One of the top reasons to hop across the pond in winter is to visit some of the enchanting Christmas markets in Europe!
Wandering the markets to browse the assortment of crafts and ornaments on sale, sampling the sweet treats, and warming up with a mug of mulled wine, is the quintessential December experience in Europe.
Winter in Europe is also a great time to visit popular sights without the crowds of summer.
And wandering the historical centers, with their magical lights and decorations and festive ambience, is a pleasure all its own.
You’ll find must-visit Christmas markets in Europe no matter which part of the continent you decide to visit, although the markets of Central Europe are the most renowned.
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If you are looking to plan a dedicated trip to Europe around its top Christmas markets, we’ve rounded up the very best Europe Christmas markets in this article.
Although every Christmas market in Europe has its own timeline, most markets open in mid-November and run through the month of December, with some remaining open until the first part of January.
Be sure to arm yourself with some cash when you visit the Christmas markets, because you’ll want to bring home a Christmas ornament (or even start a collection!), and not all markets accept cards.
And now, let’s get started discovering the most exciting Christmas markets in Europe!
The Best Christmas Markets in Europe
1. Cologne, Germany
Perhaps no other country in Europe is as renowned for its Christmas markets as Germany. And as one of the larger cities in Germany, Cologne hosts several must-visit Christmas markets!
The magical ambience of the markets, the magnificence of the illuminations and decorations, and the variety of exciting experiences make Cologne’s markets irresistible.
The top Christmas market in Cologne is set in front of the magnificent Cologne cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. With a huge tree decked up with lights, ornaments, and festive red ribbons, the market will wow you.
Get a cup of glühwein and wander the dozens of stalls to browse the arts and crafts and sample edible treats. There’s also live entertainment to experience.
Another Christmas market you cannot pass up in Cologne is the one in the Altstadt, the Old Town. This market is the home of the Heinzelmännchen, little creatures from local lore.
Just outside the Cologne city center you’ll find more markets to wander, from the Angels’ Market in Neumarkt Square, to the Christmas market in the Stadtgarten, and the Nicholas Village in the Rudolfplatz.
There’s also a Christmas market at Cologne Harbor, set right on the Rhine. The Ferris wheel here offers spectacular views over the city, the river, and the cathedral.
Don’t miss taking a ride on the Christmas Market Express, a train that makes it easy to get to Cologne’s largest Christmas markets.
While the Christmas markets will keep you busy on a visit to Cologne during the holidays, you’ll definitely want to tour the Cologne Cathedral, visit the Chocolate Museum, wander the Old Town, and take a boat tour on the Rhine.
Where to Stay
Stay at 25hours Hotel The Circle Cologne, located near the Cologne Cathedral. It has a rooftop bar and is walking distance to cafes and shops.
2. Vienna, Austria
Vienna is a wonderful city to visit during December, as it doesn’t have just one great Christmas market: it has many! You can stroll from one Christmas market to the next, and visit some amazing sights in between.
Most Christmas markets in Vienna sell similar items, like the traditional Austrian Christmas cookies — Vanillekipferl and Linzer Augen, mulled wine, Christmas ornaments, woolly hats and gloves, and all the other things you expect to see at Christmas markets.
But it’s the different locations and atmosphere that make each market unique.
The most famous Christmas market in Vienna is the one in front of city hall, the Christkindlmarkt. It’s home to the biggest Christmas tree in Austria, as well as a big ice skating rink. It’s surrounded by impressive architecture and historic museums.
In Vienna, you really don’t have to walk far to reach the next Christmas market. Close to the Christkindlmarkt is an art history museum, Kunsthistorischen Museum, one of the most popular museums in Vienna. And right next to that museum is another Christmas market, on Maria-Theresien-Platz.
A very magical Christmas market is the one in front of the famous Schönbrunn Palace. You can visit the palace, one of the top attractions in Vienna, and afterwards go for some hot wine and roasted chestnuts at the market.
The Christmas market at Spittelberg is known for being the most vegetarian and vegan-friendly Christmas market in Vienna. You can try some vegan treats at multiple stalls, but you can also just stroll through the markets and go for some traditional Austrian cuisine in a vegan restaurant in Vienna!
Where to Stay
One of the best and most famous hotels in Vienna is Hotel Sacher. It has an excellent location right in the city center, making it a great option for exploring the Christmas markets in Vienna.
Suggested by Tina of Veganderlust
Did you know? You can combine Vienna with Prague and Budapest and spend a fabulous 10 days in Europe, traveling by train from one city to another!
3. Prague, The Czech Republic
Set against the backdrop of Prague’s historic Old Town Square, the Prague Christmas market is a must-visit for anyone looking for a magical Christmas market experience.
Prague is a charming town to visit any time of the year, and with its twinkling lights, wooden stalls, and the delicious smell of freshly baked trdelnik and mulled wine, the Christmas market makes it even more enchanting.
One of the market’s highlights is the impressive Christmas tree, gorgeously decorated in the middle of the main square.
Stroll through the market and browse the stalls, where you’ll find handmade ornaments, traditional Czech crafts and glassware. Warm up with a cup of svarene vino, or mulled wine, and sample traditional Czech treats like trdelnik, a sweet pastry twisted around a stick and topped with sugar.
The market also hosts live performances, including carol singers and traditional dancing.
In addition to the main market in Old Town Square, Prague hosts several other festive Christmas markets.
A short walk from Old Town Square, Wenceslas Square also has an excellent Christmas market.
Set along the long square with the impressive National Museum at one end, this Christmas market is not as busy as the one in Old Town Square, yet still worth visiting.
Here you’ll find plenty of food stalls, as well as stalls selling traditional Czech crafts, fresh mistletoe, and other unique gifts.
Be sure to bring cash, as most stalls do not accept cards, with the exception of some food stalls in Wenceslas Square.
While in Prague, be sure to visit Prague Castle, which also boasts another Christmas market. Cross the historic Charles Bridge and see the Astronomical Clock in Old Town Hall.
