Europeans have a special way of celebrating the holidays, making it a unique and festive experience. From December to January, Christmas markets in Europe bring together tradition and delicious food.
As the days get shorter and the temperatures dip, town squares fill up with locals raising a toast to the season, celebrating with friends and family. Why not join in on the fun? Whether you prefer the long nights of Nordic winter or the milder weather of southern Europe, there’s a fairy-tale-like festiveness waiting for you.
Best Christmas Markets In Europe
While German Christmas markets are widely renowned, a holiday in Prague or a city break to Austria can also satisfy those seeking dazzling architecture, unique gifts, and comforting winter foods. Whether you’re eager to try chimney cakes in Budapest, sip glogg in Gothenburg, buy baubles in Strasbourg, or go ice-skating in Vienna, we’ve got all the information you need on the best Christmas markets in Europe for 2023.
Here, without a specific order, are 26 of the best Christmas markets in Europe. These range from big city destinations to off-the-beaten-track gems.
1. Cologne, Germany
Location: Cologne Cathedral in Cologne, Germany
Cologne boasts a Christmas market that captures the essence of a classic German celebration. Set against the backdrop of the iconic Cologne Cathedral, this market has all the quintessential elements – glühwein, crafts, and twinkling lights. What sets it apart is the lively entertainment, featuring over 100 stage performances during the festival. From Christmas swing music and gospel to puppet shows and special acts for children, there’s a delightful array of performances to enjoy.
Once you’ve immersed yourself in the tunes and savored the festive treats, consider exploring nearby attractions. Take a stroll to Hohe Strasse and Schildergasse, two well-known shopping areas in Cologne, or head to Heumarkt for a delightful round of ice skating.
If you prefer a more traditional experience, lace up your skates and head to the outdoor ice-skating rink on Heumarkt. Cologne’s Christmas markets offer a diverse and enchanting experience for visitors of all ages.
2. Brussels, Belgium
Location: Grand-Place in Brussels, Belgium
Brussels comes alive with festive magic every December as “Plaisirs d’Hiver” transforms the city into a winter wonderland centered around Grand-Place. This enchanting celebration extends to the areas around the Bourse stock exchange, Place de la Monnaie, Place Sainte-Catherine, and the Marché aux Poissons.
With over 200 wooden chalets, a covered ice rink, a Ferris wheel, and a spectacular light and sound show projected onto Grand-Place, there’s something for everyone in the family to enjoy. Indulge in iconic Belgian delights like crisp fries with mayonnaise, tartiflette (a French potato casserole), and of course, Belgian chocolate and waffles adorned with pearl sugar. After treating your taste buds, explore the stalls offering locally-crafted and artisan goods for some unique Christmas shopping.
Winter Wonders in Brussels extends its festive charm across Grand-Place, Bourse, Place Sainte-Catherine, and Marché aux Poissons. Brussels’ Christmas market is a celebration of tradition, culinary delights, and artisanal craftsmanship, making it a must-visit for a magical winter experience.
3. Prague, Czech Republic
Location: Old Town and Wenceslas Square, with smaller markets at nearby Havel’s Market and Republic Square, in Prague, Czech Republic
In Prague the Christmas magic unfolds in Old Town and Wenceslas Square, with additional charming markets at nearby Havel’s Market and Republic Square. Just a five-minute stroll apart, these markets epitomize the festive spirit in a city already renowned for its Gothic architecture and inviting mulled wine stalls.
Indulge in the culinary delights of Prague’s Old Town and Wenceslas markets, where traditional fish soup, langoš (flatbreads) adorned with cheese, and smoked meat dumplings await. Don’t miss the tempting roast ham and trdelník, commonly known as chimney cake—a warm, rolled pastry coated in cinnamon and sugar, cooked to perfection over a grill. As you explore these markets, be sure to bundle up with a hat and gloves, as Prague can get quite cold in December.
For families with little ones, Old Town Square is a must-visit, featuring sheep, goats, and a donkey patiently awaiting attention from earnest tourists. Prague’s Christmas markets seamlessly blend tradition, delectable treats, and a festive atmosphere, making it an ideal destination to immerse yourself in the holiday spirit.
4. Copenhagen, Denmark
Location: Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen, Denmark
Located in Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen, Denmark, this European Christmas market is a true gem and the third-oldest operating amusement park globally. Known as the real-life inspiration for Disneyland, Tivoli Gardens transforms into a winter wonderland adorned with over 500,000 fairy lights during the festive season.
