Home Family Travel My German Christmas Market Itinerary (10-Day Road Trip)

My German Christmas Market Itinerary (10-Day Road Trip)

My German Christmas Market Itinerary (10-Day Road Trip)

I’d dreamed of visiting the German Christmas markets for so long surpassing I finally made the trip a reality with a swoonworthy road trip through Germany and France. As idyllic as it can be to stroll through the wooden market stalls sipping glühwein, it is possible to get market fatigue. However, this 10-day Christmas Market itinerary is going to requite you the perfect mix of big city, little town, and unique market experiences that will have you overcrowded with festive joy.

Christmas in Germany brings next level recreate and is so variegated from the hustle-bustle consumerism in the U.S. It is well-nigh tradition, gathering together in the cold, and appreciation for handcrafted goods versus the mass produced. It is untellable to not get unprotected up in the magic of the holidays while visiting the German Christmas markets.

If you are looking to plan a German Christmas markets trip, I’m going to requite you some Christmas Markets planning tips, translating on whether to cruise, drive, or train, and lay out a detailed German Christmas market road trip itinerary that you can reprinting and go, including where to stay and things to do vastitude the markets.

Christmas market stalls in Trier Germany - German Christmas market trip itinerary

Tips for Planning a German Christmas Markets Trip

There are over 1,500 German Christmas markets that have over 50 supplies stalls…and plane increasingly smaller markets. Figuring out where to start can be overwhelming, but I’m here to help. To get started planning your Christmas Markets trip, here are some things to consider.

How Long Do You Need for a German Christmas Markets Trip?

I would suggest planning at least a week long German Christmas market trip itinerary if you want to wits multiple cities or regions. If you have less time, it would make sense to pick just one city, such as Frankfurt or Stuttgart and plan day trips to nearby Christmas markets.

I spent 16 days in Germany and France visiting Christmas markets and in that time I visited 17 Christmas markets (more really since there are multiple markets in many cities and towns). It was a lot. A little increasingly than I would suggest unless you are really obsessed with Christmas markets. The question I heard the most is…did you get bored of the markets? And honestly, not really! Each has its own unique character. But the travel can still get tiring and you might get a little sick of bratwurst and glühwein.

I think the sweet spot is to plan a seven to 10-day German Christmas Markets trip.

Christmas pyramid in Trier Germany

Should you cruise, drive, or take the train?

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River cruising is a very popular way to visit the Christmas Markets, expressly withal the Rhine River. It is certainly the easiest way to visit multiple markets, as you don’t need to unpack or worry well-nigh any logistics. Most river trip lines include excursions such as guided walking tours or transportation to markets to enjoy self-ruling time. The only downsides are the forfeit and that you are increasingly limited in where and when you visit the markets, making it a bit harder to stave crowds or wits the markets at variegated times of day.

Traveling by train is a unconfined way to travel considering plane many of the smaller towns are wieldy by train and you don’t need to worry well-nigh winter driving. However, you do need to worry well-nigh potential train strikes (there was one going on in Germany when I was there) and cancellations. You moreover need to plan superiority regarding luggage storage, expressly if you aren’t staying overnight in each place or if you are staying in an Airbnb.

A German Christmas markets road trip gives you the most flexibility and independence. I found driving in Germany quite easy and plane crossing the verge between Germany and France was quite seamless. It was moreover quite affordable to rent a car (I paid only well-nigh $350 for 11 days — I use Auto Europe to find the weightier rates.)

You Need to Plan Ahead

The German Christmas markets are rhadamanthine increasingly popular with international travelers (thanks Instagram!) and it is important to plan early. If you want to take a river cruise, I’d suggest booking that at least six to nine months in advance. For hotel reservations, you will need to plan at least two to three months surpassing your trip to find affordable accommodations in the municipality center, expressly if you need rooms with two beds.

Christmas market mugs in Heidelberg Germany

Check Dates and Hours

German Christmas markets typically unshut in late November and run through December 23rd. There are exceptions, and some are only unshut during outstart weekends. So surpassing you typesetting your trip, make sure the markets will be unshut while you are there! Very few remain unshut between Christmas and New Years.

