From hidden gems nestled in the French Alps, to the most breathtaking squares of major cities, here are the best Christmas markets in Europe.
There’s nothing like browsing the wooden stalls at an European Christmas market and sipping on mulled wine to put you in the holiday spirit.
Christmas markets originated in Germany in the late Middle Ages. But now this festive annual tradition has spread all across Europe and beyond.
Each Christmas market in Europe offers its own regional specialties, handmade crafts and historical traditions. It’s a blend of holiday spirit and cheer with the unique traditions of different European cities and villages.
Whether you’re looking for rustic charm or glittering urban celebrations, you’re spoilt for choice with hundreds of various Christmas markets held each December across Europe.
Here are the best Christmas markets in Europe – as selected by dozens of seasoned adventurers and travel writers.
1. Vienna, Austria
Vienna is a Christmas destination like no other with streets dressed up in twinkling lights – and colourful baubles on every storefront, city square and cobbled lane.
The Austrian capital hosts more than 20 different Vienna Christmas markets. And they’re loved by the locals as much as the starry-eyed visitors.
The markets all offer something unique. Some are hidden between city streets and are the perfect place to find small boutique sellers pedalling their wares.
Others are more lavish affairs complete with ice skating rinks and children’s rides. While some others adorn the gardens of stately palaces and gardens.
But they all have this in common: they’re fantastic places to pick up the perfect handmade souvenir and try some local favourite foods and drinks.
A hot steaming mug of punch is a must-try. There are several flavours and alcohol-free versions are also available. And don’t miss the hearty and warming “soup in bread.”
You’ll also find krapfen stalls everywhere with these doughnut-like delights in all flavours from pizza to chocolate nut.
And of course no trip to Vienna would be complete without an original Viennese snow globe as a souvenir. The city’s Christmas markets are also ideal places to stock up on hand-knitted winter woollies.
If you’re visiting with kids, head to Art Advent on Karlsplatz for a dedicated children’s program of events and to City Hall for workshops for the little ones.
– contributed by Nadine of Le Long Weekend
2. Wroclaw, Poland
The Christmas market in Wroclaw, Western Poland, is a festive feast for the senses with its colorful lights and international fare. The enormous market stretches from Wroclaw’s market square through Plac Solny and includes amusement rides, various flavors of mulled wine and a fairy tale forest.
Craftsmen from across Europe sell their trinkets inside rows of small wooden huts.
Dating back to the sixteenth century, Wroclaw’s Christmas market is one of the largest and most atmospheric in Poland. With its fairground games and fairytale characters, it’s also a favorite with children.
You’ll find all the traditional Polish specialties like smoked cheese with cranberries, sauerkraut stew (bigos) and potato pancakes. There are also foreign delights like Spanish churros, crepes and Hungarian fried flatbread.
Special annual events include a Christmas parade, carol singers and choir concerts.
With its historic town center and centuries-old traditions, the Christmas market in Colmar is one of the most charming markets in Alsace, France.
The market is known for its delicious food, handcrafted gifts and hot wine. And it attracts thousands of people every year who come to enjoy the festive atmosphere and find the perfect Christmas gifts.
The market is held at the Place de la Republique in the heart of Comar’s charming old town. And it stretches from the Old Town Hall to the St. Stephen’s Cathedral.
Browse more than 200 stalls offering a variety of goods from traditional Alsatian foods to souvenirs made by local artisans. And there’s a magical ferris wheel and merry go rounds to keep your kids entertained.
And don’t miss the hot wine – it’s one of the highlights of this breathtaking market. Each Christmas market has its own version of this heartwarming drink, and Colmar’s local recipe includes cinnamon, cloves and oranges to add to the spice.
Indulge in some regional specialties like gingerbread, Choucroute Garnie (hearty sauerkraut with sausages) and Flamkussen, or thin bread dough covered with cheese or cream and sprinkled with onions and pork.
The market is especially spectacular at night with its fairytale homes lit up in festive colors and twinkling lights.
