For most people, Christmas is a magic time of the year. Strolling in the winter night, listening to Christmas songs, the lights decorating homes and trees, and maybe a nice warm drink in your hands. Now, imagine all of that, but in Frankfurt Germany. That is an experience you just shouldn’t miss.
From November 23rd through December 22nd Römerberg Marketplace (The Römer) is the site of the main Christmas market in the city and one of the oldest markets in the country. If you search you will find smaller markets tucked into pockets around the city, but Römerberg is the biggest and most impressive. The towering tree along with Old Nicholas Church(Alte Nikolaikirche) overlooking the square, add to the magic atmosphere.
Wandering around you might be overwhelmed with the smells of the different foods available. So make sure you give yourself enough time to sample as many different things as possible. One of the items not to miss is the mulled wine (Glühwein). Not only is it warm and tasty, but you get a commemorative mug to take home with you. Many stands will also give you a token good for one free refill.
Of course you’ll find all the different sausages you’re familiar with. Many are even roasted over an open pit, adding to the already great flavor and overall aroma of the square.
If your into sweets, you’ve come to the right place. There is just about every candy and dessert food you can think of. I highly recommend the Magenbrot. These little cakes are made with cocoa along with a variety of spices like cloves, cinnamon, star anise and nutmeg. Not only do they have a great flavor, but are also thought to help with digestion. Either way it’s a great excuse to indulge. You can also find people making fresh crepes with a selection of fruits and syrups to choose from.
Now that you’ve filled up on food, it’s time to work it off by checking out all the gifts and trinkets. Many of the stands not only offer gifts unique to Germany, but also handmade items that you won’t find in the usual gift shoppes. If you forgot to pack that scarf or gloves you will even find a few stands selling warm clothing to help you out.
If you’ve got little ones with you, check out the double decked merry-go-round. Rides are available throughout the run of the market and is a great photo and video opportunity.
Of course, if you ever want to get out of the cold and relax, there are several restaurants located full time on the square. They are also handy if you need to visit a water-closet after all the gluwein. Restaurant guests can use the facilities gratis, others will need to pay a small amount (different for each place) to use.
The market can be a little crowded during the day, but at night it can be a almost overwhelming. But, anyone visiting should try to see it at night. The tree and shoppes are a lit and it gives you an extra holiday feel. Even the merry-go-round is lit and adds to the magic of the evening. But the day might be a better time for getting some shopping and food sampling done.
Getting to the market is fairly simple. The easiest is by catching a tram. 11 and 12 will both drop you off in the middle of the market and run on a regular schedule. Depending on your hotel you might be able to walk. The Romer is located on the north side of the Main River adjacent to the Iron Bridge. Saint Bartholomeus’s Cathedral(Kaiserdom) makes for a great guide post to the market. There isn’t any close parking, so you probably don’t want to try. Also with all the people walking, it’s difficult for drivers to negotiate even on the outskirts of the market.
One of the other great reasons to visit Frankfurt and most other German cities this time of year is the extra savings. Flights are usually discounted a little because it’s the off season, but don’t wait to long to book your flight. Flights still fill up quickly with people either traveling to Germany or connecting to other destinations on their way home for the holidays. Hotels also offer pretty dramatic discounts to lure travelers during the off season. Again, don’t wait too long. Some smaller hotels shut down for a few days and even the larger ones might reduce the amount of available rooms to allow staff some time off. So, don’t wait until you arrive to try and locate a place to stay.
Christmas in Germany is a magical time. Like many places in the world, there are things and sites you will only find during the holiday season. The different experience might make you consider making it an annual tradition yourself.