Are you looking forward to the Christmas Markets of Germany? Passau’s Christkindl Markt was special to me in that it had some very unique holiday items and foods on offer and the festive atmosphere was magical. Located in lower Bavaria on the Austrian border, Passau is known as The City of Three Rivers or Dreiflüssestadt, as this is where the Danube, Inn and Ilz rivers come together.
 

Passau, Germany, Christmas Markete

Passau at night. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown

 
Our Viking River Cruise dropped us at the base of the old city, sandwiched between the Veste Oberhaus Castle on the hillside of Passau and St. Stephens Cathedral on the opposite side of the Danube River. The cobblestone streets were filled with living art displays and hand-crafted holiday ornaments. Scents of wood-fired pizza, glühwein and gingerbread filled the frigid December air.
 
The Christmas markets are also a place to try foods that are not typically served at home. I couldn’t resist the warm cheese known as raclette, served slathered on a thick slice of German bread and topped with your choice of local jam, fried onion bits and diced ham. Wash this hearty snack down with a steaming mug of glühwein, surrounded by friends and strangers, and you have created a favorite food memory.


 

Living Art, Passau, Germany

Gingerbread lined streets in Passau. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown

 
Glühwein, Passau, Germany

Glühwein photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown

 
St. Steven's Cathedral, Passau, Germany

St. Steven’s Cathedral. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown

 
Wonder into the Cathedral of St. Stephens with its Italian-baroque architecture. Look up to the ornate ceiling and take in the world’s largest church organ with its 18,000 pipes. Then explore the Christkindl Markt or Christmas Market in the Domplatz, the cathedral square as you mingle with locals. Certainly, you will find one-of-a-kind gifts for holiday giving and don’t forget to bring something back for yourself to remind you of this special European vacation.
 

wood carving, Santa, Passau, Germany

Wooden holiday figures. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown

 
Café Simon, Passau, Germany

Café Simon gingerbread making demonstration. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown.

 
Insider Tip
Do not miss Café Simon in Passau! This historic confectionery, owned by the Simon family, has been making gingerbread and chocolates for over 100 years. This was one of the few gift items that found its way into my carry-on luggage and back to California.

Have you been to any Christmas markets in Germany or Europe? What treasures did you bring home with you?

For additional insider tips follow Luxury Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown on Twitter @Nancydbrown.
 

carousel horses, Passau, Germany

Carousel horses. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown.

 
Article written by, video and photos courtesy of Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown of What a Trip, Travels from Northern California. Disclosure: thanks to the folks at Viking River Cruises for making this trip possible. As always, all opinions are my own.