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10 Reasons to Go to Nuremberg’s Christkindlesmarkt #ckm13

Christmas markets are absolutely magical. The scents of chestnuts roasting, gingerbread baking, and wine mulling waft through the air. The historical cities that play home to them ooze atmosphere and the chilly and sometimes snowy weather is the perfect excuse to snuggle up with your special someone. I’ve done just that as I’ve dragged Tim to countless Christmas markets from Budapest to Prague and Salzburg to Paris. But we’d never been to a German Christmas market and we thought we’d remedy that by visiting Germany’s most famous one, the Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt. Nuremberg seems like something out of fairy tale at this time of the year and if that isn’t enticement enough, here are 10 reasons why you should go to the Nuremberg Christmas Market:

Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt

Getting a birds-eye views of the Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt

1. It’s traditional

I asked Sarah, our new friend from Tourismus Nürnberg, just what makes Nuremberg Germany’s most famous Christmas market. “Because it’s so old and still traditional,” she told me. The Christmas market in Nuremberg’s Main Market Square was first mentioned in a document dating from 1628, so it’s at least that old but probably older. And the people of Nuremberg take pride in that. Most of the wares sold at the market are made by traditional regional manufacturers and even the 180 stalls are still made of regional spruce. More than 30 of the stalls even date back to 1890!

Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt2. Sweet gingerbread

Gingerbread, or Lebkuchen as it’s called in German, was invented in Franconia in the 13th century and Nuremberg became the most famous exporter of what is now known today as Nürnberger Lebkuchen. It wasn’t always the decorated cookies we see today – that is a much more recent tradition. Instead, traditional Nürnberger Lebkuchen was sold in richly decorated tins that themselves were collector’s items. No matter if you prefer a tin of chocolate covered Nürnberger Lebkuchen or the decorated cookies dangling from red ribbon, head to the Lebkuchen-Schmidt stand at the Christkindlesmarkt or the main store in the Main Market Square at Plobenhof 6.

3. Stuff your face with the original Nuremberg grilled sausages

Nuremberg takes their sausages seriously. The size and ingredients of the famous pork sausages, spiced with marjoram, were written down back in 1497. The sausage can only be called an “Original Nuremberger” if it is produced within the city limits, weighs exactly 23 grams, and is about as long as thick are your little finger. You’ll find them served in restaurants on a pewter plate with 6, 8, 10, or 12 pieces. My favorite though is hot off the grill, with 3 in a bun, and a generous squeeze of mustard!

Nuremberg Christmas Market

A number of stalls sell ghluwein and alcoholic punches

4. GERSTACKER Blueberry Glühwein

Glühwein is such a favorite cold weather drink, we even make it at home. But I have a new favorite and the producer, GERSTACKER, has never revealed his recipe. The family producer GERSTACKER swears by their blueberry Glühwein and have been selling it at the Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt for more than 35 years. It is a delicious variation and one worth specifically seeking out the GERSTACKER stall for.

Nuremberg Sister Cities Market

Nesting dolls for sale at the Ukraine stall at the Sister Cities Market

5. Sister Cities Market

Each year a branch of the Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt comes to Verona, Italy and I’ve been a few times. But what I didn’t know is that Nuremberg plays host to around 20 sister cities at Rathausplatz, where cities from Atlanta to Sri Lanka set up with their own traditional goods. You’ll find things like lavender honey from Provence, Hot Toddy’s from Scotland, salami and cheese from Italy, and matryoshka from Ukraine. It’s also undoubtedly far less crowded than any other area of Nuremberg Christmas markets we visited and the line for Glühwein at the Austria stand is much shorter than any of the others.

Prune Men at Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt

Prune Men at Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt

6. The Prune Men

Zwetschgenmännle, or Prune Men, have been sold at the Nuremberg Christmas market for decades. The Prune Men were supposedly invented in Nuremberg in the 18th century by a wire drawer. Wanting the perfect gift for his children, he only had wire and the plums that grew on the tree in front of his house. Cleverly, he created Prune Men for them, though they ate the prunes from the figurines. Today Prune Men come as everything from the traditional chimney sweeps to Harley wielding bad asses. No matter which you choose, they make a great souvenir unique from Nuremberg (but shouldn’t be eaten).

Nuremberg Christkind

Christkind exhibit at Church of Our Lady

7. The Nuremberg Christkind

The Christkind has been a symbol of the Nuremberg Christmas market for decades. A blond girl between the ages of 16 and 19 is chosen every two years and, wearing her gold crown and white gown sparkling with strands of gold, opens the Christkindlesmarkt with a prologue from the balcony of the Church of Our Lady. She makes appearances every Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday at 3pm throughout the Christkindlesmarkt. We didn’t get to meet her since we visited on the weekend, but you can climb up to the balcony of the Church of Our Lady for a small exhibit about tradition of the Christkind.

Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt

Nutcrackers for sale at the Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt

8. Shop ’til you drop

With 180 stalls at the Christkindlesmarket and even more stalls to chose from at the Sister Cities Market and other various Christmas markets snaking through Nuremberg’s historic old town, there is surely a unique gift for everyone on your Christmas list. And shopping amongst the thousands of twinkling lights, scents of Nuremberg sausages, and with strands of Christmas carols in the air is much more fun than hitting the stores of any shopping mall. Be on the lookout for colorful handcrafted German nutcrackers, pyramids, hand painted Christmas ornaments, and hand crafted porcelain Nativity sets.

