5 Reasons to Visit the Stuttgart Christmas Markets (+ 4 Others Nearby)

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Of all the German Christmas Markets I visited during my two-week trip, the Stuttgart Christmas Markets were among my favorites, especially when it comes to big city markets. In addition to the Christmas Markets in Stuttgart being some of the most well-decorated, with the widest activity options, it is also very easy to visit some truly fantastic Christmas markets near Stuttgart by train.

Plus, car enthusiasts will also enjoy visiting the Mercedes-Benz Museum and the Porsche Museum while in Stuttgart. If you are planning a German Christmas Markets trip and only have a few days, I’d suggest Stuttgart over Frankfurt, just because the markets are more vibrant and it is extremely easy (and quick) to get to nearby towns with unique and special Christmas Markets and festivals.

About the Stuttgart Christmas Markets

Note: I visited in December 2023 but will try to keep this article up to date with information that I find online. If you notice things have changed, please drop me a note and let me know.

The Stuttgart Christmas Market is one of the oldest Christmas Markets in Europe, with its first recorded mention in 1692, but its roots going back even further. The Stuggarter Weihnachtsmarkt is spread out throughout the Stuttgart city center in Schlossplatz, Schillerplatz, Karlsplatz and Marktplatz. It is one of the more popular German Christmas Markets, with over 3.5 million visitors each year, so be sure to book your hotel rooms well in advance!

The Stuttgart Christmas Markets have 300 stalls selling wooden toys, nativity sets, arts and crafts, jewelry, sweets, and traditional and international foods. What really sets the Stuttgart Christmas stalls apart from those in other cities are the elaborate decorations that adorn the rooves and eaves of each stall. Each is quite beautiful, and some even have mechanized moving holiday scenes.

In addition to food, drink, and crafts, you will find stunning light displays in Schlossplatz, along with children’s rides such as a carousel, a small Ferris wheel, and a real mini steam train. Schlossplatz also hosts a large Ferris Wheel, a small roller rink, daily live concerts, and an eco-market, featuring local foods and vegetarian options.

On Schillerplatz, you will find a mini antique market and in Marktplatz, the Stuttgart Town Hall (Rathaus) is said to be made into a giant Advent Calendar — although I admit that I looked on all sides of the building and didn’t see anything but perhaps I was there at the wrong time.

Stuttgart Christmas Market dates:

November 29 to December 23, 2023

Sunday – Wednesday 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Thursday 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Friday – Saturday 11:00 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Stuttgart Glühwein stall decorated roof

5 Reasons to Visit The Stuttgart Christmas Markets

As I mentioned, Stuttgart’s Christmas Markets were special and different from many of the others that I visited on my German Christmas Markets trip. Here are some reasons why I loved it (despite visiting in the rain during a crowded weekend!)

Beautifully-decorated Stalls

Each year, the Stuttgart Christmas Market gives out an award for the most beautiful stall and you can tell that all the vendors make a huge effort. At other markets you will see the wooden stalls decorated with pine boughs with Christmas ornaments or garlands under the eaves. But Stuttgart vendors kick it up quite a few notches.

In Stuttgart, vendors decorate the entire roof of their stall with beautiful scenes, lights, and decorations. Some are even motorized to bring movement and life to the scene. This level of effort makes the entire market feel even more festive.

Tons of Activities

Mercedes Gullwing in lights with Ferris wheel at Stuttgart Christmas Market

Most German Christmas markets will feature at least one large pyramid and usually a couple of rides for children, along with food, drink, and craft stalls. In Stuttgart, you can find even more including:

