Christmas Opening Times in Germany

Categories: General Travel Info

Christmas shopping
Christmas shopping

[ source: Flickr]

It’s almost this time of the year again… The days are getting shorter, it is cold outside, shops are already packed with traditional Christmas food and people start to make plans for the festive season. It seems like many of you are going to spend the holidays in Germany this year and have been mailing us to ask general questions about shop opening times and so forth. Therefore, Live Like A German has decided to post a short article with some basic information, which will hopefully answer all of your questions about Christmas opening times in Germany.

Most Americans are used to being able to shop 24/7. Especially in bigger cities you can buy groceries and whatever else you might need at all times of the day and all year round. Many restaurants and diners are open at all hours and ready to serve their whole menu. If you have visited Germany or any other European country before, you already know that is quite different over there, especially in terms of the Christmas opening times. Although opening times for shops and other business have been extended more and more everywhere over the last couple of years, a lot of regulations are still in place. For example, with the exception of the so—called Verkaufsoffene Sonntage” that happen in every city only a couple of times a year, shops have to be closed on Sundays. This basically only leaves gas stations as places where you could buy some groceries, and just forget about buying clothes or anything else on a Sunday. Also, most restaurants close at midnight the latest and often only serve food — at least hot meals — until 10pm.

Of course, these regulations are even stricter when it comes to Christmas opening times in Germany. First of all, it is important for Americans to be aware of the fact that the Christmas celebrations in Germany already start on the evening of the 24th of December. Families come together for dinner, which traditionally is a very simple meal of sausages and sauerkraut, afterwards presents are exchanged and at midnight everybody goes to church to attend the Christmas mass. With this in mind, it probably won’t surprise you that many offices and other places of business are already closed on the 24th and shops do not stay open all day. Most shops, including department stores and supermarkets, close their doors at 2pm, which gives people very little time to buy last—minute presents or get their grocery shopping for the next couple of days done. Even Christmas markets, which are great for getting you into a festive mood, close down at 2pm. Only in bigger cities you sometimes can find one or two shops, which stay open until around 7pm.

The next two days, the 25th and 26th of December, are official holidays, which simply means, really everything is closed and basically nobody has to work. The only exceptions are restaurants, cafes, pubs and bars, which are usually packed with people. Should you plan on going out for lunch or dinner during the holidays, you are urgently advised to book a table well ahead of time.

Some of you might be shocked about the very limited Christmas opening times in Germany, but we assure you that this actually a good thing. It is very relaxing to enjoy a peaceful Christmas and being able to go on a walk through town to marvel at all the wonderful Christmas decorations, without having to endure the usual hustling and bustling around you. On this note, Live Like A German wishes you: Happy Holidays!

About this Article

Kathrin Wagner

This travel guide has been written by Kathrin Wagner.

She grew up in a small town in Bavaria and then studied Media studies, Literature and History in Erlangen and Munich. As a student she already spent half a year in London and moved back there after graduation in 2006. She is still living in London, where she works in publishing.

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