I love Christmas markets.
Every year at the end of November, I get excited about the upcoming Christmas market here in Frankfurt. The lights, the food, going out with friends – there are so many things I love about the market.
If you’re visiting Europe in December, you should visit at least one Christmas market. Which one? Well, that’s up to you. Each of them is unique in their own way and we assure that you’ll have a good time. But to help you choose, we’ve asked fellow travel bloggers to tell us about their favourite European Christmas market.
The best Christmas markets in Europe
#1 Frankfurt, Germany
As we just said, we love the Christmas Market in Frankfurt.
The main market spreads out in the city centre on Römerberg, in between the City Hall and the historic half-timbered houses. Here, you can find a giant Christmas tree, as well as lots of great stalls offering food, drinks and various gifts. If you come on weekends or in the evening, you might also hear a choir sing Christmas carols on the stage in front of the Town Hall.
The Christmas Market in Frankfurt is well-known for its local specialities. Here, you can have cheese fondue made from Handkäse (a local cheese) and Bethmännchen, cookies made from almonds. The legend goes that a French baker made those cookies for a local family and decorated them with four almonds, one for each of the sons of the family. When one of the sons died, he took off one of the almonds and that’s why the cookies still have only three almonds today.
Of course, you’ll need a drink to wash down the cookies. We recommend Apfelwein, a local wine made from apples. At the Christmas Market, you can enjoy it hot, seasoned with Christmas spices.
After you’ve walked around the main market, make your way to Rosa Weihnacht, Pink Christmas. This is Frankfurt’s LGBTQ market. Enjoy a cup of mulled wine or grilled salmon while standing below the pink Christmas lights.
#2 Bath, UK
The Christmas Market in Bath is always worth a day trip or weekend as the festive season draws closer. Bath is one of my favourite cities in the UK – I love the solid, honey-toned buildings, the cobbled streets packed with interesting shops, pubs and cafes and of course the history. Bath is a cosy, compact little city, and never more welcoming than during the run-up to Christmas.
There are more than 100 wooden chalets lining the city’s Georgian streets, selling all kinds of festive foodstuffs, gifts, drinks and decorations. Bath’s Christmas market is one of the most established in the UK, and will celebrate its 20th anniversary in 2021.
In addition to the market, Bath is alive with festivity as Christmas approaches, with events including live performances and music as well as street stalls offering food from the local area and further afield.
The historic spa city of Bath is one of Britain’s best to visit at any time of year, but the twinkling lights and festive atmosphere during the Christmas market make it extra special. If you’ve never been to Bath before, don’t miss the astonishingly well-preserved Roman Baths – for which the city is of course named. Seeing the spectacular architecture of the Circus and the Royal Crescent is also a must, while literary history can be explored at the Jane Austen Centre.
Contributed by Polly Taylor from Let’s Travel UK
#3 Manchester, UK
Manchester Christmas Market is the biggest Christmas market in the UK, attracting more than nine million visitors each year. There are over 300 stalls which are spaced over ten locations throughout the city.
The largest of the Manchester Christmas market locations is Albert Square. Here you’ll see the iconic giant light-up Father Christmas. For an unusual view of the markets, I recommend that you climb the 161 steps to the top of the town hall tower and look down over all the pretty stalls.
You’ll find so many unusual and handmade Christmas gifts at the markets. There are stalls for things you would never think of, such as wooden ties, clocks made from pop records and handmade puppets that light up.
Another great reason to visit the markets is to enjoy the variety of food and drink that’s on offer. All the bars serve hot drinks from the same mugs. You pay a £2.50 deposit when you buy your first drink, then when you return your mug at the end you get it back. Of course, when you switch drinks, between gluhwein and hot chocolate, for example, they will give you a clean mug.
As well as the traditional wooden market stall, there are interesting venues such as the ‘ice tiki bar’ and a bar which is inside a giant snow globe!
