Hamburg is a great city, especially at Christmastime, when it’s purported to have 30 Christmas markets. When I spent a weekend in Hamburg a few years ago, I enjoyed myself so much that when the opportunity arose to go there again as part of the #cometohamburg blogger campaign, I jumped at the chance. So did my husband, who joined me for part of the time. This visit, my stated goal was to sample all of the Christmas markets in Hamburg.
Last update: Sept. 27, 2023.
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This wasn’t a small order. As I did my usual research before I visited, I found various sites that claimed that Hamburg has a total of 30 Christmas markets. That may be right, and if it is, it would be impossible for me to see them all in just four days.
As far as I could tell, though, 30 is an exaggeration. What Hamburg does have, is 19 markets, which is nevertheless an impressive number. Or perhaps I should say, to keep the possibility open that I missed some, it’s got at least 19 markets. There’s a 20th one as well, but it hasn’t happened since 2019. I’ve included it in the list anyway.
Still, I intended to see as many as I could in a four-day trip to Hamburg in early December. Was that even possible? No. It turned out that two of them were only open for a few days … in November. I have no idea why a Christmas market would close before December. And there were a few others I just didn’t find time for.
I did manage to see 13 markets in all. Some were wonderful, and definitely worth some time. Others, not so much. It seemed to me that quite of few of these markets are local affairs, just an opportunity for the residents in a particular neighborhood to have a drink and entertain their kids.
That’s why I’m dividing this article into three lists: the 8 best Christmas markets, 5 more Christmas markets, and another 7 that I can’t judge because I didn’t see them. To get an idea where they all are, I’ve marked them all on the map below (stars for ones I visited and liked best, regular markers for others I visited, and an x for those I didn’t visit):
ABOUT THE DATES AND TIMES before you read the list. For most of the markets, the dates and hours for 2023 have been published and I’ve updated the list below to match. A few of the listings are incomplete, but I’ll come back from time to time to update. Make sure to check the market’s website (if there is one).
The 8 best Christmas Markets in Hamburg
1. Rathausmarkt, also called Roncalli Christmas Market
Probably the most well-known and most popular of all Hamburg’s Christmas markets is the one on the Rathausmarkt – the central square of Hamburg, home to Hamburg’s city hall, the Rathaus. Somehow the backdrop of the city hall, dating to the late 19th century, adds atmosphere to an already charming Christmas market.
The 80 or so market stalls are set out in neat rows in this traditional and historic Christmas market. Shopping stalls sell crafts like handmade toys, cooking-related tools, and Christmas decorations. Interspersed among the shopping stalls, food stalls sell all of the standard German Christmas market items: traditional food like bratwurst, various Christmas sweets, and, of course, hot drinks like glühwein (hot spiced wine) and hot chocolate.
Keep an eye out for Santa Claus, a.k.a. Father Christmas a.k.a. Der Weihnachtsmann. He passes over the market in his sleigh at 16:00, 18:00 and 20:00. He stops to recite something – I don’t know what it is because I don’t speak German – before continuing his flight. There’s also a vintage merry-go-round.
This market is most attractive in the evening because the stalls are strung with colorful lights and so is the large Christmas tree. To be honest, it isn’t actually a tree; it’s a pole with long strings of white lights in the shape of a Christmas tree. Nevertheless, it contributes to the festive atmosphere.
Roncalli Christmas Market: Rathausmarkt. 2023 Dates and hours: Nov 27-Dec 23; daily 11:00-21:00. Take the U-Bahn to Rathaus stop. Website.
2. Spitalerstraße Christmas Market
Unlike most Christmas markets, this one, also just called City Market, is stretched out along the center of a single wide street, the Spitalerstraße, in the city center. It’s a good one for enjoying the lights in the evening; they haven’t skimped at all on the Christmas lights, and the stores along each side of the street, decorated to the hilt for the Christmas season, add to the festive vibe.
