My European Christmas Market Highway Journey Itinerary


I simply spent a wonderful ten days in Germany and France taking in a few of the finest Christmas Markets that Europe has to supply! I’ve completely adored the Christmas Markets in Europe ever since I moved overseas, and exploring some new markets this yr made me notice there isn’t a scarcity of magical locations in Europe.

Whether or not you might be eager to plan a Christmas Market highway journey itinerary or simply wish to see my route, this information will share what we did, the place we stayed, and my suggestions for one of the best issues to do.

For those who’re searching for the Finest Christmas Markets in Europe try this information. This additionally shares the main points about Christmas Markets all through Europe: Germany, France, Switzerland, Austria, and extra. It additionally shares vital dates and steadily requested questions.

Touring by way of Europe at Christmas makes me really feel like a child once more. I get these excited butterflies and anticipation like I am ready for Santa to come back down the chimney.

Christmas Market Suggestions

For this explicit journey, I used to be touring with my mother in Germany and France. We flew from Dallas to Frankfurt, picked up a rental automobile, and headed straight to Cologne. I am ALWAYS requested about rental automobiles. Sure, Europe does have wonderful public transportation, however I personally love renting a automobile for ease of journey and never having to attend. Particularly for visiting a few of the smaller cities, it is only a lot simpler. Plus, you are by yourself schedule and may pull off wherever you want! Like we did when it began snowing in Germany!

I’ve traveled Europe extensively for the previous 6 years, so this information will provide you with one of the best tips about experiencing Christmas markets and my itinerary for a superb journey.

There may be a lot that goes into planning an epic journey overseas, particularly through the holidays! With my European Christmas market highway journey itinerary, it’ll hopefully make your journey planning course of a breeze.

How lengthy must you plan for a visit? This may after all rely on what you wish to see and do, we spent about 11 days touring which is a superb journey that was jam-packed with Christmas markets, museums, sightseeing, and nice meals.

Do not have 11 days? That is okay! I will share the cities that it is advisable discover, what you need to undoubtedly see/do, and the way lengthy it takes to journey from metropolis to metropolis.

You possibly can completely see quite a bit in much less time! One week remains to be loads of time to see and do quite a bit, you may simply wish to reduce out just a few stops alongside the best way.

Now whereas we had been touring we did need to drastically change our plans since Christmas markets had been canceled in some cities. However since we had been versatile, and had a automobile, we had been capable of re-route our journey! And it was so value it.

Many will let you know to e book resorts forward of time, and I agree, however be certain the cancellation coverage is versatile, particularly for those who anticipate there is perhaps modifications alongside the best way. We had been going to spend extra time in Germany, however because the markets had been canceled, we ended up staying longer in France and getting final minute resorts.

Our European Christmas Market Highway Journey Itinerary

Here is a quick have a look at our stops on our 10-day journey.

  1. Cologne
  2. Aachen
  3. Monschau
  4. Trier
  5. Metz
  6. Ribeauvillé
  7. Kayersberg
  8. Eguisheim
  9. Riquewihr
  10. Colmar
  11. Strasbourg
  12. Baden-Baden
  13. Heidelberg
  14. Frankfurt

If that looks like quite a bit… it is as a result of it’s! With a automobile and a can do perspective, together with a plan, you actually can see and do quite a bit! To me, this did not really feel rushed. I used to be touring with my mother and he or she saved up as properly. I do are likely to pack in quite a bit once I journey, however I would not have it some other means.

Whereas there are 14 cities listed, some are so small, we noticed a number of in a day. Right here was our journey itinerary:

Day 1: Flew into Frankfurt and explored Cologne (2 hour drive from Frankfurt to Cologne)

Day 2: Cologne, drove to Aachen (1 hour drive from Cologne to Aachen)

Day 3: Aachen

Day 4: Aachen, drove to Monschau (45 minute drive) and explored Monschau, drove to Trier, Christmas Market in Trier at night time (Monschau to Trier is about an hour and a half drive)

Day 5: Trier, drove to Metz, Christmas markets at night time in Metz (1 hour, 15 minute drive from Trier to Metz)

Day 6: Metz, drove to Ribeauvillé, explored Ribeauvillé (Our longest drive of the journey, 2 hours and 18 minutes from Metz to Ribeauvillé, since you are going by way of the Vosges mountains)

Day 7: Explored Kayersberg, Eguisheim, Riquewihr, drove to Colmar (all of those cities are inside half-hour of each other!)

