The Best Christmas Markets In Europe

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Whether you are the festive kind or not, if you travel across Europe in December, you will want to pay a visit to one (or more) of the best Christmas markets in Europe.

Even though I am a self-professed Grinch and generally try to escape the Christmas season, I admit that I find something charming, romantic and touching about the lights, the stalls, the smells, the tastes (oh, the gingerbread cookies and the Glühwein!) and the atmosphere around Christmas. 

The good news is that there are many beautiful Christmas markets in Europe. Some are very well known, to the point that people travel to certain destinations precisely with the idea of visiting them. Others are real hidden gems that will surely add to your trip itinerary, and I thought I’d shed the light on those too. 

I have thus asked a bunch of other fellow bloggers to share their knowledge of the best markets in Europe. Continue reading to discover which ones you should visit!

Are you traveling to Europe in October? Check out my post The 26 Best Places To Visit In October In Europe.

Brussels has Christmas markets galore!

34 Best Christmas Markets In Europe

Brussels, Belgium

*Contributed by Jurga of Full Suitcase

Brussels Christmas market is the biggest and most impressive Christmas market in Belgium. Hundreds of market stalls are spread out all over the city center and there’s always so much to see and do!

Festive decorations, music and light shows, ice skating rink, Ferris wheel rides, and lots of other attractions make it a great destination for the whole family. This is also a good place to try all kinds of local Belgian specialties.

Don’t miss Brussels and Liege waffles, nougat cake, and make sure to try at least a few of the many different flavors of traditional Belgian liquor ‘jenever’.

But what makes Brussels Christmas market really stand apart is the stunning Grand Place town square that is incredibly beautiful during the holiday season. The impressive Town Hall and the surrounding buildings are always nicely lit in the evening.

Furthermore, during the entire holiday season, they run music and light shows that turn the main town square into a real fairytale-land. It will take your breath away!

One more reason to pick Brussels Christmas Market for your holidays is that it stays open until the first weekend of January. While many Western European Christmas markets stop before 24/12, Brussels is a great place to enjoy a wonderful holiday atmosphere during Christmas and New Year’s holiday.

Durbuy Christmas Market

Durbuy, Belgium

*Contributed By Paulina of Paulina On The Road

Durbuy is the smallest city in the world and is popular for its large Christmas market that gives you a taste of the Belgian Christmas spirit. The Christmas market is the mark of attraction among the tourists because the city is decorated mesmerizingly during Christmas. It’s such a small place that you can explore every hook and corner by walking across it.

The surroundings give you the chance to go hiking and exploring. 

Among all the popular and best Christmas markets in Belgium, Durbuy’s market holds a special place because of its gourmet products, gifts, crafts, and endless decorations. Durbuy stands out of all the other small cities because of its beauty. From its market to the cliffs and mountains, everything is beautiful.

Durbuy is in the northwest of the province of Luxembourg and a two-hour drive from Brussels. 

Bruges is beautiful with all the lights

Bruges, Belgium

*Contributed by Sarah of CosmopoliClan

To know what celebrating Christmas in Bruges is all about, imagine the most wonderful winter wonderland against a fairy-tale decor of gingerbread houses and cobbled streets.

Start your wintry itinerary in the heart of the city, at Markt square, where you’ll find a cosy ensemble of wooden chalets under a blanket of twinkling lights.

Treat yourself to a fluffy Belgian waffle lavishly topped with melted chocolate from the food truck in the shadow of the Bruges Belfry. Then take a little detour to Burg square to admire the beautifully decorated Christmas tree before continuing your journey to the intimate Christmas market at Simon Stevinplein, the perfect place to shop for one-of-a-kind handmade souvenirs.

End your evening at the city’s most romantic location, Minnewater, where you can tie your ice skates and join in on the icy fun. What makes this ice-skating rink extra unique is that it’s located on a pontoon, bringing a fun twist to a classic Christmas activity.

Consider joining this guided walking tour of Bruges or – for an even more fun experience – this rickshaw tour.

Prague is packed with Christmas markets

Prague, Czech Republic

*Contributed by David of Delve Into Europe

The Old Town Square Market is far and away the best of the Prague Christmas Markets. Its setting is one of the most beautiful in all Europe, beneath the fairytale Gothic spires of the Tyn Church, the Old Town Hall and Baroque Church of St Nicholas.

The Old Town Square Christmas Market has many of the things you’d expect from all Christmas markets in Europe, but it comes with a definite Czech twist. On every corner you’ll see a trdelnik, a stall spit-roasting chimney cake filled with chocolate, ice cream or whatever takes your fancy.

