33 Best Places to Spend Christmas in Europe
Wondering where to spend Christmas in Europe? We got you the A to Z of stunning destinations and the best places to spend Christmas in Europe from markets, cultural traditions, and winter activities.
The list below is listed alphabetically by city. What’s your favorite pick?
33 Best places in Europe for Christmas Markets and Traditions
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Amsterdam is one of the finest European winter break destinations – from Christmas markets, ice skating, museums, culinary delights, and more. RAI Amsterdam welcomes guests into a winter wonderland with fortnight-long festivities.
The giant Ferris wheel will definitely grab your attention from a distance, and while you are at the venue indulge in fine dining, enjoy ice skating or go cross-country skiing.
Another Christmas market to enjoy is at Amsterdam North (Westergas). It is held the weekend prior to Christmas and it is worth a visit for souvenirs, food, and beer!
A must-do activity during Christmas is the Amsterdam Light Festival Canal Cruise. It is a 75-minute cruise where you can enjoy unique lights and projections along the Amstel River.
Amsterdam’s Museumplein is also transformed into a cute-sy Christmas village with festivities, market stalls, and plenty of winter activities to enjoy.
If you are in the city on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day you can indulge in festivities, gift exchange, and celebrate with loved ones by enjoying the Festival of Lights.
Accommodation: NH Museum Quarter
By Vicki from VickiViaja
If you think of the typical Christmas markets in Europe, you will probably first think of Christmas markets in Northern and Central Europe.
But you can also discover some great Christmas markets in southern Europe. Therefore, if you visit Barcelona in winter you should definitely visit at least one of its four Christmas Markets.
Even if these are not quite typical Christmas markets like those in other European countries, they have their own charm.
The largest and most popular Christmas market of the 4 is the Fira de Santa Lucía, which is located in the square in front of the Barcelona Cathedral.
You won’t find a typical mulled wine here, but you will find turrón. This is a delicious Christmas candy that is eaten throughout Spain during the Christmas season. There are also typical Catalan souvenirs to buy.
A Catalan figure that can be bought here at Christmas is the Tió de Nadal or also called Cagatió, which is a small log with a typical red Catalan hat and face.
This little log is giving out gifts for children on Christmas or Epiphany in the old tradition. To do this, the children have to hit him with sticks and sing the Cagatió song, almost like a Catalan piñata.
Another famous Christmas market in the city, the Fira de Nadal Christmas Market, can be found right next to the famous Sagrada Família.
At this Christmas market, there are also such typical Catalan statues to buy Christmas trees. But what makes the market really unique is the wonderful view of what is probably the most famous building in the city.
READ: Itinerary for Barcelona | Find hotels in Barcelona
Basel is one of the amazing European cities to spend Christmas. It is conveniently located close to the German and French border, making it easy to create a DIY Christmas tour.
A 3 day Basel itinerary can easily cover a day trip to Colmar to check off beautiful Christmas markets.
The main Christmas market takes place at the Town Hall Square, but there are many that spring across the city – so you have lots of options to choose from.
Here you will find stalls selling everything from candles to toys to steaming cups of glühwein line the streets, and the scent of roasted chestnuts hangs in the air.
Basel’s Christmas market is one of the largest and most festive in Switzerland, so be sure to pay it a visit during your stay.
The Old Town of Basel is all decorated in festive colors and lights. You can join a walking tour, or visit one of the premium fine arts museums – Kunstmuseum, on your own.
If you are still looking for Christmas gifts, you can browse the window displays of quirky boutiques, and traditional souvenir shops in the Spalenberg district.
Or stop for lunch at a traditional Swiss restaurant.
If you’re lucky enough to get a sunny day during your trip, be sure to take advantage of it by walking across one of Basel’s famous bridges for sweeping views of the cityscape.
Now, there’s nothing quite like strapping on a pair of skates and hitting the ice, whether you’re an experienced figure skater or a wobbly first-timer. Fortunately, Basel has no shortage of places to go ice skating.
The largest and most popular ice skating rink is located in St. Jakob’s Square, right in the heart of Old Town.
Whether you’re looking for festive Christmas markets, charming old-town streets, or amazing Swiss cuisine, Basel has something for everyone this winter.
Where to stay in Basel? Motel One Basel
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By Sydney from A World In a Reach
Germany is the home of Christmas markets, and one of the best Christmas markets to visit in Berlin is the Christmas Market at Gendarmenmarkt.
If you’re spending a few days in Berlin around the holidays, make sure to pay a visit to Gendarmenmarkt for a dose of Christmas cheer.
Located in Gendarmenmarkt, a large, beautiful square in Berlin, the Christmas Market at Gendarmenmarkt features everything you would expect from a traditional German Christmas market.
There are stalls selling handmade arts and crafts that are perfect for Christmas gifts, yummy snacks, and of course, glühwein (mulled wine).
A visit to a Christmas market isn’t complete without enjoying a mug of glühwein. You can pay a deposit that you get back when you return the mug, or you can keep the mug as a fun souvenir!
If you’re not a big fan of glühwein, you can also warm up with a tasty mug of hot chocolate or eggnog.
Gendarmenmarkt is located within walking distance of some of Berlin’s top attractions, including Checkpoint Charlie and Museum Island.
If you’re looking for the perfect place to stay to experience the Christmas market and the nearby attractions, consider a stay at the Hilton Berlin, just a 2-minute walk from the market.
