The Christmas market (or how they refer to it in German: Weihnachtsmarkt or Christkindlmarkt in Southern Germany and Austria), Scrooges aside, is a great place to find gifts, meet with friends, or have a drink or two.
Spending an afternoon or evening at the market is well worth the effort of dealing with the crowds and that bit of numbness felt in your toes when you stand outside too long on a cold day. Holding a warm wine (Glühwein) or non-alcoholic punch (Kinderpunsch) can at least remedy the chilly feeling in your fingers!
Regensburg has four primary Christmas markets which are located on Neupfarrplatz, Haidplatz and Kohlenmarkt (Lucreziamarkt), Stadtamhof (Adventsmarkt am Spitalgarten) and at the Thurn and Taxis palace (Romantischer Weihnachtsmarkt im Fürstlichen Schloss).
Since not everyone has time to visit all of them, let me share some of the highlights from each market.
The market on Neupfarrplatz is one of the most visited and popular Christmas markets in Regensburg. It is located in the center of town, making it easy to get to, and it seems to be the unofficial “go-to” place when meeting up with a larger group of people for a Glühwein.
Glühwein is certainly in abundance on Neupfarrplatz. The official website of Regensburg even boasts that this year about 40 different varieties of Glühwein can be found on Neupfarrplatz alone. Depending on your definition of Glühwein, dozens would certainly be accurate. Some of the flavors to be found are: the classic standard (organic or non-organic), apple, orange, cherry, elderberry (Holunder) with a shot of rum or amaretto, hot chocolate with or without whipped cream, brandy punch (Feuerzangenbowle) and the semi-classic eggnog (Eierlikör). And some I have no clue how to translate such as Wichtl-Punsch, and Winzerpunsch, all of which I am sure have their merit.
Besides the warm drinks, there is also quite the variety of food stands, especially for those of us who enjoy Wurst. One of the most eye catching is for sure the half-meter-long Feuerwurst (Yes, there really is a spicy sausage that is half a meter long).
If getting a snack there is more your thing, grab a bag of sweet toasted almonds (gebrannte Mandeln) or chestnuts (Maroni).
There also is no shortage of stands for nice gifts like homemade leather goods, pottery, ornaments, candles made from honey, or even soap made from sheep’s milk.For the children there are also two mini carousels.
The market on Haidplatz and Kohlenmarkt is the artisan craft work market, with the focus here being high-quality handicrafts. At the market you can find some very unique and beautiful craftwork ranging from pottery, textiles, jewelry and more. It is an ideal place to find an extra special gift for someone who appreciates homemade goods.
The vendors at these markets in the years past have rotated, so if you see something you like at one of the stands, it is better to buy it right away in case the vendor is not there the following day.
Even though this market is tiny you can still find a number of food stands and get a mug of Glühwein. The must-eat here would be the Baumstriezel. For those of you who have been to Hungary, you may know of it as Kürtőskalács. Whatever name you know it by, this delicious treat is essentially a sweet dough which is wrapped around a contraption which looks like a rolling pin, slathered with butter and baked over hot coals. You can then choose your topping, the standard being cinnamon and sugar, but common other toppings include coconut, chopped almonds, and cocoa powder. This is best consumed immediately while warm when the caramelized buttered crust is at its prime crispiness. The warmth of the dough also serves dually as a hand-warmer.
The Thurn and Taxis market lives up to its name of being quite the romantic Christmas market. This charm is why people from outside of Regensburg even make the journey once a year to see it.
Unlike the other markets, this one charges an entry fee. The price varies depending on which day and time you go, but in general is the least expensive during the week and also during the few hours before closing.
They have some nice hand-made goods for purchase here as well, but it is the charming, quaint atmospheric feeling that makes the market certainly worth a visit, despite the entry fee.
Here you can eat a Flammkuchen, or a blooming onion. Or as always, drink a Glühwein or two.There is also the chance of seeing real Alpacas nearby the stand which sells Alpaca wool products such as gloves, hats and scarves.
Tucked away in Stadtamhof is the Advent market in the Spitalgarten. This Christmas market tends to get looked over due to its isolation in Stadtamhof (many first-year Regensburgers don’t even know of its existence), which is truly a shame as it is quite a hidden gem.
The Spitalgarten market is rather small, and sometimes uncomfortably narrow, but it has a much more relaxed atmosphere to it than the one on Neupfarrplatz. It is an ideal place for meeting a small group of friends, as for a much larger group it might be a bit space restrictive.
At the very back of the market you can even see real lambs, something which is quite the attraction for little kids (and of course, adults too).
Foodwise, to keep up with the lamb theme, you can also eat a lamb burger, the infamous Big Mähh. Or for someone looking for something on the sweet side, there is a churros stand at the entrance of the market, which offers quite generous portions of churros, which you can enjoy accompanied by a lovely chocolate dipping sauce. If that is not enough chocolate for you, you can wash it all down with a bit of Lumumba topped with whipped cream from the same stand.
The Spitalmarket also has later hours so it is ideal for people wanting to start their Christmas market visit a bit later in the evening, or want to continue on after the ones downtown have closed.
Whichever market(s) you choose to visit, it’s an absolute must-do during the holiday season.
Gabrielle Byko is an international communication professional who has a passion for world travel and experiencing international culture exchange in all of its forms. Gabrielle is our Local Reporter in Regensburg.
If you are an InterNations member and would like to contribute an article, do not hesitate to contact us!