If Christmas markets don’t get you in the festive spirit nothing will. The most spectacular Christmas markets are held in their birthplace, Europe. These markets are filled with small wooden booths, warm festive drinks, sweets and gifts. Here are the 10 most beautiful Christmas markets of Europe:
1. Hyde Park Winter Wonderland Christmas Market – London, UK
Obviously, everything’s bigger in London, and the Winter Wonderland Christmas Market is not only a Christmas market in the traditional sense. 200 “wooden chalets” offer the old-fashioned goods alongside an ice skating rink, a “magical ice kingdom”, a circus, a 60-metre-high ferry wheel and tons of rides for both young kids and older kids. All that in Hyde Park!
Note: Are you in London for Christmas? Check out TravelHackerGirl’s guide to Christmas in London!
2. Christkindlimarkt – Zürich, Switzerland
This is a very special Christmas market because it’s indoors – in the main train station of the Swiss city, to be exact. 150 wooden booths are packed inside the Hauptbanhof for 5 days. Vendors offer the traditional Christmas market handicrafts plus some local flavours including Emmental cheese. The showstopper though is the 15 meter-tall Christmas tree that’s decorated with 6000 crystal adornments, sparkling light everywhere inside the station.
3. Christmas Market – Kraków, Poland
The Christmas market in Krakow is located in the main square of the city. In this strongly catholic country, the market usually lasts for more than a month, from the last week of November to January 6th, the Epiphany holiday. This market is also special for its foods: the world-famous golonka, the national dish of Poland, is cooked outdoors and braised for hours on gas stoves and the smells of pork knuckles, cabbage and potatoes are ubiquitous at any time of the day or night.
4. Dublin 12 Days of Christmas: Docklands – Dublin, Ireland
The Irish Christmas carols are famous in the Anglophone world and nowhere but in Dublin can you experience the songs fully. In 2013, more than 11 000 carolers gathered in Croke Park in an attempt to break a world record. They fell short, but the event still shows that the spirit of Christmas is strong in Dublin. The Christmas market is also grounds for art exhibitions and great shopping!
5. Marché de Noël – Lyon, France
Here’s the best way to describe Lyon’s Christmas market: 140 wooden booths selling the best food on Earth. Blueberry mulled wine, truffle-laden chicken, crêpes, sausages of all kinds, spätzle, homemade jam, bison burgers, waffles, foie gras, escargots, tartiflettes!
6. Christkindlmarkt – Munich, Germany
One of the oldest Christmas markets on the planet, said to have originated in 1310, the Munich market is part of the Christmas experience in the city. There actually are a couple of markets, one on Marienplatz, and one at the main market of the city. And while there are many other options, there’s nothing like having a good cold hefeweizen and munch on a couple of sausages while snow lightly falls on the German city at dark.
7. Bruges Christmas Market – Bruges, Belgium
Market Square is the hub of the Christmas market in Bruges, which is transformed into an ice-skating rink for the duration of the celebrations. Handmade crafts are on display and the local food vendors are always ready to cook up their specialities. Bruges in winter is one of the most beautiful cities on Earth, the architecture is spectacular, the houses are all decorated and brightly lit and this underrated city welcomes winter like no other.
Note: Did you know that off-season travel in Europe has plenty of advantages? Check out Off Season is the Best Time to Travel in Europe by MigratingMiss!
8. Christmas Village Belvedere Palace – Vienna, Austria
It’s the first and oldest Christmas market of its kind, and it’s a must for anyone who visits Vienna during that time. The whole city comes to life with different markets and decorations from Advent until Christmas day. The cultural and Christmas market in front of Schönbrunn Palace is probably the most romantic Christmas market of all.
But there is more than one Christmas market in Vienna. Here’s a tip: head to the Universität Wien’s campus. There’s a market on the grounds of the university and cheap, delicious mulled wine is served by the mug! You can even buy the mug and keep it as a souvenir.
Note: Austria is wonderful around Christmas time! If you’re in the neighborhood, maybe you’d like to check out The Best Places To Ski In Austria?
9. Rottach-Egern Christmas Castle market – Tegernsee, Germany
This tiny Bavarian town on the Tegern lake is home of one of the most spectacular Christmas markets. At one end of the lake, many bright Christmas lights are lit, creating a wonderful reflection on the calm lake for the people in Rottach-Egern, on the opposite side. Mulled wine and gingerbread cookies are available for all and Alpenhorn music is played throughout. Make sure to check the dates since the market is only open on weekends.
10. Christkindlmarkt – Innsbruck, Austria
Innsbruck is a city in the shadows of the Tyrol, and you can catch a glimpse of the mountains from anywhere around town. When the sun sets and the city is lit up, and snow is calmly falling on the visitor’s heads while they chat away, outside, drinking mulled wine and eating käsekrainer, the city and its wonderful architecture become enchanted. There’s nothing like the small and cozy Christmas market of Innsbruck.
11. Striezelmarkt – Dresden, Germany
Dresden is the capital city of Saxony, located near the Czech border. Dresden is home to one of the oldest and largest Christmas market in Germany. This Christmas market is most famous for its 8000 pound fruitcake. After the “fruitcake maiden” cuts the cake, it is passed around for everyone to enjoy.