Europe’s Top Christmas Markets
They are a staple of the Christmas, appealing even to the toughest guy. Because nothing evokes the spirit of the winter holidays better than the Christmas markets. Decorations, lights, and that inviting scent of mulled wine blended with that of the finest chocolate can melt even the coldest heart. From famous markets renowned throughout the world to less known ones that managed to impress with their flawless interpretations of the season, here are some of the best Christmas markets in Europe to roam this year.
1. Dresden, Germany
The first Christmas market in the world has been held in Dresden in 1434 and the winter holiday fair maintained its charm up to these days. Its almost 600 years of history show off with a fascinating event that gathers people of all ages and backgrounds.
Here, the artisans of the region flock to the over 200 huts, offering the most diverse products, from nutcrackers to wooden ornaments, traditional candles, and countless goodies.
This is perhaps the best place where to find original Christmas gifts for men but also have fun. Return to your lad days in the funfair area, enjoy a puppet theater or watch the little ones enjoy the rides.
When hunger strikes, just go to one of the many food stalls and try the traditional Stollen cake, a glass of delicious mulled wine or the local version of gingerbread stuffed with jam and chocolate that will certainly make you feel like Hansel in the famous Gingerbread house.
2. Salzburg, Austria
The Salzburg Christmas market is the apotheosis of romanticism. Set against a backdrop of a medieval castle settled on top of a hill, this is definitely the best Christmas market in Europe if you want to feel like a knight in a shiny armor in front of the lady in your life.
Salzburg’s winter market provides a more easy-going experience due to its less overwhelming size. Its 95 stalls are divided into six sections where you can buy everything from flowers to fabrics, wooden toys, handcrafted items, and shiny ornaments.
Follow the scents to find the food stalls and taste the delicious toasted almonds. Here, the mulled wine pairs perfectly with roasted chestnuts, baked apples, and gingerbread hearts.
3. Strasbourg, France
One of the greatest classics among the Christmas markets. The Christkindelsmärik of Strasbourg is one of the oldest in the world, dating back to 1570. Today’s fair has preserved much of the original allure, impressing visitors with over 300 wooden chalets distributed among eleven themed villages.
Held in Strasbourg’s Place de la Cathédral, the Christmas market attracts with local specialties and seasonal delicacies, including delicious selections of savory and sweet dishes that can easily satisfy the foodie in you.
4. Brussels, Belgium
Winter in Brussels promises loads of fun. Just think of exquisite chocolate, fine wine, and the traditional Belgian fries. Among all these goodies, there is the charming Christmas market, a place that will keep you busy for hours.
Held in the heart of the city, this mesmerizing fair includes over 200 chalets that sell everything from Christmas ornaments to handmade candles, toys, leather goods, and gifts for men and women.
The fairground attractions can keep you entertained with a merry-go-round, Ferris wheels, and giant slides. If you’re the sporty type, the covered skating ring will certainly wink an eye at you.
At dinner time, just head to one of the many stalls selling local delicacies to try artisan sausages, cheeses, a variety of bakery products, chocolate waffles, and the traditional version of mulled wine.
5. Stockholm, Sweden
Located in the heart of Stockholm’s Old Town, the traditional Christmas market is a hard-to-beat destination. It dates back to 1837 and is the oldest in Sweden. Smaller than many other markets in Europe, it invites those who enjoy a slow pace.
What strikes about this market is its absolute harmony. It seems constructed by Santa itself, featuring 40 red chalets that blend perfectly with the surrounding architecture.
Warm up with a glass or two of glögg, the local spicy mulled wine, and let local delicacies accompany your stroll.
Spice up your visit with carol concerts and fun activities. Build up your gingerbread house in one of the many workshops, attend a knitting demonstration or simply sit back and relax in one of the many coffee shops surrounding the market.