Where to Stay
Consider staying in the Old Town, where you’ll be close to the Christmas Markets. The Grandium Hotel Prague is an excellent choice and only a few minutes walk to Old Town Square.
Suggested by Erin of Wanderlust with Kids
4. Budapest, Hungary
The largest and best Christmas market in Budapest takes place in the heart of Budapest, known as Vörösmarty Square, and is free to all visitors.
Local Hungarian bands offer free concerts daily as well, and dance performances can be found on the two stages.
On weekends, families will enjoy the puppet show, craft workshops such as those that teach you how to create a variety of ornaments, and playtime in the wooden playhouse! Little ones will even enjoy a visit with Santa in his cottage.
The market is very inclusive to all diets, including offering vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free menu items.
Lastly, the market has over 122 wooden cottage stalls that offer products that are approved by a selection committee of folk art experts.
Some of the specialty items you will want to purchase at the market are handmade lace and Christmas toys.
Don’t forget to try the goulash, salami, and sweet treats of kurtosh and kalacs. Make sure to explore the stalls and try the local drink specialties such as mulled wine, which is red wine with cinnamon, cloves, and orange peel, to warm up and enjoy the holiday season.
Since you’re in the area, you will want to check out Budapest attractions, such as the famous Cafe Gerbeaud, which creates Hungarian confectionery using modern ingredients and has existed in the community since 1858.
Vörösmarty Square is the starting point of Vaci Utca, the most popular shopping area for tourists in Budapest.
Where to Stay
A great place to stay is the historic palace hotel known as Four Seasons Gresham, which has amazing views of the Buda Castle, the hills of Buda, and the oldest bridge in Budapest.
Suggested by Hannah of Getting Stamped
5. Strasbourg, France
The Strasbourg Christmas market calls itself the “Capital of Christmas,” and truly it deserves that title!
Visiting Strasbourg at Christmastime isn’t just about the markets themselves: the whole city is an immersive experience in holiday festivities.
First off, there are over 10 markets that dot the relatively small old town neighborhood.
Some of these markets are large – for example, the two markets that sit in the shadow of the towering Strasbourg Cathedral.
The Christkindelsmarik is another large, expansive market with a wide variety of food and gift offerings.
And the market in Place Kleber is dominated by the massive Christmas tree – Le Grand Sapin, which is over 30 meters tall. This Christmas tree has a musical show every hour, where the lights on the tree twinkle to the beat of the music.
Other smaller specialty markets in the city include the Alsace Delicacies Market and the sustainable-focused Marché Off.
Besides the delightful markets themselves, the city is decked out to the nines.
Lights are strung on the streets throughout the city, and lit shapes like gingerbread, stars, or candy canes are suspended between buildings.
Light projections grace the facade of city hall, and some buildings are even decorated with teddy bears. Garlands abound on doorways and windows everywhere you look. The atmosphere is incredibly jovial!
Inside the Cathedral, you can view the nativity on display.
And of course, the city of Strasbourg itself is just absolutely charming no matter the time of year, with half-timbered houses in a distinctly Bavarian style, and canals that meander through parts of Old Town.
You must try the tarte flambée and baguette flambée, and while gingerbread is a typical offering at many Christmas markets, it is a particular specialty in the Alsace region of France where Strasbourg is located.
Where to Stay
The Aloft Strasbourg Etoile is a great place to stay when visiting the Strasbourg Christmas market.
Suggested by Stephanie of The Unknown Enthusiast
6. Winter Wonderland, London, England
The Hyde Park Winter Wonderland in London is a huge Christmas extravaganza, with lots of rides and games, ice skating, wonderful shows, and a variety of food and drink.
While roller coasters and thrilling rides may not be the traditional Christmas market in Europe experience, Winter Wonderland is hugely popular. In keeping with the spirit of the season, there’s a Christmas tree ride and a Santaland Express Train.
There’s an ice rink, an ice slide, and even a Christmas circus, as well as ice sculpting workshops.
For visitors looking for the traditional Christmas market experience, there are 100 traditional wooden chalets that offer unique gifts, arts and crafts, traditional Christmas decorations, and edible delights.
The Street Food Village offers the best of street eats, Candy Cane Lane offers a plethora of sweet treats, and Bar Ice, made entirely of ice, is a great place to slake your thirst.
Of course, Winter Wonderland isn’t the only place to enjoy Christmas in London. There are numerous other markets, such as Covent Garden, Southbank Centre, Leicester Square, Trafalgar Square, and Greenwich.
And Borough Market is decked out for Christmas while offering fabulous foods.
With so many Christmas markets all across the center, it’s easy to find one to browse while you are sightseeing!
Where to Stay
Stay at the Langham London, a luxury hotel that’s close to great Christmas shopping in Oxford Street! The hotel is beautifully decorated for Christmas each year and there are special events.
Good to know: For a super festive quick December visit to Europe, combine London with Paris for one of the most iconic 7-day Europe itineraries! Both cities offer magical Christmas lights and sweet treats.
7. Colmar, France
The Christmas market of Colmar, nestled in the heart of the Alsace region of France, is an absolute must-visit for anyone seeking a magical holiday experience.
This market has earned its reputation as one of Europe’s best, and it’s no surprise why. The market boasts a unique blend of old-world charm and enchanting holiday spirit that sets it apart from the rest.
Colmar’s picturesque old town, with its half-timbered houses adorned with lights and decorations, transforms into a fairy tale setting during the Christmas season.
The entire city center is primarily pedestrianized, allowing visitors to stroll through the cobbled streets and soak in the festive atmosphere without the interruption of vehicular traffic.
What truly sets the Colmar Christmas market apart are the distinct market locations, each offering its own special charm and attractions.
The largest market can be found at Place des Dominicains, and it serves as the epicenter of the festivities.
Other markets, such as those at Place Jeanne d’Arc, Place de l’Ancienne Douane, and Petite Venise, offer their own unique flavors and experiences.
