France and Germany are famous for their Christmas markets and for good reason. They are absolutely beautiful. But, there are many alternative Christmas markets in Europe that are just as beautiful (if not more) and don’t have the crowds that the Christmas markets in France and Germany have and the goods that are for sale are often much cheaper.
Have you thought about visiting the Christmas markets in Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Hungary or Austria?
On your next winter trip to Europe make sure you check out these best Alternative Christmas Markets in Europe that aren’t in Germany or France
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- 1 Alternative Christmas Markets that need to be on your Christmas Market list
2 Tallinn, Estonia
- 2.1 Vilnius, Lithuania
- 2.2 Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic
- 2.3 Prague, Czech Republic
- 2.4 Salzburg, Austria
- 2.5 Vienna, Austria
- 2.6 Innsbruck, Austria
- 2.7 Budapest, Hungary
- 2.8 Copenhagen, Denmark
- 2.9 Krakow, Poland
- 2.10 Wroclaw, Poland
- 2.11 Warsaw, Poland
- 2.12 Bratislava, Slovakia
- 2.13 Zagreb, Croatia
- 2.14 Interlaken , Switzerland
- 3 Share It!
- 4 My BEST Travel Resources
Alternative Christmas Markets that need to be on your Christmas Market list
There is nothing better than stumbling across a Christmas Market that looks different to the markets you have seen before that are selling things you haven’t seen before. While the markets in Germany and France are stunningly beautiful, after a while they all blend into one. Don’t get me wrong, I will never turn down the chance to visit a Christmas Market in France or Germany but I do also like finding Alternative Christmas Markets in other countries that are unique and will provide you will memories to last a life time.
There are 16 Alternative Christmas markets below that need to be added to your Christmas Market bucket list. Which one are you going to first?
Riga, the capital of Latvia is a brightly coloured city with a mix of medieval charm. The buildings pop out at you and the medieval streets make you feel as though you have stepped back in time.
In December you will find markets in Doma Laukums square, Livu Laukums square as well as Esplenade Park. On Sundays if you cross the river you will find Kalnciema kvartals market.
Winter in Latvia is extremely cold but never mind, as the center of the Christmas markets is on open fire, where you can stand and enjoy a mulled wine or a piece of ginger bread.
There are many gifts, souvenirs and decorations for purchase at the markets including welded decorations that you can see being made before your eyes.
The markets are not huge, but they are super cute and will provide you will a few hours of joy as you taste some of the local foods and browsing the hand made gifts and decorations.
At the moment, the Christmas Markets in Riga are set to open on the 30th of November 2021 and close on the 8th of January 2022.
The beautiful Christmas markets are set up in the main square in the middle of Tallinn. The square is surrounded by stunning buildings from the gothic era and are the perfect back drop for the Christmas Markets. The moment you step into the Christmas Markets in Tallinn it is not hard to see why it was voted the best Christmas Market in 2019.
The Christmas tree in the middle of the market is of particular importance to the Estonian’s. It is said that the Christmas Tree in Tallinn is the “oldest” Christmas and the tradition dates back to 1441. In 1441 the Christmas tree was put up in the square and is said to be the first Christmas tree on display in Europe.
The Christmas markets have an extremely cosy and magical feeling, from the unique stalls to the local food and drinks and the pretty Christmas decorations, there is something for every body. Be sure to grab a hot meal and some mulled wine when you visit the markets. A particular favourite are the sausages and fried potatoes. Or, if you are super adventurous why not try the blood sausage?
If you are lucky enough to see the Christmas Markets from above, you will see the star shape that Christmas markets make. With the tree in the middle the markets branch out in five directions forming the beautiful star shape.
This year the Christmas markets will be held in the Main Square from the 26th of November 2021 until the 2nd of January 2022.
One of the best alternative Christmas Markets in Europe is located in Vilnius. The small Baltic city located in Lithuania has the Christmas market in front of the Cathedral in Cathedral Square and also the Town Hall Square.
The Christmas markets in Cathedral Square are covered in fairy lights and made up of white wooden huts these markets might be small but are certainly mighty. These markets are more traditional and sell local delicacies, souvenirs and Christmas decorations.
In Town Hall square you will find more modern Christmas markets which are housed inside igloos. In the igloos you will find shops selling arts and crafts, clothing and even cafes.
The Christmas spirit spreads outside of the markets and you will see the Christmas Train cruising around the city center.
This year the markets are expected to open from the 27th of November 2021 until the 9th of January 2022.
Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic
Cesky Krumlov is a picture perfect town located in South Bohemia, Czech Republic. During the day, especially in the summer, the town is buzzing with tourists day tripping from Prague. However, visiting Cesky Krumlov in winter is perfect, because there aren’t many tourists around and after 5pm it becomes a relatively ghost town.
Unlike many Christmas markets in Europe, the Christmas markets in Cesky Krumlov do not take over the whole town square, which means you can still enjoy the beauty of the town square.
Located in Svornosti Square, the Christmas markets are small but still contain a bustling atmosphere. There are many stalls selling hand crafted decorations, Czech mulled wine, roasted Cinnamon chimney cakes and of course, there are few stalls selling food.
Not only will you spot tourists perusing the Christmas markets but it is also a gathering place for locals to enjoy a mulled wine and listen to some live music. The markets in Cesky Krumlov are also a lot of cheaper than others in Europe which makes it the perfect place to stock up on some gorgeous Christmas decorations or gifts to take home.
This year the markets are expected to be in Svornosti Square from the 26th of November 2021 until the 6th of January 2022.
Prague, Czech Republic
If you want to feel as though you have stepped into a Christmas winter wonderland, you cannot passed a visit to the Christmas markets in Prague. In fact, the whole city comes to life at Christmas, with small markets popping up all over the city.
The most traditional, well known and biggest Christmas market is held in the Old Town Square. Whilst you need to make a visit to this Christmas market it can be quite overwhelming with all the people swarming around the stalls.
However, if you visit during the day or later in the evening you will find the markets are less busy and much easier to shop.
After you have visited the traditional Christmas markets in the town square (make sure you check out the Christmas tree, it is gorgeous) head to some of the smaller markets which are filled with charm. One favourite is located in Náměstí míru in the Vinohrady district. The food is amazing and the wreathes and decorations are simplying stunning. Of course, under the Christmas tree will you find singers singing carols.
Of course, a visit to the Castle is a must any time of year but at Christmas they have a few stalls in front of St. Vitus Cathedral with stalls selling soup in bread bowls, mulled wine and hot mead. It is the perfect place to warm up.
Many Christmas markets in Europe are closed on Christmas day but the ones in Prague are in full swing, so if you are looking for some where to spend Christmas day, Prague is the place for you.
You will find Christmas markets around the city from the 27th of November 2021 until the 6th of January 2022.
It is not hard to see why Austria becoming a much more popular place to spend Christmas. Known for being surrounded by snow capped mountains, lakes and music (the sound of music any one?) and of course, gorgeous cities. One of my favourite cities in Austria is Salzburg. Filled with hidden laneways and courtyards, quaint buildings, mountains and the history of Mozart.
When you think Salzburg can’t get any cuter, the Christmas markets start popping up around the city. The largest Christmas market is in the main square with stalls selling unique snow globes, decorations, clothing, leather goods and apple strudel (among other food items).
Located just off the main square is a large ice-skating rink for both the young and the old to show off their graceful moves, or in my case, not so graceful!
Something that sets Salzburg apart is that the Christmas markets are located in hidden courtyards. When you see a quite laneway make sure to pop your head in because you don’t know what sort of Christmas delights you will find at the end.
This year the Christmas markets are expected to be held from the 18th of November 2021 until the 6th of January 2022.
** Before visiting Salzburg please check as the status of the markets is currently not confirmed **
Vienna has one of the biggest Christmas Markets in Europe and makes its the perfect alternative Christmas markets to Germany and France.
The are many different Christmas markets around the city and each market has a different theme. In fact, at any of the Christmas markets you can pick up a map, with information on where the Christmas markets are located and what the theme is.
So you’ve been warned, they all have different mugs to serve mulled wine and hot chocolate, and they are all super cute. When you purchase a drink you pay a small deposit for the mug, if you return the mug you get your deposit back. However, if you’re wanting to keep a mug, I would check out all of the markets before making a decision on which one you are willing to “lose” your deposit on.
Whilst the Christmas markets in Vienna are must on any Christmas market tour of Europe, try to to plan your visit so you are not there on the weekend. We arrived in Vienna on a Sunday and on our wander around the city we walked passed some of the markets and it looked like they were exploding and we wouldn’t fit in the market. However, during the week it is the opposite, there is plenty of room to wander around.
If you would like to visit the markets on a weekend, go when they first open or late in the morning.
Do not miss the market at Karlskirche, the building that sit behind in the markets is absolutely gorgeous and there is a live nativity scene and petting zoo.
Most food and decorations being sold at the markets are quite expensive but they are beautiful and well worth a wee splurge.
