12 crackin’ Christmas markets in Europe

12 crackin’ Christmas markets in Europe

Feeling festive? Ready to rescue your Christmas jumpers from the depths of your wardrobe? Hankering for a little mulled wine? Well, never fear: the season to be jolly is nearly upon us! If, like me, you’re cuckoo for Christmas, then why not indulge yourself with a trip to one of Europe’s most exciting Christkindlmarkts? From Ferris wheels decked in fairy lights to bratwursts longer than your arm, here are 12 of the most festively fun Christmas markets in Europe to make you merry this season.

1. Vienna

If you’re a bit crafty then Vienna has the perfect option for you. Art Advent, in picturesque Karlsplatz, is a stylish and atmospheric market selling only handcrafted goods and organic food. Plus there are art installations and live bands throughout the lead up to Christmas. Try some very festive Maroni (roasted chestnuts) or Weihnachtspunsch (Christmas punch), then Instagram every single inch of this magical setting including the streams of fairy lights that extend from beautiful Karlskirche.

❄ Want to get out of the cold? Head to the gorgeously vintage Karlsplatz for a late night snack of crisp, yet gooey, apple strudel.

🎅 Click here for more Christmas markets in Vienna.

🎄 Art Advent: 17th November – 23rd December 2017
www.artadvent.at

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Christmas Markets Europe - Vienna

Fairy lights central. 📷: @vicky__antonellaChristmas Markets Europe - ViennaMaroni! 📷: @leanne728
Christmas Markets Europe - Vienna

Question is: can you get it home before you break it? 📷: @zeynepbalyali

 

2. Berlin

With over 50 festive markets across the city, Berlin is awash with the Christmas spirit (and Glühwein)! Probably the dreamiest of them all is the Berliner Weihnachtszeit, near Alexanderplatz, whose historic location and traditional market style makes it feel more 1917 than 2017. Picture a 50-metre high Ferris wheel, medieval-style bakery, pony rides and an ice-skating rink. Plus rows of atmospherically lit wooden cabins, selling rich hot chocolate and cute Lebkuchen (German gingerbread hearts).

❄ Want to get out of the cold? Head to nearby Brauhaus Georgbraeu, where you can try this microbrewery’s own George pils right next to the bronze brewing tanks. Be warned though: one-litre tankards are available.

🎅 Click here for more Christmas markets in Berlin.

🎄 Berliner Weihnachtszeit: 27th November – 29th December 2017
www.visitberlin.de

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Christmas Markets Europe - Berlin

There must be some beer in there, somewhere. 📷: @anatoly_a_fChristmas Markets Europe - Berlin

Fir trimmed everything! 📷: @goniisraeli

Hot for chocolate. 📷: @jimmyshrseki

 

3. Prague

Looking for a festive destination that won’t break your Christmas budget? Try fairy tale Prague, where one of the squares is named after that good King Wenceslas himself! The Old Town Square (Staroměstské náměstí) holds the most iconic market, with the Church of Our Lady before Týn’s Gothic spire towering over this Disney-esque site. Watch out for the huge tubs of water in the streets filled with carp, their traditional Christmas Day dish, and don’t miss the chance to try the rolled dough dream that is Trdelník!

❄ Want to get out of the cold? Have your beer delivered to you by train! The Vytopna Railway Restaurant has its own miniature train running along the bar that transports your bevvy right to you.

🎅 Click here for more Christmas markets in Prague.

🎄 Old Town Square Market: 2nd December 2017 – 6th January 2018
www.prague.eu

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Christmas Markets in Europe - Prague

Walking in a winter wonderland. 📷: @steven_hillierChristmas Markets in Europe - Prague

Gimme gimme! 📷: @flolaviniaaChristmas Markets in Europe - Prague

Tasty Trdelník. 📷: @iva0427

 

4. Munich

You know it’s a good Christmas market when the locals love it just as much as the tourists. The main festivities take place on Marienplatz, whose 20,000 square metres are covered with stalls selling traditional Bavarian gifts and food. Plus beer, Glühwein (mulled wine) and one massive tree! Watch out for the Krampus – the terrifying half-goat, half-demon assistant to Saint Nicholas. These spookily disguised locals, who are a Christmas tradition in Alpine Austria and southern Bavaria, also stage their own Krampuslauf (Krampus run) through the city twice every December.

❄ Want to get out of the cold? Head to HQ of Munich’s most beloved beer at Paulaner Bräuhaus in Kapuzinerplatz, where you will be served by a waiter wearing lederhosen.

