With over two million visitors each year, the Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt is not only the biggest in Germany but one of the most famous around the world. Its roots go back to the early 17th century and many of the old traditions are still kept alive. Handmade Christmas decorations and culinary treats are sold in the wooden booths with red-and-white canvas roofs. Christmas chorals in the background and festive lights enchant the atmosphere even more while strolling around the market.
I grew up in Nuremberg and have been working in one of the booths at the Christmas market for about 5 years. There are tons of things to see and try at the market. However, I know that many people only have very limited time in Nuremberg and therefore cannot explore every corner of the city. In this post, I´ve listed 5 absolute highlights that make the Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt unique and that you should definitely not miss during your stay.
1. Try „3 im Weckla“
The world-famous Nuremberg sausages are eaten throughout the year. However, during Christmas season these finger-sized grilled sausages are available at every street corner. Typically, you can get three of them in a bun with ketchup or mustard. The Nurembergers call them „Drei im Weckla“ or „Bratwurst-Semmel“.
The Nuremberg sausages have been around for more than 700 years and have always been made of pork meat seasoned with marjoram. At local restaurants, the sausages are often served on a pewter plate with sauerkraut or potato salad.
2. Drink Mulled Wine & Feuerzangenbowle
Nuremberg Mulled Wine is another culinary specialty you must try while visiting the Christmas market. Today, this spiced wine is produced and sold by four renowned companies. The blueberry mulled wine is the local favorite and available at more than 7 booths across the market as well as some stalls towards St. Lawrence Church. Spices of this mulled wine include aniseed, cinnamon, and cloves.
In addition to the famous mulled wine, you can find the largest punch bowl in the world right at the Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt. Hot red wine and rum are brewed next to the Fleischbrücke in the heart of old town. Unlike the main Christmas market, the Feuerzangenbowle is open until 11pm every day making it a popular stop for a hot drink once the other stalls have already closed.
Each year, the City of Nuremberg creates official Christkindlesmarkt cups with a custom design, in which the mulled wine and other hot drinks are served. Since those cups are very unique and different each year, many people have started collecting them. When purchasing a drink, you will have to pay a deposit of 3€ for the cup, which you will get back when you return the mug.
3. Buy „Lebkuchen“
Just like the Nuremberg Sausages and the mulled wine, Nuremberg´s gingerbread is very traditional. In fact, Germany is a true gingerbread heaven and offers many different kinds. These baked goods are typically flavored with ginger, cardamom or cloves and often include almonds or hazelnuts. In Germany, you’ll find gingerbread in two forms. The hard gingerbread is usually sold at street markets and funfairs all year round whereas the soft form „Lebkuchen“ can mostly be found on Christmas markets during the Advent season. My personal favorite, by the way, is the one covered with dark chocolate. 😛
4. Take a picture of the Prune Men (and other traditional handicrafts)
The Christmas market is full of classic handicrafts, such as Christmas decorations like Gold Foil Angels, handmade candles, wooden arts & crafts, handmade ceramics, pottery, lanterns. One of my favorites are the Erzgebirge (Ore Mountains) handicrafts from Eastern Germany.
However, one of the most well-loved goods to be found at the Christmas market are the Prune Men. Made of dried prunes, these figures are between 10 – 22cm high and truly a delight to look at. More than 300 different Prune Men (and Women) are available and definitely worth a picture or two.
5. Visit Nuremberg´s Sister Cities Market
At the Rathausplatz, the square next to the main Christkindlesmarkt, you´ll find the Sister Cities Market. After World War II, Nuremberg started developing and participating in many human rights activities as a result of being associated with the terrors of the Nazi Regime. Over the past decades, the city had been able to build good relationships with its twinned cities all over the world. Today, international booths of more than 20 nations are lined up in a circle around the Gänsemännchen Fountain. All of Nuremberg´s twinned cities have their own stall with indigenous foods, domestic goods, and colorful themes and invite tourists to embark on a festive journey around the globe.
What Else Is There To See?
Just because you´re visiting Nuremberg for the Christmas market doesn´t mean you can´t do any other sightseeing, right? In fact, Nuremberg is a fabulous city to visit all year round, not just during Christmas season. There are plenty of activities to do, architecture to see, museums to visit and events to go to throughout the year. Check out this Budget Travel Guide to get an idea of how to spend 2 incredible days in town, including various recommendations regarding walking tours, authentic restaurants, and cultural activities.
You might also want to explore the Franconian region andsome other authentic towns once you´re in the area. Most German cities and towns offer Christmas markets during the Advent season. They are significantly smaller than the Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt, but still worth a visit!