Inside the medieval Koïfhus building, visitors can explore the works of local artisans and artists, adding a touch of authenticity to the holiday shopping experience.
For families with children, the market at Petite Venise is a must-visit, featuring a petting zoo, a post office to send letters to Santa, and a mechanical Christmas crib that captures the hearts of young and old alike.
Colmar’s charm is further enhanced by its luminous decorations, including sparkling Christmas characters, illuminated rooftops, and captivating video mapping projections on various buildings.
Visitors can enjoy a range of attractions, such as sleigh rides with Santa Claus, horseback rides through a winter wonderland, and even a Disney Christmas train that brings joy to everyone.
While you’re in Colmar, make sure not to miss the stunning sights and attractions beyond the Christmas markets.
Wander through the charming Vieux Colmar district, where you’ll find the majority of the half-timbered houses, museums, and landmarks.
Little Venice, a district characterized by its waterside half-timbered houses, is another highlight that adds to the city’s allure.
Where to Stay
For a cozy stay that complements the magic of Colmar, consider the James Boutique Hôtel.
Situated at the edge of the old town, this boutique hotel offers a modern and stylish atmosphere throughout its lobby, breakfast area, and well-appointed rooms.
Suggested by Maartje of Unieke Vakantieplekjes
8. Luxembourg City, Luxembourg
Luxembourg City might be one of the smallest capitals in Europe, but in December it goes big on Christmas! Not big in the sense of huge, extensive markets, but big on festive atmosphere, and choice.
There are several Luxembourg Christmas Markets dotted around the city, and it’s easy to travel between them because most are close together in the city center. Others are reachable by Luxembourg’s reliable (and free!) public transport network.
Choose your market according to your interests. You might want to visit the showstopper Wantermaart, which features a brightly-lit ferris wheel and other fairground rides.
Lëtzebuerger Chrëschtmaart is more geared around hot food, hot drinks and crafts and gifts, so it is popular with adults. The vin chaud (mulled wine) and gromperekichelcher (fried potato pancakes) stands are popular.
If you want to do some ice-skating, there’s a festive rink at the Winterlights on Ice. And for little children, there’s a space with gentler rides called Winterkids.
And when you’re not enjoying the festive cheer of the markets, there’s plenty to keep you occupied in Luxembourg at Christmastime, including exploring the upper and lower levels of the city, which is somewhat defined by its deep river gorges.
On a raised plateau, Ville Haute is the municipal center of the city and you can still see the remains of the medieval fortress that defended it. Down in the valley, the pretty Grund area winds along the river and has a fairytale feel.
Where to Stay
For a reasonable place to stay, the Park Inn by Radisson is a modern hotel near the main railway station, which is handy if you travel to Luxembourg by train.
Suggested by Martha of May Cause Wanderlust
9. Dresden, Germany
Dresden is home to many Christmas markets, but the most famous market here is the Striezelmarkt, the oldest Christmas market in Germany. Dating back to 1434, the market attracts visitors from all over the world.
The Striezelmarkt, held on Altmarkt Square, features the world’s tallest step pyramid and a gigantic candle arch, and offers many activities for adults and kids. There’s also a traditional Ferris wheel!
Be sure to enjoy a piece of Original Dresdner Christstollen fruit loaf, and sample some mulled wine! The sweet treat, only made in and around Dresden, has raisins, sweet and bitter almonds, and candied orange and lemon peel. Yum!
On the Prager Straße, you’ll find the Christmas market known as the Winterlights of Dresden. It features a beautifully lit large Christmas tree and the stands offer regional culinary specialties.
Another Christmas market at the Frauenkirche has a pyramid you can climb! The stands offer arts and crafts and Santa arrives every evening with a surprise for every child.
Lovers of arts and crafts will also want to stop by the Advent at the Neumarkt, where you can browse crafts produced by historical guilds operating in the Neumarkt area. Also be sure to sample the culinary delights on offer!
Where to Stay
Stay at the Hyperion Hotel Dresden Am Schloss, located in the heart of the Altstadt.
It’s an excellent base not only to visit the Christmas markets but also to explore the Old Town, much of which was rebuilt following damage from Allied bombing in WWII.
10. Manchester, England
Manchester boasts a number of markets scattered across the city center, with about 220 stands in all.
The first Christmas markets in the city were only held in 1998, just 24 years ago! But today Manchester’s Christmas markets are a draw for thousands of visitors.
Numerous ski chalet stands can be found at Piccadilly Gardens, which transform into Winter Gardens for the festive holiday season. Here you can sample treats like churros and pancakes, along with hot winter drinks.
Winter Gardens also features entertainment, with DJs and live music.
At St. Ann’s Square and Exchange Street, you can find local crafts, an undercover bar serving gluhwein and German beers, and a variety of food stands, including cheeses and chocolate!
You must definitely bring your appetite to King Street, where the Christmas deli stalls feature a plethora of dishes from all over the world.
Look for crafts and gifts at Market Street, New Cathedral Street, and the Corn Exchange, and go ice skating at Cathedral Gardens.
Where to Stay
A great place to stay in the city center is The Midland, with its grand decor and luxurious rooms.
11. Edinburgh, Scotland
A visit to Edinburgh’s Christmas market is an absolute must for anyone seeking a magical festive experience.
The Scottish capital transforms into a winter wonderland during the holiday season and boasts one of the top Christmas markets in the UK, attracting up to 2.5 million visitors over the course of seven weeks.
Set beneath Edinburgh’s iconic castle, the stunning Christmas market centers around the attractive East Princes Street Gardens and features an array of small wooden chalets selling a range of handcrafted, one-of-a-kind gifts as well as many food and drink stalls.
There are also many fun fair rides, including a helter-skelter, the Star Flyer, the big wheel as well as indoor and outdoor ice-rinks. Little ones will enjoy a visit to Santa’s Grotto to meet Santa Claus himself.