Contributed by Jenni Fielding from Cruise Mummy
#4 Belfast, UK
One of the great advantages Belfast has as a winter getaway is that the city is so close-knit and east to get around with each and every tourist attraction in the city centre within walking distance of one another. But central to all the excitement and festivities of the season is the Belfast Christmas market found among the monuments and beneath the backdrop of Belfast City Hall, which is a great attraction in itself.
So this would easily be the largest Christmas Market in Northern Ireland, and seasonal events would centre around it between mid-November and late-December. And while it is a somewhat small event compared to the size of major European cities it is compact and well planned with everything you expect from continental markets.
Some of the more popular kiosks and chalets include the hog roast and there are lots of sausages, as well as mulled wine stands and two central beer tents to warm up with Belfast’s famed ‘craic’ (banter) from early in the day. There is plenty for the kids as well where one side is dedicated to rides, and slides, and an invite to Santa in his grotto. Then for after hours, Belfast’s famed bars and pubs and live music are just a stone’s throw from the front gates.
Contributed by Allan Wilson from It´s Sometimes Sunny in Bangor
#5 Prague, Czech Republic
Prague belongs to the most sought after Christmas destinations. With its array of wonderful Christmas markets, festive atmosphere and (often) snow, it’s hard to beat.
Most tourists flock to the biggest Christmas market right in the city center – at the Old Town Square. While it’s a good one, it’s way too big and definitely doesn’t have the charm smaller markets do.
Apart from visiting small Christmas markets in Prague neighborhoods, there’s a Christmas market right inside one of Prague’s top tourist sights, which doesn’t have a long tradition, but I can promise it’s completely out of this world: the Prague Castle Christmas market.
The atmosphere of the Prague Castle, the largest castle complex in the world, is the best setting possible for a Christmas market. With the monumental St. Vitus Cathedral looming over, the individual stalls have the best backdrop. Sure, the prices here are often slightly higher, but it’s justified.
Like at any Prague Christmas market, you should get a warm drink – usually a cup of mulled wine or hot mead. To eat, have a sausage or two, Czech style! If you have a sweet tooth, go for the popular Trdlo, or chimney cake, just bear in mind it’s in no way an original Bohemian sweet.
The main thing to do at the Prague Castle Christmas market is to just soak in the atmosphere. Stand on the side, listen to Christmas carols, watch the details on the Cathedral and just enjoy yourself.
I can highly recommend you visit Prague in winter, especially during December when you can join in the Christmas cheer.
Contributed by Veronika Primm from Travel Geekery
#6 Hamburg, Germany
Hamburg is a large city in Northern Germany, and is a great destination to visit Christmas Markets since it has over 30! I went to 5 of them, and my favorite was the City Hall Christmas Market (Historischer Weihnachtsmarkt auf dem Rathaus). Although it was probably the most touristy, it was also the most beautifully decorated. There is a large shop of (very expensive) ornaments and festive decorations.
And what would a Christmas Market be without food and drink? You can buy Schmalzkuchen (mini German donuts), Bratwurst or Currywurst (sausage, with curry powder, added to the curryworst; they also had vegetarian options!), Flammkuchen (like a pizza on flatbread), or Lebkuchen-Plätzchen (giant gingerbread hearts). You should, of course, order Glühwein, and I found the mugs at this Christmas market to be the prettiest if you’re looking to keep some. I’d also highly recommend getting the Heiße Schokolade with a shot of Bailey’s or rum, as well as Eierpunsch. The latter is kind of like German eggnog but tastes more like apple pie. Both drinks are topped with whipped cream and absolutely heavenly! And, of course, there’s so much chocolate! Marzipan is quite popular in Germany, and I enjoyed the marzipan potatoes, aptly named Marzipankartoffeln.
I also enjoyed several other Christmas markets while in Hamburg. The St. Pauli Christmas Market (Santa Pauli) is located along Reeperbahn and is known as “The Horniest Christmas Market”. It has a party vibe and features entertaining booths selling risque items. The Ottensen Christmas Market (Weihnachtsmarkt Altona Ottensen) is a Scandinavian market with red wooden booths. The Jungfernstieg Christmas Market (AKA “White Magic” or Weisser Zauber) is on the water, although it has white tents and isn’t as decorative.
