12 necessary items to pack when visiting Germany's Christmas markets

Twinkling lights, traditional food, warm mulled wine, handmade crafts and festive magic… Germany’s Christmas markets are truly enchanting. If you’re dreaming of visiting the German Christmas markets from Nuremberg to Munich to Dresden, you’re probably wondering what to pack. Since the Christmas markets also fall in the winter, you might also wonder what to wear in the chilly weather. Read on to find out how to prepare for your trip to Germany’s Christmas markets, from how to stay warm to all the essentials you can’t forget.

Frankfurt Christmas market Germany's Christmas markets

1. Warm and comfortable clothes

Germany becomes a winter wonderland at Christmas time, and German winter weather means snow, rain and freezing temperatures. Since Germany’s Christmas markets are mostly held outside, you’ll need to bring comfortable clothes that will keep you warm for hours. 

Wondering what to wear in Germany’s winter? The first thing to pack is your thermals. Wear them as the first layer under your clothes and they’ll keep you extra warm and toasty while you’re exploring Germany’s Christmas markets. We recommend wearing thermals in a quality material like merino wool, and avoid pure cotton as if you sweat or get them wet, they’ll only make you colder. And bring a few pairs of thermals – they’re light and don’t take up much room in your suitcase.

Next, you’ll need to bring warm layers like a good sweater, hoodie, long-sleeved tops, jeans or waterproof pants. If you’re wearing jeans, make sure you tuck them into your boots as if they get wet, they’ll stay wet for hours and that can be very unpleasant in the German winter weather. 

Lastly, bring a good quality winter coat. You don’t need anything too thick and bulky but go for something warm, packable, waterproof and windproof. You should also go for a longer style, as the wind will whip right up the shorter ones.

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Nuremberg Christmas market Germany's Christmas markets

2. Boots

The last thing you want is cold wet feet while you’re exploring Germany’s beautiful Christmas markets. Make sure you bring a good pair of waterproof boots, preferably with a warm thermal layer inside to keep your toes snug. Also, make sure they’ve got good grip and support, as you’ll be doing a lot of walking, often on slippery, snowy surfaces or rough cobbled streets.

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Nuremberg Christmas market stalls historic buildings

3. Winter accessories

So you’ve got your coats and boots sorted – but what about your face and hands? You can’t forget your gloves, scarves and beanies in the chilly Germany winter. When choosing a winter hat, go for something with a fleece or thermal lining, and flaps to keep your ears warm. 

For your gloves, you might like to choose a pair with touchpads so you can still use your smartphone or touch screen without having to take off your gloves. You can also bring hand and toe warmers along for those extra icy days, and warm woollen socks are essential. Scarves are also a necessary item on your packing list – they’ll keep your neck and face warm, plus you can use them as a blanket on those cold plane trips.

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Berlin Christmas market Germany's Christmas markets

4. Day bag

You’ll need to bring a backpack or a bag that goes across your body on your trip to Germany’s Christmas markets. It’ll hold all your essentials like your scarves and water bottle, plus it’s great for carrying all those gorgeous Christmas souvenirs you’re likely to pick up at the markets. You might also like to bring a few reusable totes in your bag, in case you find yourself shopping up a storm.

5. Sunscreen and sunglasses

When you think about what to pack for Germany’s freezing winter, you’re probably not thinking about sun protection. Despite the cold, darker days, the sun is still very strong in winter and when it reflects off the snow, it can damage your skin and eyes. Bring a pair of polarised sunglasses and sunscreen to protect yourself on your adventures.

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Germany's Christmas markets merry go round christmas trees snow

6. Moisturiser and lip balm

The German winter weather is also very dry, so protect your skin with a good moisturiser or lotion, and bring some lip balm to avoid dry, cracked lips.

7. Reusable water bottle

Instead of buying dozens of plastic water bottles, bring your own reusable water bottle and fill it up at your hotel before heading to the Christmas markets. It’s so important to stay hydrated in the cold, dry weather and you’ll be glad you’ve got your bottle with you as you wander around the markets.

Frankfurt Christmas markets twinkling market stalls

8. Travel umbrella

The German winter weather can be unpredictable and you should be prepared for rain or snow. Make sure you’ve got a small travel umbrella in your bag so you’re ready for anything. While we don’t recommend using an umbrella at the crowded Christmas markets, you’ll be glad to have one if it rains on your way to and from the markets.

9. Camera and extra memory cards

Germany’s Christmas markets are utterly magical and full of picture-perfect moments – so you’ll want to bring your camera! Your smartphone camera will do the trick, or you can bring something more serious like an SLR camera. Whatever you bring, don’t forget to pack extra memory cards, chargers and waterproof cases.

10. German travel adaptor

With all those devices, you’re going to need a German plug adaptor. Germany uses a 230V supply voltage and 50Hz and has two plug types – C and F. Plug type C has two round pins and plug type F has two round pins with two earth clips on the side.

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Snow falling Nuremberg Christmas markets Germany

11. Euros

Don’t forget your cash! You’ll need it for shopping at the markets, whether you’re buying souvenirs or indulging in all that delicious food and Glühwein. Germany’s currency is the Euro, so remember to stock up before you arrive.

12. German phrasebook

Whether you’re buying treasures at the markets or getting to know the locals at the pubs, a German phrasebook will come in handy. If you don’t have room for a phrasebook in your bag, you can also download phrases to your smartphone. Start with some common German phrases like Bitte (please), Danke (thank you) and Fröhliche Weihnachten (Merry Christmas) – and go from there! 

Are you dreaming of a trip to Germany’s Christmas markets? Let us know in the comments below!

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