There are also plenty of drinks stalls serving up Czech beer, which is among the world’s best.  You’ll also find specialist Czech crafts on sale, and two local specialities to look out for are Bohemian glassware and wooden marionettes.

It’s at its most beautiful at dusk, when the lights are on but the sky is still blue. Climb the Old Town Hall Tower (you can get tickets here) for a fantastic bird’s eye view of the Square and Tyn Church, and from the other side, Prague Castle.   

Best Christmas Markets in Europe
Brno has lovely Christmas Markets

Brno, Czech Republic

One of the best things to do in the Czech Republic in the winter is visiting the many Christmas markets – these are among the best in Europe. The most popular ones are in Prague. However, Brno, the second largest city in the country, has some truly pretty ones – and the benefit of visiting them is that most of the people you’ll see are actually locals.

The markets in Brno provide a fantastic shopping opportunity. Look for anything from souvenirs to proper Christmas presents and beautiful decorations and make sure to enjoy the festive atmosphere. Don’t miss the carols, street performances, musicians, nativity scenes take care to snap one or more photos of the Christmas trees.

The best market in Brno is the one by the City Council (for a great view, walk up the tower of the City Hall). You will find a great selection of local Christmas food such as mulled wine; mead; trdelnik, a sweet pastry topped with sugar, cinnamon and sweet almonds (for a truly indulgent treat have it filled with cream and other sweet goodness).

Make sure to check out this guided walking tour of historical Brno.

If you are looking for lesser known Christmas markets in Europe, check out the one in Valašké Kloubouky, whose opening is marked by the Jarmark festival. Although it can get very crowded, most visitors there are locals. Make sure to try the medovina – a hot wine prepared with liquor and honey – and, should you have a chance, ride the steam train to or from Valašské Meziříčí. It’s a once in a lifetime experience. 

Val di Sole
Apple pies are traditionally prepared around Christmas time in Italy

Val di Sole, Italy

Val di Sole, in Trentino (northern Italy) has some of the best Christmas markets in Europe. With the backdrops of the beautiful Dolomites, a perfect place for skiing, and a wealth of traditional Christmas recipes which you can try in a local agriturismo or rifugio, you will be fully immersed in the festive atmosphere.

The nicest Christmas markets in Val di Sole are in Ossana, a small village where you will find hundreds of nativity scenes scattered around, set in the most unusual settings and of different sizes and materials. The main market is inside the castle.

best Christmas markets in Europe
Cagliari Christmas markets are virtually unknown to tourists!

Cagliari, Italy

Think of Christmas and the first thing that comes to mind is snow. But have you considered spending Christmas in the sun? If so, Cagliari – the capital of Sardinia – is a fabulous destination and the good news is that there you’ll find some lovely Christmas markets too. 

The best markets are in the historical center, and mostly in Marina and Stampace district. Piazza Yenne has some of the nicest stalls, and you’ll find more in Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, one of Cagliari’s nightlife hubs.

Throughout the markets, you will find an ample selection of souvenirs, traditional toys perfect as gifts for children, local foods (some strictly seasonal) and drinks, and Christmas decorations. There are Christmas carols and street performers to entertain the kids, too.

Keep in mind that most attractions close for Christmas in Cagliari – that’s a day when locals spend time with their family, either at home or at one of the best restaurants in Cagliari.

Zagreb holds beautiful Christmas markets

Zagreb, Croatia

*Contributed by Coni of Experiencing the Globe

Even though Croatia is mostly sought for sun and beaches, winter in Croatia has nothing to envy any Central European country. For Christmas the capital city, Zagreb, dresses in white and red to host a yearly winter wonderland – Advent u Zagrebu. Actually, the celebrations have been recognized as one of the best Christmas markets in Europe for several years in a row.

The market takes over the city center, transforming it into a magically decorated fairytale. You’ll find food delights and beverages for all tastes, plus an ice skate ring in the most picturesque of settings, continuous concerts in pergolas around parks and squares, stalls with handcrafted souvenirs, and plenty of spots created so you can get the perfect Instagram shot.

Stroll around the landmarks of the city –St. Mark’s church, Ban Jelačić Square, Zagreb Cathedral and King Tomislav Square– to discover all the beauty and fun that Christmas in Croatia holds.

Consider taking a guided walking tour of Zagreb to make the most of what the city has to offer.

best Christmas markets in Europe
Bournemouth certainly is a unique destination during Christmas

Bournemouth, United Kingdom

*Contributed by Angela of Exploring Dorset

The seaside town of Bournemouth in South West UK puts on a fantastic Christmas market and other festive activities from November through to January.