The offerings of the food and drink stalls on the Spitalerstraße are very similar to the Rathausmarkt. The shopping stalls even sell some of the same handmade items – I think many of them use the same suppliers or else are owned by the same companies. This is a great market for Christmas gift shopping since you have both the stalls and the stores around them.
Spitalerstraße Christmas Market: Spitalerstraße. 2023 days and hours: Nov 23- Dec 30 (closed Dec 24, 25 and 26); Daily 11:00-21:00 (food stands open until 23:00). Take the U1, U2, U3, U4, S1, S2, S3, S21 or S31 to Hbf (Hamburg Hauptbahnhof train station).
3. St. Petri Christmas Market
Even though it’s tiny, St. Petri is a great place to take small children. In a courtyard next to St. Petri Church, it has a few of the usual food and drink stalls – no Christmas market would be complete without a supply of glühwein – but it also has these remarkably old-fashioned dioramas for the youngest children. They depict scenes from various fairy tales and involve dolls making small repetitive movements. In the photo below, for example, you can see one of the dioramas showing Red Riding Hood and the wolf. She waves the bouquet of flowers up and down, while the wolf, dressed as Grandma, visibly breathes. You’d think in this day and age that even young children would not be interested in something so slow moving, but I saw several toddlers staring, enraptured, into the cases.
St Petri Christmas Market at St. Petri Church: Kreuslerstraße and Mönckebergstraße. 2023 days and hours: Nov 23-Dec 30 (closed on Nov. 26, Dec. 24 and Dec 25); Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday open 10:00-18:30; Wednesday open 10:00-19:00; Saturday open 10:00-17:00; and Sunday open 9:00-20:00. Take the U1, U2, U4, S1 or S3 to Jungfernstieg or U3 to Rathaus.
Winterwald is the one that does best in terms of Christmas spirit and creating an enchanting winter atmosphere, even when it isn’t very cold and there’s no snow on the ground. The wooden stalls are decorated with pine branches and white fairy lights, and there are plenty of Christmas trees around. The Christmas tree theme isn’t surprising, given that Winterwald translates as Winter Forest.
This Christmas market is definitely one to visit after dark, when it’s all lit up. In the evening, it’s crowded, with lots of drinking and general jollity.
Winterwald: Gerhart-Hauptmann-Platz. 2023 days and hours: Nov. 23-Dec. 23; Daily 11:00-21:00. (Food stalls open until 23:00). Take the U3 to the Mönckebergstraße stop.
5. Jungfernstieg Christmas Market
Jungfernsteig market (German name: Weisserzauber, which means “white magic”) stretches along Jungfernstieg Boulevard, one side of Hamburg’s Binnenalster (Inner Alster): a small lake connected to the River Elbe by a canal. It’s one of the more popular Christmas markets, mostly because of how it looks and its location. I’d say it’s among the most beautiful Christmas markets I’ve seen. With dozens of stalls in white tents, it’s a pretty magical sight. The water laps in the background and the buildings on the other two sides of the lake, reflecting in the water, add to the Christmassy atmosphere. A boat offers short rides around the lake, and there’s even a huge Christmas tree on a tiny island – or perhaps it’s a buoy – in the harbor.
Another thing I especially liked about Jungfernsteig market was that the things for sale there were different from many of the other markets. Still often homemade, they were somehow more stylish – and consequently often more expensive.
Jungfernstieg Christmas Market: Jungfernstieg. 2023 dates and hours: Nov. 23-Dec. 29. Closed on Nov. 26, Dec. 24 and Dec. 25. Sunday-Thursday 11:00-21:00, Friday-Saturday 11:00-22:00. Take the U1, U2, U4, S1 or S3 to Jungfernstieg stop. Website.
6. Ottensen Christmas Market
All the ones I’ve pointed out so far are pretty much in Hamburg’s city center – the heart of the city. But Hamburg is a big place. The trendy neighborhood of Ottensen has its own market and, not surprisingly, it’s quite different from the others. You wouldn’t see that at first glance: it’s got the typical little wooden market stalls, painted red and edged with pine branches and white lights. Yet we found that it, like Jungfernsteig, had more interesting items for sale and, in particular, some great food. If you’re in the mood for foods other than the typical German ones, this is the perfect place. We had some wonderful empanadas here, for example.
