Visiting Christmas markets in Europe is one of the best ways to enjoy the season outdoors. The annual markets usher visitors into a celebratory mood under twinkling lights, elaborate decorations, and fun activities for all.
The Christmas season is a time to slow down and enjoy the festive cheer. If you are looking forward to wrapping yourself in fur to keep warm while holding a warm drink in a winter wonderland, you are in for a treat.
When you visit a Christmas market, you can expect to see different merchandises that showcase the culture of the European country. Special foods with delicious flavors and different performances are also part of the activities common in these markets. Here are some of the best Christmas markets to check out this year.
- Prague Christmas Market
- Strasbourg Christmas Market
- Vienna Christmas Market
- Budapest Christmas Market
- Tallinn Christmas Market
- Erfurt Christmas Market
- Poznan Christmas Market
- Sibiu Christmas Market
- Edinburgh Christmas Market
Prague Christmas Market
Prague is one of the most romantic European cities which transforms into a winter wonderland during Christmas. The charming city is the perfect place to visit during the festive season and all year round.
Its Christmas market is one of the largest within the Czech Republic and is in Old Town Square. Hundreds of wooden stalls line the square with vendors showcasing their wares to interested buyers. The Czech traditional marketplace offers an array of Christmas goods perfect for personal use or gift items. Some of the signature items on sale include wooden toys, glass pearls, biscuit cutters, embroidered tablecloths, and locally blown glass bowls.
Besides shopping, you can spend time admiring cherubs and golden angels on display while enjoying live music on stage. Other historic statues to see include the astrological clock, Charles Bridge, and Old Castle Steps, which give a breathtaking view of Prague.
While taking in the festive atmosphere of Prague, you can enjoy gourmet food on sale that includes grilled sausages, skewered foods, roasted chestnuts, traditional Christmas and gingerbread biscuits. The best drink to accompany these Czech meals is mulled wine which pairs well with most meals. If you are planning to visit Prague, make plans to be there From November 27th to January 2nd for the annual Christmas market.
Strasbourg Christmas Market
Strasbourg is a fairytale destination that attracts thousands of visitors during the Christmas holidays. The town within the Alsace region in France is nicknamed the “capital of Christmas” because of its enthralling markets.
It is home to one of the oldest markets in the region known as Christkindesmäkir. The market comprises wooden chalets, an ice skating rink, and night concerts. It is a great destination for those looking for a holiday season full of fun as it attracts thousands of tourists every year.
Shopping at the market includes passing by over three hundred stalls with a wide variety of items on sale. Blown gas candles and wooden toys are some of the popular items in the market. Besides walking from one stall to another, try out traditional cookies (Alsatian bredele), brioche, churros, and foie grass. These foods are great for sampling authentic French food, which goes well with the famous white wine.
End your tour of the Strasburg Christmas market at the Great Christmas Tree at the center of Place Kléber, near the city center. Usually the market will run from 19th November to 30th December.
Vienna Christmas Markets
Fantastic architecture and beautiful people are some things that make the top attractions in Vienna a “must visit” city for tourists throughout the year. But for lovers of Christmas, the best months to visit is from November 12th to December 26th. These dates correspond to the opening up of Christmas markets across Vienna. The city’s squares are transformed into markets with vendors selling baked food plus hot punch, which signals the beginning of holiday festivities.
Although the Christmas markets in Vienna are many, the “Vienna Magic of Advent” is popular with visitors. The market at the City Hall Square resembles a fairytale with large decorated Christmas trees, Christmas gifts, a carousel, a Ferris wheel, and several workshops for children. Around the square are over one hundred stalls selling traditional toys and other items for spreading Christmas cheer
You can check out the Christmas market at Schönbrunn Palace is a favorite of city visitors. Austrian culinary sweets are usually on display accompanied by a cup of hot Gluhwein (mulled wine). Fortunately, the transport system in Vienna makes it easy to move from one market to another, but for an up-close experience, consider touring the markets on foot.
Budapest Christmas Market
Budapest is a beautiful city but becomes more dazzling during the Christmas season. Visitors from all over the world travel to Budapest for the holidays and survey the Christmas markets. If you are looking for an exceptional Christmas market in Europe, then the Advent Feast at the Basilica in Budapest is your best bet. It runs from 29th of December to 2nd January, giving you ample time to visit as many stalls as you like and shop for gift items.
The Advent Feast at the Basilica is an open-air market that takes place at St. Stephen’s square. Christmas illuminations sparkle in front of the grand cathedral, setting the mood for happy holidays. Shoppers at this Budapest Christmas market get to visit over one hundred and sixty stalls set up within the square, showcasing various items.
The market is best for buying gift items and sampling different types of Hungarian food like the famous chimney cake (flódni), fish dishes, and tasty hamburgers. Besides the stalls and mouth-watering dishes, you can also have fun at the skating rink or attend a folk dance show on the weekend. Travelers that stay in Budapest longer also get to enjoy lencseleves (lentil soup) prepared during the new year to usher in prosperity.
Tallinn Christmas Market
Tallinn is a must-visit destination for many European travelers looking to enjoy Christmas away from home. The Estonian capital puts a lot into preparing for the holidays by decorating centuries-old buildings, historical locations with lights, and holiday trinkets.
