Now that summer is officially over and mince pies are in the shops (yep – that’s right), it’s totally acceptable to start thinking about the best time of year – CHRISTMAS! There’s no better way to get in the festive spirit than visiting a Christmas market so to help you out, I’ve rounded up my selection of where you can find the best Christmas markets in Europe. Get ready for a post filled with lots of gingerbread, mulled wine and fairy lights…
23rd Nov – 31st Dec
Germany is the home of the Christmas market and you’ll be spoilt for choice with a visit to the capital, with over 60 markets to choose from. Each market has it’s own unique style, with high end, artsy and foodie specific markets all an offer. A couple of the biggest are the Weihnachtszauber at the Gendarmenmarkt, known for its wide selection of handmade goods and trinkets and the Berliner Weinachtszeit at Alexander Platz, which boasts a huge ice rink and ferris wheel giving it the ultimate winter wonderland feel.
2nd December – 7th January
Crowned the winner of best Christmas market in Europe for two years in a row, ‘Advent in Zagreb’ is not just a Christmas market but more like a Christmas extravaganza with an ice sculpture festival, 3D advent tunnel, live nativity scenes and much more. It even offers themed tours of their advent experience and special hotel deals for those who book to visit directly through their website – making it one of the best value destinations on the list.
24th November – 24th December
Believed to be the oldest as well as one of the best Christmas market’s in Europe, Strasbourg Christmas Market was first held way back in 1570. Found in the capital of the Alsace region, right on the german french border, the market is a melting pot of the two cultures with quaint wooden chalets, cinnamon biscuits and the enormous Christmas tree at Place Kléber creating a toytown traditional feel. Make sure to check out all 11 of the different villages in the market and don’t leave without trying bredele biscuits, an alsation speciality which comes in all shapes and flavours and doubles up as a sweet snack or a decoration for your Christmas tree back home!
26th Nov – 2nd Jan
Budapest has two main spots for their Christmas market, the first is in Vörösmarty Square and the second is just in front of St Stephen’s Basillica. Both markets offer a great place to familiarise yourself with authentic Hungarian Christmas culture – most importantly their favourite festive cuisines – including roasted pork knuckles and krampampuli, Hungary’s equivalent of mulled wine. Everything on sale in the market has been verified as officially traditional and handmade by an independent jury, so if you want an authentic souvenir of your visit, take home one of their official Christmas mugs, which changes design every year.
24th November – 2nd January
One of the prettiest cities in Europe is made even more picturesque by the arrival of the festive season. Twinkling fairy lights and the smell of Belgium’s famous waffles drifting through the air are just two things which give Bruges Christmas market the fairytale factor. The main market is in Grote Markt, but don’t forget to visit the stalls on Simon Stevinplein too, where you can also stop by a couple of Bruges’ most loved Chocolate shops to sample their Christmas specials.
2nd December – 6th January
A visit to Prague’s Christmas markets will never get boring as the market takes on a different theme every year, which is announced in November, a month or so before the market opens.
Christmas in Prague is a real family affair with local school choirs performing every afternoon and a stable where little ones can go to see donkeys, sheep and goats. For a sweet treat whilst you wander round be sure to try Trdelnik – a sugar coated pastry served warm, which is all kinds of delicious and for a nice way to finish the day why not watch an evening concert in one of the city’s churches, such as St Salvator or St George’s Basilica.
18th November – 30th December
Like Berlin, Vienna has a number of markets for you to choose from. The highlight is arguably the Viennese Christmas Market located in front of city hall, which boats an enviable backdrop to really set off the Christmas feel, however the stalls dotted around the charming narrow lanes of Spittelberg are also worth a visit for a romantic stroll through one of Vienna’s former suburbs. Don’t miss out on trying your hand at Christmas cookie or candle decorating inside the city hall itself whilst you sip on your gluhwein.
19th November – 31st December
Out of all the Christmas markets in Europe, you would struggle to find one that looks as magical as Copenhagen’s Tivoli Gardens during November and December. Expect light shows, Christmas music and snow covered trees as you walk around the lake and for those who like a bit of a thrill seeking there are also 27 rides to have a go on. 60 stalls make up the market itself selling everything from crafts to deli foods and hot chocolate and try to catch the Pixie Band who play at various points around the gardens. For a cosier feel, you can also head to the market in Nyhavn harbour – home to a handful of stalls selling danish trinkets and delicacies.
What’s your favourite Christmas market in Europe? Have you ever visited any in my roundup?
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