Europe take a look at this information. This additionally shares the main points about Christmas Markets all through Europe: Germany, France, Switzerland, Austria, and extra. It additionally shares necessary dates and ceaselessly 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 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 automobile, and headed straight to Cologne. I am ALWAYS requested about rental vehicles. Sure, Europe does have wonderful 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 most effective tips about experiencing Christmas markets and my itinerary for a wonderful journey.
There may be a lot that goes into planning an epic journey overseas, particularly in the course of the holidays! With my European Christmas market highway journey itinerary, it can hopefully make your journey planning course of a breeze.
How lengthy do you have to plan for a visit? It will after all rely upon 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 it’s good to discover, what it is best to positively see/do, and the way lengthy it takes to journey from metropolis to metropolis.
You may completely see rather a lot in much less time! One week continues to be loads of time to see and do rather a lot, you would possibly simply need to lower out a number of stops alongside the way in which.
Now whereas we had been touring we did should 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 capable of re-route our journey! And it was so value it.
Many will inform you to e-book resorts forward of time, and I agree, however make sure that the cancellation coverage is versatile, particularly if you happen to anticipate there is perhaps adjustments 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 resorts.
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 as if rather a lot… it is as a result of it’s! With a automobile and a can do angle, together with a plan, you actually can see and do rather a lot! 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 likely to pack in rather a lot once I journey, however I would not have it some other method.
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 night time (Monschau to Trier is about an hour and a half drive)
Day 5: Trier, drove to Metz, Christmas markets at night time 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 whole drive time was about 14 hours in 11 days. To me, that is excellent, and did not in any respect really feel like we had been within the automobile an excessive amount of.
Renting a Automotive
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 capable of 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’ll be able to generally drop off your rental automobile at a special location, however normally it must be throughout the similar nation. Maintain that in thoughts when renting.
I do not normally add automobile rental insurance coverage, since I’ve insurance coverage already.
I ended up paying about $600 in whole with taxes and charges to hire 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 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 stunning stalls within the Roncalliplatz.
Angel Market – This stunning market is situated at Neumarkt and options fairly white stalls with darkish shingled roofs and a myriad of stars. There’s a gorgeous 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 ambiance. 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 plenty of 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). Positioned in entrance of the attractive and historic Hahnentorburg, you’ll be able to 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 is just not solely an extremely spectacular cathedral, however you may 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 complete day journey in itself!
The town is stuffed with nice historical past, stunning church buildings and beautiful cafe outlets. It is certainly one of my favourite cities, particularly in the course of 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 night time drove on to cease 2!
Cease 2: Aachen
I can not imagine I lived in Germany for 3 years and by no means visited Aachen! This metropolis has been named as having among the greatest 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’ll be able to 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 a beautiful ambiance in the course of the Christmas season. Aachen can be dwelling to the Cathedral of Aachen, which is a gorgeous 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 greatest 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 technique 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 be very fairly, stuffed with conventional German foods and drinks, crafts, decorations, and music! I extremely advocate exploring Monschau if you happen to’re ever in Western Europe throughout winter time – it is completely stunning!
It is a quick 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 flippantly falling snow and take a number of photos! This could 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 principle 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 pals 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 most important sq. by the unbelievable 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 exterior Palestine was established, by Saint Helena of Constantinople round 300 AD. Throughout the Center Ages it turned one of the crucial necessary cities in Europe and it stays an necessary website for commerce and training at this time.
I like to recommend visiting Trier Cathedral – its Gothic structure dates again to about 1300 A.D., making it one of the crucial 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 value visiting as nicely – Notre Dame d’Auschwitz, the fashionable artwork heart Centre Pompidou-Metz, and Le Temple Neuf is a gorgeous 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 mild 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 mild shows.
Subsequent to the Cathedral is a neon Ferris wheel together with a market. Yow will discover connoisseur meals markets on Place de la Comédie.
I additionally advocate the normal Christmas market at Place Saint Louis, the Place de la République-Esplanade with the Christmas pyramid, Place d’Armes J-F Blondel with a gorgeous mild show, and Place Saint Jacques for excellent meals. See all of the Christmas markets right here.
On our method 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 simple cease.
Subsequent, we took our longest drive of the journey from Metz to Ribeauvillé.
Cease 6: Ribeauvillé
This was my favourite and most stunning cease on on journey! Ribeauvillé is a gorgeous, 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 normal 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 means of the medieval streets admiring vacation decorations whereas listening to stay 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 night time for unknown creatures from fairy tales and legends will roam the road!
Heat your arms by the fireplace logs in the course of the road, comply with 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 good cease in your European journey as a result of it is one of the crucial 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 really a gem and the most effective locations for Christmas with a mixture of German and French traditions.
Necessary word: the Ribeauvillé Christmas market is ONLY two weekends a 12 months! So plan accordingly. Normally the primary and second weekend of December.
Cease 7: Kayersberg
The following few stops had been truly going down over simply at some point since these cities are so small and simple 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 outlets promoting all kinds 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 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, generally even half streets laden with half-timbered buildings strewn with garlands, teddy bears, and extra.
That is named one of the crucial stunning cities within the Alsace with a gorgeous 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! Should you’re right here at night time, stick round for a tour from the Night time Watchman who will inform you tales of Eguisheim’s previous!
Cease 9: Riquewihr
Of the three stops of our Alsace Christmas market tour at this time: 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, 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 might have the day to discover Colmar, solely a few 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 gorgeous 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 provides a 35 euro plat du jour that makes my mouth water simply fascinated with it! I’ve eaten right here twice and it is simply among the greatest 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 technique to Strasbourg, we stopped on the big Koenigsbourg Citadel, a medieval fortress on high of a mountain within the Alsace with an amazing view of the area. After 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 night time.