“Sleigh bells ring, are you listening? In the lane, snow is glistening. A beautiful sight, we’re happy tonight, walking in a winter wonderland”
There is nothing that describes a winter wonderland more perfectly than a European Christmas Market. Walking hand in hand with a steaming cup of cocoa or a mulled wine, snow falling and dusting the cute wooden roofs of Christmas Market stalls and the smell of chestnuts roasting on a open fire wafting through the air. I am yet to discover a place that does Christmas quite like Europe.
From November until Early January town squares, hidden courtyards and cobblestone lanes ways are filled with the Best European Christmas Markets. From the biggest cities across Europe to the smallest hamlets you will find charming Christmas markets every where.
In order to find you the Best European Christmas Markets, I asked my fellow travel bloggers which markets they thought were the best in Europe and here is what they had to say.
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Planning a trip to see the Best European Christmas Markets? Check out these other posts:
The Ultimate Guide for Visiting the Best European Christmas Markets
The Best Place to Experience Christmas: Tivoli Gardens Christmas Markets
10 Delightful things to do in Copenhagen in Winter
Best Winter City Breaks in Europe
- 1 Here are the Best European Christmas Markets…….
- 2 Best European Christmas Markets Tours
- 3 My BEST Travel Resources
Here are the Best European Christmas Markets…….
Fiona, Travelling Thirites
Vienna has one of the biggest Christmas Markets in Europe. There are several markets spread around the city and they have all a different theme! Just to warn you, they all have different mugs to serve mulled wine, so if you’re wanting to keep a mug, I would check out all of the markets before making a decision!
The markets in Vienna are a must, you cannot skip these markets but DO NOT go on the weekend. We walked passed the markets on a Sunday and felt as though we wouldn’t be able to fit in the markets, so I highly recommend going during the week or if you are only there on a weekend go late morning when they first open!
The buildings that play as the backdrop for all of these markets are just stunning! Do not miss the market at Karlskirche. It has a live nativity scene and petting zoo! The goods for sale are expensive here but they are beautiful.
At every Christmas you can find maps of all of the markets around this city! Make sure you grab one so you don’t miss out on any of the Christmas cheer.
This year the markets will open on the 14th of November and close on the 23rd of December.
Derek and Mike, Robe-Trotting
One of the best European Christmas Markets cities is Copenhagen, Denmark. During the Christmas season, the city comes alive with bright lights and evergreen boughs criss-crossing streets. On top of the lovely scenery, Copenhagen Christmas Markets are among the best in the world.
You’ll find markets all over the city, and one of the best and most famous is in Kongens Nytorv. The square shines as one of Copenhagen’s prettiest spots all year long, but it’s truly exquisite during the Christmas Market season. It’s lined with vendors selling handmade crafts, seasonal food and hot chocolate.
Make sure to admire the gorgeous Hotel D’Angleterre, one of Copenhagen’s finest hotels. During the Christmas season it’s decorated brilliantly. In the month of December it’s transformed into an advent calendar and LCD screens are fixed to the building’s facade and used to countdown the days until Christmas. It makes a truly special backdrop to the Christmas market experience.
Another stand out Christmas Market is at Højbro Plads, the plaza near Christianborg Palace. It’s located near a crossroads of Copenhagen’s busiest pedestrian streets so it can get quite busy during the weekends. Still, this traditional German-style Christmas Market makes for a perfect seasonal outing. The vendors are friendly and you can find grill wurst and other German treats. Make sure to try the gløgg or mulled wine which is especially good at Højbro Plads Christmas Market.
The last market is one to behold, Tivoli Gardens Christmas Market. Entering the famous amusement park at Tivoli, you’ll feel as if you’ve stumbled into the North Pole. It’s decorated like a Hollywood film set and Christmas Market in the center of the glowing gardens is a favorite of kids and parents alike. Best of all, the rides, shows and attractions continue to operate and entertain families even during the winter cold. Even Santa Claus himself visits Tivoli Gardens Christmas Market every weekend.
Rai, A Rai of Light
Malta’s Christmas markets bring a festive spirit to the region just when the winter chill sets in over the Mediterranean. What makes this island stand apart is the cheerful atmosphere with a whole host of things to do at this time of the year.
Jovial markets are becoming more popular and you can expect a multitude of markets located throughout. Find everything from local arts and crafts to handmade jewelry, books, seasonal produce and vinyl records. Everything you would need to get into the holiday spirit.
The main markets worth a visit are the Valetta waterfront and Sliema market, with plenty of Christmas themed activities, carolling, and street performances on show.
