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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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For members


10 reasons to visit Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania this summer

Though it may have escaped the radar of many foreign nationals living in Germany, the eastern state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania is brimming with attractions and delights for tourists during the summer season.

10 reasons to visit Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania this summer

Despite being the most popular  holiday destination for domestic tourists, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania is woefully under-visited by non-Germans. According to the Lonely  Planet, 97 percent of tourists who flock to the region each year are German.

If foreigners have visited, it’s most likely to have been to the seaside Stadt of Rostock and maybe to see the stunning Schloss of Schwerin, the capital.

But the whole state has a slew of attractions – from majestic lakes to historic Hanseatic towns – which will leave all visitors in awe.

Lots of sunshine

Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania regularly tops the list of Germany’s sunniest states and 2022 was no different. Last year, Germany’s most northeastern state was once again the sunniest federal state with 1,648 hours of sunshine. So sun-seekers planning a trip here over the summer are unlikely to be disappointed.

An abundance of water

Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania is not only blessed with abundant sunshine but it also surpasses all other German states with its water resources. With over 2,000 lakes and more than 2,000 kilometres of coastline, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania is the ideal destination for watersports lovers, or for those just wanting to relax near refreshing bodies of water.

Stunning historical sites

From the fairy-tale-like Schwerin Castle on Lake Schwerin to the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Wismar and Stralsund, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania has no shortage of well-preserved historical sites to visit.

Schwerin Castle in Schwerin, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Bernd Wüstneck

The Hanseatic cities of Wismar and Stralsund provide visitors with a glimpse into the region’s rich maritime history and feature well-preserved architecture, including Gothic brick churches and merchant houses.

READ ALSO: Weekend Wanderlust: Following Dracula’s steps along the water in Wismar

Other highlights include the Neubrandenburg city wall – a medieval fortification which dates back to the 14th century and the Renaissance castle in the town of Güstrow.

Island escapes

If you want to feel like you’ve escaped Germany without actually having to leave the country, a visit to the Baltic Sea islands is just what you need.

Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania is home to 25 islands and peninsulas, with Rügen, Usedom, Fischland-Darß-Zingst, Poel, and Hiddensee being the most renowned. Among them, Rügen claims the title of Germany’s largest island, spanning an impressive 930 square kilometres.

Rügen is best known for its beautiful white cliffs and the Jasmund National Park and if you’re visiting the island you should also head to the Königsstuhl vantage point for a breathtaking view of the Baltic Sea coast.

Thousands of manor houses and castles

In the past, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania was home to countless dukes, princes and affluent Hanseatic citizens who left behind over 2,000 castles, manor houses, and stately homes in the region. Of these, more than 1,000 are listed buildings and around a third are open to visitors.

These houses not only provide tourists with a glimpse into the region’s past but many have also been transformed into cultural institutions that contribute to the local arts scene, hosting concerts, workshops and exhibitions throughout the year. 

A great place for artists

Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania has long been a place of inspiration for artists and many of the region’s manor houses have been repurposed as places to host artistic projects and workshops in the region.

One place with a particularly interesting artistic history is Ahrenshoop Beach: a picturesque artists’ village on the Fischland-Darß-Zingst Peninsula. The first artists’ settlement was founded here in around 1890 and over the years more and more creative people were drawn here, inspired by the beautiful natural surroundings.

Amazing beaches

Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania’s extensive coastline offers a rich variety of beaches, each with its own distinctive charm.

Highlights include Warnemünde Beach near the town of Rostock, which offers visitors a broad expanse of sandy shores, beachside bars, watersports activities and an iconic lighthouse.

The wide sandy beach between Binz and Prora. Photo: picture alliance / Jens Büttner/dpa-Zentralbild/dpa | Jens Büttner

With its long stretch of soft sand, and crystal-clear waters, Binz Beach on the island of Rügen is widely acclaimed as one of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania’s finest beaches. 

Zingst Beach on the Zingst Peninsula is part of the Western Pomerania Lagoon Area National Park and is celebrated for its unspoiled beauty, vast stretches of sandy terrain, and dune landscapes.

Kühlungsborn Beach boasts one of the longest stretches of coastline in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, extending over several kilometres. The beach also offers a picturesque promenade dotted with cafes, restaurants, and boutiques.

Fish sandwiches

Probably the best-known dish from Western Pomerania is the Fischbrötchen: a locally sourced, fresh fish – usually herring – grilled or pickled, served in a crusty roll, with toppings such as onions, lettuce, and pickles.

Fischbrötchen is a popular street food snack and can be found sold in stalls next to beaches and in coastal towns throughout the region. It may not sound like much, but it’s really worth a visit to the region all by itself. 

READ ALSO: How Germany’s Baltic coast plans to honour its humble fish sandwich

Outdoor activities

Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania is a perfect destination for those who enjoy an active summer holiday.  

Hiking enthusiasts can find plenty of trails in Müritz National Park, Jasmund National Park, and Mecklenburg Switzerland and those who prefer exploring on two wheels can try out some of the picturesque cycling routes. The Baltic Sea Cycle Route and the Mecklenburg Lakes Cycle Route are particularly popular choices.

The Serrahn beech forest in the Müritz National Park. Photo: picture alliance / dpa-tmn | Nationalparkamt Müritz

Nature lovers will find plenty to explore in the region’s nature reserves and national parks, which are teeming with diverse flora and fauna. Western Pomerania Lagoon Area National Park stands out as a prime spot to witness rare bird species and other captivating wildlife.

Wellness and Spa

Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania is home to numerous spa towns that offer a peaceful retreat to unwind and reconnect with nature.

Bad Sülze, for example, is a small spa town known for its therapeutic peat and moor mud. Visitors can enjoy mud baths and spa treatments and explore the nature trails and parks in the area.

Another notable spa town is Bad Wilsnack, renowned for its healing thermal saltwater springs.