6. Sibiu, Romania
Set between three splendid mountain ranges in the heart of the majestic Old Town, the Christmas market in Sibiu exudes a unique romanticism. Check out the over 70 charming huts that offer Christmas gifts ranging from pottery to fur goods, wooden toys, and a variety of crafted items. Then, visit the ice rink or funfair to get your Christmas spirit filled.
Perhaps Sibiu is not your go-to destination but it’s certainly a place that shouldn’t be missed during this time of the year.
Its strategic position in the heart of the Transylvanian mountains makes it a perfect winter destination. No, you will not find Dracula here, instead, you’ll have good chances of spending a white Christmas.
The sprinkles of snow accompany the Christmas carols, dreamy lights, and a rich cuisine to delight your taste buds.
As tradition dictates, mulled wine, gingerbread and roasted chestnuts are easy to find at every corner. Then, the traditional Romanian-Hungarian specialties that define the spirit of the region will make the “eyed” houses wink at you with delight.
7. Copenhagen, Denmark
In the apotheosis of the Danish concept of “hygge”, the traditional Christmas market in Copenhagen is held in the second-oldest amusement park in the world, the Tivoli Gardens. The attractions of the park couple with those of the market in a maze of stalls, rides, workshops, and other fun centers.
At Tivoli Gardens you’ll find endless rows of Christmas trees illuminated by thousands of lights. Get inebriated by the aromatic scents of toasted almonds, completed by the view over the frozen lake turned into a dazzling ice rink.
An authentic Christmas experience in Copenhagen means strolling through the stalls with a cup of mulled wine in one hand and tasty æbleskiver pancakes in another.
Shop craft items and handmade art, then enjoy a traditional roast pork sandwich with red cabbage before taking a ride on the Star Flyer, the impressive 80-meter tall carousel from where you can enjoy a Copenhagen you’ve never seen before.
8. Moscow, Russia
Set against the backdrop of the majestic St. Basil’s Cathedral and surrounded by the imposing Kremlin walls, the Christmas market in Moscow boasts a truly unique character.
This is one of the smallest, nonetheless one of the best Christmas markets in Europe. There are more or less 20 chalets where you can buy splendid season decorations but also souvenirs, such as traditional Matryoshka toys.
Attractions include one of the biggest skating rinks in Moscow, funfairs, workshops, and lots of food stalls that offer local delicacies.
What’s even better? Russians celebrate Christmas on January, 7thwhich means you’ll have an excuse to visit yet another Christmas market after the Christmas has actually passed and prolong the winter holiday season until February.
9. Prague, Czech Republic
When it comes to the best Christmas markets in Europe, Prague is certainly one of the biggest players. Here you’ll not find a Christmas market, you’ll find plenty of them, scattered throughout the city.
The spirit of the Christmas is well represented in every corner of this splendid capital, but the most attractive fair is perhaps the one in the heart of the Old Town.
The image is alluring. Dozens of wooden huts surround the huge Christmas tree and sell an ample selection of souvenirs including glass ornaments, wooden toys, crystals, but also jewelry and handmade candles.
When the stroll got you hungry, head to the food stalls and delight your plate with some traditional Czech cuisine, such as grilled black pudding and local winter specialties. Quench your thirst with a sip of medovina, the delicious local honey wine, before checking out the funfair area.
10. Manchester, England
Christmas markets are a product of continental Europe, but the British knew exactly how to show the entire world that they can also master the winter holiday fun. The Christmas fair in Manchesteroffers unique experiences not to be missed.
In an attempt to enclose entire Europe within a restricted space, the Christmas market here encompasses 300 chalets divided into regional sectors. You’ll be able to visit France, Germany, and many other countries without ever leaving the UK.
Exciting activities guarantee you’ll never get bored. There are an attractive skating rink and a funfair area appealing to youngsters and adults alike.
The selection of food is also impressive. International specialties stand along with the traditional British choices. And don’t forget, a delicious cheese sandwich grilled in true Manchester style is a must to flavor up your Christmas alongside a cup of celebratory mulled wine.