10 Best Christmas Markets in Europe
Visiting Europe this December? Are you looking for a reason to try something new? Christmas markets have become the new to-do in Europe and even small market towns in many countries really push the boat out to spread festive cheer as well as providing lots of goodies to buy. Some of the best Christmas markets have been operating since the 14th century and attract over 2 million visitors in the Christmas months alone. Today, they offer so much more than just an enjoyable shopping trip. Tours abound and it’s quite delightful to take a weekend trip to not only a fabulous market but usually an amazing city generally.
1. NUREMBERG CHRISTMAS MARKET, GERMANY
In the cobbled square of Frauenkirche inhabits two-hundred stalls and the place to be to get your hands on beautifully crafted wood figurines. Best known for its sausages, Glühwein and grilled Nürnberger Bratwurst are sold as well as mouth-wateringly delicious sweet gingerbread. Featuring live entertainment, jazz and brass bands serenades, visitors can explore and may bump into the appointed Christ-child spreading festive cheer throughout the town.
2. VIENNA CHRISTMAS MARKET, AUSTRIA
Christkindlmarkt, Europe’s most popular Christmas market provides wooden hut stalls set up over seven hundred years ago in Vienna’s town hall square. The beautifully decorated park, which you can wonder through whilst picking up some traditional candles, home-made and hand-crafted art and stocking fillers, is a major experience. If parents want to explore alone, the local crèche, Vokshalle provides activities and cookie baking workshops for kids.
3. COLOGNE CHRISTMAS MARKETS, GERMANY
The 'Am Dom' Christmas market is the one you must see. Situated in the same square as the cathedral, it holds approximately 160 stalls. The landscape provides an insight into the stunning gothic architecture of this German city. You’ll find a friendly place to visit providing a wide variety of festive treats from decorations, handmade candles, a taste of local treats and sweets, all set around a large Christmas tree and with local street performers to keep spirits high and entertainment for all.
4. DRESDEN CHRISTMAS MARKET, GERMANY
Striezelmarkt is the oldest German Christmas market, selling traditional items from 250 stalls including hand-blown glass baubles, ceramics and Blaudruck white and blue oriented cloth. The Stollen festival is what attracts most tourists, taking place on December’s second Sunday. Stollen is a traditional German fruit bread filled with marzipan and utterly delicious (unless of course, you don’t like marzipan a.k.a. almond paste).
5. BRUSSELS CHRISTMAS MARKET, BELGIUM
This is the foodie’s Christmas market choice near the Grand-Place where chalet-style huts fill the square each offering a taste of Brussels. On offer are mulled wine, olives, Belgian chocolates, preserved fruit; Speculoos Santa shaped gingerbread and steamed snails too. To burn off the treats you can skate in ice rink whilst listening to the street musicians.
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6. MUNICH CHRISTMAS MARKET, GERMANY
Marienplatz, the main Munich Christmas market is centred in the old neo-gothic town and is full with hundreds of stall. It dates back to the 17th century and offers the tradition of hoisting a thirty-meter high Christmas tree into illumination. Another is the Crib Market, found behind Marienplatz. At 5.30pm, festive music is played and traditional nativity figurines, hot potato cakes and Glühwein are sold. Kids can be dressed as angels with the free workshop held in the town hall too.
7. PRAGUE CHRISTMAS MARKETS, CZECH REPUBLIC
Many family-friendly Czech Christmas markets, known as Vanocni trh, can be found in and around Prague. Particularly worthy of a visit is the largest collection of stalls held in the hustle and bustle of the Old Town. The square is elaborately decorated, with cobbled paths, snow and the local village wildlife from sheep to lamas. Stalls offer toys, candles and bohemian crystals you can purchase whilst being entertained by the daily bands and choral singers.
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8. TALLINN CHRISTMAS MARKET, ESTONIA
An atmospheric and romantic place to be is Raekoja plats, the Old Town Hall Square in the Estonian capital. You will experience a snow filled experience, with a large Christmas tree surrounded by stalls selling Estonian art, sausages and mulled wine, hand-knitted jumpers, socks and hats as well as twine and wood carved bowls, as snow drops fall whilst you pose with Santa you can sit at on one the restaurants and really take in the experience.
9. BERLIN CHRISTMAS MARKET, GERMANY
Berlin hosts several modern Christmas markets; one that stands out is near the memorial church, Gedächtniskirche of Kaiser Wilhelm. A very historic place reminiscing WW11, this small market is modern and contemporary and a great place to get your hand on some of Europe’s prominent art and designer’s works in addition to rustic and antique jewellery.
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10. COPENHAGEN CHRISTMAS MARKET, DENMARK
An almost cinematic experience, the Tivoli Gardens hosts Europe’s oldest amusement attractions, and the area is transformed into a brightly lit winter wonderland with a large outdoor ice skating rink on the lake. The annual Christmas market is made up of brightly coloured stalls which sell art, decorations and local gifts as well as wooden dolls and porcelain Copenhagen dolls. For a taste of a local Christmas delicacy try the many food stalls which sell hot apple dumplings with a spiced Danish wine and then take a photo with Santa and his leprechauns too.
I hope this list of Christmas markets for festive cheer and revelry has given you a reason to visit them to experience the seasonal snacks, hand-crafted gifts and the holiday spirit that is sure to bring back a flood full of past Christmas memories. If you have visited any Christmas Markets mentioned above or are planning to go, please feel free to share your experience with us. Do you have your favourites? Then please comment below.
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