From November 25 to December 22, Christmas markets on six different squares throughout the old town of Heidelberg create a magical atmosphere that extends from one end of the city to another so that it seems that the entire town is full of the atmosphere, scents and anticipation of Christmas. Similarly, Tübingen’s ChocolArt Festival from December 3 to 8 (Christmas market is December 13 to 15) stretches through the city streets and around buildings so the entire city appears to be selling and making chocolate and celebrating the coming of Christmas.

Both of these lively university cites are located on the River Neckar and are wonderful places to visit any time of year and especially in the holiday season. Both Tübingen and Heidelberg project warmth and charm, half-timbered buildings and cobblestones, excellent restaurants, pubs and lively student environment along with great shopping for local products.

In Heidelberg more than 130 cozy wooden stalls invite you to stroll and offer gifts, culinary, craftsmanship and curios. The world-famous castle ruins that shine over Heidelberg are always in view and provide an incomparable atmosphere. A unique and new attraction this year will be presented on the market square: A wooden large barrel with a statue of revolving Perkeo, the little man who is the symbol of Heidelberg, and sits on the world’s largest wine barrel located in Heidelberg Castle. This smaller replica in the market square still has a capacity of 120,000 liters, and inside the barrel there is a room above the stall with a wonderful view of the market.

Wine enthusiasts will also quench their curiosity in Tübingen as the city boasts the oldest wine barrel in the world and it is open for viewing just in the winter. Even the Guinness World Records has given this ancient cask its rightful place!

A fantastic view of the Heidelberg castle can be enjoyed while skating: on the Karlsplatz, you can pirouette on one of the most beautiful ice rinks in Germany. And those who have solid ground under their feet warm up with mulled wine or punch. At the Kornmarket, another of Heidelberg’s cobble-stoned squares, a fairy tale Christmas woods come alive with beautifully decorated trees and this particular market stays open until January 1, 2020.

Heidelberg Christmas Market

The name “Philosophers’ Walk” can be traced to the fact that Heidelberg’s university professors and philosophers found this path a congenial place where they could talk seriously and contemplate while enjoying the charming view of the Neckar. At Christmas time, a nice change of pace is to walk up to the Neuburg Monastery, only about 45 minutes from the old city, or you can take the Weisse Flotte, which are the flat-bottomed boats that go up and down the Neckar. Not only can you visit the brewery and farm store with products from the local producers but there is a special Advents market that is said to be especially peaceful in the sacred environment. Afterwards you can take in the hearty homemade food at the restaurant, “Gasthof zum Klostergarten.” The Klosterhof Brewery is a small organic brewery situated in the grounds of the Neuburg monastery in Heidelberg. It produces small quantities of hand-crafted specialty beers which are enjoyable at any time of year.

Like Heidelberg, Tübingen is famous for its university, the River Neckar and its old town can also offer much enjoyment. Particularly the Advent season is time for shopping and enjoying seasonal goodies to the fullest. Small, mainly owner-managed shops propose exceptional goods and personal advice. Tübingen’s particular flair can be experienced in those little shops as well as the well-known ChocolART – Germany’s largest chocolate experience in Tübingen’s charming city square.

The International Tübinger Chocolate Festival (ChocolART) invites visitors to indulge in the sweet creations of over 100 exclusive chocolatiers and chocolate manufacturers from all over the world, and to experience a unique chocolate odyssey in a magnificent historic town. Chocolate can come in all different shapes, sizes, and flavors, including handmade chocolate bars, chocolate figurines, chocolate cream, chocolate tools, chocolate drinks, chocolate beers, pralines, truffles and nougat. A wide variety of different flavours ranging from sweet to bitter and from mild to spicy and exotic chocolate as well as bio-chocolate are on offer. Fair trade, vegan and sugar free chocolate are on stands as well. From window shopping in the city, to the white chocolate tents in the city square, the magical lighting all across the historical city square turns this experience into a fairy tale adventure, which is likely to expand all over the country.