The magic doesn’t stop at the twinkling lights; Tivoli Gardens offers a delightful experience for both tourists and locals alike. Warm up by a log fire while enjoying music from the Tivoli Youth Guard. Kids can have a blast on the rollercoasters before heading inside for family-friendly stage shows at the Glass Hall Theater and Tivoli Concert Hall.
Copenhagen’s markets come alive with festive joy, featuring Christmas trees, decorations, lights, and stalls selling wooden toys, ceramics, decorations, and cozy knitwear. While the city center boasts several markets, the Christmas market at Tivoli Gardens is considered the heart of Copenhagen’s festive spirit.
A ferris wheel spins against the evening darkness, fairy lights adorn leafless trees, and an inviting skating rink attracts the adventurous. The air is filled with the toasty aroma of caramelized almonds and the fragrant scent of cinnamon-infused mulled wine, locally known as glogg. Immerse yourself in the joy of the Christmas market at Tivoli Gardens for an enchanting and heartwarming experience.
5. Edinburgh, Scotland
Location: East Princes Street Gardens in Edinburgh, Scotland
In Edinburgh, Scotland, the annual Christmas market transforms the East Princes Street Gardens into a festive wonderland, nestled adjacent to the Scottish National Gallery. This enchanting market, also known as “Santa Land,” features a Christmas tree maze and a mini-train ride designed especially for the little ones.
Get a bird’s-eye view of the festivities from atop the 108-foot-tall Ferris wheel, fondly called the Big Wheel. Enjoy the panoramic sight of Edinburgh Castle illuminated for the season. The market offers a delectable array of treats, including traditional German sausages and spätzle at Princes Street. Afterward, make your way to George Street to indulge in Scottish holiday delights like venison burgers, craft brews, and hot toddies.
Edinburgh, often considered one of the prettiest cities on the planet, truly comes to life in the winter months with Xmas markets and Hogmanay celebrations. Explore Santa’s Grotto, glide on the oval ice rink, experience fairground rides like the 60m-high Star Flyer, and uncover the elves’ workshop hidden within the Christmas Tree Maze. The stalls offer an array of treasures, from wooden toys to Harry Potter-themed gifts and mulled Irn Bru. Special projections, performances, and artworks showcase local talent.
For an unforgettable experience, plan your visit at the end of December to partake in the Hogmanay street party and witness the stunning fireworks display on December 31. Don’t miss the ceilidh and concert in Princes Street Gardens on New Year’s Eve – a perfect culmination to the festive season in Edinburgh.
6. Vienna, Austria
Location: City Hall (on Rathausplatz) in Vienna, Austria
In Vienna, Austria, the City Hall on Rathausplatz serves as the enchanting backdrop for the Viennese Dream Christmas market. With the city adorned in a blanket of snow and white lights illuminating the imposing City Hall, Vienna takes on a magical quality during the festive season.
This market, aptly named the Viennese Dream, offers a classic and one of the best Christmas market experience against the snowy landscape. Enjoy activities like reindeer rides, an ice rink for skating and curling, a Ferris wheel, and an old-fashioned merry-go-round. Indulge in the quintessential flavors of the season with sausages stuffed with cheese, vanillekipferl (vanilla crescent cookies), and comforting mulled wine.
Vienna truly comes alive during Christmas, with its streets glowing under the soft light of fairy lights. The grand palaces and Habsburg buildings create a picturesque winter scene, complemented by the warmth of steaming drinks in the city’s iconic coffee houses. The festive atmosphere is far from twee, offering a genuine and heartwarming experience.
Vienna’s Xmas markets are a celebration of tradition, warmth, and the timeless magic of the season.
7. Budapest, Hungary
Location: St. Stephen’s Square in Budapest, Hungary
In Budapest, Hungary, the Christmas market at St. Stephen’s Square, nestled around St. Stephen’s Basilica, is a festive extravaganza that pays homage to Hungary’s first king, St. Stephen. This grand celebration takes place in Szent István Square and features 160 vendors, a skating rink, and weekend folk dance shows, creating a vibrant and joyful atmosphere.
