Germany is king when it comes to Christmas markets and while I love so many that this country has to offer, I think the Nuremberg Christmas Market takes the cake. Or, maybe in this case the lebkuchen which is German gingerbread for those who don’t know. After all, we are talking about Christmas here!
So, what makes Nuremberg Christmas markets so special in my eyes as a European Christmas market connoisseur? Well, a lot. I like the food. I love the atmosphere. It’s a beautiful market but it’s also interesting. So many Christmas markets these days are full of ‘made in China’ objects. Personally, that’s not what I want. I want different, I want unique. I don’t want the same old stuff I can find at home or order from amazon prime. In my opinion, Nuremberg Christmas markets more than any others, actually delivers.
So, if that sounds like something you would enjoy as well then read on. As a two-time visitor, I’m sharing all my favourites when it comes to Nuremberg’s Christmas markets.
When do Nuremberg’s Christmas Markets Start?
The start day for Nuremberg’s Christmas markets varies every year. According to the tourism website, the Nuremberg Christmas market starts on the Friday before the first Advent Sunday. In plain English, the last Friday of the month of November.
So, for 2022 that means Friday November 25th.
The markets then run until Christmas Eve, which is November 24th and are typically open from 10am until 9pm, except for November 24th when they close at 2pm.
When to Visit Nuremberg Christmas Markets
As I said earlier, I’ve been to Nuremberg’s Christmas market twice now. The first time was in 2017, which is when I did a Viking River Cruise for European Christmas markets. Nuremberg was our starting point so we arrived on the weekend. Not only did it mean that it was more crowded, but it also meant that prices were much higher. Nuremberg’s Christmas market is known to be one of the best in the world and sees travellers international and local travellers alike. The city also has its own airport (served by budget airlines) which means its an easy and popular European escape. For that reason, I suggest scheduling your visit to Nuremberg mid-week if possible, which is what I did for my 2022 visit. It was still busy in the evenings, but not as crazy as on the weekend.
The Best Hotels for Exploring Nuremberg Christmas Markets
I highly recommend staying in Nuremberg’s old town. It’s such a pretty part of the city plus that’s where the big Christmas market is. The Christkindlesmarkt is located in the Hauptmarkt, which is the main town square in front of the beautiful gothic-style church Frauenkirche.
My most recent stay I booked well in advance and stayed at Sorat Hotel Saxx Nuremberg which is right on the square. Despite its location, it was very quiet and I highly recommend it. A couple other options in the area include the following:
- Hotel Central
- Karl August
- Leonardo Royal Hotel (closer to the train station for those who want to stay nearby)
Christkindlesmarkt? I Thought We Were Talking About Christmas Markets?
So once upon a time when I was young and naivem I thought Christkindlesmarkt was the German translation for Christmas market.
I was wrong.
Turns out that Chirstkind is actually a person, and it’s her market. Hence Christkindlesmarkt.
So, who is she?
Well, while North Americans grew up with jolly, old Santa Claus, the children in this part of Germany had the Christkind, a young female angel with curly blonde hair and a flowing golden gown. The Christkind is the symbol of the market and every two years Nuremberg city votes in a new young woman to take on the role. There are quite a number of rules in place but once voted in, the Christkind takes on the role of being the ambassador of Christmas. If you are lucky, you might even see her during one of her (many) appointments during the holiday season.
Nuremberg’s Christmas Markets
While some European cities have dozens of Christmas markets scattered about, Nuremberg only has three Christmas markets. But, don’t worry, they are good ones.
This is the main Christmas market in Nuremberg. It dates back to 1628 (at least that’s when it was first referenced) and is one of the oldest Christmas markets in all of Germany. As I said earlier, what I love so much about this market is that many of the items are unique. This means local, good quality, and often handmade.
In fact, the Nuremberg Tourism Board actually has 4 local tours put together with different themes pertaining to the fact that so many of the goods sold here are regional or handcrafted products. For example, the local and regional tour highlights stand 86 full of handmade teddy bears, and booth 22 which with handmade hats, gloves and more created from the owner’s alpacas. You can find these tours on the website here.
Oh, and keep an eye out for stalls selling Zwetschgenmännle or prune people. Yes, I said prune people. These are actually an old traditional toy that children of the area used to play with. Today there are a couple of vendors selling these figurines dressed for all occasions. Just keep in mind they are to look at, not to eat!
If you happen to be around when the Christmas market opens, this is where all the celebrations kick off so be sure to keep an eye out for the festivities!
The Sister City Market
The last of the Nuremberg Christmas Markets in the Sister City Market. It’s just a little North of the Christkindlesmarkt, so if you miss it-ask! This is a small market that honours the history of the city where merchants from around the world would come and sell their wares. Today, there are 24 stalls from Nuremberg’s sister cities around the world that have different, multicultural products for sale. You’ll see booths from Italy, Ukraine, Scotland, Turkey, Israel, Macedonia, and more.
