European Christmas Markets

Everyone loves a Christmas Market – The festive music, delicious delicacies and magical atmosphere bring merriment and joy to even the meanest of scrooges!

But, have you ever considered city hopping your way around Europe to find the best Christmas Markets of them all?

Well, here are some of the most notable ones for you to add to the advent calendar; from traditional markets to modern art installations, right through to some weird and wonderful Christmas myths!

Vienna, Austria

Said to be the first ever Christmas Markets opened to the public, these markets date back to 1296 and are situated in Rathausplatz Square, Vienna. With a stunning architectural backdrop to set the Christmas mood, these markets are filled to the brim with handmade gifts, reindeer rides and local foods; such as strudel and langos (Fried flat bread).  You can even try your hand at curling on their ice rink!  You don’t have to visit just one Market either, there are multiple dotted around town, so rug up and get exploring!

Vienna has one of the lowest crime rates in the world, so you and your loved ones can truly enjoy your time here knowing you and your presents are safe.

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Munich and Aachen, Germany

German Christmas Markets are known for being more traditional, with some dating back as far as the 1300’s.  There are many markets throughout Germany including Heidelberg, Rothenburg Ob Der Tauber, Dresden and Nuremberg however, we have noted our favourite two below.

Munich is one of the most popular Christmas markets and also, one of the first.  The Marienplatz Christmas Markets are held in the heart of Munich with stalls spilling out onto every street.  These markets are incredibly popular, offering everything from candied almonds, traditional bratwurst and even a special Christkindl stamp from the Christkindl post office.

Aachen Christmas Markets offer a stunning setting in front of the town’s great cathedral.  These markets are enchanting and create a cosy and romantic feel for all its visitors. Situated on the border of Belgium and Netherlands, these are easy to get to so add them to your itinerary.

One unusual tradition to mention is Krampus Night (or Krampus Nacht to the locals). This evening is celebrated in South Bavaria and takes place on the night of St. Nicholas.  Krampus is a devilish character who wanders the streets scaring children into good behaviour. On this night, local townsmen dress up as Krampus and his monstrous disciples and put on a show for all to see – this evening usually finishes off in the local so grab a glass of Glühwein (mulled wine) and get involved!

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Alsace Region, France

France is famous for its beautiful villages and quaint towns, and with Christmas Markets on every corner it won’t be hard to get into the spirit of things!

Colmar Christmas Markets were setup 18 years ago and are magical to behold.  Set amongst the nooks and crannies of the town, you can venture down the little lanes, past the old picturesque cottages to find the wooden Christmas Villages with many, many stalls.

Straubourg Christmas Markets are some of the oldest markets in France. Here you can find stalls selling Christmas toys, handmade ceramics and classic French food and wine.  These markets welcome over 2 million visitors per year – we recommend booking your flights and accommodation in advance, so you don’t miss out!

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Zagreb, Croatia

These markets take Christmas seriously – Other than their sheer size, they put on a spectacular show from lighting displays, choirs, concerts and more.   Zagreb Christmas Markets really do bring to life the Winter Wonderland with a giant Christmas tree, ice rinks and stalls galore!

These markets are spread right across the city with two of the main spots being Ban Josip Jelačić Square and European Square.

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Budapest, Hungary

These merry markets really mix things up with a 3D light show displayed across St. Stephen’s Basilica.  3D glasses can be found throughout the marketplace, but this advent feast can be enjoyed by all, with or without the special glasses.

If you have a sweet tooth, we recommend trying the Kürtőskalács, or chimney cake.  This special winter treat is made from sweet dough, rolled around a wooden rolling pin then rolled in sugar.  After this, pick your flavour and watch it get grilled over hot coals!

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Prague, Czech Republic

The Old Town markets feature exhibitions of nativity scenes, romantic walks and endless Christmas cookies.  When in Prague, feast on traditional foods; such as Trdelník (hot sugar-coated pastries), palačinky (pancakes), klobása (barbequed sausages) and much more.  Enjoy these tantalising treats but be careful, or you may go home looking like Santa!

The Wenceslas Square Markets are only a five-minute stroll from the Old Town Markets and set the scene with Christmas carols being sung gently in the background.  Set against a gothic backdrop, the Christmas lights really do light up the sky for all to behold.

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Tallinn, Estonia

If you are heading into northern Europe, we recommend making time to visit the Tallinn Christmas Markets which were the first ever to publicly display a Christmas tree in 1441.  These markets are great for kids as Santa arrives on his sleigh pulled by (real) reindeer to deliver Christmas joy to all its visitors!

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Bologna, Italy

There are many markets in Italy worth mentioning but we have picked our favourite two for you to enjoy.

The larger of the two, The Fiera di Natale markets are placed in front of San Pietro Cathedral which was built in the 12th Century.

The smaller, Antica Fiera di Santa Lucia have been situated in the cloisters of the Santa Maria dei Servi Church since 1976.  These markets have a real foodie theme to them – One delicacy worth treating yourself to this holiday season is torrone, which is nougat mixed through with almonds and honey.

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Interlaken and Einsiedeln, Switzerland

These Christmas Markets really rev things up a notch with 5 ice rinks connected via ice laneways.  You can learn how to curl, wave at Santa on the traditional Coco-Cola truck and marvel at all the festivities at ‘Ice Magic’.  Perfect for families and young children, there is so much to see and do here; you really will have an unforgettable Christmas experience.

The Einsiedeln Christmas Markets are set in a small town which really creates a truly magical setting. With 130 stalls offering ginger biscuits, mince pies and mulled wine, you will find yourself immersed in the spirit of Christmas. With Benedictine Einsiedeln Abbey in the background, there is something to see everywhere you look.

For an extra Christmassy day out, visit the local gingerbread museum.  These goodies are also found at the Christmas Markets so if you can’t make it to the museum, you won’t have to miss out!

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London, United Kingdom

If you have a few days to spare in London, you really should find time to visit many Christmas Markets throughout town; from Hyde Park, to Southbank, to Christmas along the river there is so much choice here!

The biggest marketplace, and most notable, is the Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park.  These wooden stalls set the scene and are stacked with goodies from handmade jewellery, quirky gift ideas, mulled wine and warm cider.  If that’s not enough, you can catch a glimpse of London’s lit up skyline by booking a ride on the “London Eye”.  Reaching a whopping 135 metres, the views from the top of the wheel are unrivalled and will give you a great view on where to wander next!

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