Parking is available at multiple locations throughout the town and you can’t miss the twinkling lights of Christmas Tree Wonderland through the Lower Gardens as you make your way through to the market stalls.

There is something on offer for the whole family including a visit to Santa in his Alpine Grotto, and a large outdoor ice skating rink situated right in the heart of the Christmas lights.

Christmas Tree Wonderland lights up the gardens and is an attraction in itself. You may even want to see them from the sky if you take a ride on the Bournemouth Eye.

If you’re looking for food and drink, you won’t be short of local and festive choices from food and drink stalls to the famous Alpine bar which is a popular location for adults.

Consider taking this hop-on hop-off tour of Bournemouth for a fun addition to your time in town.

Winter Wonderland
Winter Wonderland definitely is one of the best Christmas markets in Europe

Winter Wonderland, London, United Kingdom

*Contributed by Greta of London Dreaming

If you want to visit the best Christmas markets in Europe, Winter Wonderland in London should definitely feature on your bucket list. This huge Christmas fair, located in Hyde Park, is considered by many one of the best things to do if you’re visiting London around Christmas time.

Winter Wonderland is a gigantic Christmas market, with a huge variety of stalls that range from the classic Christmas food and drinks to quirky gifts and souvenirs. They also have lots of fair-style games, such as basket hoops and shooting games, where you can win all sorts of prizes. At Winter Wonderland you will also find roller coaster rides and an ice skating rink.

If you’re looking for a place where you can drink mulled wine, nibble on tasty cinnamon rolls and soak in the ultimate Christmas market vibes, Winter Wonderland in London is the perfect place to do so!

You may also want to check out this Christmas-themed tour of London – it’s perfect to admire all the Christmas lights around town.

You can visit Winter Wonderland from mid-November to early January. The closest tube station is Hyde Park Corner, however due to the huge crowds it’s better if you go to one of the nearby stations (Green Park or Knightsbridge) and walk the short distance between them. 

Chatsworth House
Chatsworth House is home to a lovely Christmas market

Chatsworth House, Peak District, United Kingdom

*Contributed by Jenny of Peak District Kids

Set in the heart of the Peak District National Park and home to the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, Chatsworth House is one of the grandest estates in England. And when it comes to Christmas in the Peak District, they pull out all the stops.

The Chatsworth Christmas Markets generally run from mid November to the beginning of December (yes, it finishes rather early). Entry is free, but you do have to pay for parking. Visitors can browse over one hundred stalls offering a range of Christmas gifts and decorations, sample delicious treats, and enjoy a mulled wine at one of the outdoor bars. 

Combine your market shopping and browsing with a visit inside the house to marvel the dramatic festive transformation. Each year a different theme is picked and it takes over a year of planning. 

York glows at Christmas

York, United Kingdom

*Contributed by Sinead of Map Made Memories

York Christmas Market is a six week long, free to enter festive shopping experience in the heart of the historic city of York. Over 100 wooden chalets line York’s pedestrian streets selling unique and locally made arts and crafts.

There is also local produce for sale including Yorkshire Gin, fudge and artisan chocolate with lots of free samples to tempt shoppers.

The market is beautifully illuminated at night and throughout the day festive buskers and bands help to create a lively, convivial atmosphere. The centerpiece of the market is Thor’s Tipi, a huge canvas pop up bar where shoppers can revive with a mulled wine or hot chocolate on sheepskin covered benches in front of an open log fire.

For sightseers, the market is just a five-minute walk from York Minster and the famous The Shambles. There is plentiful fee-paying parking near the market or it is a short, fifteen-minute walk to York’s Victorian era railway station.

Consider joining this river cruise or this sightseeing tour of the city for a bit of background on its history and culture.

Did you know that Nottingham hosts one of the best Christmas markets in Europe?

Nottingham, United Kingdom

Nottingham is one of the most fun cities to visit in England year round, and even more so during Christmas, when the Winter Wonderland, an incredibly scenic market, is held in Market Square and Long Row. An ice rink, a toboggan slide and the Helter Skelter bar are among the highlights. Make sure to try the spiced cider and hot toddies, too! 

Edinburgh offers a lot to see and do during Christmas

Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh holds some of the best Christmas markets in Europe, between November and January. The main market in town is the German Christmas Market, which has been running for more than 20 years.