Day 8: Colmar, drove to Strasbourg (1 hour to drive from Colmar to Strasbourg)

Day 9: Strasbourg, drove to Baden-Baden (45 minute drive from Strasbourg to Baden-Baden)

Day 10: Baden-Baden, cease within the Black Forest, drove to Heidelberg (an hour drive from Baden-Baden to Heidelberg)

Day 11: Heidelberg and drove to Frankfurt (1-hour drive from Heidelberg to Frankfurt)

Our complete drive time was about 14 hours in 11 days. To me, that is good, and did not in any respect really feel like we had been within the automobile an excessive amount of.

Renting a Automotive

I like to recommend utilizing a finances web site like Priceline or Hotwire to discover a rental automobile. Nonetheless, I keep away from automobile rental locations like Thrifty and Funds! I rented a automobile with Sixt and thought the customer support was nice.

As quickly as we landed in Frankfurt I used to be capable of get the rental automobile on the airport and drive it for the size of our journey. I returned it again to the airport in Frankfurt on the finish of our 11 days.

Now, you possibly can typically drop off your rental automobile at a special location, however often it must be inside the identical nation. Preserve that in thoughts when renting.

I do not often add automobile rental insurance coverage, since I’ve insurance coverage already.

I ended up paying about $600 in complete with taxes and costs to hire a automobile.

Now, let’s hit the highway for Christmas markets in Europe!

Cease 1: Cologne

Christmas markets are a European custom that date again to the thirteenth century, and Cologne is among the most well-known Christmas market locations in Germany. The markets in Cologne are unfold all through town with over-the-top decor, themed markets, and unbeatable Christmas spirit.

The Kölner Christkindelsmärik is held yearly often from November twenty fourth till December twenty third, with greater than 100 stalls promoting all the pieces from natural meals to conventional German decorations. The most well-liked stall is undoubtedly the Bratwurst stand, the place you should buy freshly grilled sausages with scrumptious mustard and toppings.

A few of my favourite markets are:

Cologne Cathedral (Kölner Dom) – that is the most well-liked market and is held in entrance of the dazzling Cologne Cathedral with a stage for music, a big, glowing Christmas tree, and loads of stunning stalls within the Roncalliplatz.

Angel Market – This stunning market is situated at Neumarkt and options fairly white stalls with darkish shingled roofs and a myriad of stars. There’s an attractive carousel and loads of nice treats and Glühwein. Look ahead to the angels driving horseback handing out sweet to children!

Heinzel’s Winter Fairytale – That is only a sensational spot with ice skating, sparkly decorations, lavishly embellished stalls, and a festive ambiance. Cologne’s “Heinzelmännchen” legend is considered one of my favorites. The Heinzelmännchen are pleasant family spirits which are used all through the market as decor. You will additionally discover a lot of wooden crafts right here.

Nicholas Village – I completely ADORE this stunning market! You are greeted with a speaking moose, joyous Christmas music, and sizzling Kartofelpufer (see what to eat at a Christmas Market right here). Situated in entrance of the attractive and historic Hahnentorburg, you possibly can sip Glühwein out of a boot!

There are 7 markets all through town and I like to recommend you discover all of them! On our first day, we explored the Cologne Cathedral Christmas Market, Heizel’s and Kolner Hafen- Weihnachtsmarkt.

On our second day in Cologne, we toured the Cologne Cathedral. Right here just isn’t solely an extremely spectacular cathedral, however you will additionally discover the three smart males’s bones preserved! The well-known Shrine of the Three Kings is a spectacular gold field! The cathedral alone is a whole day journey in itself!

