28 of the best Christmas markets Europe has to offer

Europe in December is a magical time for Christmas lovers, especially with the charming winter markets that light up the continent. Become entranced by the twinkling lights of Vienna’s City Hall, or perhaps experience the scent of cinnamon and fir drifting from the cottages of Vorosmarty Square in Budapest. A truly enchanting experience, Christmas markets in Europe will have you feeling as though you’ve landed in the North Pole itself.

Europe’s Christmas markets began in the Late Middle Ages, starting with Vienna’s December Market, dating back to around 1294. Dresden’s Strietzelmarkt, created in 1434, is considered Germany’s oldest, followed by Munich in 1310, Bautzen in 1384, and Frankfurt in 1393. Originally, Christmas markets lasted only a few days, but now they run for a month or longer.

United Kingdom

Hyde Park Winter Wonderland, London

The name says it all, Hyde Park Winter Wonderland hosts an outstanding Christmas experience. One of the most famous of London’s Christmas markets, Hyde Park Winter Wonderland offers families many festive activities. Browse the traditional Christmas markets, where you will find an abundance of Christmas trinkets and gifts. Lock hands with a loved one while skating on the Winter Wonderland ice rink, which is the largest outdoor rink in the United Kingdom. Uncover the secret passageways of the Magical Ice Kingdom, followed by a trip to the stars in the Giant Observation Wheel where you can relish in the sparkling festival lights below. You won’t be left hungry either, with so many restaurants and bars around, you won’t know where to start. With so much to do and see, Hyde Park Winter Wonderland is home to one of the best Christmas markets in Europe.

When: 17 November to 1 January.
Where: Hyde Park, London, England.

Hyde Park Winter Wonderland
Hyde Park Winter Wonderland © Adobe Stock

Kingston Christmas Market, London

Visiting Kingston Christmas Market in London will not only have you filling up your Christmas stocking, but you’ll also be filling your belly up too. Allow your taste buds to explore the various food options at the markets, from bratwurst to street food from across the globe. If that doesn’t get you in the Christmas spirit, a mug of mulled wine coupled with twinkling Christmas lights surely will. You will have all of your holiday shopping covered too, as the Kingston Christmas Market offers a selection of festive retailers where you can be sure to find the perfect gift. Bask in the sounds of Christmas carols and live music, as you enjoy a classic Christmas holiday.

When: 16 November to 31 December
Where: Ancient Marketplace, London

Kingston Christmas Market
Kingston Christmas Market © Adobe Stock

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France

Montbeliard, France

The German-style Christmas markets that are held in Montbeliard are a yearly tradition, dating back 25 years. One of the most popular Christmas markets in Europe, Montbeliard can expect up to 400,000 visitors during Advent every year. Over 115,00 light bulbs are lit from Place Denfert-Rochereau to the railway station, decorating the streets in spectacular fashion. The market stalls showcase the talents of local artisans, selling traditional artworks and accessories that you won’t find anywhere else. Spot Santa Claus roaming the streets of the market while indulging in tasty Christmas treats, exemplifying the Christmas spirit.

When: 25 November to 24 December
Where: At the foot of the Temple Saint-Martin, Montbeliard

Metz, France

Home to a myriad of Christmas-themed boutiques and scrumptious food, visiting Metz in December is like stepping into a Christmas party hosted by Saint Nick himself. The city of Metz hosts five Christmas markets, each spread across the city to form a ring around the Gothic Cathedral. The parade of lights coupled with the scent of hot chocolate and mulled wine will excite all of your senses. Craftspeople have stalls set up selling a variety of homemade gifts, the perfect present to place under the Christmas tree. Metz’s Lantern Trail is a sight to behold, with illuminated Christmas-themed sculptures such as snowflakes and gingerbread men lighting your way through. Not only does the city of Metz produce one of the best Christmas markets in Europe, but one of the best in the world.

When: 24 November to 30 December
Where: Spread throughout the city of Metz, at the city’s main squares.

