If you’re planning a trip to one of Europe’s Christmas Markets, now is the time to book. Here’s our pick of the best Christmas markets in Europe opening this weekend – all with direct flights, yuletide magic and guaranteed snow!
There is something about Central and Northern Europe that makes them do Christmas so well – after all, they invented the Christmas market! Could be the cold, could be the mulled wine tradition, could be the carolling frenzy, but they really have the best Christmas markets: bountiful, pretty, fun and … not expensive! Think gallons of mulled wine, clouds of cinnamon dust and iceskating in the middle of the city…
In the world’s happiest country, meet Father Christmas at the Zoo (that’s where the reindeer live), join the fairytale creatures at the Hans Christian Andersen Christmas market, go to the alternative Christmas bazaar in Christiania free township, have Christmas dinner at Hamlet’s castle or party with the Vikings in in Frederikssund. Seriously, the Danes can do Christmas in a million different ways! Here’s a little taster of what awaits!
The Swedes held their first Christmas market on Stortorget Square some 500 years ago, and it’s still going strong today. Explore the Nordic crafts extravaganza, glögg in hand, munch on saffransbullar and don’t tell the kids that some of the reindeer end up in the sausages. For a real cultural Christmas experience, spend the winter solstice in Skansen – a true winter wonderland.
With a Christmas market in practically every square, castle and city park, the Austrian capital is one of the oldest and best Christmas destinations in Central Europe; this is where Christkindl was born. Learn how to make your own gingerbread house, go nuts for doughnuts, enjoy the free Christmas punch, and stay for the New Year concert. I can smell the roasted chestnuts from over here… Oh, Vienna!
Christmas in Germany is both a grandiose and low-key family affair. Germans adore Christmas and they do it so well, too – there are some fifty markets across the city this year; if that’s not festive spirit, I don’t know what is?! Crafts are a big thing at German Christmas markets, and so is food, and this “Christmas around the world” market ticks all the boxes. Having just celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Fall of the Wall, you can be sure this Christmas is going to be extra-special, too. Take your pick from the numerous Christmas markets taking over the city here, and enjoy the Glühwein! Responsibly.
The Fest in Budapest
Hundreds of market stalls, music, traditional dances, puppet shows, food galore and lots of fantastically-decorated cookies are to be found in Vörösmarty tér. Almost everything on sale there is handmade – they’re pretty crafty, the Hungarians, and the food is gorge – words you need to know: langos, strudel and toki pompos. I’ll let you in on a little secret: they spice and heat up all manners of drink over there: apple juice, chocolate punch, plum brandy, wine, cider… Eat and shop till you drop, go on the Christmas tram, and then you can recover in the city’s famous thermal spas.
Prague is another pretty, buzzy city that is really good at festive magic with two main Christmas markets in the Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square (5 minutes’ walk from each other, if you need to burn some calories in between), a Christmas craft fair and St Nicholas children’s festival. Get your wooden toys and handmade Christmas ornaments there, and don’t leave with some proper hand-knit hats, gloves and scarves. There will be lots of cooking in the open-air Christmas markets, from pig roasted on a spit (!) to baked goods (try the trdelník), and you know you are in beer country, right?
Not convinced yet? Here’s a little slideshow to put you in the mood and get you on those booking sites.