Photo: Juergen Sack / iStock
GERMANY: Wrapped in a cozy coat with a scarf and gloves, it's always a good idea to follow the smell of mulled wine, roasted almonds, sausages and spiced punch at Christmas time. As December rolls around, Europe's famous Christmas markets are an absolute must-do for locals and tourists alike. And, when you stroll through the wooden 'hoods filled with handcrafted art and lovely gifts, you'll realise why locals can’t wait for Christmas to arrive each year.
So, in the spirit of the silly season, here are our insider tips for your pre-Christmas city trip.
Gendarmenmarkt is one of the most popular places in the city of Berlin and, take our word for it, it's even better in December! The historic frame of the French and German Dome and Berlin's imposing concert house, combine to give Gendarmenmarkt's Christmas market extra flair. More so if you're looking for unique gifts, souvenirs or just love art.
There are painters and designers on every corner, but also wood carvers, stonemasons, glass blowers and other artists sell a large variety of goods and showcase their work in process in a large craft tent that is cozy and welcoming, even on frosty days. And the best thing, your entrance fee is donated to social and cultural societies in Berlin.
Open Daily: 25 November until 31 December from 11am. to 10pm. Click for more information.
At Christmas, the majestic Castle Charlottenburg and surrounding park area bathed in romantic lights which flood the landscape in festive colour.
Berliners won't want to tell you this, but Scholss Charlottenburg is a favourite seasonal holiday spot as it transforms into a romantic winter wonderland. Wooden hoods, white tents and a Christmas pyramid abound, as young and the old are swept on a romantic journey into all things Christmas. And, in a musical twist, an orchestra entertains marketgoers as they meander past traditional craft stalls and handmade sweet vendors.
Insider tip: When it's chilly, guests can warm up in the huge wooden pavilion and enjoy a mug of mulled wine and freshly baked gingerbread out of the wood-fired oven. It's a must-do..
Open:: 25 November until 31 December. Hours vary: Monday to Tuesday 2pm to 10pm / Friday to Sunday 12noon. to 10pm (Closed on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day) and open Boxing Day from 12noon. to 8pm. Click for more information.
The Christmas Market Klunkerkranich is located on top of the Neukölln Arcades (shopping centre) and is officially the highest Christmas market in all of Berlin. Open every weekend during the Advent season, Klunkerkranich offers a wide variety of art, handcrafts, jewelry, and liquors. You can also indulge in Christmas story reading sessions and puppet theatre!
Open: All Advent weekends (30 November and 1 December; 7-8 December; 14-15 December; and 21-22 December 2019) from 2pm to 8.Click for more information.
Frankfurt City Centre
More than two million visitors each year are capitivated by Frankfurt's famous Christmas Market. A glittery Christmas tree, the festive half-timbered houses and advent concerts set the scene for seasonal celebrations, and regional baked specialties - “Brenten”, “Bethmännchen” and “Quetschemännchen”- provide the Christmas cherry on top.
Swarms of visitors arrive and, with warm apple punch in hand, meander through narrow alleyways lined with arts and crafts from the Erz Mountains. Expect anything and everything from nutcrackers, marionettes and candles to handmade Christmas decorations. Beautifully decorated gingerbread make children's eyes sparkle, as does a visit to the large Christmas crib display, or a ride on the colorful carousel.
Open: 25 November until 22 December (Monday to Saturday 10am to 9pm. / Sunday 11am. to 9pm. Click for more information.
Centre of Hamburg
With a bunch of markets located super close to each other, the centre of Hamburg is perfect to indulge in a spot of Christmas market hopping. On the shores of the Binnenalster, amidst the “White magic of Jungfernstieg”, you’ll find a historic Ferris wheel and boats straight out of a fairytale - perfect for keeping the kids entertained or enjoying a magical moment with the one you love. Whilst the Christmas market at the Town Hall square (Rathausmarkt) welcomes guests with an illuminated entrance and a huge glittery Christmas tree (which is not even a tree!).