There are many things to do in Edinburgh at Christmas, and visitors should take the opportunity to head to many of the nearby attractions including the famous castle (don’t miss their light show), the Royal Mile, the Grassmarket, the National Museum of Scotland, Calton Hill and Holyrood Palace.
The festive experience wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the magical illuminations at the Royal Botanic Gardens, a glass of fizz at the Dome on George Street, or a mulled wine at the Johnnie Walker Bothy Bar on the Mound.
Where to Stay
To make the most of your visit, consider staying at the Scotsman Hotel, a five-star establishment located on North Bridge, a short walk from all the action.
Housed within the former Scotsman newspaper building, this luxurious hotel is close to many of Edinburgh’s famous landmarks and offers easy access to the Christmas market.
Suggested by Gillian of Scotland Bucket List
12. Zurich, Switzerland
For a must-see market in Switzerland, make a December journey to Zurich. The whole city becomes a seasonal festive bag of fun. Zurich turns into a wonderland of twinkling festive lights, with lots of wooden chalets for the Christmas markets.
A special highlight of the Zurich Christmas Markets is the Singing Christmas Tree, a beautifully designed tree-shaped stage where local carol singers sing their hearts out daily. It’s the perfect location to sign long!
Another highlight includes the warm winter wonderland Wienachtsdorf markets near the Zurich Opera House.
The square is beautifully decorated, with a huge food court, a large Christmas tree, and mini bonfires dotted around for staying warm while enjoying the area. The food court has literally everything, with not only Swiss food but international options too.
For party time, head to the courtyard of the Swiss National Museum. Here they usually have an indoor dancing area, with live DJs every night as well as more food stands. It’s a chill area to enjoy a drink with friends or loved ones. The lighting in the courtyard outside area is a wonder!
Like most Christmas markets stands, you can buy lots of homemade gifts. There are wooden stands everywhere, even in the Zurich train station. These homemade gifts include jewelry, home decorations, winter clothing, chocolates, pet gifts and more.
Where to Stay
Finish your days by checking in at the Ruby Mimi Hotel & Bar. The rooms are large and the beds heavenly.
The hotel offers really good service and it’s an ideal location for all Christmas events in Zurich.
Suggested by Zoe from Together In Switzerland
13. Dusseldorf, Germany
In the heart of Germany’s Rhineland, Dusseldorf’s Christmas market feels like stepping into a Christmas movie. And the best part is that there isn’t just one market: there are seven!
Start your day on the Ferris wheel. See the whole city from up high!
Once you’re back down, head over to the Handwerker Markt. It’s just the beginning of your Christmas journey, a tiny Christmas village with cute little houses. It’s right in front of the Rathaus, the city hall of Dusseldorf that was built in 1570.
Keep walking, and you’ll find another market in Altstadt (Old Town). Here, stalls look like facades of old houses. And you must try Gluhwein, the warm wine in Germany, from a cool pyramid stall in this market.
The Engelchen Markt might be small, but it’s one of the cutest ones. Engelchen means ‘little angel’ in German. As you’d guess, there are angel decorations everywhere! Stop here for another cup of Gluhwein.
If you’re feeling sporty, try skating on the ice rink. But before you skate, take a cool photo near the Triton statue at Königsallee, the high-end shopping street in Dusseldorf. From this spot, you can see both the rink and a big light display called the Lichterdom (light dom).
If you like shopping, walk along Königsallee. It’s full of fancy shops.
And while you’re wandering around the Christmas markets, look for cool handmade gifts and a yummy treat called Lebkuchen (similar to gingerbread).
By the end of the day, you’ll have seen so much, including the old part of the city, Altstadt. You can also visit the Rhine Tower and walk along the Rhine Promenade.
For the best experience in Dusseldorf, wear comfortable shoes. Also, consider visiting on a weekday to avoid the crowds.
Where to Stay
When you’re tired, head to your base at the luxurious Hotel Kö59 Düsseldorf. It’s super comfy and right in the middle of everything.
Suggested by Jo of World Wild Schooling
14. Zagreb, Croatia
Zagreb during the Christmas time is simply delightful due to its cheerful vibe and rich decor.
Visitors arrive to enjoy culinary delicacies and an awesome atmosphere at its picturesque markets.
In fact, it has been voted the best Christmas market in Europe for three years in a row. The European Best Destinations website gave this title to the Croatian capital in 2016, 2017, and 2018.
Zagreb offers more than 25 markets at its squares and promenades, each with its own unique theme and vibe. Stalls feature handmade arts and crafts that make for lovely souvenirs or gifts.
Sip aromatic mulled wine and sample regional and seasonal cuisine. Enjoy concerts. Kids will love the holiday-themed activities in the center.
Visiting this city is your chance to discover the magic of the most Instagrammable cafe bars in Zagreb. The holiday month of December is an enchanting time to experience Zagreb’s well-known cafe culture.
The historic upper town is a wonderful place to soak in the holiday spirit in Zagreb. The romantic atmosphere of Zrinjevac Park is enhanced with incredible lights and local musicians.
The colorful panorama of Christmas items to buy includes jewelry, woollen scarves and hats, pretty bags, toys and more. Try Licitar, a gingerbread cookie that’s shaped like a heart and colored red.
Where to Stay
Zagreb offers a vast range of accommodation. Hotel Art Like has a sweet vibe very close to the main square. Esplanade Hotel near the principal train station offers the most luxurious option.
Suggested by Gabi of Under Flowery Sky
15. Nuremberg, Germany
Nuremberg’s Christkindlesmarkt is a must-visit for its rich history and festive atmosphere. Here’s why it’s one of the best Christmas markets in Germany.
Dating back to the 17th century, this market encapsulates centuries of tradition. As the Christkind’s prologue fills the air, you’ll be transported to a world of enchantment and wonder.
Over 200 wooden stalls beckon with traditional Franconian Christmas decorations, from handcrafted ornaments to intricate nativity scenes. The market is a sensory delight, with the enticing aromas of mulled wine, roasted chestnuts, and gingerbread cookies wafting through the air.
