Christmas is approaching and we can’t wait to put up the Christmas tree. Let’s for a while forget about the stress to buy Christmas presents and the crowded shopping centers and focus on what Christmas should be all about. Having a joyful time with friends and family members.
There is no better place to do that than at these cozy and fairy-tale-like Christmas markets.
Call your friends, put on a pair of warm shoes and meet them at one of the markets below to collect stories about the past year.
Here is the list of the best Christmas markets in Europe.
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The best Europe Christmas Markets
Contributed by Liza from Tripsget.
Moscow is not a typical Christmas Market destination, however, the decorations and the Christmas Market I’ve seen in the capital of Russia were among the best ones I’ve seen in Europe.
Russia celebrates Orthodox Christmas that happens on the 7th of January, rather than on the 24th of December. Hence, Christmas Markets in Moscow start a bit later than everywhere in Europe and finish later as well.
Moscow gets decorated around the middle of December and all the celebrations finish after the 14th of January.
The decorations in Moscow are actually spread all around the city, so you have to walk a lot and you will probably need a day to see all of them.
The best part of the Christmas market in Moscow is Red Square.
There are a huge ice skating rink and lots of Christmas stalls selling souvenirs, food, and hot drinks. It does get cold in Russia (it can be anything from +3 up to -25 degrees celsius in Moscow in December), so you will consume a lot of hot drinks.
One of the best hot drinks to try is the Russian honey mead. It has a bit of alcohol, but not too much and it helps you get warm.
The main department store in Moscow, GUM, also gets decorated from the inside and the outside, so make sure to visit it as well.
Another beautiful area to visit is Lubyanka: there are more stalls on the Nikolskaya street and a huge light tunnel.
The is a second light tunnel around the Tverskoi Boulevard. Finally, you can head to the Bolshoi theatre and visit a small Christmas market outside on the square as well.
Contributed by Sarah and Justin from Travel Breathe Repeat.
The best Christmas Markets in Europe are in Cologne, Germany.
There are seven major Cologne Christmas Markets, so you absolutely will have your fill of fun and food during your time there.
Each market has a different theme so they look and feel quite distinctive.
Under the gorgeous Cologne Cathedral, you’ll find the most traditional market. Nearby, you can enjoy a bit more whimsy at the market in the Old Town, which is watched over by wooden elves.
This is our favorite market because it’s the biggest and has an ice skating rink.
The market by the harbor is appropriately nautical themed with ship-shaped huts.
Further in at Neumarkt, is the Angel’s Market where angels roam sprinkling glitter on happy children.
A few blocks away is a smaller, more relaxed market at Rudolfplatz. It feels very neighborhoody and more of a local spot.
Also nearby you can find the small yet fun Heavenue market, billed as the gay Christmas Market that’s welcoming to all. It features pop-art styled tents and live music.
And up at Stadtgarten is the market for shopping as they have more unique crafts on offer.
All of the markets have delicious food including traditional Christmas Market fare and some more interesting dishes. And of course, they all have the all-important Glühwein, which will keep you warm as you roam the aisles.
You can walk or take public transportation between most of the markets. There’s also the Christmas Market Express trolleybus that takes visitors to see the four biggest markets. It’s especially great for people with mobility issues and kids.
You can definitely see them all the markets in an, albeit busy, day. But there’s a lot of other great things to see and do in Cologne, you should definitely make a weekend trip out of it.
In 2019, the Christmas Markets in Cologne are open from November 25-December 23.
Christmas Market at Southbank Center, London (UK)
Contributed by Sarah and Justin from Live, Dream, Discover.
Southbank Center hosts a winter festival from early November to early January which includes fun-filled shows and entertainment.
There’s even a turn of the century circus called Circus 1903.
Some of the events are ticketed but many are free such as the admission to our favorite part of the festival…the fabulous Christmas Market.
The market is set up on the riverbank in front of the center and emulates the look of a German Christmas market with wooden chalets draped in greenery and lights.
The chalets are filled with vendors selling traditional seasonal treats and trinkets such as hot spiced cider, Christmas ornaments, and cozy knitted scarfs.
There will also be fun pop-ups around the Southbank Center Christmas Market like the Bar Under the Bridge, The Circus Bar, and Jimmy’s Lodge.
