The Most Unique German Christmas Markets in Southwest Germany

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On my recent visit to Germany I had one goal in mind, check out as many of the unique German Christmas Markets as we could. While many visitors flock to the more well known Christmas markets of Nuremberg or Munich, our goal was to check out the smaller towns and what locals regard as some of the most unique and beautiful Christmas markets in the country.

When you think of a fairy tale winter scene – sparkling snow, fairy lights and gingerbread houses – it can be a reality in Germany during the holiday season. Walking along cobblestone streets while smelling the sweet roasting nuts and mulled wine filling the air with snow swirling around you is brilliant.  This really is one of the most magical Christmas holiday experiences one can have. This bucket list experience can be overwhelming to plan as there are more than 2000 German Christmas markets spread across the country. 

History of German Christmas Markets

Did you know that Germans invented the traditional Christmas markets, with the oldest Christmas markets going all the way back to medieval times. Dresdner Striezelmarkt is the oldest known Christmas market in Germany which dates back to 1434. In this original market, opened only for one day on Christmas Eve. The only thing on sale was meat, but over the years more and more products and food offerings began to appear.

For people who know of German Christmas Markets, they probably know of the most famous, the Nuremberg Christmas Market. This market began in 1628, although some believe it could be even 100 years older. 

Before you get too far in planning your trip, make sure to read our extensive guide on visiting Christmas Markets in Germany.

6 Unique Markets to Visit in Southwest Germany 

In a country filled with literally thousands of Christmas markets it is not easy to narrow down where you will go for a one week winter holiday. For our trip, we decided to focus on one area rather than hopping all over the country. While it is difficult to not see them ALL, the markets we visited in Southwest Germany provided a great introduction to the German Christmas markets tradition as well as offering a variety of sizes, types and vibes. 

Stuttgart Market

One of the best Christmas markets you will find in Southwest Germany is in Stuttgart. The Stuttgart Christmas market occupying several blocks of space in the shopping district offers visitors a look into traditional and commercial markets all woven together in one place. While the atmospheric markets of some of the smaller towns might have won us over this market offered us the best introduction to German Christmas markets. The identical wooden stalls, decorated with personality along the way showcasing a variety of items from traditional German foods to nativity scenes to homewares like household brushes.

Here there are also several other markets within close proximity providing even more areas to explore. The main market continued to be our favorite, but it was fun to see the other types around.

Entertainment on offer here like the massive ferris wheel, small ride on train and roller rink provide fun for the whole family. Adults will enjoy sipping their gluhwein (mulled wine with Christmas spices) while kids can have their alcohol free version at the same time. The food on offer at this market rises above most other markets in that you can almost find anything you want here. 

How to Get Here

You never realize how large a country is until you start trying to plan a trip! SouthWest Germany encompasses Stuttgart and the Black Forest region. The ideal airport to arrive into would be Stuttgart, but for most international travelers Frankfurt will be the easiest and most economical. From Frankfurt you can either rent a car for your adventures or take a train. During our visit we did a bit of both. We highly recommend taking the train straight from the airport in Frankfurt to Stuttgart.

Follow the signs for the train station inside the airport and choose which train will be going next. Not all are direct so look carefully. Trains depart from Platform 5 (at the time of writing). The ride will take approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes. Currently you are required to wear a mask while on the trains in Germany. Also note that children under 15 ride free. 

Where to Stay

We stayed at the Hotel Motel One Stuttgart-Hauptbahnhof, which we loved. There are actually two of them in the city center. Both of the Motel One locations provide easy walking access to the Stuttgart Christmas Market as well as to the Stuttgart Central train station for both long distance and inter-city trains. 

This hip hotel is tagged as a budget option for young travelers with rates around 100 Euro a night. The rooms are compact, but offer everything you would need including free WiFi and allows pets. A buffet breakfast is available for purchase and light snacks are offered in the bar area the rest of the day.

Where to Eat

During our visit to Stuttgart we actually didn’t eat anywhere except at the Christmas Market because the offerings there were so delicious! While wandering around at the market stalls,we highly recommend grabbing a plate of Käsespätzle, try the potato pancakes with applesauce (Kartoffelpuffer) and of course grab a chocolate covered fruit skewer (Schoko-Fruchtspiesse) to finish up. Of course there is plenty of sausages here as well to beef up a meal. 