Also, some smaller markets are only unshut on the weekends or only in the late afternoon or evenings. There may moreover be variegated hours depending on the day of the week. Be sure to do a little research surpassing you go and try to hit the big cities midweek so minimize the crowds at the markets.

German Christmas Market Itinerary

Christmas Market in square at Trier Germany

So let’s get into it. If you have followed my travels for a while you know that I love planning out my trips and share my itineraries with tweaks based on what I learned withal the way. That’s why I’m suggesting a shorter 10-day Christmas markets road trip and focusing just on Germany. If you don’t have 10 days, I will moreover make some suggestions to turn this into an eight or nine day trip (so you only need one week of PTO plus weekends.)

You could hands add in a side trip to Strasbourg or Colmar, but France’s Alsace region has so much to offer I’d unquestionably recommend making that its own trip.

This Christmas Markets itinerary is weightier as a road trip to offer the most flexibility. It makes a loop from Frankfurt, tent much of Southwest Germany. Considering it is a loop, you can fly in and out of Frankfurt, which is a major airport served by American, Delta, United, Lufthansa, and others. This allows you to typesetting a cheaper round trip airfare than if you flew into Munich and out of Frankfurt for example.

This 10-day German Christmas Markets road trip itinerary includes stops in:

  • Frankfurt
  • Rüdesheim am Rhein
  • Trier
  • Freiburg im Breisgau
  • Ravenna Gorge
  • Stuttgart
  • Ludwigsburg
  • Esslingen
  • Heidelberg
  • return to Frankfurt

It seems like a lot of moving virtually but I’ve unquestionably serried this itinerary to spend two nights in each hotel and visit multiple markets in one day (sometimes via train). And, the longest momentum you have between stops is 3.5 hours, but most drives are much shorter.

This map was created using Google My Maps and covers my suggested German Christmas Markets road trip itinerary. You can click on the star next to the title and save this to your Google Maps worth or click on the share icon to send it to yourself via email.

Day 1 – Inrush in Frankfurt

If you are flying into Frankfurt from the U.S., you will likely victorious in the early morning. It makes sense to stay overnight near the airport, since you will want to pick up your rental car at the airport once you are ready to leave Frankfurt. However, the German rail system makes it very easy to get virtually and you can hands take the S-Bahn train from the airport into Part-way Municipality (with or without your luggage).

If this is your first time in Frankfurt, I’d recommend booking a Frankfurt by Foot walking tour to requite you an introduction to the municipality vastitude just the Christmas Markets. Taking this tour helped me get my situation and made it easier to explore the markets on my own (plus we spent a little time in the markets at the end of the tour too!)

On this tour, I was worldly-wise to see the municipality highlights including the New Old Town, Frankfurt Cathedral, the Holocaust Memorial, Roemerberg, Kleinmarkthalle (a local indoor market), and Eiserner Steg (Iron Bridge) over the River Main.

To get to the municipality center, you can take the S-Bahn (suburban train) lines S8 or S9 from the regional train station located in Terminal 1 of the airport to the Hauptwache station. The journey takes approximately 15-20 minutes and trains run every 10-15 minutes.

With whatever energy you have left, you will want to explore Frankfurt’s main Christmas Markets in Römerberg, St Paul’s Square, Main Quay, Hauptwache, and Friedrich Stoltze Square (home to Frankfurt’s Pink LGBTQ market.) Don’t worry if you can’t fully embrace the Christmas Market vibe while jet lagged, you will have flipside endangerment to revisit these markets at the end of your trip.

Of undertow if you have increasingly time, you can stay longer in Frankfurt and take day trips to local Christmas markets near Frankfurt.

Where to stay: I found staying at the Sheraton Frankfurt Airport Hotel extremely easy as it is a very short walk to the terminal or the train station. As a Marriott Bonvoy Gold Member I was given executive lounge access, which could be a good spot to skiver some time if you have an early arrival.

Day 2 – Rüdesheim am Rhein

Pick up your rental car from the airport early so that you can have a full day to explore. From the airport, it is only a 45-minute momentum to the next stop on your German Christmas Markets road trip…Rüdesheim am Rhein. Rüdesheim is a small, but popular, town in the German wine region of Rheingau on the banks of the Rhine River.