  • A live nativity scene near the market hall in the Spoperstrasse featuring three little lambs, two sheep, and a donkey.
  • A children’s fairyland on Schlossplatz with a mini carousel, Ferris wheel, and ride-aboard steam train through a miniature village.
  • A giant Ferris wheel on Schlossplatz for a view of the entire market.
  • Christmas concerts in the inner courtyard of the Altes Schloss with performances from various groups from Stuttgart.
  • Organ music in the Stiftskirche on the magnificent Mühleisen organ from Monday, 4 December to Friday, 22 December, 2023,
    daily from 1:15 to 1:45 p.m.
  • A brass band playing from the Stiftskirchenturm tower on all weekends from Friday to Sunday.
  • Stuttgart’s Glanzlichter light sculptures on Schlossplatz, Königsstraße, and Schulstraße, with thousands of LED lights, including the “Stuttgart Rössle” (horse from the city’s coat of arms), a Mercedes 300 SL Gullwing, a Porsche 911, an elephant representing the Wilhelma zoo, a wine glass symbolizing Stuttgart’s wine village, and a new footballer, to generate excitement for the city hosting the UEFA EURO 2024.
Christmas tree in Schlossplatz in Stuttgart

Space to Spread Out

Many city Christmas Markets can get too crowded, especially on weekends. While Stuttgart is no different, you will find plenty of space to spread out and get away from the crowds in Marktplatz or Schillerplatz by wandering through the spacious Schlossplatz. There is plenty of open area to step away from the fray and get a good look at the market (from above too if you take a spin on the Ferris wheel).

Wide Selection of Food and Drink

Chimney cake at Stuttgart christmas market

By the time we got hungry, it was raining pretty hard during our visit to the Stuttgart Christmas Markets. It didn’t deter visitors at all, but it did put a damper (pun intended) on our dinner plans. While each market offers covered shelters to eat and drink, those got pretty crowded.

However, I was impressed by the food choices from flammkuchen (like a flatbread pizza with onions, ham, and other toppings), langos, chimney cakes, crepes, pork sandwiches, fish sandwiches and a variety of fire-grilled fish, pinsas, and more. I especially liked the eco-market with vegetarian and healthier options that you don’t see everywhere.

Amazing Markets to Visit Nearby

While the Stuttgart Christmas Markets are some of the most beautiful, what makes this a desirable destination for a German Christmas Markets trip is that you can very easily get to other charming and unique Christmas markets in neighboring towns that are only 15-30 minutes away by train, including Ludwigsburg and Esslingen.

4 Christmas Markets Near Stuttgart

We visited four nearby towns during our time in Stuttgart. However, if you stay at least four nights in Stuttgart, you could also visit Rothenburg ob der Tauber, one of Germany’s most famous and beautiful Christmas towns, which is only two hours away by car.

I’d also suggest a stop at Hohenzollern Castle, which is only one hour by car. This fortress castle gets decorated for the holidays and holds a small Christmas market within its walls. We were hoping to stop here on our road trip into Stuttgart but, unfortunately, it didn’t open until 3:00 p.m. and we didn’t want to cut our time in Stuttgart short. If you get the opportunity, just keep in mind that tickets are required.


Esslingen Rathaus

If not for the crowds, Esslingen would clearly be one of the best Christmas Markets because of its unique Medieval Market. My suggestion for avoiding crowds and enjoying Esslingen to its fullest would be to visit mid-week and also to go early. You can definitely visit Esslingen and Ludwigsburg in one day, but I’d suggest going to Esslingen first, since it is larger and draws more visitors.

The Esslingen Medieval Christmas Market takes place in Rathausplatz with 180 booths. On Saturdays and Sundays on Advent weekends, there is a special Adventsmarkt with an additional 30+ stalls selling handmade goods that you might not find elsewhere at the market. The market takes place from November 23 through December 21, 2023, except November 26, 2023.

The real attraction here is the Medieval Market, which is jam-packed with games, rides, stalls, and performances. You will find a hand-powered Ferris wheel and merry-go-round, as well as games of skill that harken back to the Middle Ages, including archery and a form of bowling. This is a popular market for families with other kid-friendly activities like candle making and iron working. You can buy leather goods and all sorts of crafts that you might expect to find at a Renaissance Fair.


The Ludwigsburg Baroque Christmas Market takes place from November 26 – December 22, 2024. Just a short 15-20 minute train ride from Stuttgart (using a very affordable day pass), this small and charming market was another one of my favorites.

The Ludwigsburg Christmas Market feels very much like a market for locals, which makes it even more enjoyable. Even visiting on a Sunday afternoon, we did not encounter any crowds, just the pleasant lively gathering of locals and a smattering of tourists.