– contributed by Mark of Wyld Family Travel
4. Reykjavik, Iceland
This vibrant Icelandic city hosts three different Christmas markets filled with festive lights, wooden chalets and incredible food.
Enjoy some amazing Christmas decorations and take a spin around the giant ice rink in the heart of the market. Browse the array of vendors selling decor, homemade gifts and decadent traditional foods like Síld (pickled herring), Laufabraud (thin flat bread) and Hangikjot (smoked lamb).
Then head to The Christmas Village in Hafnarfjorour, a market that’s a 15-minute drive from the city and open on weekends.
It features quaint wooden chalets and hosts live music, horse-drawn carriage rides and delicious food. And if you’re lucky, the Icelandic Yule Lads may even stop by. Legend says they come down from their home in the mountains during the 13 days leading up to Christmas. They also like to play tricks on people and are known to steal food. So, watch out!
And lastly, don’t miss the Christmas Market in Heidmork. It’s a more authentic market where locals shop for their Christmas trees. It’s a great place to sit around a fire, listen to Christmas stories and shop for amazing local crafts and holiday gifts.
– contributed by Victoria of Iceland Trippers
5. Bratislava, Slovakia
Bratislava boasts an array of magical Christmas markets with an authentic atmosphere and a truly fairytale setting.
Head to the main squares Hlavné and Hviezdoslavovo námestie for the biggest and most beautiful wintertime Christmas markets in town – they’re one of the best things to do in Bratislava during the holidays.
And take the opportunity to taste some local specialities and desserts. Try the loksa, a delicious hash brown, and the traditional pie, a crunchy cake filled with apples and raisins.
Another highlight is the delicious mulled wine and punch, which are also available in non-alcoholic versions. Locals and tourists from around the world enjoy the Christmas spirit together with a hot wine or tea at these festive markets.
And don’t miss the huge variety of stalls offering typical souvenirs and traditional handicrafts made of wood and textiles. It’s a perfect spot to shop for keepsakes to take home to your loved ones.
Visit these Christmas markets in the evening for performances by local artists, singers and dancers. They make a visit to Bratislava’s Christmas markets an extraordinary experience.
– contributed by Martina of PlacesofJuma
6. Frankfurt, Germany
Dating back to the 14th century, Frankfurt’s traditional Christmas market is one of the oldest in Germany.
It’s set in the gorgeous Romerberg, a square surrounded by half-timbered medieval homes and the glistening tips of the financial center’s skyscrapers. An enormous glittering tree and vintage carousel create a scene that’s straight out of a fairy tale.
The market traces its roots to 1393, which makes the Weihnachtsmarkt Frankfurt Römerberg one of the world’s first wintertime markets.
The well-connected airport at Frankfurt also means it’s easy and affordable to reach.
And it’s one of Germany’s largest with some 200 stalls lined with festive lights. The stalls offer anything from spicy mulled wine to gingerbread and dried plum figurines. There are also modern crafts from local artists, handmade Christmas ornaments and wooden toys.
Don’t miss local favorites like hot apple wine and Bethmannchen, or traditional marzipan cookies.
Stop at the nearby Paulsplatz Market for some honey products at Wagner’s Honighaus.
And for a truly unique experience, visit Frankfurt’s LGBTQ market at Rosa Weihnacht for pink Christmas trees and colorful goodies.
Helsinki’s Christmas market is one of the most beautiful in Europe with its magical setting right on the waterfront. The sea is often frozen and this gives the market a perfectly icy Christmas atmosphere.
The market is packed with stalls selling crafts, local products and regional foods. There are over 140 vendors and many operating out of little wooden huts that add to the fairytale look.
Stock up on gorgeous regional items like wool hats and gloves, handmade wooden utensils and products carved from reindeer antlers. And don’t worry – the reindeer aren’t hurt and the antlers grow back every year.
If you’re visiting Helsinki with kids, then don’t miss the free traditional carousel. Father Christmas also makes daily visits that will delight your whole family.
