A few years ago, I was mocked for saying this, but I stand by my claim that Dresden is the most beautiful city in Germany. I don’t understand why anyone wouldn’t agree.
The city faced criticism for rebuilding in its original style, claiming it was inauthentic, but I think they did the right thing. The city is honestly spectacular.
I am always in awe when I visit, especially in December when the Christmas markets brighten up the city’s squares and streets.
In this guide, I share everything you need to know to plan a trip to the Dresden Christmas Markets.
Dresden Christmas Markets
Here are all the essentials for planning your visit.
- Dresden Christmas Markets: 29th November to 24th December 2023.
- Location: Striezelmarkt is located at Altmarkt. Advent markets are located across Dresden.
- Where to Stay: I like Hotel Indigo as it’s a central boutique hotel in the Altstadt. They have some sustainability measures in place to avoid plastic, conserve energy and support the local community.
- Reason to visit: Dresden’s Strietzelmarkt is the oldest Christmas market in Germany, and the city is one of Germany’s more affordable Christmas destinations.
- Specialities: Dresden rahmklecks, fladenbrot, baked apples and hot cider.
- Tips: As one of Europe’s most popular Christmas markets, avoid the weekends when the streets are packed and the city is fully booked with tourists.
Where to Stay for the Christmas Markets
The Altstadt is Dresden’s Old Town, and this is the most convenient area to stay for more visitors. Hotel Indigo is a good option in this area.
Read my guide to the best boutique hotels in Dresden for more ideas on where to stay, including some good value-for-money options.
Best Christmas Markets in Dresden
There are 11 Christmas markets in Dresden in 2023. I’ve visited the markets on a couple of occasions, and these are my recommendations for the best places to go.
1. Striezelmarkt Christmas Market
The largest of Dresden’s Christmas markets is the Striezelmarkt in Altmarkt Square.
The Striezelmarkt is believed to be the oldest Christmas market in Germany and is the place to go for the best Christmas market food.
I have never seen as much variety at any Christmas market I’ve visited, including organic, vegetarian and even a few vegan options.
There are so many foods I recommend trying, both international Christmas snacks and local, traditional specialties.
2. Advent on Neumarkt
In front of the stunning Frauenkirche on Neumarkt is a historic festive market with artisans and craftspeople from traditional guilds like watchmakers, bag makers, engravers and bell founders.
This is a nice market for handmade wooden toys and locally made chocolates.
3. Medieval Christmas Market
This market is in the courtyard of the stunning Residenzschloss, just behind the massive porcelain mural on Augustusstrasse.
Here you’ll find some of the more interesting market food, and they have a public bathhouse if you don’t mind getting half-naked in public.
The Medieval market continues until after Christmas Day, so this is a good option if you’re visiting Dresden after Christmas or for the New Year.
4. Munzgasse and Frauenkirche Market
The street that takes you from the historic Neumarkt main square down to the river and Bruehl’s Terrace is lined with Christmas stalls throughout the market period until Christmas Eve.
It’s a lovely spot in the heart of the Old Town.
5. Postplatz Huttenzauber
Postplatz is one of the more modern squares in Dresden and is the place locals go for after-work drinks and parties.
There are restaurants and bakeries, but the Christmas huts here are really more for groups of friends and socialising.
It’s a nice experience if you’re looking for something a bit more chilled.
6. Elbhangfest Christmas Market
I haven’t been to this market as it’s out of the centre in the suburb of Loschwitz by the Blaues Wunder (Blue Wonder) bridge.
It’s a unique-looking small Christmas market surrounded by half-timbered houses.
The market isn’t that far from the centre and would be worth the trip if you want a calmer, more local experience.
7. Prager Strasse Modern Christmas Market
Prager Strasse is the long shopping street just south of the Altstadt. It’s probably an area most tourists would come across, especially if you’re on a short visit and are more interested in historic Dresden.
You can still get regional specialties here; there are two historic carousels, a 15-metre-high Christmas tree and plenty of high-street shops.
8. Augustusmarkt in Neustadt
On the other side of the river is Neustadt, the hipster area of Dresden and the lovely Augustusmarkt.
This is home to Dresden’s international Christmas market with specialties from Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Italy and elsewhere.
There are some interesting decorations and a Ferris wheel. You’ll also find an indoor food market hall in Neustadt that’s worth visiting.
9. Alternative Christmas Market
Also in Neustadt, but a bit further out, is a new market on Alaustrasse. It has only been around for a few years and is an alternative, creative market with unusual artisan gifts and modern food.
Christmas Food Stalls
I think Dresden is a great all-year-round destination, but many people prefer to visit for the Christmas markets, which is understandable when it is lit up so beautifully each evening.
When you’re visiting Dresden in December, you’ll be able to spend some time indulging at the Christmas food stalls.
These are some of the specialties you can expect to find.
Rahmklecks is a Dresden specialty, a freshly cooked bread roll stuffed with ham and cheese and topped with sour cream. I’m not sure if they do vegetarian rahmklecks, but that would be amazing.
Stollen is a heavy, sweet fruit bread with nuts, spices and dried or candied fruit, usually topped with icing sugar.
You’ll find stollen at most Christmas markets in Germany, but the official and original stollen is only baked by certain Dresden bakeries and has been around since the 15th century.
Dresden’s stollen is so famous it even has its own festival.
The official Dresdner Christstollen is available at the Striezelmarkt and other Christmas markets in Dresden.
Hungarian fast food at its finest, langos is a deep-fried flat dough brushed with garlic and typically topped with grated cheese and sour cream.
You can find this in most Christmas markets in Europe. It’s heavy, oily and probably not very healthy, but it’s delicious. You might want to share one of these.
Fladenbrot is a Turkish bread sandwich with a mix of tasty fillings like flavoured cream cheese, whole pickled chillies, sun-dried tomatoes and olives.
