Just a Pack Contributor: Brittany Muldoon | October 30th, 2019 | No comments

If you want to get into the spirit of the holidays there is no better way while traveling than by visiting one of the many spectacular Christmas markets in Europe. 

If you’ll be in Europe during the holidays, you’re in for a real treat. You’ve probably seen photos of the snow-dusted rooftops, cozy pubs and cafes to hide in, mulled wine and hot chocolate, and best of all, the European Christmas markets. Exploring a Christmas market in Europe is like stepping into a fairy tale – everyone is cheery in their winter coats and hats, there are local crafts and gifts galore, the smell of the food wafts through the air and the sound of laughter is ever-present.

It can be difficult to decide which markets are worth checking out, though, when basically every city in Europe has their own unique take on the Christmas market tradition. Since there are so many, it’s impossible to visit them all in just one holiday season, so we’ve put together a list of some of the best Christmas markets in Europe to help make your decision a little easier.

Best Christmas Markets in Europe!

Prague Christmas Market – Old Town Square

Prague Christmas Market Old Town Square

Prague’s largest Christmas market is located right smack in the center of Old Town Square, sprawled around the Jan Hus Memorial in front of the Astronomical Clock. Because of the location, this also tends to be the most crowded market in Prague, but we don’t think you will mind that so much. 

This market is the biggest and the most popular for a reason. It’s got a lot of extras that the smaller markets in Prague simply don’t have.

First off, this market hosts the Prague Christmas Tree and nativity scene. The huge, real tree is the centerpiece of the market and stands in front of the Church of Tyn so you can get some great photos. The tree is beautifully decorated with lights and ornaments and really comes to life after sunset, when you can see it in all its lit up glory.

The Prague X-mas market in Old Town Square also has a stage to host caroling, concerts, dance performances, and other live Christmas shows for visitors of all ages to enjoy. There are also some special events for kids as well as St. Mikuláš (or St. Nicholas to Westerners) and New Year’s celebrations.

This year, the market at Old Town Square will be open from December 1, 2019 until January 6, 2020. You can buy gifts and other trinkets from 10 am to 10 pm and you can enjoy the food and drink from 10 am until midnight.

This truly is one of the very best and beautiful Christmas markets in all of Europe, and you should absolutely NOT miss it! 

Strasbourg Christmas Market – Strasbourg, France

strasbourg christmas markets

Founded in 1570 at Place Broglie, the Christmas markets in Strasbourg are the oldest Christmas markets in France, and undoubtedly one of the most famous ones in Europe. This market, set up in the Grand Île, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is also known as Europe’s Capital of Christmas.

Strasbourg has 11 Christmas markets spread across the city, which is quite a big number for a smaller city! Strasbourg is part of the Alsace region, which used to be Germany territory, so you’ll find an interesting mix of local foods and cultures at this European Christmas market. This is the only place where you’ll get to experience a proper Alsatian Christmas, with Alsatian food and beverages from local farmers and producers on sale Place des Meuniers and Christmas delicacies and other local products at Place d’Austerlitz. The history and the unique culture and tradition present here makes Strasbourg one of the best Christmas markets in Europe.

strasbourg christmas market festivities

The markets in Strasbourg all have their own unique charm, but the one you absolutely cannot miss is located at Place Kléber. This is the market with the Grand Sapin, or the big Christmas tree in English. The tree is a minimum height of 30 meters each year and is decked out with lights, ornaments, angels and other decorations. This market is called the Village of Sharing because in the past, people used to leave gifts for the poor under the Grand Sapin. Today, this market boasts over 60 stalls run by charities selling food and gifts for a good cause.

These Christmas markets in Europe are open from November 22 until December 30. On weekdays, the markets are open from 11 am until 8 pm, and on the weekends from 11 am until 10 pm. Christmas Eve’s hours are a bit shorter, from 11 am until 6 pm.

Christkindlmarkt at Rathausplatz in Vienna, Austria

vienna christmas market

Another one of the most famous, and beautiful, European Christmas markets is the one in Vienna. Vienna boasts 12 main markets spread across the city along with a few smaller ones on the outskirts, and each one is worth visiting. The best part of these is that you can easily get to most of them on foot! At these Christmas markets in Europe, you’ll find a wide variety of products: from traditional Viennese food, handicrafts made my local artists and artists from across Austria, LED light projections and DJ booths, you won’t be disappointed by any of the Vienna Christmas markets.

The best Christmas market in Vienna, however, is the Christkindlmarkt at Rathausplatz. This is the biggest and most popular market in the city so be prepared for some crowds, but you’ll be glad you went. The City Hall all lit up provides a beautiful backdrop to this market and more than 150 stalls offer food, beverages, and gifts. You’ll want to browse through the whole thing, and when you’re done you can skate on the huge ice rink (3000 square meters!) with festive Christmas music playing in the background. Once you’re done skating, treat yourself to some traditional Christmas punch and enjoy the cheery Christmas atmosphere as you can’t go wrong with this market in Vienna. This is hands down one of the best Christmas markets in Europe.

