It’s the time of the year to make merry and enjoy the cold season by doing something festive and fun. Why not visit Europe’s famous Christmas markets? Tradition, Yuletide spirit, delicious food and holiday drinks are just what you need to get the chill and gloom out of your bones. Here are our editor’s picks of the best Christmas markets in Europe.
The best of the Christmas markets with over 100 stalls serving delicious gingerbread, cakes, glühwein and other German holiday food. This is the place to buy exquisite Christmas ornaments and hand-made toys. A recommended hotel in the centre is the Hotel Drei Raben.
One of the most beautiful cities in France claims to have the oldest Christmas market (called Christkindelsmärik in the Alsatian dialect) in Europe. You will find Alsatian pastries, mulled wine, bretzels, Christmas decorations, traditional crafts and toys. One of the delights of going to Strasbourg is the incredible cuisine in the city and around it (in the Alsace wine region), its lively and atmospheric city centre. Recommended hotel in the center is the Cours du Corbeau, a stunning historic building with lovely quiet rooms and excellent service. For Michelin-star dining, head to Le Buerehiesel, located in one of the city’s most beautiful parks.
Few people do Christmas as well as the English and the Bath Christmas market is possibly the country’s best. The advantage of heading to Bath is that it is a World Heritage city and the views across the countryside are inspiring. It is also an easy one-day trip from London. Bath is a great place to soak up the atmosphere of a traditional English Christmas amidst the sparkling lights and festive air surrounding the illuminated Bath Abbey. A recommended place to stay is The Queensberry Hotel, which is in the centre and features a blend of traditional and contemporary interiors, cosy rooms and an excellent restaurant called the Olive Tree.
During Christmas time, the city is transformed into a fairytale winter wonderland of lights with several Christmas markets to choose from. The Vienna Magic of Advent takes place on the Rathausplatz; there is a Christmas Village on the Maria-Theresien-Platz, the Old Viennese Christmas market on Freyung, the Am Hof Advent market and more. Check the Vienna tourist office for a full list. If you are going, read our travel guide to Vienna filled with tips on where to stay (The Ring Hotel is recommended), where to eat, what to see.
The Christmas market is set in the lovely 19th century Tivoli Gardens whose lake is transformed into a skating rink. It is a truly magical experience to see hundreds of trees decorated with sparkling lights and dozens of stalls offering gløgg (the Danish version of mulled wine), pastries, traditional holiday sweets, and more. Check out our Copenhagen tips on Weekend City Break in Copenhagen which has the best restaurant and hotel recommendations. Other recommendations are listed on our Copenhagen page.