The 9 best Christmas markets in Europe
We all know why the winter season is one of the best times of the year, snowfall, ice skating, and Christmas! Yes, Santa bringing us presents if we were good kids, was the best story all of us have heard in our childhood.
Today, Christmas is more than a festival, it is a season, a season that almost defines winter. People from all over the world fly to Christmas markets to join in the vibe and happiness of the celebrations.
Christmas is surely my favorite time of the year, the fact that I can throw snowballs at my siblings and watch them fall as they try to skate over the ice is some of the best memories I have. We had earlier written a post on the 10 best places to go for the Christmas holidays, if you did not read it till now, read it here.
Christmas markets are the best places to visit for experiencing the actual authenticity of the season. This is because every Christmas market around the world is a package of fun, traditions, lights, decorations, crafts, shows, and food.
The locals that host the Christmas markets await the visitors and treat them as a huge family during this festive season. Due to all of this and the joy of the season, we thought of compiling a list of the 9 best Christmas markets in Europe, for you to visit.
1. Cathedral Christmas Market, Cologne, Germany
The most famous Christmas market in Germany is at the foot of the Gothic Cathedral. This cathedral is not only the most prominent landmark in Cologne but also a recognized world heritage centre that attracts more than six million visitors a year. The Christmas market starts on the 23rd of November and lasts till the 23rd of December.
A huge tree surrounded by Christmas music, arts, toys, decorations, crafts collectively forms the vibe of this center of attraction. Scents of baked items, wines, and gingerbreads that are specially made for Christmas are for sure going to fill you with an affinity for these foods. Quality is the priority for all sellers here. Most of the Christmas gifts made from woodcarvings, ceramics, and glass balls come from Germany and Europe.
The main highlight of the market here is the Futtergasse- the feeding alley, where people can buy regional, national, and international quality food. There is also the Glitzergasse, where people can buy fashion accessories that are for sale. The place is really safe despite the crowd and the market will seem something straight out of a storybook.
2. Salzburg, Austria
One of the most romantic Christmas markets, which does have a lot of history too. An added bonus of visiting this city is that it is Mozart’s city which does make it seem magnificent. There are over 90 social and cultural events that are entirely for the visitors.
There is even an exhibition of Christmas mangers. Folk songs, dance performances, and processions of the haunted, light up the mood. Also, let’s not forget that Salzburg is the place the song “Silent Night, Holy Night” was born.
The Christmas market starts on 19th November and goes on up to 26th December. The entire market is lit with lights that give it a starry feeling. One of the main things one can do here is to sing along in a public choir that is open to everyone who wants to sing. This is there on Tuesdays from 6 pm to 8 pm. Also, traditional wind music is played every Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday.
3. Vorosmarty Square Christmas Market, Budapest, Hungary
The Christmas markets in Budapest was voted the most affordable Christmas market in Europe. This market has some of the most unique craft products, some delicious treats and drinks, and a number of interesting programs.
The slender Christmas tree placed here is almost surrounded by 100 beautiful stores. These small stores decorated with ornamental colors lit up the area. And the best part about this market is that Santa visits here on December 6th, which lets us see him without waiting till the 25th of December.
The grilled meat, sausages, and the winter beverages such as the mulled wine and some hot tea, are over the top and so delicious that if you eat them once, you will not leave the store without having another plate. The centre stage hosts all kinds of programs from folk and jazz to crossover concerts.
The market starts around 20th November and stays until the 1st of January.
Budapest has some great winter sights, maybe some of the best in the world. The night boat tours are truly amazing. The Budapest cruise and the day cruise are two very famous boat tours. The Christmas concerts here are very well known too and worth the visit if you are in the area.
4. Prague, Czech Republic
This market starts on the 28th of November and is open till the 6th of January. The main Christmas markets here are the ones at Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square. You will be able to see a lot of brightly lit and decorated wooden huts with a lot of traditional Christmas treats. A good view of the entire market is visible if you climb the Observation Bridge at the centre of Old Town Square.
There will be all sorts of local foods and drinks right in front of you such as large hams roasted on spits, tasty barbequed sausages et cetera. You can also choose from a variety of cakes and sweets. Okay, we will move on from food (I’m sorry, it’s just that it is too delicious).
The best part about this market is that all the food and drinks are now served in biodegradable plates, cups, and cutleries. Hence they actually spread the Christmas season’s greetings even to the environment. There is an animal stable at Old Town Square where children can stroke goats, sheep, and a donkey. Also, a lot of choirs of children and folk groups perform in the late afternoon at the Old Town square’s stage.
We kept the best part for the last. The Christmas tree here is mighty tall. It is 19m tall and is erected at the Old Town Square. Prague also has a lot of classical concerts, ballet performances, and some amazing theatres so visiting them would be an amazing experience for you.
5. Strasbourg, France
This world heritage site is now one of the oldest Christmas markets in Europe. The city has a very warm atmosphere and has almost 300 wooden chalets. The place sets up a majestic Christmas tree and illuminates all its streets because of which, the city is often called ‘the capital of Christmas’.
Strasbourg proudly showcases all the traditions of the Christmas season. Because of this, we will be able to sense authenticity in the decorations, and also a true sense of Christmas can be easily felt. The minimum 30m tall Christmas tree which is above the city center is one of the main highlights of this place. It is often decorated with string lights that are 7km long (yeah that’s pretty long!).
The best part of this Christmas market is the magic of Christmas they preserve. The children’s village here hosts a wonderful circus where people can experience amazing fun-filled acts and interactive games. This family show is called ‘the magic of Christmas‘. The Christmas markets here start on the 27th of November and stay till the 24th of December.
