Hidden in the solemn snowy hills of the winter Black Forest, Ravennaschlucht Christmas Market is a place like no other. A vibrant little island of festivity and celebration amidst the blackness of the night, it is one of the most extraordinary Christmas markets in Europe and an absolute must-see if you’re after something truly spectacular.
In this article, I explain everything you should know to visit Ravennaschlucht Christmas Market and share my tips on planning the trip.
Why Visit Ravennaschlucht Christmas Market
Ravennaschlucht Christmas market first caught my eye a few years back and immediately sparked an interest. It’s just one of those places that you can’t get out of your head once you see it. I knew right there and then that someday, I’ll have to go there myself.
Imagine a circle of brightly lit stalls at the foot of a massive old-fashioned arched bridge across a gorgeous valley. Nothing else around it but silent snowy trees and hills. The whole scene is beautiful and serene, instantly reminding you of a fairy tale.
Honestly, it’s hard to believe that something like this even exists, and yet it does. You will find Ravenna gorge (Schlucht is gorge in German) in the southern Black Forest region in the German state of Baden-Württemberg.
A hikers’ destination in summer, every December, for reasons I can’t fully comprehend, Ravenna Gorge turns into one of the most incredible and enchanting Christmas markets in the country if not the world. Filled with the cheerful holiday vibe, it’s fabulously hospitable.
Colorful illumination, crackling bonfires, the smells of freshly grilled sausages and mulled wine, laughs, and festive chatter all around. At first glance, Ravennaschlucht Christmas market may look similar to any other Christmas market, but it’s unmistakably and distinctly unique.
There’s a special atmosphere here — that of a good fairy tale where the miracle is just around the corner. You feel it as soon as you arrive. It lures you in and makes you want to stay for the entire evening. And why wouldn’t you — it’s great fun.
Book Your Entry Tickets Early
Unlike most Christmas markets, the Ravennaschlucht one isn’t free. To get inside, you’ll need to buy a ticket. Luckily, the prices are very reasonable €5 if you arrive before 4 pm and €6 otherwise.
Tickets can only be purchased online from mid-October. In 2022, the reservation opens at 10:00 on October 17th. The number of tickets is limited, so try securing yours as soon as possible. Ravennaschlucht Christmas market is extremely popular, so they sell out fast.
The Christmas market is only open on weekends (Friday to Sunday), from November 25th to December 18th. Hours vary depending on the day so check the official website for details.
When buying a ticket, you have to select a specific date and time slot when you intend to be there. You’ll also have an option to add parking or a shuttle bus ride if needed. In other words, you need to have your plans sorted out in advance, which isn’t always ideal.
Unfortunately, you cannot buy tickets on the spot, so that’s just something you’ll have to take into consideration. Also, although it isn’t explicitly stated anywhere, I learned last year that you are only allowed to stay for 2 hours after your indicated entry time.
The good news is that you can safely ignore this last rule if you wish. Nobody is going to be checking on you once you’re inside. Just make sure not to exit the Christmas market after the two hours have elapsed. The security will probably refuse to let you back in.
Getting to Ravennaschlucht Christmas Market
Unfortunately, a remote location like this comes with a noticeable downside. Getting to Ravennaschlucht Christmas market can be quite tricky. Basically, you have three options: by car, by free shuttle bus, or on foot.
If you have a car, there’s a parking lot right next to the Christmas market called Parkplatz Hofgut Sternen. That said, there’s not enough room there for everyone, so you need to book a spot in advance. You do so when buying the entry ticket and it’ll cost you an additional €7.
Unfortunately, there aren’t any other great options close by. The only alternative is to book accommodation in a nearby hotel. It’s much more expensive but the room price does include unlimited parking.
If you don’t have a car or failed to secure parking at the gorge, you’ll have to use one of the free shuttle buses. These depart from the main railway stations in Hinterzarten and Himmelreich, Kurpark on Titisee, and the concert hall in Freiburg.
Seats should also be booked online together with the entry tickets. Shuttle buses operate according to a fixed schedule. The exact time of departure will be provided on your ticket if you choose the shuttle bus option.
Lastly, you can also hike to Ravennaschluch Christmas market. The only winter trail to the gorge is a 3 km walk from Hinterzarten through the Löffeltal valley. You’ll need around 45 minutes to complete it. Could be a nice exercise to compensate for some of the Christmas treats!
Why Not Stay Overnight?
Most people coming to Ravennaschlucht Christmas market go home the same evening. While that’s the cheapest way to visit, it’s not the most convenient. Unless you live nearby, you have a long drive ahead. Besides, you won’t get to fully enjoy that mulled wine!
Therefore, if you can afford it, I strongly recommend staying overnight. You’ll have a much more relaxed and enjoyable experience. Plus, there’s a ton to do in the area. You can even return to the Christmas market again the next afternoon! Assuming you bought the ticket, that is.
If that’s something you’re interested in, I suggest looking for accommodation well in advance. There is only one hotel directly at the location — Hofgut Sternen, and it’s rather small. Needless to say, it is often fully booked for the dates of the Christmas market.
I’m not in any way affiliated with Hofgut Sternen, but I stayed there last year and loved it. It’s not exactly budget-friendly but very comfortable. The only thing I don’t appreciate is that during the Christmas market period they often only allow bookings of two nights minimum.
That’s why you might see availability from Friday to Sunday but not from Saturday to Sunday. Naturally, this makes the trip significantly more expensive. Personally, I do believe it’s worth it nonetheless but not everyone has that kind of money to spend.