Our favorite pop-up spot is Bar Under the Bridge which has an alpine-style lodge theme with fleece rugs, board games, and heated booths.
But perhaps the best part about this Christmas market is the location.
Imagine strolling along the River Thames among twinkling lights, sipping mulled wine, eating mince pies and listening to Christmas carols while browsing the festive wares. Is there anything more Christmasey than eating, drinking and being merry in jolly old England?
Thanks to the awesome London underground with nearby stops like Waterloo, Embankment, and Charing Cross it’s easy to get to Southbank. There are also bus stops nearby as well as a boat that stops at nearby Festival Pier.
Prague Castle, Prague (Czech Republic)
Contributed by Veronika from Travel Geekery.
Prague Castle complex is large and it encompasses a small square that’s empty for most of the year.
However, towards the end of November, it comes to life with a Christmas market.
You’ll find the usual goodies: mulled wine and hot mead to drink, sausages and chimney cakes to stuff your belly with.
The prices may be a little higher than at Prague’s other Christmas markets, but it’s nothing dramatic.
If you get lucky, you might experience a performance of the castle choir. When I visited the market last winter, we got to listen to some and it was beautiful. Essentially it’s a choir of Prague Castle guards.
All the magic helps overcome the fact that you need to go through security frames to get inside the castle complex and you never know how long the line is going to be.
You can spend easily half an hour to over an hour, depending on how much you’re enjoying the local atmosphere and whether you take to walking around the castle complex too.
For the Christmas of 2019, the Prague Castle Market starts on November 23rd and lasts until January the 6th 2020.
It’s open every day from 9 am to 6 pm, with Friday till Sunday’s opening time extended until 7 pm.
There are 2 exceptions to the rule – December 24th, the most festive day for Czechs, sees the market open from 9 am to 3 pm, and January 1st from 11 am to 6 pm.
Werdmuhleplatz Christmas market, Zurich (Switzerland)
Contributed by Shelley from Lifejourney4two.
Just a few minutes’ walk south of Zurich’s main train station, just off Bahnhofstrasse, you’ll find the Werdmuhleplatze Christmas market.
This is our favorite of all the Zurich Christmas markets.
It not only has the classic Swiss chalet style stalls packed full of Christmas goodies, but it also has the famous, ‘Singing Christmas Tree’.
Each day, various choirs, fill the tiered podium within the Christmas tree to become the tree’s decorations and serenade the audience with carols and Christmas cheer. The choirs change around and depending on the program and time of day, you could be listening to soul and gospel choirs or school and youth choirs.
Listening to the ‘Singing Christmas Tree’ gives a whole new special experience to visiting this gorgeous Christmas market.
Here you can enjoy the Christmas tunes as you sip on gluhwein or hot chocolate and there is even a wooden chalet devoted totally to traditional swiss cheese fondue. There are plenty of culinary delights to choose from and a nostalgic carousel tops off the Christmas feel.
You can spend quite a while here soaking up the Christmas atmosphere.
The choirs normally perform for about 30 minutes and make sure to leave extra time after that to peruse the stalls and partake in some delicious local delicacies.
This is a wonderful Christmas market in Switzerland, where you can take time to relax, be entertained and start your Christmas celebrations.
The Werdmuhleplatze Christmas Market is open from 21st November to 23rd December 2019.
The Choir performances are Monday to Friday 5.30pm / 6.30pm
Saturday and Sunday 2.30pm / 3.30pm / 5.30pm / 6.30pm
Contributed by Arzo from Arzo travels.
Bremen´s Christmas Markets are the most beautiful ones in Germany (and probably in the world).
Okay, this is coming from a local but seriously, the markets are well-known all over the world because they are gorgeous.
There are two main Christmas markets to visit in Bremen – Schlachte Zauber and the main one at the market square.
Both are located in the city center and are easily reachable – it takes a 10-minute walk from the main train station and is a 10-minute tram ride from the airport. You can easily walk from the market square to the Schlachte Zauber.
So, it is perfect to spend your whole afternoon/evening here.