Town is stuffed with nice historical past, stunning church buildings and wonderful cafe retailers. It is considered one of my favourite cities, particularly through the vacation season – you will really feel such as you’re in a real-life Christmas film!

We additionally continued exploring the Christmas markets, the Angel Market and Nicholas Village. Then that night time drove on to cease 2!

Cease 2: Aachen

I can not consider I lived in Germany for 3 years and by no means visited Aachen! This metropolis has been named as having a few of the finest Christmas markets in Europe and it is simple to see why. Aachen is a spa city and borders each Belgium and the Netherlands. Our plan was to go to each Belgium and The Netherlands on this journey however we determined to skip and keep in France and Germany, Nonetheless, you possibly can simply head to Liege, Belgium, and Maastricht, The Netherlands. Being on the border offers it a sure feeling of worldliness.

Charlemagne constructed a monumental palace advanced of buildings which is now the place the Christmas Market takes place. Round 800 A.D., the Aachen Cathedral was constructed, then later a Gothic chancel. The Domschatzkammer (treasury) homes medieval relics together with Charlemagne’s shrine, which was erected over his burial place in 814 A.D.

Town has a wealthy historical past and a beautiful ambiance through the Christmas season. Aachen can be house to the Cathedral of Aachen, which is an attractive cathedral and one of many oldest in Europe.

I like to recommend visiting the Charlemagne Middle which tells the historical past of town of Aachen and Charlemagne. Aachen was the 2nd largest metropolis in Germany, after Cologne in 1250, however WWII devastated the city. Now, although it is not as huge because it was earlier than, the attractive structure and wealthy historical past, together with the Christmas markets, make it a beautiful vacation spot.

I like to recommend spending two days right here (we spent two nights right here) exploring the city – it’s extremely walkable, taking within the Christmas markets, and exploring the cathedral and museums.

Cease 3: Monschau

As we left Aachen the snow began falling in nice, huge, fats flakes! It was beautiful. We meandered our strategy to the beautiful city of Monschau. Monschau, a city within the Eifel area of Germany is a captivating and picturesque vacation spot with infinite half-timbered structure and a river operating by way of it.

Monschau was initially constructed round a fort and gives a bevy of lovely buildings and a captivating setting for strolling. The Christmas market right here can be very fairly, filled with conventional German foods and drinks, crafts, decorations, and music! I extremely advocate exploring Monschau for those who’re ever in Western Europe throughout winter time – it is completely stunning!

It is a brief cease and a really walkable city. Simply get misplaced and discover!

As we drove out of Monschau we stopped within the forest close by to see the evenly falling snow and take just a few footage! This is able to even be a improbable place for a hike.

Cease 4: Trier

After Monschau we drove to Trier, about an hour and a half drive. I’ve traveled to Trier in the summertime earlier than so it was good to see it for Christmas. We spent the night on the Christmas market, and the morning exploring the city.

It was a chilly winter night in Trier, Germany. The Christmas market was damaged into two and stretched throughout the principle sq. the place I had simply walked as much as get some mulled wine and roasted chestnuts. It was busy with folks milling about grabbing their favourite vacation decorations or chit-chatting with associates whereas having fun with heat drinks or scrumptious meals.

The Christmas Market in Trier is among the oldest in Germany and is ready up within the medieval foremost sq. by the unimaginable Trier Cathedral. Almost 100 embellished cubicles promote scrumptious Langos, mulled wine and humanities and crafts.

Trier is a city in Germany with a wealthy historical past and tradition.

Trier was the oldest Roman metropolis in Europe, based by Emperor Augustus of Rome. It is also the place the primary Christian bishopric outdoors Palestine was established, by Saint Helena of Constantinople round 300 AD. Throughout the Center Ages it grew to become some of the vital cities in Europe and it stays an vital website for commerce and schooling in the present day.

