Best Christmas Markets In Europe

Do you smell the gingerbread? Can you taste the mulled wine? Feel the chilly air? The month of December means Christmas Market time in Europe so get your reindeer sweaters ready! Regardless of whether you celebrate Christmas, these markets ooze with holiday cheer that will please anyone. Even the Grinch couldn’t resist the sparkling magical villages that are spring up across Europe in December. Here are some of the best Christmas Markets in Europe chosen by fellow travel bloggers who were kind enough to help me with this post.

(cover photo by Helena from Fountain of Travel)

Frankfurt

Best Christmas Markets in Europe
photo by Rohan from Travels of a Bookpacker

The Frankfurt Christmas Markets are rumored to be the oldest in Germany and really make the city come alive in the lead up to Christmas. They are just the right amount of bustling and appealing to tourist crowds as well as a hot spot for locals to meet for a drink or a bratwurst in the evening. At the stalls you can find all kinds of delicacies typical of Christmas markets such as mulled wine, roasted nuts and lebkuchen (gingerbread). But you’ll also find some Frankfurt specialities like bethmännchen (small biscuits made with marzipan) and hot apple wine.

For souvenir shopping, go during the day when it is less crowded and then return at night for the magic of the lights and to enjoy a warm drink with the locals. The centre piece of the market is a huge Christmas tree next to the town hall and a beautiful old carousel.

Learn more about German Christmas Markets at Travels of a Bookpacker

See more photography from Rohan on Instagram

Manchester

Best Christmas Markets in Europe
photo by Helena at Fountain of Travel

You would be excused for not making an obvious connection between industrial Manchester and a grand Christmas market. However, this city puts on a huge Christmas market every year which attracts millions of visitors.  Manchester was the first Christmas market I ever went to, and there is no shortage of festive cheer across the market’s 10 sites. The epicentre is Albert’s Square where you’ll find rustic wooden stalls and a beer hall, all overlooked by a somewhat intimidating Santa Claus statue. Amidst all the European-style food and decorations, make sure you step into Manchester Town Hall. This is where alternative retailers from Affleck’s Palace set up Christmas shop, perfect if you want a unique Christmas gift.

For me, food is the highlight of a Christmas market and there are some places you have to try here. The Italian sweets stall on Albert Square has incredible cannoli, the garlic mushroom stands dotted around the city provide a filling lunch and the fried potatoes from Albert Square are amazing. Let’s not forget the mulled wine though. The mugs (that change design yearly) can be returned after use, but why not keep them as a Manchester souvenir?

Read more about Manchester at Fountain of Travel

See more photos from Helena on Instagram

Antwerp’s Kerstmarkt 

Best Christmas Markets in Europe
photo by Bernie at A Packed Life
You can’t miss the Kerstmarkt in Antwerp, reaching as it does from the Het Steen on the river to the town hall in the centre of the city.    You’ll be drawn in by the wonderful smells of frites (well, we are in Belgium!) and mulled wine, plus the sounds of excited crowds.  By the side of the river you’ll find a big wheel from which to take in all the sights of the city from on high, and marvel at the glorious Antwerp skyline.  There are plenty more fairground attractions and stalls to peruse riverside, while Het Steen looms in front of you looking beautiful enough to be a Disney creation rather than a real castle.  Further into the centre of the city, you’ll find the ice rink, which includes little sleighs so you can take your children for a slide too.  Don’t forget to stock up on plenty of chocolate and Christmas gifts.  And a stop under the mistletoe is obligatory if you want to make a wish, or just celebrate the sheer pleasure of Antwerp at Christmas.
Read More from Bernadette at A Packed Life
 
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Hyde Park, London

Best Christmas Markets in Europe
photo by Tatum at Bonvoyage Bitches
Your wildest Winter Wonderland fantasy is here! London’s Hyde Park transforms from normal gathering area to holiday extravaganza! Literally like Santa threw up Christmas cheer on this place. From spiked hot chocolate, karaoke and cocktails bar, to the largest outdoor ice skating rink in the United Kingdom, there is something for everyone in your dysfunctional family! The best part about it is IT’S FREE! To enter at least. It’s truly a site to see this holiday season and large enough that you could spend many days going through it all! My favorite part is how totally immersed into Christmas you feel while here. It’s the epitome of what this time of year is all about!
Read More from Tatum at Bonvoyage Bitches
 
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Riga

Best Christmas Markets in Europe
photo by Helena at Fountain of Travel

 

What could be a better Christmas market backdrop than Riga’s impressive Art Nouveau architecture? Whilst Riga’s Christmas market is on the smaller side, it more than makes up for it with charm. Striped stalls line the squares and live performances fill the air with Latvian Christmas songs.  The market is spread across 3 sites with the centre of activity at Dome Square. Here you’ll find a massive Christmas tree that looks gorgeous lit up against Riga Cathedral in the evenings. It’s said that the tradition of decorating Christmas trees comes from Latvia. Whether true or not, thebeautiful handmade ornaments are hard to resist and make lovely souvenirs.

