The reputation of German Christmas markets is so great that they’ve become an export industry, with variations surfacing as far afield as New Zealand. But there’s nothing like getting it from the source. Here’s a trio of the best:
The old one: The beautiful historic center of Dresden is the scene for Germany’s oldest Christmas market, dating back to 1434. With the brilliantly-restored Frauenkirche keeping a maternal eye on proceedings, the scent of crepes, waffles and marzipan wafts across the cobbled streets. You’ll find plenty of Christstollen, the traditional Christmas yeast cake which is made in Dresden and sold across Germany. Naturally there’s glühwein, as well as the guaranteed cheer fix that is feuerzangenbowle. This age-old seasonal beverage is essentially mulled wine with burning, rum-soaked sugar dripped into it.
The famous one: Over two million visitors make Nuremberg the mother of all Christmas markets. Part of its enduring popularity is the strict quality control —some 200 stalls compete for a design prize, so you’ll need to look elsewhere for tacky tinsel and kitschy Kris Kringles. You’ll find all the hand-made ornaments and warm alcohol you’d expect, but for a unique Nurembergian souvenir, pick up one of the colorfully-clad “prune people” figurines (yes, they’re made out of prunes).
The quaint one: The Medieval Bavarian town of Rothenburg is already one of the most picturesque historic centers in Europe; putting a Christmas market in the middle of it makes it adorable squared, like putting a Santa hat on a pug. For centuries the atmospheric town has hosted the “Reiterlesmarkt”, its name coming from a local myth of a knight on horseback who appeared at Christmas time. And even after the stalls are packed away you can visit Rothenburg’s Christmas Museum with its displays and decorations celebrating Germany’s unique Yuletide traditions.
-Viator Travel Team