Metz Christmas Markets
Metz Christmas Markets © Adobe Stock

Christkindelsmärik, Strasbourg, France

Many regard Strasbourg as the ‘Capital of Christmas’, a title that is difficult to dispute. The city hosts the oldest Christmas markets Europe has to offer, Christkindelsmärik, dating back to 1570. The streets shimmer with twinkling lights and holiday decorations and a thirty-metre tree towers over Place Kléber. Hundreds of merchants fill the glowing streets, selling traditional gifts and treats that fit perfectly in any Christmas stocking. Christmas carols ring out from the churches, setting the tone for an unforgettable Christmas in Strasbourg, France. 

When: 24 November to 24 December
Where: Spread throughout Strausborg, focused mainly around Cathedral Square

Christkindelsmarik, Starusborg
Christkindelsmarik, Strausborg © Adobe Stock

Colmar, France

The Christmas markets in Colmar represent everything wonderful about the holiday season. The multicoloured lights adorning the streets illuminate the way to each of the city’s six Christmas markets. It feels as though the town was built for Christmas, with brown and golden coloured buildings that look as though they were made from gingerbread. Each market, although in keeping with the Christmas tone, has its own unique ambience. Some may amaze you with bright coloured lights and rides for children, while others have soft LED lights and mulled wine. With smoked pork, foie gras or other hot dishes from the gourmet market that pair nicely with a selection of local Alsatian wines, you’ll leave these European Christmas markets with a warm belly and a warm heart. 

When: 23 November to 29 December
Where: Mainly located in the town’s historic centre, spreading throughout the city.

Annecy, France

For cosy Christmas markets with a picturesque backdrop of snow-capped markets, visit Annecy between late November and early December. Rows of wooden chalets offer nougat, mulled drinks (choose from red wine, white wine or cider) and Savoyarde specialities such as Tartiflette and raclette. Support local producers from the Haute-Savoie by browsing their ranges of hand-crafted Christmas trinkets, knitted hats and leather gloves. If the mulled wine doesn’t warm your heart, the convivial atmosphere of this alpine market surely will.

When: 25 November to 06 December
Where: The old town by the canal next to Église Saint-François de Sales

Germany

Essen, Germany

Essen International Christmas Markets has so many lights you’ll think you’re in space. The festive glow accompanied by the hot mulled wines delivers a cosy, Christmas vibe, with plenty of nooks and crannies to discover. The scent of freshly roasted almonds creates a spiced aroma, preparing your taste buds (and your stomach) for a trip to one of the many food stalls on offer. Bring your family, a loved one, or simply yourself to this extraordinary Christmas market in Europe, a delight for all holiday lovers. 

When: 17 November to 23 December
Where: The main market is located in Kennedyplatz

Essen Christmas Markets
Essen Christmas Markets © Adobe Stock

Trier, Germany

Triers Christmas Market creates an intimate and cosy atmosphere for all to enjoy. The scent of mulled wine and sugary sweets is a welcoming fragrance as you make your way through the markets. Around 90 wooden stalls, all decorated with their own Christmas jolly, create the opportunity to chat with friendly vendors, admire the handmade items for sale and fill up your Christmas stockings. You’ll also be spoilt for choice when it comes to traditional holiday delicacies. Grab a steaming cup of fresh mulled wine, or perhaps one some sweets from one of the stalls. Don’t forget to grab a picture with Santa Claus on your way out of one of the best Christmas markets in Europe, to capture a moment you won’t soon forget. 

When: 24 November to 22 December
Where: In front of Trier Chapel

Trier Christmas Markets
Trier Christmas Markets © Adobe Stock

Cologne, Germany

Cologne is the fourth largest city in Germany, so it comes as no surprise that it hosts an array of Christmas markets. Perhaps the most well-known of Cologne’s Christmas markets sits in front of the Cologne Cathedral, one of Germany’s most famous landmarks. Get your cameras ready for this picture-perfect setting, as the golden Christmas tree perched in the heart of the markets dazzles you. The luminous streets are packed with different stalls, each with its own story to tell. Whether you’re shopping for gifts, looking for a Christmas snack or simply browsing, you will not be left disappointed. 

