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Seven unmissable Christmas markets that open this week in Germany

Following two winters of fully or partially closed Christmas markets, Germany’s famous 'Weihnachtsmärkte' are opening their doors again - and are mostly free of restrictions. Here are seven you won't want to miss.

Dresden Striezelmarkt
The illuminated entrance to Dresden's historic Striezelmarkt. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Sebastian Kahnert

While some are limiting their opening hours in order to save on electricity costs, it’s again possible to gather in a group with a steaming glass of Glühwein, or sift through the many stands selling homemade goods and sweets, be it Lebkuchen (gingerbread) or gebrannte Mandeln (roasted almonds, usually laced with cinnamon and sugar).

While some Christmas markets have become more commercial in recent years (we don’t recommend to head to Berlin’s Potsdamer Platz as your only Weihnachtsmarkt stop), there are still many that retain a traditional character, serving up local specialties in a gemütlich (cozy) atmosphere. 

Here are seven of our top recommendations of top markets starting the week of November 21st.

Streizelmarkt, Dresden, November 23rd-December 24th

No Christmas Market list would be complete without the Streizelmarkt – Germany’s oldest Christmas market in the “Florence on the Elbe”.

This market, situated in Dresden’s charming city centre, first took place in 1434, and since then it has acquired quite a reputation. The ancient festival is home to the tallest Christmas pyramid in the world, as well as its largest nutcracker.

Amongst the dozens of traditional stands, visitors to this market must also indulge themselves with a Dresdner Christstollen: the famous fruit loaf that is baked according to a traditional recipe with chopped dried and candied fruits, nuts and spices and dusted with powdered sugar.

Visitors can also take a ride on the historic Ferris wheel and gaze down upon the lovingly decorated huts of the Striezelmarkt.

READ ALSO: The secrets behind Stollen, Germany’s beloved holiday treat

Mainzer Weihnachtsmarkt, November 24th-December 24th

Recently crowned Germany’s ‘most dynamic city’, Mainz also boasts a fascinating history stretching back over a thousand years. It is also known for one of Germany’s most charming old towns, making it the perfect setting for this market. 

Visitors can’t miss the eleven-metre high, ornately decorated Christmas pyramid, which lights up the entrance. Just a few steps away, hand-carved, life-size nativity figures glow in front of the Gotthard Chapel of the famous St. Martin’s Cathedral.

READ ALSO: The unlikely place crowned ‘Germany’s most dynamic city’

Medieval Market and Christmas Market, Esslingen, November 22nd-December 22nd

The Medieval Market and Christmas Market in Esslingen in Baden-Württemberg, with its backdrop of medieval half-timbered houses, offers visitors a trip back in time, with traders and artisans showing off their goods from times gone by.

The stands show off the wares of pewterers, stonemasons, blacksmiths, broom makers and glass blowers, as well as some old-fashioned merchants selling fun themed goods like drinking horns and “potions” in bottles. 

Esslingen Christmas market

Crowds of visitors peruse the stalls at Esslingen Christmas market. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Jan-Philipp Strobel

Christkindlesmarkt, Augsburg November 21st to December 24th

With its origins in the 15th century, the Christkindlesmarkt in Augsburg is one of the oldest in Germany, and the Renaissance town hall provides a particularly beautiful backdrop to this winter wonderland.

As well as a wide variety of stands selling handcrafted nicknacks and tasty treats, the Augsburg market also has some especially magical features, including the “Heavenly Post Office,” and “Fairytale Lane”: an animated fairytale depicted in ten scenes in decorated shop windows around the marketplace.

Maritime Christmas Market on the Koberg, Lübeck, November 21st-December 30th

Centred around the gothic, middle-aged church of St. Jacob, this market in the so-called “Christmas city of the north” celebrates the city’s historical sea-faring residents by creating a cosy harbour atmosphere with old wooden barrels, nets and a stranded shipwreck as well as a Ferris wheel with an unforgettable view of Lübeck’s old town and harbour.

Culinary stands offer visitors sweet and savoury dishes, and beverages such as hot lilac punch, mulled wine and, of course, rum.

Erfurter Weihnachtsmarkt, November 22-December 22nd

It may come as a surprise to some that this Christmas market in the lesser known eastern German state of Thuringia consistently tops lists of the country’s (and even Europe’s) best Christmas markets. 

