Christmas is the biggest holiday in the western hemisphere, and even though it is celebrated everywhere with spectacular events and glorious festivities, there is no place like Germany when it comes to Christmas spirit and cozy atmosphere.
Romantic towns with high castles and gorgeous timber-framed houses; medieval cobblestones with wooden stalls lighted and decorated to perfection; euphonic cathedrals with lyrical choirs and amazing orchestras.
For more than a month, every single city and village in Germany becomes a fairytale setting where magic flows all around and miracles seem possible.
The German metropolis is vast, so naturally, there is an abundance of things to do and places to see during Christmas.
The number of events happening in the city during December is countless, and not a day passes without a remarkable concert, exhibition, or any other kind of happening taking place around the German capital.
Except for visiting the numerous markets and tasting all the seasonal delicacies, you can stroll Unter der Linden, the impressive tree-lined pedestrian way leading to Brandenburg gate which is always lit beautifully in Christmas; skate in one of the many ice rings; or do the New Year countdown in Brandenburg gate like a true Berliner.
If you want a break from the buzzing capital, a visit to the nearby city of Potsdam is a great side trip.
This elegant city can be considered newly build since its biggest part was bombed to smithereens back in World War 2.
It still hosts the oldest Christmas market in German, the famous Strielezmarkt, and even though that’s a great reason to visit Dresden during Christmas, it’s surely not the only one. Dresden has amazing architecture. Many of its marvelous buildings host intriguing museums and beautiful galleries all of which are worth visiting.
Take a walk on Bruhl’s Terrace along river Elbe, see the Furstenzug — a large mural depicting the rulers of Saxony, and of course, visit the Italian-inspired Cathedral and the city’s castle, a gorgeous building which survived the war and now hosts various museums and exhibitions.
Don’t forget to try stolen, the classic German Christmas fruitcake that has a dedicated festival in Dresden Stollenfest, and fettbemme a kind of open sandwich with rye bread.
A fairytale town in Harz Mountains, very close to summit Brocken that will make your Christmas holidays unforgettable.
Beautiful half-timber houses, a romantic castle on a green hilltop overlooking the whole town, and a classic market square in the middle of the historical center with an exquisite Rathaus (town hall) as the cherry on top.
To make things even more magical, steam locomotives pass through the town every day on their way to Brocken summit, moving slowly along a landscape of impeccable beauty.
Add a very good chance of snowing in December and you’ve got the stuff that Christmas dreams are made of. Naturally, there is a Christmas Market set on the square where you can listen to choirs singing while sipping your warm chocolate.
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This old but lively university city in Upper Rhine plain is built on the banks of river Neckar and is the perfect place to experience the Advent and Christmas in Germany. Heidelberg’s baroque-style old town is homey and fascinating at the same time.
By the end of November, the first wooden stalls are set on the beautiful squares kicking off the festive season with their pretty lights and gorgeous decorations. The city’s Christmas Markets are the perfect spot to wander and taste the local delicacies on a cold December afternoon.
Heidelberg is a deeply romantic city, and you get that vibe everywhere you go. The brightly lit castle on the slope above the old town, the magnificent Karl Theodore Bridge, and of course the Philosophers’ Way — a beautiful path along Neckar where university professors used to clear out their thoughts and find inspiration.
They all make Heidenberg a special place around Christmas time.
Though Nuremberg has gone down in history as the trial place of Nazis in WW2, it’s a beautiful city and one of the destinations you should definitely consider for a Christmas holiday in Germany.
At its cozy markets, you’ll have the chance to try the Nuremberg gingerbread and the local sausage known as Nurnberger. Delicious!
Don’t miss the chance to see the tunnels under the Old city which were used as brewery cellars in the medieval times, and visit the churches of St. Sebaldus and St. Lorenz with their twin towers soaring up the sky.
Talking about Christmas, a visit to the Toy Museum is rather obligatory, and if you’re into art, so is a visit to Albrecht Durer’s house.
A pristine historical center with cobbled streets and half-timber houses with flowers on the windows. This is Rothenburg, the city of 42 towers.
The fortified historical center is dominated by the big Market square and the impressive town hall, from the top of which you can catch some amazing views of the city.
Rothenburg doesn’t just have Christmas Markets, it hosts a whole Christmas village, and has the fame of the most beautiful Christmas city in Germany. It’s not an accident that it has served as the inspiration for many Disney productions.
One of the most famous places in the city is the Kathe Wohlfahrt shop which houses the biggest ornament and Christmas items collection in Germany. It’s mind-blowing. In the same building, you will also find the Christmas Museum with an extensive collection of Christmas exhibits from previous centuries.
For music, head to St. Jacob church, and listen to some of the most delightful choirs, as for food, you should definitely try the Franconian sausage and the traditional snowball pastries.
Built in Moselle valley, in the middle of a striking lush green landscape where the river has created a series of meanders, Cochem is a beautiful city co-existing in harmony with the nature surrounding it.
Colorful little houses and a dreamy castle overlooking the whole area compose a scenery of exquisite beauty which becomes even more magical and delightful during Christmas.
In Advent, the whole city lights up, casting a million reflections on Moselle River, and wooden stalls with all kinds of beautiful ornaments and handcrafts are set. The old town with the magnificent timber-framed houses surrounded by the three fortified city gates is the heart of Cochem.
Except that, you should also visit the old mustard mill, go for a boat ride, and why not, hike one of the century-old trails around the area. Cochem is not just another German city during Christmas, it’s a different experience.
Oberstdorf is the very definition of a picturesque alpine village. Built on a slope of the Bavarian Alps at the foot of Mount Nebelhorn, it’s the romantic kind of little village resort that you’ve many times encountered in Christmas movies.
Except for being beautiful, Oberstdorf is a paradise for skiers, hikers, and all kinds of outdoor people looking to spend their Christmas holidays in a nice place without being in front of a fireplace all the time.
Advent celebrations start in late November and reach their climax in mid-December. Usually, the Nebelhorn is covered in snow by then, posing as the perfect winter background to the small resort.
Naturally, there are small Christmas markets, numerous restaurants, and several après-ski activities to spend your time on and regroup before your next adventure. Definitely one of the most beautiful places in Germany to have a Merry Christmas.
You Can’t Go Wrong With Christmas in Germany
Christmas in Germany is a win-win. The vast number and diversity of winter destinations guarantee that there is a place for everyone, no matter what they’re looking for.
You can opt for a single place and spend there a week, getting comfortable and exploring every single inch, or you can choose a whole region and tour around the cities, small towns and villages collecting different experiences and taking advantage of the flawless German public transportation system. Either way, you can’t lose.
About the Author: Chrisostomos Kamberis
A travel writer by profession and an adventurer at heart, Chris loves hiking long trails and climbing mountains as much as exploring metropolises and tasting street food in some of the most obscure places in the world.