Ottensen Christmas Market: Ottenser Hauptstraße. 2023 dates: Nov. 27-Dec. 23. Hours not yet published. Take the S1 or S3 to Altona stop.
7. Santa Pauli Christmas Market
Moving further from the center, we come to a somewhat grungy and yet, at the same time, trendy part of town called Reeperbahn, home to “Hamburg’s horniest Christmas Market,” according to the sign at its entrance. Santa Pauli is unlike any other Christmas market I’ve seen: it’s X-rated, and it’s absolutely Hmobbed in the evenings. It also has the most dazzling lights shining over the square from spotlights and huge electronic billboards. It’s loud and brash and very in-your-face.
This one has a big stage – no one was performing when we were there, but sometimes there’s live music. Never fear, though: popular music belting out of a sound system is loud nevertheless. Some of the market stalls offer traditional food and drinks, but some are … well, let’s just say they’re untraditional. You’ll find a wide range of sex toys and sex play clothing here, as well as various edgy venders such as Oh! Holy Mary Cannabis Pleasure Oil, sold by saleswomen dressed as, believe it or not, nuns. It’s not actually such a big market, but it makes an impression!
Santa Pauli Christmas Market: Spielbudenplatz. 2023 dates: Nov. 13-Dec. 23, but closed on Nov. 19 and Nov. 26. Hours not yet published. Take the U3 to St. Pauli stop or the S1, S2 or S3 to Reeperbahn stop. Website of the Spielbudenplatz.
8. Schloss Bergedorf
The Christmas market at Schloss Bergedorf is quite a ways out of the center of the city. Schloss means “castle,” and this market is on the grounds of the very picturesque Bergedorf Castle. I would say that of all the markets I visited, this would be the one to take small children to, especially if you only have time for one market or want to avoid crowds and loud noise. Because it’s out of the city, it’s rather low-key and definitely child-oriented. There’s a sweet little wooden carousel without the loud piped music and plenty of the kinds of food that kids love. Kids can take part in craft projects and games.
The castle itself is less child-friendly, but it’s worth a quick walk-through. At a minimum, take in the medieval atmosphere in its courtyard, where the Christmas market manages to fit a few stalls as well.
Bergedorf Castle: Bergedorfer Schloßstraße. 2023 dates and times: Nov. 27-Dec. 30, but closed on Dec. 24, 25 and 26. Open Tuesday-Sunday 11:00-17:00. Take the S21 to Bergedorf stop.
5 more Hamburg Christmas markets
The other six markets I visited were all less interesting, compared with the eight above. Each was very small, and I got the impression these were meant more as neighborhood gathering spots than as public markets. In other words, if you happen to be staying at a hotel nearby any of these, it would be a great spot to have a last drink in the evening before bed.
Gänsemarkt is just a block away from Jungfernstieg, and apparently it’s known for an alternative to glühwein called feuerzangenbowle. This hot, sweet drink is made by taking a huge copper caldron full of glühwein and placing a big block of sugar that’s been soaked in rum above the caldron, setting the sugar on fire, and letting it melt and drip into the glühwein below. It makes quite a show, and it tastes pretty great too.
The thing is: here and there at other markets, we were able to find feuerzangenbowle too, which made Gänsemarkt less special. It pretty much comprises the usual array of gingerbread-house Christmas stalls, arranged prettily around a small square. There’s also a small merry-go-round. Rather underwhelming, but perhaps that was because I arrived straight from Jungfernstieg.
Christmastime Gänsemarkt: Gänsemarkt. 2023 dates and hours: Nov. 23-Dec. 23, but closed on Nov. 26. Open daily 11:00-21:00 (Food stalls open until 23:00). Take the U2 to Gänsemarkt stop.
2. Fleetinsel Christmas Market
Fleetinsel Market is tiny, and pretty much only has drinks stalls (including feuerzangenbowle). It’s meant to have a maritime theme, and there was a historical ship moored alongside when we visited, but, like Gänsemarkt, it was underwhelming.
