The holidays are here, which means it’s the perfect time for a festive getaway. If you’re in search of a magical experience, then look no further than Europe. Rich with vibrant culture and age-old traditions, these European cities come alive during the Christmas season with their festive markets.
The Christmas holiday season is an amazing time to visit any part of Europe; streets are decked in festive cheer, and people embrace the spirit of the season with enthusiasm. This high level of energy can be found at one source: local Christmas markets! At these traditional markets, vendors showcase homemade goods such as handmade ornaments, holiday decor, and specialty gifts galore. The aromas alone will transport you to a world of winter wonder, with mouth-watering treats like mulled wine and gingerbread cookies being served up in abundance throughout market stalls.
For those looking for an unforgettable holiday trip this year, Europe has some of the best Christmas markets around! To help you out in finding your ideal destination before peak season strikes, let’s take a look at some top Christmas Markets in Europe that you must visit at least once.
Explore the Best Christmas Markets In Europe this Winter
This winter, why not take a festive getaway to one of Europe’s top Christmas markets? From traditional German markets to the enchanting streets of Prague, there are plenty of magical experiences to be had. Here’s a list of some of the best Christmas markets in Europe for you to explore!
1. Cologne, Germany
Cologne, Germany is a city of old-world charm and contemporary verve. From November 21 to December 23, 2022, the city will be alive with festive cheer as it hosts several Christmas markets. Markt der Engel and Nikolausdorf are two of the most popular markets, with Markt der Engel featuring hundreds of twinkling lights and Nikolausdorf telling the story of St. Nick. Heumarkt also offers an outdoor ice-skating rink for a more traditional experience.
The Cologne Cathedral is the showstopper of the city, while the Christmas season brings a festive atmosphere to the market at the square under it. There are many other attractions during Christmas such as Angels’ Christmas Market, Nikolausdorf, and Heumarkt with an ice-skating rink, stage performances, and gospel.
Enjoy traditional festive treats like Glühwein (mulled wine) and Käsespätzle while taking in all that Cologne has to offer.
2. Salzburg, Austria
Salzburg, Austria is a city steeped in Christmas tradition and culture. The city is best known for its carols and ancient traditions, with free daily concerts at 5 pm in front of the cathedral and Tuesday singalongs from 6 pm-8 pm. Market stalls offer hand-knitted socks as stocking fillers, providing a unique experience for visitors. The Salzburg Christkindlmarkt is a popular destination for locals and tourists alike, featuring over 100 stalls outside the Salzburg Cathedral. The atmosphere of the market is enhanced by snow drifting in off the Alps, bright Christmas lights, and roasting chestnuts. Visitors can enjoy a variety of drinks such as gluhwein and punch, as well as chocolates, cakes, ornaments, souvenirs, and more.
The festive season in Salzburg also includes Krampus parades, singing choirs, and the reading of Christmas stories to kids. Christmas markets are spread across the city, with the most popular being located in Residenzplatz, Mirabellplatz, and Kapitelplatz.
3. Berlin, Germany
Berlin is a great place to visit during the Christmas season, with between 60 and 80 Christmas markets scattered throughout the city. Popular markets include Berliner Weinachtszeit behind Alexanderplatz and Potsdamer Platz with its Winterwelt. The market at Potsdamer Platz is popular because it starts in early November, weeks before most others do. Weihnachtszauber am Gendarmenmarkt is a traditional Christmas market with handcrafted gifts and souvenirs, as well as daily Christmas plays.
When visiting these markets, there are many delicious foods to try such as schmalz kuchen, lebkuchen gingerbread, goulash, and hot chips. Drinks to enjoy include gluhwein or draught beer. Munich hosts 11 of the best Christmas markets in Europe from 27th November to 24th December. The Christmas Market at Sendlinger Tor offers crafts from around the world while the 600-year -old market at Marienplatz is the largest in Munich. There are also markets at Odeonsplatz, Chinesischer Turm, and Rindermarkt.
4. Budapest, Hungary
Budapest is a magical city during the Christmas season. The two best-known Christmas markets in Budapest are Vorosmarty Square and St. Stephen’s Square, where traditional handcrafts like glass-blowing, candle-making, and leatherwork, as well as traditional Hungarian embroidery, are showcased. Visitors can also enjoy delicious treats like kurtoskalacs (chimney cakes) and langos (fried dough with cheese), as well as hot foods like dumplings and sausages. Accommodation options in Budapest are plentiful for those wishing to stay longer to explore the city.
Vorosmarty Square and St. Stephen’s Basilica host popular Christmas markets with traditional Hungarian food vendors, handcraft stalls, music concerts, puppet shows, and an ice-skating rink. The Christmas laser projections on the Basilica are a must-see attraction for visitors to Budapest.
