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As the seasons are changing and everyone is thinking about Christmas, one thing springs to mind: Christmas markets in Europe! We asked members of the FTB Community to tell us which they think are the best Christmas markets in Europe. Read on for plenty of Christmas cheer and Bucket List inspiration!
- 1 Tollwood Winter Festival
- 2 Kassel Weihnachtsmarkt (Kassel Christmas Market)
- 3 Capitale de Noël
- 4 Krakow Christmas Market
- 5 Stuttgarter WeihnachtsMarkt (Stuttgart Christmas Market)
- 6 Winter Wonderland
- 7 Monschau Christmas Market
- 8 Stockholm Gamla Stan Christmas Market (Stortorgets Julmarknad)
- 9 Ljubljana Christmas Fairytale
- 10 East Princes Street Gardens
- 11 Advent in Zagreb
- 12 Vorosmarty Square Christmas Market
- 13 Christmas in Leicester Square
- 14 Charlottenburg Palace
Tollwood Winter Festival
Munich really has something for everyone and I think it is one of the few cities in Germany to offer such a wide variety of markets. With over 16 Christmas markets in Munich, there are plenty of traditional markets, but I find it is the quirky markets, like Tollwood Winter Festival, that are worthwhile.
Located at the Oktoberfest groups, this market is huge and has live concert tents, craft beer tents, Fair Trade gifts, international cuisine tents, traditional food and drink, and a sustainable theme. Tollwood works harder every year to reduce their carbon footprint in order to spread a message of reducing, reusing and recycling. One year they had a Christmas tree that was lit up by human-powered bicycles. That alone has to make it one of the best Christmas markets in Europe!
Susanna from Wandering Chocobo. Follow her on social media!
Kassel Weihnachtsmarkt (Kassel Christmas Market)
While major cities like Berlin, Munich and more have the bright lights and alluring sparkle, I suggest going a bit off the beaten path to the middle of Germany. What you probably don’t know is that Kassel is the heart of Germany’s Fairy Tale Route, inspired by the iconic Brothers Grimm tales. They embrace that heritage with the only fairy tale themed Christmas Market (at least that I’ve heard of) in Germany! Each year the theme changes to a different tale from the Brothers Grimm so you’ll never have the same experience twice. It’s incredible magical and a must-do Christmas Market in my books!
Lindsay from I’ve Been Bit. Follow her on social media!
Capitale de Noël
As the oldest Christmas market in Europe, with around 300 wooden chalets set up in the historic city center, this market offers traditional hot red wine, homemade handicrafts, Christmas decorations and more. The extravagant Christmas tree which is at least 30 meters tall. France’s National Forestry Office sources the wood from the forests of Alsace, Moselle and the Vosges Mountains to create an appealing display of lights.
Ridima from Little Joys and More. Follow her on social media!
Krakow Christmas Market
The market is set in the Rynek Glowny, one of the most beautiful historic squares in Europe. The Christmas lights do the seemingly impossible task of making the square even more gorgeous, and you can snag some great Polish gifts like amber jewelry or warm slippers. The food stands will leave you drooling, and there is – of course – plenty of hot spiced wine and even hot beer available to keep you warm.
Kris from Nomad by Trade. Follow her on social media!
Stuttgarter WeihnachtsMarkt (Stuttgart Christmas Market)
It’s all about the Glühwein, amirite?? Well, the Stuttgart Market has it in abundance. Of course, there’s more to being one of the best Christmas markets in Europe than just warming your innards sippin’ on that hot mulled wine and at this market, there’s plenty more to enjoy. Each Christmas stall tries to outdo its neighbor with elaborate rooftop decorations, local choir groups keep things festive with carols and holiday music, and there are gifts galore. (It’s enough to even put the Grinch in the holiday spirit!)
To top it off, the Stuttgart Christmas Market is one of the oldest on the continent — it’s been in existence over 300 years! So, visiting is literally a historic experience. It’s open all day, but I’d recommend going at night when the lights make it something magical. It’ll be chilly, though, so bundle up (or just keep refilling that cup o’ Glühwein)!
Mary Beth from MB Sees. Follow her on social media!
Winter Wonderland is London’s biggest Christmas Market, every year organized in Hyde Park. During December, this entire area transforms into a beautiful charming fairy tale, with fairy lights all over, a traditional German village where you will find the most delicious mulled wine and currywurst sausages and plenty of amusement rides. Santa has its own Grotto where he greets children and listens patiently to their gift requests. Being located so centrally in iconic London, Winter Wonderland definitely competes as one of the best Christmas markets in Europe.
Even if the weather is cold, there are heated areas where visitors can enjoy the food and the wine. By night, Winter Wonderland becomes even more spectacular, once all the lights are turned on.
Joanna from The World In My Pocket. Follow her on social media!
Monschau Christmas Market
The Christmas market in Monschau is perhaps the cutest and most romantic Christmas market. It can’t be otherwise as the little German town screams cuteness: half-timbered houses and the River Rur meandering through the hills of the pretty Eifel region. Monschau looks like this perfect snow-globe village and when it snows, the illusion is complete. For the best views, climb to the hill where the ruins of the medieval tower Der Haller stand.
Stroll along the streets lined up with festively decorated Christmas stalls and try the local specialties – printen (a sort of lebkuchen) and reibekuchen (fried potato pancakes), and of course lots of the delicious glühwein. The Monschau Christmas market is in the spirit of the traditional German Christmas markets so you can expect there lots lot of crafts and souvenirs, and ornaments – a perfect place to do your Christmas shopping. On Fridays, there are also traditional alpenhorn bands playing.
Monschau is just the perfect place to get in the mood for a lovely and cozy Christmas.