No matter which market you decide to visit, you’ll certainly feel the festive spirits all around Hamburg!
Contributed by Kelsey Frey from Sights Better Seen
#7 Berlin, Germany
Germany is probably THE travel destination at Christmas time to visit a Christmas market in Europe. Therefore, it is hardly surprising that the German capital Berlin also has some spectacular Christmas markets to offer. And by some, I mean around 80 (!) of them.
Each of the almost 80 Christmas markets is unique. Many of the markets even fit the vibe of the Berlin neighborhood they are located in. Whether you are looking for a small, unknown Christmas market or a large typical German Christmas market – you will definitely find what you are looking for.
Two of the most famous representatives are the Christmas markets on Alexanderplatz and the WeihnachtsZauber (Christmas Magic) on Gendarmenmarkt. Every year, there is a vast pyramid on Alexanderplatz, in which you can enjoy delicious food and hot drinks on different floors with a great view of the Christmas market. On the other hand, the Gendarmenmarkt is wildly famous for its handicrafts that can be purchased here. Another viral Christmas market is the WinterWelt on Potsdamer Platz. This Christmas market is especially popular with active visitors. Because not only is an ice rink waiting for you here, but also a mobile toboggan run.
However, there is one particular thing that all the Berlin Christmas Markets have in common: hot mulled wine. This is the typical drink that almost all Germans associate with a visit to their favorite Christmas market. But also hot pretzels, sausages, or roasted almonds are simply a must-try on every visit to a German Christmas market.
#8 Seville, Spain
Seville, the capital of Andalusia, is the aesthetic, cultural, and commercial capital of Southern Spain. A timeless tradition that springs to life in any big city in Europe, Christmas markets in Seville take on a unique kind of magic. These quaint, engaging markets become the epicenter of holiday shopping for Christmas gifts for friends and family, offering the ideal way to get into the festival mood during November-December.
However, when it comes to doing Christmas marketing in Seville, Spain, Feria del Belén de Sevilla seems the best shopping alternative. Being one of the most visited and attractive Christmas markets in Seville, it has nearby 80 wooden shops, spread over Plaza Nueva with conventional Andalusian beautifying endowments.
It is usually recommended to purchase the most sought-after items of this market, like- embroideries, Christmas trees, and ornamentals, for decorating your home. Every stall set-up nearby offers decorating presents, such as- wooden toys, lights, ceramics, and stoneware that gratifies all cultures. Moreover, the total market is packed with several handcrafted items and traditional food items that make it special as it lets visitors admire a classical Christmas over the modern style.
There are also other Christmas markets in Seville, like- Feria del Libro Antiguo, Mercado de Artesanía, that generally remain open from November-December. You will even get to buy different gift items from the Christmas markets in Seville, like- pottery, jewellery, leather, clothes, and more Andalusia products.
Whether you stroll around the neighborhoods in Seville or relax in a bar to taste the inevitable typical tapas, the Seville Christmas market does not fail to entertain with the ambiance, the tastes, and flavors that make this city celebrated. A few menus that make it to most holiday tables include jamón serrano and other chacinas, cured-meats, and manchego cheese, alongside drinks, like- red and white wine, mosto, beer, or cava.
Contributed by Paulina from Visit Southern Spain
#9 Hyde Park, London, UK
It goes without saying that London is famous for its spectacular Christmas atmosphere. There are many Christmas markets in London, but the biggest and most sparkling is definitely Winter Wonderland.
Winter Wonderland is set up every year in Hyde Park (entrance near Hyde park corner). A classic piece of British understatement to call it just a market, Winter Wonderland is more of a small village halfway between a playground, a fair, and a Christmas market.
Perfect for all ages and open from 10 in the morning to 10 in the evening, it satisfies families with children in the quieter hours of the day, and anyone who wants to go wild under the sparkling lights of its Ferris wheel in the evening!
