Christmas is quickly approaching and for those looking to do some last minute shopping, a trip to Germany comes highly recommended.
While Christmas markets spring up all across the globe, the traditional wooden stalls and fairgrounds mean that German markets have something of an edge over those elsewhere.
If you’d like to be surrounded by Gluhwein (mulled wine), bratwurst and pretzels when doing your shopping, here are the best German Christmas markets to visit.
Many Christmas markets can be found across the city, with the most famous found in front of the spectacular Cologne Cathedral.
More than 160 stalls at the Am Dom market stand in the shadow of the largest Christmas tree in the Rhineland, not to mention the imposing Gothic architecture.
Traditional music fills the air while there’s plenty for children too and all within touching distance by train – it should take you around four and a half hours from London.
The German capital comes alive at Christmas and more than 60 markets are scattered across the centre.
The Potsdamer Platz Market is home to Europe’s largest mobile toboggan run while there’s plenty of other entertainment on offer too, including jugglers, acrobats and choirs to name but a few.
Transport links in the city are superb, meaning it’s possible to travel between markets with relative ease while flights to Berlin’s two airports go regularly from most UK sites.
The city is also full of historical monuments from the Second World War and Cold War while the city zoo – the oldest in Germany – is home to more than 20,000 animals.
Striezelmarkt – Dresden’s Christmas market – is the oldest in Germany and dates back to 1434 with the city turned into a winter wonderland year after year.
Traditional skills such as glass-blowers, carvers and bakers practice their crafts at the market stalls while the Stollen Festival sees a giant stolen cake processed through the streets in the second Saturday in Advent.
A number of different markets are found across the city, while visitors can also look in awe of the architecture of the city – all meticulously designed following the city’s near total destruction in the Second World War.
If you’re looking to go in search of Bavarian produce then the Munich market is definitely the place to go.
The Kripperlmarkt features a spectacular Nativity scene while the Tollwood Market offers a diverse range of international music and cuisine.
The main market though is the Marienplatz, set up below the balconies of the town hall, and featuring delectable Christmas sweets and goodies.
There are more than 20 markets in the city while flights to Munich airport take in the region of two hours from London.
Last on the list in Stuttgart, widely regarded as one of the most beautiful markets in Europe and held beneath the city’s spectacular Old Palace.
Traditional German foods and toys can be found at the many different stalls while the city offers plenty to keep visitors entertained.
Other famous markets at Ludwigsburg and Esslingen are also around 20km away should visitors wish to explore the region further.
A special mention
Nuremberg market just misses out on our top five but it is certainly worth considering as it sits beautifully between the Alps the south and the city’s medieval Imperial Castle.
A Ferris wheel overlooks 180 traditional stalls and the market remains a popular visitor destination year-on-year.
If you do decide to visit a German market this Christmas, then loading funds onto a prepaid travel card could mean you get better deals on the current exchange rates.