St. Stephen’s Basilica, Hungary’s largest church, serves as a magnificent backdrop to the festivities. The market comes alive before Christmas, offering a diverse range of activities and delights. If you happen to be there on January 1, don’t miss trying lencseleves, or lentil soup, traditionally made in Hungary on New Year’s Day as a symbol of prosperity for the coming year.
Adding to the charm, Budapest boasts two Christmas market contenders starting in mid-November. Vorosmarty Square, located in the heart of the city, is Budapest’s oldest Christmas market. Here, you can explore numerous food stalls, handicraft shops, and enjoy free concerts. Meanwhile, Basilica offers a similar experience but with added enchantment – Christmas laser projections on the Basilica itself and an ice-skating rink circling around a grand Christmas tree.
Budapest’s Christmas markets are a testament to the city’s rich cultural heritage and festive spirit. Recently crowned Europe’s best in a vote by Europe’s Best Destinations, Budapest’s Christmas markets are a must-visit for those seeking a magical and heartwarming holiday experience.
8. Gdańsk, Poland
Location: Targ Węglowy in Gdańsk, Poland
In Gdańsk, Poland, the Christmas market at Targ Węglowy, the Coal Market, is a festive spectacle that recently earned the distinction of being Europe’s second-best Christmas market. This port city on the Baltic Sea transforms its entire town center into a winter fair featuring over 150 stalls, offering a diverse range of festive delights.
Explore the market’s offerings, from nutcrackers to wool hats and handmade candles. After savoring Polish classics like pierogi and smoked cheese, indulge in international delights ranging from crispy tofu to fresh churros at the market’s diverse food stalls.
Gdańsk’s Christmas market provides entertainment for all ages, with Christmas storytelling sessions and nature talks from the region’s forest rangers, ensuring that kids and families alike can immerse themselves in the festive spirit.
In the historical city center, Gdańsk’s Christmas market transforms into a magical winter wonderland. Romance is in the air, with a mistletoe spot set up for lovers to share a kiss and hope for a long life together. Elf parades, a talking moose, the Snow Queen, and singing carollers contribute to the enchanting atmosphere. Don’t miss the fairytale carousel and explore stalls offering original jewelry, ceramics, upcycled clothes, hats, and knitwear.
Delight your taste buds with a wide variety of delicacies from around the world, including traditional Polish cuisine like pierogi. Foodies can indulge in Alsatian pancakes, Greek bougatsa, Spanish churros, and warm up with a mug of hot chocolate, mulled beer, or aromatic mulled wine. Gdańsk’s Christmas market is a celebration of diversity, tradition, and the festive joy that warms hearts during the holiday season.
9. Zagreb, Croatia
Location: Pretty much the entire city of Zagreb, Croatia
In Zagreb, Croatia, the Advent in Zagreb Christmas market is a pure spectacle of holiday magic that has been voted the best in Europe in 2016, 2017, and 2018. Unlike traditional markets confined to one city block, Zagreb’s festival spreads across the entire city, creating a festive atmosphere that enchants locals and visitors alike.
Discover the charm of traditional stalls in Trg Bana Jelačića, the main city square, where the heart of the celebration unfolds. Enjoy the thrill of ice skating in Tomislavac, attend concerts in European Square, and witness a live nativity scene in front of Zagreb Cathedral. The city comes alive with a myriad of activities and events, ensuring there’s something for everyone.
Indulge your taste buds in the culinary delights of Advent in Zagreb. Savor pork sausage sandwiches, cabbage rolls, and strudla – the Croatian take on apple strudel. Wash it all down with a glass of rakija, a popular Croatian spirit that adds to the festive spirit.
Zagreb’s Advent is not confined to one location; instead, it encompasses several dozen markets spread throughout the city. The emphasis is firmly on food and drink, reflecting the rich culinary heritage of Croatia. Explore craft stalls, glide on the giant outdoor skating rink, and immerse yourself in the joyous atmosphere.
As you wander through the trio of parks in the lower town and head towards the medieval upper town, you’ll encounter more stalls offering a variety of festive treats. From spicy sausages to sarma (stuffed cabbage rolls) and chocolate-covered festive fritters called fritule, Zagreb’s Christmas markets are a gastronomic delight. Don’t forget to sample local wines and plum brandy to complete your Advent in Zagreb experience.