General admission is free, but you pay for the various attractions such as the famous ice rink, circus shows, or the ice castle.
As usual in London it is important to book in advance whatever attractions you are interested in, especially if you plan to visit Winter Wonderland in the evening and on the weekend.
The stands of the market are innumerable and offer a great variety of products, from the most classic craftsmanship, to sweets or precious skilfully woven garments.
And finally, there is a culinary offer worthy of the cultural mix that reigns in the capital. You can drink beer in the Bavarian village, eat in the Swiss chalet, and marvel at the largest tiered barbecue you have ever dreamed of!
Contributed by Clotilde from A princess travelling with twins
#10 Nuremberg, Germany
The Christmas Market in Nürnberg (Germany), also known by the locals as the Christkindlmarkt, is one of the oldest Christmas markets in Europe, with first references to it dating back to the year 1628! Isn’t that quite something? Anyhow, long history aside, this Christmas market is a must at least once in a lifetime. The Christmas spirit here would melt even the coldest of hearts, the setting in the old town of the city and the many side events like street concerts don’t hurt either, oh and don’t even get me started on the mouth-watering German delicacies… the smell will have your stomach grumbling from the moment you set foot there.
Talking about food, some of my staple favourites are the traditional Glühwein (German mülled wine) to warm you up during those cold winter days or a Feuerzangenbowle for something with a bit more of a kick to it. For some sweet winter treats, you should try the Schmalzkuchen with powder sugar, but maybe only after a savoury Reibedatschi with apple sauce (similar to hash browns) or a good old Nürnberger sausage (or 3 as it is tradition there). However, for a truly local Christmas treat, you should give the Nürnberger Lebkuchen a go. You’ll find these fluffy honey-sweetened cakes in almost every corner around the city with various flavours available. But beware, the closer it gets to the market square and main Christmas market place, the more expensive they will get and not necessarily better.
On top of the food and drinks, one quirky thing you should look for at the Christmas market in Nürnberg is the figurines made of walnut shells. You can usually find these adorable little things in a stall close to the cathedral, and they would make a unique souvenir.
The only thing that could make your visit to Nuremberg even more magical is if it snowed, and who knows, it does happen once in a while!
Contributed by Henar from Slow Travel Bavaria
#11 Tallinn, Estonia
Tallinn, Estonia offers the perfect combination of medieval charm, holiday cheer, and Eastern European hospitality. The city comes alive with holiday spirit during the winter months. The annual Tallinn Christmas Market has been voted the number #1 Christmas market in Europe time and time again.
The holidays are the darkest days in the Estonia calendar but we never found it dreary. The town is lit up with fairy lights and brightly decorated Christmas trees. The huge Christmas tree in the center of the market is particularly impressive.
The market takes place from November to January and is set in the Old Town Square. It has a great entertainment program for both adults and children as well as lots of stalls selling handicrafts and delicious food and drinks. Mulled wine is a popular drink at the market in Tallinn. It’s a great way to warm up in the colder months and you’ll find lots of stalls selling it.
The Old Town itself is worth wandering around. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with lots of memorable landmarks like Viru Gate, St. Catherine’s Passage, and St.Olaf’s Church. We especially liked exploring the Masters Courtyard. This cozy nook is oozing with charm and has lots of restaurants and cafes to duck into.
Contributed by sustainable travel bloggers Oksana & Max from Drink Tea & Travel
#12 Budapest, Hungary
If you want to experience a great winter city break where you will find many unique things to do and some amazing Christmas markets, you have to go to Budapest! Although you can find many Christmas markets scattered around the city, if you’re looking for the best Christmas market in Budapest, you need to check out the Advent Feast at the Basilica.
The Christmas market takes place in a huge square in front of the St. Stephen’s Basilica and it’s been voted as one of the best Christmas markets in all Europe. You will find many cute little wooden chalets around the square with a wide selection of foods and drinks, along with more than 80 vendors selling unique handicrafts.