Fleetinsel: Michaelisbrücke. 2023 dates and hours: Nov. 27-Dec. 23; Sunday-Thursday 12:00-21:00, Friday-Saturday 12:00-22:00. take the S1 or S3 to Stadthausbrücke or U3 to Rödingsmarkt. Website.
3. HafenCity Christmas Market
Set in the new development of HafenCity, this one was even smaller than Fleetinsel. When I visited, it had one big drinks tent and a mini-golf course for children, one large but rather plain Christmas tree, and that was about it.
HafenCity Christmas Market: Überseeboulevard. 2023 dates and hours: Nov. 20-Dec. 30, but closed on Nov. 26, Dec. 24 and Dec. 25. Open daily 12:00-20:30. Take the U4 to Überseequartier stop.
4. Blankenese Christmas Market
This one doesn’t even turn up in the tourism publications, but somehow I heard about it. It’s another tiny market in the space in front of S-Bahn station Blankenese, clearly just meant for the local community. It has a few food and drink stalls and one mini-train ride for kids.
Blankenese Christmas Market: Blankenese S-Bahn Station. 2022 dates: 26 Nov.-6 Jan. Take the S1 to Blankenese stop.
5. Winter Pride
Winter Pride has very little space – just a wide place in a street; I’m not sure you could even call it a square. It has a few stalls; mostly food and drink, and a very small performance area. I assume that, since this is the LGBTQ+-oriented Christmas Market, it’s probably fun later in the evening when there are performances happening. If that’s so, it belongs on the list above, but when we went in the late afternoon, it was pretty dead. I also suspect that the success of the sexier Santa Pauli Christmas Market has to some extent stolen Winter Pride’s thunder.
Winter Pride St. Georg: Lange Reihe. 2023 days and hours: Nov. 20-Dec. 23, Sunday-Thursday 12:00-22:00, Friday and Saturday 12:00-24:00. Take the U1, U2, U3, U4, S1, S2, S3, S21 or S31 to Hbf (Hamburg Hauptbahnhof train station). Website.
And 7 more Christmas Markets I didn’t get to
1. Wintergarten St. Pauli
Located in front of Rindermarkthalle shopping mall, the center of attention here is apparently the sport of curling.
Wintergarten St. Pauli: Neuer Kamp. 2023 dates and hours: Nov. 23-Dec. 23; Monday-Saturday 8:00-21:00. Take the U3 to Feldstraße stop.
2. Hamburg DOM
Not far from Wintergarten St. Pauli, the Hamburg DOM is more a carnival than a Christmas market. It has lots of rides and games, and fireworks on Fridays. If you have kids, I’d put this at the top of your list. Notice that it’s mostly a November event.
Hamburg Dom: Heiligengeistfeld. 2023 dates: Nov. 10-Dec. 10; Hours not yet published. Take the U2 to Messehallen stop or the U3 to Feldstraße or St. Pauli. Hamburger DOM website.
3. God Jul Scandinavian Christmas Market
This one sounds wonderful, but it only takes place in November, for some reason, so I was too late. The markets happen at each of the four Scandinavian churches on Ditmar-Koel-Straße, and it’s all Scandinavian themed, selling Scandinavian food, drink and crafts.
God Jul Scandinavian Christmas: Ditmar-Koel-Straße. 2023 dates and hours: Nov. 17-19 and Nov. 24-26. Friday and Saturday 12:00-19:00 and Sunday 12:00-18:00. Take the S1 or S3 to Landungsbrücken or the U3 to Baumwall.
4. Michel Christmas Market
This is the oldest Christmas market in Hamburg and takes place next to St. Michael’s Church, with market stalls, concerts, and prayer services. It only lasts a few days.
Michel Christmas Market: Englische Planke. 2023 dates and hours: December 1-3. Open 9:00-20:00. Take the S1 or S3 to Stadthausbrücke or the U3 to Baumwall.