The Pjazza Tigne Market in Sliema, set up for the holiday season, is always a highlight. Most local regions also arrange smaller village markets, for everyone to enjoy. Christmas is a highly celebrated time, noted both for its religious significance and for traditional atmosphere, and a trip to Malta at this time of the year is highly recommended.
Rai, A Rai of Light
If the smell of French cheese and hot roasted chestnuts doesn’t get you in the Christmas mood, not much else will.
A well-known fact about Paris is that the city has some of the best Christmas markets in Europe. During a typical season, over a dozen appear all around, starting from the beginning of December and remaining until a few days into January. It is a real festive time with the city’s squares and streets all lit up and adorned with Christmas trees, lights, and garlands. There’s no better way to join in the festivities than a visit to one of the markets scattered across the city.
The Village Noël de Champ de Mars is a good option with over 100 wooden chalets set up in front of the Eiffel Tower. This market is a good choice if you’re looking for wooden toys, hats, scarfs, and handcrafted jewelry. You will also find festive gifts, souvenirs, and decorations by artisans from across the country. In addition to the French cheese and roasted chestnuts, keep an eye out for other delicious treats such as Nutella-filled crepes and spice bread.
The Christmas market takes place from December 15 and continues into the first week in January. It does tend to get busy immediately after dinner, so it’s best to visit during the day or early evening by taking the Metro to Trocadero to avoid the crowds.
Sharon, My Free Range Family
Not your standard Christmas market destination… but it is still on the list of the Best European Christmas markets! Bucharest is further off the tourist trail and a special one to visit if you are looking for an authentic experience. Situated in the heart of the city and opposite the Palace of Parliament, this Christmas market is an impressive size. The stalls of goodies both craft and food are unique to the region and unlike other more commercial European markets. There is a real sense of small business and local supporting local.
What to buy – The homemade ceramic Christmas decorations, carved wooden bowls and crocheted table linens. The homemade chocolate is also very good and comes in many flavours… you literally buy it by the slab!
What to eat – The stews are out of this world delicious. They’ll warm you right to your toes on the cold winter days.
What to drink – Anything hot! The hot wines can’t be beaten… pair it with a pork sausage and you are good to go for another round of shopping.
Where to stay – Accommodation in Bucharest is super cheap and if you are going as a couple then check out this cute little Airbnb. It is central to the city and the markets. The hosts are very friendly, and the loft space is a fun accommodation option for a few nights.
Things to do at the markets – There is a large ice skating rink with real ice if you fancy a blast around the rink. And the live carol singing creates a beautiful atmosphere as you meander around the stalls.
Other things to do in Bucharest – Check out the Cărturești Carusel book store and the Historic Centre. For a really unique experience take a day trip to Bran Castle. The castles in the mountains are great to see as the countryside is beautiful.
Further out of Bucharest is also the Brașov Christmas Markets. In a smaller space and trendy little shopping village, they get very busy, particularly when the Christmas tree lights are turned on. The shopping here is very similar to that in Bucharest but surrounded by the mountains in this small district, there is a very cosy feeling about this market.
Wendy Werneth, The Nomadic Vegan
If you’ve visited many Christmas markets in Germany, you’ve probably noticed that they all start to look pretty similar after all. But, the thing that sets the Konstanz market apart from all the others and earns it a spot on list of Best European Christmas Markets, is that it’s located right on the shores of the beautiful Lake Constance, or the “Bodensee” as it’s known in German. In fact, the official name of this market is the “Weihnachsmarkt am See”, which means “Christmas market on the lake”.
Not only are the market stalls set up all along the lakefront, there are even more stalls on the “Christmas ship” that’s moored in the town harbor! In addition to its arts and crafts stalls, the Christmas Ship is also the venue for an ice bar with a 360° panoramic view of the lake and the surrounding landscape. Most people plan their Lake Constance holidays during the summer, as it’s a very popular place for hiking, cycling and other outdoor pursuits. But the Weihnachsmarkt am See makes this a great winter destination as well!
Most of the stalls are tended by local artisans, and you can pick up some beautiful Christmas tree ornaments and other locally made handicrafts. As for the food and drink on offer, most of it also consists of local specialties, such as sausages and cheesy käsespätzle. There are also some stalls selling international fare, though, such as Indian and Moroccan, which tend to have more vegan-friendly options.
While you’re at the harbor, you can’t miss Konstanz’s most famous landmark, the Imperia Statue. This rotating sculpture depicts a scantily clad woman holding up a naked Pope Martin V in one hand and Emperor Sigismund in the other. As you can imagine, it was quite controversial when it was first erected. And all the more so because the artist erected it surreptitiously in the middle of the night without getting permission. But the seductive Imperia eventually one the hearts of the locals, and she is now one of the city’s most famous attractions.