10. Strasbourg, France
Location: Place de la Cathédrale, Place Kléber, Place Gutenberg, Place Broglie, Place du Château (all near the city center) in Strasbourg, France
In Strasbourg, France, the Christkindelsmärik, the oldest Christmas market in the country, transforms the fairytale-like town in the Alsace region into a magical wonderland during the holiday season. Strasbourg proudly claims the title of the “capital of Christmas,” attracting several million visitors each year with its enchanting atmosphere and festive offerings.
The market spreads across central squares including Place de la Cathédrale, Place Kléber, Place Gutenberg, Place Broglie, and Place du Château, creating a festive ambiance with charming wooden chalets, nightly concerts, and an inviting ice skating rink. Strasbourg’s Christkindelsmärik is a feast for the senses, offering delights such as foie gras and hot white wine that add to the holiday cheer.
Immerse yourself in the Christmas spirit by trying some bredele, Alsatian Christmas cookies that are a local favorite. And don’t miss the city’s other seasonal claim to fame: the Great Christmas Tree illuminated in the central square of Place Kléber, creating a stunning focal point for the festive celebrations.
Strasbourg, with its 300 traditional market stalls, resembles a real-life nativity scene during the holiday season. Explore the Market of the Invincible Small Producers of Alsace for a taste of local sausages and indulge in almondy, fruity, brioche-like kugelhopf. Strasbourg’s Christkindelsmärik promises an authentic and magical Christmas experience, making it a must-visit destination for those seeking the true spirit of the season.
11. Basel, Switzerland
Location: Barfüsserplatz and Münsterplatz in Basel, Switzerland
In Basel, Switzerland, the Basler Weihnachtsmarkt, situated in the Rhine-side town of Basel, stands out as one of the best Christmas markets in Europe. Switzerland’s natural winter wonderland provides a picturesque backdrop to this festive event held at Barfüsserplatz and Münsterplatz.
Featuring over 150 vendors, the market offers a delightful array of handmade toys and local treats, including Swiss raclette and läckerli (traditional Swiss gingerbread), presented in charming wooden stalls. The market’s enchanting ambiance is further enhanced by an abundance of twinkle lights and festive trees, creating a scene worthy of countless Instagram feeds.
For a unique perspective, don’t miss the opportunity to view the festive scene from St. Martin’s tower, open for admission throughout the Advent period. Additionally, immerse yourself in the holiday spirit by writing your Christmas wishes in the Basel Wish Book.
Basel’s Christmas market is hailed as the biggest and most beautiful in Switzerland, boasting 160 meticulously decorated stalls. Explore the culinary wonders on offer, from mouthwatering sausages and authentic Basel Läckerli to hot punch, festive fondue, and comforting raclette to ward off the winter chill. The market is divided into two sections at Barfüsserplatz and Münsterplatz, each offering its unique charm and attractions, from handmade wooden toys and nativity scenes to a fairytale forest filled with festive activities for kids, including bauble-making workshops and gingerbread decorating.
12. Berlin, Germany
Location: KulturBrauerei in Prenzlauer Berg, Berlin, Germany
In Berlin’s vibrant and eclectic Christmas market scene, the KulturBrauerei market in Prenzlauer Berg stands out as a local favorite. Nestled in the courtyard of an old brewery, this small market brings a Scandinavian-themed charm that resonates with both locals and visitors. Join the Berliners for after-work gatherings over Glühwein, savor piping hot Flammkuchen topped with potatoes, bacon, and cheese, and explore a variety of mulled wine options, including Finnish Glögi and Icelandic Jolagløgg.
As you immerse yourself in the festive atmosphere, indulge in culinary delights like raclette, Mutzenmandeln (tiny cone-shaped fritters), and other tempting treats. Families can treat kids to hot chocolate in a yurt and a ride on the swing carousel, while adults warm their hands by the inviting wood fires scattered around the market.
While Berlin boasts numerous Christmas markets, the KulturBrauerei market offers a distinctive blend of tradition and modernity, making it a delightful destination for those seeking a unique and neighborhood-centric holiday experience.
13. Salzburg, Austria
Location: Residenzplatz and Salzburg Cathedral in Salzburg, Austria
Salzburg’s Christkindlmarkt, located in the heart of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Old City at Residenzplatz and Salzburg Cathedral, stands out for more than just its mulled wine and market stalls. This renowned market offers a rich cultural experience with daily choral performances, sing-alongs on Tuesdays from 6–8 p.m., and traditional wind music played above the square on Thursday and Saturday nights.
