It’s that festive time of the year once again, when sleigh bells are ringing and Christmas trees are being raised across the world.
But amongst the light shows and mince pies, one of the best things about Christmas will always be the Christmas Markets, and few places in the world throw such festive displays as Europe.
Across the continent, from France to Russia, and everywhere else in between, you’ll find that iconic Christmas Markets in Europe open up as soon as it hits November, with many now lasting deep into the New Year too.
Every town and city will have their own festive market, but deciding which ones, exactly, are the best Christmas markets in Europe, can be a challenge.
Don’t worry though, because we’ve got your shopping sprees covered, with our guide to Christmas markets in Europe.
Don’t leave home without: Rick Steves’ European Christmas
15 Best Christmas Markets in Europe
1. Nuremberg, Germany
Germany is often seen as the home of the Christmas Market, and few other countries – even in Europe – can host a Christmas party with as much nostalgic charm as the Germans can.
One of the best Christmas markets in Europe and one of the most famous Christmas markets in Germany is held each year in Nuremberg.
From the end of November through to Christmas Eve, you’ll be able to enjoy all the trappings of a classic German festive market.
From enjoying the city’s famous Bratwursts to warming up in the cold with some hot German Gluhwein, there’s little not to like about the Nuremberg Christmas Market.
2. Budapest, Hungary
Located in Central Europe, Budapest might be a cold and chilly affair when it reaches Christmas time, but to cheer things up, the city hosts one of the best Christmas markets in Europe.
At the Basilica in central Budapest, you’ll find the famed Advent Feast, where from November through to New Year you can enjoy some of the finest food in the city.
Indulge your taste buds by gorging on Chimney Cakes, or warm up with some hot mulled wine or a steaming bowl of goulash.
After enjoying the festive delights, you can then enjoy the city’s thermal spas too, which are even better in the cold of winter.
3. Vienna, Austria
The Austrians go all out too when it comes to hosting a good Christmas market, and you’ll find celebrations everywhere, from small hamlets to the big cities.
But of course, the Austrian capital Vienna Is where you’ll find the most impressive markets in the country and some of the best Christmas markets in Europe.
The biggest event takes place right in the center, at City Hall Square, where you can find a tall Christmas tree and endless lights and decorations.
The Austrian Santa Clause is always in the city too, and it’s a favorite destination for children looking to hand over their Christmas wish list in time for the big day itself.
Visit three of Vienna’s most famous Christmas market areas on a walking tour of Austria’s capital city.
Listen to your guide tell you holiday stories about Christmas traditions important to locals as you make your way through the streets.
4. Brussels, Belgium
In Belgium, it’s the capital that is home to the most festive Christmas market in the country.
Brussels hosts its world-renowned Christmas Market every year from late November until the New Year.
The main event is called Winter Wonders, a huge festive market where you can find hundreds of classic wooden market stalls ranged across the Grand-Place and other central areas.
You’ll find lots of potential Christmas presents to buy and food to gorge on, but it’s the Christmas trees, decorations and the light shows that are the real draw of traveling to Winter Wonders in Brussels.
Discover the magic of Brussels at Christmas time by exploring the city with a local guide. Your walking tour will be completely based on your interests, which means you’ll make the most of your time.
You’ll get insider tips on the best places to see Christmas lights, the most interesting Christmas market stalls, and advice on local food.
5. Strasbourg, France
Across the border in France, the city of Strasbourg has long hosted one of the best Christmas markets in Europe.
In fact, Strasbourg continues to host one of the oldest Christmas markets in the world, because the market in the city can trace its origins back to the 16th century.
Strasbourg’s unique mix of German and French heritage ensures that this is a market not to be missed, and the festivities are most famed for the delicious mulled wine that’s produced in Strasbourg and sold through December.
Get in the Christmas spirit by going on a guided Christmas Food Tour. You’ll get the most out of your time in the city by hearing old legends, stories, and getting insider tips that you wouldn’t find out about otherwise.
6. Munich, Germany
Back in Germany though, and the state of Bavaria is renowned for its Christmas cheer and Christmas festivities.
Few places can beat Munich when it comes to celebrating Christmas, and you can rest assured that at the city’s markets there’s plenty of mulled wine, German beer and German sausages on the go.
While you’ll find smaller markets in squares and suburbs of the city, the main market is held in Marienplatz.
Here you’ll find an enormous Christmas tree and the best of the market stalls, all decked out in Christmas decorations of course
Soak up the holiday spirit with a 2-hour tour of the Munich Christmas markets.
With more than 20 holiday markets across the city, follow a guide through Munich’s Old Town to explore the city’s festive offerings, including Christkindlmarkt in Marienplatz.
