Weekend In The City: Explore Bremen's Magical Christmas Markets
‘Tis the season for Christmas markets, and if you’re looking for a truly authentic experience, Germany is the place to be.
A whole fairy light-filled world of hand-crafted goodies, ornaments and mulled wine awaits, so for Christmas fanatics like myself, it makes for a dreamy getaway.
While hotspots like Cologne and Berlin might be higher on your list of must-see German markets, the ancient city of Bremen is a great choice for a chilled out weekend away. The town is compact, easy to navigate, and packed full of character and festive charm.
I spent a long weekend exploring the city; here's how to make the most of a Christmas break in Bremen.
Flights from Ireland
Fly direct to Bremen from Dublin with Ryanair on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Return flights start at around €80.
Save: Townside Hostel Bremen is a decent budget option. It’s clean, cosy and comfortable with all of the basics. The markets are a ten-minute walk away, so you’re not going to go too far wrong here. Rooms from €45.
Splurge: If you’ve got some cash to splash, try the four-star Maritim Hotel Bremen. It's a 15-minute walk to the markets (you'll pass through the bustling train station en route) and the beautiful Bürgerpark is across the road. Rooms from €90.
The Christmas Markets
From November 26th – December 23rd every year, the Bremen Market Square (Bremer Marktplatz) in the heart of the Old Town (Altstadt) is home to over 170 beautifully-adorned chalet-style Christmas stalls.
The city's medieval town hall and cathedral lie in the backdrop to complete the spectacular setting.
With the aroma of mulled wine, freshly-made waffles, sizzling bratwurst and the sound of Christmas carols in the air, there's something very special about the atmosphere in this part of the town. It's not hard to see why more and more people are visiting every year.
Shopping tips: You’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to Christmassy trinkets, winter woollies, handmade jewellery, one-of-a-kind ornaments, candles, soaps, mirrors and much more. The locally produced Hachez chocolate or personalised tree decorations make great gifts.
But a note to any shopping addicts out there; items in the market can be pricey and there's no haggling involved, so keep an eye on your budget - and your Ryanair luggage restrictions!
The Schlacht Magic Christmas Markets
When you’ve explored all 170 stalls in great detail, head to the river embankment to experience Bremen's medieval markets. Follow the torch-lit paths and you'll uncover a whole other world of old-school Christmassy treasures, traditional gifts, performers and medieval-style taverns.
The Town Musicians of Bremen
Pay a visit to the Brothers Grimm-inspired Town Musicians of Bremen statue depicting the four title characters of the famous fairy-tale. You’ll find it perched behind one of the stalls in the market square. Read up on the fairy-tale before you go here.
It’s definitely worth taking a couple of hours away from the markets to explore Bremen’s oldest district, Schnoor. Dotted with colourful houses dating back to the 15th and 16th century, the stunning maze of narrow lanes are packed with souvenir shops, tea-rooms and craft stores a-plenty. Make a pit-stop at one of the cute little restaurants (Teestübchen Café and Restaurant is a treat) to heat up and chow down on some mouthwatering waffles.
This gorgeous winding street is home to an incredible feat of architecture; Bremen's famous Glockenspiel House. Stock up on sweets in one of the many bonbon shops, grab a coffee in the Bremer Kaffeegesellschaftand café and step outside watch the incredible music house come to life. As the chimes sounds, the wooden panels in the tower of the house rotate to reveal famous explorers from history.
This magical experience happens three times a day from January to March at 12 noon, 3 pm and 6 pm. It chimes every hour from 12 noon to 6 pm for the rest of the year.