Immerse yourself in the festive spirit by participating in activities like gingerbread baking or embarking on a Salzburg Christmas tour to delve into the market’s history. Indulge in delectable treats such as roast pork sandwiches and roasted almonds as you explore the market’s offerings. Don’t miss the opportunity to savor bauernkrapfen, fried pastries that add to the culinary delights of the season.
Salzburg, the hometown of Mozart and the setting for The Sound of Music, transforms into a winter wonderland during Christmas. The market exudes a magical atmosphere with snow-sprinkled scenes and renditions of Silent Night, which was written and first performed nearby. The market’s stalls, reminiscent of their 15th-century origins, prioritize quality with offerings like hand-knitted socks rather than novelty candles for stocking fillers.
For an extra dose of Christmas cheer, join the free daily concerts at 5 p.m. in front of the cathedral or participate in the Tuesday singalongs from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Salzburg’s Christkindlmarkt offers a unique blend of tradition, culture, and holiday festivities, making it a must-visit destination during the Christmas season.
14. Tallinn, Estonia
Location: Town Hall Square in Tallinn, Estonia
Tallinn’s Christmas market, located in Town Hall Square, Estonia, is celebrated as one of the best in Europe, creating a picturesque fairy-tale village of stalls adorned with snow and twinkling lights. This festive market offers a unique blend of Estonian Christmas dishes, including black pudding and sour cabbage, providing a delightful culinary experience for visitors.
The market’s enchanting atmosphere is further enhanced by the arrival of Santa, who makes a grand entrance on a reindeer-pulled sleigh. One of the highlights is the historic Christmas tree displayed in front of the town hall since 1441, making it the first Christmas tree ever exhibited in Europe. As you explore the market, take in the festive sights and sounds, including over 60 wooden stalls offering handmade wreaths, local arts and crafts, sweets, honey, and sheepskin rugs.
Town Hall Square comes alive with the sounds of brass bands, bell ringers, and lively dance troupes, adding to the festive ambiance. Children can enjoy a visit to Santa’s winter grotto before delighting in a whirl on the merry-go-round. Tallinn’s Christmas market captures the essence of the season, offering a magical experience against the backdrop of the medieval town’s snow-covered rooftops and cobblestone streets. Afterward, savor the warmth of gingerbread and mulled wine, creating lasting memories in this charming winter wonderland.
15. Oslo, Norway
Location: Spikersuppa in Oslo, Norway
Jul i Vinterland, nestled in the heart of Oslo at Spikersuppa, emerges as a quintessential European Christmas market with a distinctive charm. This festive gathering encompasses all the elements synonymous with a classic Christmas market, featuring adorned stalls and a tree-lined ice skating rink that adds to the enchanting ambiance.
What truly sets Jul i Vinterland apart is its gastronomic offerings, promising a culinary adventure for visitors. Indulge in delightful treats such as coconut cupcakes and caramel apples, savor the warmth of gløgg and porridge, and explore a diverse menu that includes currywurst and smoked salmon sourced from the scenic Lofoten Islands. For those feeling fortunate, a chocolate wheel awaits a spin, adding an element of fun to the culinary experience.
As you wander through the market, immerse yourself in the festive spirit heightened by a ferris wheel and carnival rides that add an extra layer of excitement to Jul i Vinterland. Oslo’s Christmas market beckons with a perfect blend of traditional charm and culinary delights, making it a must-visit destination for those seeking a memorable holiday experience.
16. Helsinki, Finland
Location: Senate Square in Helsinki, Finland
In Helsinki, Finland, the Christmas market at Senate Square stands out for its unique blend of contemporary and traditional elements, coupled with a strong commitment to sustainability. This market earns high praise for its diverse offerings, ranging from playing bingo for a vegan ham to witnessing a holiday outfit contest for dogs.
However, it’s not all about quirky activities. Choirs enchant visitors with Christmas carols on the weekends, creating a festive atmosphere. As you explore the market, you can meander through illuminated stalls while sipping on hot mulled wine. Treat your taste buds to artisan cheeses, or indulge in candied nuts and jam-filled pastries.