Accommodation: Hilton Berlin
By Martina & Jürgen from PlacesofJuma
If you are looking for a unique Christmas destination in Europe, then you definitely should check out Bratislava – the main city of Slovakia. Visitors are amazed by the many picturesque Christmas Markets and the unique atmosphere when visiting Bratislava in Winter!
The best one can be found at Hlavné und Hviezdoslavovo námestie – where you will also find plenty of excellent accommodations like the beautiful APPEND CITY Hotel Perugia.
During Christmas time the city is full of local specialties, delicious food, and charming goodies.
People come together for having some punch or mulled wine and enjoy the true atmosphere of a traditional Christmas Market. Really delicious is here the Loksa, a salty pancake, or the traditional Strudl, a crisp cake filled with apples and raisins.
Also, the mulled wine here in Bratislava is tasty – probably because it comes from local wineries near the city.
In addition to amazing food, you will find plenty of homemade products and traditional souvenirs – perfect to bring home some souvenirs for your beloved.
Another highlight and for many a must-do is ice-skating. Especially at the Main Square, you will find a very well-prepared open-air ice rink.
Not only kids but also adults love to turn some rounds in this incredibly beautiful atmosphere. Skates are available to hire, so you don’t have to bring your own ones.
In the evening, local artists – singers, and dancers perform directly at this Christmas Market and make each visit an extraordinary experience.
Christmas Markets have had a long tradition in Bratislava and therefore a visit to Bratislava for Christmas is absolutely recommended.
Accommodation: APPEND CITY Hotel Perugia
By Sarah from cosmopoliclan
Experience Christmas in the heart of Europe by spending the festive season in Brussels, where a meandering trail of twinkling lights connects the enchanting sites that make up the Winter Wonders festival.
The absolute highlight is the sound and light show that illuminates the gorgeous guild houses of Grand Place.
At this captivating UNESCO World Heritage site, you’ll also find choirs and street artists performing around the giant Christmas tree.
Sink your teeth in one of Belgium’s iconic treats, from heart-warming waffles to mouth-watering chocolate, as you follow the twinkling lights to yet another captivating location: the intimate St Catherine’s Place.
From there, you can already see the Ferris wheel that spins around at the Fish Market. Buy a unique handmade gift from one of the many festively decorated chalets before tying your ice skates at the Brouckère skating rink.
The best places to stay near the Brussels Christmas market locations are the NH Collection Brussels Centre, right in the center of the festive action, and The Dominican, a convent that’s been converted into a classy hotel.
Because of its central location, Brussels is also the perfect travel base to explore other European Christmas markets. Just hop on the train and before you know it, you could be celebrating Christmas in Germany or Luxembourg.
Accommodation: NH Collection Brussels Centre | The Dominican
By Cris from LooknWalk
While not a fan of winter or cold weather, I’m fascinated by Christmas Markets, and it is enough to persuade me to plan some trips around them. One of the markets I’ve fallen in love with many years ago – and return to check out almost every year – is the one in Vaci Utca in Budapest.
Hungary’s capital is home to more than one Christmas Market but the one on Vaci Utca is the most famous. Close by, the Advent Feast at the Basilica (in front of St. Istvan Basilica) is another gorgeous choice, featuring an ice rink.
From late November to late January, Budapest will enchant you with Christmas celebrations rich with Central European holiday traditions and, each year, new modern elements. In 2019, we saw a 3D projection of the façade of the Basilica.
The markets feature the best Hungarian handicrafts, as well as a lot of food. While Hungarian cuisine is based on meat (particularly Mangalica), there are plenty of other food choices available, including vegan.
While you are here, make sure to taste the famous Kurtoskalacs (Hungarian spit cake, which originates from Transylvania, Romania).
There are also various cultural events almost daily, including caroling. And if you travel with kids, you’d be delighted to know they can try their hand at various crafts.
These two markets are right in the city center, close to all the major attractions in Budapest. St. Istvan Basilica can be visited and the view from the bell tower is amazing.
There’s a Ferris wheel in Elizabeth Square and, on a sunny day, will give you a nice view of Budapest.
The Great Market Hall is nearby – make sure to pick up some spices (paprika!). While if you cross the Danube, you can explore Castle Hill. (There’s also a Christmas Market in the courtyard). Here you can find the beautiful Fisherman’s Bastion.
Hop on Metro 1 (yellow line) and go all the way to Heroes’ Square. There are two museums and a castle to check out. Plus another market.
For accommodation, opt for Central Hotel 21 – a personal favorite from the past two years.
Accommodation: Central Hotel 21
Plot your Europe trip with this kickass planner!
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Plus you can plan your overall sightseeing routes using our multi-country and city combinations to save valuable time!
By Rachel from Children of Wanderlust
Colmar, the capital of the Alsace region, is a picturesque town of medieval half-timbered buildings, located in Eastern France. Formerly a part of Germany, this legacy shows in the character and architecture of the town.
The award winning Christmas celebrations return this year with no less than 6 different Christmas markets spread around the illuminated lanes and attractive plazas of the old town.
The Alsace region is famous for the quality of its local produce. Expect to find gourmet cakes, gingerbread, cheese, meats, honey, and nougat, amongst other festive offerings.
