Living in Germany has its perks. We have social insurance. We have the Autobahn. But mainly, during this time of the year, we have festive Christmas Markets close to Frankfurt, Germany and lots of them.
What? Huh? Frankfurt? Yes, Frankfurt because if you’re visiting Germany you’ll most likely be flying into the Frankfurt airport. If not, re-book because we’ve got a lot of awesome German Christmas markets in the area so let’s get started. Yippee! Yahoo!
Frankfurt (City center near Roemerberg and Paulsplatz)
First stop, Frankfurt of course. Located on the Main River, Frankfurt is called Mainhattan for its impressive skyline. Soak up the festive atmosphere in the city center near Roemerberg and Paulsplatz. You’re in apple country so when you’re not enjoying a Gluhwein (mulled wine) sample Frankfurter sausages, cinnamon stars, and hot apple wine served at traditional bars around Sachsenhausen.
Local gifts include Frankfurt-style Christmas tree ornaments, apple wine soap, Frankfurt slippers and the ever popular Gluhwein mug for 2014.
Michelstadt (1 hour drive from Frankfurt)
Located a little more than one hour by car from Frankfut, Michelstadt is an adorable small town with big charm located in the heart of the Odenwald. Built in 1484, it’s also known for its lovely cobblestone streets and array of half-timbered houses. At the annual Michelstadt Christmas Market you’ll find over 100 wooden market stalls set in a fairy book setting. This is a superb Weihnachtsmarkt to find handcrafted items as many of the tradespeople still apply traditional techniques used in past generations.
Check out the cute toy museum, castle’s wine tasting hall, sculptors, wood turners, ivory carvers and carpenters as they demonstrate their techniques.
Heidelberg (50 minutes by train from Frankfurt)
Imagine, in just one hour driving the Autobahn from Frankfurt, you’re transported to the cobble stoned streets of Heidelberg. The old town of the magical city lights up during the Heidelberg Weihnachtsmarkt and so does the imposing Heidelberg Castle. There are over 140 stalls to choose from when searching for really nice handmade items and this is one of many gorgeous Christmas markets close to Frankfurt.
Take the funicular up to the Heidelberg Castle and stroll around the Castle Garden where the illuminated residence and lit pagodas ooze “I love Christmas” holiday feeling.
By now you may be tipsy from all of that Gluhwein you’ve been enjoying, so from Heidelberg, hop on the street car and before you can recite The 12 Days of Christmas, you’ll be at Mannheim’s Christmas markets. By the way, all markets serve a non-alcoholic version called Kinderpunsch.
Centered around the impressive colorfully lit water tower, there are many stands to find the perfect gift or enjoy another beverage. My favorite is the Moroccan tea stand where they serve the most amazing mint tea and Moroccan sweet treats.
As Mannheim undergoes a city center transformation on their well-known shopping area Planken, so has their Christmas market. There are actually several markets spread throughout the city aside from the one around the Mannheim Water Tower. There’s a quiet one where burning wood warms up shoppers, one for children near Paradaplatz, and yet another group of stands behind Engelhorn (Mannheim’s version of Neiman Marcus).
Bad Wimpfen (50 minute drive from Frankfurt)
The Bad Wimpfen Altdeutsche Weihnachtsmarkt (Old German Christmas Market) dates back to 1487 when Emperor Friedrich III granted Bad Wimpfen the privilege of being allowed to hold a market before Christmas.
Just a 50 minute drive from Frankfurt, you’ll notice something special as you approach the city. The skyline of Bad Wimpfen is lit producing a magical atmosphere. The Blaue and Rote Tuerme (Blue and Red Towers) form the striking backdrop of the medieval town. Once you reach the city center you are surrounded by an array of half-timbered houses brilliantly illuminated with hundreds of lights.
Because the Bad Wimpfen German Christmas market is so authentic, it’s equally popular too. This market is only open on three weekends and can get really busy. You’ll need to park outside of the city center and take the bus or walk to the festivities. If you’re still in the mood for the sound of trumpets blowing and the town’s band playing carols, this is the market for you.
After visiting one or all of the Christmas Markets close to Frankfurt you’ll know why I love Christmas in Germany. So, let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.