My European Christmas Market Highway Journey Itinerary


I simply spent a wonderful ten days in Germany and France taking in among the greatest 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 12 months made me understand there isn’t any scarcity of magical locations in Europe.

Whether or not you’re 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 the perfect issues to do.

For those who’re searching for the Finest Christmas Markets in Europe take a look at this information. This additionally shares the small print about Christmas Markets all through Europe: Germany, France, Switzerland, Austria, and extra. It additionally shares essential dates and often requested questions.

Touring by 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 return down the chimney.

Christmas Market Ideas

For this specific journey, I used to be touring with my mother in Germany and France. We flew from Dallas to Frankfurt, picked up a rental automotive, and headed straight to Cologne. I am ALWAYS requested about rental vehicles. Sure, Europe does have glorious public transportation, however I personally love renting a automotive for ease of journey and never having to attend. Particularly for visiting among 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 the perfect recommendations on experiencing Christmas markets and my itinerary for a superb journey.

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

How lengthy do you have to plan for a visit? This can after all depend upon what you wish to see and do, we spent about 11 days touring which is an excellent journey that was jam-packed with Christmas markets, museums, sightseeing, and nice meals.

Do not have 11 days? That is okay! I am going to share the cities that that you must discover, what it’s best to undoubtedly see/do, and the way lengthy it takes to journey from metropolis to metropolis.

You’ll be able to completely see so much in much less time! One week continues to be loads of time to see and do so much, you may simply wish to lower out just a few stops alongside the best way.

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

Many will inform you to guide motels forward of time, and I agree, however be certain that the cancellation coverage is versatile, particularly when you anticipate there is perhaps adjustments alongside the best way. We have been going to spend extra time in Germany, however because the markets have been canceled, we ended up staying longer in France and getting final minute motels.

Our European Christmas Market Highway Journey Itinerary

Here is a short 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 as if so much… it is as a result of it’s! With a automotive and a can do angle, together with a plan, you actually can see and do so much! 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 inclined to pack in so much after I journey, however I would not have it every other method.

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 evening (Monschau to Trier is about an hour and a half drive)

Day 5: Trier, drove to Metz, Christmas markets at evening 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 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 excellent, and did not in any respect really feel like we have been within the automotive an excessive amount of.

❄️ Europe Packing Should Haves! ❄️

🧥 Coat – Vital for any winter journey! This one doesn’t disappoint
👖 Thermal Leggings – Retains you heat all day.
👕 Thermal Undershirt – Added Heat
🥾 Boots– These maintain you cozy and are sturdy sufficient to put on within the snow
🧦 Wool Socks– maintain your toes heat and dry
🧤 Cellphone Appropriate gloves – These work so you may nonetheless take photos of the Christmas lights!
🧳 Baggage – That is my go-to carry-on!
🔌 Universal Adapter – Finest for nation hopping
👜 Crossbody Bag – The very best for holding you arms free and your stuff secure
☃️ Beanie – A should for holding heat (and searching cute!)
🔥 Hand heaters – The key to by no means being chilly!
🧣 Scarf – So key to packing much less is to have equipment like scarves to modify it up!
Get my full packing checklist right here!

Renting a Automotive

I like to recommend utilizing a funds web site like Priceline or Hotwire to discover a rental automotive. Nonetheless, I keep away from automotive rental locations like Thrifty and Price range! I rented a automotive 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 automotive 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 may generally drop off your rental automotive at a special location, however normally it must be inside the identical nation. Hold that in thoughts when renting.

I do not normally add automotive rental insurance coverage, since I’ve insurance coverage already.

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

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 without doubt one of the most well-known Christmas market locations in Germany. The markets in Cologne are unfold all through the town with over-the-top decor, themed markets, and unbeatable Christmas spirit.

The Kölner Christkindelsmärik is held yearly normally from November twenty fourth till December twenty third, with greater than 100 stalls promoting the whole lot from natural meals to conventional German decorations. The preferred 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 preferred 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 positioned at Neumarkt and options fairly white stalls with darkish shingled roofs and a myriad of stars. There’s a lovely 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 certainly 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 may sip Glühwein out of a boot!

There are 7 markets all through the 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 clever 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!

The town is stuffed with nice historical past, stunning church buildings and beautiful cafe outlets. It is certainly one of my favourite cities, particularly throughout 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 evening drove on to cease 2!

Cease 2: Aachen

I can not imagine I lived in Germany for 3 years and by no means visited Aachen! This metropolis has been named as having among the greatest 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 may 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 complicated 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.

The town has a wealthy historical past and a beautiful ambiance throughout the Christmas season. Aachen can be house to the Cathedral of Aachen, which is a lovely cathedral and one of many oldest in Europe.

I like to recommend visiting the Charlemagne Middle which tells the historical past of the town of Aachen and Charlemagne. Aachen was the 2nd greatest metropolis in Germany, after Cologne in 1250, however WWII devastated the city. Now, although it is not as massive 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 is very 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, massive, fats flakes! It was beautiful. We meandered our option to the beautiful city of Monschau. Monschau, a city within the Eifel area of Germany is a captivating and picturesque vacation spot with countless half-timbered structure and a river working by it.

