Planning a trip to Southwest Germany for the German holidays? Maybe this destination has never crossed your mind as a place to spend your holidays, but you’ll soon discover it may be on the top of your list for years to come. This article contains some of the best cities to visit in Southwest Germany for the German holidays and what there is to do there. German Christmas Markets are a must see, but that’s not the only thing there is to do. You’ll find fun for the whole family both indoors and outdoors in the Black Forest during the winter months. Great food and great memories await so start planning your vacation to enjoy the German holidays in Southwest Germany!
German Christmas Markets
What are the Christmas Markets? German holidays are synonymous with German Christmas markets. All across Germany you will find a variety of Christmas markets. Some are small and located on the side of a mountain and other are massive and spread throughout a city. Each one has its own charm and things to discover. We’ll explore some Christmas markets in Southwest Germany in more detail later, but there are some common themes you’ll find amongst them. Christmas markets are a wonderful way to spend you German holidays. It’s a gathering of vendors all providing things from Christmas gifts to savory food.
Who will you find there?
Spread throughout the particular venue will be vendors set up throughout the German holiday season. Each will have a booth selling unique Christmas gifts that you won’t find anywhere else.
What kind of food do they have?
Of course, the food steals the show. The air is filled with the smell of amazing food and drinks being cooked for the German holidays. Everywhere you turn is another opportunity to try something tasty. Many of these foods you’ll only find here and are traditional local dishes.
The options are endless, but here’s a taste:
- Maultaschen: Swabian ravioli, many different types and flavors available
- Reibekuchen: Deep fried potato pancakes, served with various sauces
- Zwiebelrostbraten: Steak with fried onions, often comes with Spätzle (noodles)
- Bratwurst and Sausage: Every variety that you can imagine, no shortage of this!
- Käsespätzle: Spätzle with cheese, German version of macaroni and cheese, it’s a must have
- Lebkuchen: Gingerbread, freshly baked daily
- Gluhwein: wine, juice, and various spices served hot in a mug
What else can you do there?
Besides all the great shopping and endless food, German holidays are all about fun and there’s plenty to be had at the Christmas markets. It’s a great place to bring the kids. You’ll find carousels, mini-trains, curling, ice skating, various games, and even petting zoos. Of course, you can’t celebrate Christmas without a visit from Santa Clause! The winter fun is endless for all ages!
When can I visit the German Christmas Markets?
The Christmas markets during the German holidays can typically be enjoyed from the end of November up to Christmas.
Cities and Attractions
Stuttgart is a large urban metropolis making the city and the surrounding area the 4th largest populated area in Germany. The city earned its name from its founder’s venture of breeding warhorses and loosely translates to “stud farm.” There are actually many Christmas markets at different times throughout the season in and around Stuttgart. The main Christmas market has been a staple of the German holidays for more than 300 years and boasts over 290 vendors.
There are also two other Christmas markets in Stuttgart: Wouahou and Ludwigsburg Baroque Christmas market. The Ludwigsburg Baroque Christmas market has 175 vendors and is designed in the shape the Baroque Palace. The Christmas markets run from about November 23rd to December 23rd. Wouahou is only about ten days long at the beginning of December. In addition to the Christmas markets throughout the season you can visit other amazing attractions during the German holidays. Make sure to purchase a "StuttCard" to make the most of your time and money in Stuttgart. This card has over 50 different vendors listed where you'll receive a discount or be granted free access to places such as museums, theaters, shops, restaurants, and even free local transportation.
Take a city tour with one of the amazing guides such as Andrea Nuding to see all the major attractions in a short time. See the Market Hall, visit the Junges Schloss (Children’s Museum), walk the grounds of the Ludwigsburg Palace, explore the various gardens and parks (Killesberg Hill Park and Eugenplatz), or go shopping at Kings Street. This shopping area is one of the longest in Germany at 1.2 kilometers long. You’ll find hundreds of stores and great places to eat all throughout this area as well.
The Market Hall is a must visit and is basically an indoor Christmas market you can enjoy without having to wait for the German holidays. It’s open all year and is home to hundreds of permanent vendors all under one roof. It’s a great place to buy gifts or try all kinds of fresh local foods.
This stunning square will take you back in time to the grand era of castles and palaces. Centrally located, it’s hard to not pass through the Palace Square as you make
Built over 60 years ago, this tower over 450 feet tall
If you can sneak away from the Christmas markets long enough to tour one of Stuttgart’s’ many museums you won’t lack selection. The most notable is the Old State Gallery and contains art all the way back to the 14th century. Other museums include the State Museum of Natural History, Stuttgart Museum of Art, the Porsche Museum, and the Mercedes Benz Museum. The Mercedes Benz museum is absolutely massive and a spectacular experience. Every piece of the 125 year history of this famous car manufacturer and its founders are encompassed here.