5. Prague, Czech Republic
Prague is a magical city during the festive season, with its grandeur amplified by open-air concerts and traditional nativity scenes. The city has two main Christmas markets located in Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square, with an additional one at Prague Castle. Visitors can enjoy a variety of alcoholic drinks and foods such as mulled wine, mead, punch, grog, sausages, pancakes, and trdelník chimney cakes. Folk groups and school choirs perform on the main stage to complete the festive atmosphere.
The Old Town Square is especially popular during Christmas time as it features a petting zoo with sheep, goats, and a donkey. It’s also the perfect place to sample some local delicacies such as warm sausages, pancakes, and garlic-and-cheese flatbread. Whether you’re looking for unique gifts or just want to soak up the festive atmosphere of Prague during this special time of year, there’s something for everyone in this beautiful city.
6. Strasbourg, France
Strasbourg, France is a great place to visit during the winter and around Christmas. The city is known as the ‘Capital of Christmas’ and has been hosting Christmas Markets since 1570. The Marché de Noël features over 300 wooden stalls spread throughout the historical center, with Place Kleber home to the main market and a 30-meter-high tree looming overhead. Visitors can enjoy festive illuminations and local treats like hot mulled wine and Alsatian biscuits, as well as special Christmas beers available for sampling.
The UNESCO World Heritage streets of La Grande Île are alive with activity during the holiday season, with 10+ different markets offering handmade gifts, mulled wine, freshly baked goods, and festive workshops. Each season also features a changing ‘guest country’ market highlighting products from different countries. Visiting the Strasbourg Christmas Market can be an annual event with new things to discover every season.
7. Gothenburg, Sweden
Gothenburg, Sweden is a vibrant city full of culture and charm. It is best known for its chic vibes and mugs full of glogg, a traditional Swedish mulled wine. During the winter months, the city transforms into a magical Christmas wonderland with Liseberg amusement park becoming an open-air market with free children’s entertainment. Visitors can enjoy smoked reindeer, glogg, Santa’s wooden workshop, bumper cars, and an ice show.
The city also offers plenty to do for culturists with its opera, theatre, museums, experimental cuisine, and music scene. Liseberg is the spot for Sweden’s most famous Christmas open-air market with 700 illuminated trees, dozens of handicraft shops, winter rides, and fine restaurants. For those looking to experience the festive delights of Gothenburg’s market in style, SAS Business Class offers flights to the city.
8. Bratislava, Slovakia
Christmas in Bratislava is a magical time of year, with its traditional wooden toys and festive decorations available at the local markets. Foodie treats such as pancakes, sausages, and cakes are also available for purchase. Prague is a city of storybook romance, with its flowing river, medieval bridges, majestic castle, ancient squares, and winding cobbles. Old Town Square is the place to be during Christmas time for its glorious old-world setting between the 14th-century twin spires of Our Lady Before Týn and the 15th-century Astronomical Clock. Visitors can enjoy festive delights such as Trdelník and grog while shopping for Bohemian glass artifacts, wooden toys, and cookie cutters in the stalls.
Bratislava is a great destination for those looking to experience a unique Christmas celebration. The city has plenty of activities to offer visitors during this special time of year including ice skating on Eurovea’s outdoor rink or taking a stroll through the Christmas markets. The city also offers plenty of cultural attractions such as the Bratislava Castle, St. Martin’s Cathedral, and the Slovak National Theatre.
9. Bohemia, Czech Republic
Bohemia, Czech Republic is the perfect destination for a Christmas getaway. Ceske Budejovice and Cesky Krumlov are two of the most atmospheric markets in Europe, offering wooden toys, Christmas decorations, and glasses of mulled wine. The town hall square in Cesky Krumlov is especially magical, with fairy lights and decorations twinkling beneath a romantic castle. Prague is a city of romantic storybook charm, with art nouveau and cubist facades standing alongside baroque buildings and gothic churches. The Christmas markets in Old Town Square offer a festive atmosphere with live shows, carol concerts, and dance performances, as well as stalls selling bohemian glass artifacts, wooden toys, and cookie cutters. Visitors can enjoy traditional treats such as trdelník and grog while staying at the luxurious Mandarin Oriental Prague.
The architecture of Bohemia is truly breathtaking; from the cobblestone streets to the grand castles that line the countryside, it’s a place that will take your breath away. The Christmas markets in Bohemia are some of the most unique and beautiful in Europe, offering visitors a chance to experience traditional Czech culture and cuisine. From Ceske Budejovice to Cesky Krumlov, there’s something for everyone at these festive markets.
10. Vienna, Austria
Vienna is a magical city during the Christmas season, with its cobbled streets and fairy lights twinkling in the night sky. The traditional wooden toys, steaming drinks in coffee houses, and mulled wine at the many Christmas markets make it a truly festive experience. Roasted chestnuts and freshly baked pretzels add to the atmosphere of Vienna during this special time of year.
