That time of year, sleigh bells ring, and Christmas trees are erected worldwide. Among the light displays and mince pies, one of the best parts of Christmas will always be the Christmas Markets, and few places in the world put on such festive displays as Europe. Across the continent, from France to Russia and everywhere in between, iconic Christmas Markets in Europe open as soon as November arrives, with many lasting well into the New Year. Every town and city will have its festive market, but it can be challenging to determine the best Christmas markets in Europe. But don’t worry, because we’ve got you covered with our guide to Christmas markets in Europe.
Germany is the birthplace of the Christmas Market, and few other countries, even within Europe, can host a Christmas party with the same nostalgic charm as the Germans. Every year, Nuremberg hosts one of the best Christmas markets in Europe and one of Germany’s most famous Christmas markets. Enjoy all the traditional German festive market trappings from the end of November to Christmas Eve. The Nuremberg Christmas Market has a lot to offer, from the famous Bratwursts to the cold with some hot German Gluhwein.
Budapest, located in Central Europe, maybe a cold and chilly affair during the Christmas season, but the city hosts one of Europe’s best Christmas markets to cheer things up. The famous Advent Feast is held at the Basilica in central Budapest, where you can enjoy the best food in the city from November to New Year. Indulge your taste buds with Chimney Cakes, or warm up with a steaming bowl of goulash or hot mulled wine. Having your fill of the holiday treats, you can relax in the city’s thermal spas, which are even better in the cold of winter.
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Hosting a good Christmas market, the Austrians go all out as well, and you’ll find celebrations everywhere, from tiny hamlets to major cities. Of course, the Austrian capital Vienna has the most impressive markets in the country and some of the best Christmas markets in Europe. Heart of the city, at City Hall Square, a tall Christmas tree and an abundance of lights and decorations. The Austrian Santa Clause is also always in town, and it’s a popular destination for children looking over their Christmas wish list in time for the big day. On a walking tour of Austria city, visit three of the city’s most famous Christmas market areas. As you walk through the streets, listen to your guide tell you holiday stories about Christmas traditions that are important to the locals.
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Belgium is home to the country’s most festive Christmas market. From late November to the New Year, Brussels hosts its world-famous Christmas Market every year. The main event is called Winter Wonders, and it is a massive festive market with hundreds of classic wooden market stalls spread across the Grand-Place and other central areas. There will be plenty of potential Christmas gifts to buy and food to eat, but the real draw of visiting Winter Wonders in Brussels will be the Christmas trees, decorations, and light shows. Explore the city with a local guide to experience the magic of Brussels at Christmas. Your walking tour will be entirely tailored to your preferences, allowing you to make the most of your time. You’ll get insider information on the best places to see Christmas lights, the most interesting Christmas market stalls, and local food recommendations.
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Across the border in France, Strasbourg has long hosted one of Europe’s best Christmas markets. Strasbourg continues to host one of the oldest Christmas markets globally, with origins dating back to the 16th century. Strasbourg’s distinct blend of German and French heritage ensures that this is a market not to be missed, and the festivities are best known for the delicious mulled wine produced in Strasbourg and sold throughout December. Go on a guided Christmas Food Tour to get into the holiday spirit. You’ll get the most out of your time in the city if you hear old legends, stories and get insider information that you wouldn’t otherwise learn.
Back in Germany, however, the state of Bavaria is well-known for its Christmas cheer and festivities. Christmas celebrations, few cities can compete with Munich, and you can be sure that there will be plenty of mulled wine, German beer, and German sausages on offer at the city’s markets. While there are smaller markets in the city’s squares and suburbs, the primary market is held in Marienplatz. Here you’ll find a massive Christmas tree as well as the best market stalls, all decked out in Christmas decorations, of course. A 2-hours tour of the Munich Christmas markets will get you in the holiday spirit. Follow a guide through Munich’s Old Town to explore the city’s festive offerings, including Christkindlmarkt in Marienplatz, which has over 20-holiday markets.