The Children’s Market
Pretty much just around the corner at Hans-Sachs-Platz is the Children’s Christmas market. Now, this isn’t to say that children are not welcome in the Christkindlesmarkt, they absolutely are! This market, however, has been created with children in mind.
Many of the booths here are topped with animated figures who wave and move. You’ll see little elves hard at work above stalls that sell all kinds of sweets and holiday treats. There’s a beautiful merry-go-round, craft workshops, and a place to take photos and visit Santa Claus and the Christkind herself during certain times.
Even if you don’t have a little one, it’s fun to take a walk around this little Nuremberg Christmas market.
What to Eat and Drink at Nuremberg Christmas Market
When I said above one of the reasons I loved Christmas markets in Nuremberg was because they had great food. I was dead serious. I’m not typically a fast-food/ fair-food kind of girl but I could eat my way around this market. Don’t leave without trying:
I’m going to preface this by telling you all that I typically hate sausages. And don’t even think of putting a hot dog near me, they are disgusting. So, when I was told I had to try the regional Nuremberg sausages I laughed and said “absolutely not”.
Well, would you believe me if I told you that I had them all 3 days of my most recent visit?
Nuremberg sausages are three tiny sausages served in a bun and typically topped with mustard. By German standards, they are abnormally small. But local legend says that a wealthy townsman ran into some money troubles and was locked away in the debtor’s tower. This man LOVED sausages more than anything else, so his friends created these tiny sausages that could fit through a keyhole so he could continue to eat them.
True or not, I am a huge fan of Nuremberg sausages and highly recommend trying them. The best place to get them (in my humble opinion as a visitor who has eaten way too many) is at the top right corner of the market- assuming you are facing the church. Right on the end with white coats!
This is the stuff I mentioned at the very beginning. Now, let’s be clear on two things.
- I’m not talking about the cute hearts hanging from the stalls. Those are gross and taste like cardboard.
- This type of German gingerbread is not at all the same as we are used to in North America. So, if that’s what you expect you will likely be disappointed (I was at first).
However, they are actually pretty darn good. There are several ‘flavour’ types although the flavours are usually just a coating and possibly some nuts. Personally, I love the dark chocolate with walnut ones. There are several vendors here who all make their own so try some different ones and see what you like!
Yes, gluhwein is everywhere (and a must-drink everywhere!) but while most markets have red, white, and rose gluhwein, Nuremberg Christmas markets have a fun flavour I haven’t seen elsewhere: Heidelbeere which is blueberry! It might sound strange but trust me, it’s delicious.
Also, for any fellow mug collections, Nuremberg always has the cutest ones!
These are my 3 Nuremberg-specific suggestions but like most Christmas markets you can also get crepes, candied nuts, roasted chestnuts, chocolates, chocolate-covered fruit, candy of all varieties, fries, baguette, flammkuchen (sort of like a pizza), fries, raclette, potato pancakes, waffles, fish sandwiches, other types of sausages, and more.
Needless to say, you will not go hungry at Nuremberg Christmas markets.
PS: I have an authentic gluhwein recipe posted here that you can make at home!
Other Fun Things to do in Nuremberg at Christmas
Nuremberg Christmas markets are a huge draw but there is more to the city than browsing booths and drinking blueberry gluhwein! A few other things I enjoyed around the old town area include:
- Weissgerbergasse: a really pretty street with typical half-timbered German homes. They also get decorated for Christmas
- Handwerkerhof: This is an old medieval part of the city. It’s very fairytale-like and there are several artisans (including a yummy lebkuchen maker!) to add to your holiday shopping.
- The Castle and City Walls
- The Käthe Wohlfahrt store which is a magical Christmas shop full of beautiful ornaments
- The tourist train: a 40-minute journey around Old Town area with a guided audio tour. Great to do when it rains!
- Day trips: Nuremberg is a great base for day trips too. You can easily visit Coburg, about 70 minutes by train with a stunning old town and adorable local Christmas market (I highly recommend it!) or the famous Rothenburg ob der Tauber (although, personally, I think it’s worth more than a day trip)
Final Tips for Nuremberg Christmas Markets
Nuremberg Christmas markets are magical but before you head off exploring, there are a few tips to keep in mind.
Again, try to come mid-week. Weekends here can be chaotic and overwhelmingly busy. Try to during the daytime and at night. Everyone loves the markets at night with the lights and the atmosphere, but it’s much quieter during the daytime which makes it easier to browse.
Keep in mind that when you purchase gluhwein, you pay a deposit on the mug. Usually 2-3 euros. When you return the mug, you get the money back. Funny story: I didn’t know this during my first visit so paid about 6-7 euro every time I had gluhwein. That’s how my Christmas market mug collection started!
Bring your own bag. So many vendors are going plastic-free (which we love!) but it does mean your hands can get full really quickly. A small backpack or reusable tote bag is a good thing to have on hand!
I found Nuremberg Christmas markets to be very safe but, as always, be mindful of your possessions and your money!
A Note on Travel Insurance in Germany
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