Top 5 Christmas markets in Europe

What could be more magical than strolling through Europe’s snow dusted, cobblestone laneways, sipping a spice-laden Glühwein as you browse the bustling festive Christmas markets whilst listening to carollers?
From late November to early January, Europe is home to hundreds of charming Christmas markets, set against Gothic cathedrals, medieval marketplaces and quaint historic towns. To help you celebrate the holiday season in style, here are five of the best Christmas markets in Europe to visit this festive season.

1. Cologne Christmas Market, Germany

Set against the Gothic masterpiece of Cologne Cathedral, the 150 red roofed wooden stalls surrounding the Rhineland’s largest Christmas tree, a 25 metre high Nordmann fir is one of the most popular markets in Germany. Shop for locally made Christmas gifts for family and friends back home with woodcarvings, glass balls, soaps, toys, ceramics and more. Taste freshly baked cookies, washed down with the “Original Christmas mulled wine” from festively designed Christmas mugs and listen to the wide range of musical performances throughout the day and night.

2. Viennese Dream Christmas Market, Austria

If you’re looking for a traditional European Christmas market with a twist then the Viennese Dream Christmas Market has it all. Dating back to the late 18th century, these markets are perfectly placed infront of the impressive, illuminated Town Hall. From mid-November, visitors can shop at the 150 stalls for traditional presents, whilst savouring roasted chestnuts, pretzels and the sweet aromas of chocolate and lebkuchen that drift from stall to stall. Get into the spirit of Christmas with a traditional horse-drawn sleigh ride, go ice skating at the grand ice rink and take in the impressive views from above as you ride the Giant Ferris Wheel. Arrive at night as the twinkling lights and illuminations turn on for a romantic wonderland and magical setting.

3. Christkindelsmärik, Strasbourg, France

If you’re imagining traditional wooden chalets in a fairytale setting then a trip to Europe wouldn’t be complete without visiting the UNESCO World Heritage listed town of Strasbourg. Known as the ‘Capital of Christmas’, Strasbourg’s Christkindelsmärik, dates back to 1570 and is France’s oldest Christmas market. Admire the towering Great Christmas Tree, wander around the 300 wooden chalets and illuminated streets and feast on bretzels (a French version of the German pretzel), foie gras and the Alsace’s must-try dish, Tarte Flambée, complete with a steaming mug of mulled wine.

4. Christmas Markets Prague, Czech Republic

Arrive in Prague from the end of November to early January to explore Prague’s magical Christmas markets. Held in the Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square, brightly decorated wooden huts showcase local handicrafts including Christmas tree ornaments, embroidered lace, scented candles and wooden toys, perfect for unique gift ideas for friends and family. Be sure to sample the local delicacies including barbequed sausages (klobása); flatbread topped with garlic, cheese and ketchup (langoš) and spicy gingerbread (perníčky). Wash this down with a local Czech beer, spiced mulled wine or creamy hot chocolate.

5. Main Christmas Market, Bratislava, Slovakia

What better way to celebrate the Christmas season than in Slovakia’s capital city, Bratislava. Stroll down the glowing streets whilst admiring the Gothic architecture and head to the Main Christmas Market at Main Square to soak in the festive atmosphere of musical and dance performances. For great views from above, climb the tower of the Old Town Hall for panoramic views of the markets and the twinkling lights of the old town. Alternatively, walk to nearby Hviezdoslav Square to explore the Old Town Christmas Market where you can shop for local specialities including handmade wooden toys, scarves and scented candles for your loved ones back home. Make time to sample the local delicacies including strudel, Lokša, (a delicious salty pancake) and mead, one of the oldest alcoholic drinks of the old Slavs.
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