And there are some delicious food stalls selling everything from hot sausages to regional cheeses from across Finland. There are plenty of sweet treats to enjoy too from liquorice to cinnamon buns.
The market is in Senate Square in the heart of the city, and easy to get to with lots of trams stops.
And don’t miss the Saint Lucia procession on December 13th, which leaves the cathedral that overlooks the market. It’s a really special spectacle to witness.
– contributed by Nichola of Global Mouse Travels
8. Dresden, Germany
The Dresden Striezelmarkt is one of Germany’s oldest and most iconic with Saxon treats, festive lights and folk art that bring in thousands of visitors every year.
Set against a backdrop of breathtaking Baroque architecture, the market is famous for the stollen, or fruit loaf, Moravian stars and the world’s largest nutcracker.
It’s a prime destination for any arts and crafts lover – and a great spot to load up on handmade souvenirs. Keep an eye out for the Plaumentoffel, traditional figurines made from prunes, and the rows of handcrafted nutcrackers.
Handbrot is another local specialty and consists of bread generously filled with cheese.
The market also hosts puppet theaters and an enchanted forest that’s great if you’re traveling with children.
With a history that spans some 600 years, Dresden’s Christmas market is known for its enourmous carousel and the world’s tallest Christmas pyramid.
An array of 10 smaller markets dot Dresden during the holidays.
Head to Frauenkirche to watch artisans at work on traditional crafts.
And don’t miss the medieval atmosphere of the Stallhof on the footsteps of the Dresden Royal Palace – a market with no electric lights or plastic.
9. London, England
London has a vast selection of Christmas markets from Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland and Leicester Square to Covent Garden.
Winter Wonderland is one of the best Christmas markets to visit with kids in London. They can enjoy ice skating in the biggest outdoor ice rink in the UK or take a ride on the Giant Wheel. Teenagers will love the ice sculpting workshops, while adults can indulge in delicious cocktails inside the Bar Ice.
The street food village in Hyde Park offers Bavarian-style staples like German beer and sausages. There are also more international treats like hot chocolate with mouthwatering churros.
For some regional food amid an upscale atmosphere, visit Rules – the oldest restaurant in Covent Garden.
Apple Market in Covent Garden offers a variety of Christmas gifts that make great stocking stuffers for your friends and family. Though don’t be fooled by the name. This famous fruit and vegetable market has an array of goods from unique handmade keepsakes to jewelry, clothes and antiques that will please every taste.
If you love the 1920s Spiegeltent, large travelling tent style, head to Leicester Square and enjoy some mulled wine and a breathtaking performance in the heart of London’s theater district. You’ll see some of the best cabaret and variety shows in the world.
This town in the southern Netherlands turns into a Christmas wonderland for the holidays with markets and holiday events all held underground. And this gives the holidays in Valkenburg a special ambiance.
For years marl was removed from the local quarries and these operations left behind a series of caves with corridors.
Today there are 4 caves in Valkenburg that host Christmas festivities.
Mergelrijk has a 25-meter long miniature Christmas story on display.
Fluweelengrot has a Christmas market that’s the largest indoor Christmas event in the Netherlands.
Gemeente grot has the oldest underground Christmas market in Europe.
And lastly there’s Wilhelmina grot, a mountain that’s part of Winter Wonderland. The Christmas story is on display in this small cave. There’s a cable lift that goes up the mountain. And on top of the mountain, there’s a toboggan run, bobsled ride, small Christmas market and a 30-meter Christmas tree.
All 4 caves are fun to visit with kids and have lots of activities especially for children. And don’t miss the Landal Christmas Parade twice a week, which is another kid favorite. The Frosty Fairy Tale & Cavern Quest at the Fairytale forest is also a treat for young ones.
For a unique souvenir, shop for candle holders or nativity scenes made entirely out of marl.
Above ground, there are self-guided walking tours of the Routes d’Amuse with stops at scrumptious local restaurants. There’s also Santa’s Village, a Christmas market in a charming square where you can get oliebollen, a traditional Dutch New Year’s Eve treat.