Families will adore the Nürnberger Kinderweihnacht on Hans-Sachs-Platz. Kids can partake in cookie baking, crafts, and merry-go-round rides. The Sternenhaus in the Heilig-Geist-Saal hosts puppet shows and storytelling sessions with the Christkind.
Explore the Market of Partner Cities on Rathausplatz, boasting around 25 stalls offering international delights such as Arabica coffee and Greek honey cookies.
If you’re driving, opt for nearby parking garages. Public transportation is convenient, with the U1 subway to Lorenzkirche and various bus lines. The market operates daily from 10:00 AM to 9:00 PM, with a shorter day on December 24th, closing at 2:00 PM.
You can also explore nearby attractions, including the spires of St. Sebald and St. Lorenz churches, and the majestic Kaiserburg. Nuremberg’s Christmas market is not just an event; it’s an enchanting journey through centuries of holiday tradition, a place to create cherished memories in the heart of Germany’s Christmas capital.
Where to Stay
The Sorat Hotel Saxx, conveniently located near the Christmas post office, is an excellent mid-range choice. For upscale accommodations, consider Le Méridien Grand Hotel Nürnberg, within walking distance of the market.
Suggested by Elle of Only in Germany
16. Lisbon, Portugal
The vibrant capital of Portugal, Lisbon hosts several Christmas markets that are nothing short of festive and fun, each offering a unique experience.
Wonderland Lisboa is the largest market, with its giant Ferris Wheel, an inviting ice skating rink, and a whimsical Santa’s village. The air is alive with the melodies of festive tunes setting the perfect mood.
Come hungry, as this Lisbon Christmas market offers a tempting array of culinary delights, from savory crepes to mouthwatering pork sandwiches.
Next, in the heart of the Baixa district, the Rossio Mercado de Natal awaits your visit. This quaint market boasts a tall Christmas tree as its centerpiece, surrounded by a lively square where Nikolaus Santa’s house stands. Wander among charming wooden huts brimming with handcrafted artisan gifts, including jewelry and cozy knits.
The market’s sweetest allure, however, lies in its delectable treats. Sip on hot chocolate, warm sangria, or mulled port wine as you nibble on dried fruits, nuts, and chocolates.
Treat your taste buds to Portuguese holiday specialties like ‘Bolo Rei’ (King Cake) and ‘Rabanadas’ (French toast).
Don’t miss the chance to hop on the free Christmas train at Rossio Square, offering a delightful tour of the Baixa neighbourhood’s festively decorated streets.
Next, take a short stroll to Praça do Comércio, Lisbon’s biggest square, featuring a close to 100 foot Christmas tree. Check out the nearby specialty store called Nickolaus to shop for a tree ornament to bring home.
Where to Stay
For an authentic Lisbon experience, consider staying at Baixa House. This boutique hotel offers self-catering beautifully decorated apartments that blend modern comfort with traditional charm.
It’s conveniently located near the Rossio Christmas market, making it the perfect base to experience the festivities.
Suggested by Renee of Dream Plan Experience
17. Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany
The Rothenburg ob der Tauber Christmas Market is a must-visit for anyone looking for an authentic German holiday experience. Located in the heart of Bavaria, this market gives off a winter wonderland vibe that is straight out of a fairytale.
What sets this market apart is its scenic medieval setting.
Rothenburg ob der Tauber is one of only three beautifully preserved walled medieval towns in Germany.
During the Christmas season, its cobblestone streets and half-timbered buildings are draped with twinkling lights and festive decorations.
The effect is nothing short of magical!
As you stroll through the traditional market, you’ll find a variety of handcrafted gifts and traditional German treats. From gorgeous ornaments and intricate woodcarvings to mouthwatering Lebkuchen (gingerbread cookies) and Glühwein (mulled wine), there’s something for everyone.
Don’t forget to sample the local specialty, Schneeballen. This delicious fried pastry shaped like a snowball and covered in chocolate, is an absolute must-try.
While at the market, be sure to catch a live performance by carolers, or even a unique nativity scene reenactment. If you’re travelling with little ones, a visit to the Santa Claus post office will make their day.
Rothenburg ob der Tauber also offers plenty to explore beyond the market. Take a stroll along the well-preserved town walls, visit the iconic Käthe Wohlfahrt Christmas museum and shop, or just enjoy the amazing views from the Town Hall Tower.
Where to Stay
For accommodations, consider the charming Altfraenkische Weinstube for a mid-range option, or the Hotel Herrnschloesschen for a more luxurious stay.
Both hotels offer unique stays in beautifully restored historic buildings and are conveniently located near the Christmas Market.
Suggested by Marianne of Pasta Pretzels & Passports
18. Brussels, Belgium
Brussels has without a doubt some of the best Christmas markets in Europe.
There are several markets in the city, and you can have a lot of fun walking around all the different markets, eating everything you can find, and buying lots of little trinkets. It’s also a great place to make a start on Christmas shopping.
You’ll find stalls selling everything from hand-crafted wooden Christmas tree ornaments to giant statues. You’ll also see magnets, hand-made soaps, candles in the cutest little shapes, ornaments, rugs, and clothes. If you love winter gear, knitwear, or funny socks, you’ll love the Christmas markets in Brussels!
It’s also a great place to find food. You won’t need to go for an actual dinner if you go to the Christmas markets here, as you can spend a good hour doing a bit of stall hopping and eating all the delicious things you can find.
Belgian frites are fantastic, and you’ll also find hot dogs, waffles, piping hot stews, and lots of other treats.
Then, for dessert, grab a cup of mulled wine and a bag of homemade fudge and you’ll be suitably stuffed!
There are also lots of things to do at the markets for entertainment. You can see the views over the city from the Ferris wheel, go ice skating, and slide down the helter-skelter. It’s a very good way to spend a night (or multiple nights) in Brussels in winter.
If you decide you want to get out of the city for a night though, you can also hop on a train and visit the markets in Bruges or Ghent as well. They are just as good, although not quite as large.
