Destinations Europe

Gluhwein And Bratwurst – Getting Festive At The Hamburg Christmas Markets

Having visited Hamburg last May we were excited to get the chance to return this December to experience the Hamburg Christmas markets. What could be more Christmasy than a mug of Glühwein or two and a nice big German Brätwurst?

Having a flight time of around 90 minutes from the UK, Hamburg is a perfect destination for a Christmas city break or any other time of the year. Read more about our previous trip 48 hours in Hamburg.

Rathausmarket Hamburg

The historic Christmas market in Hamburg, the Rathausmarkt

With 15 Christmas markets, by simply strolling around the city you will soon bump into one. Alternatively, just follow the smell of cinnamon which permeates Hamburg’s festively decorated streets this time of year.

The styles of markets slightly vary around the city, from the classic Rathausmarkt in front of the impressive town hall to the more ‘adult’ themed Santa Pauli market on the Reeperbahn. However, there is one thing they all have in common, Glühwein and Brätwurst.

The Rathaus, Hamburg

The Rathaus, Hamburg

We had a great room at the Hotel Baseler Hof near the Binnenalster lake. Within 10-minutes walk of the hotel, we could get to 5 markets.

Just a quick note that getting around Hamburg is really easy and the public transport system is one of the best we’ve experienced, cheap, quick and clean. Also, many of the hotels give you free public transport tickets which you can use for the duration of your stay.

Father Christmas

We’ve just spotted Father Christmas

The closest to our hotel and the first market we visited was the Jungfernstieg market which lies on the promenade alongside the Binnenalster. The trees were decorated with sparkling white lights and a children’s Ferris wheel whirled away, it also clanked quite a lot but nothing fell off. All the markets we visited were free to enter.

Christmas Rides in Hamburg

A ‘not so big’ wheel, maybe it’s for the kids.

So it was straight onto the first mug of warm Glühwein. This is one of those strange Christmas things which people love but only ever have at Christmas. You pay €3 for the Glühwein plus a €3 deposit for the mug which you get back when you return the mug in one piece.


Drinking Gluhwein is compulsory

Unlike many Christmas markets in the UK which seem to stocked with cheap plastic unbranded toys, the quality of the Hamburg Christmas market stalls were very good. There were lots of unique decorations, local foods and handmade gifts.

Christmas Stalls, Hamburg

Some of the Christmas stalls in Hamburg

Just across the road from the Jungfernstieg market is the Neuer Wall luxury shopping street. The street and shop fronts were beautifully decorated although Mrs W wasn’t carried away enough with Glühwein and Christmas spirit to buy the Patek Philippe watch I was pointing out in the window.

Christmas Shopping

The festively decorated shopping streets around Hamburg

Next, it was onto the historic Rathausmarkt with its giant Christmas tree in the square in front of the impressive spired city hall building. The smell of Brätwurst was summoning us towards one of the many sausage stalls. For €3.50 you could get a fresh tasty Brätwurst which is put in a comparably small bread roll. The bread seems to act simply as an edible sausage handle, (sausage handle, is that a thing?)

Bratwurst in Hamburg

How not to eat a Bratwurst

The opening times of the markets vary, around the city centre they tend to close around 9 pm although many stay open later on Friday and Saturday.

On our last night, we visited the St. Pauli area and the Reeperbahn, famous for it red-light district and where the Beatles honed their craft in the early sixties. Like the rest of Hamburg, St. Pauli has its own Christmas market but aimed at a slightly more ‘adult’ audience. They also have live bands and a festive ‘Striptease Tent’, for the sake of the performers we hoped they had a decent heating system in there!

It actually wasn’t that ‘adult’ and on Sundays, they do have a children’s programme.

Santa Pauli Market

Festive striptease at the Santa Pauli Market – Hope it’s not too cold for them!

We really enjoyed our couple of days in Hamburg. Germany and we both felt Hamburg certainly know how to create that festive Christmas spirit.

Anyway, it was back home for us, to enjoy a wet winter in Wales and if Mrs W is lucky, I’ll let put another piece of coal on the fire for warm Christmas! Bah Humbug!

Hamburg Christmas Markets, Germany

Getting Festive At The Hamburg Christmas Markets – Pin For Later

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  • Zena's Suitcase
    December 8, 2017 at 3:16 pm

    It looks so festive, and I am particularly partial to a Glühwein and the odd German Brätwurst. I’m literally gutted we missed these during our visit. Hamburg seems like a great place all year round

    • Mr and Mrs W
      December 9, 2017 at 7:06 pm

      The Christmas atmosphere was really good and the smell as you walked around the city was amazing. Yes, Hamburg is a great place to visit all year round.

  • Kate
    December 9, 2017 at 10:53 am

    This looks really magical and I wish that we had Christmas markets on this scale in Australia. I guess they’re not as picturesque in 30-40 degree weather though! I got a laugh out of the Christmas strip tease show because it was so unexpected. So lucky that it’s only a 90 minute flight to get from the UK to Germany! I wish that I had that ease of access for other countries.