On top of that, there is a small ice-skating rink in the middle of the fair which is free to use for children. And what makes this Christmas market even more special is the custom-light show projected on the Basilica. Every night when the dark falls, you can watch a colorful 3D movie come to life on the façade of the Basilica.
Your visit to the Christmas markets in Budapest wouldn’t be complete without trying some Hungarian classic dishes. One of the most popular street foods is lángos, which is a deep-fried dough served with sour cream, garlic butter and cheese. Goulash soup and stuffed cabbage are also really popular and if you’re looking for something sweet, you can try a chimney cake, a traditional flódni or some roasted chestnuts.
Contributed by Krisztina from She Wanders Abroad
#13 Vienna, Austria
Vienna is known as one of the best Christmas destinations in Europe, and it’s little wonder why! There are over 20 Christmas markets in Vienna, ranging from grand palace spectacles to the rustic and artsy. You’re never far from one, as many are clustered around the centre of town. They’re not only a great place to pick up unique souvenirs and trinkets for your tree, but they’re also loved by the locals who gather around tables after work to catch up over a warm mug of punch and a market snack.
If you’re travelling to Vienna with kids, be sure to head to the family-friendly Karlsplatz Advent Market with its carousels and farmyard animals, or to Altes Akh for a Santa train and pony rides. Romance is in the air at Belvedere Palace, and the market at Maria-Theresien-Platz is sure to wow everyone with its spectacular surroundings.
For a low key wander, head to Spittelberg to browse the homemade gifts on offer, and don’t forget to head to the Viennese Dream Christmas market at Rathausplatz – one of the most iconic Xmas markets in the world, and where you can have fun on the ice skating rink.
Be sure to try some typical Austrian market food while you’re there too, such as Krapfen (doughnuts), potato spirals, or stomach-pleasing ‘soup in bread’. And take home iconic Austrian goodies such as the original snow-globes, glass baubles, or handcrafted wooden children’s toys.
Contributed by Nadine from Le Long Weekend
#14 Mainz, Germany
The Mainz Christmas Market is a wonderful place when you are looking for a traditional and cozy Christmas Market with a special atmosphere. Mainz is the capital of the federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate in western Germany, has around 220,000 inhabitants and famous for its old town with half-timbered houses, the Mainz Cathedral, the university and the place where Johannes Gutenberg, the inventor of printing, worked.
From the last week of November until just before Christmas locals and visitors from all over the world enjoying the special atmosphere of the Mainz Christmas Market – and that for over 200 years!
There is no entry fee and therefore the market is particularly popular with locals in the evening as a meeting point to stop by for a mulled wine or a sausage after work. Center of the market is the mighty Mainzer Dom, the cathedral. Especially around the Domplatz, surrounded by the church and old houses, there is a super-cosy atmosphere. From the Heunen pillar in the middle of Domplatz, fairy lights make the visitors feel like standing under a starry sky.
On weekdays, the Christmas market closes at 8:30 p.m., on weekends the stands are open until 9 p.m. If you don’t want to go home directly, the place to be is Gutenbergplatz with many bars and restaurants to sit down and go on chatting. Of course, this place can quickly fill up with visitors from the Christmas market since it’s very close. A good alternative are the Mainz wine bars typical of the region such as Hottum or Weinhaus Michel, where you can try the local wines and traditional dishes.
Contributed by Phil from JOURNICATION Travel Blog
#15 Innsbruck, Austria
The Innsbruck Christmas market has a unique character due to its mountain setting in the heart of the Austrian Alps. No matter at which of the 6 Christmas market areas you are in the city, the snow-capped mountains are omnipresent.
The old town market centered around Innsbruck’s famous Golden Roof is the best place to start your Christmas market tour in the city. Here you will also encounter giants and fairy tale figures watching over the cobbled lanes. You’ll find unique gifts at the arts and crafts stalls and hear trumpeters playing from the Golden Roof balcony.
