The charming city of Heidelberg is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Germany. During the holiday season, the Heidelberg Christmas Market transforms this fairytale city into a romantic Christmas getaway.
Two days is the perfect amount of time to visit the Heidelberg Christmas Market and cover the must-see sights of this beautiful city.
In this guide, I’ll walk you through all my tips about visiting the Heidelberg Christmas Market, plus share my recommendations on the best places to stay, eat, and explore for two days in Heidelberg, Germany!
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What Makes the Heidelberg Christmas Market Special?
Heidelberg’s romantic setting with backdrop of rolling hills and a castle perched on a hilltop makes it a romantic setting for a Christmas market. The Christmas Market stalls are beautifully decorated along the picturesque cobblestone streets of Heidelberg. Despite being in a city, Heidelberg has a small-town feel to it and there are plenty of things to see and do around Christmas time.
When does the Heidelberg Christmas market start?
In 2023, the Heidelberg Christmas market is open between Monday, November 27th – Friday, December 22, 2023. The official opening is at 6 p.m. on the Market Square.
Is the Heidelberg Christmas market open on Sunday?
Yes, the Heidelberg Christmas Market is open from 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. on Sunday!
How Many Days Do You Need in Heidelberg for Christmas Markets?
Two full days is the perfect amount of time to visit all the Heidelberg Christmas markets. With two days, you’ll have plenty of time to visit the Christmas Markets and see the other must-see sights in Heidelberg.
How to Get to Heidelberg
The nearest international airports are Frankfurt and Stuttgart and from each there are frequent trains to Heidelberg. The train ride from Frankfurt airport to Heidelberg takes about 90 minutes and usually includes changing trains either at the main station in Frankfurt, or in Mannheim. Once you’re in Heidelberg the city is very walkable!
Best Hotels in Heidelberg for the Christmas Market
Below are a few of my recommendations for where to stay in Heidelberg. There are hotels for every style budget!
This is where we stayed in Heidelberg! Staycity Aparthotels is an excellent budget friendly accommodation. Opened in 2021, the hotel had modern amenities and was very clean with comfortable rooms. Staycity Aparthotels is a short walk from the train station and a 15-20 minute walk to the Heidelberg Christmas Market.
This beautiful hotel is located at the foot of the historic Heidelberg Castle! The rooms are spacious with a kitchenette that gives this hotel an apartment-like feel. The hotel is a short walk away to the Heidelberg Christmas Market.
This gorgeous hotel is located in an historic building. in the heart of the Old Town. The hotel is next to the beautiful Alte Brücke bridge. The rooms are spacious with a classical style.
Heidelberg Christmas Market Dates, Locations, and Hours!
Heidelberg has several small Christmas markets scattered across the Old Town. All of these Christmas markets are close together and you can easily walk to them. The main Christmas markets are at Universitätsplatz, Marktplatz, Kornmarkt, and Karlsplatz.
2023 Heidelberg Christmas Market Opening Dates and Hours
Heidelberg Christmas Market:
November 27 – December 22, 2023
Sunday – Friday 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Saturday 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Official opening on November 27 at 6 p.m. on the Market Square
November 27, 2023 – January 1, 2024
December 24 closed
Heidelberg Ice Rink:
27 November 2023 to 7 January 2024
Daily 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.
24 December: closed
25 and 26 December: 12.00 p.m.- 10.00 p.m.
31 December: 10 a.m. – 01.00 a.m.
1 January: 12 p.m. – 10 p.m.
Heidelberg Christmas Market Map
To help you navigate, I created a map with all the Heidelberg Christmas Markets, restaurants, hotels, and activities I mention in this guide! You can use it during your trip, you only need internet access.
Heidelberg Christmas Market at Marktplatz
Marktplatz was my favorite Christmas Market to enjoy a cup of glühwein and hot chocolate! This charming market is next to the most famous church in Heidelberg, the Church of the Holy Spirit.
