Dec 14, 2014

Lüneberg Christmas Markets

Lüneberg is a town about half an hours train ride from Hamburg Central Station, and while it's not the most famous town in the region (that would fall to UNESCO heritage site Lübeck), it does have one unique event that piqued my interest: the historical or renaissance Christmas Market held the weekend of December 6th.

We almost didn't make it.

Of course, the first bus was early so we missed it by seconds, and the second was late. We had originally decided to get our regional ticket at the U-bahn station, but we were cutting it so finely we thought we should wait until we got to Hauptbahnhof/Central Station and see how much time we had left.

We thought we could make it, bought our ticket and then waded into the melee of travelers.
I think this must be unique to the Hamburg area, but people don't say 'Excuse me ' when they want to get by, instead they just shove. Whenever I go somewhere crowded, I end up spending more time watching the people around me than the event I'm there for, just so I don't get knocked about.

The part of the station above the platforms is mass chaos, full of people rushing, people walking slowly in large, spread out groups, people standing still eating in the middle of the walk ways. Confused people suddenly turning around and running the opposite direction into the people behind them. People pushing their way in front of you, only to just stop and send a text message. Anytime you are traveling through that section of Hauptbahnhof, you really need to leave a lot of extra time just to move through the crowds, and we were already running late.

Eventually we made it to our platform, where the waiting train started to close it's doors. Umbrellas and gloves went flying as a small group of us dashed from car to car until we found one a woman was holding open for the last stragglers. We wandered down the length of the train until we found two empty seats across from a man with a huge beard.

Lüneberg  has a proper, charming old town, something Hamburg is missing. I really enjoy how the old, traditional buildings now house modern boutiques, cafes, even chain stores. Once we'd left the train station, we were greeted by rows of half timbered houses (I know this style as "Tudor", does anyone know if this is in fact the same style?) and some less-than modern modes of transportation:

The largest market was in front of the Rathaus (townhall), but there were stalls spread out in front of churches and squares, and along the old town streets.

The Rathaus statues were all of portly men and women.

There was an unusual mix of stalls throughout the old town, like an essential oils seller placed unfortunately close to a fish stand. Or maybe that was on purpose, to prove the scented power of the oil? If it was, it didn't work.

The historical market was very small and was so crowded I couldn't actually see what most places were selling. I managed a few glimpses of breads, sweets, candles and spices through the throngs, but didn't think I could get any closer safely.

It didn't really make it a very pleasant experience. Between the small size and the crowds, I'd say not worth it.

We retreated  back to a cafe we'd passed earlier advertising crepes, bought two giant coffees, crepes and waffles to fortify ourselves. Then back we went to the Townhall to enjoy the lights.

A small group of brass musicians played from the balconies, as a train whizzed around a small track.

Overall, it was a pleasant afternoon trip, but for 25.50 for the two of us, I don't think we'll be back again. We still have Lübeck, Bremen and Schwerin to visit in the area.


  1. I just love Germany! Especially Hamburg and Lübeck! Can't say I made it to this town, but it looks incredibly charming! I love that they've preserved the old buildings even to use for more modern stores! There's just something incredible about the traditional German feel! :D

    1. I still can't believe I've been here for nearly three years and haven't made it to Lübeck! What was your favorite part of it?

  2. Luneberg looks quite lovely and definitely worth a little day trip! The Christmas markets make me so happy :)

  3. How charming! I love all the decorations and ornaments! And the horses, of course!

  4. Wow! That's really...chaotic! Not relaxing at all! I'm glad you enjoyed the architecture. I love the historical costumes so thanks for venturing close enough to snap a few pictures for us.

  5. I went to the Christmas markets in Strasbourg two weeks ago, and I was in love. I usually don't really get into the Christmas spirit until the night of Christmas eve, but even I was super into Christmas there. So cute! :)

    Zoe | La Vie en Zoe

  6. I've just decided that I must visit Germany in the winter sometime for the express purpose of attending a Christmas market :)

  7. Looks divine! I can just imagine all the delicious pastry smells in that market. :) We spent the holidays at a few European Christmas markets two years ago, and it is still one of my favorite holiday experiences.

  8. I love it when travel writers will actually tell you something wasn't worth it. Wish it happened more often! The night market photos look charming. Glad over all you had a good day, despite some crowds.

  9. Ahhh!! I love the decorations. Your photo's are gorgeous & I love those ornaments! It looks like a fun time. I'm stopping by from SITS & I hope your having a great day!

  10. That town looks SO cute! We are heading to Germany to stop at a few Christmas markets and your pictures make me even more excited :)

  11. Ah, the rough side to whimsical Christmas markets - the crowds! The ones here in Prague are super lovely but really, really full right now. Anyhow, the scenery that you caught with your camera looks very nice :)

  12. Ah how cute! I love all the costumes too. I've never heard of Luneberg. I haven't discovered much of Germany yet and would love to take my time through the country.

  13. I love the whimsy of all the Christmas markets! Too bad it was too crowded to take advantage of it...your pictures make it seem like it had real charm!


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