Celebrate the Holiday Season at Europe’s Best Christmas Markets
Celebrate the Holiday Season at Europe's Best Christmas Markets - Magical Markets in Germany's Medieval Towns
Germany is home to some of the most charming and magical Christmas markets in all of Europe. These traditional holiday markets transport visitors back in time with their medieval settings, handmade crafts, homemade treats, and festive decorations. One of the best places to experience the magic is in Germany's famous medieval towns.
Coburg, with its historic fortresses and castles, provides a fairy tale backdrop for its Weihnachtsmarkt. The Christmas market is set up on the town's central square, lined with ornately decorated wooden stalls. Vendors sell handmade toys, ornaments, and decorations, many using traditional techniques passed down for generations. Take a ride on the town’s Christmas train for stunning views. Sample roasted almonds, stollen, and hot mulled wine to warm up as you browse. At night, the market glows with thousands of twinkling lights.
Dinkelsbühl is considered one of the best preserved medieval towns in Germany. During the Christmas market, the town looks like an illustration from a children’s storybook. The narrow cobblestone streets and colorful half-timbered houses create a charming scene. The market stalls wind through the town center, adorned with pine garlands and lights. Browse homemade crafts, wooden toys, and traditional ornaments as carolers perform festive music. Don’t miss the Kinderbackhaus where children can decorate their own gingerbread hearts.
Rothenburg ob der Tauber, with its intact medieval walls and towers, provides a dreamy background for its Reiterlesmarkt. At this traditional Christmas market, you’ll find handmade toys and local crafts sold in stalls inside the old city walls. Vendors dressed in period costumes add to the town’s old-world atmosphere. Indulge in schneeball pastries, glühwein, and bratwurst as you soak in the sights of this medieval gem. The market's beautiful Christmas pyramid is an impressive 35 feet tall when fully assembled.
What else is in this post?
- Celebrate the Holiday Season at Europe's Best Christmas Markets - Magical Markets in Germany's Medieval Towns
- Celebrate the Holiday Season at Europe's Best Christmas Markets - Warm Up with Mulled Wine in Vienna's Traditional Market
- Celebrate the Holiday Season at Europe's Best Christmas Markets - Follow the Lights to Strasbourg's Charming Christmas Village
- Celebrate the Holiday Season at Europe's Best Christmas Markets - Wander Prague's Festive Holiday Markets in Old Town Square
- Celebrate the Holiday Season at Europe's Best Christmas Markets - Get into the Christmas Spirit in Tallinn's Medieval Town Center
- Celebrate the Holiday Season at Europe's Best Christmas Markets - Enjoy Folk Music and Crafts in Zurich's Traditional Market
- Celebrate the Holiday Season at Europe's Best Christmas Markets - Find Treasures in Brussels' Authentic Winter Wonders Market
- Celebrate the Holiday Season at Europe's Best Christmas Markets - Take in the Sights at Budapest's Vörösmarty Square Market
Celebrate the Holiday Season at Europe's Best Christmas Markets - Warm Up with Mulled Wine in Vienna's Traditional Market
Vienna is known for its imperial palaces, stunning architecture, and world-class museums. But during the Christmas season, the city provides an entirely different magical experience with its traditional Weihnachtsmarkt. Vienna's Christmas market transports you to a winter wonderland, complete with the scents of cinnamon, roasted nuts, and mulled wine.
The market starts in mid-November and runs through December 26th in front of City Hall. More than 150 booths fill the Rathausplatz, adorned with evergreen garlands and twinkling lights. The market glows at night, providing a fairy tale scene with the backdrop of the impressive Neo-Gothic Rathaus building.
As you wander among the wooden huts, the spicy aromas of punched and mulled wine waft through the cold air. Punch is a traditional Austrian winter drink made with red wine, flavored with lemon, oranges, and spices. Mulled wine, known as glühwein, is a popular beverage across Europe's Christmas markets. The hot red wine infused with cinnamon, cloves, citrus, and sugar perfectly warms you from the inside out.
