You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

17 of the best Christmas markets in Europe

Evening Standard logo Evening Standard 06/11/2018 Fiona MacConnacher, Laura Hampson
The Gendarmenmarkt Christmas market glows with light in Berlin, Germany, 27 November 2017. The Christmas market in front of the the Konzerthaus in Berlin opened its doors during rainy weather and cool temperatures. Photo: Paul Zinken/dpa (Photo by Paul Zinken/picture alliance via Getty Images) © Getty The Gendarmenmarkt Christmas market glows with light in Berlin, Germany, 27 November 2017. The Christmas market in front of the the Konzerthaus in Berlin opened its doors during rainy weather and cool temperatures. Photo: Paul Zinken/dpa (Photo by Paul Zinken/picture alliance via Getty Images)

We grumble about it every year, but Christmas really has come round too fast this time. Only five minutes ago we were sipping rosé in the park and panic-buying fans from Argos. Now we're scrabbling around for our highest tog duvet and trying to remember how to put the heating on.

             

Download the Microsoft News app for your Android or iPhone device and get news & live updates on the go.

Something which won't fail to get you in the festive mood, though? A Christmas market. And no one puts on a winter wonderland quite like our friends on the Continent.

For a last-minute  city break, with more than a bit of sparkle, check out the list below.

1. Salzburg, Austria

a group of people walking down a street next to tall buildings: salzburg-christmas-markets.jpg © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited salzburg-christmas-markets.jpg

Located in the northern Alps, there’s a high chance of a white Christmas in Salzburg.

Festive markets in the Austrian city have been taking place since the 15th century, and the largest is held on Cathedral Square where choirs regularly perform outside the Cathedral. Smaller markets can be found around the city like the postcard-perfect one in Hellbrunn Courtyard, where children can enjoy a ride on a reindeer-drawn sledge, or the smaller but equally charming market in the Hohensalzburg Fortress with views of the sparkling city below.

The Salzburg Christmas Market in Cathedral Square will run from November 22 - December 26, 2018.

2. Strasbourg, France

a view of a city at night: strasbourg-xmas-noel.strasbourg.eu-.jpg © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited strasbourg-xmas-noel.strasbourg.eu-.jpg

As the self-proclaimed ‘Capital of Christmas’, Strasbourg’s Christmas markets are popular, and with good reason. Dotted around the picturesque Alsatian town, the markets each have an individual feel with a guest country invited every year to display its Christmas wares in one area. This year it's Portugal.

The French city’s year-round appeal only steps up a notch around Christmas with a staggeringly large Christmas tree in Place Kleiber, and the main traditional market nestled under the terracotta hues of the Cathedral, once the world’s tallest building.

Make the most of your visit with the festive food on offer in the markets themselves, of course, but also take the opportunity to eat plenty of Tarte Flambée and Choucroute Garnie washed down with the local wines.

The Strasbourg Christmas Market will run from November 23 - December 30, 2018.

3. Prague, Czech Republic

a large clock tower towering over the city of london: prague-xmas-market-prague.eu-.jpg © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited prague-xmas-market-prague.eu-.jpg

It seems only fitting that the birthplace of the ‘Good King Wenceslaus’ would be teeming with yuletide cheer. In the square named after Wenceslaus himself, the Czech patron saint, you will find one of the two main markets in Prague, with the other being found in the Old Town Square. More petite markets can be found by the castle and on Kampa Island.

As well as mulled wine, there are still plenty of opportunities to drink renowned Czech beers, possibly alongside klobása, a barbecued sausage you will find sold amongst the stalls or trdelník, a sweet cylindrical pastry. Bohemian crafts are sold beneath the gigantic gleaming Christmas tree next to St. Nicholas Church with a stable with real animals close-by too.

The Prague Christmas Markets will be open from December 1, 2018 - January 6, 2019.

4. Munich, Germany

a lit up city at night: munich-christmas-market-getty.jpg © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited munich-christmas-market-getty.jpg

The Bavarian capital gets itself into a party spirit yet again for Christmas with a mind-blowing 24 markets. As well as the usual, things get medieval in Wittlesbacherplatz which conjures up the smells and sights of some of Europe’s original markets with traders in costume and traditional mead or Feuerzangebowle served in wonderfully designed goblets. In fact, each of the markets serves up mulled wine in their own vessel so choose wisely before deciding on your cup.

Aside from the must-visit central market in Marienplatz, you can get into a festival spirit with the vast Tollwood Winterfestival at Theresienwiese, where Oktoberfest celebrations also take place. It offers a lot more beside the usual crafts you’ll find at the more traditional markets as well as performances and art.

The Munich Christmas Market in Marienplatz will run from November 27 - December 24, 2018.