You won’t have trouble finding the glühwein at this market! The centerpiece of this Heidelberg Christmas Market is the giant wine barrel selling glühwein and hot chocolate! Unfortunately you won’t find wine inside. On the other hand, you can climb upstairs to a balcony that sits on top of the barrel for a great view of the Christmas Market!
This Christmas Market also has a whimsical carousel for children to enjoy and a handful of stalls to shop. I snacked on a delicious twisted potato here! However, because the square is smaller than the other markets there are less shopping and food options.
This market was less crowded than the one at Universitätsplatz. If you’re just looking to have a hot drink and relax I would recommend starting at Marktplatz!
The atmosphere at Marktplatz is the perfect place to sip a glühwein and soak in the magic of Chrisstmas all around you.
Heidelberg Christmas Market at Universitätsplatz
The Christmas market at Universitätsplatz is the largest market in Heidelberg! This is the perfect market for shopping!
You’ll find beautiful light-up paper stars, beeswax candles, sheepskin rugs and slippers, and wooden figurines.
All the Christmas market stalls here are so beautiful it’s fun to walk around and notice the detail of each individual stall. In the center of this Christmas market is a beautiful Christmas engelspiel that sells glühwein and hot chocolate.
With so much to see I would plan on spending around 1-2 hours at this market. Because it is the most popular market, try to go earlier in the day before it gets crowded in the evenings.
Karlsplatz (+ Ice Rink)
The Karlsplatz market is framed by the romantic castle backdrop, and has one of the most beautiful ice rinks in Germany. The main focus of this market is the ice rink and food stalls!
This is a great market to stop for lunch and watch the ice skaters while gazing up at the Heidelberg castle. A few of our favorite snacks we ate here were potato pancakes, bratwursts, and nutella crêpes!
You can also rent skates at the ice skating rink. If you’re visiting Heidelberg after Christmas the ice skating rink is open until Sunday, January 7th 2024!
Kornmarkt Winterwäldchen (Winter Forest)
The Kornmarkt Winterwäldchen (translates to Winter Forest) is great for small children and is smaller and less crowded than the other markets. They have a small train that goes around the center of the market.
The Kornmarkt is lined with rows of beautiful Christmas trees as decoration, and has a beautiful statue of Madonna in the center of the square. From the distance, you can see the Heidelberg castle peeking out from behind!
Bonus! Visit the Best Christmas Store in Germany
For the ultimate Christmas shopping experience you need to visit Käthe Wohlfahrt! Käthe Wohlfahrt is where you need to shop to find beautiful handmade wooden nutcrackers, Christmas pyramids, smokers, and ornaments.
Käthe Wohlfahrt started in Germany in Rothenburg ob der Tauber, a town in the north of Bavaria. You’ll find locations of Käthe Wohlfahrt in cities like Berlin and Nuremberg. It’s common for Christmas markets in larger cities to have pop-up locations of Käthe Wohlfahrt.
9 Best Things to Eat and Drink at Heidelberg’s Christmas Market
Flammlachs (Smoked Salmon)
If you’re a fish lover you need to try Flammlachs! Flammlachs is a salmon sandwich that’s made on a wood slab roasted over an open flame. The result is juicy salmon with a nice smokey flavor. It’s served on a small toasted bread roll drizzled with a cheese sauce, creme fraiche, onions and bacon – delicious!
A glass of hot mulled wine is the signature European Christmas market drink! When it’s cold outside a hot cup of glühwein will warm your body and soul! Mulled wine is made from heating wine, sugar, and spices.
Heiße Schokolade (Hot Chocolate)
There is nothing more cozy than a hot cup of hot chocolate during winter! Topped with whipped cream you can’t go wrong with this winter classic.
Mezzo Mix isn’t a drink associated with Christmas markets, but it is signature to Germany! It’s a classic fizzy soda that’s a mixture of orange soda and cola aka Coke and Fanta. You can find it at a few of the stands that sell savory snacks and other Coca-cola products.
You can’t go to the Heidelberg Christmas market and not have a bratwurst! Did you know that boiled sausage with potato salad is a traditional Christmas Eve dinner staple in Germany?
