10 Christmas Markets in Europe to Get You Feelin' Festive
Time to pull those thick jumpers out from the back of your wardrobe. Christmas is just around the corner and to start the festive season off on a high, the bustling Christmas markets are coming out to play. From November until the start of January some of Europe’s greatest cities will be graced by the warm glow of Christmas lights, hot chocolate stalls and the delightful sound of carols.
Be merry with mulled wine in one hand, and a hot dog in the other. It’s time to soak up the festive vibes of Europe’s best Christmas markets for 2018...
Every year, Berlin hosts over 50 Christmas markets across the city. These markets are some of the best in the world. Think plenty of Gluhwein, fresh German sausages, heart shaped gingerbread and a good old festive atmosphere. We’ve picked out our favourite three:
We recommend heading to Alexanderplatz. Under Berlin’s iconic TV tower, the whole of Alexanderplatz is transformed into an iconic Christmas market. Located in Berlin’s Mitte district, the warming market attracts hundreds of people each year to bask in its Christmas atmosphere - and it’s free entry. With a colourful merry-go-round and stalls that house hand-made gifts, tasty German food and, of course, Glühwein, the Alexanderplatz market has plenty on offer to fill you with Christmas cheer.
Fancy some ice skating? Then make the short journey by foot to another market in Alexanderplatz, Berlin’s most charming Christmas market of 2018, Berliner Weihnachtszeit. The centrepiece of this nostalgic market is a huge ice rink. There is also a ferris wheel here where you’ll get great views of the Brandenburg Gate if you take the ride. You can get bread made fresh from a medieval style bakery too.
When you think Bruges can’t get anymore fairy-tale like, Christmas arrives. Bruges is famed for hosting one of the most atmospheric Christmas markets in Europe.
Head to Markt Square, the city’s main square, to get a feel for the magic of Bruges’ in winter: the market boasts pretty, wooden chalets surrounding a glittering ice rink, with the city's gingerbread-esque buildings decorated with ivy and tinsel.
The sweet swell of warm fresh waffles fills the market, twinkling fairy lights surround the city and horse-drawn carriages can take you around the cobbled streets. A Christmassy heaven. There’s a reason people flock to the medieval city during December to enjoy the markets. There’s plenty of beer, chocolate, waffle fries (pictured below) and frites to keep your stomach happy too.
From London you can travel on the Eurostar straight to Bruges in 3 hours 30 minutes, so why not do something spontaneous this December and head to Bruges?
London lights its streets better than any other city during the Christmas season. And as always, cosy Christmas markets open up all over the city to provide you with that warm, fluttery excitement as Christmas nears. The two markets to definitely pay a trip to:
Southbank’s Wintertime Market is right on the beautiful riverside overlooking the Thames. The whole area transforms into a Winter Wonderland sure to enchant you.
Tuck into some festive street food favourites such mince pies, sausages, burgers and hot chocolate. Or buy some handmade Christmas gifts and stocking fillers. Stroll alongside the line of Nordic-inspired wooden chalets, get a photo under the huge Christmas tree and a soak up the lively atmosphere.
Then there’s Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland. Up until January 6th, Hyde Park is filled with German-style markets serving mulled wine and hot dogs, amazing stalls and over 100 rides plus the UK's largest outdoor ice-rink. Consider yourself a bit of an adrenaline junkie? See if you can brave the ‘The Munich Looping’, a HUGE loopy roller coaster back again for a second year. It made its first-ever debut at Munich’s Oktoberfest.
If you’re staying in our Greenwich hostel then be sure to pay a trip to the magical Greenwich Christmas markets. And if you will be based in London Bridge, then head down to the London Bridge Christmas by the river market.
Check out the rest of the Best Christmas Markets in London
Last year the famous Champs Elysees Christmas Market was closed to everyone’s surprise, because nothing screams Christmas in Paris like the festive cheer on the world’s most famous avenue, and this year it is closed again. But not to worry, there is an alternative festival called ‘La Magie de Noël’ (The Magic of Christmas) which will be just as amazing held in the Jardin Tuileries next to the Louvre. Hot mulled wine, roasted chestnuts, twinkling lights and juicy sausages. What more could you ask for? There are other markets taking place in Paris too including the Montmartre Christmas Market behind Sacre Coeur and the Notre Dam Christmas market.
