Driving by car from England (UK) to Christmas markets (Weihnachtsmärkte) in western Germany is easy especially for travelers living near Britain’s car ferry ports.
Christmas markets in Germany are easily reached by car from the British Isles. Driving from the UK through France, Belgium, or the Netherlands to Germany has many advantages for visitors to Christmas markets (Weihnachtsmärkte). Travelers with their own cars are free to explore more areas and easier visit lesser known, and often more romantically located, Christmas markets in smaller towns. Cities such as Cologne (Köln), Aachen, and Düsseldorf have famous Christmas markets but many other towns in western Germany have Weihnachtsmärkte worth exploring too.
Driving from the UK to Christmas Markets in Germany
Traveling from the UK by car to Germany presents no major hassles other than having to drive on the opposite side of the road. Roads are generally in very good condition and apart from highways in France mostly free from tolls.
Traveling by car to Christmas markets in Germany has the convenience of being able to travel to small towns with ease. Shoppers will enjoy no luggage charges and no restrictions on carrying liquids, glass, and other sharp objects back home.
However, drivers to larger German cities have to note that foreign cars are not exempt from the requirement to display a Feinstaubplaketten (sticker) when entering a Low-Emission Zone (LEZ / Umweltzone). The centers of Cologne, Düsseldorf, and Frankfurt am Main for example have such zones while Aachen and towns along the Mosel River generally do not.
Driving from Calais to German Christmas Markets
Calais is the European port of entry for most British drivers arriving on the European continent. Most ferries between Britain and Europe are on the Dover to Calais route, e.g. DFDS Seaways, P&O Ferries, and My Ferry Link. Using the Eurotunnel is of course also a good option – it is usually faster than a ferry but costing often substantially more.
Driving times and distances in kilometer (miles) from Calais to major German cities with Christmas markets in the western parts of Germany include:
- Aachen – 3h30 / 350 km / 220 mi
- Cologne (Köln) – 4h00 / 400 km / 250 mi
- Düsseldorf – 4h00 / 400 km / 250 mi
- Trier – 4h30 / 480 km / 300 mi
- Cochem – 5h00 / 500 km / 310 mi
- Koblenz – 4h30 / 500 km / 310 mi
- Frankfurt am Main – 5h45 / 600 km /370 mi
Passengers on the Hull to Zeebrugge (Belgium) ferries (P&O Ferries) can reduce the above driving times by almost an hour and 100 km (60 miles). Dover to Dunkirk ferries operated by DFDS Seaways allow drivers to arrive around 50 km (30 mi) closer to Christmas markets than from Calais. Ferries arriving at Ostend from Ramsgate (Transeuropa) allow savings of almost 100 km over Calais.
Driving via The Netherlands to German Christmas Markets
Car ferries to The Netherlands are also useful to British travelers, especially those traveling from regions to the north of London. The car ferry (Stena) from Harwich to the Hook of Holland (Hoek van Holland) is also useful for rail travelers from London and the overnight service is particularly popular with children and families.
Driving times and distances in kilometer (miles) from the Hook of Holland to major German cities with Christmas markets in the western parts of Germany include:
- Aachen – 2h30 / 250 km / 155 mi
- Cologne (Köln) – 3h00 / 290 km / 180 mi
- Düsseldorf – 2h30 / 260 km / 160 mi
- Trier – 4h00 / 392 km / 240 mi
- Cochem – 3h50 / 380 km / 236 mi
- Koblenz – 3h40 / 370 km / 230 mi
- Frankfurt am Main – 4h40 / 490 km / 300 mi
Further car ferries arrive in the Netherlands at Ijmuiden (Amsterdam) from Newcastle (DFDS Seaways) and Rotterdam from Hull (P&O Ferries). Driving times and distances from these ports to Christmas markets in Germany are practically the same as from the Hook of Holland.
Many alternative transportation options are available from the UK to Christmas markets in Germany. Buses and coaches are often the cheapest but trains are faster and generally more comfortable. Cheap flights to Germany are available from various airports in the UK and are particularly useful when visiting German Christmas markets not located in the Rhinelands. Belgian Christmas markets are of course an even shorter drive but do not have the same long tradition as German Weihnachtsmärkte.