And don’t miss the Kribkeswandeling Schin op Geul, a self-guided outdoors nativity scene walk.
– contributed by Cosette of KarsTravels
11. Zurich, Switzerland
Zurich boasts four different Christmas markets – each with its own unique vibe and attractions. Inspired by the surrounding snow-covered Swiss Alps, the locals really know how to pump up the festive spirit.
The Dörfli Niederdorf Christmas Market in Zurich’s Old Town is perfect for strolling with its festive stalls winding through the old alleyways. There’s lots of unique festive gift ideas here – all on show inside classic rustic wooden chalets.
The Christkindlimarkt in Zurich’s central Train Station wows visitors with its 49-foot Christmas tree sparkling with thousands of Swarovski crystals. A light show starts at 4pm each evening. And it’s also a great market to indulge in some regional delicacies. Try the Raclette (melted local cheese scraped on potatoes, onions and pickles) or dip into a classic Swiss fondue.
The singing Christmas tree is a highlight in Zurich’s main shopping district in the town center. Christmas songs ring out from local choirs that take their place on the tree branches. It’s definitely a yuletide experience not to be missed.
Lastly, don’t miss the fun-filled Sechselaütenplatz Wienachtsdorf, the Urban Christmas Village Market, in front of Zurich’s impressive opera house. Here kids ice skate with giant sized penguins and adults join in or watch while sipping glühwein (red wine with spices). It’s one of the best Zurich Christmas markets for families.
There are about a hundred market stalls selling gifts and ornaments – and plenty of food stalls selling traditional Swiss Fare.
All of these Christmas markets are within walking distance so you can easily visit each one and fill up on festive cheer.
– contributed by Shelley of Life Journey 4 Two
12. Obidos, Portugal
(photos courtesy Obidos Turismo)
This medieval village in sunny Portugal is transformed into a Christmas wonderland each year with real reindeer, Santa’s lodge, a life-size nativity scene – and plenty of festive music, street artists and shows.
Obidos’ castle walls are hung with lights. And the whimsical fairytale characters who walk the streets transform the historical walled village into a festive adventure for kids – and a Christmas feast for adult eyes.
And no visit to Obidos would be complete without trying the famous ginja cherry liqueur served in miniature chocolate cups.
Grab a bag of roasted chestnuts from one of the stalls in the market. And stroll through the booths of local artisans selling handmade Christmas decorations, hand towels, ceramics, wooden toys and more. Make sure to ride the big wheel to take in the view of the decorated castle and the surrounding landscape.
Extend your stay and soak up the Christmas atmosphere at Torre de Maneys, a castle-like hotel that’s a perfect escape from the hustle of everyday life.
Obidos is the perfect day trip from Lisbon and it’s about an hour away from the city.
– contributed by Michelle of Ericeira Family Adventures
13. Annecy, France
(photos courtesy Ville d’Annecy)
Annecy is the perfect storybook Christmas destination cozily nestled into the French Alps.
This quaint and colorful medieval city transforms into a winter wonderland for the holidays with the gorgeous backdrop of the towering French alps and famed Lake Annecy.
The Annecy Christmas Market is composed of 3 different market areas – all with its unique spirit.
The Old Annecy Christmas Market (Marche de Noel du Vieil Annecy) has more than 80 different market stalls set around the St. François-de-Sales church.
The Village du Alps is a part of the market that recreates a traditional Savoy village with its assortment of wooden chalets. And it also boasts an ice-skating rink.
For some local Christmas handcrafts, don’t miss the Village des Artisans part of the market for an assortment of handmade souvenirs to fondly remember your winter visit to Annecy.
And don’t miss Annecy’s amazing local food.
The Annecy market is home to many specialty dishes from around the Savoy region including diots (a variety of local sausages), tartiflette (an alpine dish comprised of potatoes, cheese, lardons, and onions), and more.
