One of the most amazing trips our family has taken was our winter trip to Germany. We decided to do everything by train, completing a circle, beginning and ending in Munich. Besides a slight detour to Paris for a few days, we think we came up with a delightful German Christmas Market itinerary when traveling with kids. Be sure to collect your Christmas market mugs to add to your holiday decorating each year! We came back with five, as we couldn’t possibly get one from every single market we visited!
Itinerary Days 1-2: Munich
We had just enough time that afternoon and evening, after arriving to Munich aiport, to see two beautiful markets in town. The better known Christmas market located in town center, Marienplatz, was bustling with life! This was where we had our first traditional pretzel, some gluwein (kinderpunsch for the kids), bratwurst and perused the many market stands featuring wooden toys, candles and sweets.
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Kripperlmarkt, another market equal in entertainment, is “connected” to the Marienplatz market with just a short walk, on Neuhauser Strasse. There are approximately 22 Christmas markets in Munich…but these two provided just enough for an evening out with the kids. (Hint: head to the toy shop near the skating rink and get some great deals on Playmobil during the holidays!)
Itinerary Days 2-4: Dresden
Early in the morning, we took two trains to get to Dresden. The ride was beautiful, providing sneak peeks into the countryside backyards of local families. After arriving at the main train station, we took a city tram to Theaterplatz, where our hotel was located. Luckily, it was also the location of five Christmas markets, all within walking distance to our hotel, one being the famous Streiselmarkt. Twinkle lights and Christmas trees were everywhere, along with music and good cheer. In Streilselmarkt, you’ll find a kid village area, complete with a mini train ride, craft making, baking and cookie decorating. Don’t forget to get on the double decker merry-go-round! The highlight for me was viewing the world-famous pyramid. I grew up with one in my home, brought out every Christmas, and I intended to go home with one again by the end of this trip.
Other mini markets within walking distance and definitely worth seeing are:
Stallhofisches Adventsspektakel market: a medieval themed market with costumes, blacksmiths, toy shields and swords and a puppet theater.
Advent auf dem Neumarkt Christmas market: With a backdrop featuring the Dresden Frauenkirche Church built in 1745, which was destroyed in 1945, and rebuilt in 1992-1994, this was magical. We walked our way through the market and then popped into the Frauenkirche for a bit of reflection.
Traditioneller Weihnachtsmarkt an der Frauenkirche market: Alive with twinkle lights and another beautiful pyramid, this market won our hearts with the ability to walk up to the top of a bridge and look down upon the Christmas market lined street. Just beautiful.
Itinerary Days 4-7: Berlin
Berlin was frigid compared to our other locations, which was a bit of a shock. We found it hard to be outside for very long, so we would pop into department stores here and there, and utilised our hand warmers we brought with us! As cold as it may be, it didn’t stop us from getting out and seeing a couple amazing and BIG markets in Berlin.
Alexanderplatz Market: Another fabulous market right near a train stop, Alexanderplatz is bustling with business people, locals and tourists all day long. It was nice to see people on their lunch break eating a brat, drinking some gluwein and taking in a much needed laugh in the middle of the work day! You’ll find a skating rink and marvel at the World Time Clock, a continually rotating installation that shows the time around the globe and Hermann Henselmann’s Haus des Lehrers!
Potsdamer Platz Market: Talk about the magic of a winter wonderland! Potsdamer Platz features more Christmas handicraft stalls, music and delicious varieties of food, along with the largest sledding hill in Europe right in the middle as the main attraction and a skating rink!
(Hint: Within walking distance you’ll find a Legoland Discovery Center…a great place to warm up and break up the Christmas market touring.)
Itinerary Days 7-8: Cologne
Weihnachtsmarkt: Located beside the breathtakingly beautiful Cologne Cathedral (NOT TO MISS), this market provided the most laughs we had thus far in the trip. I don’t know if it was the people of Cologne, the live band playing or the general joy of Christmas, but laughter was contagious (I was even blown a kiss by an old man.)
Itinerary Days 8-12: Paris
See my story on how we managed to do Paris in four days, including Disney Paris and Christmas markets!
Itinerary Days 12-13: Cologne
We took the day off from Christmas markets, and decided to take a mini train tour of the city, walked through the Cologne Cathedral and order some of the best pizza for eating in on a very cold and rainy night. (Hint: Bring an umbrella on your trip…we needed ours more than once!)
Itinerary Days 13-15: Munich
We took a 5-hour train ride on the ICE train, viewing amazing scenery and astounding castles. We checked into a great family-run hotel within walking distance from the main train station. We ventured out for the evening, walking back through the Christmas markets previously visited and found our way to the Hofbraühaus! Promise me you’ll go!
If you have the chance, take a train from Munich to Salzburg, Austria. We didn’t have time, unfortunately, but everyone said it’s a must do, being so close and all. Perhaps next time we’ll be able to visit the glorious mountains and perhaps, sing!
I hope you had fun on our train ride through Christmas markets. I’d love to hear about your adventures too!