10 Best Christmas Markets Near Kaiserslautern Germany

Christmas markets near Kaiserslautern are some of the best in Europe! I’ve lived in Germany through multiple Christmas seasons, and have been to dozens of Christmas markets throughout Europe. And I’m here to say, there’s nothing as enchanting, magical, and downright full of holiday spirit as German and French Christmas markets. This area of Europe knows how to do it right!

Why Kaiserslautern is the Best Place to Discover Christmas Markets

If you live in the Kaiserslautern area, congratulations! You have won the jackpot! While people elsewhere in the world have to plan everything from plane tickets to hotels, factor in jet lag and culture shock, and what the heck to pack… you live in a region that is rich with some of the world’s very best Christmas markets right out your back door!

I’ve had people tell me that Kaiserslautern is “in the middle of nowhere,” but the thing is – it’s close to everywhere! Located smack-dab in the zone of castles and Christmas markets, right near the french border, Kaiserslautern gets the best of both the German and French holiday experience!

Whether you’re looking for a larger bustling Christmas bonanza, a mid-sized hidden gem, an international melting pot, a fun day with the kids, or secret local markets hidden in the forest, there are dozens of Christmas markets you can enjoy as a day trip from home! Here are 10 of the best!

Are Christmas Markets Dog-Friendly?

The answer to this question depends a lot on your dog. I haven’t been to a market (except one in the Netherlands that happened in a cave system) where dogs were prohibited. But that said, if your dog doesn’t handle people, other dogs, or lots of movement and stimulation well, then it might be best to let them sit it out.

We’ve taken Helga on leash to a couple markets, but only during less crowded times and for short periods. We did see some super chill dogs (also on leash), though, that were having the time of their lives. You know your dog best!

German Christmas Markets Near Kaiserslautern 🇩🇪

Speyer

🎄The perfect mid-sized market, very close by with great food, atmosphere, and shopping

🚗About 1 hour by car from Kaiserslautern
🚉 1 hour 8 minutes from Kaiserslautern Hbf, about €17 – €27 each way

This Christmas Market may be my favorite of all. Hardly anyone has heard of it, and that’s probably why! It was the perfect level of hustle and bustle and Christmas festivity while still having room to browse, breathe, and relax. One of the nicest thing about this market is that the permanent stores that line the street are in on the act. There are gift shops and galleries decked out for Christmas, chocolate shops, and lots of local candy, liquor, and handmade gifts. And that’s not even counting all the booths!

This market is where we got the best cheese spaetzle I’ve ever had, and there’s a little eating courtyard tucked away where you can sit and enjoy some unhurried conversation over whatever incredible market food you picked up. One of the vendors even sent someone around with a giant platter covered with shots of schnaps! That’s some Weinnachts hospitality! Or warm yourself by your own mini-fire emanating from a wooden barrel that serves as your table.

You’ll find the market right in the shadow of Speyer’s ancient cathedral, running the full length of the street to the old city gate. There are several public parking areas in the city center that are easy walking distance and will only cost you a few Euros.

This is also one of the best Christmas markets for kids with lots of cute activities like a skating rink and a little train ride.

Trier

🎄A slightly busier mid-sized market in the heart of stunning historical landmarks.

🚗About 1 hour 5 minute by car from Kaiserslautern
🚉 1 hour 55 minutes from Kaiserslautern Hbf, about €24 – €35 each way

What better way to ring in the Christmas season than with a visit to the Christmas market in Germany’s oldest city! The former Roman imperial center of Augustus Treverorum still shows off its heritage with an impressive number of Roman ruins, and UNESCO world heritage sites, and many original Medieval buildings as well. If you’re looking for Christmas photo ops, this is your place!

The market is fairly large and stretches all around the Medieval Town Square which is filled with incredible architecture dating back to the 1300s. On one side you’ll find the famous Black Gate, which is the last surviving of the old Roman gates to the city, and on the other you’ll find Trier Dom (cathedral) which shares a wall with the Liebfrauenkirche (Church of Our Lady). The cathedral is breathtaking, and a lovely place to duck inside and warm up if it’s cold outside.

