Want to test out some of the best Christmas markets this winter? Europe is home to the most impressive Christmas markets in the world which will get you feeling festive in the run up to the 25th December. Sip on some hot mulled wine, wander around the cosy wooden stalls, go ice skating, listen to the carol singers, go Christmas shopping and indulge German bratwurst and Dutch waffles. There’s something truly special about spending the festive season in a European city when the whole place is illuminated by twinkling Christmas lights throughout December. From Strasbourg, Berlin to Paris and Edinburgh we’ve rounded up 12 of the most authentic Christmas Markets in Europe for a winter break. Time to get planning your next trip - and this time, it’ll be a magical one...
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Ice Village on Museumplein
If you want to go on a short winter city break, then the Dutch capital is an ideal place to soak up some authentic Christmas atmosphere. There are so many things to do in the city for the festive season , and Christmas markets is just one of them. The Ice Village in Amsterdam opens on Museumplein every year with a charming Christmas market boasting more than 45 different stalls and superb ice rink. The market plays host to delicious food stands where you can indulge in traditional Dutch treats like stroopwafel, chocolate milk, frites, raclette, burgers, hot soups and more delicious street food. The market is a magical place to shop for Christmas gifts with fairy lights, fire pits to keep yourself warm and beautifully-lit trees. Sip on some mulled wine from the Ice Village bar and take in the festive (and seriously cosy) atmosphere. The ice rink opens on November 16th, which is a bit earlier than the market which opens on 12th December. Perfectly located in Amsterdam’s museum quarter, glide around the ice rink with the Rijksmuseum as your backdrop.
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Gendarmenmarkt Square in Mitte
Berlin is brimming with different Christmas markets in the winter but the most authentic one has to be the Gendarmenmarkt in the city’s most central district, Mitte . Thanks to its location, it’s of the most atmospheric markets in the city, located between three beautiful and rather significant buildings (The Deutscher Dom, The Konzerthaus and the Französische Friedrichstadtkirche). The market itself is classic and cosy with magical star-topped tents and high quality food that you sometimes struggle to find in some Christmas markets across Europe. As well as your standard hot dogs, here foodies will get something extra special and unique due to the market’s Berlin/French crossover. Think goose legs, apple strudel, sugared pancakes and other melt-in-the-mouth Christmas delicacies like currywurst, waffles and hot chocolate. Buy yourself some handmade trinkets from the stalls which are run by local craftsmen and craftswomen from different trades: you’ll find belt makers, dressmakers, wood carvers, photographers, stonemakers and more selling their goods at the market.
While the famous Alexanderplatz Christmas market is the oldest in the city, it’s essentially a giant fairground so we recommend this as an alternative if you enjoy rides and an adrenaline rush. We personally prefer Gendarmenmarkt because it’s much cosier and more traditional. The daily entertainment at this market ranges from Christmas choirs, gospel, jazz bands, fire eaters, jugglers and more.
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Market on East Princes Street Gardens
Scots love Christmas and they celebrate the run up to the big day pretty awesomely, especially in the capital city. In Edinburgh, the narrow cobbled streets and medieval architecture form a cosy setting for traditional Christmas markets. The bright and colourful Christmas market on East Princes Street Garden is open much longer than other Christmas markets around Europe and it’s simply magical. Running from mid-November through early January there’s plenty of time for you to make the most of the Christmas atmosphere.
With a Big Wheel, a Johnny Walker bar, a carousel, stalls upon stalls of festive fun, bumper cars and carol singing, you’re going to have a wee’ good time in this Scottish winter wonderland. Edinburgh is also celebrating 24 Days of Advent where each day from 1st - 24th December, one of Edinburgh’s hidden gems will open its doors to the public. This is your chance to visit and get a real local experience of the city. Edinburgh as a city is a dreamy destination for a winter break because of all the cosy Scottish pubs, whisky bars, old world buildings and rolling hills. Wrapping up warm, feasting on haggis and pies and visiting the Christmas market and checking out these amazing sounds like the perfect way to see in the festive season to us.
And did you know Edinburgh celebrate the Scottish New Year bigger and better than most with its Hogmanay celebrations? Extend your trip to New Year’s eve and party hard into 2020! It’s no wonder Christmas is one of the city’s busiest periods.
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Marché de Noël des Tuileries
Paris is always a good idea, even more so during the festive season where the City of Lights shines even brighter than usual. The French Christmas markets in Paris are inspired by the Alsace region so you can expect to see plenty of delicious food and drink from that area as part of the festivities. Think Alsatian sausages, French cheeses, roasted chestnuts, tartiflette, chocolate-filled crepes and other delicious French pastries and sweet treats. Very delicious and one of the many reasons people come to Paris in the winter.