A very interesting and unique place to stay while in Stuttgart is the V8 hotel. This hotel is themed with the automobile enthusiast in mind. Many of the rooms are completely transformed to mimic your favorite car memorabilia. The beds are even cars themselves with real working head lights! Attached to the hotel is a car museum where you can see a variety of amazing cars and even purchase them.
Make your way over to these two cities and visit the unique Christmas market for the German holidays. This Ravenna Gorge Christmas market is located between Breitnau and Hinterzarten and sits below a huge stone arch train bridge. Everything in the gorge is lit up and decorated. The scene is breathtaking and charming. Smaller in size, but not lacking in character you’ll fall in love with this little valley Christmas market. Tucked in the valley and along the mountain stream you can enjoy ice skating and all the hot cocoa you can handle.
The Badeparadies Schwarzwald or the Galaxy
Nestled in the southwest valleys of the Black Forest is the town of St. Blasien. Here you’ll find the cathedral of St. Blasien. The St. Blaisen cathedral is the beautiful centerpiece of this charming town. During the German holidays the square in front of the cathedral hosts an intimate Christmas Market. The cathedral shines bright over the Christmas Market and makes for a lovely, yet powerful setting for such small market. Here you can enjoy some amazing food, local crafts, and take a tour of the 18th century cathedral. It’s absolutely beautiful and the largest construction of its kind north of the Alps.
Schluchsee is a beautiful area and the town is named for the large reservoir it borders. The views of the lake as you drive in over the rolling hills of the Black Forest are stunning. Schlushsee is an excellent home-base for visiting the surrounding areas of Southwest Germany for the German holidays.
It is also centrally located to many wonderful attractions, Christmas Markets, ski areas, and activities. Since you’ll most likely be traveling with family having your own apartment would be the best option for accommodations. The Kuckucksnest Apartments are in a great location up on the hill overlooking the valley and have a beautiful modern design. There are three apartments to choose from and can accommodate up to 6 people. If you have a larger family you can even book all three and have everyone under one roof!
A wonderful restaurant with a magnificent view of the lake is Schiff at the Hotel Schluschee. The food is a mix of classic Swabian favorites, local specialties, and international cuisine. Matched with beautiful traditional décor, amazing food, and an excellent view, this is one place you’ll have to enjoy a nice breakfast or quiet dinner.
Another great restaurant for lunch or dinner is Sternen. Here you can enjoy beautiful Southern Black Forest dishes prepared by the amazing chef Andreas Wochner. The intimate dining atmosphere is cozy and welcoming after a long winter day.
A short drive from Schuschee is the small town of Feldberg. Here you’ll find a great little ski resort which branches over both sides of the valley. Christmas Markets aren’t the only fun thing to do during the German Holidays. Enjoy the day skiing with the family and enjoying the snow of the Black Forest. Scattered throughout the hill are small cabins you can enjoy the views from while grabbing some comfort foods. Ski and snowboard equipment is available to rent so you don’t have to haul yours around with you while exploring. They even offer ski lessons to teach the little ones, or just to keep them busy while you enjoy the powder!
There are many options for places to go “Sledging” and snow tubing in this area as well. Sledging is a lot of fun! It’s like sledding, but there are two rails on the bottom of the sled which makes produces friction in the snow and allows you to really build up speed. Other areas close by to go sledging and snow tubing include Spass Park, Lenzkirch-Saig, and Hasenhorn.
Also located in Feldberg is the Fundorena. When you’re ready to take a break from the slopes and get out of the cold, stop on over to this great indoor attraction. Fundorena has an aerial obstacle course, trampoline park, bounce areas, and a mock indoor ice rink. You don’t even need a jacket to go ice skating!
Hohenzollern Castle is the highlight attraction here. The castle sits high on a hill and can be seen for miles around. It is a true sign of power and dominance that can even be felt in modern times when viewing the castle from afar. A medieval Christmas market and tours of the castle can both be enjoyed during the German holidays. The Christmas market is set up right in the courtyard of the Hohenzollern Castle making you feel like you’ve traveled back into the middle ages. Take a tour to learn the rich history of the two families that have laid claim to this magnificent property over the centuries. The castle contains two churches of different faith along with many other twin aspects due to its story of bloodlines, war, and celebration.
If you're looking for a different experience for your holiday season, a trip to Southwest Germany for the German Christmas Markets (and other attractions) are a must at least once in your life. The experience is unlike any other. Even though it is cold and blustery at times, you will never be able to have the same magical Christmas experience as you do in Southwest Germany at the Christmas Markets.