Mail Coach rides in Nuremberg9. Take a mail coach trip around the Christkindlesmarkt

Almost before you hear the clippity-clop of the Clydesdale’s hooves on the cobbles, you can spot the bright yellow mail coaches in the distance. The mail coaches take visitors for a charming ride around the cobbled streets of the old town surrounding the Christkindlesmarkt.

Nuremberg Castle

Emma and I at Nuremberg Castle

10. Sightsee around Nuremberg

There is so much more to do in Nuremberg besides visit the Christmas markets. Nuremberg has over 30 different museums to visit and we enjoyed taking a trip back to our childhood at the Nuremberg Toy Museum. We also took a stroll up to the Nuremberg Imperial Castle and stopped in for a liter of dark beer at the Hausbrauerei Altstadthof brew house, just to name a few things you can do!

Know Before You Go

  • The 2013 Nuremberg Christmas Market is open daily from November 29 – December 23 from 10am – 9pm and December 24 from 9am – 2pm.
  • Most stalls accept cash only, though some did accept credit cards.
  • The Mail Coach rides leave from near the Beautiful Fountain from 1 – 7pm daily and last around 20 minutes. Tickets are €3.50 per adult and €2 per child.

Getting to Nuremberg

  • A number of airlines have flights to Nuremeberg Airport, which is just 12 minutes from the city center via the Underground.

Where to Stay

  • Mövenpick Nürnberg Airport Hotel is an affordable 4-star option right across the street from the airport and just 12 minutes from the city center via the Underground. And if you travel with your furry family member like we sometimes do, Mövenpick Nürnberg Airport Hotel is pet friendly.

Disclosure: Our trip to Nuremberg was courtesy of Tourismus Nürnberg in order for us to bring you this story. As always, all opinions are entirely our own. We were in no way influenced by copious amounts of Nuremberg sausages, gingerbread, and Glühwein.

Jennifer Dombrowski

Jennifer Dombrowski is a location independent globe trotter and bases herself in Prata di Pordenone, Italy. She works as a social media and innovation strategist in higher education and is a regular contributor on johnnyjet.com. Her website, jdombstravels.com, is the 2012 Destinology Travel Bloggy Best Newcomer award winner. Google+

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  1. Marlene

    Such fun. The food and drink made my mouth water

    [Reply]

    Jennifer Dombrowski Reply:

    There is definitely tons of yummy food to try at the Christkindlesmarkt!

    [Reply]

  2. Val-This Way To Paradise

    This looks like an awesome market and would definitely put me in the Christmas mood!

    [Reply]

    Jennifer Dombrowski Reply:

    It was our first German Christmas market and it certainly didn’t disappoint! My only piece of advice is to try and go during the week. We visited on the busiest weekend and it got quite crowded, especially around the stalls selling Glühwein.

    [Reply]

  3. Agness

    I love all German Christmas markets. I used to visit them all in Berlin and treated myself with some mulled wine and grilled sausages. I used to do some winter shopping there, bought a nice warm cap and gloves. Never heard of Nuremberg, but it does look wonderful indeed.

    [Reply]

    Jennifer Dombrowski Reply:

    We’ve heard that Berlin has a lot of great Christmas markets too! Hopefully we’ll make it there one year to see for ourselves.

    [Reply]

  4. Katherine Belarminio

    I love the prune men! I look forward to visiting a European Christmas market someday.

    [Reply]

    Jennifer Dombrowski Reply:

    Aren’t they cute?! These pictured were more traditional, but there were all sorts. We had to even laugh at a few, like the “ballers” with their gold necklaces, hot tubs, and Euros!

    [Reply]

  5. Stef

    Seriously Christmas Markets are the best thing about spending Christmas time in Germany. I could eat everything. It’s so yummie. I never made it to the Christmas Market in Nuremberg but I love that they have a sisters city market! Sounds like it’s worth checking that out ;).

    [Reply]

    Jennifer Dombrowski Reply:

    Definitely. I love Christmas market time! The Sister Cities Market is fun because you find things from other countries.

    [Reply]

  6. Bram | Travel. Experience. Live.

    Christmas markets rock! They are by far my favorite thing about the winter holidays. Nothing beats that atmosphere.

    [Reply]

    Jennifer Dombrowski Reply:

    I agree! If a Christmas market doesn’t put you in the holiday spirit, I don’t know what will!

    [Reply]

  7. Devlin @ Marginal Boundaries

    Those Nuremberg sausages sound delicious! I’ll take a couple of those and some gingerbread thank you ;)

    [Reply]

  8. Christy

    I’m not really into Christmas markets, but this actually looks fun!

    [Reply]

  9. Cheryl Howard

    Looks really fun! Sigh, I miss Germany and especially the Christmas markets. :)

    [Reply]

  10. Heather

    Love the red and white striped tents! This will be going on my Europe wish list :-)

    [Reply]

  11. Vanda

    Well written article and full of great information. I’ll be trying to get there next year. Sounds great…

    [Reply]

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