You won’t likely find boiled sausage and potato salad at the Christmas market, but you’ll find grilled sausages! Stalls have a large round grill in the middle roasting multiple types of sausages. The traditional way to order a sausage is with a bread roll. Ketchup and mustard are usually hanging from dispensers nearby.
Kartoffelpuffer (Potato Pancakes)
If you’re a fan of hash browns you must try a Kartoffelpuffer, or potato pancake! These freshly fried potato pancakes are served hot and crispy. This is the perfect snack to share!
Lángos (pronounced long-oh-sh) is a delicious piece of fried dough covered with savory toppings and drizzled with a creamy garlic sauce! It’s a traditional Hungarian snack that’s one of my favorites on a chilly winter night!
Fried Spiral Potato
The perfect crispy savory treat! Whole potatoes are cut using a spiral technique before being fried until crispy and then dusted with a flavorful seasoning. They are served on a wooden skewer, making them a great snack as you browse the Christmas market stalls.
Bratwurst cut into bite-sized chunks, topped with curry ketchup and dusted with curry powder! Currywurst isn’t a traditional German Christmas food, but you can always find it at the Christmas markets.
Tips for the Heidelberg’s Christmas Market
Here are a few helpful tips to make the most of your time at the Heidelberg Christmas Market.
- Collapsible Bag: It’s common in Germany to have to pay extra for a shopping bag. These collapsible bags are easy to pack!
- Avoid Weekends: The Christmas Markets are significantly more crowded over the weekend. Crowds are never fun, but they’re especially challenging at Christmas markets when you want to browse. If your schedule allows, try and visit midweek Monday-Thursday.
- Bring Cash: Most stalls at the Heidelberg Christmas Market only accept cash. Save time looking for an ATM and have plenty of euros in advance. I would recommend bringing 50 – 100 euros.
- Wear Layers: Snow isn’t as common this time of year, but when the sun goes down it gets chilly! Gloves, hats, scarves, and comfortable warm shoes are essential!
- Glühwein Mugs! All of the drinks in a ceramic mug have a “pfand” where you pay 2 or 3 euro more for the cup. I recommend keeping the first one as a souvenir, and return any others to get your deposit back.
Heidelberg in Winter: Best Things to Do
In addition to the Heidelberg Christmas market, here are the best things to do in Heidelberg during winter!
Explore the Heidelberg Castle
The Heidelberg Castle sits proudly on a hill overlooking the Heidelberg Christmas Market and the charming Old Town.
The Heidelberg Castle is the most famous attraction in Germany with over one million visitors a year! This medieval castle is the crown jewel of Heidelberg.
Since it was constructed in the 13th century the castle has been ravaged by wars, fires, and two lightning strikes. However, today you can tour the castle and enjoy a few of the areas that were restored to its original glory.
Also, you can even get married at the castle! In 2009, the castle was made available to the general public for civil weddings from February to December.
Even the arch to enter the castle grounds has a romantic story! In 1615, Friedrich V commissioned an architect to construct the arch as a gift for his wife Princess Elizabeth Stuart. According to legend, the historic arch was built in a single night and was a birthday gift for Elizabeth.
While the castle is the main attraction you must visit the Heidelberg Tun (the world’s largest wine barrel) and the German pharmacy museum inside the castle.
Take the Funicular to the Top!
Your journey to the Heidelberg Castle starts with the Heidelberg funicular! You’ll start from the base of the old town up to the castle. After you visit the castle you can hop on the second funicular to the Königstuhl (King’s Chair) Mountain for incredible panorama views of Heidelberg and the Neckar river.
The first funicular you’ll take up is a modern experience, but the second funicular at the Molkenkur station has vintage railway cars from 1907! The Heidelberg funicular railway is one of the longest in Germany.
Tickets to the Castle: I recommend you buy the “Panorama” ticket that includes entrance into the castle grounds, roundtrip funicular tickets, the wine cellar, German Pharmacy Museum, and the funicular to the Königstuhl Mountain! Best of all, the ticket for all of this is only 14,00 Euro! Tickets are available for purchase at all the stations.