I like to recommend visiting Trier Cathedral – its Gothic structure dates again to about 1300 A.D., making it some of the spectacular church buildings in Western Europe! The cathedral comprises quite a few items from earlier than then as properly, together with an altar that’s stated to be over 1,300 years previous. There are many Roman ruins and delightful palaces all through the city. Some highlights are the Porta NigraKarl Marx Home, the Roman AmphitheaterAula Palatina, and Kurfürstlicher Palace.

Cease 5: Metz

I used to be pleasantly stunned at how a lot there may be to do in Metz! The primary cease on our tour was the Cathedral Saint-Étienne de Metz, which dates again to the eleventh century. Inside are stunning stained glass home windows that had been constructed by well-known artists like Marc Chagall and Jean Cocteau. Metz has loads of different locations value visiting as properly – Notre Dame d’Auschwitz, the trendy artwork heart Centre Pompidou-Metz, and Le Temple Neuf is an attractive church that appears extra like a fort.

Like different bigger cities, the Christmas market is unfold all through town. Not solely are there markets, however there are additionally the magical gentle shows, “Sentiers des Lanternes“, all through. I like to recommend stopping by the cathedral on the tourism workplace to get a map of every of the markets and locations for gentle shows.

Subsequent to the Cathedral is a neon Ferris wheel together with a market. You could find connoisseur meals markets on Place de la Comédie.

I additionally advocate the standard Christmas market at Place Saint Louis, the Place de la République-Esplanade with the Christmas pyramid, Place d’Armes J-F Blondel with an attractive gentle show, and Place Saint Jacques for excellent meals. See all of the Christmas markets right here.

On our means out of Metz the following day, we stopped at Porte des Allemands, the unique fortress and gatehouse to town of Metz. It is a fast and simple cease.

Subsequent, we took our longest drive of the journey from Metz to Ribeauvillé.

Cease 6: Ribeauvillé

This was my favourite and most stunning cease on on journey! Ribeauvillé is an attractive, festive city in Alsace, France with a wealthy historical past and tradition. It is also identified for its TRUE medieval Christmas market! This tiny village packs a punch with magnificence, spirit, and enjoyable. Everybody within the city will get in on the standard Christmas market.

The Ribeauvillé Christmas Market is the right place to get into the winter spirit. The market stretches from Place du Temple to Place Saint-Louis and has greater than 100 cubicles of all sizes promoting scrumptious mulled wine, meals, arts and crafts, ornaments and souvenirs. You can get misplaced among the many stalls whereas having fun with conventional French meals like scalloped potatoes with cheese or strolling by way of the medieval streets admiring vacation decorations whereas listening to dwell music. You may even see a camel or two strolling the road!

Simply park and stroll across the city! Put together to be entertained by the road performers, acrobats, stilt walkers, and extra. You even flip in your cash for some beads to pay in your Vin Chaud (mulled wine!). Stick round at night time for unknown creatures from fairy tales and legends will roam the road!

Heat your palms by the hearth logs in the midst of the road, observe the parade of lights or have conventional cider mashed by hand with an enormous stone grinder. This was actually considered one of my favourite locations I’ve ever been!

Ribeauvillé is a superb cease in your European journey as a result of it is some of the distinctive and delightful cities with top-of-the-line Christmas markets I’ve ever been to! Everybody on the town is in costume, the meals is scrumptious, and also you get a style of actual, medieval specialties.

The Alsatian area is really a gem and top-of-the-line locations for Christmas with a mixture of German and French traditions.

Necessary observe: the Ribeauvillé Christmas market is ONLY two weekends a yr! So plan accordingly. Normally the primary and second weekend of December.

Cease 7: Kayersberg

The subsequent few stops had been really going down over simply sooner or later since these cities are so small and simple to discover. Beginning with Kayersberg.

Kayersberg is a small city on the outskirts of Colmar, France. It’s identified for its medieval structure and Christmas market.