A particular local favorite is kougelhopf, a sweet bun made with raisins macerated in kirsch (a cherry spirit).
As well as beautifully decorated houses all around, there is also an outdoor ice rink complete with a mock snowstorm and bubble effects, and even a giant post box for those Christmas letters to Santa.
A mechanical nativity at the children’s market, along with a full program of themed events throughout December, complete the festivities.
For anyone hunting for hidden treasures, guided tours of the markets are available from the tourist office (€5 for adults, €2.50 for 12-18s, free for under 12s).
The town’s Christmas lights and nighttime buzz are worthy of lingering overnight. A good option is at Hotel le Marechal, occupying a historic building right in the heart of Old Colmar, in an area known as ‘Little Venice’, due to the abundance of waterways.
Whether staying in town or just passing through (you can make it a mega winter trip by visiting nearby ski resorts in Switzerland), the Christmas markets of Colmar present a charming experience for all.
Accommodation: Hotel le Marechal
By Angela from Where Angie Wanders
The Christmas Markets in Cologne are counted as some of the best in the world and so a trip here during the festive season will really put you in the Christmas spirit.
With seven traditional German markets spread around the city, you will be spoilt for choice with regard to buying traditional Christmas gifts to take home with you. From wooden nutcracker figures to hand-blown Christmas tree decorations, they will all tempt you.
The Christmas markets sell the most amazing German foods for you to try from apple strudel to bratwurst sausages and all washed down with spiced Christmas red wine called “Gluhwein”.
But there are lots of other unmissable things to do and see in Cologne and a visit to the chocolate museum should be one of them.
Wander around and see how chocolate is produced and then sit on their riverside terrace and indulge in a Christmas hot chocolate drink complete with marshmallows, cream, and of course, lashings of chocolate.
Cologne Cathedral acts as the centerpiece for the Christmas markets and no visit to Cologne would be complete without stepping inside, lighting a candle, and taking some quiet time for yourself.
You might even hear the Christmas carols being sung, a fitting way to experience Christmas in Cologne.
Where to stay in Cologne? Wasserturm Hotel Cologne
By Juliet from liveyourdream.today
Denmark may seem cold and unfriendly around the year, but during Christmas time it feels the warmest and most welcoming!
Copenhagen alone offers a variety of wonderful Christmas markets that please both your body and soul as you explore this windy northern capital.
In the heart of the Danish hygge concept, you don’t even need to look for the markets on purpose.
The best Christmas markets in Copenhagen will meet you on every step of your walk around the city center, and even the neighborhoods like Christiania dress up every year for the occasion.
You can start your journey at Nyhavn Christmas Market to see the canals, and then have a cup of glögg or some hot chocolate at Christmas Market Højbro Plads.
The most charming place to see in the city is, of course, Christmas Market at the amusement park Tivoli Gardens. That one is a bit pricey, but it’s worth it as you can spend the whole day having fun there. It will be the highlight of your trip!
If you want to live in an absolute fairytale, check out the D’Angleterre Hotel! It’s located across the street from the main Christmas market called Julemarked Kongens Nytorv and always has the most unique decorations to complement the market.
Hotels: Search hotel deals in Copenhagen
By Cory and G Varga from You Could Travel
Europe is blessed with many Christmas markets, one after the other more beautiful and spectacular. But the Dresden Christmas market in Germany has something truly unique, which no other can truly match: it is the oldest Christmas market in the world.
That’s right, the joy of enjoying a stroll through all those wonderful food and souvenir stalls exists thanks to the city of Dresden.
Called Striezelmarkt it has roughly 240 stands and attracts about 3 million visitors from all over the world.
The original name, Striezelmarkt, comes from Strüzel or Stroczel, the name of a type of cake sold at the market. You might now know it as Stollen, a sugary fruit cake, famed in Germany.
At the Dresden market, you can purchase the original Dresden Stollen which is buttery and it is produced in the city only. It also has a special seal on the packaging.
Beyond traditional food and drinks like worst, sweets, and mulled wine, you will find many handcrafted items at the Dresden market.
It is centrally located, conveniently right in the midst of the many attractions the city can offer. It’s a great place for a romantic weekend in Dresden. We recommend staying centrally in the Old Town, where you’ll find an array of hotels available for all budgets.
Accommodation: Hotel Suitess
By Sas from Round Word
The traditional Christmas Market in Edinburgh is the East Princes Street Gardens which is a wonderful place filled with magic. It starts about mid-November and ends on the 4th of January.
And with a stunning backdrop of Edinburgh Castle, the Scott Monument, the Balmoral Hotel, and Calton Hill you simply cannot miss this.
It is one of the occasions when you can see people from all over the world gathering together. They are happy and enjoy the warm atmosphere of the market, where you can find stands selling local dishes, but also products from other parts of the world, such as beer and German sausages.
Local producers have sweets and delicious food, but also handmade objects that you can buy as souvenirs. There is also an amusement park where both children and adults have fun.
Edinburgh’s Christmas Market is built every year on two levels right in the heart of the capital, on the main street, close to Central Station. If you look up, you can see the famous Edinburgh Castle, a fortress built on volcanic rock. It’s a true immersion in Scottish history and heritage.
One of the main attractions of this historic site is the Stone of Destiny, above which many Scottish monarchs have been crowned over the centuries.