It’s the kind of place where you will find  hot toddies and Knödel and all sorts of Christmas-themed gifts. There is a 60-meter-high “Star Flier” that will help you get stunning views of the city, as well as a ferris wheel. 

Pop into St. Andrew’s Square if you fancy ice-skating; whereas if you are in search of food and other treats you should head to Santa Land in Princes Street Gardens and, at just a few minutes walk from it, to the Scottish Market on George Street.

There you will find local delicacies such as Edinburgh-distilled gin and local craft beer, and all throughout you’ll be able to listen to classic Christmas tunes.

Christmas decorations in Belfast

Belfast, Northern Ireland

*Contributed by Allan of It’s Sometimes Sunny in Bangor

Belfast is one of those cities that’s small enough to explore on a weekend and is so close-knit that it can be covered on foot, which makes it ideal for a quick Christmas getaway.

And central to the festive season all is Belfast City Hall (Donegall Square) which makes the perfect setting for the Belfast Continental Market each year between mid-November and Christmas Eve.

The market itself shares all you expect from these seasonal shenanigans with gluhwein (mulled wine), heated beer tents, and all sorts of meatfests and food stalls. Then there’s Santa’s grotto and traditional slides and rides for the kids along with sweets and candy stalls scattered throughout.

Another perk in its location is the free tours and exhibitions of the city hall itself which is dressed up with festive baubles and Christmas trees. Belfast Christmas market is also easy to reach being no more than 5-minutes on foot from the two central stations/transit hubs.

The pretty market at Tuileries Gardens

Paris, France

*Contributed by Elisa of World In Paris and Rai of A Rai of Light

If you are visiting Paris at Christmas time, don’t miss the Tuileries Garden Christmas Market. This is one of the best Christmas markets in Paris and also one of the biggest.

The Tuileries Garden Christmas Market is located inside the beautiful and historical Tuileries Garden, next to the Louvre in Paris 1, and it replaces the Christmas Market located along the Champs Elysées.

The Tuileries Garden Christmas Market, however, is in a fenced space, car-free, and it outstands for the variety of wooden chalets and its small fun-fair with rides for kids and adults. There’s also a small skate rink and some places to eat and on-site so it is the perfect family plan for a winter day in Paris before Christmas.

The Tuileries Garden Christmas Market usually opens around mid-November and closes its doors after the New Year’s celebrations. The best way to reach this market is by metro line 1, station Tuileries.

Another great market is the Village Noël de Champ de Mars. This has over 100 wooden chalets set up right in-front of the Eiffel Tower and 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.

Remember that if you are visiting Paris for a week or even just for a day, you still need to book tickets to all the main attractions.

Strasbourg is a fantastic Christmas destination

Strasbourg, France

*Contributed by Stefan and Sebastien of Nomadic Boys

Strasbourg is the oldest and most famous Christmas market in France, dating back to 1570, giving the city the charming nickname of “the capital of Christmas.”

The Strasbourg Christmas Market starts in the last week of November and continues all the way until late December. It’s quite a magical atmosphere – the streets are decorated with Xmas lights and festive flower wreaths, and the neighboring shops go all with some pretty colorful and dramatic Christmas displays!

The market is focused around the central Cathedral Square of Strasbourg. It includes loads of different stalls selling everything from toys, ornaments, food and obligatory “vin chaud” (mulled wine), which is so ubiquitous across France during the season.

Strasbourg is around 2 hours by train from Paris l’Est station, with hourly train services running between the two cities.

best Christmas markets in Europe
There are some beautiful Christmas markets in France

Amiens, France

*Contributed by Karen of Travel Mad Mum

There are a few Christmas markets to choose from throughout France. However, you will discover that Amiens is not as touristy or expensive as others.  

The town is full of the most incredible architecture. You will be blown away by The Cathedral Basilica. All year round and throughout the Christmas markets the building is brought to life at night with a light show projected onto it.  

The Christmas Markets in Amiens open towards the end of November, and they run until New Year’s Eve. When you walk in you will be greeted by hundreds of rustic huts filling the Main Street. Each hut has its own delight and you can find everything from chestnuts roasting on an open fire, to craft gifts and mulled wine.

When you think of France, you immediately think of the quality of food. However, you will be too busy grazing on the different foods available at the market to step into any restaurants. With so much choice, traditional warming casseroles, warm baguettes, sweet treats such as chocolate, churros and so on, you are sure to find something to your taste.

The warm festive drinks will put you in the Christmas spirit. There are lots to choose from such as hot cider or mulled wine.

Best of all, the markets are quite eco-friendly. You are able to rent a cup instead of using single-use plastic when you want to drink something! When you return the cup, you are given your euro back.  