5. Harburg Christmas Market
Quite a ways away from the center of the city, this is a traditional Christmas market in front of what used to be the city hall of the town of Harburg, now a suburb. It has the usual craft stalls and food and drink and a big Christmas tree.
Harburg Christmas Market: Harburger Rathausplatz. 2023 dates and hours: Nov. 23-Dec. 29, but closed on Dec. 24-26; Open Monday-Saturday 11:00-21:30 and Sunday 13:00-21:30. Open on Nov. 26, but the hours change to 17:00-21:30. Take the S3 or S31 to Harburg Rathaus stop. Website.
6. Treudelberg Christmas Market
This little market takes place in the courtyard of the Steigenberger Hotel Treudelberg in the Alstertal district of the city. It sounds very child-friendly, with arts and crafts for kids and a carousel.
Treudelberg Christmas Market: Lemsahler Landstrasse 45. 2023 dates and hours: Nov. 30-Dec. 23. Open Thursday and Friday 15:00-20:00, Saturday and Sunday 13:00-20:00.
7. Dog Christmas Market
Your furry friend can even take part in Hamburg’s festive season! Or rather, it could until 2019. This market is devoted to all things dog, though I’m not entirely sure what that means. I assume it means the market stalls will sell items for dogs and the food stalls will also have dog-friendly snacks available. Anyway, it was cancelled in 2022, even though the other markets were all up and running again, so I can’t guarantee this one will happen again. However, their Facebook page has a 2023 logo, so perhaps it will.
Dog Christmas Market: Wochenmarkt in Fuhlsbüttel (2019 location). Dates and hours (2019): Nov. 30 and Dec. 1, 10:00-20:00. Website.
My favorite Christmas markets in Hamburg
My favorite Christmas market in Hamburg is Rathausmarkt because it’s traditional and friendly and ticks all the boxes. It’s in a beautiful spot on the historical town hall market in front of Hamburg city hall.
A close rival was Jungfernstieg because it’s such a festive market with its white pagoda tents on the shore of Inner Alster Lake, and the colorful lights of the buildings around the lake add shine to the scene. I also loved that the items on offer in the tents were different from most of the other markets.
Third, but very close behind, was Winterwald. It’s small and has fewer stalls, but it makes up for that in a cozy, friendly, Christmassy atmosphere.
I have to add Santa Pauli here as well. It wasn’t my favorite because I get anxious in crowds and it was extremely crowded when we went there. But it’s a pretty wonderful market just for sheer exuberance.
Tips for visiting Christmas markets in Hamburg
What to wear: Wear comfortable shoes. Take my word for it: you’ll walk more than you meant to! And the stalls – even for food or drink – generally don’t have seating. Even those that do have seats generally don’t have many, so you’ll end up doing all of your eating or drinking standing or leaning.
Also keep an eye on the weather and dress warmly enough. You’ll be standing much of the time – shopping, drinking or eating – and can get chilled really quickly.
What to bring: If you’re into photography, it might be worth bringing a tripod for some atmospheric Christmas light shots. Besides your camera, take as little as possible. The markets can get really crowded and you don’t want to be worrying about a handbag or backpack.
Christmas markets with children: If you’re with kids, go to Schloss Bergedorf, Hamburg Dom and Rathausmarkt.
How to see the main markets in one day: It’s easy to combine several of the markets in the city center in one afternoon and evening:
- Starting at the main train station (Hamburg Hauptbahnhof), exit the west side of the station and you’ll come to Spitalerstraße first.
- The other end of Spitalerstraße merges with Mönckebergstraße and, just after they meet, you’ll come to Winterwald.
- A little further along Mönckebergstraße and you’ll see St. Petri church to your left, with the market stalls around it.
- Keep going more or less straight, which involves a slight turn to the right (see the map above) and you’ll get to Rathausmarkt.
- The next one, only a few blocks from Rathausmarkt, is Jungfernstieg.
- If you’re not exhausted or very drunk by then, you could easily add Gänsemarkt to the itinerary because it’s not far from Jungfernstieg.
