Christmas markets in Regensburg — radiate with allure of old world

By Thomas Warner
contributing writer
Christkindlmarkt at Neupfarrplatz — Photo by Mapics/

One of the best Christmas market scenes in Europe happens each winter in Regensburg. The town itself is a jewel and at Christmas it takes on another life of its own. Markets are set up at several locations – all within walking distance of one another – and visitors usually begin planning another warm-weather visit to this undiscovered European stalwart.

Arts and crafts market Lukreziamarkt at Haidplatz — Photo by Altrofoto, Bild: Regensburg Tourismus GmbH

Planning a trip to this Bavarian masterpiece is easy, as you take the Autobahn 6 eastward, past Mannheim, Heidelberg and finally Nuremburg, where you will go south on Autobahn 3 some 50 kilometers. In all, it takes about five hours to drive, but a train ticket from Landstuhl to Regensburg might cost as little as 30 euro, with the market areas then easily accessible from the central train station.

Christmas markets along the Danube River have drawn big crowds for over 100 years, but they remain largely undiscovered by mass American audiences because of the lack of name recognition compared to larger German cities of Cologne and elsewhere. With the expected drive, it is a good idea to arrange for an overnight stay so you can take in the market atmosphere in both night and daytime.

Markets are set up at the Katha­rinen­spital area, the Lucrezia at Heidplatz and Kohlenmarkt, Christkindlmarkt at Neupfarrplatz, and the Romantic Market set up alongside the Thurn and Taxis Castle. Each market promotes its own special theme and resonates with a unique spirit of allure and grandeur.

Situated along the famous Danube and boasting rich Roman and German history, Regensburg offers several museums of various sizes, a castle ruins area, and old town Altstadt buildings, churches, the stunning Gothic St. Peter’s cathedral, and a plethora of cuisines for all tastes, including old-style German food with large servings. Regensburg has been designated a United Nations World Heritage Site and is a place you can easily find reasons for making a second and third visit at a later date.

Romantic Christmas Market at Castle Thurn and Taxis — Photo by Altrofoto, Bild: Regensburg Tourismus GmbH

St. Emmeram’s Basilica has roots dating back a thousand years and typifies the European aspects found in buildings of worship throughout Bavaria and this extended region. Ornate and splendid, buildings that are part of the St. Emmeram’s complex are worth a few hours of your visit to this city. One set of carved pictorial reliefs depicting Christ and two saints are said to be the oldest in Germany.

At the Christmas markets, there are craftsmen selling various machine-produced and hand-made Christmas ornaments, wood carvers, ceramic or glass offerings, trees for sale, and lots of food and drink stands. The best part of Christmastime in Regensburg, for many, is the live music served up at the scattered market sites.

An internationally-known boys choir sings at masses and church ceremonies in the cathedral, making for a memorable and spiritually pleasing experience if you can catch them. Occasionally they perform outdoors but more often inside. Other musicians with horns, stringed instruments, and classical flavors are almost always performing world music, traditional, and classical numbers as a backdrop to the outdoor market ambiance. It sets an uplifting tone for the overall experience and is pleasing to both the ear and the soul.

The historical aspects of Regensburg make it appealing and noteworthy for new visitors, but one might use the Christmas markets as the overall reason to go there. With overnight plans, you can also access the Roman-era Stone Bridge walking area, the 1800s Walhalla monument, the ages-old public Sausage House restaurant, multiple rich, market shopping experiences, or a simple cup of coffee with friends while soaking up the intrigue of the passing of time.

This is a city with a flair for culture. It has a philharmonic symphony, a thriving theater scene, a university, and people living here who take pride in showcasing their town as having much more than just the Christmas markets. Using the months of November and December to discover Regensburg is sure to create a reason within you to plan to come again.

Check out for more information prior to your visit.