Some stalls remain open until the 30th but the main stalls shall be closed by 24th December. There are also 60 charity stalls here that give away food and souvenirs of Christmas for a good cause.
6. Vienna, Austria
Known as the “Vienna Magic of Advent”, this Christmas market completely transforms the City Hall square into a dreamland. It commences on 18th November and stays till 26th December. And after Christmas, the market is converted into a New Year’s market.
One of the best spots in the place is in front of the Schonbrunn Palace. This area offers romantic settings entwined with an imperial background. Here they offer a glass of hot punch which is really amazing and one of the main highlights of the market.
In the Viennese Dream Christmas Market, there is a place completely for the children to learn ways to make cookies and candles for Christmas. Also, you will be able to listen to a lot of international choirs for free on Fridays to Sundays. Do not miss the Advent Concert series that happen during various dates in December.
Also, the Schonbrunn Palace hosts the famous New Year concert for which crowds from all parts of the world come to attend. So do stay till the New Year concert if you are planning a visit.
If you do visit the Freyung Christmas Market in Vienna, you will be able to witness the puppet shows, the farmers market, and the special food stalls. Ice skating is popular here and there are various ice rinks across the city set up during the winter.
7. Basel, Switzerland
The two main Christmas markets here are the Barfusserplatz and Munsterplatz. They officially commence on November 26th and stays open till December 23rd.
The backdrop of the Christmas market in Munsterplatz is the Munster Cathedral. The twin towers and the position of the cathedral above the Rhine all make it an amazing backdrop. Here, the large square in front of the church hosts the Christmas market.
One of the best food items out here is the deep-fried apple donuts. The children’s fairy tale forest is the main treat of the Munsterplatz Christmas Market. This beautiful section offers fun activities for the kids such as candle making, cookie baking, and workshops on decorations.
The Christmas market in Barfusserplatz has an intersection of eight tramlines coming together from different places. This market also sells the iconic Christmas market snack, a baguette filled with Fondue. If you want to do shopping, then Barfusserplatz is the best Christmas market in Basel to visit. This is because of the number of stalls and vendors selling almost everything from global handicrafts to Christmas market classics.
The Basel City stages a small Christmas market which is in front of the stunning 500-year-old town hall. All local producers gather here so this is a market where foodies can visit and be entertained.
The best part about the Christmas market in Basel is the Basel wish book which is hidden away in the town hall courtyard. This giant book holds the dreams and wishes of all locals and visitors that write down their wishes on it. So if you do want to write down your wishes and dreams and maybe sent them to Santa, then do not miss this giant book.
8. Trier, Germany
The Christmas Market here starts on 20th November and closes on 22nd December 2020. The Trier Christmas Market is held within the surroundings of the beautiful Hauptmarkt Square in front of the magnificent High Cathedral of Saint Peter in Trier.
The Christmas atmosphere in Germany is only enriched by this beautiful market, which is held in Trier, a town known for its UNESCO status. There are 95 beautifully ornated stalls which add to the Christmas spirit. Trier Market is also known for being quite a romantic place at Christmas.
It’s quite a delight to be here in this beautiful season with your special someone. The old buildings which light up at night and the great river beside it which is lined with countless vineyards make it quite a memorable experience.
The market is alive with different sources of entertainment like Christmas carols with brass bands and trumpeters, puppet theatres, and countless occasions for shopping. The local culinary delights such as the bratwurst and pastries are simply to die for. Add to that the Glühwein which warms you up inside on a cold night and you’re simply in heaven!
9. Advent in Zagreb
‘The market that offers a genuine Christmas atmosphere‘, that is what the streets of Croatia’s capital offer to all visitors. The Christmas market here starts on 30th November and extends up to 7th January. This market is filled with so many surprises and positive vibes that there is a huge chance for you to spend the entire night, dancing to the musical programs.
The Zagreb Christmas market was voted as the best Christmas market in Europe by European Best Destinations three times a row. The main highlights of the market are the huge Christmas tree that has a backdrop of light displays, the European square which is known as the heart of the city and the Zrinjevac Park which is indeed the best spot in Zagreb.
This park is filled with lanterns and stalls of artists. You can also experience many baked items out of which the best is the warm baked pastry with soft cheese and mulled wine. There is live music here every morning and evening and this lightens up the mood.
Another beautiful park in Zagreb is the ice park which is on King Tomislav Square. It has an ice skating rink, musical events, and food and beverages. Zagreb surely is one of the best Christmas markets in the world and produces some of the best souvenirs you can take home, so do not miss your chance!
Jingle all the way!
Christmas is not only the season of happiness and joy but also the season of positivity and love. Today we have got various means and places all over the world to enjoy this amazing season. Christmas markets are surely one of the best ways to celebrate this festival with your family.
“Nothing ever seems too bad, too hard, or too sad when you’ve got a Christmas tree in the living room.”-Nora Roberts
But at the end of the season, let us ask ourselves one question, how different was this Christmas from the last one?
All of us today focus on our family’s happiness and forget about the people out there that do not even have a single person to share the joy and love of the season. There are a lot of things we can do for such people, it might be a generous donation or maybe a very kind souvenir or gift from the Christmas market we just visited. This small kind deed might look very less through our eyes, but it might mean the world to them. Especially for the children who are orphans and completely miss out the happiness of the season.
So let us not forget the values this season stands for. Let us be happy and make one another happy. We wish a Merry Christmas and a happy new year to all our amazing readers out there!
Now, if you have loved our post and have found it useful or if you know any more places that you’d like to recommend to us, feel free to tell us through email or the comment section below. We would love to interact and know more about you.