Bring your appetite because this market is food heavy! But it also has many beautiful gifts including lots of knitwear, leather goods, and Christmas decor items.

If you want to learn more about what to see and do in Trier at any time of year, check out my post: Is Trier Worth Visiting? Exploring Germany’s Hidden Gem

Johanniskreuz Romantische Waldweihnacht (Romantic Forest Christmas)

🎄A traditional German forest market with hand-made everything, and an atmosphere you will not find anywhere else.

🚗About 20 minutes by car from Kaiserslautern

Here’s a real local gem that is completely off the radar for most Christmas market aficionados. The small village of Johannes Kreuz (yo-HAH-ness KROITS) is only about 20 minutes south of Kaiserslautern in the Palatinate Forest. In the summertime, the town serves as a stopping point for bikers, cyclists, and hikers to rest and enjoy some food and refreshment. But right before Christmas is when it truly shines.

This is the market for those who want an authentic small town German village vibe. It is absolutely enchanting, and feels like you’ve stepped back in time. The market is surrounded by forest and the whole area is aglow with campfires and torches. This is the place for local traditional foods, rustic wooden stalls, meat on the grill, cauldron’s of steaming glühwein, and best of all – handmade crafts galore! You’ll find everything from locally hand-spun yarn, to woodworked items, straw brooms and baskets, artwork, game meat, nuts, candles and soaps, local honey and homemade jams, and so much more.

There’s also an indoor area in the House of Sustainability building with even more vendors, which acts as a nice warm-up space.

You’ll be absolutely immersed in the local heritage and history of this German forest region and all of its best traditions and products. If you time it right, you’ll even get to hear some local Christmas music performed by musicians from the surrounding area.

Even the gluhwein mugs are hand made, rustic, and gorgeous. Have some with a local bratwurst and a cream-filled dampfnudel from a nearby bakery as you sit on a log bench by the fire and soak in the unique spirit of this place.

We were so glowing with Christmas cheer after this market, we went back for a second night!

You’ll have to keep an eye out by googling, talking to locals, or checking out notices in local newspapers. This market lasted for one long weekend only and popped up in 2023 for the first time since COVID. Your diligence will be worth it if you catch this shooting Christmas star!

Saarbrucken Christkindl Markt

🎄A nice mid-sized market with an ice rink, flying Santa, special kids’ days, and shopping galore!

🚗About 55 minutes by car from Kaiserslautern
🚉 1 hour 56 minutes from Kaiserslautern Hbf, about €24 – €35 each way

Saarbrucken comes alive at Christmas time! And it wins our vote for cutest gluhwein cups shaped like little Santa boots!

In addition to a great number of market stalls, you’ll find pop-up shops, and several days when local stores are open later than normal, or even on Sunday!

Saarbrucken calls itself The Christmas City, and backs it up with a very festive atmosphere, a 150 foot tall ferris wheel, and an ice rink. But the star of the show is the flying Santa and reindeer that soars over the top of the St. Johanner Markt every day at 3:00 and 5:00pm reindeer and all and with the Christ child waving from a cloud.

There are also a special Children’s Wednesdays with activities and special attractions for the kiddos!

Wiesbaden

🎄A lovely mid-sized market with gorgeous photo opps, and visually stunning decor.

🚗About 55 minutes by car from Kaiserslautern
🚉 2 hours 4 minutes from Kaiserslautern Hbf, about €27 – €78 each way

Known as ‘The Twinkling Star Christmas Market,’ Wiesbaden has won several coveted #1 rankings on Christmas market lists. Still, it’s a bit off the radar for most international travelers.

Wiesbaden was definitely our favorite pick for the decor of the festive wooden market stalls that looked like something out of a North Pole dream. There’s also a great ferris wheel that gives you a beautiful bird’s eye view of the festivities below, and cute temporary indoor spaces and shelters that give a super cozy log cabin vibe.

