As you can probably tell by now, I am a huge Christmas lover! I love everything about it: the sparkly lights, the smell of the wood burning, the beautiful decorations… I just love it all. One aspect of this season that I especially adore are the Christmas Markets! It is something that interested me more when I was living in London. Throughout my travels, I have learned each country has a Christmas Market that is uniquely their own. Holiday markets are consistently one of my highlights when I travel; here are some of my favorite ones, and others that are on my wish list.
Oh Europe…. you have such amazing Christmas Markets. Let’s start off with London and then move our way east. These are only a few suggestions, I am sure there are tons more out there that I don’t know about. Last time I checked, all the Christmas Markets below are free admission; you may want to double-check before going.
CHRISTMAS MARKETS – EUROPE
LONDON – Winter Wonderland
- Winter Wonderland is by far one of my favorite markets, it has it all… amazing decorations, tons of food and drink options, a good selection of rides and games. As any good event, it all comes at a cost. The entry to the park is free but with all the attractions, food and drinks it can get pricey. For me it is totally worth it, to see everyone in the Christmas spirit, sipping on mulled wine (which is a must for me during Christmas) walking around admiring all the crafts. It is just all so fascinating. Be prepared for crowds and line-ups though… I find Winter Wonderland can get super packed; don’t let it deter you, it was a must see for me!
Photo by: @sonkaigel
BRUSSELS – Plaisirs d’Hiver and Winter Pret
- Brussels has one of the most amazing Christmas Markets, known for being one of the longest-running markets in Europe! Plaisirs d’Hiver and Winter Pret has more than 240 chalets from Grand Place to Place St. Catherine. In these chalets, you will find anything and everything you are looking for, from hand crafted soaps, to jewelry, handbags, and of course, Christmas decorations. Don’t miss out on the light and laser show in the Grand Place; it has beautiful colorful images that are synced with music and projected onto the Town Hall.
Photo by: @anyaskrynnik
STRASBOURG – Christkindelsmärik
- Strasbourg is said to have held the very first Christmas Market back in 1570, making it the oldest market in Europe… It has been named “Capital of Christmas”. Christkindelsmärik, one of the best Christmas Markets in France, offers over 300 wooden stalls complete with all your Christmas decoration needs. Nativity plays, an ice rink, caroling choirs and mulled wine served in boot-shaped mugs. The entire city is transformed and enchanted with twinkling landscape throughout, instantly evoking the magic of Christmas.
Photo by: @a_ontheroad
COLMAR – La Magie de Noël
- Colmar Christmas Market La Magie de Noël has been in my bucket list forever! Well, maybe like three years, but it feels like a long time! I am sure you have seen the pictures of this beautiful town all over Instagram. I am sure it is beautiful year-round but my dream is to visit during Christmas time. The town itself is so picturesque and feels like Christmas everywhere you go. When it comes to Christmas Markets they really go all out, they don’t just have one or two markets… they have six markets throughout town. The whole city is decorated to look like you’re in a fairy tale. The city center is for pedestrian access only, which makes it even better and easier for taking those magical pictures.
Photo by: @inn_praha
STUTTGARTER – Stuttgarter Weihnachtsmarkt
- The Stuttgarter Weihnachtsmarkt is “la crème de la crème” of Christmas Markets. The Stuttgart Christmas Market is not only one of the most beautiful and biggest Christmas Market, it is also one of the oldest in Europe. There are over 290 wooden chalets decorated with everything Christmas related… from trees, to Santa, to snowmen… it is truly a fairytale scene right out of a movie! Get ready to be overwhelmed with everything that this Christmas Market has to offer! Don’t forget to sit back and enjoy the festive concert in the Renaissance Courtyard of the Old Palace while sipping on some mulled wine and nibbling on roasted chestnuts.
Photo by: @steph.l_photos
COLOGNE – Cologne Christmas Market
- If you thought that the Colmar Christmas Market was over the top because the town offers six separate markets… get ready for this! Cologne’s Christmas Market offers SEVEN throughout the town, each with their own unique character. Cologne Christmas Markets attracts more people than any other Christmas Market in Germany. All the markets are very to each other, which makes it ideal for exploring them all. They are all unique, and their decorations and attractions vary: from an Old Christmas Market (which is heaven for children) to a whole Christmas theme on the harbor (which showcases beautifully decorated boats and a chocolate museum).
Photo by: @jollybuggy
VIENNA – Christmas World at Rathausplatz
- Vienna I love! I visited a month after the Christmas Markets were taken down, and after visiting this beautiful city, I would love to go back during Christmas. Christmas World at Rathausplatz transforms the whole city and is breathtaking. The main Christmas Market is located in front of the City Hall and features over 150 wooden stalls that you can browse throughout and search for handmade decorations, presents and, of course, food and drinks. In the center of this Christmas market you’ll find a large Christmas tree and a skating rink! If you are feeling very festive and want to share a romantic moment, you can do a horse-carriage ride throughout the market.
Photo by: @christian_kremser
PRAGUE – Christmas Market at Old Town Square
- Prague has one of the most beautiful town squares I have seen in all my travels… now imagine adding a Christmas Market to it! The center of the square features a huge Christmas tree that is sure to capture your attention. Locals would say that Prague has the largest Christmas tree display in Europe… I guess you will have to go see it yourself and check if it is true. Surrounding the tree are all the wooden stands selling ceramics, jewelry, wooden toys, and Christmas ornaments. For The Old Town Square Christmas Market, decorations and things to buy are equally as important as the food and drinks. They love their food and so do I! Make sure to try the local favorites and sit back and enjoy the scenery. Another must see is the top of the bell tower and see the Christmas Market from above. It might be windy and cold, and it is so worth it!
Photo by: @laura.juul
BASEL – Christmas Market at Barfüsserplatz & Münsterplatz
- When you think of Christmas Markets, Switzerland may not pop at the top of the list… but it should! Basel is a small town in Switzerland and attracts people from all over Europe to come and see their Christmas Market. The Basel Christmas Market goes above and beyond your expectations. There are over 180 wooden chalets offering handcrafted goodies and amazing, delicious food… What makes this Christmas Market really stand out, is how the wooden chalets are decorated. Every year there is a competition between the vendor chalets for the best decorated stall. Imagine being in this beautiful Christmas Market and enjoying the ambience, it is a fairytale!
Photo by: @marcelmoser
BUDAPEST – Basilica Christmas Market
- The Basilica Christmas Market in Budapest is not one to miss! It is located in front of the St. Stephen’s Basilica, which adds to the charm. The center of the square is taken over by stalls showcasing food, drinks, and crafts. Right in the middle of it is the town’s Christmas tree, surrounded by a skating rink and lights that connect from the tree to the chalets. Throughout the evening, the Basilica will have different nativity scenes projected on itself that change every hour. On Fridays and Saturdays, be on the lookout for flash mobs by the local Goncol Folk Dance Ensemble.
Photo by: @veronikahonzirkova
Well there you have it… a few of my favorites and must-see Christmas Markets throughout Europe. I know all cities have their own markets and I do wish I could visit them all. Which ones are your favorites? Any that I should add to my list? If you are in London make sure to check my ‘A GUIDE TO LONDON INSTAGRAM SPOTS‘ blog post where I showcase over 100 insta-spots!