The town itself is tiny and can get extremely crowded in the height of the day so it is good to get there early to stroll withal Drosselgasse, the most picturesque street that is lined with shops and restaurants, as it will be elbow-to-elbow later in the day. Despite the crowds, it is well-worth a visit to this mannerly little town both for its architecture, its wine, and, of course, the Christmas Market.

Once town starts getting crowded, it is time to walk through the vineyards up the hill overdue town to the Niederwald monument, which was built in the late 1800s to commemorate the unification of Germany. If you don’t finger like walking, you can moreover ride the subscription car up and back, with unconfined views of the town, river, and vineyards below.

In town, you can moreover visit Siegfried’s Mechanical Music Cabinet, which is a museum of streamlined musical instruments, and the Rheingau Wine Museum in the medieval Brömserburg Castle. Winelovers may moreover want to pre-arrange a tasting at Georg Breur Winery to sip some of the regions famous dry Rieslings.

As for the Christmas Market, the primary market lies in the Marktplatz, where a life-sized nativity scene unfolds and you will find live entertainment. In the neighboring zone you will find a mini curling ice and small family-friendly rides.

The Rüdescheimer Weihnachtsmarkt also has a small children’s market with rides and, when we visited, a exhibit of large rabbits and fluffy chickens. Personally, I found the crafts and gifts at the market a bit disappointing as they were primarily imported goods versus locally made crafts, but the supplies was delicious.

You will find many traditional German Christmas market foods that are popular in this region including käsespatzle (cheese spaetzle), flammkuchen (a flatbread with cheese, onions, and ham), kartoffelpuffer (potato pancakes), and apfelwein (apple glühwein).

From Rüdesheim, it is a two-hour momentum to your next stop. You can segregate to spend the night in Rüdesheim, or, to minimize moving around, you can momentum straight to Trier at the end of the day.

Where to stay: If you decide to stay in Rüdesheim overnight, you will be pleased to walk virtually without the day trippers leave. I loved the mannerly rooms at the centrally-located ​​Breuer’s Rüdesheimer Schloss. They plane have self-ruling parking, which can be really nonflexible to find in these smaller towns. Otherwise, momentum to Trier and spend two nights there.

Day 3 – trier

Trier is Germany’s oldest city, located on the Moselle River near the verge with Luxembourg. It was founded by the Romans in 17 BC and you can still see eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including Roman baths, a 25,000-seat amphitheater, and the impressive Porta Nigra, the only remaining Roman municipality gate, which dates when to the 2nd century.

While you are in town, you should moreover pay a visit to the Trier Cathedral, which is the oldest in Germany, dating when to Roman times. This huge cathedral is home to two important Catholic relics, the Holy Robe of Christ and a holy nail thought to be from the Crucifixion.

If you have time, you can moreover visit the archeological museum, which has the weightier hodgepodge of Roman art and artifacts in Germany.

Of course, you will want to leave plenty of time to enjoy Trier’s Christmas Markets, which are spread throughout the Altstadt (Old Town). Trier’s markets really have it all — a picturesque setting, plenty of space to move around, terrific supplies and drink, and plenty of entertainment options for all month from historical puppet theater to star tenor and songsmiths.

The main markets take place in Hauptmarkt square and in front of the cathedral. But if you walk lanugo Fleischstrasse to Kornmarkt, you will find increasingly supplies stalls and a small ice rink under the lights. The decor was so mannerly (even with winsome trash cans!)

The supplies and craft stalls were moreover impressive, with one of my favorite käsewurst sausages of the trip and some succulent poffertjes, which are small Dutch pancakes (which we moreover saw in Amsterdam). I moreover got to try eierpunsch, which is a warm egg liqueur-based drink.

Where to stay: I loved my stay at the Romantik Hotel Zur Glocke, right in the Old Town. This is one of my favorite shop hotels of the year, with beautifully-designed, luxury rooms, an wondrous location, and plane complimentary breakfast all for a very affordable rate. The only downside is that there isn’t parking on-site, but you can use a paid lot nearby.