Amiens has activities for the whole family. No matter your kids’ age, there are plenty of things to do. There are Christmas themed rides that the little ones will love or ice skating and ice zorbing for the older kids.  

Some of the best Christmas markets in Europe are in Geneva

Geneva, Switzerland

*Contributed by Nisha and Vasu of Le Monde, The Poetic Travels

The Christmas markets are a great place to really immerse yourself in the festive spirit. And if you decide to celebrate Christmas in Switzerland then there is no place like Geneva. With its picture perfect scenery, old traditions and several markets in the vicinity, Geneva becomes the best choice.

The most traditional-style Christmas market is set on Rue du Mont-Blanc and starts in late November, but you should also visit Christmas Village at the Parc des Bastions. Both are at walking distance of each other on either side of the lake.

People assemble to sip vin chaud (hot mulled wine) with gingerbread cookies, hot chestnuts or grilled sausages and watch over kids participating in hordes of activities which include storytelling sessions in French as well as in English, a mini ice skating rink, some workshops and few rides.

Make sure not to miss Geneva Lux festival, a festival of light, with holograms being played on buildings, streets illuminated with fantastic lights, and some traditional plays like Escalade enacted to lure the children.

Vienna, all prepped for Christmas

Vienna, Austria

*Contributed by Nadine of Le Long Weekend

The Austrian capital city is renowned for having fabulous Christmas markets! There are over 20 Christmas markets in Vienna, spanning from cute & quirky markets to flamboyant advent experiences. And luckily for visitors, most are within walking distance of the city centre.

Visit the Viennese Christmas Dream at Rathausplatz for the quintessential market experience complete with an ice skating rink and kids activities. Pop over to the grand event at Maria-Theresien-Platz for an all-encompassing adventure through the rows of wooden huts which sell everything from warming mugs of punch, to woolen mittens and Christmas tree trinkets.

Meanwhile, the Karlsplatz Advent Market is a more laid back event with a beautifully rustic feel, and the Spittelberg markets are a local favorite.

The grand spectacle at Schönbrunn Palace certainly shouldn’t be missed, meanwhile, the vibe at Belvedere Palace is decidedly more romantic. It’s fair to say that whatever kind of market experience you’re looking for, Vienna will deliver it, and more!

When in Vienna, make sure to ride the giant Ferris Wheel (tickets here), take the sightseeing bus (tickets here) and visit the Schönbrunn Palace (tickets here).

The Christmas atmosphere in Innsbruck is lovely.

Innsbruck, Austria

*Contributed by Linda of Travel Tyrol

The setting of the Innsbruck Christmas Market in a historic Austrian old town with the Alps towering over it is what makes it one of the best Christmas markets in Europe. What’s more is that the market is split up into smaller markets spread out across the city. That not only means less crowds in one place, but each market has its own character.

The focal point of the Innsbruck Christmas Market is undoubtedly the giant Christmas tree in front of the famous Golden Roof. From here, you can walk the cobbled lanes to discover a Giants’ Alley and fairytale characters watching over you from the facades of buildings.

Not far from the Golden Roof, next to the Inn River, a different experience awaits on the Market Square. This family-oriented market is centered around a sparkling Swarovski crystal Christmas tree that dominates the skyline. There is also an old-fashioned carousel, puppet theatre, and duck fishing game.

For those looking to escape the city, a cable car will take you to the Hungerburg for an authentic Austrian Christmas market mountain experience. From here you can gaze over the city lights while sipping on a Glühwein and eating traditional Tyrolean delicacies.

Visiting Innsbruck for the first time? Check out this guided city tour to get acquainted with the lovely city.

Salzburg has some of the best Christmas markets in Europe

Salzburg, Austria

*Contributed by Paula of Paula Pins the Planet

Salzburg offers amazing places to visit such as medieval castles, museums, cathedrals, and a fortress, but it is especially fabulous during the winter, when the city holds the magical Christmas Markets.

The most popular Christmas market in Salzburg has been held at the Cathedral Square since 1974.  

The market is characterized by traditional huts and unique the atmosphere, along with specially designed lighting that stretches above the market like romantic stars across the night sky.

The organizers have also ensured that visitors are treated to a colorful daily events program that includes readings of Christmas stories for children, Krampus parades, guided Christmas tours, choral concerts, visits by the “Christ Child,” festive melodies performed from the surrounding towers, and so much more.