Sipping steamy mulled wine while bundled in your winter coat and scarf is part of the quintessential Christmas market experience. As you walk past the lit stalls with a warm cup in hand, you'll find vendors selling traditional handicrafts, from wood carvings to glass ornaments to knitwear. Stop for a photo by the market's large Christmas tree glittering with delicate ornaments.
While wine punch and mulled wine may be the signature drinks of the market, you can also find non-alcoholic options. Kinderpunsch is the non-alcoholic mulled wine for children, made from grape juice, orange juice, and spices. Warm up from the winter chill with a steaming cup in hand as you hunt for unique gifts and ornaments at the stalls.
In the center of the market, look for the Adventzauber stage, where musical performances and choir concerts add to the seasonal cheer. Don't leave without sampling some of the delicious regional treats! Stop by one of the food stalls for Vienna's famous schnitzel, or try baked potatoes with sour cream, sausage rolls, waffles with whipped cream, and lebkuchen – gingerbread made with nuts and spice. Indulge in a cup of sachertorte, Vienna's signature chocolate cake, as you take in the sights and sounds of the market.
Celebrate the Holiday Season at Europe's Best Christmas Markets - Follow the Lights to Strasbourg's Charming Christmas Village
Strasbourg transforms into a magical winter wonderland during the holiday season as the city's famous Christmas market, Marché de Noël, takes over the town center. As one of Europe's oldest Christmas markets, dating back to 1570, Strasbourg has perfected the art of holiday cheer and its market is considered one of the best places to experience the Christmas spirit.
The streets lining the old quarter near the Strasbourg Cathedral glow under the soft illumination of the market's twinkling lights. As you weave through the narrow cobblestone lanes, you'll discover adorable wooden chalets adorned with pine garlands, red ribbons, and snow dusted rooftops. The chalets house over 300 stalls selling artisanal crafts, handmade ornaments, nativity figurines, and Christmas decorations. You'll find delicate glass baubles, rainbow-colored macarons, Alsatian pottery, knitted mittens, carved wooden toys, and more. As you browse the stalls, the aromas of cinnamon, roasted nuts, and sweet crepes drift through the chilled air.
At the center of the market sits a towering 30-meter Christmas tree glittering with warm lights. On Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings, a sound and light show illuminates the tree, flashing in sync to holiday music. Surrounding the market square, the facade of the Gothic cathedral glows blue and golden light, creating an enchanting backdrop.
Make sure to stop at one of the stalls selling hot wine known as vin chaud. The local spicy mulled wine infused with cinnamon and cloves offers the perfect way to warm up as you stroll through the village. Pair it with regional breads, gingerbread, bredele Christmas cookies, or tart flambée. Children can enjoy the non-alcoholic kinderwein served warm. Indulge in some French holiday treats!
Beyond the market, wander through the narrow cobbled lanes lined with half-timbered medieval houses draped in fairy lights. Cross through the covered bridges as you admire Strasbourg's canal system that runs through the UNESCO-listed old town.
Don't miss the market's adorable Christmas village for children, featuring little wood cabins, rides, carousels, and activities. Kids can meet Santa, construct gingerbread houses, and make Christmas crafts. Families will find plenty of joyful diversions to entertain all ages.
Celebrate the Holiday Season at Europe's Best Christmas Markets - Wander Prague's Festive Holiday Markets in Old Town Square
Prague's Old Town Square transforms into a festive winter wonderland during the holiday season. The central square comes alive with the city's traditional Christmas markets, transporting you to a delightful winter fairytale.
At the center of Old Town Square, you'll find the Prague Christmas Market. Wooden huts decorated with evergreen branches and fairy lights line the cobblestone streets. As you weave through the market, the aromas of svařák mulled wine, trdelník pastries, and grilled sausages fill the air. Browse stalls selling homemade honey, scented candles, Czech crystal, wooden toys, and handblown Christmas ornaments.