Day 4 – Freiburg im Breisgau

It will take you well-nigh 3.5 hours to momentum from Trier to Freiburg im Breisgau. Your momentum will likely take you through a bit of the Alsace region of France, and if you have the uneaten time, you can add in a day in Strasbourg and/or Colmar, or a short stop in Strasbourg on the way.

Strasbourg is tabbed the Capital of Christmas and the town goes all out when it comes to Christmas decor. While I veritably loved the mannerly Petite France neighborhood and all of the over-the-top decorations, the market itself was a bit disappointing. You can find some unique or regional markets but the main municipality part-way is full of the same supplies stalls and commercial souvenir offerings.

Just make sure you leave time to explore Freiburg. This university town has a vibrant Old Town with cobblestone roads and nice shops and restaurants. This is where you will find the Weihnachtsmarkt with 130 beautifully decorated wooden stalls spread wideness multiple locations, including the Rathausplatz, Franziskanerstrasse, Unterlindenplatz, Turmstrasse, Rotteckring, Predigertor and the Kartoffelmarkt.

There are activities for children like candle making and a sultry workshop. I had some succulent Christmas market foods in Freiburg including käsewurst (cheese-stuffed bratwurst), a potato tornado, and kaiserschmarrn (torn sweet pancakes served with vanilla sauce). This really felt like a market for locals, with products including colorful local cheeses and trappy miniature houses for those looking to to create a Christmas village under their tree.

In wing to the markets, you should visit the Freiburg Minster or Cathedral in Münsterplatz, which is moreover home to a rented farmer’s market six mornings a week.

Where to stay: We had the hardest time finding an affordable place to stay in Freiburg that would be a short walking loftiness from the Christmas Markets and ended up at the Freiburg Apartments, which were fine but very utilitarian.

If possible, I would squint to stay at the Colombi Hotel. Whatever you do, try to unify for parking in whop considering it is scarce in the municipality part-way (hence all the bicycles.) If you need to stay a bit remoter from the municipality center, the tram system is user-friendly for getting around.

Day 5 – Ravenna Gorge

Ravenna Gorge aqueduct

This is a day that requires some whop planning as Ravenna Gorge is the only stop on this trip that requires tickets, and they go fast. In addition, the market is only unshut on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays — so hopefully your dates will work out! If not, you could skip this day and shorten your trip, or spend a night or two in France instead.

You need to sign up for the newsletter to learn the word-for-word stage and time that tickets go on sale and jump online on that day (the older the better) to get the prime time slots. You moreover need to typesetting a parking spot or plan to take the train and have a shuttle reservation instead.

But first, let me when up, Ravenna Gorge is located well-nigh 35-45 minutes outside of Freiburg. There is a small village with a hotel and a few shops, but the main witchery is the 40-meter tall pipe set in a picturesque gorge in the Black Forest.

Ideally, you will be worldly-wise to typesetting a time slot to visit the market in the late afternoon until the early evening, so that you can get the view in the daylight and then get to wits the pipe with its dramatic uplighting at night as well. The market itself is small, with only well-nigh 40 stalls, but each is a local visitor or supplies provider.

This is such a unique, dramatic, and trappy Christmas market that it is really worth making the effort to visit if your dates align. During the day, you can spend increasingly time in Freiburg or take a little road trip into the Black Forest. There are a number of ski villages nearby including Donaueschingen, Feldberg, or Titisee – Neustadt.

Day 6 – Stuttgart

Stuttgart ferris wheel and fountain

After visiting some smaller towns and cities, Stuttgart brings you when to a big city. It is a 2.5 hour momentum from Freiburg to Stuttgart, through the trappy Black Forest. If you get an early start, you can moreover make a stop in the small town of Tübingen, which moreover hosts a chocolate festival on select dates in early December.

Stuttgart is moreover home to the Porsche Museum, Mercedes-Benz Museum, the Stiftskirche, and other museums virtually Schlossplatz.

The Stuttgart Christmas Market is one of the oldest in all of Europe, but moreover one of the most beautiful. Each stand takes unconfined superintendency to decorate the stall not just under the eaves, but moreover on the rooftop. The market is spread wideness the municipality centre in Schlossplatz, Schillerplatz, Karlsplatz and Marktplatz with 300 stalls selling wooden toys, nativity sets, arts and crafts, jewelry, sweets, and traditional and international foods.