The Market Square Christmas Market houses 176 stalls – food, snacks, drinks, and shops! There are even carousels for kids (and also for us adults). Of course, mulled wine (Glühwein) is also big and you’ll find many stalls selling some. But whether you are into sweets, hearty or healthy food – you’ll find all kinds of food and snacks here.
So, come with an empty stomach – because there are also even more food stalls at the Schlachte Zauber.
There you’ll find about 100 “snow-capped” wooden huts, selling drinks, all kinds of food, and merchandise. If you are looking for some last-minute Christmas presents then you might find something here.
In addition to all the lights, stalls and carousels there are also events -, especially for the kids. Visit Santa – yes, Santa is in Bremen for the 4 weeks before Christmas – or watch some short shows to have the best experience.
In 2019 the dates are 25. November to 23. December.
Contributed by Hannah & Adam from Getting Stamped.
If you are looking for one of the biggest and best Christmas markets in Europe, make your way to Budapest for the Vörösmarty Square Christmas Market.
This market is the biggest and longest market in Budapest that takes place right in the heart of the city, which provides beautiful scenery.
This is one of our favorites because it starts earlier than most.
This year, the market opened November 8th and runs through December 29th, 2019.
The food stalls will remain open until New Year’s Day. We love going around the food stalls and craft vendors, as the local artists sell a diverse selection of craftwork and pieces. Just imagine enjoying your food and spirits in the town square while listening to local live music – it is simply the best!
It is up to you how long you spend at this market – squeeze everything into one day or visit it over a few days!
Make sure you leave enough time to stop and get a piece of cake at the Szamos pastry shop. The coffee-caramel flavored torte is to die for.
If you are looking for somewhere to stay, consider the Kempinski hotel. It is the perfect location for exploring this particular market, as you can see it from your room. You can find cheap flights to Budapest here.
And if you have some extra time in Budapest, we suggest checking out a neighboring market in front of St. Stephen’s Basilica that is less than 700 meters away from Vörösmarty Square. It’s a newer market, opening just in 2011, but a must-stop. The basilica backdrop makes it the most picturesque Christmas market in Budapest!
Cambridge Christmarket (UK)
Contributed by Rai from A Rai of Light.
Just when the winter chill sets in over the Cam River, the Christmas markets in and around Cambridge bring a much welcomed festive atmosphere to the city.
Even more so than at any other time in the year. The city’s squares and streets are lit up and there’s no better way to get into the cheerful spirit than a visit to the market. Here you will find over sixty lively, closely packed stalls that are a delight to wander through in your search for something good to purchase.
Even though a couple of the vendors sell the traditional gifts and souvenirs from London, there are many offering local arts and crafts, handmade jewelry, books, and vinyl records.
You might just get all your shopping done in one place. I particularly enjoy the wide variety of good food and drink stalls, sampling cuisine from around the world.
The market is open every day from the second week in December until the first week in January.
The location adjacent to the St. Mary’s Church makes for a convenient stop as you are never too far from it no matter where in the city you find yourself.
The North Pole Cambridge festival which takes place at the same time also features a pop-up ice rink, fairground rides, and an alpine bar. Expect to spend more than two hours here and prepare to get into some serious festive cheer all while sipping on hot chocolate or hot spiced wine well into the night.
Wrocław Christmas market (Poland)
Contributed by Karolina from Lazy travel blog.
One of the best Christmas markets in Europe, Wroclaw’s famous winter wonderland will come to life from the 22nd of November until the 31st of December.
Possibly the largest market in Poland, this festive event takes over the Rynek Market Square, Plac Solny, and the nearby streets, Olawska and Swidnicka.
During this time, market stalls brimming with artisan products that consist of beautiful handmade wooden crafts and delicious Polish delicacies fill the area. Everywhere you walk, you are followed by the scent of cinnamon and pine.
An attraction that is perfect for all ages, the market features an enchanting fairy forest, locally known as Bajkowy Lasek, where animatronic characters tell stories to the children passing through.
Within the market, the Fireplace House is the perfect place to warm oneself from cold Polish winters night.
Coupled with a hot cup of mulled wine from one of the distilleries available in the market, it is the perfect spot to take a quick pause and admire the wonderland that sprouts in the middle of Wroclaw once a year.
Aside from the quaint wooden stalls and amusement rides, a line up of parades and performances can be seen at the beginning of December.