Dance on the Heidelberg Tun!
Now is your chance to dance on top of the world’s largest wine barrel! The Heidelberg Tun is located deep within the cellars of the Heidelberg Castle. It was built using 130 oak trees and can hold 219,000 liters of wine!
The barrel hasn’t held wine since the 18th century. Ten years after the barrel was originally built, it began to decay and spring leaks. The barrel was retired, and a dance floor was built on top of it!
Visit the German Apothecary Museum
The German Apothecary Museum , inside the Heidelberg Castle, is a museum that focuses on the history of German pharmacies and medicine. This fully preserved pharmacy had hundreds of medicine bottles, herbs and natural remedies.
At the bottom of the stairway there is an exhibit of vintage laboratory equipment which was used by early pharmacists to develop and manufacture medications.
Visit the Karl Theodor Bridge at Sunset
Heidelberg’s Karl Theodor Bridge, locals refer to as the Old Bridge, connects the Altstadt (Old Town) and the Neuenheim district of Heidelberg. The bridge was originally built in the 18th century. This is the 9th bridge to have been built in this location after the others were previously destroyed.
Stroll through the Heidelberg Alstadt (Old Town)
The cobblestone street of The Heidelberg Altstadt (Old Town) is perfect for a romantic winter stroll. The main street, or Haupstraße, is the longest pedestrian street in Europe! During Christmas time the street is decorated with twinkling lights.
Go to Jail!
From the 1780s until 1914 misbehaving students at Heidelberg University were sent to an unusual place…the on-campus jail!
The “studentenkarzer,” or student jail, held students who had committed minor, often alcohol-related infractions such as insulting authorities, staging a duel, or freeing the town pigs! The penalty for this sort of mischief ranged from a few days or a few months in jail, depending on the severity of the offense.
Funny enough, being thrown into the student jail became a rite of passage for the students! For a small entrance fee you can visit the jail and see the pictures and notes scribbled along the walls by the students.
Visit the Church of the Holy Ghost
Church of the Holy Ghost is a late Gothic cathedral in the heart of the old town. It was one of the few buildings in Heidelberg that survived the wars during the past centuries. The church has been home to Catholics and Protestants throughout the centuries.
Top 3 Best German Restaurants in Heidelberg
A cozy rustic German restaurant in the Old Town with the most mouth watering schnitzels you’ll ever have! The service is friendly and efficient. I recommend making reservations, but if you’re not able to arrive 10-15 minutes before they open to grab a table.
What to order at Weinstube Schnitzelbank : Try the schnitzel that’s drizzled with peppercorn sauce! All schnitzel also comes with cabbage and potatoes or spaetzle, and a side salad. The portions are big and it’s impossible to leave hungry here! However, if you were able to save room for dessert, the apple strudel is delicious!
If you’re in the mood for a handcrafted German beer and delicious traditional German cuisine you need to check out Vetters! It’s one of the most popular breweries in town. According to the German purity laws, their beer only contains hops, malt, water, and yeast.
What to order at Vetters Gasthausbrauerei: For a traditional Swabian (region in Southwest Germany) dish you need to try maultaschen. These meat-filled dumplings are flavored with spices and stuffed with spinach. Ask your waiter for their recommendation on any seasonal handcrafted beers they have on tap.
A delicious German restaurant serving classic dishes in an old-school, wood-paneled dining room. Schwarzer Peter is a short 5-7 minutes walk outside of the old town, but it’s popular with Heidelberg locals and worth the detour!
Similarly, vegetarians or vegans won’t feel left out with plenty of options to choose from on their menu.
What to order at Schwarzer Peter: Fried potatoes! Their menu is constantly changing. Ask your waiter what specials they recommend.
Final Thoughts on Heidelberg’s Christmas Market
The Heidelberg Christmas market is a must visit Christmas market in Germany! Heidelberg is rich in culture, with plenty to see and do in two days. Heidelberg’s romantic backdrop makes it the perfect fairytale city for a Christmas market.
Read More About Christmas Markets in Europe
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