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Daniel and Ilona, Top Travel Sights
The Christmas Market in Frankfurt is one of the oldest, most visited and all round, best European Christmas markets. Historians found first mentions of it in records from 1393, which means that it has been around for more than 600 years!
The primary Frankfurt Christmas Market stretches out over multiple locations. The most scenic one is at Römerberg, where you can explore the market with a backdrop of traditional half-timbered houses. In front of the Town Hall, you can find a Christmas tree so large that it makes you wonder how it even got here.
From Römerberg, go north towards Paulsplatz. This square is perfect if you’re looking to buy gifts or souvenirs.
Quetschemännchen are figurines made from dried plums and nuts. These days, they are supposed to bring good luck, but traditionally, young men would send them to girls. If the girl kept the figurine, it meant that the boy had a chance with her.
Another great gift is Räuchermännchen. These figurines are made from wood and usually show smoking little men. If you put a special incense candle inside, smoke will come up from the little guy’s mouth.
Or do you prefer a non-Christmasy souvenir from Frankfurt? Then buy a Bembel, a jug that locals use to serve apple wine.
Talking about drinks. Besides mulled wine, you can also find warm apple wine at the Frankfurt Christmas Market. This wine is similar to cider, and at Christmas, locals love drinking it hot and infused with spices. Make sure to try some!
With your hot apple wine, we recommend that you eat traditional marzipan cookies called Bethmännchen. Or do you prefer salmon grilled by the fire?
Then leave the primary Christmas market and make your way to the Pink Christmas, which you can find nearby. This LGBTQ-market has some of the most delicious food you can get! From potato pancakes to German sausages or salmon, you’ll discover lots of local specialities here.
While in Frankfurt, make sure also to check out the city’s main sights. After walking through the market in the Old Town, go down to the riverside. A pedestrian bridge will take you to Sachsenhausen, the neighbourhood on the other side of the river, which is famous for its apple wine bars.
Or climb to the top of the cathedral or visit one of Frankfurt’s many museums. You’ll find plenty of things to do here.
Linn, Brainy Backpackers
The astounding city of Seville boasts one of the best Christmas markets in the country. In the heart of the city, lined along the Roman Catholic cathedral, you find never-ending stalls selling Christmas cribs and accessories. Wind your way through all the people to Plaza Nueva and you will find all kinds of Christmas stalls with cute Christmassy decorations and accessories. On the way you might want to grab some warm, grilled chestnuts to snack on.
Christmas in Spain is not celebrated as the rest of Europe, or the rest of the world. The big day where everyone gives each other presents is not in December as you might think. It’s the 6th of January, the Three Kings Day, the day when the three kings brought presents to baby Jesus. This is celebrated with parades in the streets of the 5th and the 6th of January and families get together for a huge lunch and swapping of presents. If you happen to be in Seville, this is a truly amazing time to be in the city.
But Christmas aside, there are plenty of other things to add to your Seville itinerary, like visiting the cathedral and Alcazar. Stroll through the biggest park in the city, Maria Louisa Park, which is filled with Arabic fountains, statues, and beautiful paths through stunning greenery. Go to the most famed landmark in the city, Plaza de España. Get some more grilled chestnuts as you walk along the 50 mosaic benches symbolizing each province in the country. Can you find Seville?
You should also visit Torre del Oro, an old watchtower along the Guadalquivir river, take a boat trip or go kayaking or stand up paddle boarding, and stroll along the river until you cross the beautiful Puente de Triana bridge. Once you get to Triana, the most traditional neighborhood in Seville and home to Flamenco, there are more Christmas stalls, and a whole heap of tapas bars for an abundant lunch where you can soak in the daily, Christmassy life around you.
The capital city of Hungary became one of the most visited Christmas Market hotspots in Europe. No wonder why, as Budapest is truly amazing during the winter time as well!
The city in December is fully dressed up in lights, and it’s absolutely magical to walk around downtown during the Christmas period. Get yourself a mulled wine, and walk along the beautiful Andrassy Avenue for the most amazing street decorations to see in the evening. You can also visit the Buda castle, for some more holiday experience, beautiful views and great food.
Budapest has more spots they have Christmas Markets. The most popular, and also most picturesque market is on the St Stephan Square, in the city center. The market in front of the city’s iconic basilica has a lot of stalls with Hungarian home-made products, such as ceramics, lavender products, dried plant decorations, leader goods, natural cosmetics, hand-made Christmas decorations, and much much more!