When: 23 November to 23 December
Where: Cologne Cathedral

Cologne Christmas Markets
Cologne Christmas Markets © Adobe Stock

Italy

Merano, Italy

Merano is a mountain-side spa town in Italy with one of the best Christmas markets in Europe. The annual holiday tradition sees Merano transform into the ultimate Christmas market to celebrate all things festive. The crisp air somehow feels cosy, which compliments the live music and electrifying atmosphere that generates warmth throughout the markets. Holiday decorations are sprinkled throughout the streets, with the aroma of fresh pastries wafting through the air. Emphasising an immensely special time of year, Merano hosts one of the best Christmas markets Italy has to offer.

When: 24 November to 6 January
Where: Spread throughout the town of Merano

Bolzano, Italy

In the heart of Bolzano, you will find one of the top Christmas markets in Europe. A picture-perfect setting that looks pulled from a storybook, the Bolzano Christmas markets light up the night from November to January. Stroll along the 80 traditional multicoloured wooden houses as you bask in the Christmas spirit, exploring the different markets and festivities. Enjoy a serving of speck, strudel, mulled wine or Zelten that will warm your insides. Window shop the several stalls selling Christmas tree decorations and other homemade craft made items, as you listen to the live Christmas music being played in the streets. 

When: 24 November to 6 January
Where: Piazza Walther

Bolzano Christmas Market
Bolzano Christmas Market © Adobe Stock

Netherlands

Christmas Town Valkenburg, The Netherlands

A nearly two-month holiday celebration is held in Valkenburg from mid-November to early January each year. The Christmas parade is a highlight for all ages. Sing along to your favourite Christmas jingles, as the Christmas float parades through the streets. The underground caves are also a delight, with centuries-old corridors to explore, decked out with different stalls selling your favourite Christmas goodies, or perhaps a trip on the cable cars that tell the story of Christmas is a magnificent way. Whether through the street theatre showings, or a stroll along the various walking routes, Christmas Town Valkenburg is sure to ignite your Christmas spirit.

When: 17 November to 7 January
Where: Theodoor, Valkenburg

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Amsterdam’s Christmas markets can be found in the neighbourhood of Museumplein. Whether you are embarking on a family holiday, spending Christmas with a special someone or perhaps checking Amsterdam off of your travel checklist, these vibrant Christmas markets have something for everyone. Encounter a friendly vendor at any one of the 45 Christmas stalls, with plenty of gifts and trinkets to send home. The various places to eat and drink can create the perfect opportunity to spend time with friends and family, an important part of the Christmas season. The markets are always bustling with people, generating the kind of Christmas buzz you only see in the movies.

When: December 13 to December 26
Where: Located next to the ice rink on Museumplein

Spain

Madrid, Spain

The Madrid Christmas Market is a collector’s dream. One of the best Christmas markets in Europe for Christmas shopping, you will find a huge variety of antiques, artworks and collectibles. With over 12,00 items to be discovered, including vintage pieces from the 1960s to the 1980s, you are certain to find something that catches your eye. Ignite your taste buds at one of the food stalls, with succulent turkey and tasty sweets that will leave you stuffed and satisfied. 

When: 25 November to 31 December
Where: Plaza Mayor, Madrid

Madrid Christmas Market
Madrid Christmas Market © Adobe Stock

Seville, Spain

Seville Christmas market boasts a wonderful European Christmas. Its rich history and artistic heritage, coupled with the warm winter, (compared to other parts of Europe) make it a vibrant city to celebrate Christmas in. Seville erupts with holiday spirit during December, with musical choirs and Christmas stalls scattered throughout the markets. Explore the yearly street exhibitions, showing off antique signage that promotes creative and cultural content to the public.

When: 25 November to 23 December
Where: Nervion 

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Czech Republic

Prague, Czech Republic

Prague prides itself on hosting one of the best Christmas markets in Europe every year. The city is lit with an impressive array of lights. A variety of stalls await your perusal, with warres such as jewellery, hand-crafted ornaments, winter accessories and toys for sale. The markets are not just an opportunity to shop, though. Prepare your stomach for a selection of tasty samples and hearty meals. Local favourites include Christmas fish soup, cakes and sweets, spicy gingerbread or traditional Czechian desserts. Admire the impressive 25-metre Christmas tree, as you enjoy an amazing Christmas holiday in Prague. 