I think it’s safe to say that all of the markets get crowded in the evening, and that the crowd gets increasingly … let’s say “jolly” … as the evening progresses. In my limited experience, it doesn’t get ugly, but I’m not a fan of being around a lot of drunk people, so I generally don’t stay very late.
Drinking glühwein or other hot drinks: As at Christmas markets anywhere in Germany, you will pay an extra few euros on each drink. This is a deposit for your mug. Return the mug and ask for the money back. If you’d rather keep the mug as a souvenir – I have a whole collection! – return it and ask to trade for a clean one.
Do not drive: Do not try to see Christmas markets by car – this applies to Christmas markets anywhere in Germany. They’re busy places, and parking can be a nightmare, and if you drink, you certainly shouldn’t drive. Instead, make a short holiday of it by booking a hotel for at least a night.
Sightseeing in Hamburg: I’d suggest combining your Christmas market visits with some of the excellent museums and other sights in Hamburg: enjoy museums and such in the mornings, and then head to the markets in the afternoon when it’s starting to get dark.
Get a Hamburg City Pass: If you’re planning to see the sights and also use public transportation, it’s very much worth buying a Hamburg City Pass – I was given one on both trips to try out as part of the #cometohamburg sponsorship. It offers free or reduced admissions to all the main sights, as well as all trains, buses and ferries in the area. See my earlier post to look at some of the great things to see in Hamburg.
Where to stay
I stayed at Mercure Hotel Hamburg City, which sponsored my stay both times. I loved its maritime theme – you can read my full review here. Besides being an excellent hotel, it was a great location to use as my base – just outside the old center, so it was pretty quiet. It’s only a couple blocks from the Hammerbrook S-Bahn station, so I took the train each afternoon to whichever market I wanted to see first. It’s only one stop to the central train station (Hamburg Hauptbahnhof) which is right near Spitalerstrasse.
Of course there are plenty more places to stay in Hamburg. Look at the map below to choose an accommodation that’s near the city center and/or near an S-Bahn or U-Bahn stop.
Hamburg is in northern Germany. It has an international airport, though you might need to fly into a bigger city like Frankfurt or Berlin and transfer to a domestic flight to Hamburg. Use Skyscanner to book your flight. Hamburg is well-connected to pretty much everywhere in Germany by train as well and, by extension, most everywhere in Europe.
For each of the markets listed above, I’ve indicated a stop on the S-Bahn – a city rail system – and/or the U-Bahn – an underground train system. However, many of the central Christmas markets are quite close together. It’s easy to combine them as I described in the tips section.
Please, if you’ve been to any of the markets listed above and have anything to add, comment below! I’d especially appreciate any comments on the markets I didn’t get to see. And if you know of other markets that make up the rest of the purported 30 markets, I’ll like to hear about those as well!
My travel recommendations
- Skyscanner is where I always start my flight searches.
- Booking.com is the company I use most for finding accommodations. If you prefer, Expedia offers more or less the same.
- Discover Cars offers an easy way to compare prices from all of the major car-rental companies in one place.
- Use Viator or GetYourGuide to find walking tours, day tours, airport pickups, city cards, tickets and whatever else you need at your destination.
- Bookmundi is great when you’re looking for a longer tour of a few days to a few weeks, private or with a group, pretty much anywhere in the world. Lots of different tour companies list their tours here, so you can comparison shop.
Other travel-related items
- Get a Priority Pass if you fly a lot so that you can use airport lounges while you wait for flights. Plan your visits around meals and/or drink times and it’s definitely worth the investment!
- I’m a fan of SCOTTeVEST’s jackets and vests because when I wear one, I don’t have to carry a handbag. I feel like all my stuff is safer when I travel because it’s in inside pockets close to my body.
- Airalo is an e-sim card. You buy it through an app and activate it when you need it. I tried it on my trip to Thailand and it worked just like any other sim card, but without my having to fuss with physical cards.
- I use ExpressVPN on my phone and laptop when I travel. It keeps me safe from hackers when I use public or hotel wifi.