The most renowned Salzburg Christmas Market extends from the foot of Hohensalzburg fortress (you can get Hohensalzburg Fortress admission tickets here) to the Cathedral of Salzburg.

It is an amazing opportunity to experience the incredible Austrian tradition during which many exhibitors selling Christmas decorations, natural products, crafts, toys, and amazing food and drinks.

Striezelmarkt Dresden
Dresden has some of the oldest and best Christmas markets in Europe

Dresden, Germany

*Contributed by Paul of Punta Cana Travel Blog

When visiting Christmas markets in Germany, Dresden’s Striezelmarkt is one of the highlights, as it features a centuries-old history – dating back to 1434 – and plenty of local traditions. It is held each year from the end of November until Christmas Eve and is located in the historic old town of Dresden.

What makes Dresden’s Striezelmarkt unique is its focus on the local Christmas traditions of Saxony, the German state of which Dresden is the capital.

You can see (and buy) a lot of Saxon Christmas decorations (such as Schwibbogen, smoking men or nutcrackers) as well as various typical Christmas foods and drinks from Saxony, for example, gingerbread from nearby Pulsnitz, Pflaumentoffel (a highly decorated sweet made out of plums with a long tradition) or the famous Stollen, which is home to Dresden and has (one of) its origin(s) in Saxony.

While “Glühwein” is very famous in entire Germany during winter, you can also try hot wine made out of white wine at the Striezelmarkt. The white wine comes from the famous local winery of Schloss Wackerbarth, just a few miles away from Dresden.

Once you visit Dresden in December, make sure you don’t miss the medieval Christmas Market at Stallhof, a part of the former Royal Palace. It has a unique atmosphere you can’t find anywhere else and is just 5 minutes walking away from the Striezelmarkt.

In Nuremberg you’ll find lovely markets

Nuremberg, Germany

*Contributed by Margherita of The Crowded Planet

There’s no place like Southern Germany for Christmas Markets, and Nuremberg’s markets are among the most amazing ones. They start the weekend before Advent, and continue all the way to Christmas Eve. 

Christmas Markets in Nuremberg take place in several locations all over town, but the largest is in the Hauptmarkt, right in the centre. You’ll find stalls selling Christmas decorations, candles, baubles of all sorts, and naturally lots of tasty food! It’s the perfect place to try Nuremberg sausages.

They are shorter and skinnier than regular German sausages you may find in other cities, flavored with marjoram and served in a bun, three at a time – just ask for ‘Drei im Wekla’ to get one! Other delicacies you may try are Lebkuchen, traditional gingerbread biscuits from Nuremberg, and naturally lots of Gluhwein!

Sounds super German, right? For something more unusual, head to the Sister Cities Market, located north of the main market. You’ll find handicrafts and food specialties from Nuremberg’s sister cities, including Antalya, San Carlos in Nicaragua, Kharkhiv and more!

Make sure to check out this guided tour of the Historical Old Town to get to know the city a bit more in depth.

Frankfurt comes to life during Christmas

Frankfurt, Germany

*Contributed by Jorge of Travel Drafts

When you think about traveling, Frankfurt isn’t the first place that comes to mind… it’s probably not even on your list.

However, Frankfurt in winter comes to life, particularly during Christmas time! Its market is one of the largest in Germany and among the best Christmas markets in Europe, both in size and number of visitors. Yet, it’s also one of the most beautiful with a huge tree, creative decorations, and lights in the scenic Römerberg and Paulsplatz.

The Christmas market in Frankfurt is also very old, with the first reference to it coming in the 14th century. Over the centuries the market changed a lot, to become the wonderland that is today.

This also gave time to develop a few local specialties as Brenten (a rectangular marzipan cookie), Bettmännchen (also made with marzipan but with almonds and rosewater, and Quetschemännchen (figures made out of prunes and nuts).

Like most other Christmas Markets, it usually starts by the end of November until Christmas and occupies the whole historic center of Frankfurt making it very easy to find.

Beautiful Christmas decorations in Munich

Munich, Germany

*Contributed by Paul of Anywhere We Roam

Held from the last week of November until the last week of December, Munich has one of the best Christmas Markets in Europe. A huge Christmas tree dominates the thoroughly atmospheric square of Marienplatz where a wide array of market stalls glow with Christmas magic.

Find everything from traditional German decorations to artisanal crafts on display under rows of fairy lights. With the imposing gothic Old City Hall as the backdrop, the Munich Christmas market has a medieval village feel that buzzes with mulled wine-fueled cheer.