Our favourite Christmas market in Paris where you can really indulge is located in the Tuileries Garden, just around the corner from the Louvre. Formerly held at on the Champs-Elyees, this iconic Christmas market has been moved to the Tuileries Gardens for the past few years. The market has a buzzing atmosphere where every corner feels like you’re inside a twinkling Christmas bauble. And while it’s busy, it’s certainly not a tourist trap and doesn’t feel like one either. Boasting over 100 chalet-style stalls, plenty of rides and an ice rink where you skate your socks off, you simply can’t miss this amazing market if you’re in the city over the festive period. While you’re in Paris for Christmas, be sure to check out some of the .
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Christmas markets don’t get more authentic than the one that started them all…Thought to be the oldest Christmas market in the whole of Europe, it’s no wonder the people of France consider Strasbourg, the capital of Alsace, to also be the ‘capital of Christmas’. The Christmas market here is a feast for your senses! Every corner of the city is covered in Christmas lights while festive decorations hanging from house windows and shops become a winter wonderland. You’ve not experienced ‘festive feels’ until you’ve visited Strasbourg market.
Christkindelsmarik is the main event - since way back in 1570, the market has taken place on Place Broglie where over 300 wooden chalets show off craftsmanship through stunning ornaments, trinkets and incredible food. Eat your way around the bretzels, gingerbread and knacks (sausages) and don’t leave without warming your hands on a perfectly spiced vin chaud (mulled wine). Then marvel at the size of the giant Christmas tree towering over the market.
Southbank Centre Winter Market
London in winter time is all about , hot chocolate , cosy pubs and the Christmas markets . If you’re looking for an authentic Christmas market in London, skip Winter Wonderland (which is super commercial, extremely busy and expensive) and head to London's Southbank instead. Located by the River Thames, the Southbank Centre Winter Market is our favourite place in the British capital to experience a festive atmosphere because of all the amazing food on offer (and spectacular views over the river). Playing host to big names of London’s street food scene, there will be traders from all over the world cooking up hearty feasts whether it’s Greek food, Asian or Indian - and there will be traditional winter favourites on offer too like bratwurst and raclette. Expect wooden chalet-stalls, pretty fairy lights and lots of handmade gifts to browse. If you want an unforgettable Christmas winter break, London won’t let you down with all the amazing things to do. Theatre shows, Christmas markets, Christmas shopping on Oxford Street and incredible Christmas lights - this city sure goes above and beyond for the festive season.
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Prague, Czech Republic
Market on Old Town Square
Prague is one of those cities that shines during the festive period so it’s no surprise that its Christmas markets are some of the most impressive in the continent. Being a small city, Prague is the perfect winter retreat for a long weekend where you can drink Czech beer in a warm pub, explore the medieval streets, walk over Charles Bridge and feel the Christmas magic at the markets. Head to Old Town Square for the biggest and best Christmas market where you’ll find a true winter paradise. From Christmas tree decorations, jewellery, dolls dressed in traditional Czech dress, embroidered lace, wooden toys and warm hats and gloves, this market pretty much sells everything Christmassy. You have to try the traditional Czech food on offer too. The smell of large ham roasts and barbequed sausages (klobása) fills the air, hot sugar coated pastries go like hot cakes and spiced gingerbread is on almost every corner. As for drinks, the honey wine (Medovina) is a winner - and of course the Czech Pilsner beers. All of this excitement takes place around the centerpiece of the market: a giant Christmas tree on Old Town Square that’s been transported all the way from Liberec, a forested region in the Czech Republic. The tree lights are turned on every day at 4.30pm so get there just in time to see them be switched on.
The Christmas market on Wenceslas Square is just a 5 minute walk away so kill two birds with one stone and go to both!
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Christmas Market Schloß Schönbrunn
While smaller than its more famous neighbouring market, Christmas Market Schloß Schönbrunn is far more stylish and elegant - just what you’d expect from an authentic Viennese Christmas market. With Schönbrunn Palace as the backdrop, the scenery is simply magical. A spectacular Christmas tree stands tall, right there in the middle and in front of the palace, while around 80 charming Austrain stalls line-up on either side.
