Visiting Christmas markets in Germany is becoming an annual holiday tradition—and one that I really love! After visiting Cologne last year (a major city with eight Christmas markets), I was in the mood for something more low key. So last weekend, Marlon and I rented a car with our friends Leslie and Tobias, and made the three-hour drive to Aachen, a German town right next to both the Netherlands and Belgium.
Aachen’s Weihnachtsmarkt, or Christmas market, is spread out over two of the most central places in town: the Markt and the Katschhof, a square between the cathedral and the town hall.
This charming town is known for hard, flat cookies called Aachener printen, which are everywhere this time of year. Giant printen men (not to be confused with gingerbread men!) are the mascots of this particular market.
While Aachen is smaller than Cologne, the market was crazy packed. Our friends had a one year-old in a stroller and had a pretty difficult time of it (because of both the crowd and cobblestones), so this might be a better choice for families with older children. I would love to come back here with Little Mango when she’s no longer so little, if only to see her on this awesome carousel that has vintage bikes and sports cars, helicopters, a Vespa, police car, even a fire truck with a ladder!
With no decorations at home and Holland preoccupied with Sinterklaas, strolling around Aachen’s Christmas market was just the thing I needed to get me into holiday mode. Especially when it snowed!
Plus, I got to do all three of my top must-dos for any German Christmas market. Read on to find out what they are.
1) Eat! The best kind of Christmas market food is cheap (not more than a few Euros), hot, delicious and easy to eat while walking around. Personally, my Weihnachtsmarkt experience isn’t complete without a good wurst (sausage) in a roll, slathered with mustard. Each market usually has several stalls that offer different kinds of sausages. I can’t say which is my favorite… better to try them all!
For my carnivorous husband, Germany is where he makes sure to meet his yearly quota of grilled pork…
while it’s where I go wild over sweets, like crepes, waffles or cookies.
2) Drink! Gluhwein, hot wine with spices, is the traditional choice. However, we discovered a yummy alternative at the Aachen market: honey wine! It’s delicious sweet, hot… and a lot stronger, too.
This mama-to-be’s alcohol-free alternative: hot chocolate with whipped cream.
The price of each drink includes a small deposit on the mugs, which you get back when you return them. I opted to keep this boot-shaped one to add to our little collection of Christmas market mugs. Isn’t it cute?
3) Shop! Any market is a great place to buy presents. But I particularly love shopping for Christmas decorations in Germany. The Germans are serious about Christmas, which means tons of variety…
that, combined with a strong tradition of craftsmanship, means you’ll always find something handmade and unique.
For me, these are the kind of ornaments that make family memories a little more special—great for young families like ours that are just starting to set down their own Christmas traditions.
I hope these images help you stir up some holiday spirit, if you aren’t already feeling it! What’s your favorite way to get into Christmas mode?