Visitors are also invited to share the holiday traditions of the Estonian people at the market from 26th November to 2nd January. Its annual award-winning Christmas market is quite popular and attracts visitors from all over the world hoping to experience the magic.
The market at the Town Hall Square is the best place to mingle with locals while enjoying the holidays. You can let the kids go on the carousels and sit on Santa’s lap to receive their candy and recite verses for rewards. While the kids are busy having fun, you can enjoy time shopping for wooden handicrafts, winter accessories, luxury furs, and high-quality nick-knacks. Some items sold at the market are only available once a year and cannot be found in local shops during the year. While shopping, you can also sample seasonal treats such as gingerbread cookies, roasts, blood pudding, and mulled wine.
A major highlight at the Tallin market is a Christmas tree that stands at the entry of town hall every year since 1441, making it a first of its kind to be displayed in Europe.
Erfurt Christmas Market
The medieval town of Erfurt is one of the most beautiful holiday destinations in Germany. It is magical, with most of its culture preserved in its architecture which is well kept and colorfully painted. Walking down the cobbled streets of Erfurt and open squares ushers you into a fairytale-like town that intensifies during Christmas.
The annual Christmas market is one of the highlights of holidays in Erfurt and attracts visitors and locals. Stalls set up by vendors are spread throughout the city center, with the Domplatz area holding the bulk of them. At the entrance of Domplatz is a pyramid, 12m high with different holiday themes and several wooden figures.
Visitors also get to experience a life-size nativity scene and a grand Christmas tree that stands sixty-five feet tall. Besides, the captivating scenes and towering figures, the market area is also a great place to find unique handicrafts in the region. Other fun attractions for kids include an enchanted forest with pictures from popular fairy tales.
Along with the forest, are a carousel, Ferris wheel, and other fun attractions set up for kids. Visitors to the Christmas market also enjoy live entertainment for all ages in form of fairytale plays, musicians, and choirs.
Inside the market, you can sample popular Christmas treats such as Erfurt Schittchen (fruit-rich German bread), candied apples, mulled wine, and other Thuringian treats. Erfurt Christmas market runs from 23rd November to 22nd December and is open to members of the public.
Poznan Christmas Markets
Poznan is one of the best European cities to visit for a Christmas break. The polish city is a winter land that leaves visitors enchanted, especially during the Christmas holidays. Visitors get to tour the magical town and its various attractions while brushing shoulders with the local people. Besides, the beautiful sights in Poznan, one of the must-see places in the city is its Christmas market.
The Poznan Christmas market is usually at the Old Market Square and Freedom Square during the holidays. Christmas trees with lights illuminate the area and complement the elaborate decorations such as a nativity scene and ice sculptures. Market stalls line the streets with vendors selling different holiday items.
Get lost amongst the wooden stalls and find inspiration for Christmas gift items sold by vendors. Your children can have fun at the Ferris wheel or visit Santa at the market while enjoying festivities at the market.
Winter delicacies are an important Christmas tradition in Poznan with locals enjoying various Polish specialties such as grilled meat, goulash, and fried fish. Regional produce like sweet piernik (polish gingerbread) is also sold in the market and can be accompanied by warm vodka.
If you prefer vegetarian meals, you can try the popular potato-filled pierogis, smoked cheese, and local soups. You can enjoy all these Polish meals sitting next to the Renaissance Town Hall while listening to a live band playing Christmas music. The market runs from 29th November to 23rd December.
Sibiu Christmas Market
A Romanian winter holiday isn’t complete without visiting Sibiu. The Transylvanian city was home to ethnic Germans for over five hundred years resulting in a rich culture in the city. The Sibiu Christmas experience is enriched by the fascinating and diverse culture that makes the city one of the unique destinations in Romania.
Sibiu Christmas market is one of the highlights of the holiday season in the Romanian city. It attracts international visitors and Romanian locals looking to have memorable Christmas celebrations. The market is the perfect combination of a cozy atmosphere, 100 plus vendor stalls, children’s activities, and winter events.
Its location at the main square with decorations at every corner makes the area enchanting and welcoming for visitors. Light shows projected on buildings at the square light up the square for the enjoyment of revelers. Besides the sprawling stalls decorated with fairy lights, you can also check out the Ferris wheel and ice rink which are great places to take a break, especially when traveling with kids.
The Sibiu Christmas market runs from 20th November to 26th December from 10 am to 10 pm daily.
Edinburgh Christmas Market
Edinburgh in Scotland is a great destination to spend Christmas with family and take a break from your normal life. The capital city goes BIG in festive celebrations which are seen in decorations and activities in December. Among the activities travelers can be part of when visiting Edinburg is being part of the city’s Christmas market.
The Edinburgh Christmas market is one of the key events in the country with vendors showcasing the best of Scotland festive cheer. Located in East Princes Street Gardens, the market offers a wide variety of gifts and handmade products in different stalls. The market also provides opportunities to have fun by offering rides for children and adults. If you would like to be part of the world-renowned market in Edinburgh, you can visit the Scottish capital from 20th November to 4th January.
Generally, Christmas markets offer a magical experience that should on every travelers’ bucket list. The markets make your Christmas holidays memorable as you indulge in various holiday activities alone or with family. Make plans to visit any of the Christmas markets listed above to celebrate the festive season.