Rather than street food like in many other markets across Europe, here the stalls are mainly showing off the skills of local arts and crafts which make the perfect Christmas gifts. Pottery, glass blowing, wood carvings, candles and much more are created to be sold to a high standard - and they’re certainly not just the usual tacky Christmas nick-nacks. No market in Vienna is more cosy or relaxing, as classical music plays, the palace glows a soft gold after dusk and the crowds are mainly elsewhere. Instagrammable all around.
Tallinn Christmas Market
While Tallinn is considered to be one of Europe’s hidden gems, it’s Christmas market is fast becoming one of the most popular on the continent, whilst remaining charming and authentic. The capital of Estonia is brimming with character and during Christmas it’s beauty is taken to another level. The quaint, medieval Old Town transforms into a wintry haven for Christmas lovers, with the Tallinn Christmas Market set up in Town Hall Square.
Each year a contest is held to help find the most beautiful spruce tree, fitting enough to become the crown jewel of Tallinn Christmas Market. Since 1441, the ceremony of transporting the tree into its position in the Town Hall Square has been tradition, before it’s decorated in thousands of LED lights to give a festive glow throughout the city. Enjoy some traditional Estonian Christmas foods from the chalet stalls, such as black pudding, gingerbread and sauerkraut. Be sure to buy a hot cup of steaming mulled wine as you walk through the chalets on the hunt for an authentic Estonian souvenir. Being a northeastern European city, you may even be lucky enough to see a snowfall over the market, perfect for cosying up in one of the bars around the square - bliss!
Christmas Market on Vorosmarty Square
Hungary is full of wonderful Christmas traditions, but the number one way to get you in the festive spirit when in the city is to visit the oldest and most beautiful Christmas market in Budapest. The Christmas Market on Vorosmarty Square is the perfect place to celebrate the season Europe loves best, joining locals and tourists to bring its notoriously buzzing atmosphere. Vorosmarty’s Christmas market is like something from an olden-day advent calendar - wooden chalets, choirs singing and people walking around wrapped up in wooly hats for the winter, all surrounded by stunning Hungarian buildings from the 19th century.
Being a European Christmas market, you’ll of course find handmade gifts being sold as well as a whole host of food stalls for you to try some traditional local food for the season. In Hungary, festive food includes Kurtoskalacs (Chimney cakes made from pastry and cinnamon), stuffed cabbage in a bun, roasted goose thigh, duck sausage and way more - including rooster testicle stew… a gourmet delicacy according to locals!
Bruges Christmas Market on Markt Square
The cobbled streets, fairytale buildings and horse-drawn carriages ooze the European charm that people come from all over the world to experience. But Bruges’ Christmas Market in itself is one for the bucket list. Towards the end of November until the start of 2020, the market will take over Markt Square - the most enchanting spot in the entire city that lends itself perfectly for festivities. See the real life ‘gingerbread houses’ in all their winter glory, sample a Belgian waffle drenched in creamy Belgian chocolate and a dollop of whipped cream and take in the gloriously Belgian way of Christmas. Plus, there will be plenty of local beers for you to sample your way around! Did you know frites were also invented in Belgium, another street food staple that you have to try at the market.
After all that eating and drinking, take to the glistening ice rink in the heart of the square, purchase some authentic festive gifts from the wooden chalet stalls or head up the Belfry Tower for a birds-eye view of it all. After a visit to the Christmas market, warm yourself up at one of the best hot chocolate shops in the small town, or continue your Christmas shopping at the best chocolate shops .
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Christmas in Tivoli Gardens
People come from all over the world to visit Copenhagen in winter to experience ‘Hygge’, a Danish concept of cosiness, happiness, warmth and most importantly, enjoying the good things in life with the people you love. For example, the warming glow of candlelight, cosying up by the fireplace with someone you love or doing something that’s good for the soul. There’s nowhere better to experience Hygge than at Copenhagen’s Tivoli Gardens which goes all out for the festive season with its Christmas market. The 175 year old amusement park fills your soul with the spirit of a Nordic Christmas from 16th November up until 5th January. Wooden cottages sell festive trinkets, Santa Claus gives a warm welcome and you can smell the sweetness of caramelized almonds even from the top of the highest rollercoaster.
There are 60 stalls at this Copenhagen Christmas market where you can pick up gifts and sample traditional Danish festive treats, but Tivoli Gardens has that extra special edge… Get to the park after dark to see the coasters, trees, walkways and buildings adorned in thousands of spectacularly bright and colourful lights whatever time of you year head to Copenhagen. But when it comes to Christmas the display will blow you away, and this year introduces a brand new Christmas light show.
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