    • Mr and Mrs W
      December 9, 2017 at 7:08 pm

      German markets do Christmas really well. The festive atmosphere was really nice, it was getting a bit cold for the festive stripper.

  • Jennifer
    December 9, 2017 at 2:26 pm

    Gluhwein and bratwursts are some of the best reasons to go to the Christmas markets! I’ve also been to Hamburg for the Christmas markets and I enjoy going during the week the most. They can get so crowded that it’s nearly impossible to move, and it’s just not enjoyable when it’s that packed. But the huge ones with tons of stalls are the best.

    • Mr and Mrs W
      December 9, 2017 at 7:10 pm

      We were there Sunday and Monday and it wasn’t too busy, it was easy to browse and get food and drink. There are 15 different markets to choose from so you look around for a quieter one.

  • Sreekar
    December 10, 2017 at 5:15 am

    Wow. Germans do know how to party and not just the Oktoberfest:) You know what I mean! These markets look absolutely wonderful and happening!

    • Mr and Mrs W
      December 10, 2017 at 6:53 pm

      Yep, any excuse for drinking beer or gluhwein and a good Bratwurst. It was all very Christmasy.

  • Debbzie Leksono
    December 11, 2017 at 9:00 am

    I’ve visited Germany but haven’t made it to Hamburg. Heard so much fascinating stories about how festive the Christmas markets are. I mean 15 in one city is just wow! Gluhwein and bratwurst sounds terrific too.

    • Mr and Mrs W
      December 11, 2017 at 10:33 am

      They certainly know how to get that Christmas atmosphere going, the smells of the food and drink are amazing as you walk through the city.

  • Thomas
    December 11, 2017 at 7:44 pm

    Good ol’ Germany. It was the most popular country for the christmas market. Great place!

    • Mr and Mrs W
      December 12, 2017 at 6:11 pm

      Yes, they love a good Christmas market.

  • Veronika Tomanova
    December 11, 2017 at 8:59 pm

    Hey, I am glad you had such a good time in Hambrug! The Christmas markets mania has taken over the whole Germany, but I must say that the Christmas markets remain rather traditional. I had no idea Hamburg had 15 markets!

    • Mr and Mrs W
      December 12, 2017 at 6:14 pm

      They do the traditional markets really well, yes 15 of them. Maybe it’s good it is still traditional, the only bearded hipster we saw was Santa.

  • Rosie
    December 11, 2017 at 11:53 pm

    Hamburg looks so festive! I am a big fan of that hot dog to bread ratio, it makes for a very delicious snack. I think the real mugs of gluhwein is a great idea. It is always slightly strange in a takeaway coffee cup here in the UK.

    • Mr and Mrs W
      December 12, 2017 at 6:16 pm

      Yes, it was good to get the warm Gluhwein in a proper mug, much better than those little takeaway cups.

  • Cathy
    December 12, 2017 at 12:40 pm

    I am planning to go to Germany next year and told my partner that I’d love to see and experience Christmas markets in different cities, particularly Germany! I’ve been reading so many posts about Christmas markets and I really want to go and see it! They look so gorgeous! Christmas markets are fun and seem magical, right?

    • Mr and Mrs W
      December 12, 2017 at 6:18 pm

      The Germans do the Christmas markets really well, really festive and the drinks and food were not that expensive either. The only thing missing on our trip was a dusting of snow.

  • Elisa (World in Paris)
    December 12, 2017 at 6:55 pm

    I am reading your post while packing for Kassel, also in Germany, so you put me in the mood for German Christmas Markets, Bratwurst and . . bier. Hamburg looks like a more beautiful option than K and the colorful stalls and decoration look great. Great to know that you can get free transportation tickets through your hotel. Never heard about a “Christmas Market for adults”, would like to see this, ha haa

    • Mr and Mrs W
      December 14, 2017 at 10:38 pm

      Getting around Hamburg is really easy and quick. Germans are really good at Christmas markets and Gluhwein is always good at Christmas, Bratwursts are compulsory!

  • Hazel Tolentino
    December 13, 2017 at 2:41 am

    This is actually the 5th article about Christmas x Travel and I am loving it! It feels like I am experiencing the season from different places. Hamburg looks so vibrant and seems like you are really having fun! I can imagine how food and German beer will make those lights brighter! Hahaha.

    • Mr and Mrs W
      December 14, 2017 at 10:39 pm

      Yep, beer and Gluhwein can help with the Christmas spirit!

  • Meg Jerrard
    December 14, 2017 at 10:46 am

    I would love to visit the Hamburg Christmas markets! Hotel Baseler Hof sounds super central, awesome that you were so close to all of the festive action! A mug of Glühwein while soaking up the atmosphere and lights sounds magical!

    • Mr and Mrs W
      December 14, 2017 at 10:43 pm

      The hotel was in a great spot. Getting around the city is really easy and quick in Hamburg and it’s not too hard to find a mug or two of Gluhwein.