Edinburgh’s Christmas Market is guarded by the beautiful Scott Monument, built in Victorian Gothic style in honor of Scottish author Sir Walter Scott.
Edinburgh is a cosmopolitan and dynamic capital, so you can choose your accommodation through b & b, Booking.com, etc. There are hundreds of hotels and shops of famous brands on Princes Street in Edinburgh and in the surroundings.
Also, there are lots of souvenir shops in which the tartan, the Scottish kilt, the objects representing Highland cattle, and the Scottish flag will immediately catch your eye.
It is worth visiting Edinburgh during the winter holidays to understand exactly what life is like in Scotland.
Accommodation: Moxy Edinburgh Fountainbridge
By Krista from Krista the Explorer
If you’ve visited Germany during the Christmas period, you’ll know how amazing their Christmas markets are. One of the largest Christmas markets in Europe is located in Frankfurt.
Rather than being situated in one location, Frankfurt’s Christmas market stretches throughout the old town, overtaking much of the pedestrian streets.
The main part of the market can be found at the historic Romerberg, Frankfurt’s main square in the old town.
Here you’ll find an incredibly large selection of traditional German food, beautiful market stalls selling handmade goods, and a lot of beer. It’s not a real German Christmas market without sausage and beer right?
The Romerberg also has a gorgeous carousel ride in the middle of it, which lights up at night to match the twinkling lights of the Christmas tree.
Many people overlook Frankfurt as a tourist destination, because of its link to the world of finance and industry, but there is a lot of charm hidden in its old town, especially when there’s a market.
Part of the Christmas market sits along the Main River, and there are many options for river cruises either during the day or at night, so you can see Frankfurt from a different perspective and relax for a bit after walking around the Christmas market all day.
Accommodation: Miramar Hotel
By Emer and Nils from Let’s Go Ireland
For over 10 years, the Christmas Market in Galway Ireland has been bringing festive cheer to the west of Ireland. Over 650,000 people visited this market in 2019, making it one of the most popular in the country.
Situated right in the centre of Galway in the famous Eyre Square, this Christmas bonanza is one of the most highly anticipated events of the winter season.
As you wander around the little wooden chalet stalls, you might just find that unique Christmas gift for someone very special.
Delicious artisan food of both Irish and international origin will also feature in the market and a trip to the German Bierkeller will keep any thirst at bay.
Kids will be delighted with the amusement park rides, including a 32-metre high Big Wheel which gives a great bird’s eye view of Galway. For younger kids, a trip to Santa’s Grotto is likely to be a big highlight.
Over the course of the four-week fair, visitors will be entertained by live street performers, as well as other festive events including carol singing, storytelling, and lots more.
Galway is a fantastic city to visit at any stage of the year and the charming streets, especially around the Latin Quarter are well worth exploring.
If you are planning a visit, then book a hotel in the city centre, like the Jurys Inn Galway, so that you can get the most out of the city’s highlights by day and by night.
Read: European winter destinations from ski resorts, chasing northern lights and the winter sun
By Paulina from Paulina on the Road
Without a doubt, the best Christmas Markets in Belgium bring festive spirit to the season, with beautiful ice carvings, mulled drinks, several decorations, and many more. And the place to visit, during this wintertime, is Ghent.
Here you can soak in the joyous vibes of the Christmas atmosphere where near about 1500 old miniature wooden cottages were selling off their various Christmas goodies all over the country.
The Ghent Christmas market is an immense village, which ranges from the location of Sint-Baafsplein to Korenmarkt.
The food stalls are amazing; from the aromas of wintry pine woods to Belgian chocolate fondues.
Additionally, there are many affordable hotels available that offer a pleasant stay, with excellent facilities.
Precisely, hotel locations nearby Saint Nicholas’ Church and Korenmarkt are generally preferred by me as this spot is also magnificent for touring and restaurants.
Accommodation: Getaway Studios Gent (near the Belfry)
By Ketki from explorewithecokats
Christmas in Poland is an amazing time to visit, and we highly recommend adding Krakow to the list of best places to spend Christmas in Europe. In early December, Krakow is usually freezing from its first snow!
Take your time to walk to the dreamy Rynek Główny square, in the heart of Kraków’s UNESCO World Heritage Old Town, also known to be the largest medieval town square in Europe. One can only imagine what the festive spirit at this scale could be!
Upon reaching Rynek Główny square, you will find the festive spirit with the place completely decked up in the finest attire with decorations, a Christmas tree, and cabins in the market selling souvenirs, tree decorations, cheese, sweets, and pretty much everything festive and Christmasy.
Krakow Christmas Market is extremely popular not only in Poland but throughout Europe which is why it attracts visitors from around the world.
Make time to admire the horse carriages overlooking the Brick Gothic church of St Mary’s and join the Christmas affair with Obwarzanek in one hand and mulled wine in another.
Keep the supply of hot drinks going to beat the freezing weather and sip on hot chocolate, soup, and other nutritious dishes. You can also find vegetarian food in the Krakow Christmas market.
There were a lot of artisans performing in traditional clothes and groups of children singing Christmas carols. A few local artisans also presented their art and crafts.
Accommodation: Novotel Krakow Centrum
By Wendy from The Nomadic Vegan
The official name of the Christmas market in Konstanz is the “Weihnachsmarkt am See”, which in German means the “Christmas market on the lake”.