RELATED: Read our post on 20 amazing foods to try at German Christmas Markets

What to Buy

The Stuttgart Christmas market was quite large offering a lot of great options. For travelers I would recommend stopping into the Käthe Wohlfahrt shop and purchasing an ornament from this well known German company. You can also consider buying sheep wool shoe inserts here as you will mostly be happy for them as you continue on your visit. Popular sizes sell out quickly, so if you see your size grab some! My number one tip however is if you see something you even remotely want – purchase it as you may not see it again at other markets.

Esslingen Medieval Market

Esslingen is the best example of medieval German christmas marketsOne of the coolest markets in this part of Germany has to be Esslingen’s Medieval Christmas Market that sits in the shadow of the old town hall. As you walk off the train making your way to the old town square you will begin to see the old style of buildings in the town square begin to emerge. This market is split into two sections essentially – the more traditional Christmas market with stalls selling all of your favorite items like boiled sweets, gingerbread cookies and holiday decorations. Further into the market you will find the atmosphere has changed into one set in the medieval days. Here you will find our favorite parts of the market.

As you enter the Esslingen’s Medieval Market, you will notice the merchants are dressed in historical costumes as they man their stalls. This market is loaded with cool stalls selling everything from medieval clothing, homewares, unique medieval games and jewelry all while intertwined with more modern stalls selling pottery, mistletoe decorations and holiday decorations.

One of the most unique features is the “public hot tub” where you can book a 2 hour session with your friends to soak in the middle of the market! It’s not as odd as it sounds, as you have privacy if you would like. The wooden tub books out in advance so if you think you might be interested, do plan ahead.

This market is extra special due to the children’s area that has carnival type games, all with the medieval twist – jugglers, archery, axe throwing, crossbow shooting and catapulting. For the littles, take a ride on an all wooden ferris wheel or an adorable swing both propelled by hand.Here you will find traditional crafts, jugglers, and even a wooden hand powered ferris wheel for children. 

For eats and treats, you will be lured in by exotic spices and smells as you pass the dried fruit and nut stalls, massive cinnamon buns, flatbread pizzas and of course the market staple bratwurst. This small town had the most amazing medieval squares that we saw anywhere on our trip. A definitely must to visit here.

Everytime you purchase a drink at the Christmas Markets you will need to give a deposit of 2-3 Euro. If you don’t return your mug, it’s yours to keep. These make great gifts and mementos of your trip!

How to Get Here

During our visit, we took a train from Stuttgart City Center which took about 20 minutes. From the main station, take S-Bahn line S1 headed for Kircheim (Teck) until station Esslingen. From here you can usually just follow the crowds as they head down the main pedestrian street towards the old town area. 

Where to Stay

We stayed in Stuttgart which was easy enough to get to/from for the market. However this town is ADORABLE, so I would highly recommend staying over if you have time in your itinerary. I do not have any specific recommendations since we didn’t stay over, but if you plug in your dates below, you should find many options from VRBOs to hotels in the area. 


Where to Eat

Again, the market is the perfect place to eat and drink while you are visiting. Although if you are in town on a weekend, the local farmers market also offered great breads, meats and cheeses to make your own meal. This was the only market we visited that had hot chocolate in the traditional mug. It was delicious and just what we needed after several hours of walking around the cold cobblestones! Speciality items here include massive cinnamon buns and traditional flatbread pizzas. 

RELATED: Read our post on 20 amazing foods to try at German Christmas Markets

What to Buy

This market offers a unique collection of medieval items for purchase. Our top tips on what to buy here include medieval games, jewelry and clothes. There is also a stall with hand carved wooden figurines that you will not find anywhere else. 

Ludwigsburg Baroque Market

Ludwigsburg is the best German Christmas Market for food!This beautiful Christmas market located just north of Stuttgart can be visited as a day trip or on an overnight stay. Brightly lit angels adorn the skies above this town square set from the 18th century lined with 2 Baroque churches and adorable homes. The 170 stalls here are all elaborately decorated in traditional materials – stuffed (real or pretend I can’t always tell!) creatures and dazzling pine garlands strung with fairy lights while the insides are filled with handcrafted goods. 