Don't forget to keep your eyes open as Santa flies across the sky in his sledge and calls out to the crowd below.
Open Daily:11am to 9pm / Friday and Saturday 11am to 10pm..
Rathaus: 25 November until 23 December/ Jungfernstieg: 25 November until 30 December 2019. Click for more information.
Santa Pauli, Reeperbahn Hamburg
If you're after tranquility and peace, you might want to give Santa Pauli a wide berth. The German slogan “Hamburgs Geilster Weihnachtsmarkt” loosely translates to "Hamburg's Hottest Christmas" market but, trust us, they're not talking about the weather. This colourful and lively market is located on Spielbudenplatz, in the heart of Hamburg's fabulous red light district, so expect to ring in the silly season with a raunchy twist.
Reeperbahn not only offers "Tasty Bordsteinschwalbe” and "Hot Nussknacker” (street walkers), but is also home to the famous Santa Pauli strip tent and live music show stage.
As you'd expect, handcrafted wooded products have a distinctly adult flavour, so best to use your judgement when travelling with kids.
Open:: 18 November to 23 December. (Monday to Wednesday 4pm - 11pm. / Tuesday 4pm - midnight. / Friday abnd Saturday 1pm - 1am / Sunday 1pm - 11pm. Click for more information.
Copenhagen’s Nyhavn (ok, we know it's not Germany, but it's too good not to include...)
When the smell of 'hygge' (fun) blends with cinnamon, cloves and sheep's wool in the night air, Christmas has come to Denmark.
On the port canal, cozy stalls line the banks and are adorned with Chritmas cheer, colourful canal facades blaze with festive lights and frosty temperatures adds a winter wonderland backdrop. At these markets, cold hands are best warmed with hot apple punch, and stomachs satisfied with Chrismas goodies and fresh fish - after all, you're in a nation that loves their seafood... even in the dead of winter.
Open: 8-23 December / Sundays 10am - 7pm / Friday to Saturday 10am - 8pm. Click for more information.
City Centre, Leipzig
Leipzig's city cientre transforms into a Christmas wonderworld each December, providing an awesome backdrop for their seasonal markets. An easy stroll through the city will allow you to take in highlights like the 20-metre high spruce which sits at the heart of the market. It's romantic. It's breath-taking. It's magical. And the historic ambience of this city, peppered with timbered houses, will likely transport you from present day to times gone by.
Insider Tip: Leipzig's Giant Ferris Wheel offers a breath-taking view over this glittery Christmas world whilst, on the ground you can whisper your Christmas wish into Santa’s ear, stroll through the fairytale-like Augustusplatz, have a go at some traditional crafts, or listen to trumpet music and toast to good health and the best of the season.
Open: 26 November to 23 December / Sunday to Tuesday 10am - 9pm. / Friday and Saturday 10am - 10pm. Click for more information.
This Franconian metropolis is the cradle of classical Christmas markets and magically transforms itself into “city made of wood and blankets” each year. Everything we know and love about Europe's traditional Christmas markets has its origin here, and the people from Nuremberg are convinced theirs is the absolute best of the best.
If you're visiting, make sure you try the Nuremberg gingerbread, local Nuremberg Bratwurst, the Christkindle mulled wine and the city's famous “Zwetschgenmoh" plum treats. Besides the delicacies, you'll also find around 180 individual arts and crafts stalls. Some, repeat visitors may even recognise from childhood visits.
And whilst you'll never see Christkind (the traditional gift bringer in many European countries) in person, you will easily soak up that Christmas cheer in this special place.
Open Daily: 29 November until 24 December from 10am. to 9pm. Click here for more information.
If you base yourself at our centrally located Adina hotels during the festive season, you'll find that a 'glühwein' or a market is never too far away!
On behalf of our hotel families, we hope you have a safe and happy festive season. And, if you're travelling to Hamburg, Berlin, Frankfurt, Copenhagen, Leipzig or Nuremberg pop in and stay and let us wish you a Happy Christmas in person.