The Christmas cheer is here and nothing says it quite like a trip to a Christmas Market. Here’s our pick of our five favorite ones around Europe.
Prague – Czech Republic
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again, traveling to Prague is always a good idea and Christmas is no different.
Covered in a blanket of snow and full of yuletide cheer, the atmosphere in Prague will bring out your inner child and have you feeling all fuzzy inside despite the cold.
The city offers four different Christmas markets to discover, but the ones you shouldn’t miss can be found in the Old Town square and Wenceslas square. And they’re only five minutes apart from each other.
Old Town’s Christmas market unfolds in a fairy tale like setting with medieval buildings such as the Old Town hall, Kinsky Palace and the Tyn Cathedral bringing a unique flavor to the festivities.
The market is made up of wooden huts and stalls traditional throughout Europe, but Czech comfort foods you’ll find here make it stand out.
Czech food might not win the prize for the healthiest dishes out there, but it more than makes up for it with flavor and comfort factor. You’ll love digging into the Christmas market’s generous selection of Klobasa (Czech Sausage) and washing them down with a cheap bottle of Pilsner beer or Svarak (mulled wine).
Budapest – Hungary
Budapest is a popular destination for visitors during winter time and with good reason.
Whether it’s the steam baths in Széchenyi, heart warming bowls of Gulash or simply the beauty of its architecture, Budapest offers many reasons to visit come winter and its Christmas markets are one of them.
Because in Budapest, Christmas feels the way it ought to.
Though Hungary is becoming a land of craft beers and pop-up cafés, Vorosmarty square’s Christmas market remain resolutely traditional. Considered among the best Christmas markets in Europe ever since its opening 18 years ago, Vorosmarty Square’s rustic look creates the perfect atmosphere for the festive cheer.
Traditional arts and crafts stalls sell everything from folk music instruments to handmade ceramics, and if you’d like to warm yourself up, the mulled wine and delicious Goulash taste even better in the winter wonderland like setting.
There are other excellent Christmas markets you’ll find scattered around the city, but if you’re after a luxury experience, the Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace’s Winter forest-themed Christmas Market was made with you in mind.
Found just off Zinyi street, the market’s stalls feature many local luxury brands including AGNESKOVACS, Chrissand, Banyatanya, Varga Crystal and Cinq Filles Budapest among others.
Tallin – Estonia
Tallin’s Christmas Markets are the thing of magic and wonder. In fact, the whole of Tallin is.
Despite its modern culture, this pristine medieval town hasn’t lost an ounce of its authenticity over the years and it still looks and feels like a thing of the past. So what better place is there to spend your Christmas?
Tallinn’s tradition of the Christmas tree in the town square dates back to 1441, making it the oldest Christmas tree to be displayed in Europe and giving us another reason to love this little city.
Expect traditional Estonian cuisine such as sour cabbage, black pudding, and the pleasure of watching Santa ride into the square with his team of reindeer.
Salzburg – Austria
No top Christmas markets list would be complete without Salzburg’s. As far as picturesque settings go, this one is hard to top.
Located at the foot of the Hohensalzbirg fortress and around the Cathedral of Salzburg, the market – which dates back to the 15th century – is a place of magic and wonder which will have young and old feeling the Christmas cheer.
It’s hard not to. The town of Salzburg and the surrounding mountains are simply gorgeous, and after a day of exploring, there’s nothing quite like walking to the warm lights and the scent of baked apples, roasted chestnuts and toasted almonds emanating from the Market.
Music is integral to Salzburg’s identity (a certain Mozart was born here in 1756) and the Christmas market does the city’s reputation justice by filling the air with the songs of choirs, and the Turmblasen (an advent brass concert) every day.
Adding to the Salzburg’s Christmas culture, are the Christkind, Austria’s very own version of Santa Claus. Dressed in white and gold robes with curly hair and feathered wings, these angels can be seen around the market four says before Christmas and they’re a big hit with the kids. Well, the good ones at least. The bad, ought to fear the whip of the market’s Krampusses, evil spirits who accompany St Nicholas spotting the naughty children in the crowd.
Berlin – Germany
It seems that every square meter of Berlin has a Christmas Market to call its own, but if you only have to choose one, it has to be the Gendarmenmarkt.
Found in the shadow of the Deutscher and Franzüsischer Dom’s, the wooden stalls of the Gendarmenmarkt Christmas market are the perfect pitstop before a big night of Christmas shopping thanks to the delicious sausages and mulled wine you’ll find there.
You’re able to find all sorts of handcrafted baubles to buy, but this Christmas Market doesn’t stick slavishly to tradition. It is Berlin after all, and in the evening rock and jazz concerts replace your usual Christmas carols by candlelight.