Europe’s Most Beautiful Christmas Markets
December’s holiday season boasts some of the year’s’ best signature cocktails, shopping events, family gatherings and parties. Though there is one event that has it all, and it even starts in November: the Christmas markets.
There is something special about Christmas markets that warms your heart and fills your soul with happiness. The sounds of the Christmas chimes, the smells of mulled wine and gingerbread, and the sights of numerous lined cottage huts filling city squares and offering the best seasonal foods and gifts of the year.
Today, Christmas markets are not only a tradition in European countries like Germany, France and Austria, but have expanded to other areas and are quickly creeping up the list of popularity. If you’re not in Europe this December, do a little research and see what’s around you! If you are in Europe this season, then here’s a list of Europe’s most beautiful Christmas markets.
Nuremberg, GermanyEvery Christmas market is known for having something very unique to the region. Nuremberg has not only been voted on having one of the best Christmas markets in the world, but is quite famous for their Nuremberg sausages, gingerbread cookies, and prune men. The Christmas market kicks off on the Friday before the first Advent every year and is broadcasted across the world.
Prague, Czech RepublicHeld in the Old Town Square in the center of the city is Prague’s Christmas market. There are also many smaller ones scattered across the city for you to explore while visiting the Czech Republic. Heaps of meat are prepared right in front of you and the roasted hams on skewers are quite the popular choice. You can also drown the city in delicious mulled wine and Czech beers including Budvar, Staropramen and Urquell. Year round and popular during the holidays is their Trdelnik pastry, which is spinned on a skewer, fried to perfection and covered in hot cinnamon sugar.
Strasbourg, FranceYou might not get past staring at their incredible Christmas tree as you enter into the Christmas market grounds. Strasbourg has a picture perfect market with more food and drink than you can handle in one evening. It won’t take long to find your way from the main train station as the streets are filled with holiday spirit and lined with holiday trinkets. If you’re looking for history in a Christmas market, Strasbourg was the first and oldest Christmas market in Europe which was held in 1570.
Stockholm, SwedenThe unique part of Swedish Christmas markets is that unlike the markets in France and Germany, you’ll find very different delicacies for the holidays. Some like to consider the Nordic countries the real Christmas experience, and that’s up for you to decide! You’ll get the chance to try various Swedish candies, smoked meats (including reindeer and elk) and sip on their famous glögg (or in English, mulled wine).
Helsinki, FinlandFinland is the place all of us dream of visiting as a child, also home to Santa’s layer (or so they say). While other Christmas markets around Europe aren’t lucky enough to have hills of snow during the month of December, Helsinki tends to have a true holiday celebration as the days are sprinkled in snow. It might be a cold exploration, but with the right gear, you’ll have an incredible time exploring Finnish favorites at the Helsinki Christmas market.
Salzburg, AustriaSalzburg’s Christmas market is quite a charming place to be over the holidays, located at the bottom of the Hohensalzburg fortress, this event space makes for quite some scenic views of the city. With almost 100 stalls to choose from, the Salzburg Christmas market is a great place to get all your Christmas shopping done in style. From food and drink to textiles and toys, Salzburg Christmas market has it all.
Aachen, GermanyAachen takes the cake for being one of the earliest Christmas markets open as the celebration kicks off on November 20th. Situated around the beautiful Cathedral and Town Hall, the Christmas market of Aachen attracts local dwellers and international travellers from far and wide. Many people in Germany call Aachen ‘Christmas City’ as the small city is turned into a large play park paradise for holiday crazed people. There is ample space to meet up with friends, family and colleagues as you indulge in some local Printen, potato fritters and marzipan loaves.
Vienna, AustriaVienna isn’t home to just a Christmas market, but more of a Christmas village. Each of the prominent squares and centres in the city transform into beautiful little fairy tale scenes for the holidays. You can start your day off at the Rathausplatz and make your way along all the various smaller corridors of magical markets. Markets include the Christmas village in the Old AKH, the Christmas village on Maria-Theresien-Platz, the Old Viennese Christmas Market on Freyung, the Schoenbrunn Palace market, the Am Hof Advent market, Art Advent on Karlsplatz, Christmas market on Spittelberg, winter market on Riesenradplatz and the Christmas market at Stephansplatz. Each location features something unique and special from Austria. Pick between shopping, food, children’s rides and much more (or do it all)!
Holidays and vacations aren’t only spent lounging around and tanning in sun chairs, December might just be one of the best month of the year to explore all the beautiful countries of Europe. There is no better way to put you in the holiday spirit than a little time spent at a European Christmas Market. If you’re eager enough, you can venture to more than 15 or 20 in a couple weeks time! Don’t forget your winter jacket and a sturdy PacSafe bag to carry all of your goodies along the way.
A little tip to walk away with, if you’re looking for unique places to visit, there are many smaller Christmas markets throughout the world that are just as charming and a little more quaint. To give you a little inspiration, do some research on places like Freiburg or Heidelberg, Germany. Last but not least, have an absolutely incredible holiday season!
Jenna is a Canadian content creator and freelance travel blogger currently based in Dusseldorf, Germany. She focuses on sustainable and philanthropic travel experiences across the globe. Connect with Traveldudes on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.