Nuremberg Christmas Market
Nuremberg has the reputation of hosting one of the best Christmas Markets in Germany and for that matter, in the whole world. We thought Nuremberg would be the perfect place for our first real Christmas Market experience.
The market is in the city center, inside the old city walls, and is incredibly easy to find. We arrived on a Thursday evening and immediately went into the market to check things out. We were overwhelmed with the sights and smells.
We picked up some hot sandwiches and a cup of delicious Gluhwein (warm, mulled wine), found a spot on the church stairs to sit and enjoyed one of the musical performances.
Our hotel, Burghotel Nuremberg, was centrally located and inside the old city walls. The hotel had a pool and spacious rooms, perfect for family travel. We booked parking through them before we arrived which was key. Friday evening the town was flooded with visitors to see the market.
Traveling with kids often means that we are awake before most European towns wake. Burghotel Nuremberg offers a fantastic breakfast buffet of traditional German delights starting at 6:45. Perfect.
We spent our morning exploring the town by foot. We walked over the many bridges and got a feel for the market before it reopened. We ventured over to the train station, although it is completely modern and bustling inside, so stick to viewing it from the outside.
The Children’s Market opened at 10 am and we were there to see it open. We bought some tickets and let H choose a few rides to try. He loved the miniature train and the rocking boat but was too scared of the Ferris wheel.
I was charmed by the double-decker carousel. The carousel doesn’t have animals that go up and down. Instead you rock the animals by shifting your weight back and forth. Jeff would explain that each animal is attached to a spring device. There were hot air balloons on the top that you could spin, teacup style. H chose to ride in a boat that rocked back and forth.
Playmobile, which has a theme park of sorts in Nuremberg, had a hut where kids could play with many of the toys. We spent about an hour enjoying the many toys. The Playmobile staff gave H a catalog on his way out and you would have thought he won the lottery.
The kids were also able to write and mail letters to Santa in one of the huts.
The children’s market is filled with activity booths, cookie-baking and crafts for the kids. Our kids were too young, as parents are not allowed into these booths. Parents watch the kids from the outside through the windows.
Our kids were exhausted so we headed back to Burghotel Nuremberg for naps. This meant we missed the arrival of the Christmas Angel at 3pm. She arrives and gives all the children a free ride on the carousel. Furthermore, she spends time collecting the Christmas wishes from the children. We did however, catch the noon Glockenspiel performance at the church. (Watch it.)
While I supervised nap time, Jeff headed out to the Nuremberg Castle for a tour. The highlights included a 47-meter deep well, which during a tour you can watch a video camera on a string descend to the very bottom. A video monitor shows its progress. The tour guide also drops water into the well as you wait patiently to hear it reach the bottom. The Nuremberg Castle tower affords great views of the town while the inside exhibits display the standard castle regalia (armor, swords, historical maps).
With everyone rested and the sun setting we headed back into the market for a Stagecoach Ride. For €4 you can ride a stagecoach through the market with a trumpet player sitting up front. The kids loved it and it was a magnificent way to see the bustling activity of the market.
We made a quick stop to let H pick up a treat he had been eyeing. A chocolate covered pear that looked like a mouse! Meanwhile, I made eyes at the Gingerbread stall.
I used my Foursquare app to find a kid-friendly place for dinner, Kuhmuhne Die Burgerbar. We all had some delicious burgers and fries in a modern, fun atmosphere. Tip: On weekdays before 5pm, fries are free with every burger purchase. Sweet potato fries are a €1 surcharge.
We had been waiting for all the lights to come on to venture up into the church (Frauenkirchen) to view the market from above. This is well worth the €3 price. The square is so nicely lit. We could hear the band playing Christmas music bellow. The Nuremberg stalls are all designed exactly alike giving the market a perfect town feel.
Inside the church the organ was warming up for a concert. There was even a display about the women who are chosen to play the Christmas Angel at the market.
Our favorite little gem from the Nuremberg Christmas Market was the prune people. They are a Nuremberg market special. Make sure to stop by all the prune people stalls to check them out. We could not have asked for a more perfect first Christmas market experience.
You can find a full list of the Nuremberg Christmas Market happenings here.