It’s time to add Frankfurt, Germany to your travel bucket list! Check out our guide to why everyone should visit Frankfurt during Christmas time, experience their culture and history, and bask in the beauty of shared appreciation for Christmas goodness.
FIVE RAPID-FIRE FAQ’S
- Should I use card or cash? Mostly cash. Find a bank or ATM to take out euros in cash in advance. (More about this later in the blog.)
- What are the hours of the Christmas Markets? Frankfurt’s markets are open 11 am-8 pm daily during the Christmas season.
- Can you walk from one Christmas Market to the next? Yes! It’s easy and highly encouraged.
- Do I need to eat before I come? No! Christmas markets are basically a food crawl.
- What should I wear? Check the weather before, but typically a sweater, pants, a good jacket, and comfy shoes will do just fine. There’s very little places to sit, so you’ll be on your feet a lot!
NAVIGATING THE LANGUAGE
German is the national language. We found most people we encountered spoke excellent English. If you encounter any language barrier, this can always be quickly remedied using Google Translate. While you definitely don’t need to know German to enjoy Frankfurt, here are a few words that are helpful to know while exploring during Christmas:
- Hallo – pronounced Hah-Low – means hello
- Danke – pronounced Dan-Keh – means thanks/thank you
- Glühwein – pronounced Gloo-Vine – means mulled wine
THE BEST PARTS
- The food! Sooo many food stalls. You have to try the bratwursts! There are more kinds than we’ve ever heard of and they were all delicious.
- Feuerzangenbowle might be my new favorite type of glühwein. It’s a delicious specifically german take on mulled wine which literally translates to fire tongs punch. They torch and melt sugar over the giant bowl of mulled wine, add a few extra touches such as an orange liquor or rum, and serve it piping hot. It’s sweet, a little strong, and absolutely delightful.
- The two major Christmas markets are so easy to travel between. The short walk from one to the other is marked by hanging signs guiding you to the next cozy market.
WOAH, THAT’S DIFFERENT!
- The size of the stalls that serve various drink options are absolutely unlike any markets we’ve ever seen anywhere else.
- You can go ice skating on a rooftop surrounded by Christmas trees with an excellent view of the city. It’s the perfect way to get into the holiday spirit, get a light exercise in, and sight see at once!
FRANKFURT CHRISTMAS MARKETS
Frankfurt is home to about six markets. While they each serve a little bit of everything, we noticed a running theme of specialities of each. One focuses on food, another on shopping, another on drinks, and so on. The best part? They’re all within easy walking distance of each other and make for a perfect night of meandering through stalls, eating, sipping, and shopping your way through the city.
The markets are typically open from 11 am – 8 pm daily from around the end of November until a day or two before New Year. Visiting on a weekday will have far less crowded than on the weekends. Thankfully, through being a major city and having larger market spaces, crowding wasn’t too big of an issue at these large markets.
You’ll need Euros when you visit Frankfurt. If you’re wondering if you should bring cash or card to the Christmas markets, the answer is yes – both! Some vendors take cards, but you’ll almost always need cash for smaller purchases (less than $20).
Before you go, you need to know how “deposits” work at Frankfurt’s Christmas Markets. When you want to buy mulled wine (glüwhein), you’ll approach a stall that says the drink is 3 euros (for example). However, it will typically cost an additional 3 or 4 euros when it’s time to pay. This essentially covers the cost of the mug. If you’d like to take the mug home as a souvenir, congrats! It’s yours. If you’d like to return it to the stall, hand it back to them and say you’re returning it, then they’ll give you a 3-4 euro deposit back!
How much cash do you need?
It’s best to assume about $20 per meal for markets in Germany. Hot drinks typically cost between 3.50-7 euros with an additional average 3 euros deposit for mugs. Hot dogs of most kinds cost between 5-10 euros, depending on the type. Sweet treats and desserts, on average, range between 3 and 12 euros.
If you’re looking to buy a more precious and pricier souvenir, you’ll be glad to have your card on hand, so you’re not limited by your small bills. Always make sure to ask the vendor before ordering or deciding to purchase anything which payment method they will take. (Even if your german language skills are poor and your English is limited, this question can be easily communicated by holding up your credit card and asking, “do you take card?” They will quickly answer with either hand gestures or a verbal yes or no.) If you can, use your traveling expenses to rack up those travel credit card reward points when you can, y’all! We love that the Capital One Venture X card gives us 2x points on everything from glüwhein to ghost tours.
A helpful note about taking out foreign currency in cash:
The best practice (and cheapest) for having cash on hand in a new country is to go to your bank 5-10 business days before your trip and ask them for the new currency. Depending on your bank, this transaction will either be free or just a few dollars.
If you’re like us and realize the airplane tires hit foreign soil that we forgot to do this, then find an ATM to take out Swiss Francs in cash! Yes, you can do this even with an international debit card and even some credit cards. There will typically be a small transaction fee along with the exchange rate. It’s still cheaper to take out cash this way than to go to a money exchange or Western Union.
FOODS & DRINKS TO TRY
- Riesling – when is Rome, I mean, Frankfurt, right?! This regional white german wine is offered at many stalls along with staple local dishes.
- Bretzels – fun fact, pretzels are called bretzels in Germany! For some reason, they taste extra delicious freshly warmed then eaten in front of a well lit Christmas tree with a hot cup of glüwhein.
- Bratwursts – you can’t come to Germany and not try some brats! Head to the nearest booth and try one (or several) of the many different varieties.
- Feuerzangenbowle – a delicious specifically german take on mulled wine which literally translates to fire tongs punch. They torch and melt sugar over the giant bowl of mulled wine, add a few extra touches such as an orange liquor or rum, and serve it piping hot.
WHERE WE STAYED
- Four-Star Marriott property only a few blocks away from the markets for less than $200 per night.
- The hotel rooms are modestly sized, but very modern, practical, and comfortable.
- The hotel has such a cool, modern vibe with vibrant colors and neon adorning the walls.
- The Moxy takes communal space in the lobby seriously! With a 24/7 bar (for both drinks and coffee), plenty of quick service food and drink options, ample tables and work spaces, and many card and board games to borrow and play, there’s no shortage of good vibes and chill times here. We rarely see people actually hanging out in hotel lobbies, but morning and night, the lobby was full of people working and playing together.
HOW TO GET AROUND FRANKFURT
Get your walking shoes on! The only ideal way to navigate the city is by foot. You could rent a bike, but why not take the opportunity to stroll around town and visit the sites? The best way to get to Frankfurt from other cities is by train or car. If you’d like to rent a car, keep in mind that you will only use it a little while in the city. The central train station in Frankfurt is about a 5-15 minute ride share from just about everywhere locally.