Best Christmas Markets In Europe
You haven’t experienced Christmas until you’ve swopped your annual slog down the commercial mall for a magical and enchanting trip to one of Europe’s best Christmas Markets. Winter in Europe is a wonderful time to visit, and there are many Christmas markets in Europe to choose from.
From large to small, each Christmas market has its own unique touches that reflect the culture, traditions, and cuisines of that region. So if you’d rather be hearing the sounds of Christmas Carols, sipping on a warm mug of Glühwein or enjoying the smell of cinnamon and pine trees, check out our selection of the best Christmas markets in Europe.
Best Christmas Markets in Europe:
Vienna Christmas Market, Austria
From mid-November to December 30th, some of Vienna’s prettiest squares and streets transform into a Christmas market wonderland. Some three million visitors head to Vienna’s Christmas markets, with the largest and most popular located in front of the stunning City Hall (Rathausplatz). More than 150 stalls can be found in front of the neo-Gothic City Hall, selling beeswax candles, hand-made wooden toys, nativity scenes and glass ornaments. Snack on cream-filled pastries and sweets, take a ride on the golden carousel or take part in a fun Christmas craft workshop. A trip to the Christmas market in Vienna is a once in a lifetime opportunity you won’t want to miss.
Other popular Viennese Christmas markets can be found at the Belvedere Palace and the nearby Schönbrunn Palace with more stalls and more fairy lights than you can handle.
Vienna Christmas market dates: 18th November 2017 – 30th December 2017
Prague Christmas Market, Czech Republic
Prague is a fairytale city all year long, but even more so once winter arrives! Prague’s Old Town Square plays host to the largest Christmas market, complete with a huge Christmas tree, nativity scene, daily performances from choirs and some wonderful festive stalls. Traditional items on sale here include hand-made wool slippers, Bohemian Crystal baubles, carved wooden toys and garnet jewelry.
Tuck into a trdelnik (sugar coated rolled dough) or hot klobasa (Polish sausage) and wash it all down with a steaming hot svarene vino (a sweet mulled wine) while basking under the light of a hundred fairy-lights. Enjoy a festive concert or simply enjoy the spirit of Christmas and pray that a sprinkling of snow arrives to finish the wonderland scene.
Smaller Christmas markets can be found in the nearby Wenceslas Square, Namesti Republiky, in front of Prague Castle and Kampa Island.
Prague Christmas market dates: 2nd December 2017 – 6th January 2018
Zagreb Christmas Market, Croatia
Proving there is more to Croatia than sun, sea, and Game of Thrones, the Zagreb Christmas market has been voted “Best European Christmas Market” two times in a row. During Advent, the capital of Croatia becomes a festive wonderland that is set to rival destinations such as Vienna and Prague Christmas Markets in coming years.
Enjoy dozens of festive concerts, ice-skating, pastry-chef demonstrations, and children's workshops, while being surrounded by beautiful Christmas trees decorated with traditional ornaments and twinkling lights.
Take your pick of traditional seasonal gifts from the vast number of wooden stalls that can be found at over 20 locations throughout the Zagreb. If you’re a fan of the Nativity, be sure to visit the city’s cathedral, where you can enjoy a live Nativity scene.
Zagreb Christmas market dates: 2nd December 2017 –7th January 2018
Berlin Christmas Market, Germany
The magic of German Christmas markets are world-famous and draw in hundreds of thousands of visitors every winter. While Berlin’s Christmas markets aren’t amongst some of the most famous Christmas markets in Germany, it is said that they are some of the most unique, with a strong focus on the spirit of Christmas as a time to spend with family and friends rather than a time for Christmas shopping.
That being said, there are many Christmas markets to choose from in Berlin and thousands of wooden stalls and huts to peruse. You’ll still get the waft of gingerbread and you’ll still find traditional crafts and local treats, roasting chestnuts, and beautifully crafted wooden nativity scenes, but you’re also likely to find more unique gifts and crafts that cannot be found anywhere else, with 150 vendors from all over the country exhibiting in Berlin.
Just as Berlin has multiple neighborhoods, there are multiple Christmas markets with the most popular being the Gendarmenmarkt, Potsdamer Platz, Alexanderplatz and Charlottenburg Palace.
Berlin Christmas market dates: (Charlottenburg) 27th November 2017 – 31st December 2017 (For other markets you can check the list here)
Dresden Christmas Market, Germany
Just 2 hours by train from Berlin and 2 hours north from Prague, Dresden is another popular German Christmas market. In fact, it ranks as one of the best Christmas markets in Europe. Traditionally called Striezelmarkt, Dresden is one of Germany’s oldest Christmas markets with a very long history that dates back to 1434. Dresden’s main market can be found on the Altmarkt Square in the historical Old Town however, there are numerous locations where Christmas markets can be found throughout the month of December.
Dresden Christmas market is also home to the world’s tallest Christmas pyramid. Standing at a height of 14 meters (nearly 50 feet), it features life-sized angels and scenes from the Nativity on every level.
Dresden Christmas market dates: 30th November 2017 – 24th December 2017
Budapest Christmas Market, Hungary
Visit Budapest in the month of December and you will find a host of beautifully decorated wooden stalls in Vörösmarty and St. Stephen’s Square. In Budapest, beautiful quality handcrafts, home-made chocolates and delicious sweet Hungarian pastries are among just some of the popular items you can purchase at the numerous stalls. The Hungarian chimney cake (kurtoskalacs) is a must try as well as the warming mulled wine and Hungarian sparkling wine.
There are plenty of daily events and activities at Budapest’s Christmas market, including Santa Claus programs for children, ice-skating, book reading and wonderful choir concerts. At night, take in the magical fairy and laser lights that shine on St Stephen’s Basilica or take a chilly but enchanting nighttime cruise along the Danube for the ultimate twinkling lights experience.
Budapest Christmas market dates: 10th November 2017 – 31st December 2017
Salzburg Christmas Market, Austria
Salzburg Christmas Market or Salzburg Christkindlmarkt is one of Europe’s oldest Christmas markets. This historic and romantic market is said to date back to the late 15th century making it also one of the oldest markets in Salzburg. Salzburg’s two main Christmas markets can be found in front of the Altstadt’s Salzburger Dom (Salzburg Cathedral) and on Residence Square.
This advent market draws thousands of visitors every year, making it one of the best Christmas markets in Europe. Not least because of the traditionally decorated huts, but also for the market's romantic unique atmosphere which is only enhanced once the snow begins to fall and glitter amongst the sky of fairy-lights hanging above. Not to forget that Salzburg is the birthplace of the most famous Christmas carol of all time “Silent Night”.
Take a trip to Schloss Hellbrunn during your Christmas market break and look for the world’s largest Advent calendars. The palace’s 24 windows on its façade make for the perfect Advent calendar and it is certainly a sight not to be missed!
November Christmas market dates: 23rd November 2017 – 26th December 2017
Munich Christmas Market, Germany
With its huge Christmas tree covered in lights, the fragrant smell of gingerbread, and the hoard of stalls all aglow with Christmas spirit, Munich’s Christmas market has a special kind of traditional atmosphere. You’ll find vendors selling similar wares and mugs of Glühwein like many of Germany’s Christmas markets, except Munich goes all out and puts on one of the largest advent markets in all of Europe.
Munich’s Christmas markets expand over 20 locations, so prepare to wrap up warm and get ready for some serious festive fun. The main advent market can be found in the historical heart of the city, right in front of the neo-Gothic Town Hall on the Marienplatz.
Munich Christmas market dates: 27th November 2017 – 24th December 2017
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