Around the corner from the old town, a sparkling Swarovski Christmas announces your arrival on the market square. This is where families can have fun riding on a carousel, watch puppet shows, and send letters to Santa Claus.
If you want to watch over the city lights with the mountains behind you, taking the cable railway from the city center to the Hungerburg is a great idea. This small Christmas market is ideal for everyone who loves fresh mountain air and traditional Austrian delicacies.
Christmas shoppers can take a break from the shops at the Maria Theresa Street Christmas market which is flanked by two shopping centres. Here, you will mostly find hot drinks like Glühwein and food stalls selling sausages and other filling meals.
Innsbruck’s Christmas markets open around 15 November every year and continues to the day before Christmas. The Maria Theresa Street market stays open until New Year.
Contributed by Linda from Travel Tyrol
#16 Paris, France
If you are spending 2- 3 days in Paris at Christmas time, you have to visit the city’s Christmas markets. There are many Christmas markets in Paris – all the central neighborhoods have one! – but the Tuileries Garden Christmas Market is always one of the locals’ favorites.
The Tuileries Garden Christmas Market is located in the famous Tuileries Garden, next to the Louvre Museum. It replaces the Christmas Market set along the Champs Elysées that stopped working a couple of years ago. The Tuileries Garden Christmas Market is super central, in the first district of Paris, in a delimited, car-free zone, and very big. Also, people can enjoy the rest of the Tuileries Garden, one of the most beautiful gardens in Paris!
The Tuileries Garden Christmas Market usually opens its doors around mid-November and it is one of the last markets to close in Paris, in January. Enjoy 100 chalets featuring mostly French-produced food products, wine, and gifts perfect for your last Christmas shopping. Also, there are a dozen carnival rides and an ice rink. There are also some food stalls proposing cheap eats like bratwurst, crêpes, or tartiflette and coffee, beer, and mulled wine to drink. And of course, there are always lots of glittering lights, festive crowds, and perhaps even guest appearances from Santa.
Contributed by Elisa from World in Paris
#17 Brussels, Belgium
Brussels is home to one of the largest and best Christmas markets in Europe making it a top destination each winter.
The Brussels Winter Wonders and Christmas Market runs annually from the last week of November to the first week of January. The event takes place in the city’s historic Grand Place and all across the Brussels city center.
This festive event features over 200 chalets selling unique Christmas gifts, sweet and savory snacks and of course, wine and spirits.
If this is your first visit to Brussels, the Winter Wonders celebration is the perfect opportunity to try the city’s best Belgium waffles, local craft beers, and decadent chocolates.
The Brussels Christmas market also features an ice skating rink, carnival rides, and an impressive music and light show in Grand Place.
The music and light show is my favorite part of the Winter Wonders celebration and the main reason I recommend this Christmas market to other travelers. The show takes place a few times each evening with holiday music, a huge Christmas tree, and live performances.
The buildings in Grand Place are lit up in time with the music and live performances. It’s just beautiful to watch and really puts you in the Christmas spirit. Be sure to pick up a glass of mulled wine to keep you warm and enjoy during the show.
Contributed by Eden from Rock a Little Travel
#18 Copenhagen, Denmark
The Christmas season in Copenhagen, Denmark is pure magic. Walking around the city will put you in a festive spirit with lights strung across every street and alley in the city center. There are also must-visit Christmas markets in the city’s most visited squares.
Copenhagen Christmas Markets are the best in Scandinavia and perhaps the best in the city is Kongens Nytorv. The square is one of the most visited and gorgeous plazas throughout the year. It’s where you’ll find buildings like the Old Opera House, French Embassy and Hotel D’Angleterre. The winter decorations at Hotel D’Angleterre are stunning and in the month of December they attach LSC screens to the facade and transform the hotel into an advent calendar. It’s the perfect backdrop for a Christmas market.
In Old City Hall Square you’ll find the smaller but incredibly charming H.C Andersen Christmas Market. It’s full of some of the best seasonal foods and drinks in the city. One of the best stops is Mikkeller, the craft beer brewery that displays all of their holiday brews each year. You can also get a hot chocolate for a more traditional drink to keep you warm.
