Winter visits to Aachen provide ample opportunity to explore this city which is rich in history and renowned for its imperial cathedral.
At the heart of winter celebrations is the Aachen Christmas Market, a traditional spectacle that enlivens the city’s central square each year.
This guide will provide all the necessary details for planning a visit to the market, from its 2023 dates to the selection of stalls and local delicacies that define Aachen’s festive flavour.
Christmas in Aachen transforms the city into a winter wonderland. Lights twinkle from buildings and trees, creating an alluring spectacle against the dark winter sky.
Aachen Christmas Market 2023
In the heart of the city, the Christmas market in Aachen occupies the square in front of the stunning Aachen Cathedral.
The central location makes it easy for you to wander among the various stalls, each providing its unique touch to the market.
Notably, Aachen is famous for its Printen, a type of gingerbread cookie. Stallholders sell them in all sorts of flavours and shapes, making them a perfect souvenir or treat.
The beautifully crafted Christmas decorations are also a draw, with many items hand-made locally, and the sight of the illuminated cathedral provides a fantastic backdrop for your visit, enhancing the festive feel of the market.
Dates and Location
Aachen Christmas Market dates: 24th November to 23rd December 2023.
Location: Aachen Cathedral and Town Hall.
Opening times: 11am to 9pm.
Christmas Day: Closed.
Admission: Free, no tickets required.
Christmas lights: Yes, switch on date: 24th November 2023.
Ice skating: No.
Vegetarian: Yes, plenty of options.
Vegan: Yes, plenty of options.
Gluten-free: Yes, but limited.
Accessible: Yes, fully accessible.
Pet-friendly: Yes, dogs are allowed on a lead.
Parking: Please take public transport to help limit congestion.
Reason to visit: Unique location between Cathedral and Town Hall. Famed for traditional Aachen Printen gingerbread.
Specialities: Aachen Printen gingerbread; potato pancakes; roasted chestnuts; marzipan bread.
Where to stay: Hotel 3 Könige is a popular hotel, 1-minute from the Christmas market in the Old Town.
Hotels near Aachen Christmas Market
I suggest staying in the Altstadt, the city’s historic centre, for easy access to the Christmas market. This area places you right in the midst of the festive action, within walking distance of the market and other key attractions.
For quality accommodation in this area, consider the highly-rated Hotel 3 Könige, perfectly positioned for a Christmas visit.
Location of Aachen Christmas Market
Christmas in Aachen
This video provides a glimpse into the festive world of Aachen’s Christmas market.
To help you further explore more of Germany’s holiday season, I’ve put together a guide featuring the best Christmas markets in Germany 2023, including dates, locations and opening times.
Christmas Specialties in Aachen
Aachen Printen: Rooted in Aachen, this distinctive type of gingerbread, rich in spices and typically sweetened with syrup, might remind you of Lebkuchen but offers a unique flavour profile. Some variants also incorporate nuts or chocolate for added texture and taste. It’s a holiday staple in Aachen, and you’ll find it in abundance during Christmas.
Sauerbraten: A quintessential German dish, Sauerbraten is a pot roast that’s usually made from beef, but you might find versions using other meats. The key to its flavour lies in the marinating process, which can last several days and includes vinegar, water and a mix of spices, yielding a tender and tangy result.
Kartoffelpuffer: These are traditional German potato pancakes, golden and crispy on the outside while remaining soft inside. Often served with apple sauce, they make for a delicious and satisfying vegetarian option during the festive season.
Stollen: A classic German Christmas bread, Stollen is packed with dried fruit, nuts and spices and then dusted with powdered sugar. Some versions contain marzipan in the centre. Its distinctive shape is said to resemble the swaddled baby Jesus.
Rotkohl: Braised red cabbage is a common side dish for many German meals, particularly during the holidays. Cooked slowly with apples and spices, it offers a mix of sweet and sour flavours and pairs well with many of the traditional meat dishes.
Lebkuchen: Similar to gingerbread, these spicy biscuits are a Christmas classic across Germany. They vary from soft and cakey to crunchy and come in a variety of shapes and sizes, often glazed or covered in chocolate.
Food at the Christmas Market
Marzipan Brot: Marzipan, a sweet paste made from ground almonds and sugar, is a popular ingredient in German Christmas treats. Marzipan Brot, shaped like a little loaf of bread but entirely sweet, is a particular favourite found at the Aachen Christmas Market.
Bratwurst: An ever-popular German street food, Bratwurst needs little introduction. These savoury sausages, grilled to perfection and usually served in a bun with mustard, are a satisfying snack as you wander through the market stalls.
Schokoküsse: Known as ‘chocolate kisses’, these sweet treats consist of a marshmallow centre covered in a thin layer of chocolate. They’re a fun and indulgent snack you can find at the Aachen Christmas Market.
Glühwein: As you meander through the market, the warming scent of Glühwein is hard to miss. This mulled wine, typically infused with spices like cloves and star anise, is a popular drink that helps keep the winter chill at bay.
