The most wonderful time of the year is soon here and that means we should start planning our winter fairytale. Almost every town has something to offer, but here’s our list of top 10 Christmas markets in Europe.
Catch the Christmas spirit in small towns or big cities and soak up the magic!
1. Vienna (Austria)
Certainly one of the most popular and widely known Christmas markets in Europe. Its long tradition dates back to 13th century and today you can find several locations across the city center with almost 200 stalls offering crafts, ceramics, wooden miniatures and gingerbread hearts. Next to the City Hall (Rathaus) there is a lovely park where you will find a carousel and decorated trees.
2. Nuremberg (Germany)
Germany has a lot to offer when it comes to Christmas markets, and the Nuremberg one is certainly one of the most popular and world-famous markets. The opening ceremony includes the golden Christmas Angel who appears on the gallery of the medieval Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady) and officially opens the Christmas market, Christkindlesmarkt. Take a stroll around the main square and check the stalls offering crafts, toys, decorations and of course the traditional Christmas sweets like candy canes and gingerbread. Don’t miss out the traditional glühwein to keep you warm.
3. Dresden (Germany)
One of the oldest Christmas markets in Europe won’t disappoint even the most demanding Christmas enthusiasts. Walking down the medieval streets you will see the decorations, illuminated stalls and most importantly, the tradition of cutting the Stollen cake. This huge fruitcake is traditionally carried around the town and then brought to the main square to be cut and shared among the Christmas market visitors.
4. Braunschweig and Goslar (Germany)
Small town in the north of Germany, Braunschweig, is home to one of the most attractive and charming Christmas markets with 500 years long tradition. The medieval square turns into a magical fairytale of gingerbread, rum-punch, mulled wine and traditional Christmas decorations. During the advent period, there is a series of traditional choral concerts where Christmas songs are performed.
If you have some more time, you can visit the nearby village of Goslar where alongside the Christmas market (Weihnachtsmarkt) there is the traditional Christmas forest (Weihnachtswald) installed on the main square. Almost 40 decorated trees covered in snow fill the square and give an enchanting feeling, while the smell of roasted chestnuts and candied apples fills the air.
5. Frankfurt (Germany)
Römerberg square in Frankfurt is the place to be during advent period. Historic houses surrounding the stalls give a special feeling to the visitors, and a huge Christmas tree is placed in front of the city hall. Kids will be particularly happy with the carousels and stalls offering toys and candies. Walking around the market you can feel the cinnamon aroma in the air, mixing with the smell of roasted almonds and marzipan. Try the famous Lebkuchen (gingerbread) and some of the traditional Frankfurt marzipan Christmas cookies. A special kind of German mulled wine, Feuerzangenbowle, is also a must. You won’t be disappointed.
6. St. Gallen and Einsiedeln (Switzerland)
Located near Lake Constance, St. Gallen is a unique and impressive place for a Christmas market. More than 700 stars illuminate the streets and shine above the medieval old town, with the stalls offering mulled wine, mulled beer, raclette and other delicacies, combining german and french cuisine. St. Gallen Christmas tree is the tallest Christmas tree in Switzerland, and the event of its lightning up is accompanied by carol singing.
If you have some more time, check out the nearby village of Einsiedeln, where the Christmas market is located in front of the elegant Benedictine monastery, making it an ultimate romantic setting. With more than 130 stalls, the Einsiedeln market is one of the biggest in Switzerland.
7. Strasbourg (France)
The Christmas market in Strasbourg is also one of the oldest and biggest in Europe and attracts numerous visitors every year. More than 300 stalls are placed on several locations in town, and walking around you will have a real fairytale feeling, thanks to the romantic setting and wooden houses in the old town. Numerous concerts are organized during the entire advent period, and a live Nativity scene is staged.
8. Budapest (Hungary)
The capital of Hungary will surprise you with the amount of Christmas decorations at Vörösmarty square. More than 100 wooden stalls offer traditional Hungarian crafts and folklore products you won’t find anywhere else. Try the traditional Hungarian sweets, cinnamon and honey cakes, sip a glass of mulled wine or typical Hungarian sparkling wine and enjoy the holidays!
9. Prague (Czech Republic)
The main square in Prague old town, Starometske namesti, offers a number of daily performances, live Nativity scene, stalls with hand-made crafts and ornaments, the famous Bohemian crystal, and traditional Czech sausages and beer. Take a walk around the old town, check out the famous Charles bridge and catch an evening concert in one of the city churches.
10. Rovaniemi – Santa Claus Village (Finland)
You can’t make a list of top Christmas markets and not mention the Santa Claus Village. Far away in the North Pole, it is a once-in-a-lifetime trip worth taking. Meeting Santa in person will be a special experience for the youngest, but also for the adults who cherish the Christmas spirit. Apart from Santa’s home, there is also a unique experience of riding on a reindeer sleigh and watching Aurora Borealis (the Northern Lights).
If you are interested in visiting some of these Christmas markets, you can check getbybus.com to find out how to reach them from your city. In case you want to visit more of them, you can check our previous posts about the best connections between some of these cities.