The best ones to catch are the traditional Christmas parade on December 9th and the parade of Wroclaw elves on December 16th.On December 23rd, the shows close with the voices of the Christmas Carols Singers Parade.
An amazing way to mix with the locals and learn more about Polish culture, join the residents of Wroclaw as they watch the Christmas tree light up on December 6 or join them as they feed the needy and lonely on the 24th of December.
Konstanz Christmas Market (Germany)
Contributed by Wendy from The Nomadic Vegan.
I visited a lot of Christmas markets during the six years that I lived in Switzerland, but the one I remember the most fondly is actually not in Switzerland itself but just across the border in the lakeside German city of Konstanz.
Many people come not only from all over Germany but also from neighboring Switzerland and Austria to visit this unique market.
The official name of the market is Weihnachsmarkt am See, which in German means “Christmas market on the lake”. And the most distinctive feature of the market is that it does take place not just along the shores of Lake Constance but even on the lake itself!
The highlight has to be the “Christmas Ship” anchored in the harbor. On board, you’ll find plenty of stalls selling local arts and crafts, as well as an ice bar with a 360-degree panoramic view of the lake and its surroundings.
In 2019, the Weihnachsmarkt am See will run from 28 November to 22 December.
It’s open seven days a week during that period, but if you want to avoid the worst of the crowds you’re best of coming mid-week if possible.
And if you’re arriving from Switzerland by train, check the SBB railway company’s website for special deals. They also offer promotions on fares to Christmas market towns during the season, and when I visited I got 50 percent off the train fare as well as a whole bottle of glühwein for free!
There are about 170 stalls at the market, so you could easily spend half a day here soaking up the atmosphere and sipping on a mug of glühwein or another warm beverage.
Winter Wonderland, London (UK)
Contributed by Eniko from Travel Hacker Girl.
London has many Christmas markets, but one of the best and most popular ones is Winter Wonderland. The market is so huge, that it takes up a big chunk of Hyde Park.
The market is open 21 November 2019 – 5 January 2020.
Even though it is technically a Christmas market, it very much resembles a theme park.
There are several rides, such as roller coasters, haunted houses, mirror mazes, bouncy castles, and bumper cars. But that is not all! You can try ice skating around a Victorian bandstand.
In the evenings there are several shows you can book tickets for in advance. If you want a laugh then visit the comedy show or the circus.
There are many events for families with children as well, such as Paddington on Ice or Santa Land.
Of course, you won’t go hungry during your visit. There is a wide variety of food stalls, that cater to anyone.
You can eat vegetarian food, French crepes, Spanish churros, Hungarian chimney cake or German sausages.
You can also do your Christmas shopping and buy some lovely hand-crafted products. You can easily spend a whole day at Winter Wonderland.
Visiting the market is free, however, the rides, food, and shows cost extra and they are not cheap.
The market tends to get busy at the weekends and evenings, so try and visit outside these times if it is possible.
Christmas in London is magical and one of the best places to experience this is Winter Wonderland.
Strasbourg Christmas Market (France)
Contributed by Brianna from Curious Travel Bug.
The Strasbourg Christmas Market in France is one of the oldest in Europe, operating since 1570. Christmas takes over the whole Grande Île (old town), a UNESCO site, making Strasbourg one of the best Christmas markets in Europe.
Strasbourg is a great winter destination in France to explore the Alsatian Christmas culture and traditional foods.
The highlight of the market is the huge Christmas tree in the main square, Place Kleber, and wandering the more than 300 stalls with a cup of mulled white wine.
The entire old town is decorated with Christmas decorations and lights, which make for a magical sight in the evening.
The Strasbourg Christmas market is actually made up of multiple markets. Each of the squares in Strasbourg has a Christmas market with a different theme.
There are traditional market stalls where you can find decorations and mulled wine and hot apple cider and traditional Alsatian cookies and gingerbread.
There are also non-traditional markets like the alternative market. The alternative market puts an emphasis on locally made products as well as vintage clothing and antiques in an effort to have an environmentally friendly Christmas.
My favorite market is the guest country market.
Each year, Strasbourg invites a different guest country to take over one of the squares and have a market that showcases Christmas traditions, food, and products from that country. For 2019, the guest country is Lebanon.