5. Copenhagen, Denmark

a group of people standing in front of a tree: tivoli-visit-copenhagen.jpg © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited tivoli-visit-copenhagen.jpg

Head further north to the Danish capital for a taste of a Scandi Christmas. The main market in the Tivoli Gardens, the famous amusement park, turns into a winter wonderland with plenty of Christmas sparkle, the lake is also transformed into an ice rink.

Back in the heart of the city, the Nyhavn market is set alongside the old harbour showcases traditional crafts or Freetown Christiania with its free-spirited bazaar atmosphere. The first two weekends of December, you’ll also find treats in the beautiful renaissance castle of Kronborg.

The Tivoli Gardens Christmas Market is open from November 17 - December 31, 2018.

6. Paris, France

a crowd of people standing in front of a store: champs-elysees-christmas-market-getty.jpg © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited champs-elysees-christmas-market-getty.jpg

Perhaps not necessarily fitting into the standard feel of the other markets, Paris still is a great draw for your festive shopping fix. The main market is found along the Champs Elysees, complete with an ice rink and several different areas serving up a great selection of items and food, and even champagne.

There are other markets across the city: underneath the Montparnasse Tower, in the commercial La Defence district and near the Eiffel Tower. You’ll be able to rack up a little more spending in the main shops too – December is the only time of year the Parisian department stores are open on a Sunday allowing for a full weekend of present buying.

The Champs-Élysées Christmas Market will run from November 22, 2018 - January 9, 2019.

7. Bologna, Italy

a group of people on a sidewalk in front of a building: bologna-christmas-market-shutterstock.jpg © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited bologna-christmas-market-shutterstock.jpg

For a departure from the Germanic Christmas markets, pop to Italy to discover what the delectable city of Bologna can serve up. It’s a gastronomic draw, no surprise giving the city’s reputation, and picking up some torrone is essential – a Christmassy, Italian nougat.

Plenty of crib figurines and chocolate dipped citrus peel are to be found and, if you happen to be visiting for the new year, a separate street market runs in the Piazza Maggiore on New Year’s Eve where they set fire to an effigy of an old man to destroy any negativity left from the year – possibly needed after 2018.

The Bologna Christmas Market will run from mid-November - late-December 2018.

8. Nuremberg, Germany

a view of a city at night: nuremberg-christmas-market-getty.jpg © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited nuremberg-christmas-market-getty.jpg

The Nuremberg market is an old hand at Christmas markets and you’ll even find that some of the stalls themselves date back over a century. Buy Zwetschgenmannle, the cute figurines hailing from the city otherwise known as Prune men as they used to be made of plums. Although gingerbread is a mainstay of Christmas markets across the world, it’s a Nuremberg export so be sure to get some to take back.

As a city to explore, there’s plenty more than just shopping with a huge swath of museums illustrating Nuremberg’s fascinating past.

The Nuremberg Christmas Market will run from November 30 - December 24, 2018.

9. Budapest, Hungary

a group of people walking on a city street: vorosmarty-square-christmas-market-getty.jpg © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited vorosmarty-square-christmas-market-getty.jpg

First and foremost, Budapest is a winter food-lover’s dream. Goulash is the Hungarian’s speciality – a meat stew with vegetables and noodles often served in a bowl of bread meaning you can eat the bowl once you’re done. If this doesn’t scream comfort then we don’t know what does.

The Budapest Christmas Fair combines traditional food and dancing with live music. It’s based in the central Pest district and is made up of over 150 stalls. A panel of adjudicators are on-hand to make sure that all products sold in the market are traditionally handmade.

The Vorosmarty Square Christmas Market (a.k.a the Budapest Christmas Fair) will run from November 9, 2018 - January 1, 2019.

10. Belfast, Ireland

a group of people in front of a building: belfast-christmas-market-visitbelfast.jpg © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited belfast-christmas-market-visitbelfast.jpg

There’s something magical about Belfast at Christmastime. From the occasional snowfall, to the always-packed pubs – there is a sight to beheld around every corner of the Northern Irish capital.

With the city hall as the beautiful backdrop, head on down to the annual Belfast Christmas Market. Here you can indulge in a number of treats including cheese and olives, bratwurst, Belgian chocolates and French tarts made on-site. It is a perfect destination for the kids as Santa has his very own grotto located within the market.

The Belfast Christmas Market will run from November 17 - December 22, 2018.

11. Stockholm, Sweden

skansen-christmas-market-maria-johansson-skansen.jpg © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited skansen-christmas-market-maria-johansson-skansen.jpg

If being bundled up during light snow fall with a cup of mulled wine is your forte, head north to visit a Nordic Christmas market. Skansen's Christmas Market has been held annually since 1903 and is a beloved holiday tradition among Swedes.

Stock up on traditional sausages, cheeses, spices and essences while getting lost in Skansen’s many homemade delights. These range from handmade mustard, to breads, cakes, sugared almonds, tallows, honey, marzipan, crisp bread, smoked turkey, jams and marmalades.