Perhaps the ultimate Christmas market experience in Copenhagen is at Tivoli Gardens. The famous amusement park is decked out with exquisite decorations and entering the gates feels like you’re walking into a real Christmas village. The rides are also operating all through the Christmas season and Santa Claus himself makes an appearance each weekend.
Contributed by Derek and Mike from Everything Copenhagen
#19 York, UK
From the moment you arrive at York’s bustling Christmas Festival and Fair, you’ll know you’ve come to somewhere exceptional. Held in the heart of this amazing medieval city, the Christmas Market (also known as St Nicholas Fair) is one of the most exciting in Britain. It’s also won an award as the Best Large Speciality Market at the Great British Market Awards in 2019.
You’ll find most of the market stalls on Parliament Street, moments away from the iconic York Minster cathedral. There are traditional chalets to explore in Coppergate and a Made in Yorkshire Yuletide Village filled with unique local artisan-made gifts too.
For younger visitors, there’s Santa’s grotto near the Jorvik Viking Centre and a traditional funfair with a stunning carousel and a helter-skelter.
While you’re at the York Christmas market, take a moment to visit the fabulous Käthe Wohlfahrt Christmas shop in the 15th century “Mulberry Hall” in Stonegate. There’s a wealth of beautifully handmade and hand-painted German Christmas decorations and gift ideas here, the only Käthe Wohlfahrt´s shop in the UK.
As well as all the roasted chestnuts mulled wine and mince pies you can imagine, you’ll find plenty of festive food and drink in the rustic Yorkshire Barn.
So, it’s definitely worth a trip to York Christmas Festival and Fair if you want to experience a quintessentially British Christmas! York is the ideal place to take a quick weekend break just before Christmas!
Location: Parliament Street, York, YO1 8SG
Opening dates: November 26 – December 12, 2020
Entry price: Free
Contributed by Coralie from Grey Globetrotters
#20 Stuttgart, Germany
Stuttgart’s Christmas Market is one of the biggest, oldest and prettiest in Europe. Held within the courtyard of the old castle in the Stuttgart City Centre, it’s definitely a Christmas market that you won’t want to miss!
With close to 300 stalls selling wooden toys, arts and crafts, jewellery, sweets and of course gingerbread and gluwhein, the Stuttgart Christmas Market seems like any other in Germany at first glance. But there are a few things that make this market so unique.
Stuttgart is known for its’ fabulous light sculptures, depicting famous symbols in the city, including an elephant representing the Wilhelma Zoo and of course, a Porsche (Stuttgart is home to the Porsche Museum). Every hour, the sculptures come alive in a unique light show.
Starting on December 1st, a giant advent calendar is displayed on the windows of the Stuttgart Town Hall (Rathaus). Every day a new window is revealed, displaying different coats of arms or images representing the different districts in Stuttgart. Right in front is the city’s beautifully decorated Christmas tree.
Also unique to the Stuttgart Christmas Market is it’s Finnish Christmas village. Complete with Finnish flags and wooden stalls selling Flammlachs (salmon cooked over a fire), washed down with Finnish beer or Glögi (Finnish mulled wine). You can also cozy up inside laavu, which is similar to a North American tipi.
For children, the Stuttgart Christmas Market has a children’s fairy tale land with carousels, a mini ferris wheel and a real mini steam engine that kids can ride. There are also many ‘have a go yourself’ activities for kids, including bake your own gingerbreads or Christmas cookie, make your own candle and even stained glass.
If you have the chance, be sure to visit the Stuttgart Christmas Market – you won’t be disappointed!
Contributed by Erin from three is us
#21 Strasbourg, France
Strasbourg is one of the most beautiful places in France located as Grand Ile (literally means Big island) between river Ill and Canal du Faux-Rempart. On this island is the Cathédrale Notre Dame de Strasbourg. This entire island is one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in France.
