The nights maybe getting darker and colder across Europe at the moment, but fear not, there’s a flicker of festive fairy lights and the sweet smell of mulled wine on the horizon. Christmas markets across Europe start to open their stall windows shortly, that’s if they haven’t already, and we take a look at our 10 favourite Christmas markets around the continent...
1. Vienna, Austria: Wiener Christkindlmarkt
This popular Christmas market can trace its origins back to the 13th century and today attracts close to 3 million visitors. At the Wiener Christkindlmarkt you can expect to find a whole host of crafts, from tree decoration to toys for your Christmas stocking. And if you’re hungry make sure you pay a visit to the many food stalls selling all kinds of local seasonal treats, and you may even find a vendor or two selling some mulled wine.
Dates: November 17th to December 24thBook hostels in Vienna | Vienna free pocket guide
2. Prague, Czech Republic: Vanocni trhy
If you’re planning a trip to Prague this festive season, then you’re in for a treat as a ‘winter wonderland’ awaits you. The Christmas markets, or Vanocni trhy as they’re called locally, bring a sense of magic to the enchanting streets of Prague at this time of year. The main markets can be found in the Old Town Square and in Wenceslas Square, where you will be greeted by sparkling lights, Christmas trees, and wooden huts with vendors selling many crafts and treats.
Location: Wenceslas Square, Old Town Square, Namesti Republiky, Namesti Miru & Havelske Trziste.
Dates: December 1st to January 8thBook hostels in Prague | Prague podcast, videos & free pocket guide
3. Budapest, Hungary: Budapest Christmas Fair
Budapest is a popular European stop off all year round, but even more so at Christmas time as the city gets festive with traditional wooden stalls lining Vörösmarty Square. Handmade crafts are the main feature of the Budapest Christmas Fair, all of which have been vetted by the Association of Hungarian Folk Artists. And if you’re a foodie, you’re in for a treat as there’s a selection of traditional fare on sale.
Location: Vörösmarty Square
Dates: November 16th to December 31stBook hostels in Budapest | Budapest free pocket guide
4. Munich, Germany: Christkindlmarkt
Munich has many popular events running throughout the year, but its Christkindlmarkt is one of its longest running and cherished events. It’s location in Marienplatz adds to the magic of the festivities as the square is illuminated with sparkling fairy lights, market stalls, and not forgetting it’s focal point - a 30-metre high Christmas tree! If you’re searching for some festive trinkets or presents there are plenty to choose from at 160 plus stalls. And warm yourself up with a cup of mulled wine or locally produced hot chocolate.
Dates: November 26th to December 24thBook hostels in Munich | Munich free pocket guide
5. Stockholm, Sweden: Stortorgets julmarknad
Dating back to 1915, Stockholm’s Christmas market has drawn crowds of people to the Old Town area of the city for many years. Stockholm’s Christmas market is relatively smaller than most of its European counterparts, but that’s what makes it so special. There are around 40 stalls at the market, all of which sell Swedish products. You’ll find everything from beautiful handcrafts to local foods on offer here. There’s also lots of gingerbread to keep its younger customers happy, while the traditional glögg (mulled wine) will keep the adults entertained!
Location: Stortoget, Gamla Stan
Dates: November 24th to December 23rdBook hostels in Stockholm | Stockholm videos, podcast & free pocket guide
6. Dresden, Germany: Striezelmarkt
Dresden’s Christmas Market is traditionally known as Striezelmarkt and this festive event dates back to the 15th century. You’ll find the festive stalls and twinkling lights in the historical part of the city centre between the recently rebuilt Frauenkirche and the culinary famous restaurant street of Münzgasse. There is plenty to taste, buy and even see here as you can watch the craft makers in action with carvers, bakers and glass-blowers making some of their produce at their stalls. The focal point of the Dresden Christmas Market is the world’s tallest Christmas pyramid along with the world’s biggest nutcracker.
Location: In the historical part of the city, close to Frauenkirche
Dates: November 30th to December 24thBook hostels in Dresden
7. London, England: Winter Wonderland
London’s Hyde Park is transformed into a magical Christmas Wonderland from November 23rd as the Winter Wonderland opens its gates for the festive season. Some features on London’s Winter Wonderland include an ‘Ice Age 4’ ice skating rink, a ‘Magical Ice Kingdom’ with amazing sculptures, a giant observation wheel to take it all in from, and the amazing ‘Zippos Circus’ where you can see some spectacular shows. Santa is also in attendance, so if you’ve been good you can ask him to bring you some gifts! There’s also lots of market stalls selling food, drinks and great gift ideas.
Location: Hyde Park
Dates: November 23rd to January 6thBook hostels in London | London videos, podcasts & free pocket guide
8. Brussels: Brussels Winter Wonders
Brussels goes all out when it comes to Christmas markets as over 2km of the city centre is taken over and dedicated to the festivities. Winter Wonders aims to bring together cultural and traditional activities to the festive season, with a lot of added fun too. There’s music and light shows along with over 240 stall selling gifts, decorations, food and drinks. There’s also ice-skating, street artists and amusements.
Location: between the Place St. Jean and the Marché aux Poissons
Dates: November 30th to January 6thBook hostels in Brussels | Brussels videos, podcasts & free pocket guide
9. Rome, Italy: Piazza Navona Christmas Market
One of the biggest and best Christmas markets in Italy can be found in the spectacular square that is Piazza Navona. This city square is transformed during the holidays as stalls are set up with glittering festive lights, selling handcrafted gifts, sweet treats, drinks and more. There are also nativity scenes, fortune-tellers and carnival like games.
Location: Piazza Navona
Dates: November 26th to January 6thBook hostels in Rome | Rome videos, podcasts & free pocket guide
10. Tallinn, Estonia: Tallinna Jõuluturg
Did you know that Tallinn was home to the first Christmas tree? This Estonian city is steeped in Christmas tradition history, so it was only fitting that they revived the tradition of Christmas markets in post-Soviet times. In the Town Hall Square you will find a large and beautiful Christmas tree that is surrounded by many Christmas market stalls. And in amongst all the handcrafts and treats you can also find a special cabin for Santa Claus and his elves, who give out lots of treats.
Location: The Town Hall Square (Raekoja plats)
Dates: November 24th to January 8thBook hostels in Tallinn