Daniela from Ipanema Travels. Follow her on social media!
Stockholm Gamla Stan Christmas Market (Stortorgets Julmarknad)
It is an old, traditional and famous Christmas market in Sweden with a cozy atmosphere and beautiful surroundings. Although one might think that the Christmas market tradition is more focused on Germany and Austria, Christmas markets have been held in Sweden since medieval times. The first one in the Old Town (Gamla Stan) was arranged already in 1523! The Gamla Stan Christmas Market is the oldest market in Sweden.
The little red wooden stalls sell local Christmas delicacies, like smoked reindeer and elk meat, gingerbreads, candies, and high-quality Swedish handicrafts. You can enjoy some hot glögg (mulled wine) to warm you up at the Stortorget square which is located in the heart of one of the largest European old towns.
Jemima from All The Colours. Follow her on social media!
Ljubljana Christmas Fairytale
Christmas markets as such are always amazing and fun places to spend winter afternoons with mulled wine in your hands, but what makes the one in Ljubljana, Slovenia so special is the unbelievable Christmas lights and decoration. If you think the whole city is magical as you are approaching it, wait till you come to the center.
On the famous Preseren Square is a huge tree every year, covered with white and blue lights and the whole old town is decorated with original and surreal objects. Forget about classic winter shapes and lights, Ljubljana is special in every point of view. Stroll among the wooden stand with beautiful gifts and souvenirs and look for angels, fish, geometrical shapes, planets, stars, and falling stars. And try to find the picture perfect spot. The city changes the composition of the lights every year, so your photos will never be the same as the previous year.
Tereza from Czick On The Road. Follow her on social media!
East Princes Street Gardens
East Princes Street Gardens Christmas market has something for everyone. It is great fun for people of all ages and you are sure to have a good time. This is the perfect place to go shopping, enjoy great food. You can participate in rides for adults or little kids. Perhaps you would prefer the Christmas activities or even getting lost in a Christmas tree maze. You can ride the big Ferris wheel, the towering star-gazer or even the merry-go-round. Of course, the cute gingerbread house booths are perfect for shopping for those unique gifts or memorable souvenirs too.
We know it just wouldn’t be Christmas without all of the treats! Of course, a favorite is the Bailey’s and coffee, but they also have hot chocolate, Nutella crepes, chimney cakes, fresh bread, and more! The full Christmas spirit is alive with music, lights, happy people and good cheer all around. This location is just below Edinburgh Castle, which provides you with amazing views and photo opportunities. There are several other Christmas markets and light shows within walking distance. You won’t be disappointed!
Heidi from Wagoners Abroad. Follow her on social media!
If you’re heading to Edinburgh, make sure to read our City Guide before planning your trip!
Advent in Zagreb
Despite being a predominantly summer destination, Croatia is worthy of a spot on your bucket list for it’s Christmas markets alone! The country’s capital does it best and Advent in Zagreb has been named Best Christmas Market three years in a row by European Best Destinations. The entire city of Zagreb is transformed every December with hundreds of festive light displays, traditional market stalls, and musical performances. Skating along the outdoor ice canals at King Tomislav Square is sure to get visitors in the holiday spirit and fritule is a must-try local Christmas pastry!
Felicia from Feather and The Wind. Follow her on social media!
Vorosmarty Square Christmas Market
Whilst Budapest doesn’t host the biggest Christmas markets; it does showcase a more traditional, less commercial side to Yuletide festivities, which I find far more appealing. In winter, Budapest becomes even more scenic with Vorosmarty Square in downtown Budapest transforming into a traditional Christmas village. This charming old-time fair consists of little wooden stalls showcasing local craftsmen and artisanal Christmas gifts. What makes this market so unique is precisely this focus on preserving traditional Hungarian folk art and traditions.
There are also plenty of opportunities to indulge in eating until you’re fit to burst. An open kitchen takes pride of place in the center of Vorosmarty Square overflowing with traditional Hungarian specialties. Of course, no Budapest Christmas market would be complete without a mulled wine, blackberry punch or krampampuli. The Vorosmarty Square Christmas Market also holds various performances and concerts on an outdoor stage and children can join in Christmas workshops on weekends.
Marie from A Life Without Borders
Christmas in Leicester Square
Christmas in London is simply magical but often very busy! Winter Wonderland is London’s most popular and biggest market but Leicester Square is personally my favorite. Why? It is a lot smaller than Winter Wonderland and because of this, it is often a lot quieter. You can still watch a Christmas show (a variety of shows from a circus to kids, burlesque to comedy are available), visit Santa’s Grotto, eat mince pies and drink hot apple cider. I love to browse the Christmas decoration stalls and of course, stock up on some fake snow.
Plus, the location is near the big stores in London that are always decked up for Christmas; walk along nearby Oxford Street, watch a West End show or enjoy a delicious meal in one of the many festive and themed restaurants nearby.
Katie from Creative Travel Guide. Follow her on social media!
When you think of European Christmas markets, Germany must be top of your list. With culture in spades and various Christmas markets each with their own flavor, you really can’t go wrong. If I had to pick one of Berlin’s famous markets, the one in front of the picturesque Charlottenburg Palace has to be it. Why? Location, location, location – at least one of the best Christmas markets in Europe has to be one located in a Palace! Here you can admire the majestic palace by day and enjoy the sparkling lights by night as you wander around over 250 differing stalls with a mug of mulled wine in hand. With the backdrop of the old orangery, the scents of gingerbread and roasted chestnuts waft around the stalls laden with delightful goodies – the perfect place to buy a Christmas present!
Laura from The Travelling Stomach. Follow her on social media!
Has your favorite made the cut, or do you have somewhere to add to our list of best Christmas markets in Europe? Let us know in the comments!
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