It’s easy to spend a day exploring all of the Christmas markets Strasbourg has to offer.
It’s worth staying overnight in the city rather than doing it as a day trip from Paris to see all of the Christmas lights at night.
In addition to the market, the Strasbourg Cathedral displays multiple nativity scenes inside the church that are worth seeing.
Belfast Christmas Market (Ireland)
Contributed by Allan from It’s sometimes Sunny in Bangor.
There was a time when Belfast was one of the last places to be for a tourist holiday, where tourism was set around war, with the “Troubles in Northern Ireland”, alcoholics such as the great George Best, and of course the titanic, a big sinking ship.
So there really wasn’t a lot of positives coming from the city before the millennium.
But these days it really is a well-developed tourist destination yet it still manages to hold the same character and local charm to escape the busy tourist crowds.
And it’s also just a nice compact destination with more than enough things to do in Belfast for a short winter break.
Wintertime is always my favorite time in Belfast when the city center is dressed in festive lights and Christmas baubles but more so for the annual Christmas Market located at Belfast City Hall.
A rather prestigious backdrop for what is Belfast’s interpretation of those better-known Christkindlmarkt of continental Europe.
So similar to the city, it does feel more local and less ‘touristy’ than many, although the set-up is not so different with the similar stalls including the German and Swiss favorites like frankfurters, schnitzels, cheese raclette, and of course Glühwein (mulled wine).
And while it is a relatively small market it also compact and quite precise to cover all sorts of interests including a Christmassy Helter Skelter for the kids and charity stalls for various good causes.
But some of the better-known attractions each year include the “Meats of the World” stall which sells some unlikely burgers such as ostrich and kangaroo burgers, and of course, there is a heavy focus on the central beer tents where most people escape to warm up with some big stein mugs of Paulaner.
And the traditional Belfast craic (banter) is best found in the later hours with opening times from 17:00 PM until late.
The Belfast Christmas Market 2019 begins on Saturday, 16 November and ends on Sunday, 22 December.
Durbuy Christmas Market (Belgium)
Contributed by Paulina from Paulina on the Road.
Durbuy is also known as being the smallest city in the world. Indeed there are only a few hundred people living in one of the quaintest cities in Belgium.
Even though the town is small in size, its Christmas Market is BIG. Indeed, plenty of wooden cabins are put up in the main square of the city.
Here you can find all kinds of sweets and some of the most typical Belgian foods such as French fries, sausages from Ardennes and chocolate.
Several artisans from Belgium and France make their way to Durbuy in order to sell their handicrafts at the Christmas Market. If you are looking for some original Christmas gifts, this is the place.
However, the most typical and unique thing to eat at the Durbuy Christmas Market is the foie gras on hot potatoes. It’s truly unusual.
During the weekends, the Christmas Market gets crowded and some of the wooden chalets even host dancing parties. That makes Durbuy Christmas Market one of the best Christmas Markets in Belgium.
The Christmas Market of Durbuy starts on Friday 22 to Sunday 24 November 2019. It opens again from Friday 29 November 2019 to Sunday 05 January 2020. It’s only 1u30 minutes drive from Brussels, one of the prettiest cities in Europe.
Christmas Markets at Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen (Denmark)
Contributed by Derek from Everything Copenhagen.
Christmas in Europe is magical, and Scandinavia is an especially brilliant region to experience a European Christmas.
Denmark and the capital of Copenhagen provide the best backdrop for a Scandinavian Christmas. Within Copenhagen, the best Christmas Market is found at Tivoli Gardens.
The Christmas Markets at Tivoli Gardens opens on 16 November and runs until 5 January. The amusement park and Christmas Market is open from 11 am until 23 pm Sunday through Thursday and an extra hour on Friday and Saturday nights. Tivoli is open on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Years Day but with altered hours.
You could easily spend all day at the Tivoli Gardens Christmas Market. That’s because there is so much to do inside of Tivoli.
You do have to pay an entrance fee, but it’s worth it for all of the events, entertainment, and activities within Tivoli Gardens. Visitors can enjoy the food and drink vendors, gift shops and decorations that are common at Christmas Markets.
