10 Must-Visit Christmas Markets in Europe
Planning to spend the holiday season in Europe this year? Though it's very different from the warm summer months, winter in Europe has its own special magic, especially if you plan to visit the Christmas Markets in December.
We put together a list of the top 10 Christmas Markets in Europe that you should visit at least once in your life. Enjoy!
What are Christmas Markets?
These special markets are local fairs that take place in European cities throughout the winter holidays, generally starting in December, to celebrate the arrival of the Christmas season.
Local artisans decorate their stands with twinkly lights and sell holiday-related or themed goods that make ideal Christmas gifts. Typically these include local delicacies, traditional food and drink that are consumed during that time of year. For example, in northern Europe, you'll often see Glühwein, or mulled wine, on offer.
Beyond the goods for sale, the Christmas Markets are fun and engaging for the whole family, especially on the weekends. It's common for there to be kid-friendly activities, choir performances, folk dance shows, and more.
Europe's Top 10 Christmas Markets
1. Strasbourg, France
Strasbourg's Christmas market is the oldest in France (1570) and the largest in Europe, comprising over 300 wooden huts. Its capital, Alsace, is one of the more charming places to spend the holiday season, blending both French and German traditions. Approximately 2 million people visit each year!
Christkindelsmärik, as the market is known, has been selected time and again as "Europe's Best Christmas Market."
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2. Manchester, United Kingdom
Manchester's Christmas market is one of the largest and most picturesque of the United Kingdom, making it a must-see spot to visit. Open since 1999, its 300 stands are distributed throughout the city, drawing in 9 million visitors every year. Each area of the market has its own unique style and character, so make sure you visit them all!
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3. Berlin, Germany
Germany's capital is home to around 60 Weihnachtsmarkts, or Christmas markets, along its boulevards, parks, quaint sidestreets, and even museums. One of the most famous is located right across from the Charlottenburg Palace.
It's undoubtedly one of the most beautiful in Berlin, where shoppers can buy quality handcrafted goods. An important and welcome detail is that the huts have heating, essential to making sure you stay warm and cozy despite the low temperatures!
Finish off the experience with some mulled wine and take the mug home as a souvenir. Another party visitors won't want to miss is the Winterwelt am Potsdamer Platz, with tons of kid-friendly attractions, sleigh rides, ice skating, and more.
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4. Brussels, Belgium
Belgium's Christmas market, hosted in the capital city of Brussels, is known as Winter Wonders and receives over 2.5 million visitors every year.
The holiday magic is made even more special thanks to dazzling light shows at the Grand-Place, a massive Christmas tree, a life sized manger scene, an ice skating rink, plenty of cultural activities, and of course, dozens of places to try the local delicacies.
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5. Vienna, Austria
Leading up to Christmas, Austria's capital transforms itself into the must-visit destination for fanatics of the holiday season.
The best known is the Viennese Dream Christmas Market right in front of City Hall, which is a truly unforgettable experience for those eager to get into the holiday spirit.
The market at Rathausplatz is full of choirs from around the world singing iconic Christmas carols. Stands around the square serve mulled wine, spiced bread, and toasted almonds; children find endless entertainment at the Christmas crafts stations by making bread and pastry, and even candles.
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6. London, United Kingdom
The British capital is without a doubt one of the most ideal places to spend Christmas, with dozens of markets and concerts to delight the senses and get you in the holiday spirit. Most of the activities are centered around Hyde Park, which has an ice skating rink that will make you feel like you're starring in your own Christmas movie.
The entire city is buzzing with Christmas magic, with the streets lined in twinkle lights, tons of celebrations, and special activities hosted at iconic locations like Westminster Abby.
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7. Dresden, Germany
Though Germany is one of the coldest countries in Europe, it's an ideal place to explore its many Christmas Markets.
Dresden's market is one of the largest and most authentic in Germany. Its origins have been traced back to 1434, when it was a way for residents to buy meat to prepare their traditional Christmas dinners. Ever since, it's evolved into a grand event with over 200 stands that attract around 3 million visitors each year.
During the month of December, the city's theaters play host to a variety of Christmas plays, the museums host holiday-themed exhibits, and boats along the Elba river are decked out in twinkle lights.
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8. Budapest, Hungary
Every visitor to Budapest around Christmas falls deeply in love with the sights, sounds, and smells of the holiday season that swirl around the city center.
Budapest is home to several Christmas markets, but the most popular is the Adventi Ünnep, right in front of the St. Stephen's cathedral.
Dozens of wooden huts, in the style of mountain chalets, offer visitors an endless amount of decorative objects, traditional clothing, and of course, Hungarian delicacies. Don't miss the "lango" bread, the sausages, or chocolates that you can hang from your Christmas tree!
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9. Tallinn, Estonia
A gem hidden in plain sight, Estonia's capital city is home to one of the most charming Christmas Markets in Europe. Located right across from City Hall, the scene is right out of a picture-perfect holiday card. Blanketed in snow, it's decorated with loads of twinkle lights and illuminated snowmen.
The Christmas tree at the center of the square is the country's most famous. In addition to the typical handicrafts, clothing, and Christmas ornaments, you can also sample some of Estonia's traditional foods, like ginger bread, sausages, and mulled wine.
If that's not enough, Santa Claus makes a real-live appearance, complete with reindeer, and sets up shop right in the market so children of all ages can deliver their letters to him.
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10. Prague, Czech Republic
Prague's Old Town Square, which is home to the impressive medieval astrological clock, is home to what's undoubtedly one of Europe's best Christmas Markets.
Its stands offer charming marionettes and wooden toys, crystal Christmas ornaments, Advent crowns, and more. There are other markets dotted throughout the city, meaning visitors will never run out of holiday spirit while in Prague.
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