This is quite an accurate description, as the market stalls are lined up all along the shores of Lake Constance, the large and beautiful lake named after the eponymous city.
Not only that, there’s even a “Christmas Ship” docked in the harbor, and on the ship, there are more market stalls and an ice bar with panoramic views of the gorgeous landscape.
The market is open every day for three to four weeks in the lead-up to Christmas. It’s very popular not only with Germans but also with visitors from nearby Switzerland and Austria.
For this reason, you’re best off coming during the week if possible, to avoid the weekend crowds.
If you’re traveling from Switzerland, Swiss railways usually offer discounted tickets that also entitle the ticket holder to a free glass of glühwein and a souvenir mug.
While you’re at the harbor, be sure to check out the rotating Imperia Statue, depicting a scantily clad woman holding the pope in one hand and the Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund in the other.
If you have an extra day or two to explore the area, there are some beautiful villages along the lakeshore, such as Stein am Rhein and Arbon, both in Switzerland.
Accommodation: Steigenberger Inselhotel Konstanz
The capital city of Ljubljana is home to one of the prettiest Christmas markets, where the ‘good fairy’ grants wishes! Although there are multiple markets set up throughout the city, the one at the central square (Prešernov trg Square) is the best.
It is adorned by the Ljubljanica River, where annual festive markets are set up at the end of November to December (and sometimes up to the first week of January). You can enjoy boat cruises along the river and admire all the lights and ice sculptures on display.
Like most European Christmas markets, the one in Ljubljana is set up with stalls selling wares by Slovenian designers, Christmas ornaments, and delicacies. What is wonderful around this time is to enjoy mulled wine (or kuhano vino in Slovene) by the river banks.
Remember to dress warm, as it can get pretty chilly and cold in the evenings. Many outdoor restaurants will have heaters on for your comfort. Read: Guide to Balkans Destinations
Accommodation: Grand Plaza Hotel & Congress Center
By Cathy from Mummy Travels
London takes the traditional Christmas market format and gives it a bit of an urban twist: you’ll find classic favorites, such as wooden stalls selling handmade crafts and clothing, but rather than bratwurst in a bun, you’re more likely to find street food from around the world to go with your mulled wine.
In one of the best locations of all the London Christmas markets, set among twinkling lights on the banks of the Thames, the market starts with an old-fashioned carousel (for kids) to set the mood plus other more thrilling fairground rides.
Some years there’s a Christmas tree maze to explore as well, plus puppet shows and even a pop-up cinema before now. The London Eye is just a bauble’s throwaway as well.
But the main attractions here revolve around eating and drinking.
Expect duck confit burgers alongside street food from around the world, including pad Thai and falafel, not to mention crepes, prosecco, and mulled cider. Cider brand Rekorderlig usually sponsors a bar too.
Other foodie pop-ups vary from year to year – previous Christmas markets have seen the Circus bar in a traditional Circus tent, and the Bar Under the Bridge, with cocktails and cheese, between November and early January.
There are several chain hotels nearby including the Park Plaza, while you only need to cross the river to see the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben or hop on a boat along the Thames to enjoy London lit up for Christmas.
Accommodation: Sidney Victoria Hotel
Madeira Island, Portugal
By Edyta from Say Yes To Madeira
Madeira Island is one of the best places to spend Christmas in Europe, especially for those who wish to escape the cold, but not the great Christmas spirit. This little Portuguese island on the Atlantic is a go-to place for the European winter sun.
During that magical period, the entire island is beautifully decorated with Christmas lights, especially Funchal – the island’s main city.
The place with the best Christmas vibe is Arriaga Avenue in Funchal, where you won’t only find two big Nativity Scenes, but also a busy Christmas Market called “Mercadinho de Natal”.
You will find there a number of small wooden cottages selling Christmas food and drinks, for example, a local Poncha drink or a cherry liqueur called Ginjinha / Ginja served in a chocolate cup.
Next to the Nativity scene, you will also find a stage where you can listen to live music. This market is open for a couple of weeks in December, but there is one more event that is worth attending – the “Market Night” on the 23rd of December, which takes place all over the city.
On that one evening, the entire city centre transforms into a big market with live music, concerts, and parties. When spending your Christmas in Madeira, make sure you stay on the island until New Year’s Eve, as Madeira is an ex-Guinness record holder for the biggest firework show.
By Pauline from BeelovedCity
If you are looking for awesome Christmas markets in England, Manchester will be your paradise. Unlike London, you won’t find one big winter wonderland but 9 Christmas markets!
Manchester Christmas Markets take over the whole city in November and December. The city centre is fairly small and compact which means that you will never walk for more than 2 mins before finding a new market.
The main one is located in Albert Square. It’s home to a big german bar, many food stands, and of course: Manchester’s Big Santa.
Mancunians love their Christmas markets which is why they are on for almost 8 weeks! There is delicious food from all over Europe, mulled wine, beer, hot chocolate… basically everything you need to get into the Christmas spirit.
If you head to the markets in Cathedral Gardens you will also find a big ice rink. It can get pretty busy in the evening so it’s recommended to book online.
As you are there, you can also go explore the city. It’s pretty small for a big city so you won’t even need to use public transport. You can get everywhere on foot.
If you like history, opt for a walking tour. Manchester has a very interesting background and the guide will tell you everything about it!