Wiesbaden is a money town, and they really go all-out to provide a beautiful and luxurious Christmas feeling to all the trimmings.

There are plenty of musical performances on several stages within the market, and the huge and gorgeous illuminated lilies are breathtaking in gold and blue.

There’s also a children’s market at Luisenplats with an ice rink where you can go for a family skate and burn off some of those bratwursts and flammkuchens!

This was our last market of the year, and even though we were starting to feel the holiday burnout a little bit, Wiesbaden got us right back in the spirit!

Heidelberg

🎄A stunning larger market that is sprawling but walkable, in a famous historic locale.

🚗About 55 minutes by car from Kaiserslautern
🚉 1 hour 25 minutes from Kaiserslautern Hbf, about €15 – €50 each way

The Heidelberg Christmas markets spread out over five different squares, and transform the already fairytale city of Heidelberg into a postcard-perfect fantasyland of Christmas magic!

This market is definitely on the larger side because Heidelberg is a fairly big tourist destination. It’s renowned castle hovers over the Old Town and is the most visited castle in Germany, clocking almost a million visitors a year! But there’s a reason it’s so popular, and Heidelberg puts on a heck of a Christmas show!

It’s got a couple big things going for it. The castle is number one, even though it doesn’t host a Christmas market because it upsets the local bat population, and they were there first! You can still visit the castle, though, and get a beautiful view of the city and festivities below.

And the central market is a dream. There are two big churches to duck into, and a gigantic Käthe Wohlfahrt store. If you’re a Christmas fan, and you’ve never had the pleasure of entering one of these stores, it’s basically like Santa’s workshop on steroids! Every kind of ornament and Christmas do-dad you can imagine is here – all year long! So if the spirit hits you early, you can get prepared in Heidelberg!

This is one of the markets to hit during the daytime, or on a weekday if possible to maximize your enjoyment and minimize the crowds.

Ravenna Gorge

🎄A coveted magical Black Forest Christmas experience for a limited number of guests who plan ahead!

🚗 About 2 hours 50 minutes by car from Kaiserslautern
🚫 No public transportation options that make this a feasible day trip

Beneath a towering historic viaduct, hidden away in the Black Forest, is one of the most amazing Christmas markets in the world. And for this one, you have to have tickets!

A select number of lucky market-goers will be able to stroll through the scattering of wooden huts selling handmade woolens, Christmas crafts, and classic Black Forest food including wild game. There’s no indoor space, but bonfires and hot gluhwein keep everyone toasty warm.

It is only open Friday 3-9, Saturday 2-8, and Sunday 2-8 during Advent.

Tickets go on sale in mid-October and will sell out! So, you have to be thinking ahead! You can find out all the particulars of ticket purchase, parking permits, shuttle buses and everything else you’ll need to know at the High Black Forest website here.

French Christmas Markets Near Kaiserslautern 🇫🇷

Strasbourg, France (2 hour drive)

🎄The king of them all! Arguably the most famous and unforgettable Christmas market in the world!

🚗 About 1 hour 45 minutes by car from Kaiserslautern
🚉 2 hours 50 minutes from Kaiserslautern Hbf, about €48 – €82 each way
🚨Crosses country boundary – Remember your passport!

Strasbourg is the farthest market from Kaiserslautern in this list at 2 hours – but it’s still doable for a day trip, and how can you not mention the absolute king of Christmas markets? A consistent #1 pick for the best Christmas market in Europe, it is definitely worth the hype!

Strasbourg itself is breathtakingly gorgeous with a stop-you-in-your-tracks cathedral that used to be the tallest building in the world! Inside is an astronomical clock, stained glass to die for, and a soaring vault that reaches 107 feet tall. The market stalls in the cathedral square are dwarfed by this incredible towering masterpiece of Gothic architecture.