Marché de Noël Alsacien is fantastic Christmas market in front of Gare de L’est station, the market showcasing the best of Alsace, a region in northeastern France. There will be wine, sausages, Choucroute (a famous Alsatian recipe), gingerbread, pretzels and free tastings. And don’t miss out on buying your Christmas gifts from the charming market stalls!
There’s also a popular Christmas market outside the Notre Dame cathedral bringing together 50 different tradesmen in Square René Viviani. Selling all sorts of items from accessories, clothing to little trinkets and worldly goods this market may be small but it’s picture perfect.
And while you’re in the city, make a stop at the Galeries Lafayette to admire the HUGE, extravagantly decorated Christmas tree.
You may not think sunny Barcelona is the place to come for bustling Christmas markets - but that’s where you’re wrong. If you fancy spending the festive season somewhere warm, you don’t have to miss out on Christmas festivities. Barcelona’s biggest and most-well known Christmas market is Fira de Santa Llúcia by Barcelona Cathedral.
Celebrating it’s eighth year, you’ll find 287 stands offering Christmas trinkets, nativity figures, Christmas trees, and mouth watering chocolate-filled churros at this Christmas fair. Fira de Santa Llúcia is unique because of its more traditional side, where you’ll get to embrace all of the Catalan traditions: you can get a look at the Nativity scenes and the crib exhibitions.
Copenhagen’s Christmas market takes place in Tivoli Gardens - one of the oldest theme parks in Europe. Christmas at Tivoli Gardens, which runs right through Christmas up until 31st December, is probably the most Instagrammable market in this list.
Fairy lights, Christmas trees and an atmosphere guaranteed to make you feel festive. You won’t want to miss this market filled with over 60 stalls offering sweets, decorations, gifts, hot chocolate, crafts and knitted products. The best bit?
The rides will be open as always! Watch the fascinating light show over the lake, new for this year taking place in the Chinese area under the Demon roller coaster. The restaurants around the park will be serving up Christmas delicacies to satisfy your taste buds.
Prague’s Old Town Square lights up during December with the city’s biggest Christmas market. One of the best markets in the Czech Republic, the whole place is draped in lights and decoration.
Prepared right in front of you there will be large ham spit roasts, barbecuing of Czech sausages (klobása) and cakes and pastries freshly baked. Mulled wine and Pilsner beer will also be there to tempt you when you feel thirsty. The most striking part of the market is an enormous Christmas tree transported all the way from Central Bohemia.
Christmas carols will fill the market, sung by a local school choir to really lift the Christmas spirit.
Do Christmas the Bavarian way at the Munich Christmas markets. Taking place on Marienplatz, the Munich Christmas market is nostalgic, magical and full of charm. Filled with visitors year on year, this market is local favourite.
With over 160 stalls and a gigantic Christmas tree stealing the show, Munich will really put you in the Christmas mood. Pick up some traditional German glass Christmas baubles, or a unique handmade gift for friends and family.
The Bavarian Christmas market is a treat for your tastebuds too. Serving traditional festive foods such as roasted chestnuts, stollen, fruit cake, gingerbread, baked apples and berry mulled wine you will not leave hungry.
The Scottish capital really knows how to do Christmas. Edinburgh kicks off its festive celebrations in November with a mini carnival featuring a lit up ferris wheel, a huge outdoor ice rink and carousels - even a Santa land, all in the centre of the city.
Head to Princes Street Gardens and George Street for all the rides and markets. Since you’re in Edinburgh, you simply must try the single malt whiskies on offer at the many red-roofed huts. Scottish delicacies will be sold at the market, as well as gifts, Christmas decorations and more. There’s nothing more to fill you with Christmas spirit - Edinburgh has thought of it all.
There’s even an Ice Adventure Experience, a walk-through journey through ‘Frozen Scotland’ filled with ice sculptures and mythical creatures.
Budapest’s most famous Christmas market takes place on Vorosmarty Square in the city centre. This is the oldest and most beautiful Christmas market attracting tourists and locals alike from all over the world.
Let the sweet smell of fresh Hungarian cinnamon pastries fill the air and into your lungs as you walk around the beautifully decorated traditional stalls. Other dishes of the country that will be on offer include sausages, grilled vegetables, street snacks like Langos and dodolle (potato dumplings). And of course, lots of mulled wine.
There will be free concerts, handicraft shops, choirs singing and thousands of handmade gifts.
Hope you enjoy Europe's best Christmas markets!
Want more? Check out 18 Travel Products Every Backpacker Needs to Add to Their Christmas List
Article by Shereen Sagoo
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