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Jul 27, 2023

3 reasons to put the Frankfurt Christmas Market on your holiday itinerary this year

Three million people can’t be wrong. That’s how many visitors descend on Frankfurt during every Advent to see the Hessian metropolis turn into a real-life snow globe with Christmas carolers, piping hot Glühwein, heavenly treats, hand-carved souvenirs and vintage merry-go-rounds. Here are the top three reasons why you should join in on the fun – and bring back some holiday cheer.

Immerse yourself in a time-honored tradition

The first documented Frankfurter Weihnachtsmarkt (Frankfurt Christmas Market) was held as early as in 1393, making it one of the oldest and most famous of the 2,500-or-so German Christmas markets organized every year. At the time, it was a much less grandiose and strictly local affair, where Frankfurt residents stocked up on winter essentials.


During the Middle Ages, mystery plays were added to the mix, based on the story of King Otto I’s reconciliation with his estranged brother on the steps of Frankfurt’s Salvatorkirche. The event that took place in 941 was later turned into a painting by German history painter Alfred Rethel, now on display at the Saalhof’s Historical Museum.


It wasn’t until the 19th century that the event we know today started to take shape, with local artisans displaying their finest work, from gingerbread treats to wooden wagons, and Saxon merchants selling Christmas trees in front of the Römer (Frankfurt’s city hall). The latter has since given way to the star of the show, a 30-meter-high Christmas tree.

Find your favorite scene, from rustic to rooftop

Sprawling across downtown Frankfurt, from the city’s historic center to the main promenade, the Frankfurt Christmas Market has a little something for everyone. In fact, it has a number of excellent Christmas Markets so there really is a range of places to go. Looking for a mini guide to the biggest festive markets in Frankfurt? We’ve got you covered.


The beating heart of the Frankfurt Christmas market scene, the Römerberg market welcomes visitors with an ambience straight out of The Nutcracker, a showstopper of a Christmas tree and endless stalls of souvenir and Christmas gift contenders for anyone you can think of. Go north to reach the Paulsplatz market for, you guessed it, more stands, especially those of the handicraft variety. Make sure to stop at Wagner’s Honey House, a two-story stall dedicated to all things honey, from bitters to beeswax candles.


Need more gift ideas or a sit-down coffee to regroup? Keep heading north until you run into the Hauptwache market with a direct connection to Frankfurt’s main shopping artery. For less people and more riverside action, opt for the Mainkai, or make your way to the City Beach market, which blends modest shopping options with grand views of Frankfurt’s skyline in a chic rooftop setting. For a more colorful (mostly pink) addition to the Frankfurt Christmas market scene, stop by Rosa Weihnacht, Frankfurt’s LGBTQ market.

Go on a sweet-and-savory culinary adventure

Hearty and delicious, German market fare is yet another reason to book a flight to Frankfurt. First things first, get yourself a cup of hot Glühwein (mulled wine). For a cinnamony-orangey take on Frankfurt’s favorite libation, go for the Apfelwein-based variety. In the mood for something savory to warm you up? Stop by the Suppenhütte at the Hauptwache market for a bowl of soupy goodness or some ooey-gooeyness at any of the Käsefondue (cheese fondue) vendors.


Next stop: wurst. Local sausages come in all shapes and sizes, from the lightly smoked Frankfurter Würstchen (pork sausage) to the grilled Frankfurter Rindswurst (beef sausage). All are great street food options and pair heavenly with mustard and a slice of spongy white bread. Crispy potato pancakes (Kartoffelpuffer) are also made for dining on the go. Consisting mostly of potatoes, flour and eggs, they’re best consumed fresh out of the pan and topped with applesauce (trust us on this one).


Try Bethmännchen, the favorite Christmas treat of Frankfurt’s famous son, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Legend has it that the pastry, made from marzipan dough with powdered sugar and rosewater, was invented by Jean-Jacques Gautenier, the French head cuisinier of a local financier dynasty, the Bethmanns. The original creation was adorned with four almond halves, one for each of Brethmann’s sons. After one of them passed away, one half was removed, giving the cookies the shape you see today.


For a cookie that doesn’t just taste like Christmas but also looks the part, have a go at Brenten, another almondy Christmas staple decorated with local and festive patterns.

With shopping bags, tummies and spirits full of Christmas, head back home with your delightful baggage, tasty memories and festive attitude from Frankfurt before the holidays.

 For the full Frankfurt experience, make sure to check out our ultimate one-day Frankfurt itinerary and our favorite day trips from Frankfurt by train or car. Gute Fahrt!

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