Dec 20

Festive treats at a traditional Christmas Market in Bavaria

by in Culture, Europe, Food & Drink

Maximilian - King of Bavaria

Rottacher Christmas Market and Maximilian, King of Bavaria

Clasping a mug of hot glüwein, I looked up at the King of Bavaria, who was sporting a very fine crown of stars. He was welcoming visitors to Rottacher Advent Christmas Market, on the shores of Lake Tegernsee in Upper Bavaria, Germany. People crowded rounds brightly lit stalls and stood chatting beside a roaring fire, which was keeping us all warm.

Fire at Christmas market in Bavaria Germany

The Fire

If you want to experience a ‘real’ Christmas Market, Bavaria is the place to be. Search out the smaller ones like this which are not over-commercialized. Lake Tegernsee is extra-special as there are THREE Christmas Markets on its shores. Visitors can travel between them on ferries which sail round the lake, with a dramatic setting of the Bavarian Alps as a backdrop.

Tegernsee Ferry for Christmas Market Bavaria

Tegernsee Ferry

Wandering around the stalls it was quickly obvious that most of the them sold local goods and/or very good quality German products. Intricately carved wooden nativity scenes hung above tiny cribs set within walnut shells. Jaunty snowmen wandered amongst quirky Christmas trees and beautifully cut home-made beeswax candles created a soft glow in the dusk light.

Beautifully carved wooden decorations at Christmas Market Tegernsee Bavaria

Beautifully carved wooden decorations

Having finished my glühwein, I decided to try the other tradtional festive German food, the Bratwurst.  People queued up at the stall, laughing and chatting as they waited. Freshly grilled, popped between two slices of bun and slathered with mustard, it’s a very hearty snack. Now, I have to admit I am not a huge fan of this giant sausage but not only was this one excellent, the bun was also very good.

Bratwurst at Tegernsee Christmas Market


Bavarians are very stylish, with some people still wearing the traditional costume of dirndl skirt and lederhosen (not usually together …) Many visitors to the Christmas Market were smartly dressed in fur coats, hats, leather gloves and woollen scarves. There were very few tourists, which made it feel even more special.

Choosing Lebkuchen at Tegernsee

Choosing their Lebkuchen

Lebkuchen, a soft biscuit similar to gingerbread, is a real festive treat. Originally a kind of honey cake, Lebkuchen was apparently first made by monks in Franconia in the 13th C. It varies in taste from quite spicy to very sweet; ingredients can include aniseed, coriander, ginger and often nuts. Highly skilled bakers create gorgeous pictures and designs out of icing and they are a very popular gift at this time of year. A harder form of Lebkuchen is used to make the iced hearts sold all over Germany at Christmas Markets.

Gorgeous Lebkuchen gingerbread on stall Tegernsee Christmas Market Bavaria - image zoedawes

Lebkuchen stall

I spent an hour or more just wandering around, taking in the cheery atmosphere and buying a few things to take back home to decorate our Christmas Tree or give as presents. Most stall holders spoke English, but when they didn’t it was no problem; sign language and a smile is universal.

Christmas Market Stall - Tegernsee Bavaria

Christmas Market Stall

The scent of pine, wine, hog roast, beer, waffles and fresh, fresh air mingled together. Wreaths made from holly, ivy and mistletoe or sparkly silver thread, golden hearts hanging from ribbons of pearls, rosy pink apples, little teddy bears, delicate jewellery, embroidered cushions and snuggly knitwear all vied for attention – a festive feast for all the senses.

Christmas decorations Tegernsee Bavaria

Christmas decorations

For all these reasons, Rottacher Advent is simply the best Christmas Market I have ever visited. it’s definitely worth travelling to Germany to see the real thing. I stayed nearby at the very luxurious Althof Seehotel Überfahrt on the shores of Lake Tegernsee. Many thanks to German National Tourist Board for hosting this delightful visit.

Christmas Hearts at Tegernsee

Christmas Hearts

Read about my visits to Manchester Christmas Market and Liverpool Christmas Market here.

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Festive treats at a German Christmas Market in Bavaria Germany


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5 Responses to “Festive treats at a traditional Christmas Market in Bavaria”

  1. From Zoe Dawes:

    I wrote this before the awful events at the Berlin Christmas Market and debated whether or not to publish it. Christmas is supposed to be the season of goodwill to all; that is not what many experienced in Berlin due to the mindless violence of a few people. Sending heartfelt sympathy to all who were involved in that tragedy – and hoping nothing like that happens at any Christmas Market in future. I don’t want to offend in any way, but I believe that we should still go about our festive preparations, which include visiting these magical places.

    Posted on December 20, 2016 at 7:02 pm #
  2. From Charlie Mason:

    Well said. It was a horrific event in Berlin but life has to go on or they win. Now the Berlin Christmas Market has reopened and hopefully many people will show support. This one in Bavaria looks lovely.

    Posted on December 23, 2016 at 11:51 am #
  3. From Zoe Dawes:

    Yes, Charlie, it’s good that Berlin has reopened; must be so difficult for everyone there. We need to support them in whatever way we can, so I hope many more people will visit the German Christmas Markets not just this year but for many years to come …

    Posted on December 23, 2016 at 12:03 pm #
  4. From James Coren:

    What a lovely market. We’ve visited Germany a couple of times and heard about Tegernsee – didn’t realise they have markets around the lake. Maybe go there this year!

    Posted on January 5, 2017 at 12:57 pm #
  5. From Zoe Dawes:

    It really is lovely James. If you feel like treating yourselves, stay at the Uberfahrt Hotel on the lake shore – one of the best hotels I have ever stayed in 🙂

    Posted on January 5, 2017 at 1:02 pm #

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