Reibekuchen: Found at many German Christmas markets, Reibekuchen is potato fritters, crispy on the outside, tender on the inside, and often served with apple sauce.
Pretzels: A universal symbol of German cuisine, pretzels are a staple at the Christmas markets in Aachen. Topped with coarse salt, these twisted baked goods offer a perfect balance of chewy and crunchy textures.
Flammkuchen: This Alsatian specialty, similar to thin-crust pizza, is topped with crème fraîche, onions and lardons, then baked in a very hot oven for a quick, crisp finish.
Crepes: Though originating from France, crepes have found a home in international Christmas markets. Thin and delicate, they’re often rolled up with a variety of sweet fillings like Nutella, strawberries, or simple sugar and lemon juice.
What to Buy
Handcrafted Decorations: You’ll discover a vast array of handcrafted decorations at the market. These include wooden nutcrackers, glass baubles, straw stars, and wax candles, all traditionally crafted and perfect for adding a touch of German festivity to your home.
Printen Gingerbread: As an iconic Aachen specialty, Printen Gingerbread makes an excellent gift. Encased in decorative tins, these spiced cookies offer a taste of Aachen’s Christmas spirit to take home or gift to your loved ones.
Wooden Toys: You’ll find beautifully crafted wooden toys at the market stalls. Handmade and painted, these charming toys ranging from intricate puzzles to classic spinning tops, are not just for kids but can make unique keepsakes as well.
Pottery: Aachen is known for its local pottery. At the Christmas market, you’ll find a variety of handmade ceramic items, such as mugs, bowls, and plates, each showcasing the unique designs and craftsmanship of the region.
Christmas Pyramids: These intricate wooden carousels, adorned with figures and scenes related to the holiday season, are powered by the heat of candles. A traditional German Christmas decoration, the turning pyramid is a delightful sight that can bring a magical touch to any home.
Laceworks: Aachen has a rich history of lace-making. In the market, you can find exquisite lace products such as doilies, table runners and delicate ornaments, each showcasing this intricate art form.
Woollen Goods: Given the winter chill, woollen goods such as hats, scarves and mittens are popular items at the market. Often hand-knitted, these accessories provide warmth and add a touch of rustic charm to your winter wardrobe.
Artisanal Soaps: Locally made soaps, infused with a variety of natural ingredients and scents, are another item you’ll find at the Aachen market. Beautifully packaged, these soaps can make thoughtful gifts or personal indulgences.
If this is your first time in Aachen, this list of attractions gives a great overview of what to do while you’re there.
Sustainable Christmas Tips
Here are a few tips on how we can travel more responsibly in Aachen at Christmas.
Use Renewable Energy Powered Facilities: When choosing your accommodation in Aachen, opt for hotels that use renewable energy sources. Many establishments are making the switch to sustainable practices, reducing their environmental impact.
Reduce Food Waste: Be mindful of the portion sizes at the Christmas market. Try to only buy what you can finish, or consider sharing with your travel companions to experience a variety of local specialties without contributing to food waste.
Choose Ethical Consumption: When shopping at the Christmas market, support local artisans who sell sustainably-made products, but only buy what you really need. For instance, consider the handcrafted decorations, wooden toys and artisanal soaps that help support the local economy and promote sustainable practices.
Adopt a Sustainable Diet: Aachen’s Christmas market offers an array of vegetarian options like Reibekuchen and Flammkuchen. Choosing these options over meat-based dishes can contribute to a more sustainable diet, as plant-based foods often have a smaller carbon footprint.
Use Sustainable Transport: Aachen has an efficient public transport system, and the Christmas market is well-served by local buses and trains. Additionally, the city centre is compact enough to explore on foot or by bicycle, which are more eco-friendly alternatives to driving. Opting for these modes of transport can significantly reduce your carbon emissions during your visit.
The Aachen Christmas Market dates start from 24th November to 23rd December 2023.
The Christmas Market in Aachen is located in the Old Town, primarily on the squares surrounding the Aachen Cathedral and the Town Hall, including Katschhof.
Aachen Christmas Market opening times are from 11am to 9pm daily. It’s closed on Christmas Day.
Winters in Aachen are typically cold, with temperatures often dropping below zero. It’s best to bring warm clothing to enjoy the Christmas Market comfortably.
Aachen’s Christmas Market is famed for its printen gingerbread, reibekuchen and glühwein. Also, try the local sausages, Ffammkuchen and various other regional delicacies.
Yes, Aachen Christmas Market is family-friendly, with a variety of stalls, foods and attractions that children will enjoy, such as handcrafted wooden toys.
Yes, Aachen’s city centre is compact, making it easy to explore on foot. Also, the public transport system is efficient, and many of the city’s main attractions, including the Christmas market, are easily accessible.
A visit to Aachen in winter truly is a special experience, and it’s home to one of the most popular Christmas markets in Germany. With its rich history and vibrant festivities, Aachen is an excellent choice for a winter getaway.
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Recommendations are independently chosen based on personal travel experiences and extensive research. This post contains affiliate links to hotels and tours in Aachen, Germany. This means I get a small commission from any bookings at no extra cost to you.