Also, even though it’s close to the German border, France and especially the Alsace Region has its own unique Christmas atmosphere. It’s hard to put into words, but you’ll definitely see the difference between the German Weinachtsmarkt and the very french Marché de Noel!

This is a market to hit during the week if you can. Its reputation precedes it so there will be crowds no matter when you go, but weekdays will be best. My family went on Christmas Eve last year, and it was actually a lot less crowded than I had anticipated. We absolutely loved it, and created some lifetime memories.

And the food! Oh la la. You’ll be just as tempted to sit bundled up at a little outdoor cafe or pop into a dark cozy restaurant as you will to get street food from one of the stalls. We did both, and it wasn’t wrong!

Haguenau, France (1 hour 40 minute drive)

🎄A smaller more intimate market with all the french feels and food, and a must for collectors of nativity figures.

🚗About 1 hour 35 minutes by car from Kaiserslautern
🚫No public transportation options that make this a viable day trip
🚨Crosses country boundary – Remember your passport!

If the thoughts of the crowds at Strasbourg give you hives, then Haguenau (AG-oo-no) may be just the market for you. Definitely less touristy, definitely less crowded, but it still has that french vibe. This is the first Christmas market I went to after moving to Europe and it will always hold a special place in my heart for introducing me to the special Christmas magic of the markets!

Haguenau touts itself as the birthplace of the nativity scene, which first appeared at the Church of St. George in Haguenau in 1420. You will see them everywhere – on display in the town and for sale in shops and market stalls. And there’s an indoor market hall with plenty more not to miss!

They also have a charming antique carousel, and several visual set-ups that make for great selfies or photo ops.

And the food… Not only do the market stalls have great fare, but you can buy meats and cheeses and chocolates and candied fruits to take with you. And Haguenau has some fabulous bakeries too, if you go during the daytime when they’re open. We grabbed a baguette and cheese for the next day to make that market spirit last a little longer.

Metz, France (1 hour 25 minute drive)

🎄A larger french market with tons of Medieval charm, a fabulous cathedral, and a visual smorgasbord of lights!

🚗About 1 hour 15 minutes by car from Kaiserslautern
🚉 3 hours 4 minutes by train from Kaiserslautern Hbf, about €31 – €76 each way
🚌 2 hours 5 minutes by bus from Kaiserslautern, about €12 – €18 each way 🚨Crosses country boundary – Remember your passport!

Once again, here’s a Christmas market where the cathedral is the star of the show! Metz doesn’t miss a chance to use lighting skills to illuminate the whole facade of the cathedral in vivid glowing color. And inside, the cathedral in Metz has more stained glass than any other in the world. And it’s as ‘wow’ as it sounds. Be sure to check it out when you’re there. It’s a good place to break up your stints outside, and warm up while you’re spotting the Marc Chagall stained glass and all the other incredible art.

Also, if you don’t find the take-home food you want in the stalls, there’s a fabulous covered market right by the cathedral with everything from produce, to local cheeses, meats, truffles, and jarred goodies featuring the local golden plum called the mirabelle.

At Christmas time, you can stroll along the “lantern path” that features 400 illuminated lantern figures from french folklore leading the way. There is a huge ferris wheel right in front of the cathedral, and merry-go-rounds, along with a gigantic spinning Christmas pyramid making this a great market for kids, and the young at heart!

Performances, a kids’ weekend, and the amazing light features that illuminate the exterior of the cathedral are magnifique! And of course the french food stands, and the ‘vin chaud’ (hot mulled wine) are beyond compare.

If you want to extend your day trip, or visit Metz during the rest of the year, check out my post 12 Incredible Things to See in Metz, France!

Have Fun!

There are so many more Christmas markets near Kaiserslautern to experience and explore! My list this year is long and growing, so bookmark this post and check it for updates! And feel free to tell me your favorite Christmas market near Kaiserslautern if I didn’t mention it! Happy planning!

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