🎄 Munich Christmas Market: 27th November – 24th December 2017
www.muenchen.de

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Christmas Markets in Europe - Munich

All kinds of sparkly. 📷: @thekimmimChristmas Markets in Europe - Munich

So excited for Christmas. 📷: @kvanmunsterChristmas Markets in Europe - Munich

Krampus: scary AF. 📷: @alieurance

 

5. Budapest

Another fairy tale Christmas market that will suit all budgets is in the Hungarian capital. Budapest’s Basilica Christmas Market is held in front of one of the largest churches in the country, St Stephen’s Basilica on the Pest side of the river. This market is run by Hungarian folk artists, so it focuses on selling traditional crafts alongside a sizeable ice skating rink and a stunning Christmas tree decked in streams of fairy lights. Plus you can warm up on mulled wine and Kurtoskalacs (chimney cake) – similar to the Trdelník you’ll find in Prague.

❄ Want to get out of the cold? Where better way to warm up in Budapest than at one of its beautiful thermal baths, including the Art Nouveau Gellért Baths.

🎄 Basilica Christmas Market: 24th November 2017 – 2nd January 2018
www.budapestchristmas.com

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Christmas Markets in Europe - Budapest

Kinda makes you light up, right? 📷: @jennaj79Christmas Markets in Europe - Budapest

Now that’s how you mull wine. 📷: @millie_munroChristmas Markets in Europe - Budapest

Beautiful Budapest. 📷: @anka_kao_takva

 

6. Nuremberg

If you fancy yourself a bit of a foodie then head to one of the oldest Christmas Markets in Europe. Feed your festive spirit with all manner of local specialities, including Lebkuchen (gingerbread), Drei im Weggla (3 bratwursts in a bun), and roasted almonds. This atmospheric Christkindlesmarkt attracts around two million visitors each year but doesn’t mean it’s full of trashy gifts. In fact, no plastic toys are allowed to be sold in this market, leaving plenty of room for handcrafted decorations and artisan gifts.

❄ Want to get out of the cold? Don’t miss the historical charm of Café Wanderer and Bieramt, where you can sample some amazing Franconian beers.

🎄 Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt: 1st – 24th December 2017
www.christkindlesmarkt.de

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Christmas Markets in Europe - Nuremberg

It may be cold but it makes you feel all warm and fuzzy. 📷: @leticijasdChristmas Markets in Europe - Nuremberg

One happy foodie. 📷: @acpbarrosChristmas Markets in Europe - Nuremberg

It’s OK to lick the screen. 📷: @marie_lourier

 

7. Copenhagen

If you’re after the most Instagrammable Christmas market in Europe, then head to Copenhagen. The vintage amusement park, Tivoli Gardens, in the city’s centre turns into its very own winter wonderland every November and December. Not only do they have stalls bursting with cosy knitwear and Aebleskiver (pancake balls dusted with powdered sugar and served with jam), they have reindeer, 27 fun rides, snow-covered trees and twinkling lights. You’ll be feeling some serious #hyggevibes as you wander around these markets and pleasure gardens.

❄ Want to get out of the cold? Lidkoeb is Copenhagen’s coolest bar, with three different floors serving whisky, cocktails, and beers in a stylish Scandi surrounds.

🎄 Tivoli Christmas market: 18th November – 31st December 2017
www.tivoligardens.com

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Christmas Markets in Europe - Copenhagen

Sleighing it. 📷: @jessicamariasiney Christmas Markets Europe - Copenhagen - doughnuts

Aebleskivers. 📷: @laurageneousChristmas Markets Europe - Copenhagen - merry go round

Magical Tivoli. 📷: @travelingoodjin

 

8. Barcelona

If you love Christmas but can’t bear the cold weather, try Barcelona. They have some of the most charmingly bonkers festive traditions to be discovered at their main Christmas market, Fira de Santa Llúcia. Firstly, there’s the additional character in the Catalan nativity scene: the caganer. This is a small figure of a man (or these days, a celebrity) crouching down and… having a poo. I kid you not! Adding to this theme is caga tió (‘shitting log’), a smiley-faced piece of wood that ‘poops out‘ pressies – but only once it has been beaten with a stick. Suffice to say that these loco traditions can be found all over this market plus some amazing decorations and food, including tasty churros.

❄ Want to get out of the cold? Barcelona is a skaters’ mecca but even December may be too chilly to carve up the streets. Instead, head over to Nevermind Bar where they have a bowl inside the  bar!

🎄 Fira de Santa Llúcia: 24th November – 23rd December 2017
www.firadesantallucia.cat

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Christmas Markets Europe - Barcelona - wooden huts

Festive without the freeze. 📷: @kuzminaayuliaChristmas Markets Europe - Barcelona - churros

Churros! 📷: @pinkfluffyglam8Christmas Markets Europe - Barcelona - wooden faces

Want your own pressie log to take home? 📷: @pausamar

 

9. London

Lighting up the iconic Thames River with festive cheer, the Southbank’s Wintertime Market is both traditional and quirky. Rows of wooden chalets, bursting with seasonal treats, are matched with fun social spaces that have previously included a roller disco and a cider lodge. Try bratwurst, bubble waffles and mulled Pimms while soaking up the Christmassy vibes. The market is part of the Southbank Centre’s Wintertime Festival, which this year has a strong Nordic influence including an ABBA singalong and a Finnish Rooftop Sauna!