Once you’re visiting a Christmas Market in Budapest, you must try the mulled wine. Hungarians are not fans of the ones that have extra flavors in them, but the simple mulled wine that has just spices and maybe a slice of orange, that’s the best possible winter drink to try!
At the Christmas markets in Budapest, you can find food stalls, with many different types of Hungarian dishes. Make sure to try the famous Hungarian sausages, the chicken paprikas, and the famous Christmas dish, the staffed soured cabbage. This last one is the best of all!
Beside the market on St Stephan Square, you’ll find markets on Elisabeth Square (Erzsébet Tér), and Vorosmarty Square (Vörösmarty Tér), as well as in the previously mentioned Buda Castle.
If you’re visiting Budapest, make sure to plan for at least 3 days, as there’s so much to discover in the city! Not to forget, that it’s a really budget-friendly destination, and the accommodation is really affordable too!
Mikkel, Sometimes Home
One of the most charming cities to visit for Christmas Markets is in Stuttgart. It’s a major city in Germany, east to get to from Munich. Stuttgart is a manufacturing hub and is also home to a major United States military base. It’s southwest of Nuremberg, another major city; it’s incredibly accessible no matter your preferred way of traveling there.
The most decorated Christmas Market kiosks I saw on my trip to Europe during the second week of December were here. I decided to go to Munich and Stuttgart before a Christmas river cruise that began in Budapest, on The Danube River. It was incredibly easy to travel to Stuttgart with the help of public transportation after I flew to Munich’s MUC international airport. From there, you can take a 45 minute bus ride to a train, which then takes about three hours to arrive in Stuttgart.
The market is open to the public from the third week of November until the third week of December. Over 200 vendors sell the suspected items – assorted food, huge Christmas Cookies, ornaments and such. But each of their little “houses” are decorated with the most beautiful garland, animated Christmas characters (like Santa and his reindeer or elves) and colorful oversized ornaments. It’s stunning during the day and a different world at night (though just as beautiful) with lights illuminating the entire area the market encompasses.
I always find I can’t pass up a delicious German bratwurst sandwich, complete with sauerkraut and mustard, and a little warm gluhwein. There’s something for children to enjoy as well, with a fairy tale village, rides and crafts.
I stayed at the Aloft Marriott hotel in the city center, which made it incredibly easy to walk to the markets, a nearby shopping mall and center, and the incredible Stuttgart public library (which is a must-see in the city).
Em, That Travelista
Cologne may not be as famous as Berlin or Munich, but as Germany’s fourth-largest city, it sure makes a lovely European destination for Christmas market hopping. In Cologne, you won’t find swarms of tourists. Instead, you will experience the German Christmas market scene mostly alongside locals, who are just as excited as you are about the most wonderful time of the year.
Cologne sits on the Rhine River and is known best for its beautiful cathedral, the Dom, which happens to be the largest Gothic church in all of northern Europe. Not only is the Cologne Cathedral the icon of the city, but it also serves as a dramatic backdrop over Cologne’s largest Christmas market – Weihnachtsmarkt am Dom. This Christmas market boasts over 150 quaint wooden stalls, each under a bright red canopy, decorated with garland and lights tying back to a central Christmas tree – the largest one in all of the Rhineland. At this market, you can take a ride on the merry-go-round, or simply make your own rounds by each stall selling yummy sweets, filling comfort foods, and adorable trinkets.
Weihnachtsmarkt am Dom is large enough to spend an entire evening eating and drinking the night away. But just a short walk away are three other Cologne Christmas markets that also deserve a visit. These are Weihnachtsmarkt in der Altstadt (another huge market with over 140 stalls and an ice rink), Markt der Engel (Cologne’s oldest Christmas market), and Nikolausdorf am Rudolfplatz. These markets each offer a slightly different scene, and it’s very easy to visit all of these Cologne Christmas markets on foot – no buses or metro necessary!
While at the markets, be sure to sample at least a few of the best German Christmas foods and drinks, such as Wurst (sausage), Reibekuchen (potato pancakes), Lebkuchenherzen (frosted heart-shaped gingerbread cookies), Brezel (soft pretzel), Glühwein (mulled wine), or Kinderpunsch (nonalcoholic Glühwein).
If you are in Cologne for more than an evening, there are plenty of things to keep you entertained, such as climbing to the top of the Dom for a view, eating your way through the Chocolate Museum, or shopping until you drop in the lively city center.