So, depending on your financial situation, you might be better off looking for accommodation in Hinterzarten or Freiburg. Both are more affordable and you can use the shuttle bus to get to Ravennaschlucht Christmas market.
But regardless of what you choose, book early — ideally in late summer or early autumn. You’ll be surprised by how fast those rooms go. So find an offer with free cancellation and save yourself some future trouble.
What to Do in Ravennaschlucht Christmas Market
Inside, Ravennaschlucht Christmas market is very similar to any other Christmas market anywhere in Europe. It doesn’t have a specific theme like some others but is nicely decorated and tastefully arranged.
You will find numerous stalls selling mulled wine (Glühwein) and regional snacks from curry sausages to Swabian Maultaschen and Spätzle. If you haven’t tried Swabian cuisine before, here’s a perfect chance to do that.
If you drink alcohol, I especially recommend Feuerzangenbowle. It’s a glass of mulled wine with a rum-soaked sugarloaf that is set on fire. Literally translated as “fire-tongs punch”, it does indeed pack quite a punch, even though it doesn’t taste like it!
There are also booths selling local goods, clothes, and produce as well as souvenirs common for every Christmas market. So have a stroll and see if you notice anything interesting — there is some pretty good stuff.
I also thought Ravennaschlucht-branded mugs were pretty cool. You pay a €3 deposit for them when buying the wine that you receive back once you return the mug. Or, sacrifice the deposit and keep the mug as a nice souvenir.
And when you feel you’re ready for a break, head to the top of a nearby hill. It’s a short 5-minute climb but the aerial view of the entire Christmas market is worth the effort. Be careful though as the path up can get very icy.
What Else is Around?
Ravennaschlucht Christmas market might be small but there are a ton of exciting places nearby. Southern Schwarzwald is a beautiful region of Germany with endless opportunities to explore. I’ve been there on several occasions already and always discovered something new.
To begin with, the Ravenna Gorge is right around the corner. Yes, it’s officially closed in winter but you can still venture inside at your own risk. We did and it wasn’t at all that bad. The path gets slippery occasionally but is mostly walkable. Of course, judge the conditions yourself before going in.
If that sounds too extreme, have a peek into the cuckoo clock and glass art shops just outside the Christmas market. Even if you don’t plan on buying anything, the collection they have is mighty impressive. It’s easy to lose track of time just admiring the engineering marvels they have on display.
And if you have a car, all the other wonderful locations in the Black Forest aren’t that far away. Go skiing on Feldberg, visit the magnificent Todtnau Waterfall, or hike the snowy ridge of Karlsruher Grat — the choice is yours.
There is so much to see in the Black Forest in winter that I wrote an entire series about it. Be sure to check it out for even more ideas.
Tips for Ravennaschlucht Christmas Market
Before we wrap up, here’s a quick list of tips and recommendations to have the best possible experience in Ravennaschlucht Christmas market:
- Dress warmly. Remember, you’ll be outside in the cold for several hours. Warm shoes and gloves are a must!
- Be there close to your designated time. The guards might not let you in if you’re too early.
- Bring cash as most booths don’t accept credit cards. There is an ATM next to the hotel but if it doesn’t work for some reason, getting money on the spot could be troublesome. I also believe it takes an extra withdrawal fee.
- Book everything well in advance or as soon as it becomes available. Tickets and hotels sell out fast.
- On that note, if you can afford it, spend the night. This allows you to fully appreciate this amazing area.
- If you plan on doing any hiking, even something as simple as Ravenna gorge, crampons will be of great help. The trails are slippery in winter.
- To avoid the worst of crowds, come on Friday or Sunday evening.
- Bring your friends! As with any Christmas market, Ravennaschlucht is best enjoyed in warm company.
A Winter Fairy Tale Worth Living
I’ve visited a few Christmas markets over the years, and can safely say that so far Ravennaschlucht Christmas market is my favorite. I went there for the first time last year and was so enchanted that I can’t wait to return this Christmas as well.
There is just something special about it, something that other markets somehow tend to miss. Whether it’s the coziness, the Christmas spirit, or the remoteness, I cannot quite tell. Maybe it simply doesn’t feel as commercialized and crowded as its larger siblings.
Whatever it is, Ravenna Gorge Christmas market is a pleasant place to be. As you walk in, you can’t shake off the illusion of being in a winter fairy tale. The kind where you absolutely wouldn’t mind staying for just a little longer.
So if you ever get a chance, do yourself a favor and go there. It has its disadvantages and does require a bit of determination and planning, but I promise you, you’ll have no regrets. It truly is an experience worth living.
I hope you enjoyed this guide to Ravennaschlucht Christmas market and got something useful out of it. If so, you’ll do me a huge favor by sharing it with your friends and on social media. And if there are any questions left, don’t hesitate to post them in the comments.
I have a bunch of other content on the blog so feel free to poke around. From other Christmas markets to remote destinations, there’s a ton of exciting stuff to choose from. Here are some of my recommendations:
- Beautiful Places to Enjoy Winter in the Southern Black Forest
- Zürich Christmas Markets 2022: Complete Guide to Holiday Vibe
- Basel Christmas Market Guide 2022: the Best in Europe. Or is it?
- Black Forest in Winter: All Saints’ Abbey and Waterfalls
- A Perfect Holiday: Top Things to Do and See in the Mosel Valley
- Charmingly Authentic: Reasons Why Passau Is Worth Visiting
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