If you’re craving some sweet winter delicacies, you’ll find copious amounts of crêpes, churros and waffles complete with your favorite toppings.
These Christmas market sweets pair well with a cup of mulled wine, so get your fill as you peruse the market stalls.
If you’re traveling with kids, make a trip to Santa’s village – and don’t miss the light show projected onto City Hall in the evening.
The Magic of Christmas, or La Magie de Noel, at Tuileries Garden is the biggest and best-known Christmas market in Paris.
There are plenty of fairground rides and a massive ferris wheel with city views for miles that’s great fun for both kids and adults.
And if you’re craving some festive goodies, you’re in luck because Paris has a ton of delicious options to choose from. You might even get a yummy whiff of the melted cheese from the raclette stall before you see it.
In addition, you’ll find all the traditional French favourites like onion soup, omelettes, garlic snails and crepes. And indulge in some international foods like pretzels, sausages, paella and waffles.
There’s plenty of mulled wine (vin chaud) on offer along with your standard red and white wines. And if you really want to celebrate, there’s even a champagne bar.
– contributed by Martha of May Cause Wanderlust
15. Edinburgh, Scotland
Edinburgh is particularly special during the festive winter months with its torchlight procession, regional delicacies and holiday spirit.
Edinburgh’s main Christmas market is held at the Princes Street Gardens in the heart of the city. You’ll find lots of different attractions and twinkling lights down the winding streets.
An array of beautifully decorated chalets surrounded by fairy lights offer everything from traditional Christmas foods like German Sausages, potato skewers, mulled wine and chimney cake to handicrafts like wooden nutcrackers, ornaments, and candles.
Put on some skates and enjoy the Alpine ice rink. Young visitors will love the Christmas Tree Maze, Santa’s Grotto and Nativity Carol Concert. Take a ride on the gigantic Big Wheel and the Star Flyer for stunning views over the city skyline. Kids love riding the Victorian carousels.
Hogmanay is an integral part of Edinburgh’s Christmas celebrations. This three-day annual celebration starts with a Torchlight Procession, which originates from Norse traditions. It finishes with spectacular firework displays over Edinburgh Castle and a vibrant street party.
There’s also a magical candlelit concert and traditional Scottish dancing (Ceilidh). These traditional festivities are some of the best things to do in Edinburgh in winter.
– contributed by Moumita of Chasing the Long Road
16. Malaga, Spain
Malaga is an incredible winter sun destination with a festive Christmas market with delicious food, parades and unique handicrafts.
The incredible light show along Calle Larios, Malaga’s main street, is a real highlight – and one of the best ways to spend Christmas in Malaga. The lights twinkle and dance to the rhythm of Christmas songs every evening.
There are several different Christmas markets across the city. The most popular holiday market is in Paseo del Parque. In this market, you can buy anything from unique gifts to Christmas decorations and books. Locals often shop for nativity scene figures for the traditional “Belen.”
Head to Muelle Uno Christmas market at the city’s port for a great family destination. Children love visiting Santa’s Grotto and winter wonderland, while adults love browsing the crafts market.
A few vendors sell candied almonds and cotton candy. But if you’re looking for more traditional Christmas food, head to one of Malaga’s scrumptous restaurants.
Extend your stay in Malaga with visits to some nearby Christmas markets like Torremolinos, Benalmadena or Marbella.
After the new year, don’t miss the Three Kings Parade on January 5th. It’s a fantastic parade to attend with children.
– contributed by Cristina of My Little World of Travelling
17. Lugano, Switzerland
Lugano is a lesser-known Christmas market in Europe – and a real hidden gem with festivities, local delicacies and great souvenirs.
And it’s all just an easy 2-hour direct train ride from Zurich or a 45-minute train from Milan.
Head to the city centre square Piazza della Riforma for the main event of Lugano’s Christmas festivities. The markets offers beautiful Swiss souvenirs and handmade wintery decorations for your tree that make perfect gifts and souvenirs.