If walking tours aren’t your jam, you can explore by yourself. As you roam around Manchester, make sure to go to Piccadilly Gardens, Northern Quarter, Gay Village, John Rylands Library, and the Printworks.
If you can, book your accommodation in the Northern Quarter or Ancoats. They used to be the industrial quarters but were revitalized in the past decade and became Manchester’s trendiest neighborhoods! They will be a great place to stay.
Accommodation: Hotel ibis Styles Manchester Portland
By Nancy from Around the World at the Weekends
There is something very magical about Nuremberg at Christmas. It’s like stepping into a memory or a particularly wonderful Christmas movie.
You must stay at the Grand Hotel – not only does it have the best vodka martinis I have ever tasted but it’s also within walking distance from the Christmas markets.
There are two main markets in Nuremberg; the adult one, filled with places to buy wooden treasures and fill your bespoken mug with glühwein wine, and also the children’s one; with old-fashioned rides and places to buy the best chewy and delicious gingerbread.
If you want to eat out then you must try the Heilig-Geist-Spital, which not only has the most incredible setting but also serves up some seriously amazing food.
Talking of amazing food – make sure you take the time to visit
Restaurant Bratwurstglöcklein im Handwerkerhof serves the best sausages that I have ever tasted.
While in Nuremberg you must visit the Schöner Brunnen to spin the lucky ring! It’s right next to the market so you will definitely stumble upon it as you wander around the many various and beautiful stalls that make up the market.
Accommodation: ibis Hotel Nürnberg Altstadt
By Aga from WorlderingAround
Isn’t Scandinavia a perfect Christmas destination? You can always be sure of the fairytale snowy landscape, reindeer and moose in the forest, and cozy fireplaces brightening up the wooden interiors.
There are also plenty of Christmas markets to visit around the country.
In Oslo, in the weeks before Christmas, there are Christmas markets happening every day. This is the place to find the traditional Norwegian winter clothes that you need for the winter trip to Norway, including famous Scandinavian woolen sweaters, gloves or socks, delicious comfort food, mulled wine, and plenty of fun activities.
The main Christmas market in Oslo is the one in Spikersuppa in the city center along the Karl Johans Gate. It features the Ferris wheel, fireplaces where you can warm up, and more and more stalls every year.
In other parts of the city, like Youngstorget, you can find big heated traditional tents called lavvus, traditionally used by Sami people in Scandinavia, that now are converted to Christmas markets.
In the Christmas market in Bærums Verk, you can wander around the little shops located in the old houses from the 17th century, situated along the river.
Accommodation: Citybox Oslo
By Maria from EuropeUpClose
Christmas in Paris is magical. The city of lights and love is even more magical with all the Christmas decorations, lights, and Christmas Markets.
As you can imagine, Paris has more than one Christmas Market. There are dozens around the city, each with its own flair and atmosphere. Here are some of the best ones:
Christmas Market Notre Dame Cathedral – it doesn’t get more iconic than that. This beautiful Christmas Market is in a small park called Square René Vivani on the left side of the Seine, next to Notre Dame de Paris.
You will find traditional French culinary treats, mulled wine, as well as artesian handicrafts and gifts.
Along the Champs de Mars, leading to the foot of the Eiffel Tower, you will find another beautiful Christmas Market. The Eiffel Tower Christmas Market is especially magical at night.
Buy yourself some aromatic mulled wine and sit down on the lawn to enjoy the Eiffel Tower light show. It doesn’t get more romantic than that.
Alsatian Christmas Market at Gare de L’Est – Christmas Markets originated in Germany and the Alsace region of France, so this little Christmas Market is showing off some of the oldest traditions and delicacies.
You will find some of the best culinary treats from the Alsace, including foie gras, Kouglehopf (sponge cakes with dried fruits and nuts), and sweet Alsatian Riesling wines.
The Trocadero Christmas Market is one of the most popular Christmas Markets among local Parisians. Check out the view of the Eiffel Tower and channel your inner kid by riding on one of the historic Mary Go ‘Rounds.
READ: Where to stay in Paris | Best hotels in Paris with Eiffel Tower views
Prague, Czech Republic
By Kelli from thevanabondtales
Prague is frequently listed as one of the best cities to visit in Europe and what better time to visit than at Christmas? A city already buzzing and full of life somehow manages to take it up a notch during the holiday season.
Christmas markets are sprinkled throughout the city with the largest one set up right in the old town square.
If the old town square isn’t pretty enough, picture the St. Vitus Cathedral beautifully lit up with a large sparkling Christmas tree in front, and decorated Christmas stalls selling local goods, delicious food, and mulled wine.
One of my favorite things about visiting Christmas markets is the food and of course, mulled wine, and Prague has its fair share of both. Try the Pražská Šunka, or Prague ham, which can be seen roasting on spits throughout the market.
And no trip to a Christmas market is complete without Pražská Klobása or grilled sausages. one of the most common Christmas market foods in Europe.
And if you have a bit of a sweet tooth, then Trdelnik is for you. Trdelnik, a pastry made from dough, grilled using a rotisserie and then dipped in sugar, cinnamon, or any other delicious topping you can think of!
If the food at the Christmas market isn’t enough, then check out La Degustation. Holding one Michelin Star, La Degustation offers degustation menus based on traditional Czech cuisine at affordable prices. It was one of my favorite meals during my time in Prague.