The enchanting Erfurter Weihnachtsmarkt encompasses over 200 stands, many of which sell local culinary specialties such as the Thüringer Bratwurst. There’s also a particularly large selection of arts and crafts, be it pottery or folk art from the nearby Ore Mountains. Kids will especially enjoy riding on the glowing Ferris wheel with its panoramic views of the Medieval Old Town. 

Christmas market Erfurt

Erfurt’s Christmas market in 2021. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Martin Schutt

Nürnberger Christkindlesmarkt, November 25th-December 24th

One of the oldest and most famous Christmas markets in the world, this market is practically synonymous with the Christmas season in Germany. Numerous stands sell local woodcrafts as well as the two sweets the city is known for: Lebkuchen gingerbread and Spekulatius almond cookies, in addition to many other delicacies. There’s also a special market for children, which includes a carousel and steam train. 

If you make it for the opening day, you can see the market’s namesake Christkind give an opening speech and gift-giving ceremony.

READ ALSO: German word of the day: Das Christkind

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REVEALED: The most popular camping destinations in Germany

Camping in Germany has never been more popular, according to a new report by the statistical office. The Local takes a look at camping trends and the nation’s most popular outdoor destinations.

REVEALED: The most popular camping destinations in Germany

With 42.3 million overnight stays recorded, more people than ever before camped in Germany in 2023, according to data released by the statistical office (Destatis) on Monday.

That was up 5.2 percent from 2022, and 18.2 percent above the pre-Covid year 2019.

Camping has steadily gained popularity in Germany in the past 10 years. With the exception of the Covid years 2020 and 2021, which were marked by travel restrictions and accommodation bans, the number of overnight stays in campgrounds has steadily risen in this period.

In comparison, the number of overnight stays with other types of accommodation, like hotels, has not yet returned to pre-Covid levels – still down 1.7 percent in 2023 compared to 2019.

Just over 10 percent of campers come from abroad. In total, 4.5 million international guests camped in Germany in 2023, and 37.8 million campers outdoors in their home country.

Where do people like to camp in Germany?

The most popular camping locations in the Bundesrepublik are split between the northern coasts and the southern forests. 

Schleswig-Holstein’s Baltic Coastline was the most popular location, with a total of 3.5 million overnight stays. 

The next most popular camping regions included the Black Forest, the North Sea coast of Lower Saxony, the Allgäu and the Lake Constance-Upper Swabia region.

READ ALSO: Holiday like a local: Five of the best camping regions in Germany

Interestingly, campers coming from abroad tend to be primarily drawn to the southwest of Germany – spending the most nights in the Black Forest, followed by the Mosel-Saar and the Rhineland-Palatinate Eifel regions. 

Allansbach am Bodensee

The village of Allansbach am Bodensee in Baden-Württemberg. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Felix Kästle

One reason behind these regions’ popularity is their proximity to neighbouring countries like France, Luxembourg or the Netherlands, where camping is particularly widespread.

If you’d rather avoid the most popular camping spots, inner-Germany’s lake regions also make for good camping options. The Franconian Lake District, Lusatian Lake District and  the Hegau on Lake Constance all have a number of great lakeside campsites to choose from.

How to camp German style

Unfortunately for the adventurous and thrifty, camping outside of designated campsites – so-called wild camping – is illegal throughout Germany. So to avoid any trouble, you’ll want to find a legitimate campground (Campingplatz).

Campgrounds vary immensely in terms of price and amenities, but most of them will have designated zones for RV or trailer camping and tent camping. Picnic tables, fire pits, electrical outlets, bathrooms with showers and even wifi are typically available even in the more basic sites. Whereas more built-up campgrounds operate like resorts with restaurants, swimming pools, washing machines etc.

Prices tend to start around €20 per night for car camping. Sometimes guests coming without a car, such as bike-touring campers, can pay less.

According to Destatis, motorhome camping prices increased by 9.0 percent in 2023 compared to 2022. Campsite fees overall increased a bit more moderately, by 6.6 percent.

This being Germany, making early reservations is not a bad idea – especially at the aforementioned popular destinations, campgrounds can fill up during peak vacation times. 

If you are planning to camp on the beach on Mecklenburg–West Pomerania’s Rügen island in August, for example, you may want to contact the campground ahead of time to see about reserving a spot. That said, a lot of campgrounds tend to have space for spontaneous arrivals throughout the season.

Websites like Camping Info or Pin Camp (the camping portal of Germany’s automobile association ADAC) can be useful for finding campgrounds around the country.