Save room for a fladenbrot; they are incredibly tasty. This is my top food recommendation when eating out at the Dresden markets.
Baked Apples with Whipped Cream
I’m not sure if these would be in the traditional or modern Christmas food basket, but Dresden’s baked apples with custard and whipped cream are a simple, delicious snack.
Look for them at the Munzgasse Christmas stalls. They come in an edible bowl.
These mini Dutch pancakes are one of the best sweets at the markets. I would love to buy one of those pancake moulds and make my own at home. I wonder where you can buy them?
Traditional poffertjes are served with butter and icing sugar, but in Dresden, you can get them with apple sauce, caramel or Nutella.
These little diamond-shaped pastries are really just deep-fried doughnuts topped with icing sugar.
They’re called krappelchen in Dresden and the rest of Saxony but go by the name schmalzgreben, schmalzkuchen or some other regional name elsewhere in Germany.
They are not exactly light and fluffy doughnuts, but they’re very popular at the Striezelmarkt.
I’m a fan of nougat, in theory, it always looks so tempting, and the first bite is delicious. But after a couple of bites, it becomes sickly sweet.
Maybe you’re only meant to have a tiny bit at a time? Probably but I don’t have the kind of self-control to stop before it gets too much. The hazelnut nougat is one of the nicest.
I don’t know what these marshmallow wafer sandwich things are called, but they are light and sweet.
I’m pretty sure they’re not a traditional sweet, but they make a nice snack to take away with you or give as a gift. They were very popular when I visited the markets.
Things to Do in Dresden in Winter
I initially avoided visiting Dresden as I had the impression it was a bit dull, with little to offer.
I don’t know where I got these preconceived ideas from; I had the same thoughts about Warsaw and couldn’t have been more wrong.
Thanks to experiences like this and my often being wrong, I am a lot more open-minded in my travels.
Even though Dresden was almost completely wiped out during the Allied bombings in WWII, the Old Town, particularly the Neumarkt and surrounding streets, was rebuilt in its original baroque style.
It’s a beautiful area to walk around, especially along Bruehl’s Terrace on the Elbe River, which takes you past most of the grandiose architecture and points of interest.
It’s weird to imagine the rubble of the bombed-out Frauenkirche and other buildings lying around for more than 50 years. But that’s exactly what happened.
Much of the rebuilding started after the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the famous Frauenkirche, the focal point of the Neumarkt, wasn’t completed until 2005.
Of course, the city’s East German personality still lingers, but that’s part of the city’s charm and character.
You’ll see this in the relatively traditional locals and the still popular classic German experience of afternoon coffee and cake. However, this might be popular in every city.
For a different experience, cross the Elbe River to enter Dresden Neustadt, where there’s an eclectic mix of old-time East Germany and cool hipster vibes.
For more Christmas destinations in Europe, consider taking one of these Christmas road trips.
If you plan things well, you could visit three destinations in one trip. This is especially easy when in Dresden, as there are so many amazing winter destinations a short drive away.
Events in December
Sometimes it’s nice to plan your trip around an event. In December, there are more festive events than just the Christmas markets.
The Christmas Garden event is on the banks of the Elbe River, with brunch at the ice rink and a city tour that takes you by the best Christmas markets on both sides of the river and across the Blue Wonder Bridge.
You can also visit Dresden’s Christmas Circus or Russian Orthodox singing performances by the Moscow Cathedral Choir. See all events in Dresden here.
Weather in Dresden in December
Temperatures in Dresden in December typically range from 3-6°C. It’s probably 50/50 if you’ll get a white Christmas.
This year looks to be colder than usual, so there might be some snow around, but you’re more likely to have rain.
If you’re looking for a white Christmas, these European destinations, including Dresden, sometimes have snow in December.
You’ll definitely want to have a heavy coat and gloves, and you can stay warm with a mug of mulled wine (gluhwein) or hot chocolate. Which reminds me, Dresden also has delicious hot cider!
Sustainability at the Markets
These kinds of festivals and markets can and do create a lot of waste; that’s probably my biggest issue with them. At least Dresden’s Christmas markets have some sustainability measures in place and use biodegradable plates, bowls and cutlery.
When visiting Dresden at Christmas, there are several ways to ensure your trip is lower impact and responsible. Here are some sustainable travel suggestions tailored for your time in Dresden:
Eco-conscious Accommodations: Dresden is home to various hotels that focus on green initiatives, including the use of renewable energy sources. When booking your stay, look for places with eco-certifications or explicitly mention their green practices. Not only will this reduce your carbon footprint, but you’ll also support businesses prioritising environmental stewardship.
Mindful Eating at Markets: The Christmas markets in Dresden offer a delightful array of foods and drinks. However, to minimise waste, try to consume all that you purchase or share with friends if you buy larger portions. Many stalls serve dishes from Saxony; opting for these supports local farmers and often means fresher ingredients and shorter supply chains.
Ethical Purchasing Choices: When shopping, especially in vibrant markets, buying numerous items on a whim is tempting. Focus on quality over quantity, choosing items that you genuinely need or have a purpose. This reduces waste and ensures your purchases support genuine craftsmen and artisans in Dresden.
Embracing a Sustainable Diet: While indulging in traditional Saxon delicacies, consider options that are more sustainable. For instance, if there’s a vegetarian version of a popular dish, give it a try. A plant-based diet tends to have a lower carbon footprint than meat-heavy diets.
Opt for Sustainable Transport: Dresden has an efficient public transportation system, including trams and buses that make it easy to get around without a car. By using these options or choosing to walk or cycle around the city, you’ll be reducing emissions and experiencing Dresden from a more intimate perspective.
Recommendations are independently chosen based on personal travel experiences and extensive research.