Unfortunately, most of last year’s Christmas markets were closed after being open for only a few days (COVID), or they didn’t open at all… so it should be no surprise that I wanted to hit the ground running this year! Well at least as much as working full time allowed for...
First on our list was Amberg’s market since it’s one of our most frequented towns year round. This market was small, but I LOVED it. It just hit differently since it’s our go-to town. This market has the essential Christmas Market Staples: Glühwein (hot, mulled wine) in a mug unique to that market, Bratwurstsemmels, and vendors around a Christmas tree.
I may venture to say this is my favorite larger sized market, and even then, it’s not the largest by far. This market had a clean layout, and a ton of Glühwein huts and vendors. We actually made this a day trip with a couple of our friends to visit Augsburg in general, but the market quickly became my favorite part of the day! In Augsburg, they have a pretty interesting affordable housing community, The Fuggerei, that was established in 1516 by Jakob Fuggerei, one of the wealthiest people in the world at the time. In order to even qualify to be considered for one of these homes, you must be:
- Pray three times a day
- Have lived in Augsburg for at least the last two years
- Be below a certain poverty line, with no debt
- Follow a 10PM curfew
- And work part-time in the community
If you fulfilled those qualifications, and were selected, your rent would equal one Rhenish gulden (or 0.88 euros in today’s money) per YEAR! Now talk about tough requirements, but worth the lifestyle considering the current cost of living.
In addition to the Fuggerei and the seasonal Christmas market, Augsburg had a super cute farmers market and beautiful streets to get lost on.
Suggestion: We had dinner at: Ratskeller Augsburg and I really enjoyed my meal – I had the Zwiebelrostbraten dish which was steak, fried onions and Spätzle (a gnocchi like side). What’s pretty cool, in addition to the ambiance, was that it’s located in the same building as the Rathaus (Town Hall).
This market was on our list solely because of where we are in Germany. The town of Hohenfels is one of the many sister towns to one of our US Military bases. Like Amberg, this market had all the staples and the atmosphere was festive. One thing of note for our visit, was that we purposely went to see the opening ceremony of this market, and got to see the school choir perform Christmas carols.
We’re horrible residents, because we live in Hohenburg and did not even know there was a market happening! The Hohenburg Christmas market was only open for two days… which is pretty normal for the smaller villages. In fact, smaller villages tend to rotate weekends for their events, so nearby residents can alternate and support other neighboring events. This is the same for Kirwa, another traditional German event.
This was the first market we went to this year that we had to pay an entry fee for. Until now, all of the markets we had visited were free. Which is a great way to get out, feel the holiday cheer, and browse vendor stands.
Schloss Guteneck’s market is actually a market where we pay for parking, there are parking attendants, and you somewhat follow the maps throughout the market for directions on how to get to the next grouping of stands. There was a ton of people at this market despite the ticket costs, and the market is spread across a castle and the area surrounding it. Pretty cool if you as me, and there was a bunch of space between sections, which were filled with decorations, to include a section of fables such as Little Red Riding Hood, and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
Now this market is world known. Most people know Nuremburg for two, maybe three things:
- Nuremburg Trials pertaining to WWII
- Christmas Market
- and the maybe, its a pretty major train station that can get you to the even bigger cities in Germany
And honestly, this market was great – I will say I was worried before I even left my house, that it would be so packed, I’d actually hate every second of it. Lucky for us, although there were a lot of people, there was always a space nearby that you could step to the side and stop, organize your bag, or sip on your glühwein.
Like most other markets, Nuremburg’s primary market was located in front of the main Cathedral, and it continued into the nearby streets. In fact, Nuremburg technically has more than 10 markets, but since they are practically touching each other, it ends up feeling like a single, giant market.
One of the markets is dedicated as an international market, where market stands are set up with goods from all over the world. Just some of the interesting places that had stands this year included Cuba, Ukraine, China, and Scotland. I personally really enjoyed this section and was excited to see people from different cultures coming together to celebrate the Christmas season.
Pro–tip: If you do decide to stop at the Nuremburg market, it is worth your time, just come mentally prepared to be patient and go with the flow.
The most popular Regensburg market is actually also internationally acclaimed, it’s called: The Romantic Christmas Market. Similar to the Schloss Guteneck one though, you do have to pay to get in and its at a castle (If you pay ahead of time, it’s cheaper than paying in person at the gate).
But please don’t make your way to Regensburg, and not see the other markets this charming city has to offer. There are a handful of other Christmas markets, with free entry, scattered through the city. Such as:
- Christkindlmarkt on Neupfarrplatz
- Lucrezia Markt – This market focuses on artisan crafts
The only Christmas market outside of Germany we were able to fit in this year was the Prague, Czech Repuclic market. That being said, we made it last, as we were in Prague for three days, leaving on Christmas Day. Part of the reason we decided to revisit Prague during the holiday season was that it would be open over Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, unlike many other markets which actually close for the year around the 23rd of December.
Although the Prague markets were unique and exciting in their own way, we found ourselves missing the signature glühwein mugs, the Bratwurstsemmels, and the better variety of vendors that the German markets offered. But make no mistake, we really enjoyed it! Since Prague has its own traditions and customs, it was a pleasant change to what we were used to. We even capped the trip off with a viewing of the Nutcracker Ballet in a theater right in the heart of the city.
Overall, Christmas markets truly are magical, but they can be physically and financially draining if you aren’t careful. If you are visiting Europe specifically for Christmas Markets, make sure to actually plan other activities, and select a handful of markets that you really want to see based on the cities they’re located in, not just because of what one person wrote or said about the market specifically. Because in the end, some of the smallest markets are really filled with the most Christmas cheer.
Check out my 2021 Christmas Market post for more Christmas Market info!