Read: Where to stay in Prague
Just because the temperature has dropped and the days are shorter, doesn’t mean the fun has to end. Rovaniemi, Finland is the perfect place to enjoy all that winter has to offer.
From snowmobiling and cross-country skiing to visiting Santa Claus Village, staying in an ice hotel, and taking a reindeer sleigh ride, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
One of the highlights of any trip to Rovaniemi is seeing the magnificent Northern Lights. Also known as the aurora borealis, the Northern Lights are a natural phenomenon that is truly a sight to behold.
As mentioned, Rovaniemi is home to Santa Claus Village, and this is where you can meet Santa Claus himself! Located right on the Arctic Circle, Santa Claus Village is a festive spot to visit. There is a huge but beautiful Christmas tree that adorns the site and is hard to miss.
When in Finland in winter, you can also go dog sledding. It is a traditional mode of transportation in the country and has been used for centuries. Today, it’s mostly done for leisure and tourism purposes.
Snowmobiling is also popular. You can explore the snowy landscapes of Finnish Lapland on a snowmobile. There are many tour operators offering different types of tours, so you can find one that suits your abilities and interests.
Other popular winter activities include ice fishing, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing.
These are just a few ideas for things to do while spending time in Rovaniemi during Christmas! With so many options available, you’ll never find yourself bored here. So put on your warmest clothes, embrace the cold, and have some fun in Finland!
Where to stay in Rovaniemi? Santa Claus Holiday Village
By Fiona from thetravellingthirties
Austria is a gorgeous country surrounded by snow-capped mountains, lakes, and music. One of the most beautiful cities in Austria is Salzburg. Filled with hidden lanes and courtyards, quaint buildings, mountains, and the history of Mozart.
Nothing can make Salzburg any cuter except perhaps, the Christmas markets. There is one large Christmas market in the main square, with shops and food stalls to die for. Don’t forget to order a piece of Apple Strudel with Vanilla sauce.
Just off the main square is a large ice-skating rink for young and old to show off their graceful moves!
Salzburg’s Christmas markets are one of a kind because each laneway leads to a hidden courtyard filled with another unique Christmas market.
From snow globes to woolen socks, hand-knitted scarves, warm drinks, and crafted wooden decorations, it is a great place to purchase some souvenirs to take home.
Although a little bit touristy, don’t miss out on doing the sound of music day trip while you are visiting Salzburg!
If you’re looking for a place to stay, Wolfgang’s managed by A&O is a fantastic option. It is a 10 – 15 minute walk from the heart of Salzburg so it is a little quieter but it is very close to the train station and many public transport options.
Salzburg is an absolutely beautiful city that everybody must visit at least once in their lives, so why not make it during Christmas time?
Accommodation: Wolfgang’s managed by A&O
By Anya from Unexpected Occurrence
Strasbourg’s Christmas Market is one of the best Christmas markets in Alsace. The sweet old town comes alive with stalls full of traditional crafts, local foods, and mulled wine. Almost two million people visit this Christmas market every year, and it’s not hard to see why!
The Christmas lights and the main tree in the centre square are iconic, and Petite France’s charming Alsatian architecture makes you feel like you’re in France decades ago.
When in Strasbourg, don’t miss the Alsatian museum, which highlights the history of the region. It explains why you see so much German influence in the culture of the Christmas markets and is a great way to learn about the deep tradition the markets hold.
Strasbourg is also one of the best hubs for exploring the other Christmas markets within the region – there are so many smaller, yet charming, towns located along the Wine Route of Alsace, each one with a different personality.
If you’re spending a winter holiday in Strasbourg, you can easily get to the other towns by train or car for a full week of Christmas and holiday spirit.
Accommodation: Hôtel Couvent-du-Franciscain
By Stephanie from History Fangirl
If you’re planning a trip to the best European Christmas markets, you simply must put Vienna on your list! It is one of the best places to spend Christmas in Europe.
The town is practically bursting with Christmas spirit during the holidays, with almost two dozen official city Christmas markets.
If you’re only going to have a few days to see them, make sure to visit the markets at the Rathausplatz (Vienna’s City Hall), Maria-Theresien Platz, and Schönbrunn Palace.
However, if you come across any charming little markets as you explore the city, then you should stop and partake there as well!
At the markets, make sure to taste a Chimney cake, drink a mug of gluhwein, and lace up your ice skates. Of course, you can also enjoy shopping for Viennese souvenirs and Christmas ornaments. Some markets also have entertainment for children, concerts,
When you’re done at the markets, head back to Hotel Sacher for a luxurious hotel stay at the home of the Sacher Torte. That’s right! The famous Viennese dessert was invented right here!
When you’re not visiting the markets, you can enjoy some of the other great things there are to do in Vienna in winter, like go to a performance at the Vienna Opera House or simply soak up some warmth in one of the famous Vienna cafes.
Make sure to also set aside time to walk down Der Graben at night. This festive street is lit up and feels even more wonderful during the holidays!
Read: Where to stay in Vienna for first timers
By Mark from Vogatech
The Warsaw Christmas Market is not as big as the one in Vienna, but it really offers a lot. The fair will start operating at the end of November, and its doors are open to visitors until December 24th.
It is set in Old Town Square. The very fact that it is located in the capital of Poland, where life, as in any capital, is exciting, hectic, and interesting, should not be expected from the Christmas fair that is located there.