Kayersberg is among the most picturesque cities in Alsace with cobblestone streets, half-timbered buildings, and slim alleys lined with retailers promoting all types of issues from meals to crafts to jewellery.

You won’t be able to withstand in any respect the scrumptious specialties, particularly, bredeles, their well-known Christmas biscuits with almonds, nuts, anise, chocolate or vanilla. Candy or salty kougelhopfs, which is a hoop cake made with brioche, fruitcakes, or beraweckas, or little brioche males referred to as mannalas!

We spent the morning right here earlier than driving simply quarter-hour to Eguisheim.

Cease 8: Eguisheim

Eguisheim is the smallest of the Alsace cities I visited on this journey, however a gem and definitely worth the cease! This picturesque city has tiny, slim streets, typically even half streets laden with half-timbered buildings strewn with garlands, teddy bears, and extra.

That is named some of the stunning cities within the Alsace with an attractive village heart tucked away from the hustle of the bigger cities.

Eguisheim is nestled within the wine area, so all of the Vin Chaud tastes scrumptious! For those who’re right here at night time, stick round for a tour from the Evening Watchman who will let you know tales of Eguisheim’s previous!

Cease 9: Riquewihr

Of the three stops of our Alsace Christmas market tour in the present day: Kayersberg, Eguisheim, and Riquewihr, Riquewihr was my favourite. Town is ablaze with twinkling lights and festive decorations.

You will discover an abundance of half-timbered, pastel-colored buildings, fairly streets, and a myriad of stalls promoting your favourite Christmas treats.

Riquewihr is the smallest of the Alsace cities I visited on this journey, however a gem and definitely worth the cease! This picturesque city has tiny, slim streets, typically even half streets laden with half-timbered buildings strewn with garlands, teddy bears, and extra.

We drove from Riquewihr on to Colmar so we would have the day to discover Colmar, solely a few 30-minute drive.

Cease 10: Colmar

I have been to Colmar many occasions and I by no means tire of this fairytale metropolis that was the inspiration for Disney’s Magnificence and the Beast.

Colmar is a metropolis within the coronary heart of Alsace and it is surrounded by half-timbered buildings, cobblestone streets, and comfortable cafes. It is an attractive place to go to any time of the yr however good for Christmas! There are six Christmas markets all inside strolling distance and every prettier than the following.

La Petite Venise is considered one of my favourite areas with pleasant structure curving across the water. Additionally right here is considered one of my favourite eating places within the area, Winstub de la Petite Venise. This Michelin star restaurant gives a 35 euro plat du jour that makes my mouth water simply interested by it! I’ve eaten right here twice and it is simply a few of the finest meals you will have in Europe.

The Christmas market is stuffed with wood chalets with fantastically illuminated streets and loads of picture alternatives.

On our strategy to Strasbourg, we stopped on the big Koenigsbourg Fortress, a medieval fort on high of a mountain within the Alsace with an excellent view of the area. After we went it was nearing nightfall and a cloud of fog engulfed the fort, a lot in order that we might barely see! We nonetheless loved roaming across the spectacular fort.

We drove to Strasbourg that night to benefit from the wondrous lights of Strasbourg at night time.

Cease 11: Strasbourg

A go to to the Alsace simply is not full with no cease in Strasbourg. The biggest metropolis and capital of the area, Strasbourg is considered one of my favourite cities. It is house to the European Parliament, an unimaginable cathedral, and is among the oldest (and prettiest) cities in all of France.

Throughout Christmas, Strasbourg comes alive with decor, lights, and a magical setting of joyous meals and wine.

The Christmas markets in Strasbourg are a few of the finest in Europe with a towering Christmas tree (virtually 100 toes excessive), festive lights, and wonderful stalls promoting all types of goodies. I might wander round these markets for hours! The Christmas tree at Place Kleber the image of “Strasbourg, Capital of Christmas” can be the tallest embellished Christmas tree in Europe

I urge you to be sure to depart sufficient time to see Strasbourg each through the day and at night time to essentially get a really feel for its magic. There are 300 stalls unfold all through town and a few of the finest gentle shows unfold all through the streets!

