The Aachen Christmas Market is always mentioned in everyone’s 10 ten and “best of” list, so I had to see why.
The market scene is set surrounding the beautiful Aachen Cathedral, and it’s not too big, and not too small, making it a fun outing.
Curious if I thought it deserves a spot on a “top” list? Read on for my thoughts.
Hopefully this post will give you a rundown about everything you need to know.
The Important Stuff About the Aachen Christmas Market
Before we dive in, here’s what you need to know if you’re going to check it out.
*The content below is info I’ve gathered, along with my own opinions, tips, and suggestions. Due to the current covid situation and rapidly changing restrictions, I urge you to double check opening hours/dates before heading out to the Aachen Christmas market.
How to Get there
Aachen is located about an hour west of Cologne and Dusseldorf in North-Rhine Westphalia (western part of Germany; zoom out on map), and is easily accessible either by train or car.
We personally drove because we live near Aachen, but if you’re interested in taking the train in, check out their transportation page. It’s about a 10-15 minute walk from the train station to the cathedral.
Where to Park
There are a couple great options if you’re driving to the Aachen Christmas market; I’ve parked at both before, and they’re both fine garages. Parkhaus Am Dom is near the cathedral and the only one I’ve personally used for the Aachan Christmas Market (Jesuitenstraße 12, 52062 Aachen). Come out of the park garage and go left, then turn left at the next street, then you’ll see the market on the right.
Okay, I’m not one to rave about toilets, but WOW. The WC set up they have here was spectacular. Granted, we all went at the beginning of the day, so it was “fresh” and clean, but I was very impressed by their pop-up potty setup. If you’re looking at the map above, the WC’s near stalls 94-90 are the ones I’m referring to. If only all make-shift toilets were this nice…
For the Kiddos
There’s no ferris wheel at the Aachen Christmas market, but you will find two carousels.
One thing to keep in mind (as our kids found out the hard way). The carousel near the gingerbread man is slightly smaller and “not as cool” as the one on the other side of the rathaus. Just passing that along from the kids.
Another fun feature at the Aachen Christmas market is the ginormous inflatable Printenmann (aka gingerbread man)! He’s seriously ginormous and the kids all got a kick out of him.
All About the Mugs
Mugs are a huge deal at markets, am I right? If you’re not familiar, here’s a quick rundown on how the Christmas market mugs work:
When you get a drink at a Christmas market, they typically* come in a festive and unique mug—each market has their own design (and sometimes they’ll have multiple to choose from). You pay a deposit for the mug with your payment for the drink. Then, you get your money back when you return your mug…unless you don’t return it.
The mugs are excellent souvenirs and fun keepsakes to remember your time at the markets.
*Some places, mostly in countries outside of Germany (France and Belgium at least), serve their drinks in reusable plastic cups. Some of them will have the town’s name on them, and some of them won’t.
Mugs at the Aachen Christmas Market
If you want one of the coveted Aachen witch mugs, that come in several fun colors, be prepared to show your covid vaccine, get a bracelet, and enjoy hour beverage of choice within a “roped off” area.
I loved all the colors they had, but when you only keep one mug from each place and have difficulties making decisions, the plethora of colors gave me anxiety.
I ended up letting the kids pick and they all went with yellow (not my first choice, but oh well).
I’m definitely looking forward to getting more mugs from Aachen in the years to come—maybe one in every color?!
What to Eat at the Aachen Christmas Market
So, here’s one thing I didn’t love about Aachen: I felt like the food options weren’t the best here. You’ll find your usual flamkuchen, and currywust, and even some pretzels, but that was kind of it. There was a sweet roll stand (I will be back to try that), waffles, and a really delicious fruity/coco-nuty muffin type thing, but no foods that really wowed me.
You will find a lot of Printen—Aachen’s version of Lebkuchen or gingerbread. It’s sweetened with a syrup made from sugar beets grown all around the region (they were actually just harvesting some from the field across our street last week). You’ll find Printen shops selling them in different flavors. I love the white chocolate, personally.
If you’re looking for a market with great food, head to Essen!
What to Buy at the Aachen Christmas Market
Where Aachen lacks on the food front, it does have a lot of vendors selling things you never knew you needed.
From the ceramic little houses, and heavenly cinnamon-scented decorations to collapsable light-up stars, and a few local vendors, I thought like they had a pretty decent selection.
My Thoughts on the Aachen Christmas Market
I visited the Aachen Christmas with my friend and our kids (five kids total) during the day and in the middle of the week. We got there right when it opened and it was pretty empty (which is awesome when you have lots of kids to look out for). I loved that the market snaked all around the cathedral—the entire thing was spread out, but we didn’t have to walk a long distance.
All of the typical stalls were there; I didn’t see too many new things or must-have items that you can’t get anywhere else. I also didn’t notice too many different food stalls (not like compared to the one in Essen or even France).
This is also a Covid complaint, but it was a bummer that we couldn’t walk around with our warm drinks.
But does it warrant a spot on a “best of” list? I’m not entirely sure. It’s a great market, but there wasn’t a lot for kids, and the lack of food options was a bummer.
Since this one is only 45 minutes from our house I actually want to go back without my kids so I can look at everything a little better. I spend so much of my time telling the kids “no,” for things they want every 2 seconds, that I forget to actually look for things I might want.
Have you been to the Aachen Christmas Market? I’d love to hear your thoughts on it…and what you got to eat and drink!