While the official opening days of this European Christmas market haven’t been announced yet, the general consensus is that they will be open from November 16 until December 24.

Grand Place Christmas Market in Brussels, Belgium

brussels christmas maket

These Christmas markets in Europe are known as Winter Wonders and they attract about 2.5 million visitors from around the world each year. Five main Christmas markets with over 250 stalls are set up across Brussels during the Christmas markets and they offer a diverse set of gifts, food, beverages, activities and more. These European Christmas markets also host a skating rink, a decorated Christmas tree, a life-size nativity scene, two light show video mappings at St. Catherine’s Church and the Viage, and an appearance from Santa Claus and the Smurfs. After all, what more do you need to celebrate Christmas?

The Christmas market in Brussels that you absolutely won’t want to miss is the one at Grand Place – this is the heart of the Winter Wonders festival and it hosts the Christmas tree as well as the nativity scene. This is also the site of one of the video mapping light shows – this audiovisual masterpiece plays every 30 minutes and lasts for about 10-15 minutes – you’ll be mesmerized by the changing colors and music throughout the entire show! The innovation and use of technology makes this one of the best Christmas markets in Europe.

Winter Wonders is open this year from November 30 until January 7, 2020.

Christmas Market at St. Stephen’s Basilica in Budapest, Hungary

budapest christmas maket

These European Christmas markets in Budapest get more and more popular each year, and for good reason. There are a couple different markets and events that are part of this one: the Advent Feast at the Basilica and the ones at Vörösmarty Tér are the main ones, while there are smaller ones located throughout the city. At all the markets, you will find traditional Hungarian handicrafts and other goods, as well as food, drink and activities for all ages.

If you’re looking for the best market in the city, though, we would recommend checking out the one at St. Stephen’s Basilica. While it’s the newest market in the city, opened in 2011, you can buy pretty much the same stuff at this one as you can at Vörösmarty Tér (it’s a short walk from there anyway so you can check out both!) with a few added bonuses, like a skating rink surrounding a beautiful Christmas tree!

While the official dates of this Christmas market in Europe haven’t been announced yet, it is presumed that they will run from November 8 until January 1.

Ban Josip Jelačić Square Christmas Market in Zagreb, Croatia

Zagreb Advent 20181222 DSC 9083
Branko Radovanović [CC BY-SA 4.0]
This market in Zagreb has voted the best Christmas market in Europe for the past three years, and for good reason! This market boasts festive displays spread all across the city center, including lights, performances, displays, a visit from Santa, and well-priced local goods for sale. They also have an ice rink where you can take skating lessons if you’re lacking the essential skills.

Ban Josip Jelačić Square is the Christmas market you won’t want to miss in Zagreb. This one hosts the traditional giant Christmas tree and a beautiful fountain that’s transformed into a breathtaking light show accompanied by music. If you’re looking to escape the cold, this market also houses a heated, covered area serving food and drinks with live music every day!

These Christmas markets in Europe will be open for your enjoyment from November 30 until January 7 this year.

Town Hall Square Christmas Market in Tallinn, Estonia

tallinn christmas maket

This European Christmas market ends up on the top ten lists of the best Christmas markets in Europe pretty much every year, and we’re not surprised. With its medieval buildings and well-preserved traditions dating back through the centuries to the pagan celebrations of the winter solstice, this Christmas market has a lot to offer tens of thousands of visitors that come each year. Stalls will offer traditional goods that aren’t available in the city anywhere else during the year, as well as visits with Santa and his reindeer and seasonal food and drink.

You won’t want to miss the market in Town Hall Square. Along with the shopping stalls, this is where the visits with Santa are held and kids can even take a pony ride. The giant stage will host cultural and seasonal performances complete with dancers, singers, choirs, and more.

These Christmas markets in Europe will run from November 17 until January 6.

Barfüsserplatz and Münsterplatz Christmas Markets in Basel, Switzerland

basel christmas maket

Basel is known as Switzerland’s biggest and most beautiful Christmas city, and for good reason! This quaint Christmas market in Europe is set up in two locations in the city center: Barfüsserplatz and Münsterplatz. You can also find a special program of exhibitions taking place at the city’s museums during the Christmas markets. Almost 200 stalls will sell traditional Swiss goods and don’t forget to enjoy the food – Swiss raclette, waffles, and gingerbread are all local favorites that will make your mouth water as soon as the scent hits you.

We would recommend checking out Münsterplatz – this one holds the big Christmas tree decorated with ornaments by well-known artist Johann Wanner.