But the real treat is the warm local food and mouthwatering drinks like glühwein, roasted chestnuts, hot raclette dishes, fried apple slices, sausages and crepes.
Insider’s tip: Book a table at the Bar Ristorante Olimpia 1845 restaurant for a wintery drink in a warm and cozy atmosphere.
Lugano is fully decorated each year with a beautiful Christmas tree and festive lights throughout the city. It’s always a delight to walk around after sunset with the lights twingling and the local restaurants buzzing.
Head to Locarno, just a short train ride away, for some ice skating at Locarno’s piazza square, a local market and cosy restaurants alongside Lake Maggiore.
– contributed by Zoe of Together In Switzerland
18. Prague, Czechia
If you dream of a fairytale Christmas markets, you must visit Prague in December with its magical atmosphere, thousands of lights, carols and festive mood – right in the heart of the breathtaking old town.
Prague’s Old Town Square Christmas market is the oldest and best-known in the city. But there are plenty more markets around the city, including the gorgeous market at the Baroque 9th-century Prague Castle.
Snack on goodies like grilled sausages, cheeses, roasted chestnuts and more as you browse the stalls. And try the delicious spit cake called Trdlo for your sweet tooth – made with rolled dough wrapped around a stick and sprinkled wiht sugar and cinnamon, this delicious treat has a long tradition in the region. Wash it down with mulled wine or some hot mead.
For original Czech souvenirs, shop for some handmade Christmas bulbs, glass ornaments, puppets and embroidered lace.
If you’re travelling with kids, head for the ice skating rink near the Old Town Square for fun for the whole family. Finish up with drinks at Chococafe U Cervene zidle (By the Red Chair) for what’s one of Prague’s best chocolate cafes.
And don’t miss the procession on December 5th that features angels, devils and Saint Nicholas with a long white beard all parading down the city’s cobblestone streets. It’s St. Nicholas Day and those who behaved well get small packages and snacks if they recite a poem or sing a song.
– contributed by Veronika of Travel Geekery
19. Brussels, Belgium
Immerse yourself in a winder wonderland in Brussels that enchants both young and old with its tempting chocolates, music and festival of lights.
The historic center of Brussels hosts the country’s biggest Christmas market every year with more than 240 Christmas stalls filling the streets. The festivities start at La Grand Place and wind all the way around La Bourse to end at the famous Place Sainte Catherine.
Shop for some authentic, handmade Christmas decorations to dress up your tree. And indulge in some famous Belgian chocolates or Bûche de Noël, a traditional dessert you’ll find at every Belgian family’s Christmas table. Finish it off with a glass of mulled wine to keep you warm.
Insider’s tip: For an incredible Belgian dinner, head to Viva M’Boma or try one of the excellent vegan restaurants in Brussels for some plant-based delicacies.
Head to Winterpop, a pop-up winter show in the first three weekends of December, to enjoy some live music. And stroll down the streets in the evening to bask in the festive atmosphere of the Brussels by Light festival.
There are skating rinks every year in many city squares and a Ferris wheel decorated with an incredible 18,000 light bulbs.
– contributed by Annelies of Travelers and Dreamers
20. Cardiff, Wales
The Welsh capital of Cardiff is a truly unique holiday destination with its German-themed Christmas market and a Winter Wonderland market inspired by the stories of Lewis Carroll.
Head to Winter Wonderland for a fun fairground atmosphere, ice skating rink and food stalls in the city centre – all set in the theme of Alice in Wonderland. This magical Christmas playground is a completely unique way to celebrate the holidays and immerse yourself in a childhood fairytale.
The city’s main Christmas market is done in a traditional German style with wooden huts offering beer steins, bratwurst, pretzels and mulled wine. The stalls are adorned with Santa, reindeer and fairy lights that are especially beautiful at night.
The market is a decades-long tradition that showcases the best small businesses and their unique crafts and homemade foods. It’s full of bustle, steam from the mulled wine and glistening blue decorations overhead.
