14 of the Best Christmas Markets in Europe
Nothing says Christmas like falling white snow, roasted chestnuts, and handblown baubles, and when you get them all together in the one spot, only magical things can happen.
Christmas Markets are a tradition that dates back to the 1400s, and today, they’re still operating with the same charm and festive spirit as always.
What are the best Christmas markets in Europe?
Christmas markets are a historically treasured event in Europe and some have earned a reputation as being the best.
The Advent Feast at the Basilica in Budapest, Strasbourg Markets, and Vienna’s Magic of Advent are just a few of the best Christmas markets that take place in this charming continent.
If you’ve always dreamed of a white Christmas like this, we’ve compiled the most delightful markets to add to your bucket list.
There’s no better way to celebrate the holidays than with a trip to a quaint European town to enjoy their festive markets, so see what’s on offer around the world.
The Most Charming Christmas Markets in Europe
These markets are the best of the best when it comes to celebrating the Christmas spirit, and if you’re looking for somewhere that just oozes holiday charm and coziness, you’re in the right spot.
Here are our picks for some of the best and most renowned towns and cities that have the finest Christmas markets.
The German city of Berlin has a more modernized version of Christmas markets, and if you’re lucky enough to stay there during the holidays, your days will be packed with things to do.
Not only are they home to more than 80 Christmas markets, each with its own theme, but you can try ice skating and tobogganing at Winter World.
Among the huge selection of markets, Spandau stands out as the biggest, but you’ll find that quaint Christmas spirit with lots of homemade goods at Gendarmenmarkt Square.
If you’re going solely for markets, get your calendar out and do some planning though, as they’re not all open for as long as you’d think.
Vienna is home to some of the biggest and best Christmas markets in the world, along with the famous Magic of Advent event.
When Christmas rolls around, their snowy streets get decorate with lights, and markets stalls pop up everywhere, selling roasted chestnuts, hot pretzels, carved wooden toys, and more.
Other popular events include the Vienna Christmas Dream which takes place in front of City Hall, and an ice-skating rink is set up every year, along with a large Ferris wheel.
There’s nothing quite like Vienna at Christmas and it’s a city that takes festivities very seriously.
Strasbourg has earned the official title of France’s Capital of Christmas, so what better place to check out festive markets?
These are some of the largest in Europe with a minimum of 300 stalls awaiting you, and each of them selling traditional toys, Christmas decorations, and some of the tastiest sweets you’ve ever had the pleasure to enjoy.
The points of interest in Strasbourg are Place Broglie and the town square, and the markets open at 10 am so you can start your shopping early.
For a French twist of Christmas with that traditional charm, this is one of our favorites.
Budapest kicks off the festivities early in November when their markets begin, and if you love nothing more than Christmas lights, this town will wow you.
There’s an ice-skating rink, laser shows, light projections, and plenty of old-world Charm in the Hungary city.
The Advent Feast at the Basilica is a standout here, even if you don’t follow any religious dominations, but Vorosmarty Square is also considered some of the best markets that Budapest has to offer.
The stalls cover it all including delicious European delicacies to handmade goods, and the setting makes it even more magical.
The Austrian city of Salzburg has more charm than most, and Christmas history to boot.
If you love carols sung the traditional way, head here for their daily concerts, and if you prefer your markets to look just as they back in the 15th century, you’ll be pleased with what you find.
Salzburg’s Christmas markets focus solely on handmade goods which only adds to its charm.
Wooden toys, handmade socks, and expertly blown glass baubles are sold here, but make sure you have enough money to spend as they’re quality goods.
Gothenburg is a children’s Christmas wonderland and home to some of the most luxe markets on the globe, so there’s something for everyone.
The open-air markets require a small fee to enter and you’re welcome to stay as late as 10 pm, enjoying a bite of smoked reindeer (sorry, Rudolph) and some mulled wine.
There are lots of options for keeping kids entertained as well, like a walk through Santa’s workshop and a spectacular ice show.
If you want to keep Christmas classy, a trip to Sweden’s Gothenburg is on the cards.
Those who are happy to brave the coldest parts of Europe will be happy to head to Bratislava in Slovakia and enjoy their wondrous Christmas markets.
This city comes alive with quintessential Christmas-ness and you’ll see falling snow, fairy lights, and the most exquisite handmade decorations hanging from every possible place.
Bratislava is a popular choice among foodies because of the sheer variety they have, including locally made sausages, fresh and hot pancakes, and deliciously moist cakes.
With a beautiful winter wonderland and ice rink set up front and center at the markets, you can stay active after overindulging.
The German city of Cologne is one of the world’s top spots for celebrating Christmas, and they take their markets seriously.
The Markt der Engel lines the streets of Cologne and decorates it with hanging stars and fairy lights, with the picturesque view of their famous cathedral in the background.
Cologne is also the home of Nikolausdorf, or Saint Nick’s village, which kids can visit and hear about the traditions of the true Santa Claus.
The market stalls in this quaint city cover everything from pirates to sea shanties, and if you’re looking for a good variety of gifts, it’s the place to be.
Home to one of the most famous Christmas markets on earth, Copenhagen comes alive in the winter, with everyone flocking to check out the Tivoli Gardens and what goes on there.
In the middle of the markets, you can take a spin in the large Ferris wheel, take a spin in the skating rink, or just overindulge with all of the caramelized almonds and mulled wine your body can take.
The best views of these markets are from high up, hence the Ferris wheel and the town turn into a colorful patchwork delight thanks to all of the stalls.
You’ll be able to shop for knitted woolen sweaters, wooden toys, and ceramic crafts, all with that charming Nordic flair.
Although technically not part of Europe anymore, Bath in the UK still deserves a spot on our list.
The cobbled backdrop of this city makes it the ideal place to host markets, and you’ll find at least 200 stalls there to explore, with a huge focus on locally made products like wooden toys and lights.
Another must-see in Bath during Christmas is St. Michael’s Church, which transforms during the holidays into a festive wonder, and they have daily storytelling events for children.
There is no shortage of taverns close by to enjoy a glass of mulled cider or hot chocolate and escape the snow for just a while.
No town does it as beautifully as Prague, and it comes alive in winter, making it the perfect backdrop for Christmas markets.
The best thing about these markets is the food and drink, including pancakes, cheese flatbread, and a glass of traditional grog, made with water, lemon, sugar, and rum.
Prague is home to some of the prettiest sights in Europe and their markets are set in the Old Town Square next to the historical church, Our Lady Before Týn.
Here, you’ll find something to entertain the kids as well, with local animals including donkeys and sheep ready and waiting for a pet.
Bohemia in the Czech Republic is one of the most visually stunning places on earth, thanks to its architecture, and during Christmas, it’s even more magical.
There are lots of options here for festive markets, including České Budějovice and Český Krumlov that have become renowned for their beautiful lights, classical scenery, and open-air markets.
At the center of České Budějovice, you’ll find the larger markets, with a huge focus on handcrafted Christmas decorations and small wooden toys for children.
The markets are set among the backdrop of a dreamy castle, and the air is filled with the scent of freshly cooked sausages, roasting nuts, and spiced, mulled wine.
As one of the most historically significant locations in Poland, it’s no wonder that thousands flock to the Gdańsk Christmas market every year.
There’s so much more on offer here than just stalls though, and your kids will enjoy taking a ride on the carousel, the parade of the Snow Queen, elves walking the streets, and a five-meter tall gate that’s shaped like a Christmas candle.
The adults won’t miss out either, with the markets having more than your usual fare, including upcycled clothing, handmade jewelry, and hat makers.
The food options are plentiful and amazing as well, including Greek and Spanish delights, and all of the mulled beer and wine you could ask for.
If you like your Christmas with an eco-friendly twist, take a trip to Nuremberg in Germany for their annual winter markets.
As you enter the Christmas markets, you’ll be amazed by child-like wonderment as you look at the bright decorations, fairy lights, and angels that adorn the streets.
All of the market stallholders are devoted to sustainability with a focus on eco-friendly goods, and the markets are run with regenerative energy.
As well as feeling good about doing your part for the planet while you browse and get into the Christmas spirit, you can sample the local delicacies like roasted nuts, crackling pork, and a glass of mulled wine.
Christmas markets are some of Europe’s oldest traditions, and many people plan their holidays based solely on attending one of these events.
To find out what else is around in Europe during the festive season, read on for some commonly asked questions so you can better plan your trip.
Why Do European Countries Celebrate on Christmas Eve?
Traditional, some denominations of Christianity began to celebrate on Christmas Eve based on the Book of Genesis, as it states that the liturgical day started at sunset.
Not all European countries and towns follow this tradition, though, and there are still many celebrations on Christmas day itself.
What is the Coldest Country in Europe?
Most of Europe is known for getting cold during winter, but Russia has taken the title of Europe’s coldest country.
The average temperature in Russia is 22.8 degrees Fahrenheit and in winter this drops to an average minimum of -58 degrees Fahrenheit, making it the chilliest of all.
Which Country Is Santa From?
The character of Santa Claus was based on a monk named St. Nicholas, who was believed to be from a place called Patara, which we know today to be near modern-day Turkey.
St. Nicholas was alive around 280 A.D, and his legend continues to live on in the form of Santa Claus today, which is celebrated in many different iterations around the world.