❄ Want to get out of the cold? Try the Prince Charles Cinema in Leicester Square for every cheesy Xmas film your heart could desire including Elf, Love Actually and Home Alone.

🎄 Wintertime Market: 10th November – 30th December 2017
www.southbankcentre.co.uk

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Christmas Markets Europe - London - london eye

The Southbank lights up. 📷: @armourjmChristmas Markets Europe - London - hotdogs

Nom nom nom. 📷: @jamragmusingsChristmas Markets Europe - London - red teapot

Pimms at any time of the year! 📷: @nellcavallo

 

10. Brussels

Winter Wonders covers almost 1.2 miles (2km) in Brussels’ Grand-Place, but no matter where you are in this picture-perfect Christmas market you can see one thing: the fantastic Ferris wheel. This 55-metre tall wheel is covered in 18,000 lights and looks magical in both the daytime and the evening. Tuck into some waffles and hot chocolate or sample the local beer, Chimay. If you’re not an ice expert and require some ‘Dutch courage’ to try the ice-skating, then sample a little jenever (Dutch gin).

❄ Want to get out of the cold? Cosy up in the dazzling grand café Le Cirio (open till midnight every day) and marvel at its beautifully preserved Art Nouveau décor.

🎄 Winter Wonders: 24th November – 31st December 2017
www.visit.brussels

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Christmas Markets in Europe - Brussels - ferris wheel people

Don’t be blue – it’s Christmas! 📷: @tushar.swamiChristmas Markets Europe - Brussels - ferris wheel hotchocolate

Wheel of wonder. 📷: @pairoftraveljunkiesChristmas Markets Europe - Brussels drinks

How do you like your Xmas booze? 📷: @yujuhg

 

11. Edinburgh

This iconic Scottish city kicks into Christmas mode every November with its very own festive festival! For six weeks, the centre of Edinburgh is taken over by ice skating, a Christmas Tree Maze and numerous carousels. Head to East Princes Street Gardens in Santa Land for cute red-roofed huts selling handcrafted single malt whiskies and… haggis nachos. If that makes your stomach turn, try one of the many sweet treats.

❄ Want to get out of the cold? Head to the Spiegeltent in Festival Square this season for the astounding circus/comedy/cabaret/magic/burlesque show, La Clique Noël!

🎄 Santa Land: 18th November 2017 – 6th January 2018
www.edinburghschristmas.com

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Christmas Markets in Europe - Edinburgh - Ferris wheel

Santa Land!  📷:@deemasaidiChristmas Markets in Europe - Edinburgh - doughnuts

So fresh and so sweet!  📷:@kateemwalkerChristmas Markets in Europe - Edinburgh - mug

Edinburgh loves Christmas!  📷:@cheriediamonds

 

12. Cologne

It’s easy to find the biggest Weihnachtsmarkt in Cologne – just look out for its famous cathedral whose Gothic spires dominate the city’s skyline. Here you’ll find the largest Christmas tree in the Rhineland surrounded by 150 wooden booths that fill the air with a heady festive mix of baked apples, cinnamon biscuits and Glühwein (mulled wine). Don’t miss out of the chance to grab your own festive mug for the wine from the markets to take home for the holidays.

❄ Want to get out of the cold? The Chocolate Museum do tasting tours, which means this is pretty much the closest you’ll ever get to owning a golden ticket to Willy Wonka’s.

🎄 Cathedral Christmas Market: 27th November – 23rd December 2017
www.koelnerweihnachtsmarkt.com

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Christmas Markets Europe - Cologne - churchJust look for the MASSIVE church.  📷:@arisharotanova

Christmas Markets Europe - Cologne - model houses

Christmas cuteness overload.  📷:@dina_kznChristmas Markets Europe - Cologne - lights

Feeling festive.  📷:@saskia_grue

 

🎅 Which other Christmas markets in Europe do you love? Frankfurt? Salzburg? Krakow? Strasbourg? Comment below 👇 and share the Christmassy love!

 

Christmas markets in Europe

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About The Author

Bronwyn Griffiths (Hostelworld)

Part-time drag queen. Full-time travel content queen. Just a small town (Australian) girl, living in a lonely (London) world.