These European Christmas markets will be open from November 28 until December 23 this year.

Hauptmarkt Christkindlesmarkt in Nuremberg, Germany

nuremberg christmas maket

Nuremberg’s Christkindlesmarkt is another one that consistently ends up on top ten lists for the best Christmas markets in Europe. Welcoming 2 million visitors each year, this market is famous for its Nuremberg sausages, gingerbread, and of course its 400-year-old Christmas traditions.

Ever since the market first opened in the 1600s, handmade crafts, gifts, and Christmas decorations have been sold at the now over 180 stalls across the city. The market traditionally opens on the Friday before Advent with the “Christkind”, or the Christmas angel, proclaiming “You men and women who were once children, be young again” before visitors flood the lanes within the market – and when you visit the markets you will be overwhelmed with childish Christmas spirit!

The best market in the city is the main one at Hauptmarkt. This is where you will find the Christmas tree and the opening ceremony featuring the Christkind, which you shouldn’t miss if the dates of your trip line up correctly. You’ll feel like you’re walking through the North Pole with the stalls being decorated with red and white rooftops, making everything look like a candy cane. You’ll be able to buy toys, treats, and more from the tons of stalls.

These German Christmas markets will open on November 28 and close on December 23 this year.

Tivoli Gardens Christmas Market in Copenhagen, Denmark

copenhagen christmas maket

Copenhagen truly transforms into a Christmas city as they set up their markets in November each year. With the many cozy market locations across the city, it’s impossible not to get into the Christmas spirit while you browse the stalls looking for traditional Danish gifts, food and drinks.

The best and most famous Christmas market in Copenhagen takes place in the city’s iconic Tivoli Gardens. The gardens will be decked out with market stalls, Christmas lights, Santa and his reindeer, seasonal rides and attractions, a skating rink, and more. The lake, which doubles as the skating rink, will also be lit up with light shows and displays throughout the market. You can also check out an indoor Christmas villages, complete with little elves and pixies rushing around to get ready for the big day.

While the dates aren’t official yet, these Christmas markets in Europe will open on November 15 and close on January 5.

Albert Square Christmas Market in Manchester, UK

manchester uk christmas market
Manchester Christmas Market by Andrew Stawarz [CC BY-ND 2.0]
First opened in 1999, the Manchester Christmas markets in Europe are the oldest, and biggest, ones in the UK, and they attract more than nine million visitors each year. With ten Christmas markets spread across the city featuring over 300 market stalls, you’ll be able to find something for everyone. The stalls feature local crafts as well as gifts made by artists from across Europe. They also boast a wide array of international food and drink. This year, a new addition to the Manchester Christmas markets is the family fun center with rides and other entertainment, including light performances, magicians, and other street theatre for the kids to enjoy.

The main location of this European Christmas market is at Albert Square. This particular market is under the watchful eye of a giant lit up Santa Claus figure and features the biggest bars and the most stalls out of all the other markets in the city.

These markets are the best in the UK, and definitely one of the best Christmas markets in Europe. They will be open this year from November 9 until December 22.

Stortorget Square Christmas Market in Stockholm, Sweden

stockholm christmas maket

These European Christmas markets in Stockholm’s Old Town will not disappoint, and they have also ended up on several lists of the best Christmas markets in Europe. These historic Christmas markets are a must-see with their little red stalls, their local Christmas treats, Swedish specialties like reindeer and elk meat, and high-quality local handicrafts.

If you’re looking for the best in town, we’d recommend the market at Gamla Stan, Stockholm’s Old Town market at Stortorget Square. This is the one you most often see in photos and visiting it in real life is like stepping into a fairytale. This one is the oldest in Sweden, starting in 1837 and upholding its own Christmas tradition ever since. Here you’ll find decorations, candles, and other goods said to be in the style of the ones from the Middle Ages.

These Christmas markets in Europe will be open from November 23 until December 23 this year.

Domplatz Christmas Market in Erfurt, Germany

Erfurt christmas season

This European Christmas market is the largest in the Thuringia region and one of the most beautiful in all of Germany. Erfurt’s medieval old town hosts stalls selling Thuringian specialties, handmade crafts and other gifts, and don’t forget to try Erfurt’s special Christmas cake, schittscen.

The main Christmas Market in Erfurt is at Domplatz, or Cathedral Square. This market houses a life-size nativity scene with hand-carved wooden figures, a Christmas tree decorated with candles and other ornaments, and over 200 stalls selling Christmas goods. A highlight for the little ones is the enchanted forest with pictures from famous fairytales.

These Christmas markets in Europe are open from November 26 until December 22.