Enjoy lively concerts and the party vibe at Winterollwood where you’ll also find quirkier crafts on sale. Join in spooky (but fun) tradition of the Krampus Run – the sullen assistant to St Nicholas who didn’t turn a blind eye when children were naughty.

Wrap up an afternoon strolling the market and satisfy your sweet tooth with Fatschnkindl, a pastry shaped like the baby Jesus.

Christmas lights in Hamburg

Hamburg, Germany

Hamburg holds some of the best Christmas markets in Europe.

Located right next to the City Hall, the main market is the kind of place where you’ll find all sorts of local specialties, among them Erzgebirge made small jewelry – perfect for Christmas gifts to a dear one; traditional handmade toys, to glass art; candles; lanterns; gingerbread from various places in the country; and more. 

Make sure to also try Schmalzkuchen, Hamburg’s traditional Christmas sweets.

Every day at 4:00, 6:00 and 8:00 pm during market days Santa Claus zips right over the market – so if you have kids along, make sure to take them there!

Other markets you shouldn’t miss are the one near Jungfernstieg, which is perfect if you have kids with you as there will be face painting stalls, a puppet theater and even baking workshops.

Gänsemarkt market, which is a traditional market where, during Advent Sundays, Christmas hands out gifts for children; Ottensen, again a great place for kids and where you will find all sorts of delicacies. 

One of the quirkiest markets is the one White Magic Christmas market at the Jungfernstieg, where instead of wooden huts you will find a white pagoda, beautifully illuminated, and instead of mulled wine you can sip on cocktails such as Caipirinha.

For a different kind of experience, head to the Santa Pauli market – located in the city’s historic red-light district. You won’t have shortage of erotic toys! Finally, there even is the Winter Pride market, located near the central station that is organized by the local LGBTQ community. The profits of whatever is sold there go towards helping projects of the local gay community.

Christmas decorations in Alexanderplatz

Berlin, Germany

*Contributed by Vicki of Vicki Viaja

Did you know that there are almost 80 different Christmas markets in Berlin every year? With so many different and unique Christmas markets, it is clear that there is a perfect Christmas market for every type of traveler. So if you want to experience an authentic German Christmas market, Berlin is the ideal travel destination for you.

One of the most famous Christmas markets in Berlin is WinterZauber (Christmas-Magic) on Gendarmenmarkt. This Christmas market – easily one of the best Christmas markets in Europe, is wildly popular for its handicrafts that can be found here. However, you cannot only purchase ready-made works of art, but you can also watch the artists working on them.

Another scenic Christmas market in Berlin is the Christmas market on Alexanderplatz. Here you can not only buy typical Christmas market snacks but also admire the most famous Christmas pyramid in town. It’s the perfect place to enjoy a delicious hot mulled wine and marvel at the magnificent view over the festive area.

The Christmas scene in Cologne

Cologne, Germany

There are many fabulous Christmas markets in Cologne – usually taking place between the end of November and 23rd December. The largest market, located near Cologne Cathedral, definitely is one of the nicest Christmas markets in Europe.

However, if you are looking for a more local experience, head to the Angel Market on Neumarkt, famous for the wooden carved angels; St. Nick’s Village (Nikolausdorf) on Rudolfplatz (a favorite of families); and Stadtgarten park.

Make sure to also check Harbour Christmas Market, located in front of the Chocolate Museum – how convenient!

Stuttgart feels so welcoming at Christmas

Stuttgart, Germany

Stuttgart holds some of the largest Christmas markets in Europe, with more than 290 stalls. Street performances, live show, food of the likes of roasted chestnuts, gingerbread, anise cookies and even toffee apples can all be found at the main market, which is located around the Old Palace in Schiller Square.

The lovely Christmas markets in Krakow

Krakow, Poland

*Contributed by Bec of Poland Travel Expert

For people wanting a beautiful, wintery Christmas market experience there is one place that it will be fulfilled and that is in Krakow, Poland. Christmas in Krakow is a beautiful time and many people flock to the Old Town Square to get their Christmas fill. The city is home to one of the best Christmas markets in Europe.

There are stalls everywhere selling everything from souvenirs to some of the most tasty food you will ever have. From traditional sausage to pierogi you can’t ignore the amazing smells as you wander through the little timber stalls.

If you see something you like you can buy a small plate (usually sold by weight) and find a table to sit or stand at. Everyone is in such a good mood you will always find someone to chat to. While you are there you can also try the Polish version of hot mulled wine and if you dare a try of Grzane Piwo, hot spiced beer!

There is a stage with local bands that sing carols and while you may not understand the words they are singing the tunes will have you singing along in your own language. The locals love it and try their best to join in.

