The Christmas markets of Germany II

Lighted tree graces the square of Rothenburg ob der Tauber, a Christmas-card perfect village in Southern Germany.

The lowdown on the market towns >
Munich musts >
2006 dates: Nov. 25-Dec. 24.
Must do: Go upstairs to any cafe fronting Marienplatz opposite city hall, order coffee and enjoy the bird’s-eye view.
Must see: The Glockenspiel chime (free).
Must visit: The Hofbrauhaus, probably the most famous beer hall in the world, just to say you’ve been there.
Must eat: The first thing that catches your eye in the victuals market.
Must stay: Two or three nights in the old city, at Platzl Hotel (Sparkassenstrasse 10;; $196/night double), two blocks from the Marienplatz and one block from the Hofbrauhaus; the rooms come with free access to the hotel’s palatial Moorish Kiosk, a fitness oasis with sauna, aroma steam room, foot bath, experience showers, a heat bench and a solarium

Rothenburg musts >
2006 dates: Nov. 25-Dec. 23
Must do: Walk the ramparts of the old city walls (free).
Must see: The view from the town hall tower ($3.50).
Must visit: Kathe Wohlfahrt’s Christmas Village ($2) and German Christmas Museum ($5).
Must eat: A schneeball, or snowball ($2.50-$5).
Must stay: Three or four nights at the history-rich Eisenhut Hotel (Herrngasse 3-7;; $251/night double).

Nuremberg musts >
2006 dates: Nov. 25-Dec. 24
Must do: Stroll the riverfront.
Must see: The view of town from the castle (free).
Must visit: Albrecht Durer House ($6).
Must eat: Franconian potato soup, in the piano-cafe atmosphere at Landauer restaurant ($3), or at Goldenes Posthorn restaurant ($3), established 1498.
Must stay: Two or three nights inside the city walls, at Top Hotel Duerer, notable for its location at the foot of Nuremberg Castle and practically on the doorstep of the Albrecht Durer House (Neutormauer 32;; $204/night double).