christmas market marathon: nuremburg, rothenburg and esslingen!


in twenty four hours, we explored mazes of christmas markets in three different german towns (that were each a couple hours’ drive apart). it was a magical market marathon. to be true, there were some significant hiccups on this roadtrip of ours – loads of traffic, some wrong turns, frustration with each other, mixed up hotel reservations, cranky late nights. but, all in all it was a really fantastic adventure filled to the brim with christmas magic.

i was going to break up these pictures from nuremburg, rothenburg and esslingen into separate posts, but i’m just too eager to share the rest of our trip and our wonderful christmas in london. click through to see some of the incredible, enchanting charm we experienced at the markets.

we got to nuremburg just ninety minutes or so before the stalls closed up for the night. there was a live band and choir in front of the church and soooo many fun-to-look-at treats and trinkets. we even found a terrace we could go on to see the candy-cane-stripped market from above. also, we bought a traditional legler – a tiered nativity scene that rotates by the hot air or lit candles – which is something i’ve always wanted in my home!

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^^ all tiny dollhouse accessories! ^^

the next morning we went back to the market and found out that it sprawled much further than the main churchyard. we both loved this morning poking down lots of different roads (and inside beautiful churches!) and discovering more and more market magic.

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^^ leglers. there were soooo many to chose from! but we love the one we picked. ^^
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when we found the kinderweihnacht, we kind of freaked out. it’s the section of the christkindlesmarkt specifically for kids and it was the most outrageously awesome pocket of pure christmas joy. there were tons of kids running around literally squealing with glee among the ferris wheel, train ride, carousel, animatronic santas/elves/reindeer/teddy bears on top of stalls selling all kinds of sticky, colourful sweets. we seriously couldn’t stand how happy this little corner was!


and the food market further up the road was overflowing with more lovely delights.

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when we walked back to the car past the church, we noticed dozens of people with their heads cranned up looking at the clock. we realized it was 11:59 and something cool must be happening at noon! indeed it did – as the bells tolled, the figures around the clock moved (and even drummed and trumpeted!). when you realize the clock was created in 1509, that’s pretty impressive!


we heard really beautiful brass music from a band outside another church…


…and decided to climb the hill to nuremburg castle to check out the cloudy, foggy views. lovely despite the weather!


our next stop was the little town of rothenburg ob der tauber, which i immediately fell in love with. it is such a perfect storybook christmas village. around every corner was something so picturesque and lovely and enchanting. we wandered the stalls in different squares, climbed to the top of the town hall tower, ate some bratwurst, and meandered through the charming, charming cobbled streets. it was drizzly but just exquisite!

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^^ see that spiral staircase inside the door? we took it up, up, up to the very top! ^^

^^ the camera strap got in our self-timer :) the boy’s smile is actually fake…he hates heights, but is always willing to attempt conquering his fear, bless him. ^^
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our last stop for the day was esslingen am neckar, which we heard had a really cool medieval christmas market. we had to endure a ton of traffic and were a bit hangry when we arrived and started exploring in the dripping rain – but it was really neat. this market had such a different feeling than the others we had experienced – it really felt like we were going back in time. there were fire dancers and workshops and all kind of medieval stuff that i didn’t capture because it was raining on my camera. it’s hard to describe the atmosphere but it was really, really cool.

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^^ one thing we really loved about all the markets was that there was always a nativity scene and so many reminders around of the true meaning of christmas. it was especially fun when there were live animals! ^^
^^ and here’s a bit of fake smile from me…we had just realized that i booked our hotel for that night on the wrong day, so we had no place to sleep and lost some money :( of course it all worked out in the end but it was pretty sad/frustrating for a bit there! ^^

wow! congrats if you’ve made it to the end of this post, dear reader! this magical market marathon was pretty dreamy!


  1. You have been to Esslingen without saying hello (I live 13 km away)?! I would be so offended if you knew me. At all. :-)

  2. What a fun trip! What was your favorite purchase?

  3. I love the Christmas markets in Germany. My (ex)husband was stationed there when we were first married. And I know all about wrong turns and traffic disasters. We were trying to make our way to Switzerland for a ski adventure and ended up going in one giant circle--ended up coming home--we were so frustrated. This was long before GPS or cell phones--and barely the Internet.
    I'm glad your travels were a success and you actually made it to where you hoped to go. It looks like you saw many beautiful places on your Christmas journey.
    Lisa in WA

  4. Thank you so much for sharing your trip with us! My husband is German, but when we go to Germany it is always in the summer. It is so fun seeing all these photos. Some day I would love to go to the markets just like you. A fun little fact that you might not know is the yellow house where you are standing in front of in Rothenburg is owned by a member of the church. Happy New Year!

  5. I visited Rothenburg about 30 years ago with my family - it was summer but there were the most beautiful little Christmas shops open. I've always wanted to go back :)

  6. So beautiful! I love those nativities too!

  7. So fun to see all these pictures! I am german and I have lived in Vienna for 7 months as a student abroad. Love that city! And I looove christmas!!


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