In wing to the typical Christmas Market fare, you will find some unique features including an reversion market, Finnish market, and a live nativity scene. Schlossplatz is where you will find most of the whoopee with stunning light displays, withal with children’s rides such as a carousel, a small Ferris wheel, and a real mini steam train. Schlossplatz moreover hosts a large Ferris Wheel, a small roller rink, daily live concerts, and an eco-market, featuring local foods and vegetarian options.

Where to stay: It is weightier to stay near the municipality part-way or tropical to the train station, although the U-Bahn trains make it pretty easy to get virtually the city. Finding an affordable hotel, expressly one that offers parking, can be a challenge. I stayed closer to the train station, to make it easy to take day trips, at the Jaz in the Municipality Stuttgart hotel. Just make sure you moreover typesetting a parking space in whop or plan on parking at the train station.

Day 7 – Esslingen and Ludwigsburg

Medieval market in Esslingen

From Stuttgart, it is easy to take a day trip by train to visit two other Christmas Markets that are well worth the short journey. Esslingen is just 20 minutes by train and home to a large Medieval Christmas market that is nothing like anything else you have experienced thus far.

The Medieval Market has hand-operated rides like a merry-go-round and a mini carousel, withal with a variety of games such as archery, bowling, and other games of skill. You will moreover find medieval-style goods like leather products and ironworks. There are plane activities such as candle dipping for children. It is unconfined fun but can moreover get very crowded, so it is weightier to go in the morning surpassing it gets too jammed.

On Saturdays and Sundays on Outstart weekends, there is a special Adventsmarkt with an spare 30 stalls selling handmade goods that you might not find elsewhere at the market.

Ludwigsburg christmas market

After visiting Esslingen, you can take the train when to Stuttgart and hop flipside train at the station for a 20-minute ride to Ludwigsburg. The Ludwigsburg Splendrous Christmas Market was flipside one of my favorite Christmas markets on this trip considering it is meant for and attended by locals.

I saw a larger variety of pure handicrafts in Ludwigsburg than in any of the other Christmas Markets I visited in Germany. With spanking-new supplies and drink options too, this market is such a joy!

Day 8 – Heidelberg

Heidelberg christmas market marktplatz at night

From Stuttgart, it is only a 1.5 hour momentum to Heidelberg. Heidelberg is a university town, full of shops and restaurants. While in town, you will moreover want to visit the Heidelberg Castle. Set on a hill, you can wangle the castle via funicular and either take a guided tour or just get a ticket to explore the grounds on your own.

There are five squares throughout the town that make up the Weihnachtsmarkt. Kornmarkt, Marktplatz, Universitätsplatz, Anatomiegarten, and Bismarckplatz. In wing to the standard supplies and craft stalls, you will want to see the small ice skating rink and the giant wine barrels that serve as cozy drinking spots.

If you are getting tired of market supplies at this point, you can get a delicious, pure schnitzel at Weinstaube Schnitzelbank in town.

Where to stay: Hotel Villa Marstall is located in Old Town, within a short walking loftiness to the Christmas Markets, shops, and restaurants. The rooms are small but quaint and affordable. There isn’t any parking on-site, but there is a pay garage just a few blocks away.

Day 9 – Frankfurt

Frankfurt Altstadt

It is less than an hour from Heidelberg to Frankfurt, giving you plenty of time to revisit the Christmas Markets in Frankfurt. However, you could moreover make a stop in Mannheim, home to flipside popular Christmas market, one of the oldest and largest in Germany. If you need to plan a shorter trip, instead of staying overnight in Heidelberg, you can momentum straight to Frankfurt and fly out the next morning.

When you victorious in Frankfurt, you can waif off the rental car at the airport and I’d recommend once then staying at an airport hotel for convenience. You can hands take the S-Bahn 8 or 9 into the municipality part-way to enjoy the rest of your day.

Day 10 – Fly home

Most flights to the U.S. depart in the morning so you will need to get up and fly home..full of Christmas spirit! Just don’t forget to pack an uneaten tote bag or suitcase for all the gifts you will want to bring home.

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