This year the markets will open on the 17th of November 2021 and close around the 6th of January 2022. This is dependent on the market so check out this website for more accurate information.
Known as the Christmas markets in the mountains there is no place more spectacular for Christmas markets.
The mountains and the architecture of the old buildings in the Old Town Square create the most perfect back drop for the Christmas markets. The are 70 charming Christmas stalls that lie beneath the Christmas tree.
The smell of roasted almonds and warm mulled wine fill the air, the stalls sell folk art, hand crafted nativity figures and felt hats. If you visit in the evening the sound of the trumpets float in the air from the Golden Roof.
Not only do the traditional markets fill the old town square but you will also find markets in other squares around the city. One to note is the market across from the town square where you will find a large Swarovski looming over the markets.
The food sold at all of the Christmas markets is divine, so make sure you visit around lunch or dinner time for a delicious meal.
Sadly due to current lockdowns the markets have been cancelled this year.
Budapest, the capital of Hungary, is well and truly becoming a Christmas hotspot but as the same time is still relatively off the beaten path when it comes to Christmas markets.
In December, the dark winters nights are decorated with beautiful lights and decorations, making it a magical winter wonderland. Some of the most beautiful street decorations are along Andrassy Avenue, so grab a mulled wine and enjoy the crisp winters air as you stroll down Andrassy Avenue.
One of the most Christmas Markets in Budapest is in St Stephan Square in the middle of the city. The market is set up in from the basilica and has stalls filled with home-made ceramics, dried plant decorations, leather good, cosmetics, hand-made Christmas decorations and of course, local cuisine.
You’ll find markets on Elisabeth Square (Erzsébet Tér), and Vorosmarty Square (Vörösmarty Tér), as well Buda Castle. At Buda castle you will find great food and beautiful views over the city and the Danube river.
No matter which markets you stumble across you will find amazing food stalls selling many local dishes, including the famous Hungarian sausages, chicken paprika and the famous Christmas dish, sour cabbage. Of course, you can’t go passed the mulled wine. In Hungary, the mulled is more simple than some other European cities but it is the simplicity that makes it stand out.
There will be Christmas markets around Budapest from the 26th of November, 2021 until the 1st of January 2022.
If one city knows how to do Christmas it is Copenhagen. From early November, you will Julemarked (Christmas Markets) all over the city. Each Christmas Market is filled with cute little wooden huts decorated with wreathes, garlands and fairy lights and filled with a smell that can only be described as Christmas.
Each market sells warms muggs of Glogg, a spice wine that is warm and sweet. Despite not being in Germany, the markets in Copenhagen have the best bratwurst in all of Europe, the best being at the markets in Nyhavn.
One of the prettiest markets is in Nyhavn, the markets line the brightly coloured buildings that are decorated with Christmas lights and the canal filled with boats run down the middle of the markets.
Some of the other markets worth visiting are Kongens Nytorv, HC Andersen and of course, Tivoli Gardens. If there is one things you do in Copenhagen in winter make sure it is the Christmas markets at Tivoli Gardens.
Christmas markets will take place around the city from the 12 of November 2021 until the 22nd of December 2021.
A tradition that began well before WWII and was reestablished after the fall of communism in Poland is the annual Christmas fair in the main market square and is the largest Christmas in Poland.
The old-fashion magical feeling, twinkling lights and rustic wooden stalls in a huge draw for locals and tourists to come and mingle and enjoy the festive season.
The wooden stalls are filled with Christmas decorations, sweets, clothes, toys, local souvenirs and pottery just to name a few.
Along side the stalls selling goods you will find stalls selling food unique to Krakow. The food is served at picnic tables where you can toast each other over a glass of mulled wine. Uniquely, the mulled wine is served from enormous barrels.
Listen for the carolers performing from the stage and take in the atmosphere as the snow softly falls down around you.
Not only are the markets set up in the main square but just off the square are the “regular” indoor markets that are well worth an explore. They make for the perfect place to take a break from the cold.
You will find the markets in the main square from the 26th of November 2021 until the 2nd of January 2022.
Wroclaw is still a relative hidden gem, despite being the fourth largest city in Poland. Located on the Oder River in Western Poland, Wroclaw is particularly well known for its stunning market square.
Despite the below freezing temperatures in winter, the most beautiful Christmas markets, in fact, walking into the Christmas markets on a cold Christmas eve my spirit felt so alive with the magic of Christmas.
Whilst most Christmas markets are made up of wooden stalls there is just something different about these wooden stalls. With the small rides, the biggest Christmas tree I think I’ve seen and the flower shops selling tiny Christmas trees to take back to your hotel, the Wroclaw Christmas market has thought of everything.