On offer are handcrafted baubles and other decorations along with more unusual items like vintage books and magazines. Don’t miss the Welsh cheeses and alcohol, handmade cards and candles – they all make great stocking stuffers.
And when you’re in Cardiff, the traditional Welsh Cake is a must-try. It’s freshly baked and hot straight from the stall – and a great pick-me-up between browsing.
Manchester’s Christmas market boasts hundreds of Christmasy treats and twinkling lights in the heart of the city’s breathtaking architectural gems.
Inspired by the traditional German Christmas markets, Mancherster has quaint wooden cottages and tons of elegantly lit Christmas decorations scattered around the city.
If you enjoy a bit of a Christmas tipple, stop by the Bavarian beer tents for a tall glass of beer and some holiday cheer.
And don’t miss the many European nationalities who sell their locally produced foods, gifts, and handcrafted goods.
Some must-try festive foods include hot mulled wine, Christmas puddings, freshly baked gingerbread, and the most succulent German sausage butties.
But Manchester’s market has expanded and it draws in huge crowds – so expect big queues, especially since the offering is now more diverse and pulls in visitors from all over the continent.
It’s always more difficult to get a table on evenings or weekends, since Manchester is one of the most popular cities to visit in Northern England. Though there are always dedicated spots to enjoy your holiday treats.
– contributed by Dan of Urban Abroad
22. Lausanne, Switzerland
(photos courtesy The Lausanner)
Lausanne is picture-perfect at Christmas with its snow-capped mountains, cozy wooden cabins, bustling markets and piping hot mulled wine.
This city in the breathtaking Vaud region sits alongside Lake Geneva surrounded by stunning mountainous landscapes. Its annual Christmas market is filled with wooden chalets overflowing with aromatic foods and stocked with traditional handicrafts.
Lausanne is known for putting on a fantastic display of lights throughout the city that illuminate its iconic landmarks. These dazzling displays highlight the city’s architectural gems and draw in awe-struck crowds from around the country.
Head towards the Place d’Europe for some regional Swiss Christmas food – think raclette and delicious cheese fondue eaten with copious amounts of potatoes and homemade bread.
Looking for a little Swiss trinket to take home? The Christmas markets are filled with wooden handicrafts like small nativity scenes and other Christmas decorations.Large gingerbread heart-shaped cookies are another crowd pleaser.
And if you run into some bad weather, the covered Christmas market at Place Saint-François offers a warm and welcome respite.
– contributed by Caroline of Veggie Wayfarer
23. Gothenburg, Sweden
Gothenburg is home to Sweden’s most popular Christmas market covered in more than 5 million twinkling lights – all sustainably powered by a wind turbine.
The Christmas market in Gothenburg includes Santa’s workshop, a festive ice skating show, thrilling roller coasters and more than 80 market stalls with traditional and designer trinkets.
There’s plenty of Christmas gifts and festive decor. But the real highlight are the mouthwatering food stalls. They include lots of Swedish Christmas favourites like Pepparkaka (thin and crispy gingersnap biscuits) and glogg (a sweet mulled wine).
But if you really want to experience a traditional local dinner, book a 4-course Swedish Christmas buffet. You’ll sample lots of local dishes including pickled herring, saffron buns, cured salmon and even a traditional gottebord dessert (a long table filled with chocolates and sweets).
Gothenburg also has a foodie Christmas market in Haga and the Kronhuset, the city’s oldest and most traditional holiday market.
And don’t miss the Christmas tree choir in which singers stand on a Christmas tree-shaped platform and sing festive favourites. It’s bound to get anyone in the mood for Christmas.
– contributed by Roshni of The Wanderlust Within
24. Strasbourg, France
This charming city in the Alsace region is home to one of the oldest Christmas markets in Europe dating back to 1570.
Strasbourg has the biggest of the Alsace Christmas markets. And there are 15 different Christmas markets scattered around the city with a wide variety of traditional foods.