7. Krakow, Poland
In Eastern Europe, Poland is one of the most popular Christmas market destinations to visit over the festive period, and the best city to travel to is Krakow.
This historic city is a beautiful place to explore any time of the year, but in the frosty grip of winter, when the decorations and lights line the streets, Krakow is a particularly lovely getaway.
The market is held in the main central square and it’s a resplendent place to indulge in festive treats such as Polish dumplings and soups, and of course, hot alcoholic beverages.
Why not take a guided stroll on beautifully illuminated streets with wonderful music in the air. Enjoy the Christmas atmosphere in Krakow exploring this wonderful city at the special, magic winter time.
8. Helsinki, Finland
For a white Christmas, then Helsinki is almost always guaranteed to deliver the snow, and over the festive period, the Finnish capital hosts an excellent market.
Held in the central Senate Square, this is a short event, as it only runs for around two weeks before Christmas.
Despite the cold weather though, this is the most cheerful place to be in Helsinki, and in December the city will be caked in snow while the bright lights and warm aromas illuminate the square.
Enjoy Finnish Christmas specialties, and unusual Nordic-inspired cuisines and drinks at one of the best Christmas markets in Europe.
Of course, if the cold gets too much, then the Finns have an exceptional sauna culture, an activity which is most welcome in the wintery depths of December.
9. Tallinn, Estonia
A short ferry ride away from Helsinki, across the cold waters of the Baltic Sea, you can find another of the best Christmas markets in Europe being hosted by the Estonian capital, Tallinn.
The historic city of Tallinn, with its ramshackle medieval streets, old walls and splendid churches is particularly joyful to explore in December, when the Christmas lights and Christmas decorations have been raised.
The Christmas Market runs from November through to January and is the perfect place for buying souvenirs and presents and for trying the local food and drink.
10. Moscow, Russia
Head further east, and the cold climes of Russia might not seem so welcoming in December, but head to Moscow and you’ll be certain to find some Christmas cheer.
The main Christmas market in Moscow, and one of the biggest markets in the country, is held in and around Red Square, a dramatic location for festive stalls to be set up.
The best part is though, Orthodox Christmas isn’t celebrated until 6th January, so the markets in Russia are still running long after those in the west have closed.
11. Birmingham, England
The United Kingdom is never the first destination that comes to mind when you plan your festive travels, but actually, one of the best Christmas markets in Europe can be found in Birmingham, England.
The Birmingham Christmas market is making a name for itself across the country. Despite the fact it sells itself as a German-inspired Christmas market.
It’s a truly international affair, with food and drink from across the world for sale.
12. Basel, Switzerland
Head to Switzerland for the Christmas holidays if you want to enjoy some inspiring mountain scenery, and find some of the best Christmas markets in Europe.
Specifically, the city of Basel is most famed for its Christmas markets, and it’s often said to be one of the most beautiful Christmas destinations in Switzerland.
You’ll find three separate markets spread across Basel Old Town, offering plenty of Swiss culinary delights and handicrafts.
13. Prague, Czech Republic
Prague is a classic European city getaway, and even in winter, the crowds won’t dissipate, because the Czech capital hosts one of Europe’s most popular Christmas markets.
There are actually two separate Christmas Markets in Prague, one in the Old Town Square and the second in Wenceslas Square.
Both markets are just a short walk away from one another though, making this a truly festive city to visit from November through to January when the Christmas markets are open for business.
Immerse yourself in Czech Christmas culture on this 4-hour private tour of Prague. With your dedicated guide, learn about local traditions, stop by the best Christmas markets in the city, and try a Czech pastry and hot wine.
14. Zagreb, Croatia
In the Balkans, the most visited Christmas market in the region can always be found in the Croatian capital, Zagreb.
The city will be decked out over the Advent period, with trees and lights adorning every street in Zagreb.
The rustic market stalls in the central squares sell homegrown Croatian delicacies and plenty of alcoholic drinks such as mulled wine, making this is a fantastic Christmas market to visit.
Experience the holiday season in Croatia during this small-group Christmas market tour in Zagreb.
See the best of the city’s over 25 Christmas markets and see how the locals celebrate during this festive time.
15. Copenhagen, Denmark
Copenhagen is a glorious city to visit over Christmas, as the Danish capital goes all out to celebrate the festivities.
You’ll find several excellent markets throughout the city, and plenty of warming Danish food and drink to try, but head to the iconic Tivoli Park for the best Christmas market in Copenhagen.
Delight in Copenhagen’s festive traditions on a Christmas culinary tour of the Danish capital’s foodie hotspots.
With an expert guide, dive into Denmark’s rich culinary heritage and absorb the electric atmosphere of Torvehallerne, the capital’s most popular food market.
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