Christmas is less than one month away and for those traveling around Europe hoping to get into the holiday spirit, look no further than one of the many traditional European Christmas markets. Gallons of mulled wine, the aroma of fresh baked gingerbread cookies, and advent displays are just some of the draws when visiting one of these outdoor markets. Here is a list of .
8 of the Best Christmas Markets in Europe
1. Brussels, Belgium
The Belgian capital lights up The Grand Place with nightly light shows that feature traditional and modern versions of Christmas music but the real attraction is the dozens of wooden stalls that line Grand Place, La Bourse, and Place Sainte Catherine. The city also features traditions from a different city annually. This year’s honor goes to Quebec. Ice skating rinks, a Ferris wheel, and stands selling some of Belgium’s most famous exports like mussels and fries, hot chocolate, and dark Belgian ale fill the square. There is also a carousel that children can enjoy and dozens of shops selling decorative souvenirs and sweets.
2. Budapest, Hungary
This central European capital is one of the most popular destinations during the holidays not only because of its steaming spas, but also because of its Christmas markets. Several squares have stands steaming with goulash, hot wine, and sausages of all sorts but the biggest and perhaps best one known around the world is the one in Vörösmarty Square. Dozens of wooden chalets fill the square selling some of the most creative and authentic gifts and handicrafts found anywhere in Europe. Every night, musicians serenade crowds with a selection of traditional Hungarian Christmas music or renditions of classic Christmas tunes made by local artists.
3. Vienna, Austria
Christmas is a much-celebrated event in Vienna and from mid-November until early January, the city’s prettiest squares look even more so with stalls and booths decorated with ornaments, holly, and snow. The Rathausplatz is filled with scents of pine, Viennese baked goods, and hot punch. It also has the city’s elegantly decorated Christmas tree. If you have little ones tagging along, take them to Karlsplatz to enjoy the activities like Christmas story readings and toy workshops. There is also a playground and a petting zoo.
4. Munich, Germany
Germany is famous for its Christmas markets but this one is also arguably one of the oldest European Christmas markets and it is in the Bavarian capital of Munich. Marienplatz, the city’s main square, is covered with shops and stalls selling traditional Bavarian trinkets such as wood carvings from Oberammergau and hand-painted ornaments from various cities near the Black Forest region. Get yourself lost in a sea of colorful trinkets while sipping on spiced wine and eating ginger cookies underneath the town hall glockenspiel.
5. Strasbourg, France
Strasbourg is known as the other capital of the European Union, but for five weeks a year, Strasbourg becomes the Capital of Christmas. This small city transforms itself into a winter wonderland. Streets and shop windows are elaborately decorated with sparkling ornaments and hand crafted wreaths. Christkindelsmärik, located just around the corner from the cathedral, is one of the most visited among our 8 best Christmas markets in Europe. Try some traditional Alsatian food such as choucroute and tarte flambée while your eyes feast on the beautiful toys and ornaments for sale in one of its many wooden stalls.
6. Prague, Czech Republic
Foodies ought to look into visiting Prague during the holidays because unlike the other locations in our best Christmas markets in Europe where handicrafts and gifts are the highlights, food and beverage take center stage in Prague’s Old Town and Wenceslas squares. Definitely try “Trdelnik”, the traditional rolled pastry coated with sugar, a portion of roasted ham with a chunk full of potato dumplings and then wash it down with Pilsner Urquell. Cap your night off with medovina, a traditional liquor made from honey.
7. Copenhagen, Denmark
For a different take on your holiday shopping, visit the trendy Scandinavian capital of Copenhagen. This definitely should be in your best Christmas markets in Europe list. Tivoli Gardens is illuminated with thousands of twinkling lights strategically placed to be most pleasing to anyone who catches a glimpse of it. Try their delicacy of ice doughnuts with black currant jam to fill the tummy followed by a cup full of gløgg, mulled wine made with raisins, almonds, and flavors of cinnamon and cloves. Keep an eye for nissers, Danes scattered around in elf-like costumes complete with pointed red hats and clogs.
8. London, England
Though technically not part of what is normally referred to as Europe, London hosts one of the largest, most diverse, and therefore one of the best Christmas markets in Europe. The place to be is Winter Wonderland, located in Hyde Park, where over two hundred wooden chalets set up shop featuring food, drinks, and hand-made gifts from all over Europe. Children will also enjoy the skating on Britain’s largest ice rink and a turn on one of the many carnival rides also located in the park.
Planning a trip to Europe this Christmas season? Book your car and hotels now to catch last-minute deals.