German Christmas markets are perhaps the most popular Christmas markets around the world, but which one is the cutest and most romantic one? I don’t think anyone will argue with me, if I say that this is the Monschau Christmas market. Once chosen for the most beautiful Christmas market in Germany, the Christmas market in Monschau is as if coming from a Christmas tale – charming, nostalgic, dreamy.
Once I was working with a German girl and when I asked her which place in Germany offers the most authentic Christmas spirit, she did not hesitate – Monschau. So, I’ve been wanting for many years to visit the place, but life always got in the way until last year when we finally headed to Monschau. I was happy as a child as it was a dream coming true! Would it live to my expectations? Will it be that beautiful as in my dreams? Of course I have idealized the image of it, so I was a bit concerned that it might turn into another Disney-type Christmas trap.
Well, the German girl was right, and my expectations were even exceeded.
The Christmas market in Monschau
We arrived in the early afternoon and I got immediately excited – half-timbered houses alongside the meandering Rur River – what can be more romantic than that? Monschau looked like a perfect snow-globe village minus the snow. We weren’t lucky to have a white Christmas that year, but we didn’t care.
The smell of cinnamon and clove lingered in the air and even before we reached the market square with the Christmas stalls I was dragged by an invisible hand into the first Konditorei. I had to try those chocolate covered printen and all other things which names I didn’t know! It was hard to resist the temptation to grab every possible treat, so I bought only a pack of traditional printen – a sort of lebkuchen popular in the Aachen region. They told me at the shop that the recipe of this particular traditional-style printen was kept with the family since the 18th century! And of course, it was a secret.
My boyfriend had to drag me out of the shop, as we came for the Christmas market, or not. The inner child in me was jumping around with joy from one shop window to another. Finally, we reached the market square. There were numerous stalls offering anything Christmassy – ornaments, hand-carved nutcrackers, mulled wine. Did I mention mulled wine? It was getting chilly and it was time for little something, so we headed to the first vendor to get some glühwein and reibekuchen (fried potato pancakes).
Then we walked along more festively decorated streets and houses and shops. The Christmas market continued further on the streets of this little place. At one point I saw a street going up that promised nice views and we were not disappointed. The street turned into a path and we reached the ruins of a tower – Der Haller, a 13th century watchtower part of the town’s fortifications. From there, Monschau looked really like a snow-globe town waiting for someone to shake and let the snow fall. We could spot the Castle of Monschau (Burg Monschau), built in the 13th century and functioning today as a youth hostel.
It started getting dark, so we got back to the town. It was even more magical than in the afternoon! All Christmas lights were lit up and it felt as if we were in that miniature Christmas village that I put each year beside the Christmas tree, only without the train circling around it. OK. I don’t have that one at home either. So, the illusion was complete.
It was time for another glühwein, this time paired with a bradwurst. The merriment was everywhere in the air and I could hear Christmas carols coming from the market. We walked once again through all the streets and the market square to enjoy the town all lit up and then it was time to head back home.
Tips about visiting the Monschau Christmas Market
Unfortunately, there won’t be a Christmas market held in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In 2019 the opening hours were: Friday & Saturday – 11:00 – 21:00, Sunday – 11:00 – 20:00, 26 November – closed
At the market: When you buy glühwein at the Christmas market, they will ask you a deposit for the mug, so don’t get surprised by the price! When you return the mug, you get your money back. Otherwise, it makes a nice souvenir.
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Christmas market in Monschau – a fairy tale place to get completely soaked into the Christmas spirit. My advice – just go with public transportation. Trying to find a parking spot can be a nightmare. #travelinspiration #ipanematravels #christmasspirit #monschau #monschauerweihnachtsmarkt #christmasmarket #germany #discovergermany #eifel #visitgermany #instatravel #fachwerk
How to get to Monschau
As Monschau is located close to the Belgian border, it is a perfect destination for a day trip from Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg or even France. We went to Monschau by car from the Netherlands.
There are parking spaces around the old town, but as the Christmas market is very popular, it’s difficult to find a free parking spot. It took us about hour and half to find where to park. My advice – take the advice on the web page of the Christmas market and park in the nearby Höfen from where you can get a shuttle bus to Monschau, or arrive in the morning.
Where to stay in Monschau
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If you decide that it’s too much of a hassle with the parking (which actually is, but still doable), you can opt for spending the night in Monschau. Well, this is actually not a bad idea! Perfect for a long weekend getaway in November/December, as the market is open only on weekends.
Here is my choice of hotels in Monschau:
As the Christmas market in Monschau is very popular, hotels might be full during the weekends. Another idea would be to stay in the nearby Höfen and go to Monschau by shuttle bus (see above section for more info).
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Have you ever been to a Christmas market in Germany? Which is your favorite one? Share in the comments below. Do you have questions about your visit to Monschau, ask them below and I will try to help you.