Where to Stay
Stay at the Rocco Forte Hotel Amigo, located close to Grand Place and very convenient for visiting the top Christmas market.
Recommended by Alice of Adventures of Alice
19. Bruges, Belgium
If you’re looking to experience the essence of traditional European Christmas festivities, there is no better place to visit than Bruges.
With its picturesque architecture and iconic landmarks such as the Belfry Tower as a backdrop and a variety of festive activities, not to mention delicious Belgian wintery treats, Bruges at Christmas should be on your bucket list!
The city’s main square – the Grote Markt, home to the main Christmas market, is the centre of all the wintery fun. Here, you can browse the colorful stalls, take in the cheerful atmosphere and, most importantly, indulge in the many festive delicacies.
To ward off the winter chill and make browsing the market more enjoyable, get a steaming cup of rich Belgian hot chocolate topped with a generous dollop of whipped cream.
Other treats on offer here include Belgian waffles, savory croquettes that come with various fillings, and tartiflette, a pasta dish cooked in white wine and cream and topped with grated cheese, parsley and bacon. If you’re a vegetarian, try stoofpotje, which is a warming veggie stew served in a bread bun.
In terms of shopping, the market offers a selection of hand-made Christmas ornaments, unique wooden kitchen utensils, and food goodies such as cheeses and, of course, the fantastic Belgian chocolate.
After the Grote Markt, head to Minnewater to take a few spins on the artificial ice rink, and when the sun goes down, go on the light trail around Bruges to see all its iconic buildings adorned with a cascade of lights.
Don’t forget to also check out the Simon Stevinplain market, which is a little smaller, offering a more intimate experience.
Where to Stay
Stay at Hotel Bourgoensch Hof, located by the canal and within a short walk of Bruges’ main square.
Suggested by Mal of Raw Mal Roams
20. Salzburg, Austria
If you are looking for the best Christmas markets in Europe, look no further than Salzburg!
The Salzburg Christkindlmarkt at the Dom and Residenzplatz is one of the oldest Advent markets on the planet, with roots going back to the late 15th century.
It is held in the Old City, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, at Cathedral Square.
With its traditional huts (about 100 of them!) and festive ambience, the market draws both locals and visitors in the thousands every season.
Shop for traditional arts and crafts and Christmas ornaments and decorations. Enjoy mulled wine, of course, as well as hot punch.
There’s also daily entertainment to enjoy, from readings of Christmas stories for kids, visits by the Christ Child, choral concerts, holiday melodies chiming from surrounding towers, and more.
The Hellbrunner Adventzauber is another charming Salzburg Christmas market, set in Schloss Hellbrunn. Hundreds of evergreen trees are dressed up in bells and lights, and the windows of the palace feature an Advent calendar.
Kids can enjoy rides on a sledge drawn by real reindeer, and there are tasty treats for everyone to enjoy.
The Christmas Market on Mirabell Square has beautifully decorated stalls to browse. Sample culinary delicacies and mulled wine.
Where to Stay
Stay at the Boutiquehotel am Dom, with spacious rooms and located very close to the main Christmas Market. Be sure to order the Salzburger Nockerl while you stay here: it’s a dessert that will blow you away!
21. Berlin, Germany
There are so many great places to visit for Christmas markets in Europe, and Berlin is often overlooked.
But the city has more than 60 different Christmas markets, which makes it a wonderful destination if you’re looking for variety.
Some markets are traditional, some are a bit wacky, and there’s everything in between.
Berlin at Christmas is very festive, and you can easily visit several different markets on one trip.
The Gendarmenmarkt Christmas Market is a favorite with locals and tourists, and it’s easy to see why. The market is usually held on the square it’s named for, which is gorgeously framed by three historic buildings.
The stalls are all a little more elegant than the standard wooden huts, and you’ll find delicious Austrian and German food and plenty of mulled wine options. You can buy Christmas decorations, jewelry, chocolates, and other gifts here.
Note: Due to construction, this market is being held at nearby Bebelplatz through 2024, but the setting there is just as beautiful.
Not far from here, you can check out Museum Island, the Berlin Cathedral, Brandenburg Gate, and many other major attractions.
The Charlottenburg Palace Christmas Market is another one you should definitely visit in Berlin. It sits in front of the palace, and you really can’t beat a setting like that.
There are traditional German foods like sausages, green cabbage, and candied almonds, but you can also try other cuisines like Hungarian or Ukrainian.
The mulled wine comes in some of the cutest mugs in the city, so if you’re interested in keeping one, this is a good place to consider.
Don’t forget to go up the stairs to the top of the Hungarian hut for some wonderful views of the market from a higher vantage point.
Where to Stay
Berlin is a big city, so things are spread out. It’s best to stay somewhere central so you’ll have easy access to the sights as well as several Christmas markets.
Check out Hotel de Rome, which is on Bebelplatz. Some rooms overlook the square where the Gendarmenmarkt Christmas market is being held for the next two years.
Suggested by Ali of Berlin Travel Tips
22. Barcelona, Spain
Barcelona is probably not the first destination that comes to your mind when you think of typical European Christmas markets.
And you might be surprised to discover that Barcelona also has a really festive Christmas market, with even an ice skating rink.
So visiting Barcelona in wintertime is not a bad idea at all.
For many years, Barcelona has had two Christmas markets: the Fira de Santa Llúcia in Cathedral Square, which sells typical Catalan Christmas decorations, and the Christmas market at the Sagrada Família, the Fira de Nadal.
Both are festively decorated but can’t really compete with Central Europe’s Christmas markets.
However, for a few years now, there has been a third Christmas market in Barcelona.
The new market, the Fira de Nadal de Port Vell, is located at the harbor and convinces with festive decorations and colorful lights.
Anyone who visits this market will definitely feel the Christmas spirit. In addition to Spanish snacks, such as turrones and hot chestnuts, you will also find delicious mulled wine and many colorful lights in festive style.