Marktplatz Christmas Market in Leipzig, Germany

leipzig germany christmas market

Yet another of Germany’s claims to Christmas fame, Leipzig’s are some of the best Christmas markets in Europe. Dating back to 1458, the six different market areas are placed strategically around the city to take advantage of the most beautiful scenery and buildings possible. Featuring 250 market stalls, it’s one of the largest markets in Germany today.

The main market you’ll want to check out is at Marktplatz, where you’ll find a 20-meter Christmas tree as well as a diverse cultural and seasonal program taking place on the Market Square stage. This traditional medieval market will take you back in time with its handicrafts and you can enjoy local food and drink while you browse the stalls.

These European Christmas markets will be open from November 26 to December 23.

Old Market Square Christmas Market in Poznan, Poland

Christmas Market 2017 Poznan (7)
MOs810 [CC BY-SA 4.0] via Wikipedia
This less well-known city in Poland can really put on a show, as they host one of the best Christmas markets in Europe! Known as Poznan Bethlehem, this Christmas market in Europe features unique events, contests, and Polish goods along with ice, snowflakes, and other Christmas attractions.

The main market you’ll want to check out in Poznan is the Old Market Square. You’ll browse through stalls of local vendors offering fish, cheese, sweets, wine and beer along with the traditional regional crafts you can buy as gifts for loved ones. The main event at this market, though, is the International Ice Sculpture Festival where contestants from around the world will create ice sculptures right there in front of you.

These European Christmas markets will open on November 16 and end on December 22.

Gendarmanmarkt Christmas Market in Berlin, Germany

berlin christmas market

These European Christmas markets are some of the biggest and best in all of Germany, with over 70 market locations spread across the city. You’ll find a ton of different options: indoor, outdoor, covered, ones with rides for the kids, fairs, ones with historical themes, and more. The choice of market is just as diverse as the city that houses them.

The one to check out if you’re in Berlin during the Christmas season is the historical Gendarmanmarkt Christmas Market. Here, you’ll find stalls with glassblowers, origami artists, and other unique craftsmen and local delicacies for food and drink. This is a covered market with other stands and exhibitions, including artists, musicians, theatre performances and dancers.

These Christmas markets in Europe are open from November 25 until December 31 this year.

Piazza Santa Croce Christmas Market in Florence, Italy

florence christmas maket

The European Christmas market in Florence at Piazza Santa Croce is actually set in the German tradition of the markets with a bit of an Italian twist. The organizers of this market first opened it in 2003 and it has been bringing the German Christmas tradition to the city ever since.

With over 50 market stalls set up against the backdrop of the Santa Croce Basilica, you’ll find nativity and Christmas decorations, goods from Germany, Italy, and across the rest of Europe like toys, ceramics, and woolen goods, as well as traditional German beer and sweets. You’ll also find activities for the kids, like a carousel set up in the middle of the square.

  

This dates of this unique Christmas market in Europe have not been announced quite yet.

Rynek Glowny Christmas Market in Krakow, Poland

krakow poland christmas

Along with the snow that blankets the city of Krakow during the winter, you’ll get to see it all lit up and festive during the Krakow Christmas market! These European Christmas markets are some of the best in Poland and you won’t want to miss the interesting trinkets and wide array of food they have to offer.

The main market takes place in the main square, Rynek Glowny, and is always bustling with life. Whether you’re there to eat, drink, shop, or just be entertained, there’s something there for you. One of the highlights of this Christmas market in Europe is the Krakow Christmas Cribs contest during which contestants’ decorated nativity cribs are paraded through the markets for visitors to admire before being put on display and judged to find the best one. Because if its unique traditions and the wide variety of local food and crafts available, this is no doubt one of the best Christmas markets in Europe.

This market will be open from November 29 until January 7.

Marienplatz Christmas Market in Munich, Germany

munich christmas markets

These European Christmas markets are another diverse set and you won’t want to miss them! This is one of the oldest and the most traditional in all of Europe and it attracts 3 million visitors each year. At the Munich markets, you’ll get to enjoy Bavarian treats and beverages as well as browse through stalls of local goods for sale.

The main Munich market is at Marienplatz – this is the biggest and most popular, but for a reason. You’ll find tons of handmade crafts and local delicacies all against the backdrop of the beautiful Neues Rathaus. The Rathaus courtyard also hosts even more stalls and at the post office you can get special Christmas stamps for your postcards. This is also where the huge Christmas tree is, and a special Advent concert is performed live on the balcony of the Town Hall every night at 5:30.

This Christmas market in Europe is open from November 27 until December 24 this year.

There you have it, some of the best Christmas markets in Europe! There’s no better way to get in the holiday cheer and find the perfect gifts for your loved ones than visiting some of these European Christmas markets. Each one has their own unique charm and personality and every one of them is worth a visit. So, add these to your bucket list and get Christmas shopping!

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