We spent our Christmas eve shopping for Christmas presents for each other and it was so much fun perusing the stalls selling gingerbread, statues of dwarfs (more on this in a minute), jewelry, clothing and gorgeous Christmas decorations.
To help keep yourself warm, see how many dwarf statues you can find on your tour of the city. From photographers to ice cream dwarf and everything in between there are 163 to be found around the city.
This year the markets will be open from the 19th of November until the 31st of December but are closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
The capital of Poland, Warsaw, holds their market in the old town in front of the Castle in Castle Square. With its central location it is very hard to miss, in fact, you will probably walk passed the markets several times during your stay.
Not only does the Castle Square hold the market but the old quarter is light up with Christmas lights and decorations that grace the old buildings and trees that line the streets.
The market at Castle square some how seems more relaxed than mother cities and is considerably smaller than other European capitals. The decorations for sale are super cute and if it is a great place to pick up a new pair of gloves or a beanie. The produce and goods that are being sold at the market stalls are much cheaper than other European Christmas markets.
Make sure you try the Pierogis, local soup, sausages, grilled meats and hot chocolate. Of course, you can’t visit Poland without trying some fruit vodka.
If you are looking for a more modern Christmas market it is worth checking out the tiny market at the Palace of Culture and Science. Or if “hipster” markets are more your thing, head over to the Praga district across the river.
A popular attraction at most Christmas markets is the ice-skating rink in the middle of the old town and the ice-skating rink in Warsaw is stunning. Set underneath fairy lights and in front of the gorgeous old buildings skating at night time is a true Christmas dream.
This year you will find the Christmas markets in Warsaw from the 1st of December 2021 until the 6th of January 2022.
A unique place to visit at Christmas time is Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia. The Christmas markets come to life in December and are extremely picturesque.
The best market to visit is the market at Hlavné und Hviezdoslavovo námestie which is the main square. The red and white stripped Christmas markets are set up in front of the prettiest buildings and the colours pop against the grey sky.
Christmas markets are a great place for locals and tourists to come together and the enjoy the atmosphere and of course, a glass of mulled wine. The markets are fabulous place to try some authentic Slovakian food including Strudl (a cake like dessert filled with apples and raisins) or the Loksa which is like a savory pancake.
This year you will find the Christmas markets in Bratislava from the 26th of November until the 22nd of December.
One of my favourite places to visit at Christmas time was Zagreb in Croatia. Croatia is normally a place associated with summer beach trips it is a must on your European winter trip.
From the main square, to the main promenade down to the train station and every street in between there are over 25 Christmas markets around the city. Each market has its own theme and each with a different atmosphere. The charming market stalls sell artesian products, hand made crafts, local cuisine and of course, mulled wine.
Down by the train station you will find the most amazing ice-skating rink that moves away from your standard circle or square ice-skating rink and branches out to a track that weaves around the cute Christmas decorations. Just be careful – the ice is not as smooth as at other markets, so if you’re a little wobbly on your feet (like me) stick to the side!
Colourful ornaments decorate the streets and lights glisten in the frosty air and there is nothing more perfect than an evening stroll around the city. You will come across brass bands performing from balconies, open air performances and cultural displays happening daily.
Just a word of warning, stick to the mulled wine over the hot chocolate!!
For some reason my expectations for Christmas in Zagreb were not high and I was completely wrong. It is a must on your Christmas bucket list.
To enjoy the Christmas festivities in Zagreb make sure you head to the city between the 27th of November 2021 and the 6th of January 2022.
Interlaken , Switzerland
There is nothing more “Swiss” that gorgeous wooden chalets. Imagine, these beautiful chalets decorated with fairy lights and filled with Christmas goodness.
Enjoy these quaint markets as the sunsets over the snow covered mountains and the scent of gingerbread wafts for the clean mountain air.
One of the prettiest markets is the market along Höheweg promenade , that is open for one weekend from the 17th of December until the 19th of December. Enjoy the pretty Christmas decorations and the Christmas markets as you shop the stalls while taking in the views of the famous Jungfrau and the surrounding Swiss Alps.
You will also find another small market across the river, that sells hand crafted gifts, drinks and local cuisine.
It goes without saying that the Christmas markets in Interlaken have the best hot chocolates but it can be quite expensive to shop. Whether you plan to shop or not, you must visit the Christmas markets in town and enjoy the atmosphere and Christmas cheer.
What are you favourite Christmas Christmas markets outside of Germany and France? Let me know in the comments below
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