Besides the giant Christmas tree made of bright lights, lively music, and tasty snacks, you can also expect an ice skating rink and a colorfully illuminated Ferris wheel with a fantastic view over the city’s harbor.
The cool breeze from the sea almost makes you forget that you had a cold beer on the beach in the sun just a couple of hours ago, so you can sink into the Christmas mood all the more. The perfect combination.
Where to Stay
Stay at the Hotel Santa Marta.
From here you can easily visit the Christmas market and many other sights in the city.
Suggested by Vicki of Vicki Viaja
23. Tallinn, Estonia
Awarded the Best Christmas Market in Europe in 2019, there’s a reason why Tallinn, Estonia needs to be added to your European Christmas bucket list!
The primary Christmas market in Tallinn is situated in the Town Hall Square and features wooden chalet stalls, lit-up Christmas trees that tower over Gothic buildings, magical decorations, and an exciting atmosphere! There is also a carousel, concert stage, and more!
At the Tallinn Christmas market, you could warm up to glögg, a traditional Nordic mulled wine that sometimes includes local berries.
In December, other Estonian Christmas specialties to enjoy in Tallinn are blood pudding, roasted potatoes, gingerbread cookies, crepes, and local beer.
If you want to purchase souvenirs for loved ones back home, you can also find handmade trinkets and ornaments, wool clothing, toys, candles, Christmas village houses, and more at these stands.
When visiting Tallinn in the winter, it’s best to dress warm when enjoying the Christmas market! The average temperature in December is -2°C, which is 28°F. December is the third coldest month, behind January and February.
Other fun things to do in Tallinn at Christmas are ice skating at the rink by St. Nicholas Church, doing a history walking tour, and enjoying a medieval dinner and show at Olde Hansa!
Where to Stay
The best hotel to stay at in Tallinn, Estonia is L’Ermitage Tallinn. It has a Christmas-decorated room that you could book! L’Ermitage also holds a 3-course Christmas dinner for you and your loved ones to enjoy during the holiday season.
Suggested by Taylor of Brown Eyed Flower Child
24. Valkenburg, The Netherlands
The Chirstmas market in Valkenburg is one of the most unique Christmas markets in Europe, as it’s held in the caves under this lovely Southern town.
Actually, during Christmas Valkenburg turns into a Christmas town with various Christmas markets held above and underground.
Through the centuries Valkenburg has developed itself as a centre of chalk and limestone mining. Today, the quarries have been turned into museums and tell the rich history of the place and in the winter various Christmas markets are held underground.
There are markets at the Municipal Cave, the Velvet Cave, and in Mergelrijk. The long quarry tunnels are lit up in Christmas magic and you can find lots of handicrafts, souvenirs, artisanal and local products at the markets.
And that’s not everything! Above the ground there’s the Santa’s Village where you can have a cup of glühwein and some Dutch specialties like oliebollen, waffles, and pancakes.
Two days per week there is a Christmas parade through the streets of Valkenburg with lavishly decorated floats and dancers in spectacular costumes.
Valkenburg itself is a popular tourist destination with the only hilltop castle in the Netherlands and a bunch of interesting museums.
Valkenburg is just a short distance from Maastricht and there’s a comfortable train connection between the two cities.
Where to Stay
If you decide to spend a couple of days in Valkenburg to immerse yourself in the Christmas magic, a lovely place to stay is the Bella Vista B&B.
This beautifully decorated villa looks just like a miniature castle and offers a comfortable stay paired with a perfect location to explore the town.
Suggested by Daniela of Exploring the Netherlands
25. Reims, France
The Christmas market in Reims is the perfect place to enjoy the holidays, with so much rich history dating all the way back to Roman times.
Not to mention, it’s the champagne capital of France. Who doesn’t enjoy a glass or two of bubbly over the festive period?
Plus, Reims was where the first French Christmas was celebrated all the way back in 496 AD when Clovis, King of the Franks, and his warriors were baptized.
Apparently, the Bishop purposely chose the day of the nativity for the baptism to give it greater religious meaning.
The market itself runs throughout December and is one of the biggest Christmas events in France.
With 150+ stalls in little wooden chalets set up in front of the 13th-century Gothic Cathedral, there is something for everyone, including an ice rink, fun fair, and Christmas Ferris wheel.
Probably the most spectacular event is Rêve de Couleurs, a sound and light show that brings the cathedral to life.
Lasting about 15 minutes every evening, the front of the cathedral is bathed in light with images projected onto it. It takes you through the journey of a coronation and is absolutely spectacular.
If you’re traveling with kids then Children’s Kingdom is a must-visit. With Christmas tree climbing, an enchanted palace, and a giant gingerbread man, it’s a lot of fun for everyone.
And don’t forget to try some Biscuits Roses de Reims, the little pink biscuits that originate from Reims and are often served with champagne.
Where to Stay
If you’re looking for somewhere to stay I’d recommend La Demeure des Sacres, a four-star boutique hotel just a stone’s throw from the cathedral where all the Christmas market action is happening.
Suggested by Kylie of Life in Rural France
26. York, England
York’s Christmas market, also known as St. Nicholas Fair, is one of the top Christmas markets in England.
The market typically runs for five weeks, with alpine chalets spread through Parliament Street and St. Sampson’s Square.
There are typically around 100 different stalls, with everything from tasty bratwurst and mulled wine to unique Yorkshire crafts and gifts.
The festive atmosphere spreads throughout the city – it’s the perfect time of year to visit York!
There are pretty lights throughout many major streets, and the gates of the iconic City Walls are lit up with a seasonal display.
The Christmas market has something for both foodies and shoppers.
While the offerings change every year, you’ll find a lot of Viking-themed souvenirs and treats – a nod to York’s extensive Viking history. The carousel in King’s Square is always popular with kids.
Be sure to see the big Christmas tree with all the decorations in St. Helen’s Square.
While not part of the official market itself, plan a visit to Käthe Wohlfahrt. It was the first year-round Christmas shop in England when it opened in 2016!