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Kelly, The Weekend Wanderluster
Birmingham comes alive every winter with the arrival of Birmingham’s Frankfurt Christmas Market. It’s a clear sign that Christmas is just around the corner.
In fact, it is actually the largest authentic German Christmas market outside of Germany or Austria. Birmingham’s Frankfurt Christmas Market offers a large range of traditional German goods and foods. The Christmas Market is so large that it covers the whole of Victoria Square and New Street, but this makes it easy to find a spot away from the crowd on busy nights.
There is even live music in the Square each evening. Whilst you’re here you can even get your Christmas Shopping done with the variety of vendors available featuring both local and German goods.
Where to Stay: For being the second-largest city in England, the city centre of Birmingham is quite condensed and walkable in comparison to London! Any hotel around New Street will be centrally located and easy to access the market. We stayed at the Ibis Styles Birmingham Centre, which was conveniently located between Victoria Square and Centenary Square. It was less than a 5 minute walk to the market. Breakfast was included and it was very affordable for the location and size!
What to Buy: Many of the vendors have come from Frankfurt thanks to the ongoing partnership between the 2 cities. If you are looking for some authentic German ornaments but can’t make it to Germany, you will be able to find lots here! I loved the large selection of German chocolate and Lebkuchen!
Where to Eat: As with the other vendors, many of the food stands are also from Germany! Personal favourites were the crepes and the bratwurst. Of course you can’t visit the Christmas Market without having some Glühwein and taking home a keepsake mug as well! They also have hot chocolate, hot apple cider, or a hot alcohol-free punch
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Caroline, CK Travels
London is one of the best cities in Europe to visit during Christmas and with many decorative lights and markets dotted around the capital. It is not hard to see why London makes it onto the Best European Christmas Markets list.
The most well known venue to visit during the run up to Christmas is Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park – a large open-air market with heaps of fun festive things to do.
Here you will find a large traditional German style market where you can shop for handmade crafts and gifts and enjoy delicious street food including raclette, bratwurst and glühwein (mulled wine). As well as a market there is an ice skating rink, Santa’s grotto, circuses, a giant observation wheel, fairground rides, shows and themed festive bars serving steins of beer with live music. There is also a huge area called the Ice Kingdom with children’s film character ice sculptures as well as ice sculpting workshops.
The venue is extremely popular with both locals and visitors and you’ll have to queue to get in during peak hours (evenings and weekends). Some of the attractions need to be booked in advance so check their website before you visit.
As well as Winter Wonderland, you’ll also find lots of fun things to do in London at Christmas. Head to London’s south bank to visit their riverside Christmas market with several traditional wooden chalets, as well as a two-storey Scandinavian style house with traditional fire pits, serving authentic Swedish food and hot winter drinks. In the bustling west end, many of the streets are illuminated with fun light displays and stores such as Selfridges have festive decorative windows.
Check out Oxford Street, Regent Street and Carnaby Streets for their lights, and then head to nearby Covent Garden for more festive decorations. If you are looking for a great place to go shopping then Liberty’s department store has a whole floor dedicated to Christmas, whilst Fortnum and Mason stock a range of beautiful luxury Christmas food gifts and hampers.
Mark, Wyld Family Travel
Strasbourg Christmas Market is the most famous Christmas Market in the Alsace region of France. It is definitely at the top of the Best European Christmas Markets list. Every year for the 5 weeks leading into Christmas the Strasbourg Market pops up in the city centre around the cathedral area.
Strasbourg has numerous little squares in the city centre area including the tourist area of La Petite France and along the Riverfront. All these areas are full of Christmas stalls selling locally made crafts foods and drink. If you venture inside the Strasbourg Cathedral you will see the large nativity scene set up. The streets are decorated with tinsel and the shop windows are dressed for Christmas.
The unique things about Strasbourg is that it has been both French and German over the years. This has made for a unique Alsatian cuisine which is best sampled at a local winstub” – small, family-owned restaurants unique to Alsace. Some of the most popular Christmas foods include Flamkussen, roasted potatoes, and choucroute garnie.
Being a big wine-producing area you will see people walking around with cups of warm mulled wine and buying local varieties such as Gewürztraminer.
We recommend taking a cruise on the canals to get a better feel of the Strasbourg Christmas spirit.
You can easily spend one day in Strasbourg seeing the Christmas market. Strasbourg is easily accessible from Paris in 2 hours by high-speed train, from Basel Switzerland in 1 hour by car and 45 minutes from Freiburg Germany.
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Thank you to my fellow travel bloggers for taking the time to recommend the Best European Christmas Markets, make sure you go and check out their travel adventures
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