You possibly can see my full information to Strasbourg at Christmas right here!

Cease 12: Baden-Baden

Baden-Baden is a sublime metropolis famed for its spas and thermal baths.

Town is house to some of the spectacular Christmas markets in Germany with round 200 stalls, that includes conventional wood chalets promoting native produce and festive trinkets. Sadly, this yr’s Christmas market is closed.

There’s additionally a well-known on line casino right here. However my favourite half about this metropolis is its proximity to the attractive Black Forest!

We took a brief drive from Baden-Baden as much as the attractive ski resort Mehilskopf. The snow on the bottom made for a picturesque setting.

Cease 13: Heidelberg

Heidelberg is a small metropolis with an attractive fort and a well-preserved Sixteenth-century city. I really lived in Heidelberg for 3 years so I do know my means round this metropolis very properly! I am keen on the Christmas market right here that is additionally unfold all through the principle road, Hauptstrasse.

The market is small however charming with a number of native distributors promoting their wares. I additionally love the market by the ice skating rink that is proper below the fort. Such an attractive spot! See my full information to the Heidelberg Christmas market right here. Heidelberg can be house to the oldest college in Germany so there’s loads of historical past and tradition to be explored right here.

You possibly can see my full information to Heidelberg right here!

Cease 14: Frankfurt

We drove an hour from Heidelberg to Frankfurt which is a extra industrial metropolis with skyscrapers and high-rise buildings. Nonetheless, the Christmas market here’s a conventional really feel with a big sq. within the heart of town.

The “Christkindlesmarkt” and has round 180 stalls promoting all types of goodies from gluhwein to sausages.

Frankfurt can be house to the Christmas markets on the Römerberg, an attractive sq. within the coronary heart of downtown. Right here you’ll find a Christmas tree that is over 10 meters excessive (about32 toes) and stroll alongside the retailers promoting conventional German crafts.

See my full information to one of the best Christmas Markets in Germany right here.

The place to remain

We stayed at largely finances properties, all-around $100 or much less an evening with easy accessibility for parking and to town facilities.

Cologne – Lowenbrau Cologne: My favourite keep! That is proper within the coronary heart of the previous city and an attractive place to stick with an excellent view, an excellent restaurant, and a surprisingly budget-friendly value.

Aachen – B&B Lodge Aachen-Metropolis – I’ve stayed at many B&Bs, they’re easy, and budget-friendly however sensible resorts.

Trier – Vacation Inn Specific – Additionally a giant fan of Vacation Inn Specific, easy however good resorts.

Metz – Campanile Metz Centre Gare. Straightforward place to discover Metz with free road parking.

Colmar – Lodge Ibis – essentially the most finances keep.

Strasbourg – Vacation Inn Specific Strasbourg.

Baden-Baden – Aparthotel Volgergasse, a bit pricier however this keep is essentially the most luxurious! A full condominium, hearth, stunning views, and two full bedrooms.

Heidelberg – Lodge Panorama – an excellent resort on the high of the Hauptstrasse.

Frankfurt – Moxy Airport Lodge – an excellent finances spot when you’ve got an early morning flight.

READ ALL THE CHRISTMAS MARKET GUIDES!

Finest Christmas Markets in Europe

Finest Christmas Markets in Germany

Finest Christmas Markets in France

Finest Christmas Markets in Switzerland

What to Eat & Drink at A Christmas Market

Final Christmas Market Itinerary 

The Finest Winter Locations in Europe

Images to Encourage a Journey to Christmas Markets

I hope this European Christmas Market Highway Journey itinerary will show you how to plan your subsequent journey! From Strasbourg to Metz and Cologne, you actually cannot go unsuitable exploring these stunning cities with their festive lights and bustling streets filled with distributors promoting all types of goodies!

What a improbable journey! For those who’re searching for a festive and charming European journey, make sure you try these superb cities throughout Christmas.

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