There are a number of cities which claim to have the most famous Christmas market in Germany but in the end Nuremberg’s market seems to come out on top. It may not officially be the oldest, that title goes to Dresden, but it’s definitely the most traditional and one of the largest.
My focus on this trip was the food and there is definitely plenty of it to choose from. The number one item of choice for most people is the Nuremberg bratwurst. These are short, thin sausages eaten with a locally made bread. You usually get 3 in a bun but if you eat at a restaurant you might get 8-15!
Next up is the Lebkuchen which is usually translated as being gingerbread but it’s quite different to the gingerbread I know. Traditional Lebkuchen is made with nuts and no or little flour. It’s quite soft and almost like a cake rather than a biscuit.
Not to be forgotten is the all important mulled wine. I must admit I don’t get the attraction of mulled wine. I generally find it undrinkable but others love it. A slightly more palatable version is feuerzangenbowle which is made with melted sugar and rum. It’s quite potent for cheap drunks like me. After 5pm the markets were full with friends and family meeting up to chat over mulled wine.
My favourite food at the Nuremberg Christmas market would have to be the kartoffelpuffers which are kind of like hash browns. They are typically served with applesauce but I had cranberry sauce hoping it would be like what you find in Austria. It wasn’t. Don’t make the mistake of thinking these are vegetarian as they are cooked in a fairly significant amount of lard (pig fat).
Also quite nice were the stollenstern which are kind of like Italian panettone but with cranberries (or other fruit).
These biscuit ornaments are very cute.
I went to the Nuremberg with my eyes firmly set on the food side of the market but there is plenty of other stalls of interest. In Nuremberg, all the stands must have locally made products so you won’t find any imported plastic toys or tacky souvenir stands (I’m looking at you Paris). Instead you have hand made products like Nuremberg’s famous plum men and no, you can’t eat them.
Christmas baubles and manger type decorations seem to be popular with shoppers but I particularly liked these angels designed for the top of the Christmas tree and which are also the symbol of the Nuremberg market.
A fun option for kids and families is to go on a horse carriage ride around the market and old town. The beautiful horses wear special horseshoes so they don’t get sore from walking on the cobblestones.
The other highlight of the market is getting to see the famous Nuremberg Christmas Angel. The Christmas Angel opens the market each year and then spends the rest of the Christmas period bringing a little Christmas cheer to the city. I got to meet her and of course I had to ask her about her favourite Christmas market food. She didn’t seem to have a favourite but she did mention she definitely doesn’t like the famous Nuremberg bratwurst. Quel scandale!
Where to Stay in Nuremberg
I stayed in Nuremberg as a guest of Nuremberg Tourism and NH Nuremberg City. The NH Nuremberg City hotel is just down the road from the train station and a 15 minute walk from the Christmas markets. I was travelling by train so the location was ideal for me. The hotel itself is top quality and the breakfast was amazing. You can read my full review of NH Nuremberg City here.
Being Germany’s most famous city for Christmas markets, hotels do fill up quickly in December so I suggest booking well in advance or planning your stay for during the week instead of the weekend.
Nuremberg at Christmas
I love that this market is traditional and they don’t sell any cheap or tacky items. Even the stalls themselves are made in the traditional way and all the greenery which decorates them is real, not plastic. I had read that some people didn’t like this market because it’s too crowded but I didn’t have any problems at all. Visit during the day on weekdays and you’ll be fine.
It’s great that all the stands here are local but if you want a more international feel there is the Partners Christmas market in the smaller square next the Hauptmarkt with stalls from Romania, Italy, Montenegro, the United States and elsewhere. There is also a dedicated children’s market.
I only had a day and a half here and while that was enough to see the market I would have liked to have stayed longer to see more of the city and in particular to visit the museums dedicated to Nuremberg’s involvement in WWII. As usual, there is never enough time to see everything.