Whenever I researched anything about Christmas in Europe, it was always recommended to me that I see the Christmas markets in Germany. In fact, Germany has some of the most famous Christmas markets in the world and I knew that while I was here, I needed to see them.
Along with my friend Michael, we started planning a trip to Düsseldorf, Germany to see the city and experience the Christmas markets there. Initially we were planning on going to Munich, but after some difficulties with finding a flight time that worked with our schedules, we decided to go to Düsseldorf, Germany. Once we had our flight and our hotel arrangements, we added another one of our friends, Emma, to travel to Düsseldorf with us.
We left on Saturday evening, arrived in Düsseldorf, checked into our hotel, and went out to explore the city a bit. Sadly, by the time we arrived, the Christmas market were already closed for the evening but we instead decided to check out the Altstadt: what Düsseldorf claims to be “the longest bar in the world”. It’s a area located in the old downtown district that has more than 300 bars. Supposedly, each bar’s counter is connected to the one next door making it the world’s largest bar.
We met another solo traveler from the states and spent the evening walking around the old town and trying all sorts of delicious foods including pork sandwiches, and crêpes.
Taking in the nightlife as well as the Christmas atmosphere made it really fun experience. Before we turned in for the night, we all went to a Polish club. I couldn’t help but think it was funny that we were in a Polish club… in Germany… and they were playing Spanish music. Quite a mix of culture to say the least.
Sunday was Christmas Market day! We started out the day by having one of the most delicious traditional German meals at a local café. Being of German heritage as well as growing up in an area with a strong German culture, I have a deep love of German food.
Even the restaurant was beautifully decorated in full holiday decor! The attached Chocolate store was a sight to see in itself.
With full bellies and eager hearts (especially mine), we started off to explore some of the many Christmas markets in Düsseldorf. The Weinnachtsmarkt (or “Christmas market” in German) had 6 separate traditional markets scattered all over the city center. Each market had a different special quality associated with that specific market. There were markets with a carousal, a ferris wheel, wood-carved nativity scene, colorful ice rink, and angel light theme.
Although it was a little rainy, the markets didn’t disappoint. There were twinkling Christmas lights everywhere and each stand had something unique and traditional to offer. You could buy an assortment of Christmas gifts including, blankets, jewelry, paper-star lights, ornaments, traditional food, and hand-made toys.
As a souvenir, I purchased a hand-made traditional German Christmas ornament, which I know is something that will be hung on my Christmas tree for the rest of my life.
Another unique feature of the Christmas markets was famous mulled wine. Each market had a different mug the mulled wine was served in. You would pay about 6-8 euros for a mug of mulled wine and you could either keep the mug it came in or return it and receive 4 euros back.
Then there was the market food. I wish I could have eaten everything but there was so much! Of course, I had to try the German potato pancakes with applesauce. They were delicious!
I also tried this dessert called dampfnudeln. It was like a giant bread dumpling in custard, topped with a fruit flavoring.
But the food that was my favorite were these sautéed mushrooms covered in a garlic cream sauce. I don’t know if there’s anything that could ever top these mushrooms; it was an amazing (and almost out of body) flavor experience.
On Monday we started the day by going to the top of the Rheinturm (Rhine Tower) for an aerial view of Düsseldorf. Luckily, we went on one of the few days where it wasn’t raining so we had a great view of the city and surrounding area. We spent a good amount of time in the tower, relaxing and taking in the view before we decided to head back down.
Afterward, we walked along the river towards the city center enjoying the weather and admiring the natural and charming beauty of Düsseldorf.
When we arrived back in the city center we went to a very small “mustard museum”/ store. I like visiting quirky museums like this in every city I go to. Here we were able to learn about and try some of the famous local mustards that Düsseldorf is known for. There were so many flavors and varieties of mustard and they were all delicious.
After trying out a local brewery, we all decided to take a short trip to the outskirts of the city to a small village. Even though Düsseldorf has a small-town feel to it, it was nice to see something outside the city. I think you get a better idea of what everyday life is like from small towns rather than larger touristy city centers. But both are equally as important to see when traveling. Here, there was a tiny, and not nearly as impressive, Christmas market in the town that we breezed through quickly before heading back into the city.
When we returned to Düsseldorf, we took one last stroll through a few of the Christmas markets before ending the trip with a non-traditional meal at an Indian restaurant.
I’m so glad I got the chance to see the Christmas markets in Germany because it was a nice way to embrace the Christmas spirt while here in Europe. Someday, I hope to make it back to Germany around Christmastime and hopefully explore more Christmas markets throughout the country.