The markets also sell an array of Swedish crafts alongside traditional Christmas ornaments and hand-dipped candles. While you’re perusing the stalls, munch on some traditional fare like pepparkakor (gingersnaps) and glögg (mulled wine).

Skansen Christmas Market will run from November 24 - December 16, 2018 and is only open on weekends.

12. Vienna, Austria

a group of people performing on stage in front of a building: wiener-christkindlmarkt-am-rathausplatz-shutterstock.jpg © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited wiener-christkindlmarkt-am-rathausplatz-shutterstock.jpg

Vienna is a gorgeous city whatever time of year you visit, but Christmas adds that extra little sparkle.

Strings of warm Christmas lights adorn every street and become illuminated once the winter sun begins to set. Vienna is also home to one of the biggest and decidedly most beautiful Christmas markets in the world: Wiener Christkindlmarkt am Rathausplatz.

Christkindlmärkte is the name for the many markets that pop up over the city from mid-November, including Rathausplatz where locals meet to drink mulled wine and eat spiced biscuits. Be sure to check out Spittelberg market, located among the cobbled street between Burggasse and Siebensterngasse in the seventh district – it’s one of the city's more petite and prettiest markets.

Wiener Christkindlmarkt am Rathausplatz will run from from November 16 - December 26, 2018.

13. Manchester, UK

a large clock tower towering over the city of london: manchester-christmas-markets.jpg © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited manchester-christmas-markets.jpg

While Manchester is a joyous place to visit at any time of the year, the northern hub really comes alive at Christmas time. The markets light up the city with over 300 stalls spread across the city centre offering mouth-watering food and delicately crafted Yuletide gifts.

The Manchester Christmas Market will run from November 9 - December 22, 2018.

14. Berlin, Germany

a group of people standing in front of a building: berlin-christmas-market-getty.jpg © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited berlin-christmas-market-getty.jpg

Travellers heading to Berlin are always looking for three things: great food, exciting nightlife and gorgeous Christmas markets.

Luckily, it’s now the best time of year to visit Berlin as you’ll be able to find all three. In terms of Christmas markets, you’ll be spoilt for choice as come the end of November, the German city will fill with delicious-smelling food and drink.

With many markets to choose from, make your way to one of the biggest: the Alexanderplatz Christmas Market. Under the shadow of the TV Tower, the entirety of Alexanderplatz will be covered in stalls with potters, blacksmiths and glassblowers displaying their work. In the centre of the market, you will find Europe’s largest Christmas pyramid with over 5,000 lights.

The Alexanderplatz Christmas Market will run from November 26 - December 26, 2018.

15. Helsinki, Finland

a harbor filled with lots of traffic: helsinki-christmas-market-shutterstock.jpg © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited helsinki-christmas-market-shutterstock.jpg

Christmas lovers can bask in the lights lining Aleksanterinkatu – one of the most famous streets in the city - and peruse the Helsinki Christmas Market.

The market is made up of over 100 stalls inspired by Finnish traditions where visitors can indulge in the traditional Finnish Christmas drink, Glögi, made from spiced wine with a pinch of almonds, raisins, and whenever possible, a splash of vodka.

The Helsinki Christmas Market will run from December 1 - December 22, 2018.

16. Edinburgh, Scotland

a close up of a tree: edinburgh-getty-tree-maze.jpg © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited edinburgh-getty-tree-maze.jpg

Anyone who's ever been to Edinburgh's Hogmanay knows that the festive period is when the Scottish capital truly shines. The romantic Christmas Market runs for six weeks each year in the East Princes St Gardens and the stalls are filled with a number of gastronomic delights.

Search for the Elf Workshop hidden in the Christmas tree maze, ride the charming carousel or simply peruse the aromatic stalls. Edinburgh is just a short train ride away from London, making it the perfect weekend getaway.

The Edinburgh Christmas Market will run from November 16, 2018 - January 5, 2019.

17. Tallinn, Estonia

a large building: tallin-visit-estonia.jpg © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited tallin-visit-estonia.jpg

For a slightly off-the-beaten track Christmas market experience, head to Tallinn. You'll be one of few tourists queueing up for a cup of hot Vana Tallinn, a local rum-based liquer, at the booze stall.

The fairytale market is complete with a Santa's grotto, merry-go-round and over 60 small wooden huts selling all kinds of handmade trinkets and Estonian Christmas food including black pudding, sour cabbage and gingerbread. In the centre of it all you'll find Estonia's largest Christmas tree.

The Tallinn Christmas Market will run from November 16, 2018 - January 7, 2019.

Watch: The Top November Destinations For Every Type of Traveller [Buzz60]

UP NEXT
UP NEXT

champs-elysees-christmas-market-getty.jpg © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited champs-elysees-christmas-market-getty.jpg

Search on Bing: More about Prague

Search on Bing: More about Prague
AdChoices
AdChoices

More from Evening Standard

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon