It’s the most wonderful time of the year! And what better way to celebrate than to travel to a festive market in Europe? There's something special about European Christmas markets. The sights, the smells, the sounds—it's an assault on the senses that can only be truly appreciated in person. If you're lucky enough to find yourself in Europe during the holiday season, make sure to visit one (or all!) of these amazing Christmas markets.
1. Dresden, Germany - A celebration of the fruit cake
Dresden Striezelmarkt is one of the oldest Christmas markets in Germany, dating back to 1434. The market is set up in the city's Altmarkt square, surrounded by beautiful baroque buildings. Located in the historic city centre of Dresden, the market stretches for over a kilometre with 230 stalls. Visitors can expect to find traditional German fares such as blueberry Glühwein (mulled wine), Mützen (deep-fried yeast bun with powdered sugar), and Thüringer Rostbratwurst (traditional grilled sausage). Don’t miss the famous "Stollenfest," when a giant fruitcake is paraded through the streets!
2. Vienna, Austria - A classical Christmas market
With its origins dating back to 1294, Christkindlmarkt is one of the oldest markets in Europe. Located in front of Vienna City Hall, the market features 125 stalls selling traditional Austrian goods such as handmade wooden toys, glass ornaments, and marzipan delicacies. The streets are lined with twinkling lights, and the smell of gingerbread and mulled wine fills the air. The city also features 16 other iconic Christmas markets that are a must-see for any traveller. You can't go wrong with any of Vienna's Christmas markets if you want to make the most of your time in the city. Make sure to try a cup of Glühwein to warm up!
3. Budapest, Hungary - A fairytale market in the heart of Europe
The main Christmas market, the Advent Feast atthe Basilica, is located in front of St. Stephen's Basilica, one ofthe city's most beautiful buildings. At night, the facade of St. Stephen’sBasilica is illuminated with an incredible light show that will make you feellike Christmas has come early! With over 150 stalls selling everything fromtraditional Hungarian food to handmade gifts and souvenirs, there's somethingfor everyone here. Try some authentic Hungarian fare like chimney cake andpálinka (fruit brandy) while you're there, or get in on the action by learningsome Hungarian folk dance moves.
4. Strasbourg, France - The capital of Christmas
No list of European Christmas markets would be complete without mentioning Strasbourg, widely considered the capital of Christmas! The history of the Strasbourg Christmas market dates back to 1570, and it now features 14 different markets with more than 300 stalls selling a variety of holiday items. From traditional French treats like sweetened chestnuts and bredele ((a kind of little biscuit/cake), to handcrafted gifts, you'll find everything you need at the Strasbourg Christmas market. Don't forget to try the famous Tarte Flambée, a type of wood-fired pizza, and the local mulled wine known as Vin chaud. Strasbourg is the place to be if you're looking for a truly magical Christmas market experience.
5. Tallinn, Estonia - A medieval market straight out of a movie
Tallinn's Old Town is a magical winter wonderland during the holidays. The jewel and centrepiece of the Christmas market is the 581-year-old tradition of putting a Christmas tree in the town's square. From its origins in Europe, this practice has spread around the globe to become an integral part of the holiday season everywhere. The Tallinn Christmas market is spread out over several different squares in the Old Town, and it features charming wooden huts selling handmade gifts. Be sure to try traditional Estonian food such as tallinnasul (a type of candy made from honey and spices), kringle (a kind of sweet pastry), and warm glögg (mulled wine). And if you're lucky enough to visit during a snowfall, you'll be treated to a scene that will truly transport you to the North Pole.
6. Prague, Czech Republic - A festive market with a unique atmosphere
If you're looking for a market with a bit of history, look no further than Prague's Old Town Square Christmas Market, which is transformed into a festive winter wonderland during the holidays. Nestled in the heart of the historic district, the market is full of charming stalls selling traditional Czech goods, from handmade glass ornaments to wooden toys. In addition to trdelnk (a type of gingerbread) and svarene vino (mulled wine), you can find a wide variety of other Czech specialties and holiday treats. You'll also find live music and entertainment throughout the market.
7. Brussels, Belgium - A foodie's winter wonderland
If you're looking for a market to add to your list of must-visits, consider Brussels’ Christmas Market. Follow the scent of gingerbread and fresh-cut pine trees filling the air to Place Sainte-Catherine, where you'll find over 200 stalls selling all sorts of holiday goods. From handmade toys to delicious food and drink, there is something for everyone at the Brussels Christmas market. And of course, no visit to the Brussels Christmas market would be complete without sampling some of the city's famous cuisine, like succulent Belgian waffles or raclette baguettes. Although the capital city's market is not set up in the Grand Place, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is also worth a visit. When it's decked out for Christmas, the square is even more stunning, with a towering Christmas tree, Christmas lights, and decorations adorning every building.
8. Edinburgh, Scotland - The perfect place to get into the holiday spirit
If you're looking for a market that will get you into the holiday spirit, Edinburgh Christmas Market is the place to be. The charming setting of Princes Street Gardens, with its Georgian architecture and views of Edinburgh Castle, provides the perfect backdrop for a festive market. Mulled wine, Scottish whisky, grilled sausages, and Hogmanay haggis are just some of the delectable eats and drinks that will be available to visitors. If you're feeling energetic, you can even try your hand at ice skating at the covered rink in Princes Street Gardens or challenge your sense of direction in the Christmas tree maze. What's more, Edinburgh is a beautifully atmospheric city to visit at this time of year, with its medieval streets and castle providing a stunning backdrop to the festivities.
Christmas magic is in the air!
No matter which Christmas market you choose to visit, you’re sure to have a magical time surrounded by twinkling lights, festive decorations, and good cheer. So start planning your trip—and get ready to celebrate the season in style by contacting a soNomad agent for your travel insurance needs.