This was built in 12th C and its specialities are their original stained glass windows & astronomical clock. The clock is not original though and the original one currently resides in Museum of Decorative Arts in Strasbourg.
The Christmas market here in Strasbourg is one of the oldest markets which has been functioning since 1570, so much that it has been nicknamed Capital de Noel (Christmas Capital). Its awesomeness can be explained by the very fact that most of its hotels get pre-booked a year in advance during Christmas time, just to experience the Christmas Market here.
A humongous Christmas tree is set up here every year at Place Kleber around which is the ice-skating rink. Being surrounded by water one of the specialities here is, of course, the Canal boat-ride. During Christmas time, the canal boat-ride happens till late at night for us to enjoy the impeccable beauty of the Christmas lights of this town.
Contributed by Bhushavali from My Travelogue
#22 Palma de Mallorca, Spain
One of the most underrated destinations in Europe as far as Christmas markets are concerned, is the Spanish island city of Palma de Mallorca. During Christmas, the city comes alive as the streets, squares, and trees are decorated with beautiful Christmas lights.
The sound of Christmas carols creates a festive spirit and the smell of chocolate makes you want to dive into some in the nearest cafe. However, the main attractions in Palma are the several Christmas markets that are buzzing with people.
The best way to start your Christmas celebration is to attend the midnight Christmas mass at the Cathedral of Santa Maria of Palma, followed by experiencing the infectious energy at the lively Christmas markets. The most famous Palma Christmas markets are at Puerto Portals, Plaza Mayor, and Pueblo Español.
Puerto Portals is a market that’s situated on the port and offers a selection of the best Christmas delicacies – from both the local and global cuisines. Add to this, the view of several wooden Christmas stalls at one end and the views on to the royal yachts on the other, and you are ensured of a memorable Christmas night.
Plaza Mayor is a traditional Christmas market that is a shopper’s delight. The square is lined with hundreds of stalls selling tree decorations, gorgeous hand-made jewellery, delectable Christmas treats, scented candles, and gifts. You can also see well-designed exhibits displaying the nativity scene (birth of Jesus). There are several play attractions to keep kids occupied as well while their parents are busy shopping.
Pueblo Español is a market located a small distance away from Palma. It is thoughtfully designed as a model village in a way that it gives it’s visitors a feel of what living in older, humbler times would have been like. Stalls are filled with vendors selling local handicrafts, food, and drinks. You can also enjoy the vibrant live music scene in the market.
What makes these markets special is the fact that they are still rooted in tradition. They encourage families to come together, bond over some quality time, and just enjoy the festive spirit that the wonderful festival is known for!
Contributed by Vaibhav Mehta from The Wandering Vegetable
#23 Galway, Ireland
As one of the friendliest cities in the world, Galway is the perfect place to get into the Christmas spirit!
That’s because the city not only has that fantastic, laid-back Irish vibes, but it also has one of the most popular Christmas markets in Ireland.
With over 50 wooden stalls sprawling from the Spanish Arch to the Eyre Square in the city center–which is one of the best places to stay in Galway–the local Christmas market is filled with attractions.
Hop on the Big Wheel and see the city lit up with holiday lights from above. Oh, what a view! Not your jam? Then watch the choirs or carol singing along the market.
For food lovers, worry not–you can feast your way through Galway, from French crêpes to Belgian waffles and German beer to gluhwein (mulled wine).
Tip: The German beer tent in Eyre Square gets jam-packed with people after 5 PM. Arrive early for delicious German snacks, bites, and beer, of course!
Oh, and if you’re looking for souvenirs, you might want to shop food products and Christmas gifts both from local artisans and European traders.
The Christmas market in Galway is a unique place to experience a wonderful winter break in Ireland.
Contributed by Bruna from Maps ‘N Bags
We hope we could inspire you with those amazing Christmas markets all over Europe. Which ones have you visited? Which ones are you planning on visiting? And which one is your favourite European Christmas Market?
Leave us a comment. We’d love to hear from you.
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