For an authentic Finnish experience, immerse yourself in the wood-heated unisex sauna, strategically located in the heart of the market at Senate Square. This unique touch adds a warm and relaxing element to your Christmas market adventure. Helsinki’s market is not only a feast for the senses but also a celebration of sustainability and a harmonious mix of the old and the new.
17. Málaga, Spain
Location(s): Muelle Uno, Paseo de Parque, and light displays on Calle Marques de Larios in Málaga, Spain
For a delightful escape from the cold and a taste of a Mediterranean winter, venture to Málaga in the south of Spain, renowned for being one of Andalucia’s most beloved Christmas market destinations. Spread across Muelle Uno, Paseo de Parque, and adorned with captivating light displays along Calle Marques de Larios, this market offers a unique and festive experience.
Begin your journey from the old port and Santa’s Grotto, strolling along Paseo de Parque to explore and purchase local crafts. Indulge your taste buds with traditional shortbread, nougat, and borrachuelos – wine-flavored fried pastries that are a local specialty. As you continue your stroll, make your way to Calle Marques de Larios to witness the intricate and dazzling light displays that adorn the street.
What makes this Christmas market even more special is its Mediterranean setting, allowing you to enjoy a milder winter climate. The festivities extend beyond the main holidays, running into early January, ensuring you can soak up the festive cheer at your own pace. Málaga’s Christmas market promises not only local crafts and delectable treats but also a vibrant and extended celebration of the holiday season.
18. Frankfurt, Germany
Location: Römerberg, Paulsplatz, Mainkai, Hauptwache, Friedrich-Stoltze-Platz, and Roßmarkt in Frankfurt, Germany
In Frankfurt, Germany, the Christmas market sprawls across the old city center, encompassing Römerberg, Paulsplatz, Mainkai, Hauptwache, Friedrich-Stoltze-Platz, and Roßmarkt. Dating back to a winter market first held in the 14th century, Frankfurt’s Christmas market is one of Germany’s largest and oldest, offering a festive extravaganza.
As you wander through the market, you can pick up iconic German delights like Lebkuchen, the traditional gingerbread, along with roasted chestnuts and smoked salmon. The market’s stalls boast a variety of handicrafts, providing the perfect opportunity to discover unique gifts for everyone on your list.
Venture to Friedrich-Stoltze-Platz, where you’ll find the city’s LGBTQ+ “Pink Christmas” market. Here, all the stalls are adorned in a delightful shade of pink, creating a vibrant and inclusive atmosphere. Don’t miss the chiming of the church bells or the Advent concerts that grace every December weekend until Christmas.
While exploring the market’s vast scale, be sure to savor a bratwurst and indulge in locally-produced Apfelwein, the famed apple wine of the region. Frankfurt’s Christmas market is a time-honored tradition, blending history, culinary delights, and a festive ambiance that captivates visitors from near and far.
19. Wrocław, Poland
Location: Market Square and Plac Solny in Wrocław, Poland
In Wrocław, Poland, the Christmas market is a cherished tradition that takes place in Market Square and Plac Solny. While recent years have seen a scale-back in the range of light displays due to soaring energy prices, the market remains a captivating destination for visitors from across Central Europe.
The heart of the Christmas market in Wrocław is the main city square, where the festive atmosphere officially kicks in around December 6. This marks the moment when Santa Claus warmly greets visitors, and the twinkling lights on the Christmas tree illuminate the square. However, the anticipation doesn’t require waiting until December; you can start enjoying the delights from the wooden stalls early.
The market offers a delightful array of treats that showcase the richness of Polish cuisine. Indulge in potato pancakes, bigos (hunter’s stew), sausages, pierogi, chocolate gingerbread, and waffles in various tempting flavors. And of course, there’s no shortage of mulled wine to warm your spirits.
Wrocław’s Christmas market is a celebration of tradition, flavors, and festive joy, drawing people from near and far to partake in the seasonal magic. Whether you’re savoring the local delicacies or enjoying the vibrant atmosphere, the market in Market Square and Plac Solny promises a memorable holiday experience.
20. Trento, Italy
Location: Piazza Fiera and Piazza Cesare Battisti in Trento, Italy
In Trento, Italy, the festive spirit comes alive in the cobblestoned streets, specifically Piazza Fiera and Piazza Cesare Battisti. Nestled in the mountainous northern Italian region of Trentino–Alto Adige, the city transforms into what Italians lovingly call Città del Natale, or “Christmas Town,” each year.
