I’d heard many great things about the Christmas markets in Aachen, just across the border from Belgium in the west of Germany. At a little under two hours by train from Brussels, it made for a fun and easy day trip that turned out to be perfect for getting us in the Christmas spirit.
Based in Aachen’s historic centre, the Christmas market fills the squares and streets surrounding the Cathedral and Town Hall. Wooden chalets with holly-lined rooftops offer an assortment of traditional Christmas-themed goodies – works of arts and crafts including hand-painted ornaments, wooden toys, and even fresh-cut Christmas wreaths. In addition to the souvenirs and gifts, there are also a large variety of Christmas cakes, breads and biscuits to be found including gingerbread, speculoos and marzipan which fill the market with the wonderful smell of Christmas!
Numerous outdoor bars also dot the market, providing the perfect spot for visitors to take a break from shopping and warm up with a glass or two of warm glühwein or egg nog topped with chantilly cream, served in novelty boot-shaped mugs for an added sense of occasion. These winter warmers are the perfect prelude for sampling the local culinary delicacies on offer – german sausages, potato fritters, and flammekueche (a thin pizza-like dough topped with sour cream and a range of toppings).
All of this creates a lively and festive atmosphere that sings of Christmas. It’s no wonder that people travel from far and wide to visit the Aachen Christmas market, which is considered one of the best in Europe.
From Aachen train station we followed the crowds to the Old Town, excited to see what was in store for us at the Aachen Christmas markets. As soon as we arrived I was simply gobsmacked – the market just felt so Christmassy! The wooden stalls were beautiful and ornate, and everywhere we turned looked and sounded and smelled like the holidays.
I had one goal in mind for the visit and that was to eat as much food as possible. Top of my list was sausages (we were in Germany after all)! I’d been told by lots of people that I would be spoilt for choice, and they weren’t wrong. There were sausages of all kinds on offer at what seemed like every other stall – white ones, black ones, foot-long ones, short ones, fat ones and skinny ones. I walked around aimlessly looking for the perfect sausage. I knew exactly what I was after – a thick long sausage on a crispy white bun with some sauerkraut.
Before I could get my fix we stumbled across a stall with steam rising from giant pans. Behind the steam were several ladies cooking up some delicious-smelling mushrooms that lured us right in. We grabbed ourselves a serving which was topped with a creamy crème fraîche-based sauce. The simple dish was surprisingly satisfying, even for a carnivore like me. Next we sampled some deep-fried potato fritters, which really hit the spot.
I was on the verge of giving up on my sausage quest when I looked up and spotted Santa climbing a ladder towards a giant sausage sign. The sign belonged to Hanswurst, a specialty sausage restaurant right at the edge of the markets serving a variety of German sausages with all the trimmings. I’d hit the jackpot!
Aachener Weihnachtsmarkt – Aachen Christmas Market
Marketplatz / Katschhof / Münsterplatz, 52062 Aachen