The stands are full of traditional Polish food, delicious hot drinks, as well as alcoholic beverages, more precisely their famous vodka with fruit flavors. Everyone somehow always recommends the peach one, they say it is delicious.
Fried fish, stews, and hot soups, all to warm and soothe you during this cold holiday period.
In addition to really tasty food and drinks, like every fair, this one in Warsaw is no exception, there is a large offer of handmade wooden decorations, and various souvenirs with Christmas motifs.
Some of them are winter apparel, mobile accessories and cases, fridge magnets, and more.
Live music on the stages will warm you up and move you at least to beat in rhythm to warm up and enjoy the overall atmosphere that the fairs offer.
The capital of Poland also offers a large selection of accommodations for its tourists.
Some of those on offer are Motel One Warsaw-Chopin, PURO Warszawa Centrum, Hotel Arche Geologiczna, or for those with a larger budget Hotel Warszawa with five stars where the night is around 200 euros, while other hotels range around 50-60 euros per night.
Accommodation: Motel One Warsaw-Chopin | PURO Warszawa Centrum | Hotel Arche Geologiczna
York, United Kingdom
By Sinead from Best In York Guide
A trip to York at Christmas is perfect for some festive shopping as the city hosts an award winning six-week long Christmas market. The historic city’s pedestrianized streets are taken over by 100 cute, wooden chalets selling unique and personal gifts.
Several stalls sell handmade crafts made locally in Yorkshire whilst other stalls feature delicious and tempting local produce such as Yorkshire biscuits, fudge, wine, and York Gin.
The attractive market is illuminated at night and during both daylight and evening hours, shoppers are entertained by carol singers, bands, and festive-themed buskers.
The market also offers an enormous tipi, specially erected for Christmas shoppers.
The cozy tipi offers weary shoppers a rejuvenating mulled wine, craft beer, or hot chocolate in front of a roaring log fire.
After browsing and shopping at the market, visitors to York can visit the iconic York Minster, the largest gothic cathedral in northern Europe, walk the city’s medieval walls (which are the longest city walls in England) or visit one of York’s world-class historical museums or period houses.
There is a wide variety of hotels to choose from in York. For a hotel with a view, Dean Court Hotel opposite York Minster cannot be beaten, or for a bit of Christmas luxury, indulge in a stay at The Grand Hotel, York’s only five-star hotel.
Accommodation: Dean Court Hotel | The Grand Hotel
By Coni from Experiencing the World
Croatia is mostly known for its coastal towns and beaches, so it’s far away from what people imagine when picturing a white Christmas in Europe. But don’t let that fool you!
Winter in Croatia is just as spectacular as it is in Central European countries.
Zagreb hosts a yearly winter wonderland – Advent u Zagrebu– that has been recognized as the best Christmas Market in Europe for 3 years in a row now! That should be reason enough to put it right on top of your Christmas destinations bucket list.
It’s a magically decorated fairytale. If you can circle around the fact that Santa Claus will be speaking in a Slavic language, you’re in for a treat. The market takes over the city center, which means that wherever you go you’ll be greeted by the holiday spirit.
Stands with a myriad of food delights and beverages for all tastes (from the local spirit, rakija, to the classics milled wine and coffee, to grinch tea) will be surrounded by the landmarks of the city – St. Mark’s church, Ban Jelačić Square, Zagreb Cathedral and King Tomislav Square.
Zagreb will also offer you a beautiful ice skate rink, continuous concerts in pergolas around parks and squares, stalls with lovely handcrafted decorations and presents, and plenty of spots created for the perfect Instagram shot.
Prepare for the cold, but keep in mind you’ll have all sorts of delicious local sweets to keep you warm. And if you want a bit of sun, just head to the coast!
Read: Where to stay in Zagreb Croatia
By Smita from My Faulty Compass
The beautiful city of Zurich turns into an even more magical place during Christmas! Twinkling lights, fascinating events, huge Christmas trees, and charming Christmas markets make Zurich a uniquely wonderful place to visit during the winter.
One of the best things to do in Zurich around Christmas is to take in the festivities!
The Christmas markets in Zurich are some of the best in Europe – in fact, the market at the main train station is the largest covered Christmas market in Europe!
Adorned with gigantic displays and a huge Swarovski Christmas tree, this market offers everything – from lovely Christmas trinkets to yummy fondue, chocolates, and mulled wine.
A stroll down from the main train station towards Bahnhofstrasse (also decorated with beautiful lights!) will bring you across more Christmas markets, the first of which is at Werdmühleplatz.
This is a smaller market serving fantastic food and drinks, but the main attraction here is the ‘Singing Christmas Tree’! A huge Christmas tree-shaped podium allows a kids’ choir to spread cheer through their wonderful songs (a few in English too!) – an experience not to be missed!
As you continue your stroll towards Bellevue, you come across one of the largest markets in Zurich, spread out in front of the Opera House.
Try some fondue or chocolates here for a uniquely Swiss experience.
Head next to Niederdorf for the oldest and the most romantic Christmas market in Zurich.
Plan your stay around the old town or Bellevue or Bahnhofstrasse to get the most out of your experience of Christmas in Zurich.
Read: Where to stay in Zurich | Zurich in winter
So that’s a wrap! Where are you heading to this winter – to celebrate Christmas in Europe?
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