As you leave the main tourist area there are Christmas lights everywhere and even in some of the smaller squares you will find smaller more intimate markets set up for more of the locals in that area to enjoy.

Poland is not a destination many people think of as a vacation destination but Krakow is a brilliant place to start your Poland adventures. The beautiful city has so much to see and do that it will draw you back time and again.

There are some beautiful Christmas markets in Tallin

Tallin, Estonia

The Christmas markets in Tallin are usually open from mid November until January 6. This pretty city, which has regularly won the prize for one of the best Christmas markets in Europe, is home to the world’s first public Christmas tree, which was first displayed in front of the town hall sin 1411.

The Raekoja plats Christmas market has been hosted for almost 600 years now. Local specialties you will find at the market include black pudding and sour cabbage. If you feel cold, mulled wine is easily available, as well as the richest hot chocolate. Kids will enjoy seeing Santa arriving in a reindeer-pulled sleigh.

Copenhagen is beautiful during Christmas

Copenhagen, Denmark

*Contributed by Derek and Mike of Everything Copenhagen

Copenhagen, Denmark is one of the best and most underrated destinations for Christmas in Europe. Not only is it decorated brilliantly across the entire city, but the Christmas markets are among the most festive in the world and certainly among the best Christmas markets in Europe.

Kongens Nytorv Square is one of the prettiest places in the city, and it’s one of the best Christmas markets in Copenhagen. With historic buildings like the Old Royal Opera House and Hotel D’Angleterre, it’s perfect for a traditional Christmas market. Each year the hotel puts on incredible holiday decorations including turning the facade into an advent calendar during the month of December.

Another charming Christmas market is the H.C. Andersen Julemarked in the square at Old City Hall. It’s smaller and more cozy with some of the best Christmas market foods like hot waffles, mulled wine and hot chocolate.

One last market to visit is at the famous Tivoli Gardens Christmas market. The amusement park continues operating the rides but transforms the gardens into a winter wonderland. The rows of Christmas market vendors sell homemade gifts, ornaments and traditional crafts.

Gothenburg is home to one of the best Christmas markets in Europe

Gothenburg, Sweden

*Contributed by Roshni of The Wanderlust Within

Scattered across Sweden’s second largest city are four amazing Gothenburg Christmas markets. The most popular is found in Liseberg Theme Park, and combines roller coaster rides with festive shows, and nearly 80 Christmas stalls. For kids there is also a Santa’s workshop, and a fairytale treasure hunt!

The Liseberg Christmas market is also one of the best places to enjoy winter Swedish treats such as glogg (a sweet mulled wine), pepparkaka (Swedish gingerbread biscuits) and even a traditional four course Christmas buffet dinner (just make sure you book it well in advance!). 

The other three Christmas markets in the city focus on modern designer goods (Roda Sten), traditional goods (Kronhuset) and foodie treats (Haga neighbourhood). It is also worth visiting the unique singing Christmas tree choir that can be found in different parts of the city.

Gothenburg has its own airport, but can also be reached by bus or train from many large cities in Europe including Stockholm, Oslo, Hamburg and Copenhagen. 

The Red Square of Moscow is home to a lovely Christmas market

Moscow, Russia

*Contributed by Lindsey of Have Clothes, Will Travel

Moscow’s most famous Christmas market is located in the heart of the city right in Red Square. This magical market is set against the magnificent onion domes of St. Basil’s Cathedral as well as The Kremlin and the beautiful GUM Mall, which is covered in strings of twinkling lights. It’s a must-do for any Moscow winter itinerary.

The market itself hosts a large ice skating rink, festive carnival rides and dozens of vendor stalls selling all kinds of traditional Russian gifts and treats. You can indulge in many kinds of grilled meats, blini (Russian pancakes), cookies and more. Be sure to also grab a glass of mulled wine to keep you warm! 

You’ll also have plenty of time to plan your visit to the Moscow Christmas Market on Red Square, as it is open from November 30 to February 28.

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Read about the best Christmas markets in Europe - via @clautavani

4 thoughts on “The Best Christmas Markets In Europe”

  1. Wonderful Post Claudia! Thanks for allowing me to participate…and how I would love to be able to travel now and spend Christmas in Europe. Many Christmas Markets are now included on my bucket list.

  2. Geneva is indeed a great place to enjoy the Christmas season. The markets prepare greatly for customer’s shopping experience. Although due to pandemic time things are very slow now, hopefully by the end of this year everything will be caught up.

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