The picturesque scene is set with Christmas-light-covered trees and 90 wooden huts lining the streets. Beneath the 13th-century Buonconsiglio Castle, vendors entice visitors with offerings of sheep’s cheeses and dried orange slices. The backdrop of the Alps in the distance adds a breathtaking touch to the entire festive panorama.
Trento’s Christmas market is a sensory delight, with local craftspeople adorning the city’s fountains with nativity displays. Be sure not to miss these artistic creations as you wander through the charming market. And as the evening unfolds, indulge in local culinary delights such as tortel di patate (potato cake) and jam-filled treccia mochèna.
Trento’s Christmas market is a celebration of tradition, local flavors, and the enchanting ambiance of the holiday season. Whether you’re captivated by the craftsmanship, the delicious treats, or the stunning Alpine backdrop, the market in Piazza Fiera and Piazza Cesare Battisti promises a festive experience that captures the magic of Christmas.
21. Colmar, France
Location: Place des Dominicains, Place Jeanne d’Arc, Place de l’Ancienne Douane, Koïfhus, Petite Venise, and Gourmet Market Place de la Cathédrale (all six markets are in and around Old Town) in Colmar, France
In Colmar, France, the Christmas magic comes alive in the Old Town with six enchanting markets located at Place des Dominicains, Place Jeanne d’Arc, Place de l’Ancienne Douane, Koïfhus, Petite Venise, and Gourmet Market Place de la Cathédrale. This picturesque town, with its timbered houses and canal-lined streets, is like a fairytale year-round, but during the holiday season, it transforms into one of the most charming Christmas destinations in all of Europe.
The markets each contribute their own unique version of holiday cheer, featuring everything from nativity scenes to children’s choirs. Expect a delightful experience of stall-hopping as you explore the festive offerings at each location. Colmar’s Christmas markets are adorned with twinkle lights, an ice skating rink, and an early-1900’s carousel, creating a truly magical atmosphere.
For those with a passion for gastronomy, the gourmet market at Place de la Cathédrale is a haven. Indulge in delectable treats, from oysters to Alsatian wines, satisfying the cravings of even the most discerning foodies.
Colmar’s Christmas markets are a celebration of tradition, charm, and the festive spirit that makes this town a captivating destination during the holiday season. Whether you’re strolling along the canals, admiring the timbered houses, or savoring the diverse delights at the markets, Colmar promises an enchanting and heartwarming Christmas experience.
22. Alberobello, Italy
Location: Piazza del Popolo, Largo Martellotta, Largo Trevisani and Largo Pietra Ficcata in Alberobello, Puglia, Italy
In Alberobello, Puglia, Italy, the Christmas Market Under the Trulli transforms the UNESCO World Heritage Site into a magical wonderland. Alberobello is renowned for its mid-14th century “trulli,” the iconic conical white houses typical of southern Italy, which take center stage in this festive celebration.
Throughout December, the historic limestone walls of Alberobello’s trulli are adorned with bright stars, moons, and snowflakes, creating a mesmerizing display. The cobbled streets of this tiny town come alive with the glimmering lights, setting the stage for a truly enchanting Christmas experience.
As you wander through the Christmas Market Under the Trulli, indulge in the local culinary delights. Treat yourself to cod fritters and pettole, sweet fried doughnuts that add a delicious touch to the festive atmosphere. Wash it all down with a sip of vincotto, a traditional Italian grape syrup.
One highlight not to be missed is the “living nativity” scene in the days after Christmas, offering a unique and immersive experience. Booking is recommended to ensure you don’t miss out on this special event.
Alberobello’s Christmas Market Under the Trulli is a celebration of tradition, light, and the unique charm of this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Whether you’re admiring the illuminated trulli, savoring local delicacies, or immersing yourself in the living nativity scene, Alberobello promises a Christmas experience that captures the magic of the season.
23. Dresden, Germany
Location: Altmarkt Square in Dresden, Germany
In Dresden, Germany, the Dresden Striezelmarkt at Altmarkt Square holds the esteemed title of being widely considered Germany’s oldest Christmas market, founded in 1434 as a one-day market. While other cities like Frankfurt and Munich have vied for similar distinctions, Dresden’s market stands out as the most traditional and rich in history.
