15 Best Christmas Markets in Europe To See According to Travelers
Europe is home to some of the most breathtaking Christmas markets that put you in the holiday season. If you’ve ever wanted to travel across Europe, winter is a great time to use those frequent flyer miles. Just be sure to pack warm clothes and drink lots of hot chocolate while you’re there.
1. Vienna, Austria
Dating back to the 1700s, Vienna’s Christmas market brings a bit of holiday tradition with a modern flair. Shop handmade crafts and glassware, ice skate around City Hall, and snack on toasted almonds while taking in the Christmas season.
2. Zermatt, Switzerland
Visitors to this area love the classic European Christmas experience Zermatt has to offer. This small village sits at the base of Matterhorn, the iconic snow-capped mountaintop in the Alps. Aside from enjoying local cuisine and shopping for handmade crafts, you can enjoy many winter activities in the area, like skiing, dog sledding, and snowshoeing.
3. Prague, Czech Republic
Food lovers will enjoy the local cuisine during Christmas Time at Old Town Square’s Christmas Market in Prague. Feast on mulled wine or hot mead, delicious ham, and try a trdelník pastry–a spit cake covered in sugar and cinnamon. Plan your visit at the beginning of the season to witness the tree-lighting ceremony in the middle of the square.
4. Colmar, France
For six weeks at the end of the year, Colmar transforms into a picturesque winter wonderland full of cobblestone streets and wooden chalets. Find handmade crafts, local delicacies, and festive lights during your trip to Colmar.
5. Aachen, Germany
This westernmost city in Germany celebrates the winter season by decorating the streets and squares surrounding Aachen Town Hall with lights and holiday decor. Enjoy local treat Aachener Printen, Aachen’s take on gingerbread, with the beautiful backdrop of Aachen Cathedral to complete the perfect winter experience.
6. Haarlem, Amsterdam
Just a few weeks before Christmas, Haarlemn’s Christmas market attracts thousands of travelers each year. Visitors enjoy its whimsical atmosphere, live entertainment, and fair rides for children and families. There’s plenty of hot chocolate, sweets, churros, and tasty sausages for everyone.
7. Krakow, Poland
Krakow’s Christmas market takes place in Krakow’s Main Square, one of the largest medieval squares in Europe. With the city lit up in holiday lights and decorations, travelers can snack on smoked sausages, drink mulled wine, and try a popular local snack–Oscypek, a smoked Polish cheese with cranberry jam. Yum!
8. Bruges, Belgium
This city near the North Sea coast hosts its annual Christmas market from November through early January. Locals know the market as “Winter Glow” and enjoy horse-drawn carriage rides, buildings decorated as gingerbread houses, and a sparkling ice rink in the middle of Grote Market.
9. Tallinn, Estonia
With only a few hours of daylight, make the most out of your trip to Tallinn during winter. It’s a walkable city, so you’ll have no problem navigating the world-famous market in Town Hall Square. With a light dusting of snow, Tallinn is a Christmas fairytale that comes to life.
10. Valkenburg, Netherlands
Visitors looking for something different and fun will appreciate Valkenburg’s underground Christmas market — the oldest and most visited underground market in Europe. Enjoy nativity scenes, miniature exhibits, and holiday light displays entirely underground.
11. Basel, Switzerland
Throughout November and December, visitors can enjoy one of Basel’s most stunning Christmas markets. The market is located on Barfüsserplatz and Münsterplatz, where a beautiful Christmas tree stands at the center. Over 100 artisans will participate in the Christmas market, selling their handcrafted goods this year.
12. Lyon, France
If you’re traveling through France during the holiday season, be sure to stop off in Lyon. The Christmas market happens in Place Carnot, where you can find toys, gifts, and handmade crafts. You want to attend the Festival of Lights too, a city-wide light show that occurs every December.
13. Nuremberg, Germany
One of Europe’s most famous Christmas markets, Nuremberg’s Christkindlesmarkt is an excellent stop for families. The “little city of wood and cloth” offers a children’s market with a mini Ferris wheel, a merry-go-round, and a steam railway.
14. Barcelona, Spain
Barcelona hosts a holiday market every year if you’re looking for somewhere warm to spend Christmas. Set up in front of Barcelona Cathedral, the Market of Saint Lucia was first established in 1786, making it the oldest in the city. Streets are lined with holiday lights and unique ornaments, creating a winter atmosphere — even if the weather says otherwise.
15. Innsbruck, Austria
From mid-November through December, locals and visitors to Innsbruck can enjoy Christmas markets throughout the city. Old Town is home to a local landmark, the Golden Roof — a 2,657 fire-gilded copper-tiled structure. A giant tree is lit up next to the Golden Roof each year, which can be seen from the Innsbruck City Tower for a spectacular view.
Where indicated, some images courtesy of Depositphotos.com.