Artisans offer demonstrations of traditional Bohemian crafts like glass engraving and wood carving. Folk music and costumed characters add to the festive atmosphere. Indulge inCzech holiday treats like vánočka stollen cake, gingerbread cookies, and bramborové knedlíky potato dumplings. At night, the market glows under the twinkle of a grand Christmas tree.
Beyond the central market, Old Town Square dazzles with holiday cheer. The historic buildings surrounding the square glitter with thousands of lights. The medieval astronomical clock even gets festive decor. Stop on the hour to watch the procession of apostles accompanied by holiday music.
Venture down the side lanes to discover more Christmas markets. At Havelský Market, you'll find handmade crafts sold in stalls under twinkling lights. Sample trdelník, a sugared pastry rolled on a spit and grilled over an open fire. Its sweet cinnamon aroma perfumes the chilled air.
At Náměstí Republiky square, don't miss the fairytale forest with woodland creatures, elves, and Santa's workshop. You can even visit Santa! At Staroměstské náměstí, children will love riding the carousel and watching puppet shows.
Beyond the markets, Prague dazzles with Christmas charm. Stroll along the Vltava river and cross the iconic Charles Bridge, with its imposing statues and dramatic views of Prague Castle. Wander the Malá Strana neighborhood to see the lights glow against the Baroque architecture.
For Christmas concerts, head to churches like St. Nicholas Church in Malá Strana and St. James Church in Old Town. On December 26th, catch a performance of the Christmas Mass during Mozart's Prague Festival at the Church of St. Simon and St. Jude.
Celebrate the Holiday Season at Europe's Best Christmas Markets - Get into the Christmas Spirit in Tallinn's Medieval Town Center
Step into a real-life winter wonderland in Tallinn's UNESCO-listed medieval Old Town during the holiday season. As one of Europe's best preserved medieval cities, Tallinn provides a magical backdrop for Christmas celebrations. The charming Christmas market transports visitors back to the Middle Ages with its historic setting amid cobblestone streets and Gothic architecture.
You'll find the market set up in Town Hall Square, where originaluildings date back to the 15th century. The square comes alive with over 60 pine wood stalls adorned with fuzzy blankets and Christmas trees glittering with lights. As you weave through the market, artisans sell handicrafts, woolen hats and mittens, traditional gingerbread, and Estonian design. Folk dance and choral music performances accompanied by the national instrument Kannel add to the festive ambiance.
Make sure to warm up with a cup of piping hot mulled wine, known as glögi. The Christmas market has two different versions – one with alcohol and a non-alcoholic kids' version. The hot spiced wine infused with cinnamon, cloves, and citrus provides the perfect defense against the chill. Pair it with sai, an Estonian Christmas bread flavored with caraway, or fresh oven-roasted almonds.
Beyond the market, Tallinn's Old Town delights with medieval charm during the holidays. The historic guild buildings surrounding the main square glitter with thousands of golden lights. Intricate snowflake patterns shine from the windows of the Gothic Town Hall. Lacey decorations and evergreen garlands adorn the merchant houses.
For stunning views over the city, head to Kohtuotsa Viewing Platform just steps from the Christmas market. Gaze out at the sea of red rooftops dusted with snow, the towering spires of the churches, and Toompea hill topped by the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral.
Wander down Pikk street, lined with the stepped gables of merchant homes from the 14th and 15th centuries. Keep an eye out for kratt – mystical creatures from Estonian folklore – hiding down narrow alleyways! Stop to listen to holiday concerts at the reverberant St. Olaf’s Church, which dates back to the 13th century.
Kids will love the nostalgic old-fashioned carousel on Town Hall square. And families can snap photos by the large illuminated Christmas tree. Don’t miss Tallinn’s own giant 72-meter Christmas tree sparkling on Freedom Square. For more wintery fun, go skating on the public ice rink at Raekoja Plats or sled down the hills in Kadriorg Park.