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27 Responses to “12 crackin’ Christmas markets in Europe”

  1. Klaus Augenthaler Reply

    Edinburgh – really?!! C’mon……
    Germany is really the Kaiser of Christmas Markets – so many wonderful spots. Munich is a great base.
    You should have included Dresden – one of the oldest!
    Some smaller cities and towns like Trier, Erfurt, Regensburg are wonderful. Tiny villages like Bernkastel Kues, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Gorlitz and Goslar are simply “einfach Klasse” too.

    • Bronwyn Griffiths Reply

      Ooooh Edinburgh is amazing at Christmas (and New Year’s of course – hello Hogmanay!)! You should definitely give it a go one festive season. Munich’s market is super fun – hence why it made the list – along with Berlin, Nuremberg, and Cologne. The German’s definitely do fun Christmas markets 🙂

    • Bronwyn Griffiths Reply

      Yes, Strasbourg is the oldest – and very traditional too 🙂 Colmar looks like fun! When did you visit?

  2. Francois Champerre Reply

    I’ve been to Colmar and Strasbourg – both gorgeous places but really the French just don’t understand Christmas markets! The markets there go quiet(er) from 6pm when they are just peaking in Germany. Deutschland Uber Alles when it comes to Christkindlmarkt!

  3. Including Edinburgh and London is a bit Anglo-centric. I don’t buy their inclusion – London is rip off central for a mulled wine (£5 – are you kidding me?!) – simply far too commercial and not in spirit of Christmas at all.
    How and why is Barcelona included…..? That is a very odd inclusion.
    My advice – just look to Germany with a nod to Austria. Switzerland is unfortunately very expensive while the CHF is so strong.

    • Bronwyn Griffiths Reply

      Barcelona has some really fun Christmas traditions! If you’re looking for a Christmas market that is a little different or quirky (or not freezing), it can’t be missed 🙂 Personally, I love the Southbank in London at Christmas and Edinburgh is another fabulously festive option. But yes, of course, Germany rules the Christmas markets (hence why we included 4 of them)!

  4. So Zagreb has officially been awarded last 2 years in a row as the most beautiful xmas market and you dont even put it on a list. How about doing a research before posting. I’m disappointed!

  5. So many places to recommend in Germany and borderlands that make for a great long weekend:
    Munich with trips to Nürnberg, Regensburg
    Berlin and the villages in the Harz mountains
    Small towns and villages along the Romantic Road including Bamberg, Passau, Dinkelsbuhl, Rothenburg Ob der Tauber, Wurzburg, Nordlingen
    Cologne and Aachen
    Düsseldorf
    Heidelberg
    Dresden
    Frankfurt
    Trier with trips to Luxembourg, Cochem and Bernkastel Kues
    Strasbourg & Baden Baden
    Ich liebe die Weihnachtsmarkten!

  6. Being cold and having its own proper mug with the year on it are the minimum quality standards.
    Snow and a brass band playing carols are the icing on top.

  7. @Natasha – I’d love to hear your views on Zagreb too. It’s a leftfield option but I did read somewhere about its star billing. Please fill us in.

  8. Is it really £5 for a mulled wine, £7 for an apple warmer in London as the photo shows? I thought the British were bonkers voting for Brexit but paying those prices confirms it for me!
    In some parts of Germany you might only pay €1.50 or €2 for a gluhwein.

  9. Brussels by far is the most beautiful Christmas Market – Bruges is also very pretty! Krakow, which is the one I am most familiar with, is also very nice.
    My least favourite is Prague, but it’s still great!

    • Bronwyn Griffiths Reply

      Hi Mariye – so nice to have another Christmas market mega-fan 🙌 At least in Krakow you’re pretty much guaranteed snow too, making it extra festive! ❄️❄️❄️

  10. Europe doesn’t guarantee snow in the Christmas season really… I come from Northern Finland and these days it isn’t guaranteed even for us (with the exception of the Lapland area) until January really. Having said that, we do still get snowy Christmases more often than not 🙂

    Great list! I’m a Christmas market goer and agree that the Germans win at Christmas markets! I’m heading to Krakow and Budapest this year, though 🙂 I would also be interested to hear views on the Zagreb markets! Christmas markets in Manchester are also great, voted best in the UK if I remember correctly. Great spirit, very crowded however.

  11. Anybody know of a good skiing town with Christmas markets? I’m thinking of Christmas in Europe but would love to combine (guaranteed) snow & ski with Christmas markets during the evenings. I was thinking Salzburg, Interlaken – anyone have a recommendation?

    • clairebenktander Reply

      Hey Das, Salzburg is definitely an excellent choice, as is Innsbruck with six Christkindl markets on offer! Here’s our Innsbruck hostels: http://bit.ly/2A5u7NG You could also combine the Munich markets with skiing Garmisch-Partenkirchen in Germany. For a different kind of Christmas market, the Sierra Nevada offers skiing and markets with a Spanish touch! Hope this helps you!

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