Monschau was initially constructed round a citadel and gives a bevy of gorgeous 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 suggest exploring Monschau when you’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 flippantly falling snow and take just a few photos! This might 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 primary sq. the place I had simply walked as much as get some mulled wine and roasted chestnuts. It was busy with individuals 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 without doubt one of the oldest in Germany and is ready up within the medieval most important sq. by the unbelievable Trier Cathedral. Practically 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. In the course of the Center Ages it turned one of the crucial essential cities in Europe and it stays an essential website for commerce and schooling at present.

I like to recommend visiting Trier Cathedral – its Gothic structure dates again to about 1300 A.D., making it one of the crucial spectacular church buildings in Western Europe! The cathedral accommodates quite a few items from earlier than then as properly, together with an altar that’s mentioned 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’s 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 have been constructed by well-known artists like Marc Chagall and Jean Cocteau. Metz has loads of different locations price visiting as properly – Notre Dame d’Auschwitz, the trendy artwork heart Centre Pompidou-Metz, and Le Temple Neuf is a lovely church that appears extra like a citadel.

Like different bigger cities, the Christmas market is unfold all through the 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 will discover connoisseur meals markets on Place de la Comédie.

I additionally suggest the normal Christmas market at Place Saint Louis, the Place de la République-Esplanade with the Christmas pyramid, Place d’Armes J-F Blondel with a lovely gentle show, and Place Saint Jacques for nice meals. See all of the Christmas markets right here.

On our method out of Metz the following day, we stopped at Porte des Allemands, the unique fortress and gatehouse to the town of Metz. It is a fast and straightforward 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 a lovely, festive city in Alsace, France with a wealthy historical past and tradition. It is also recognized 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 normal Christmas market.

The Ribeauvillé Christmas Market is the proper 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 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 on your Vin Chaud (mulled wine!). Stick round at evening for unfamiliar beings from fairy tales and legends will roam the road!

Heat your arms 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 certainly one of my favourite locations I’ve ever been!

Ribeauvillé is a superb cease in your European journey as a result of it is one of the crucial distinctive and delightful cities with among the finest 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 actually a gem and among the finest locations for Christmas with a mixture of German and French traditions.

Vital be aware: the Ribeauvillé Christmas market is ONLY two weekends a 12 months! So plan accordingly. Often the primary and second weekend of December.

Cease 7: Kayersberg

The subsequent few stops have been really going down over simply someday since these cities are so small and straightforward to discover. Beginning with Kayersberg.

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

Kayersberg is without doubt one of the most picturesque cities in Alsace with cobblestone streets, half-timbered buildings, and slim alleys lined with outlets promoting all kinds of issues from meals to crafts to jewellery.

You will be unable 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 known 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, generally even half streets laden with half-timbered buildings strewn with garlands, teddy bears, and extra.

That is named one of the crucial stunning cities within the Alsace with a lovely 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 evening, stick round for a tour from the Evening Watchman who will inform you tales of Eguisheim’s previous!

Cease 9: Riquewihr

Of the three stops of our Alsace Christmas market tour at present: Kayersberg, Eguisheim, and Riquewihr, Riquewihr was my favourite. The 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, generally 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 a lovely place to go to any time of the 12 months however excellent for Christmas! There are six Christmas markets all inside strolling distance and every prettier than the following.

La Petite Venise is certainly one of my favourite areas with pleasant structure curving across the water. Additionally right here is certainly 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 fascinated about it! I’ve eaten right here twice and it is simply among the greatest meals you will have in Europe.

The Christmas market is filled with wood chalets with superbly illuminated streets and loads of picture alternatives.

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

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

Cease 11: Strasbourg

A go to to the Alsace simply is not full and not using a cease in Strasbourg. The biggest metropolis and capital of the area, Strasbourg is certainly one of my favourite cities. It is house to the European Parliament, an unbelievable cathedral, and is without doubt one of 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 among the greatest in Europe with a towering Christmas tree (virtually 100 toes excessive), festive lights, and beautiful stalls promoting all kinds of goodies. I may 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 you depart sufficient time to see Strasbourg each throughout the day and at evening to actually get a really feel for its magic. There are 300 stalls unfold all through the town and among the greatest gentle shows unfold all through the streets!

You’ll be able to 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.

The town is house to one of the crucial spectacular Christmas markets in Germany with round 200 stalls, that includes conventional wood chalets promoting native produce and festive trinkets. Sadly, this 12 months’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 a lovely citadel and a well-preserved Sixteenth-century city. I really lived in Heidelberg for 3 years so I do know my method round this metropolis very properly! I like the Christmas market right here that is additionally unfold all through the primary avenue, Hauptstrasse.

The market is small however charming with a whole lot of native distributors promoting their wares. I additionally love the market by the ice skating rink that is proper underneath the citadel. Such a lovely 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’ll be able to 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 the town.

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

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

See my full information to the perfect Christmas Markets in Germany right here.

The place to remain

We stayed at largely funds properties, all-around $100 or much less an evening with quick access for parking and to the town facilities.

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

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

Trier – Vacation Inn Specific – Additionally an enormous fan of Vacation Inn Specific, easy however good motels.

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

Colmar – Resort Ibis – probably the most funds keep.

Strasbourg – Vacation Inn Specific Strasbourg.

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

Heidelberg – Resort Panorama – an ideal lodge on the high of the Hauptstrasse.

Frankfurt – Moxy Airport Resort – an ideal funds spot you probably have 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

Pictures to Encourage a Journey to Christmas Markets

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

What a improbable journey! For those who’re searching for a festive and charming European journey, you should definitely take a look at these superb cities throughout Christmas.

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