Celebrate the Holiday Season at Europe's Best Christmas Markets - Enjoy Folk Music and Crafts in Zurich's Traditional Market
Zurich captivates visitors during the holiday season when its old town comes alive with the magic of the traditional Christkindlimarkt. Dating back to the 15th century, the charming Christmas market embodies Swiss culture with its rich traditions, folk music, and local handicrafts.
The market brings light and joy to the dark winter days as over 150 festively decorated wooden stalls fill the streets and squares surrounding Zurich’s Gothic Grossmünster church. As you weave through the market, the rich scents of mulled wine, roasted chestnuts, and sugared almond treats called mässmoggele waft through the cold air. Listen for the melodic sounds of Swiss folk music played on alpenhorns, fiddles, accordions, and hammered dulcimers.
At the market’s center, find the 20-meter Swarovski crystal Christmas tree glittering with thousands of lights. Take in the impressive views of Lake Zurich and the snowcapped Alps from Lindenhof hill overlooking the old town. Zurich glows with holiday cheer as the historic guildhalls, churches, and townhouses shine under golden fairy lights.
Beyond the impressive tree, artisans sell quality local crafts that make perfect gifts and keepsakes. Look for intricately carved wooden toys, colorful embroidery, hand-blown glass ornaments, traditional raclette pans, cowbells, and decadent Swiss chocolates. Watch demonstrations as craftsmen practice ancient techniques like wood carving, wool spinning, and glassblowing. Kids will delight at the charming mechanic toys and dollhouses.
At the Bürkliplatz Christmas market along Lake Zurich, don’t miss the festive Singing Christmas Tree. Every 30 minutes after dusk, this 14-meter musical tree comes alive with a dazzling light show flashing in sync to popular holiday songs as the aromas of gingerbread and roasted chestnuts fill the air.
While browsing the stalls, stop for a warm cup of glühwein punched with cinnamon and cloves or the non-alcoholic kinderpunsch. Savor the rich tastes and spice-filled scents. Pair your mulled wine with chewy lebkuchen gingerbread, Austria’s answer to ginger snaps. For a unique sweet and savory delight, try a warm crepe filled with raclette cheese that begins to melt into the soft bread.
In the evening when the market glows under thousands of twinkling lights, listen for alphorn players and yodelers ringing out folk songs that echo through the city. Kids will delight at seeing Santa's helper Schmutzli roaming the market. Don't miss the Christkindli-Zauber puppet theater near the Niederdorf district.
Celebrate the Holiday Season at Europe's Best Christmas Markets - Find Treasures in Brussels' Authentic Winter Wonders Market
Brussels captivates visitors during the holiday season when its historic Grand Place transforms into a magical winter wonderland. The city's authentic Plaisirs d’Hiver festival brings holiday cheer to the capital of Belgium as festive music, twinkling lights, and the scents of waffles and mulled wine fill the air.
The holiday market began back in the late 1990s to bring more tourism to Brussels in the winter. Over the years it has evolved into one of Europe's best places to experience the spirit of the season. While younger than most Christmas markets in Germany and Austria, Brussels' Plaisirs d’Hiver has its own unique charm that should not be missed.
Nestled amid the Gothic and Baroque architecture of the UNESCO-listed Grand Place, the market glows under a canopy of golden lights. Over 200 charming wooden chalets artfully decorated with garlands and ribbons line the cobblestone square. As you weave through the stalls, you'll find artisans and culinary masters selling quality handicrafts, sweet treats, and savory delights.
Beyond the usual Christmas market fare like ornaments and nutcrackers, Brussels adds its own flair with items that represent Belgian culture. Look for delicate Brussels lacework, hand-thrown ceramics, art nouveau jewelry, Belgian chocolate truffles, bottles of Trappist beer, and cubes of salty Herve cheese wrapped in chestnut leaves.