Poland is one of Eastern Europe’s most famous Christmas market destinations, and Krakow is the best city to visit during the holiday season. This historic city is lovely to explore at any time of year, but it is incredibly charming in the frosty grip of winter when decorations and lights line the streets. The market is held in the main central square, which is a lovely setting for festive treats such as Polish dumplings and soups, as well as hot alcoholic beverages. Why not take a guided stroll through beautifully illuminated streets while listening to live music? Enjoy the Christmas atmosphere in Krakow while exploring this wonderful city during this particular magical time of year.
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Helsinki is almost always guaranteed to deliver snow for a white Christmas, and the Finnish capital hosts an excellent market during the holiday season. This event, held in the central Senate Square, is short, lasting only about two weeks before Christmas. Despite the cold, this is the most pleasant place to be in Helsinki, and in December, the city will be blanketed in the snow while bright lights and warm aromas illuminate the square. Enjoy Finnish Christmas specialities and unusual Nordic-inspired cuisines and drinks at one of Europe’s best Christmas markets. Of course, if the cold becomes unbearable, the Finns have a unique sauna culture, which is especially welcome in the frigid depths of December.
Tallinn, Estonia’s capital, hosts Europe’s best Christmas markets, just a short ferry ride from Helsinki across the icy Baltic Sea. Tallinn’s historic city, with its ramshackle medieval streets, old walls, and magnificent churches, is delightful to explore in December when the Christmas lights and decorations are turned on. The Christmas Market is open from November to January and is a great place to buy souvenirs and gifts and sample local food and drink.
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Heading east, the cold climes of Russia may not seem so inviting in December, but head to Moscow, and you’ll be sure to find some Christmas cheer. The primary Christmas market in Moscow, and one of the largest in the country, is held in and around Red Square, a dramatic setting for festive stalls. The best part is that Orthodox Christmas isn’t celebrated until January 6th, so Russian markets are open long after those in the West have closed.
The United Kingdom is not the first place that comes to mind when planning your holiday travels, but Birmingham, England, has one of the best Christmas markets in Europe. Birmingham’s Christmas market is becoming well-known throughout the country. However, it bills itself as a Christmas market inspired by Germany. It’s a truly international affair, with food and drinks from all over the world available for purchase.
Enjoy some inspiring mountain scenery and some of Europe’s best Christmas markets, head to Switzerland for the holidays. The city of Basel, in particular, is well-known for its Christmas markets, and it is widely the most beautiful Christmas destination in Switzerland. Three separate calls can be found throughout Basel Old Town, each offering a variety of Swiss culinary delights and handicrafts.
Prague, Czech Republic
Prague is a European getaway, and the crowds won’t go away even in the dead of winter, as the Czech capital hosts one of Europe’s most famous Christmas markets. There are two different Christmas Markets in Prague, one in Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square. Both markets, however, are only a short walk apart, making this a genuinely festive city to visit from November to January, when the Christmas markets are open for business. On this 4-hour private tour of Prague, you will be immersed in Czech Christmas culture. Learn about local traditions, visit the best Christmas markets in the city, and sample a Czech pastry and hot wine with your guide.
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The most popular Christmas market in the Balkans is always found in Croatia’s capital, Zagreb. During the Advent season, the city will be decked out; every street in Zagreb is decked out with trees and lights. In the central squares, rustic market stalls sell homegrown Croatian delicacies beverages such as mulled wine, making this an excellent Christmas market to visit. This small-group Christmas market tour in Zagreb allows you to experience the holiday season in Croatia. Discover the best of the city’s over 25 Christmas markets, as well as how the locals celebrate the holiday season.
Copenhagen is a beautiful city to visit during the Christmas season, as the Danish capital goes all out to celebrate the occasion. There are several excellent markets throughout the city and plenty of warming Danish food and drink to try. Still, the best Christmas market in Copenhagen is at the iconic Tivoli Park. Indulge in the Danish capital’s festive traditions on a Christmas culinary tour of Copenhagen’s foodie hotspots. Dive into Denmark’s rich culinary heritage with an expert guide and soak up the electric atmosphere of Torvehallerne, the capital’s most popular food market.
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