What I liked most about Riga’s Christmas market was the focus on crafts such as wooden kitchen tools, traditional knitting and glass figurines.  The country is famous for amber, so expect to see plenty of craft involving the golden resin. Another local specialty is Black Balsam, a
very strong herbal alcohol often mixed with e.g. blackcurrant juice or coffee. Far from my personal favorite, but it does warm you up as you walk the cold and Christmassy streets of Riga.

Learn more about Riga at Fountain of Travel

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Alter Markt in Cologne

Best Christmas Markets in Europe
photo by Sarah at Travel Breathe Repeat

If you’re looking for the best city for Christmas Markets, look no further than Cologne, Germany. There are seven major Christmas Markets throughout the city, and all of them are unique and awesome. Our favorite is the one at the Alter Markt, which is just a few minutes from the Cologne Dom. You could easily spend a few hours there as it’s the biggest in the city and has quite a lot to offer. It’s also known as Heinzels Wintermärchen, named after the Heinzelmännchen, fairy tale house elves who once performed all sorts of tasks for the people of Cologne.

Carved wooden elves keep watch over the festivities throughout the market. You’ll find all the typical German Christmas market fare (eg, bratwurst, potato pancakes) but also more interesting treats. Our favorite is a fancied up, Italian-style version of Schupfnudeln (hand-rolled potato dumplings) with arugula, sun-dried tomatoes, and parmesan. When you get to the Heumarkt area, you can also enjoy your Glühwein in alpine huts and – most fun of all – go ice skating at the skating rink! It’s incredibly fun to skate outdoors surrounded by German Christmas market merriment and the beautiful buildings of the Cologne Altstadt.

Learn more about Cologne and the other Christmas markets in the city from Sarah and Justin at Travel Breathe Repeat.

To see more of Sarah’s photography, check her out on Instagram 

 

Budapest

Best Christmas Markets in Europe
Photo by Eni at Travel Hacker Girl
Budapest is a great destination during the winter months. The city is full of Christmas markets, beautifully light up streets and even the tram has Christmas decorations on. One of the most famous Christmas markets is on Vörösmarty Square.The location is ideal right in the city center. This is a great place to buy something unique for your loved ones. All the stalls here sell great quality handmade products. You will find candles, wooden toys, Christmas ornaments, woolly hats and scarfs. Your visit wouldn’t be complete without having some delicious food. I suggest trying the Hungarian chimney cake, but you can also find sausages, potato dishes and of course mulled wine and hot chocolate. The atmosphere and the surroundings are beautiful. I highly recommend Budapest during Christmas!
Read More at Travel Hacker Girl
See more of Eni’s photography on Instagram

Munich

Best Christmas Markets in Europe
photo by Akvile Stan
When it comes to Christmas, I like all things traditional – Christmas decorations, lights, mulled wine, movies, festive songs… and Christmas markets. It ain’t Christmas if I didn’t have a glass of my annual mulled wine, therefore, German Christmas Markets are my favourite place to be in December. Germans, overall, are great at celebrating Christmas and making it magical for both adults and children alike. However, Munich, rich in its Bavarian heritage, makes the festivities even more magical, even more special. I enjoyed it when I was 7, I enjoy it just as much now.
What’s to like about Munich Christmas Market? Everything! From stalls with beautiful, handmade decorations to those filled with laughter, food, drinks and welcoming Bavarians. There’s only one time a year when a German puts his stein down and picks up a mug of Glühwein and that’s in December. So if you are looking for a great European market to visit this Christmas, make sure you check out Munich!
See more photography from Akvile on Instagram

Where is your favorite Christmas market?

 

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Best Christmas Markets in Europe

About The Author

csaradar

6 COMMENTS

  1. Laura Tenekjian | 8th Nov 17

    Great post!

    • csaradar | 9th Nov 17

      Thanks babe:)

  2. Brooke (@roamscapes) | 28th Oct 17

    Wow, I wonder if I could ever visit all of these in my lifetime…not too fond of winter weather but I love markets of any kind! Thanks for creating this post.

    • csaradar | 31st Oct 17

      I feel exactly the same!!

  3. dorothyadele | 28th Oct 17

    Beautiful post, and like you, I prefer a traditional Christmas.

  4. Bejal | 28th Oct 17

    Really enjoyed this post namely because I do like a Christmas market! I’ve been to the Budapest on every but will definitely be putting some of the others on my list to visit!

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