There’s nothing in the world quite like the Christmas Markets in Europe! There are wooden chalets in 13th-century towns, snow-capped cathedrals, seasonal cookies and cakes in display windows (better still: in your mouth), and of course, all the hot mulled wine you can drink. Put all of it together, and the towns practically twinkle with fairy-tale festiveness. Here, in no particular order, we present you 10 of the best Christmas markets in Europe.
Old Town and Wenceslas Square, Prague, Czech Republic
These two festive Christmas markets are just five minutes’ apart by foot. They are definitely the best in a city that already tops the list of places to spend Christmas. The Gothic architecture and mulled wine stalls are definitely 1 reason why! Don’t miss the barbecued pork or trdelník, a hot, rolled pastry rolled in cinnamon and sugar and cooked over a grill. Also, it tends to get very chilly in Prague in December so do make sure you pack a pair of gloves and a warm hat!
Cologne Christmas Market, Germany
This Christmas Market is set just in front of the city’s landmark cathedral. It has everything that you would expect from a German Christmas market; the Glühwein, the crafts, the twinkling lights. The one thing that definitely stands out though is its entertainment. There are more than 100 stage performances during the festive season. It’s the perfect combination of delicious food, warming wine and festive cheer!
Trento Christmas Market, Italy
Trento is located in the northern Italian region of Tretino-Alto Adige. Each year its cobblestoned streets are filled with 90 wooden huts and twinkling festive trees. The huts are distributed in two places; the strollable Piazza Fiera and Piazza Cesare Battisti. You can find many local delicatessens there from sheep’s cheese to dried orange slices, all of this with the stunning view of the Italian Alps just behind.
Tallinn Christmas Market, Estonia
The most interesting feature of this Christmas Market is that in includes Santa arriving to Tallinn’s market in the Town Hall square with a reindeer-pulled sleigh. Another fascinating thing is the town’s Christmas tree which the locals have been putting up since 1441, making it the first Christmas tree to ever be displayed in Europe.
Brussels Winter Wonders, Belgium
The Brussels Christmas Market is the largest one in Belgium. With more than 200 wooden huts selling all kids of festive goods including many foodie items, not to mention the delicious Belgian chocolates. You can also check out the glittery makeover of the normally formal looking Bourse and don’t miss the nightly spectacle at the Grand Place.
Manchester Christmas Markets, UK
Voted the best Christmas Market in the UK and the most popular market in Europe by instagrammers, the Manchester Christmas market does not stop yielding! The Christmas Market is spread across the whole city centre in 10 different locations with more than 300 stalls selling an excellent mixture of gifts, crafts and food. You can easily walk them all in one mulled wine fuelled evening, but if time is tight, head straight to the main set-up in Albert Square where you will find a giant Santa adorning the great Victorian Town Hall. Also, don’t forget to sample the coconut macaroons and the passionfruit mulled wine!
Salzburg Christkindlmarkt, Austria
The Christmas market in Salzburg is located in the centre of the UNESCO World Heritage Old City and it isn’t just mulled wine and food stalls. There are daily sing-alongs on Tuesdays from 6-8pm and tradition wind music performances on Thursday and Saturday nights. Make sure you also try the Bauernkrapfen (fried pastries).
This is one of the most popular Christmas markets in the world with over two million annual visitors! While there, make sure to head to Hauptmarkt which is the central square in the city’s Old Town. Each year the festivities are opened by a speech given by the traditional gift-giver and symbol of the Christmas market from the top of the balcony of the monumental Gothic church.
Dresden Striezelmarkt, Germany
The Dresden Stiezelmarkt is Germany’s oldest. The highlights of this original market are its 45-foot high Christmas pyramid and its Stollencake (a delicious buttery fruitcake powdered with sugar). There is no shortage of festive gifts and crafts on sale at the vendor’s stalls. Traditional mulled wine and sweet treats flow everywhere across the market and certainly this is one of the most traditional markets in Germany, with many of the customs surrounding the main city market stemming from local industries like mining, woodworking and pottery.
The Strasbourg Christmas Market first opened its doors in 1570 so there’s no wonder that this capital de Noel puts on a fine winter show! The pretty wooden houses of the historic centre are decorated with lavish decorations. There are fabulous illuminations strung across all the cobble streets and a gigantic fir tree adorned with 7km of fairy lights twinkling in the nightly sky. A sight to bestow! Expect tradition in everything you see at the vendor stalls, from crafts and gifts to foods like the traditional bredelewhich are scented biscuits that you can take home and decorate your Christmas tree with.
Author: Anna Popova