The Christmas Markets in Vienna have been dated back to the 13th Century and are one of the best Christmas markets in Europe. The Rathaus Christmas Market offers a huge array of stalls, live music, and festive punch for visitors to enjoy. The Christmas Village near Belvedere Palace has around 40 stalls selling handcrafted goods, candles, and food that will delight any visitor. Whether you’re looking for unique gifts or just want to soak up the atmosphere, Vienna is sure to provide an unforgettable holiday experience.
11. Copenhagen, Denmark
Copenhagen, Denmark is a great alternative to the busy German Christmas markets. The city’s main Christmas market, Tivoli Gardens, is filled with festive decorations, wooden toys, ceramics, and chunky knitwear. There are also plenty of rides, cafes, bars, and thousands of lights to enjoy. The aromas of caramelized almonds and cinnamon-infused mulled wine (glogg) fill the air as visitors explore the market. Other popular markets in Copenhagen include Nyhavn, Hans Christian Andersen Market, Hojbro Plads Christmas Market, and Freetown Christiania Market.
Visitors to Copenhagen during the holiday season will find plenty of festive activities to enjoy. From traditional Christmas markets to ice skating rinks and amusement park rides, there is something for everyone in this beautiful city. Whether you’re looking for unique gifts or just want to soak up the atmosphere of a traditional European Christmas market, Copenhagen has it all!
12. Tallinn, Estonia
Tallinn, Estonia is a magical destination for musical groups and dance troupes from November 25, 2022, to January 8, 2023. The city’s Christmas market is one of the most beautiful in Europe and features over 60 wooden stalls selling handmade wreaths, local arts and crafts, sweets, honey, and sheepskin rugs. Santa arrives on an authentic reindeer sleigh each year in front of the Town Hall which has been displaying a Christmas tree since 1441.
The Tallinn Christmas Market is a must-visit destination at Christmas with its coziness, historic location, centuries-old buildings and long traditions. Visitors can enjoy high-quality handicrafts, practical winter accessories, gingerbread and hearty Christmas roasts. There are also carousels and Santa Claus distributing candy to add to the festive atmosphere. With its unique charm and festive spirit, Tallinn is sure to be an unforgettable experience for any musical group or dance troupe visiting during this special time of year.
13. Brussels, Belgium
Brussels, Belgium is a magical place to visit during the winter months. Every year from November 25th to January 1st, the city transforms into a festive wonderland with Winter Wonders. This event features an array of activities and attractions that will make your holiday season unforgettable. From ice skating rinks and light shows to over 200 snow-blanketed wooden chalets, there’s something for everyone in Brussels during this time of year.
Visitors can enjoy traditional market stalls, an ice skating rink, a huge Christmas tree, and a nativity scene while sampling mulled wine and Belgian frites for a truly festive experience! There are also plenty of delicious treats like waffles, mulled wine, Belgian beers, and chocolates available throughout the event. To top it all off, the Music and Light Show in the Grand Place is sure to be an amazing sight that you won’t want to miss.
14. Basel, Switzerland
Basel, Switzerland is a great destination for anyone looking to experience the magic of Christmas. From November 24th to December 23rd, 2022, Basel’s Christmas market will be the biggest and most beautiful in all of Switzerland. The market features 160 stalls selling a variety of culinary delights and festive decorations, as well as activities for kids such as bauble-making workshops and gingerbread decorating. Wander through the market stretching from Barfüsserplatz to Münsterplatz and take in all that this magical season has to offer.
Accommodations can be found at the new Basel Marriott, offering Swiss culture with modern amenities. Fly into EuroAirport Basel Mulhouse Freiburg or Zurich (ZRH) from the U.S., or EasyJet or British Airways from London Gatwick (LGW), Manchester (MAN), or Edinburgh (EDI). With so much to see and do in Basel during the holiday season, it’s sure to be a memorable experience.
15. Edinburgh, Scotland
First of all, we know that Edinburgh is now no longer part of Europe, but we had to include it in this list! Edinburgh, Scotland is the perfect place to get into the Christmas spirit. From November to January, visitors can enjoy a variety of festive activities and attractions. The Christmas markets in Edinburgh offer wooden toys, decorations, and other unique gifts. Visitors can also take part in the Hogmanay Torchlight Procession through Edinburgh’s Old Town on December 30th and the Hogmanay street party and fireworks display on December 31st. For a great view of the market, head to Johnny Walker’s bar which overlooks Princes Street Gardens.
The Royal Botanical Gardens turn into an illuminated trail with marshmallow roasting opportunities while George Street offers live music, mulled cider, and incredible lights for a magical festive experience. There is also an oval ice rink with fairground rides and Santa’s Grotto at The Dome where visitors can find giant trees decorated with festive lights. With so much to do during Christmas time in Edinburgh, it is no wonder why it is such a popular destination for holiday.