Make sure to indulge in Belgium's famous waffles, available in both sweet Liège-style topped with pearl sugar or hearty Brussels versions stuffed with savory fillings. Sip on a steaming cup of creamy hot chocolate or the traditional winter drink vin chaud. The aroma of Belgian fries, smoked sausages, and chewy speculoos cookie cubes fills the chill air.
While browsing the market, watch live demonstrations as chocolatiers create pralines or craftsmen carve intricate scenes into woodblocks used for printmaking. Artisans painstakingly etch delicate patterns onto blown glass bulbs, preserving ancient ornament making techniques.
In the evening, live music emanates from the market stage. On Fridays and Saturdays, dazzling light shows illuminate the stunning architecture of the Grand Place. Don't miss the impressive sound and light show projected onto the Gothic Hôtel de Ville.
Beyond the market, Brussels twinkles with holiday magic. Head to the Sablon neighborhood to wander among the antique shops and art galleries draped in fairy lights. Visit the Royal Galleries illuminated in festive decorations. Stop into one of Brussels' famous chocolate shops for decadent pralines or sip Belgian beers in a cozy pub.
Celebrate the Holiday Season at Europe's Best Christmas Markets - Take in the Sights at Budapest's Vörösmarty Square Market
Step into a winter fairy tale at the enchanting Christmas market on Budapest's Vörösmarty Square. Situated in the heart of the city with views of the Danube River, this lively market captures all the magic and festive cheer of the holidays.
As one of the oldest Christmas markets in Europe, dating back to the late 18th century, Vörösmarty Square has perfected the art of holiday celebration. The market runs from mid-November through the beginning of January, bringing light and laughter to the dark winter days. Over 120 stalls fill the cobblestone square, emanating the rich scents of lángos fried bread, kürtőskalács chimney cake, and forralt bor mulled wine.
The market glows under canopies of twinkling lights as folk music floats through the crisp air. Artisans sell quality Hungarian handicrafts, embroidered linens, wool sweaters, carved wooden toys, scented soaps, and handblown ornaments. Stop to watch demonstrations of glass blowing, ornament etching, and pottery painting.
Don't leave without sampling some delectable Hungarian treats! Lángos comes freshly fried in a golden puff drizzled with sour cream and cheese. Savor the cardamom-infused kürtőskalács, a hollow pastry rolled in cinnamon sugar resembling a chimney. Gingerbread hearts called szív shape make lovely edible souvenirs.
Of course, you can't visit a Christmas market without a cup of forralt bor. The hot mulled wine with flavors of cinnamon, cloves, and citrus offers the perfect antidote to winter's bite. The non-alcoholic version is forralt tej flavored with honey.
Beyond the stalls, marvel at the elaborate advent calendar displayed on the façade of the luxurious Gerbeaud Café. The calendar counts down the 24 days until Christmas, revealing a new holiday scene each morning at 9:30am to the delight of children. At night, the calendar illuminates Vörösmarty Square with its cheerful scenes.
In the center of the market stands a grand Christmas tree aglow with white lights near an ice-skating rink. Skaters twirl across the ice as festive music plays. Surrounding the square, the historic buildings shine under elegant lighting, creating a magical atmosphere.
Don't miss the 3D light show projected onto the walls of St. Stephen's Basilica, one of Budapest's most notable landmarks. This sound and light spectacle brings the static architecture to life with moving holiday images each evening.
Venture inside the soaring Neoclassical basilica to gaze at intricately painted ceilings and listen to organ concerts. The church holds free classical music performances most evenings around 8:30pm during advent. Stop to watch the magnificent church bells chime on the hour, ringing out across the city.
Stroll along nearby Váci utca, one of Budapest's main shopping thoroughfares made pedestrian-friendly. The Art Nouveau buildings dazzle with whimsical Zsolnay ceramic tiles and holiday decorations. Pop into the luxurious Market Hall to see dramatic arched halls lit with thousands of lights. Try local strudels, sausages, and artisanal cheeses.