10 Dec Christmas Markets in Germany’s Romantic Road
Nobody does Christmas Markets like the Germans!
Germans have the best Christmas markets in the world.
Pretty much every city in Germany hosts a Christmas market and I have been to a bunch of them (Cologne, Berlin, Stuttgart, Ludwigsburg, Munich) but my favourites are in the cities of Nuremberg and Rothenburg ob der Tauber, which are part of Germany’s Romantic Road.
What is the Romantic Road?
It is a 350 km quaint and quintessentially German roadway in the Southern part of Germany. The road connects picturesque towns, fairytale castles, pristine nature and lovely hotels. The Romantic Road is fantastic to visit any time of the year but it becomes especially magical during the Christmas season.
Rothenburg ob der Tauber
Rothenburg ob der Tauber is described as one of the prettiest towns in Germany.
When I was there in December for the Christmas Market, I instantly fell in love with the town. It is Germany’s best preserved medieval town.
Rothenburg ob der Tauber is very well connected and you can get there by train or bus from any major city in Germany. You can, of course, rent a car and spend a couple of weeks driving around the entire Romantic Road.
What I did: I flew into Nuremberg and then took an intercity train, which was about a 1.5-hour train ride through the picturesque countryside. Trains run very frequently between the 2 cities in case you want to come here just for the day. If you intend to visit Germany spend at least a weekend in Rothenburg, walking or cycling around and taking in the vibe of the town.
One of the things that make Rothenburg ob der Tauber so charming it its architecture.
The half-timbered houses and a fortification wall, which still remains intact even today, recreate what this medieval town looked like nearly 1000 years ago. The buildings reminded us very much of the Alsace region of France. At Christmas time, the entire old town is decorated, which makes it look like a miniature Christmas village that has come to life. One thing to bear in mind. There are a number of towns Rothenburgburgs in Germany so when planning your trip, always spell the full name of the town – Rothenburg ob der Tauber.
Travel Tips: Rothenburg ob der Tauber is best-experienced walking and bicycling around. If the weather is good, I highly recommend renting a bike and cycling around the countryside. Rothenburg ob der Tauber has an extensive bicycle route. One thing to keep in mind is that it can get very busy at Christmas time, and after a while, the crowds in the Christmas Market in the old town can get a bit much. Get away from the Christmas crowd by walking around in the narrow alleys surroundings the Christmas which I found to be surprisingly serene, and filled with character houses.
The Nuremberg Christmas market is one of the oldest and largest in Germany. Records show that is has been around in 1628. It is an impressively large Christmas market that seemed to go on and on with hundreds of Christmas stalls.
Nuremberg is the second largest city, after Munich, in the state of Bavaria. Nuremberg often has negative connotations associated with it (Nazi party, Nuremberg trials). But the city is much more than this. It actually has to lots to offer to tourists, and even if you come outside of the Christmas season, there are a number of things to see and do there that will keep you occupied for 2-3 days.
Rauschgoldengel, the symbol of Nuremberg Christmas Market
The foremost symbol of the Nuremberg Christmas market is the “Rauschgoldengel”, a golden angel, which is omnipresent in the Nuremberg.
A local legend claims that the Rauschgoldengel was first made by a Nuremberg doll maker during the Thirty Years’ War. As his daughter lay dying of fever, he heard the flutter of angel’s wings outside the window and was inspired to create an angel in her memory.
Franconia, my dear, not Bavaria! Although Nuremberg is in the state of Bavaria, it is actually part of a region in Bavaria as Franconia. Franconia owes its name to the Frankish tribes who lived in this region. The Franks are not original inhabitants of the region. They arrived when the tribe invaded the western Roman Empire in the 5th century. Franks went on to dominate northern France, Belgium, western Germany and established the most powerful Christian kingdom of medieval western Europe. The name France is derived from their name.
You must try local sausage which is protected by European law! So while Franconia is in the Bavaria province of Germany it is culturally different from Bavaria. And Franocnians have some of their own local specialties which can be found at the Christmas market. In addition to the usual mulled wine and roasted chestnut, you must try the Nurember sausage. What makes this particular sausage different from the rest. It is protected by European law! It is the first sausage to be protected by geographical indication. Laws say every Nuremberg sausage must be made within the city limits of Nuremberg according to an official traditional recipe.
Eat a cookie that dates back to the 1200s!
Also, don’t forget to try the Lebkuchen, a traditional German baked Christmas ‘cookie’, somewhat tasting like gingerbread. The cookie was invented by monks in Franconia, Germany in the 13th century. Its recorded recipe goes as far back as early as 1296. Are you gluten-free? Then try Elisenlebkuchen, a variety of the Lebkuchen made without flour.
Don’t forget the beer and the pork!
Always on the lookout for a local beer, I was very impressed by Kellerbier! Kellerbier is not clarified or pasteurized and its recipe goes back to the Middle Ages. It was fantastic. I guess there is no need to change a recipe if it continues to taste fantastic hundreds of years later!
I also tried the delicious local specialty, the Franconian “Schäufele”. Pork shoulder is cooked with the fat still on. The fat side is made into a criss-cross pattern, seasoned with salt, pepper and caraway and then roasted for hours in the oven. When done, the meat is tender and the fat side is crunchy and crisp. Yummy! On a cold night, Kellerbier and Franconian Schäufele pair perfectly well!