What I loved the most about this market was the unique selection of handmade crafts. I saw a larger variety of authentic handicrafts in Ludwigsburg than in any of the other 14 Christmas Markets I visited in Germany. The food and drink options were also excellent!


Heidelberg christmas market marktplatz at night

Heidelberg, a university town with a towering medieval castle on a hill, is only 45 minutes from Stuttgart by train. We actually drove to Heidelberg and stayed overnight but you can easy visit as a day trip from either Stuttgart or Frankfurt.

The Heidelberg Christmas Market is located across several squares, including the Karlsplatz, where you will find a small ice rink under the castle’s shadow. The Heidelberg Christmas Market runs from November 25 to December 22, 2024.

In the Marktplatz, you will find tables tucked into wine barrels for a cozy and unique spot to enjoy your glühwein. Despite the town’s popularity, the markets didn’t feel overcrowded, at least not midweek, and they offered a mix of craft and food stalls, including some vegetarian options. It is a lovely town with shopping, beautiful architecture, and historic sights. 


The Christmas Market in Tübingen, which is just one hour from Stuttgart by train, is quite short and takes place over one weekend (December 13-15, 2024). You will find more than 350 light-adorned stalls selling homemade goods including wood carved items, pottery, artwork, and more.

But if you can’t time your visit to coincide with the Tübingen Christmas Market, you may luck out and be there in the early December holiday season during the largest chocolate festival in Germany, the Internationales Tübinger Schockoladenfestival or chocolART, which takes place for five or six days in early December each year.

We stopped in Tübingen on our way to Stuttgart to check out chocolART and I was amazed by the number of vendors and the rich displays of beautiful crafted, handmade chocolates and warm mugs of hot chocolate. This is a must for any chocolate lover! And the town is charming, with cobblestone streets lined with half-timbered houses.

Getting to Stuttgart

Getting to Stuttgart in Southwest Germany for the festive season is a breeze, whether you’re flying in from the U.S. or coming from another German city. If you’re flying over from the United States, your best bet is to fly into Frankfurt Airport (FRA), which is about 90 kilometers away from Stuttgart. From there, you can catch a high-speed ICE train directly to Stuttgart Hauptbahnhof (main station) in under an hour. The trains run frequently throughout the day, so you’re sure to find one that fits your schedule.

If you’re already in Germany, several other major cities are within easy driving distance of Stuttgart. Munich is the furthest away, at about 200 kilometers, but the drive is pleasant on the Autobahn. Cologne and Hamburg are both around 400 kilometers away, while Berlin is closest, at just 350 kilometers.

Once you are in the city of Stuttgart, getting to the Christmas Markets is easy if you use the U-bahn metro or S-bahn rail system. Just get off at either Hauptbahnhof, Schlossplatz, or Charlottenplatz stations. I found parking in Stuttgart to be a huge headache so it is best to use the train system as much as possible.

If you are driving into Stuttgart, your best bet is to either book a parking space at your hotel or utilize the plentiful parking near the main train station.

Where to Stay in Stuttgart

Hotel room in the Jaz in the City Stuttgart

Even though Stuttgart is a big city, lodging fills up fast around the holiday season so if you plan on visiting the Christmas Markets, be sure to book a few months in advance. We booked in October and ended up at the Jaz in the City, a Design Hotel. The price was reasonable and it was a short distance to the train station, which made getting to the markets and taking day trips quite easy. I originally looked for something in the city center but couldn’t find anything in my price range that was available.

Jaz in the City is modern, with large rooms that offered better amenities then I found in many hotels in Germany. It is also right next to a large shopping mall, should you want to do some more modern shopping. I’d highly suggest booking a parking spot when you book your hotel room because there are very limited spots. I waited too long and ended up parking at the train station after a very stressful hour spent hunting for parking.

Find more places to stay in Stuttgart:

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Planning a trip to the German Christmas Markets? Find out why to visit the Stuttgart Christmas Markets and day trips to Esslingen, Ludwigsburg, Heidelberg, and Tübingen.

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