The Dresden Striezelmarkt exudes a charming and traditional atmosphere with handmade wooden toys, a festive train for children, and wooden stalls adorned with boughs of fragrant pine. The market’s age is testament to its enduring appeal, creating a timeless experience for visitors.
Key attractions at the Dresden Striezelmarkt include the impressive 45-foot-tall Christmas pyramid and the renowned stollen, a buttery fruitcake dusted with powdered sugar. The stollen is particularly special, packaged with a unique seal depicting the city’s famous former king, August the Strong. This annual focal point adds a touch of regal history to the festive celebration.
Mark your calendar for the market’s annual gingerbread fest on December 10th, an event not to be missed for lovers of this holiday treat.
Dresden’s Striezelmarkt is a cherished tradition, offering a glimpse into the past with its handmade crafts, festive decorations, and delectable treats. As you wander through Altmarkt Square, you’ll find yourself immersed in the magic of one of Germany’s oldest and most traditional Christmas markets.
24. Stockholm, Sweden
Location: Skansen Open-Air Museum in Stockholm, Sweden
In Stockholm, Sweden, the Christmas market at Skansen Open-Air Museum offers a truly traditional and immersive experience. Located on the island of Djurgarden in the center of Stockholm, this open-air museum showcases historic homes and farmsteads decorated in accordance with the holiday season.
Embrace the festive spirit as you explore the market, indulging in smoked turkey and sugared almonds for a taste of traditional Swedish holiday treats. For those seeking a more adventurous experience, participate in traditional dances around the festive tree at Bollnäs Square and unleash your creativity in the workshop to craft your own Christmas decorations.
To elevate the festive atmosphere, enjoy Christmas concerts held in the Seglora church each weekend. One highlight not to be missed is the candlelit Lucia procession on December 13, a beautiful and symbolic tradition that adds a touch of magic to the holiday celebrations.
The Skansen Open-Air Museum’s Christmas market is a treasure trove of traditional Swedish customs, providing visitors with an authentic and festive experience. Immerse yourself in the charm of historic homes, enjoy seasonal delights, and partake in cultural activities that capture the essence of a Swedish Christmas.
25. Winchester, England
Location: Winchester Cathedral in Winchester, England
In Winchester, England, the Gothic cathedral becomes a festive haven from mid-November to the week before Christmas, hosting a carefully curated festive market that captures the essence of the season. After exploring the stunningly green South Downs National Park in the region, visitors can warm up at the market, creating a perfect winter day.
Indulge in culinary delights such as posh macaroni and cheese, a hog roast, or a rich Scotch egg as you peruse the market’s offerings, which include sustainable crafts, stationery, wooden toys, and garden decor. Sip on mulled wine and seize the opportunity to pick up some chutney and local cheese for your Christmas feast, creating a delightful shopping experience.
One of the highlights of the Winchester Cathedral market is its proximity to the renowned choral performances held within the cathedral. Immerse yourself in the festive spirit with the harmonious melodies, adding an extra layer of enchantment to your visit.
Winchester’s festive market at the cathedral is a perfect blend of traditional charm and contemporary offerings. Whether you’re in search of unique crafts or savoring delicious treats, the market provides a warm and inviting atmosphere, making it a delightful destination during the holiday season.
26. Sibiu, Romania
Location: Piața Mare in Sibiu, Romania
Sibiu Christmas Market, located in the picturesque Piața Mare in Sibiu, Romania, captivates visitors with its enchanting atmosphere. While Romania often receives attention for its Halloween festivities, the country wholeheartedly embraces the spirit of Santa Claus, as exemplified by this glittering market in the heart of Sibiu.
The market features a dazzling array of over 100 merchants, creating a festive spectacle with stalls adorned in fairy lights. Immerse yourself in the holiday spirit as you explore Santa’s workshop, glide across the ice rink, and take in panoramic views from the new 72-feet-tall Ferris wheel—a delightful addition introduced in the previous year.
Indulge in the rich culinary offerings of the market, savoring traditional Romanian delights such as mămăligă (polenta), cabbage rolls, and warming mulled wine. Ensure you seize the opportunity to meet Moș Crăciun, the Romanian equivalent of Santa Claus, adding a touch of local charm to your Christmas market experience. Sibiu Christmas Market promises a magical journey into the heart of Romanian holiday traditions, making it a delightful destination for festive celebrations.
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