Where to Stay
Galtres Lodge is a top choice if you’re looking for a place to stay. It’s located in the heart of the city center, on Low Petergate in the shadow of York Minster, perfectly placed for exploring York’s attractions.
Galtres Lodge is also a few minutes’ walk away from the market, which means you won’t have to deal with noise.
Make sure to visit the on-site restaurant, Forest, for food and drinks, too!
Suggested by Maja of Away with Maja
27. Vilnius, Lithuania
Vilnius, Lithuania is one of the largest and best preserved old towns in Europe, and is extra beautiful during the Christmas season.
In addition to the Christmas market, which takes place in the heart of Old Town, the surrounding narrow cobbled streets are decorated with lights and Christmas trees, and there are many added holiday features around the city.
The Vilnius Christmas Market takes place in Cathedral Square, in front of the medieval Vilnius Cathedral.
There is a 100-foot tall Christmas tree, surrounded by old fashioned wooden stalls with vendors selling artisan crafts and souvenirs and a variety of Lithuanian and international holiday treats.
Visitors can browse the market as they hear Christmas music, and warm up to the chilly weather with mulled wine, or a hot chocolate.
There is an additional Christmas tree located in Town Hall Square on Pilies street, surrounded by glass snow globes where you can escape the cold and enjoy a hot drink.
In addition, there is the traditional Vilnius Christmas Train that winds its way through the historic Pilies street from Town Hall Square to Cathedral Square, where the two markets are located.
Riding the train allows you to see all the sights of Vilnius along the way, and is the perfect Vilnius Christmas activity to do with young kids.
Winter in Vilnius hovers around 0°C (32°F) and -5°(23°F), so be sure to bundle up when you’re outside enjoying the Christmas market.
It gets dark by 4:30 p.m. in Vilnius in December, so you have the whole evening to roam around outside, enjoying the lights of the festival.
Where to Stay
Stay at the Imperial Hotel & Restaurant, located in a 16th century building in the old town. It’s about a 15-minute walk to Cathedral Square, where the Christmas market is held.
Suggested by Kristin of Tiny Footsteps Travel
28. Madrid, Spain
The Christmas markets in Madrid are a magical must-visit in Europe.
These markets blend tradition and novelty, offering a unique holiday experience that stands out among the best on the continent. A visit is one of the best things to do at Christmas in Madrid.
Plaza Mayor hosts one of the most anticipated Christmas markets. Here, you can explore stalls filled with nativity figurines, Christmas tree decorations, and novelty items.
While wandering through, savor the quintessential Madrid experience with a delicious calamari sandwich at one of the plaza’s charming bars.
For something new, head to the Plaza de España. This revamped space features a Christmas market with a twist.
You’ll find crafts, gastronomy delights, a German-style biergarten, captivating theatrical performances, and a circus-themed ambiance.
The highlight is a grand natural Christmas tree adorned with gifts and an enchanting illuminated nativity scene.
This market usually runs from the last part of November to the first part of January, transforming Plaza de España into a winter wonderland.
While visiting, explore Madrid’s other festive attractions, including the stunning Christmas lights, traditional nativity scenes, and ice skating rinks throughout the city.
Where to Stay
For a comfortable stay, consider the boutique Hotel Atlántico near Gran Vía for mid-range options.
If you seek luxury, the Westin Palace Madrid offers a regal experience in the city center, enhancing your Christmas market adventure.
Suggested by Elle of Madrid Insider Tips
29. Hallstatt, Austria
Hallstatt, Austria is a fairytale village, year round, with its colorful gingerbread houses, built between pine trees on the slopes of the soaring Alps.
Come Christmastime, Hallstatt is even more magical, with lights, garland, and sometimes even icicles festooning the homes’ rafters.
There’s tons of things to do in Hallstatt as Christmastime, but the best thing to do is just to wander around its charming Old Town, gazing at the historic old buildings and the stunning turquoise water of Lake Hallstatt.
For maximum Christmas cheer, Hallstatt has its Christmas market every December 8th.
Here, you can wander around the stalls hawking hand-knit mittens, glittery ornaments, and wooden toys.
Admire the life size Nativity scene, hand-carved by a local carpentry school, or enjoy some of Hallstatt’s famed Christmas cookies.
If there’s a chill in the air, warm up with a mug of steaming gluhwein.
Hallstatt’s Christmas market is also famed for being especially kinder-friendly, with hands-on crafts and other activities for the kiddos to enjoy.
If you’re traveling with children, try to align your visit with the first weekend of Advent.
During this time every year, children from the neighboring town of Obertraun gather on the shores of Lake Hallstatt at night, illuminated by the glow of candles.
From the darkness, Saint Nicholas himself will sail out of the darkness in a wooden boat, land on shore, passing out small treats, like fruits and nuts, to the awaiting children.
After reciting a Christmas poem, he’ll swiftly jump back into his boat and sail into the night, only to return the next December.
Suggested by Jessica of Uprooted Traveler
FAQs on Christmas Markets in Europe
If you are looking to visit just one European country for its Christmas markets, make it Germany! Without a doubt, Germany has the best Christmas markets in Europe. In fact, Christmas markets originated in Germany, so here’s where you’ll find some of the oldest markets. And today, German cities and towns go all out with their fabulous festive markets each year!
Europe’s Christmas markets are well worth visiting for their festive ambience, decor, and lights. Traditional chalets feature handmade arts and crafts, wool clothing, and Christmas ornaments. You’ll also find local and regional foods to sample, sweet treats, and mulled wine or hot punch.
Each Christmas market in Europe has its own calendar, but most markets are open from mid November through Christmas. Some markets stay open until the first part of January.
One of the largest Christmas markets in Europe is Vienna. The Christkindlmarkt held in Rathausplatz, the square in front of the city hall, draws millions of visitors each year. Dresden’s Striezelmarkt is another well-known market that draws large numbers of visitors.
We hope you enjoyed this round-up of the most magical Christmas markets in Europe. Which one will you pick for your next visit?
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