Enjoy the savory Bretzel, a soft pretzel served in a variety of ways. A popular favorite is Flammekueche, or Tarte Flambee, an Alsatian thin crust pizza.
Sweet treats include Beignets piled high with powdered sugar and Bredele, little Alsatian cakes and baked goods that are traditional Christmas treats. Another must is a glass of mulled Alsatian wine and Kougelhopf, an Alsatian cake made with raisins and almonds.
And there’s plenty to keep kids entertained from rides and games to an elves’ workshop where they can write letters to Santa. Place Kléber has a Giant Christmas Tree and a fun ice skating rink that kids love.
Strasbourg also has some incredible handicrafts including tree ornaments that make memorable gifts. You’ll also find jewelry, adorable wooden toys and goodies like gingerbread, chocolates and macarons.
– contributed by Jenifer of The Evolista
25. Hallstatt, Austria
With its gingerbread houses and stunning alpine scenery, Hallstatt looks like a fairytale. Add in some Christmas cheer, mulled wine and white snow, and you’ve got the perfect place to celebrate the holidays.
Every December this magical town cranks up the cheer and puts on its Christmas market complete with a hand-carved wooden nativity display, live music and a massive tree decked out in twinkling lights.
The market has everything you’d expect from a Bavarian-style market, like gingerbread cookies, gluhwein and handmade mittens and toys.
In fact Hallstatt has one of the most kid-friendly Christmas markets in Europe.
Visit on the first weekend of December for the arrival of St. Nicholas, for an unforgettable family vacation. Children in nearby Obertraun await the arrival of St. Nicholas along the shores of Lake Hallstatt, candles burning in their hands.
St. Nicholas swiftly arrives from across the dark lake in his traditional wooden boat, passes out small trinkets and reads a Christmas poem to the youngsters before disappearing back into the lake’s darkness.
– contributed by Jessica of Uprooted Traveler
26. York, England
The historic city of York hosts a six-week Christmas market with more than 100 Swiss-style wooden chalets offering local food and locally made arts and crafts.
Musicians and brass bands play festive carols to entertain the shoppers.
At night, the market comes alive with beautiful lights including a huge, central Christmas tree that’s a great meeting point for family and friends.
An enormous Tipi is erected especially for the holidays in York at Christmas. Known as Thor’s Tipi, it serves spiced mulled wine and creamy hot chocolate to shoppers who relax on sheepskin benches around a log fire.
Several smaller holiday markets are just a few minutes’ walk away, including a mini fun fair with a helter-skelter and traditional carousel that’s a favorite with kids.
Don’t miss specialty foods like pork pies and a wide array of sweets.
York has a long history of chocolate making and there are several stalls with locally made chocolate in all shapes, sizes and flavors.
And don’t miss the chance to try Yorkshire wine and York Gin’s in a variety of fruity flavors.
Locally made gifts include wool hats and mits, photograph prints and handcrafted wooden items. A Christmas bauble with the white rose of Yorkshire makes an incredible souvenir of your wintertime trip to York.
– contributed by Sinead of York with Kids
27. Warsaw, Poland
Warsaw’s Christmas Market in the Old Town Square is a great way to sample regional delicacies from across Poland. And the Old Town, rebuilt after the bombardment of World War II, features a Christmas tree in front of the Royal Castle.
At this market you can find oscypek, a smoked cheese made from sheep’s milk from Poland’s Carpathian Mountains. Thick woolen socks, hats and mittens are also popular as temperatures dip below zero.
But Poland is best-known for its handmade glass Christmas ornaments. They’re often colorful round balls decorated with snowflakes or religious scenes. More creative pieces are made in the shape of bumblebees or Queen Nefertiti’s bust. There are also quirky wooden toys from the Czech Republic and Lithuanian black rye bread.
Food stalls fill the air with the smell of roasted chestnuts, mulled wine or pierogi, Polish dumplings stuffed with potatoes, sauerkraut, meat, cheese or fruit. Pierogi are so popular that restaurants like Pierogarnia specialize in numerous variations on the dish.