How to Get the Most from Your Visit to a Christmas Market

These seven tips will make your visit to a German Christmas Market a magical one.

As a self-described Christmas market aficionado, who visits at least 20 Christmas markets each season, and author of Bavaria’s Best Castles and Christmas Markets, I like to think I know my markets. Here are my best tips for getting the most from your visit.

1) Go at Night

Christmas markets really come alive at night with all the lights.

Visit Christmas Markets at night when they’re at their most beautiful.

While Christmas Markets are open during the day, they are most beautiful at dusk and in the evening. The dancing sparkling lights enhance the already festive atmosphere, giving the market a magical feel.

2) Go to a Christmas Market Thirsty and Go Hungry

One of my favourite things about German Christmas markets are the food and mulled wine. It appears I’m not the only one judging by the crowds hanging out by the food and wine stalls. You’ll find speciality food at German Christmas Markets some of which is only available at Christmas time, like the famous Lebkuchen (gingerbread) from Nürnberg or the Stollen cake from Dresden. Each area has its regional specialities as well. One staple that you’ll find at all Christmas markets in Germany is Glühwein (mulled wine). If you don’t drink, there’s also Kinderpunsch, which is like warm Kool-Aid.

Go to a German Christmas market hungry so that you can try the local specialities and warm up over a mug of Glühwein.

You’ll find lots of different traditional food specialities and Glühwein (mulled wine) at Christmas markets in Germany.

3) Visit at Least Three Different Christmas Markets

Each Christmas Market in Germany has a different ambience and usually specialises in something different. You can only reach the Christmas Market on Fraueninsel (Women’s Island) by taking a boat. It’s the only island Christmas market in Germany. In Munich alone, you’ll find 17 different Christmas markets, ranging from the largest and most traditional one to a medieval one, to a handicraft one.

Each Christmas Market has its own flair. Visit at least 3 different ones to see how they compare.

The Christmas Market in the Munich Residenz is just 1 of 17 markets in the city.

4) Visit a Christmas Market With Friends/Family

German Christmas Markets become a place to hang out with friends and family. People meet here instead of heading to a restaurant or bar. They have an ambience you only find once a year so celebrate it. Note: dress warmly because you may get cold if you’re outside for a couple of hours and wear fingerless gloves.

Stall at the Christmas Market at the Chinese Tower in Munich, Germany

Christmas Market at the Chinese Tower in Munich

5)Seek Out Local Christmas Specialities

Some Christmas markets are famous for certain things. For example, the Nürnberg Christmas Market is known for its prune people and gingerbread. Oberammergau is known for its nativity scene wood carvings that are so small they fit inside a chestnut.  These local specialities make great souvenirs and celebrate the regional differences.

You can purchase prune people, a Christmas speciality at the Nuremberg Christmas Market in Germany.

Nürnberg is famous for its prune people.

6) Wear fingerless gloves

Christmas markets can get hold and a great way to warm up is with a mug of Glühwein. I recommend fingerless gloves (with or without a mitten flap cover – the choice is yours)  to make the cup easier to hold and to take photos while keeping your hands warm.

7) Check the Schedule in Advance for Special Christmas Events

German Christmas Markets often have entertainment – think choirs, Christmas plays, puppet shows, and German traditions, to name a few of the things you might get lucky enough to see.

For example, in Munich, the Krampus Run is held in December near the oldest and largest Christmas market in Munich. It’s a 500-year old tradition of Saint Nicholas and his mythological companion, Krampus, who resembles a monster, or a character from Fraggle Rock.

When you're visiting a Christmas market, plan your visit in advance to catch special events like the Krampus Run in Munich, Germany every December.

Krampus Run takes place in Munich each December.

What tips do you have for going to a German Christmas Market?

7 tips for getting the most from your visit to a German Christmas market


This article was first published in December 2010 but was updated with more tips. 

Laurel Robbins is the founder of Monkeys and Mountains, an adventure travel blog and company that helps people plan their active holidays in a sustainable way. Although Canadian, she lives in Germany. You can find her in the mountains on most weekends.



  1. Kelly @Travelbugjuice December 3, 2010 at 4:56 pm - Reply

    Yum! Fried mashed potatoes.. that sounds awesome!

  2. Expat in Germany December 3, 2010 at 5:18 pm - Reply

    @Kelly – I am now addicted!

  3. inka December 3, 2010 at 5:55 pm - Reply

    See, I can't get enough of your Christmas market stories. You are the only person whose blog I have read twice in a single day.Thanks for your comments on my posts too.

  4. Mandi December 3, 2010 at 6:01 pm - Reply

    Great tips! I'm officially in love with the Christmas markets and make it a goal to visit a handful of new ones every year. And I *love* Kartoffelpuffer too.

  5. The NVR Guys December 3, 2010 at 6:36 pm - Reply

    Fried mashed potatoes?! Two tickets to Germany please.

  6. Jeremy B December 4, 2010 at 12:24 am - Reply

    Again, one of the things I want to do one day. Seriously, with the recent posts about Christmas Markets in Germany – I'm convinced already! 🙂

  7. zablon December 4, 2010 at 8:45 am - Reply

    great tips, i love shoping at night, there is something to it

  8. Ayngelina December 4, 2010 at 5:17 pm - Reply

    I had never heard of fried mashed potatoes but I must have them!

  9. Leslie Koch December 4, 2010 at 10:08 pm - Reply

    Great tips! I'd love to go to shopping at a German Christmas market.

  10. German Gems December 5, 2010 at 9:09 am - Reply

    Great tips although big city markets at night can be very crowded, making it tough to get around and really enjoy. I recommend the smaller more romantic markets at night, with your significant other.

  11. Amy December 5, 2010 at 1:46 pm - Reply

    I've only been to Germany once and I stupidly timed it so that I was one week too early for the markets. It was torture to watch all the little market stalls being installed knowing I wouldn't be there when they opened. I did manage to find some mulled wine and bratwurst though, so all was not lost!

  12. Expat in Germany December 7, 2010 at 5:35 pm - Reply

    @Inka – Thanks so much! I really appreciate your kind words!
    @Mandi – great idea, I've already got a list of the ones I want to visit next year that I won't get to this year 🙂
    @NVR Guys – if that's all you did in Germany, it would still be worth the trip!
    @Jeremy – I really think December is a great time to visit and usually the weather isn't that cold either!
    @zablon – I agree, I also like shopping at night
    @Ayngelina – it's worth adding to your list!
    @Leslie – thanks, I could spend a lot of money at the German Christmas markets, but I keep getting distracted by the mulled wine!
    @German Gems – excellent point, if you're looking to do some shopping it's better to go during a weekday when it's not as busy, but at night it is very romantic
    @Amy – oh no, you'll just have to come back 🙂

  13. Frau Dietz December 8, 2010 at 5:36 pm - Reply

    My tip: leave the mulled wine well alone and get involved with the mulled cider! Am dying to try a Kartoffelpuffer… my problem is I just can't seem to stay away from the Schwenkbraten stand 🙂

  14. Expat in Germany December 14, 2010 at 7:24 pm - Reply

    Mulled cider? What have I been missing? I'll have to check it out! Ah yes, the Schwenkbraten, so many tasty things, it's hard to choose!

  15. adventureswithben December 5, 2011 at 3:03 am - Reply

    Do they still sell Glass-Blown ornaments from Lauscha at the Christmas Market?

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