 This market feels more homegrown with locals milling about, chatting up the stall vendors, sharing mulled wine and enjoying the festivities. The stalls sell more unique items not seen at other markets including amazingly detailed and cool hand puppets. This market also had some of the best varieties for food that we experienced at any market – try the Stockbrot (bread on a stick) in either a savory or sweet version, the langos (deep fried flatbread with toppings), knödels (a dumpling sweet and savory) as well as the traditional rote wurst on brot (red sausage on bread). There are also crepes for the kiddos, hot chocolate and lots of kinderpunsch options. My 12 year old also proclaims this market to have the best kinderpunsch throughout all of Southwest Germany.

How to Get Here

If you are taking public transportation, from Stuttgart Central Station, take the S-Bahn train (either S4 towards Marbach or S5 towards Bietigheim-Bissingen) and get off at Ludwigsburg. Trains leave every few minutes. It will take about 15 minutes to get to Ludwigsburg. Once you have arrived, it is a 10 minute walk to the main square.

Where to Stay

Again, we didn’t stay over here, but this town is adorable and would be another great place to stay if you have the time. A few recommendations from partners in Germany include:

  • nestor Hotel Ludwigsburg:Hotel with a fine tradition featuring the atmosphere of a listed barrack.
  • Hotel BergamoNew hotel completely built with wood and a big emphasis on sustainability.
  • HARBR. Hotel: New hotel next to the main station with maritime theme

Where to Eat

The unique atmosphere of this festive market offered some of the most food we encountered on our journey, much of which we did not see at any other markets. Because of this, I highly encourage you to try arrive to the markets hungry and try as many foods as you can. Each market offers different varieties of food that you may just not see again! Make sure to save room for sweet treats as they are delicious here. At this market we loved the langos – a puffy fried bread with cheese on top, rolled up bread with bacon and cheese on a stick (hand brot) and flammkuchen (a flatbread pizza).

RELATED: Read our post on 20 amazing foods to try at German Christmas Markets

What to Buy

All of the German Christmas markets seem to have their own personality and specialty items for sale. Ludwigsburg is no exception. The must buy item here are handmade puppets. We also really loved the many laser cut wooden ornaments here. Some were so cheap we weren’t 100% that they were German made, but always nice to bring back and little gifts. 

Baden-Baden Market

baden-Baden is a beautiful German Christmas market in the southwest of germanyBaden-Baden to me is synonymous with wellness hotels and spa treatments! However, this spa town has even more to lure visitors in the winter with its adorable Christmas market. We had some of the best bratwurst in the country here, met lovely locals and shopped until we dropped at the more traditional crafts stalls. While the market wasn’t our main draw to the town, it ended up being a wonderful addition to our spa visit!

It is here that even amongst the crowds we were able to chat with locals more, learn more about the town and the various crafts people selling their goods. While we didn’t see an abundance of Christmas trees or traditional (in the American sense!) Christmas offerings, this market was so atmospheric it won us over. If you have the opportunity to visit Baden-Baden during the festive season, do it!

There is also an ice rink nearby, but we didn’t have time to check it out, even though it was on our to do list. But do go if you can fit it into your schedule. 

Where to Stay

I am certain there is no shortage of places to stay in Baden-Baden, but we truly loved our hotel, Hotel Magnetberg Baden-Baden which was perched up the hill from the main city center and surrounded by the Black Forest Nature Park. Yes this means you have to walk down to the market area, but trust me when I say it is a beautiful stroll, providing a sense that you are actually living here rather than visiting. It is also walking distance to the Caracalla Therme Spa which is a must visit while in town. It is super family friendly and a great way to relax in the midst of your trip. 

Where to Eat

My favorite cheese sausage was at this market, and trust me I tried rotwurst at all the different markets! One of the many delicious offerings here included a stall with fresh hot chestnuts in a cute little train! We didn’t often see hot chestnuts sold like this, so we of course had to buy some. 

What to Buy

While this market offered a lot of artisan crafts, many of the items for sale were more geared towards locals and much too large to take home in a suitcase. Instead, we focused on energies on food! There was so much delicious food on offer here from homemade macaroons, chestnuts and a seller from France sharing his delicious Christmas nougat.


Gengenbach, located just south of Baden-Baden and on the edge of the Black Forest is a popular tourist destination throughout the year. However, during the winter season, Gengenbach is known for having a large advent calendar displayed on 24 windows of it’s 18th century town hall building. In recent years, the story depicted on the screens is from the book The Little Prince. We were so excited to visit this adorable Christmas village as it was oozing with charm and character!

Note: the calendar reveal occurs each afternoon at 6 p.m. for the following day’s window. During our visit there was also a special ceremony prior to the reveal with live music, Christmas carols and speeches. 