16. Gdansk, Poland
Gdansk, Poland is a great destination for Christmas markets in Europe. The Gdansk Christmas Market is a magical winter wonderland with romance oozing from every corner. Visitors can shop for original jewelry, ceramics, and up-cycled clothes, or fill up on the wide variety of delicacies from around the world. To warm up, visitors can enjoy a mug of hot chocolate, mulled beer, or aromatic mulled wine.
Krakow, Poland is another great destination for Christmas markets in Europe. The Main Square hosts the festive Christmas Fair from late November till early January. Here visitors can enjoy traditional food from Polish and other European cuisines as well as craftsmen selling wooden nativity scenes, painted baubles, Christmas decorations and centerpieces, ceramic products, and wooden toys. Krakow is also home to a unique competition recognized by UNESCO for the most beautiful Nativity scene which originated in 19th-century Krakow among construction workers looking for a way to celebrate the holiday season. With so much to see and do, Krakow is sure to be a memorable Christmas destination.
17. Metz, France
Metz, France is home to one of the most renowned Christmas markets in Europe. Every year from November 18th to December 24th, visitors can experience a unique holiday atmosphere with a variety of activities and attractions. The open-air ice rink, merry-go-round, Sentiers des Lanternes, and big wheel next to the cathedral are just some of the features that make this market so special. Visitors can also enjoy traditional treats such as gingerbread while taking in stunning illuminations.
The Metz Christmas market has been listed for the past 10 years among the best in Europe due to its unique activities and offerings. From hand-crafted gifts to sampling gingerbread, skating along the ice road, or walking through the magical “Sentiers des Lanternes” lit up with nearly 2,000 lanterns, there is something for everyone at this festive destination. Whether you’re looking for a fun day out or an unforgettable holiday experience, Metz’s Christmas market is sure to make your Christmas season extra special.
18. Krakow, Poland
Krakow, Poland is a great destination for Christmas markets in Europe. The Main Square hosts an annual festive Christmas Fair with stalls from Poland and abroad offering traditional food and crafts. Specialties include dumplings, oscypek (smoked sheep cheese), wooden nativity scenes, painted baubles, Christmas decorations, ceramic products, and wooden toys. Krakow is also home to a unique competition for the most beautiful Nativity scene that has been recognized by UNESCO as a nonmaterial heritage. This competition began in 19th-century Krakow among construction workers looking for income in the autumn and winter period and has taken place every year since 1937, attracting lots of local artists.
Gdansk Christmas Market is another magical winter wonderland with elf parades, a talking moose, and the Snow Queen. Here you can shop for original jewelry, ceramics, and up-cycled clothes or fill up on delicacies from around the world.
19. Esslingen, Germany
Esslingen, Germany is a beautiful old medieval town located just 20 minutes from Stuttgart airport. It features lovely markets with locals in costume, stilt-walkers, and fire-eaters that make it a great place to visit during the Christmas season. The town also has great restaurants and nightlife to enjoy.
Dusseldorf, Germany is hosting Christmas markets until December 30th that offer visitors a 1,700-square-meter ice rink on Corneliusplatz and a children’s-activity tent on Jan-Wellem-Platz. Visitors can experience the Christmas magic with shows every day. There are plenty of unique gifts to buy for friends and family at the markets as well as delicious food and drinks to enjoy while exploring the area.
20. Nuremberg, Germany
Nuremberg, Germany is home to one of the world’s most famous Christmas markets. From late November to December 24th, 2022, visitors can experience the festive atmosphere of this sustainable market. The market is supplied with regenerative energy and features reusable cups for mulled wine. Traditional decorations, food, and the “Christkind” are all available for visitors to enjoy. Nuremberg bratwurst, Lebkuchenherze, and glühwein are just some of the traditional German foods and drinks that can be found here.
The market is suitable for travelers of all ages; families with children can enjoy cultural shows and performances while adults can browse through a variety of locally-made souvenirs. Winter temperatures in Nuremberg drop well below zero so visitors should bring warm clothing such as scarves, hats, and gloves. The market opens on the first Friday before Advent and closes on December 24th. With its unique atmosphere and wide range of attractions.
Christmas Markets in Europe Summary
Christmas markets in Europe are a great way to experience the festive season. From Krakow to Dusseldorf, there are plenty of options for visitors looking to explore the culture and traditions of different countries. Whether you’re looking for traditional food, unique gifts, or a fun activity for the whole family, these Christmas markets have something for everyone. Although Edinburgh is now no longer in Europe, the author of My Top Bucket List had to include it. Also worthy of mention is Magicas de Navidad in Torrejon de Ardon, Madrid.