Tivoli is an urban amusement park and the rides are operational during the Christmas season – they even get a festive makeover.
In the center of Tivoli Gardens is an iconic Christmas tree decorated with crystal Swarovsky ornaments and over a thousand lights.
There are nightly holiday laser light shows at the lake to the music of The Nutcracker. Santa Claus has a home in Tivoli’s Pantomime Theatre, there are Christmas parades each weekend and fireworks between Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
Tivoli is a fantastic place to visit at any time of the year. It was the inspiration for Disneyland and full of old-world charm that shines through at Christmas.
Visit it yourself and you will agree!
La Fira de Santa Llucia, Barcelona (Spain)
Contributed by Mar from Once in a Lifetime Journey.
La Fira de Santa Llucia is the Christmas market located in Barcelona taking place on Avinguda de la Catedral, right in front of Barcelona’s Cathedral in honor of Saint Lucy, a Catholic saint, and martyr.
The market has been operating every year since at least 1786 and it was set up as part of celebrations honoring the saint who has a chapel inside the Cathedral. It will celebrate its 233rd anniversary in 2019.
The specific start date of the market changes every year but it is always around the end of November, and the market remains open until the 23rd of December. In 2019, it will open on the 29th of November.
Unlike other markets in Europe, you cannot find food or drinks here.
The market sells traditional Christmas decorations and items only, some of which are the typical figurines and objects that are exclusively used as part of the Catalan Christmas traditions and you will not find anywhere else in the world outside of Catalonia.
The market is split into a few sections by the types of objects that are being sold. There is an area devoted to figurines that we use to make Nativities, one to green objects such as trees or door decorations, one for crafts like candles and a smaller one for instruments such as simbombes.
Spend some time looking at the caganer figurines and at the pooping log.
A caganer is a pagan tradition that includes the figurine of a Catalan farmer pooping with his pants down. We add caganers to the Nativity scene and every year, new figurines of famous characters and celebrities are added to the repertoire of caganers.
The pooping log is a tree log to which we give a face that is wearing a traditional Catalan red hat. We feed him for weeks leading up to Christmas Eve so that kids can hit it with a stick while singing a song and get presents the log “poops” in return. Yes, it is a very unique Catalan Christmas celebration.
Because Santa Llucia is not very big, you will not need more than an hour to go through all the aisles.
When you get tired, cold, or hungry, head out to any of the cafeterias around the Cathedral and continue to observe the buzz.
Tuileries Garden Christmas Market, Paris (France)
Contributed by Elisa from World in Paris.
Paris at Christmas time is a wonderful place to be. It’s one of the best places to visit in Europe in winter.
Apart from the Christmas decorations and lights, there are many Christmas markets, almost all the central Arrondissements of Paris have one!
Among all the Christmas Markets in Paris, the one located at the Tuileries Garden is my favorite one. For me, it is great to visit this Christmas market while enjoying one of the most beautiful gardens in Paris, with such an interesting history behind and there are so many things to do, apart from shopping, that I could spend all day, weather permitting.
For those who have not been to Paris in the last few years, this Christmas Market replaces the one traditionally located along the Champs Elysées. The Tuileries Garden is more central than Champs Elysées (Paris 1), more zen than Paris’ main avenue plus the park is big enough to host around 100% wooden stalls.
The main highlights of this market, apart from the Tuileries Garden itself, is the quality of the offer with more than 80% of the stalls proposing products, food, and drinks all made in France. Apart from the park’s usual games, the Christmas market hosts a Ferris wheel, an ice skating rink, and free activities for children so kids will be spoilt for choice if they get bored of shopping.
Personally, I like the stalls selling vin-chaud (the local version of the Glühwein) so when I visit the Tuileries Christmas market I make sure to stop at one of these stalls.
The Tuileries Christmas Market is open from 14th November 2019 to 5th January 2020. To reach this market take the metro, line 1 and stop at Tuileries station.
Let’s hope we haven’t made it too hard for you to choose.
We had a wonderful time creating this list. We visit at least two Christmas markets every year so this list has given us inspiration for many years to come. We can’t wait to hear the choirs perform in Zurich and the Christmas boat in Konstanz must be a unique experience as well.
Enjoy this festive season and remember, it’s the most wonderful time of the year!
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