In addition to this tourist draw, the medieval town center is an absolute delight to walk around. Take time away from the market itself to explore the little cobblestone lanes leading around the square to see where people live. The Christmas decorations on the front of the buildings as well as around the town give insight into the quirky arty charm of this town.

While the market itself isn’t too large, it actually ended up being one of the best German Christmas markets we visited. It was nicely spread out and offered unique offerings that we hadn’t seen in other markets including a traditional Santa Claus that we purchased for my mom who collects Santas!

If you have time on your itinerary I would highly recommend staying over in this town to soak up the energy once the day trippers have left. 

Where to Stay

Unfortunately we did not stay over in Gengenbach, but we wished we did. It was an adorable town that had so much character, we would have enjoyed spending more time here. If you can stay over, below are a few recommendations we were given. 

Where to Eat

The Gengenbach Christmas market offers all the traditional food stalls you will come to expect including crepes, sausages and flammkuchen (flatbread pizza). We sampled all of these goods and loved the flammkuchen the most here. My son felt the kinderpunsch here was the best too. 

What to Buy

Individual wooden booths here are much less commercial, offering unique items made by local artisans that you will have not seen at other markets including wooden carved crafts and household decorations. Every stall here offered items we had not seen at any other market thus far! We left with a mug of course and a traditional plain clothed santa figure that was just what we had hoped to find.

Ravenna Gorge

Ravenna Gorge, one of the best German Christmas markets located in the Black ForestThe most picturesque market we have visited is the tourist hotspot located deep in the Black Forest, the Ravenna Gorge Christmas market. This small market is held under the arches of a train with live music playing around you. The market itself isn’t massive to be honest as it feels like more stalls are selling food and drink rather than local artisan crafts like it used to be, but if you are in the area, it is well worth the excursion. This area of Germany is beautiful and worth the time to explore. Known for cuckoo clocks and its dense forest, the snowy hills provide a stunning backdrop to this winter market.

You will find this market to be much more heavily touristed than other German Christmas markets on this list due to its Instagram worthy photos. If you can make it to the market early in the day or later in the evening when the crowds have dissipated, you can find more time to chat with the vendors selling their wares. There was a local cuckoo clock maker offering a few items, a self proclaimed professional hobbyist potter and some beautiful wood work. 

In reality though, you are here for the atmosphere, which it is not short on! Unique instrumentalists playing music over the speaker system, with a roaring fire set under the changing lights of the arches above you makes for a atmospheric evening with friends and family. 

Where to Stay

There are a variety of places to stay in the area of Ravenna Gorge Christmas Market. During our visit we stayed at the  Schwarzwaldhof which was perfect for families. We had a twin bed tucked away in the entrance area that was perfect for my son and another full size bed for me in a separate area.

Other options to consider include:

Where to Eat

We always save our meals for the Christmas markets as there is so much food on offer and you can sample lots of different types of traditional food. While here at the Ravenna Gorge Market, definitely grab some mulled wine to drink while sitting by the fire. Here the favorites for us were the flammkuchen (flatbread pizza) on offer. 

RELATED: Read our post on 20 amazing foods to try at German Christmas Markets

What to Buy

The goods at this German Christmas market are geared much more towards locals as there are plenty of food to take home, wine and larger items that aren’t feasible to fly with! One thing you can look out for are the homemade pottery and even the unique modern take on cuckoo clocks. 

More Tips on Planning Your German Christmas Markets Trip

Planning a trip to Germany to see Christmas markets can be daunting and overwhelming considering how many markets exist and how different each one is. 

  • Pack for cold weather with lots of layers, including warm shoes, gloves and hats.
  • Cash is king in the markets, so hit the ATMs before you reach the market
  • Getting around by train is totally doable, but to get well off the beaten path, a car is great
  • Visit different German Christmas markets – both larger and smaller to get a feel for both.
  • Plan your trip to locations that you can do other things as well
  • Plan for only 2-3 hours outdoors at a time as your feet or fingers will begin to get too cold!
  • If you see something you like, buy it, you may not see it again
  • Leave space in your suitcase for the adorable mugs offered at each market for only 3 euro

We are already excitedly planning a visit for German Christmas markets again for 2023. On our list for this next trip we hope to hit up the Instagram darling town known as Rothenburg Ob Der Tauber as well as the Leipzig Christmas Market. Do you have any others that we should add to our list?

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