When: 2 December to 6 January 
Where: Many locations throughout Prague, with the main ones being in Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square

Prague Christmas Market
Prague Christmas Market © Adobe Stock

Budapest

The Advent Basilica, Budapest 

These Budapest Christmas markets are a gorgeous addition to the many Christmas markets Europe has lined up. The light show presentations are simply mesmerising, bringing a magical presence to the St. Stephens Basilica. Enjoy a 3D visual show after sunset every evening, with special glasses handed to visitors. Embark on a guided tour as you get the full Christmas market experience. The tours are enhanced even more once you discover the huge variety of hand-crafted jewellery on offer, followed by a cup of mulled wine.

When: 17 November to 1 January
Where: In front of St. Stephens Basilica

The Advent Basilica
The Advent Basilica © Adobe Stock

Poland

Gdansk, Poland

The Christmas season is a special time for the Polish city of Gdansk, as it hosts one of the best Christmas markets in Europe. With 155 stalls sprawling the city’s streets, visitors to the Christmas markets will not be leaving empty-handed. If it’s gifts to place under the tree that you’re after, you will be delighted to discover stalls selling handcrafted linen and wool products, wooden toys, jewellery, candles and lamps, baubles and painted angels. Unique Christmas ornaments and ceramics are also on offer, perfect for holiday decorations. As well as classic Polish dishes, you can enjoy international cuisines from over 20 different countries including Japan, Italy and Spain. The Gdansk Christmas markets have a little something for everyone and are a stellar destination for your Christmas holiday. 

When: 24 November to 23 December
Where: Located in the historical centre of Gdansk

Gdansk Christmas Markets
Gdansk Christmas Markets © Adobe Stock

Austria

Christkndlmarkt on the Rathausplatz, Austria

The most famous of Vienna’s Christmas markets, Christkndlmarkt, is full of Christmas spirit. A truly wholesome celebration, you will be greeted by a lit-up entrance arch, neighbouring the ‘Tree of Hearts’, a tree decorated in romantic red-lit hearts. If you enjoy Christmas delicacies, you will not be disappointed at Christkndlmarkt on the Rathausplatz. Tradition roast-chestnut stalls can be found throughout the streets, as well as stalls selling everything from creamy pastries to Fladenbrot, a flatbread with toppings. You can also purchase a variety of toys and clothes, crafted by Austrian artisans. If you’re not in the market for purchasing goodies, you can simply stroll through the streets and parks, lit up with enchanting shimmering lights to ignite the way. 

When: 10 November to 26 December
Where: Vienna’s Rathausplatz, the square in front of the town hall.

Christkndlmarkt on the Rathausplatz
Christkndlmarkt on the Rathausplatz © Adobe Stock

Salzburg Christkindlmarkt on Dom and Residenzplatz Square, Austria

One of the oldest Christmas markets in Europe, and the world, is Salzburg Christkindlmarkt on Dom and Residenzplatz Square. The markets’ traditional huts sell a variety of Austrian delicacies, essential for celebrating Christmas in Salzburg. Christmas lights are strung well above the markets, which mimic stars in the night sky. If you’re travelling with children, be sure to visit the readings of children’s stories, or take them to one of the many parades. The Christmas atmosphere is enhanced even further by the “sing-along” choirs, a treat for all. 

When: 23 November to 24 December
Where: Cathedral Square

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Romania

Craiova, Romania

The citizens of Craiova love the holiday season, which is made obvious at its extraordinary Christmas markets. Held in the heart of Craiova’s Central Square, these Christmas markets in Europe blend modern entertainment and Christmas festivities to perfection. A lineup of local artists and bands perform a mixture of modern and folk music live, bringing an upbeat energy to the celebration. Children won’t want to leave, with fun activities such as carousel rides, games and workshops where they can craft traditional Oltenian ornaments and toys. Wooden stalls selling traditional crafts and decorations can be found throughout this Romanian Christmas market, too. 

When: 17 November to 2 January
Where: Central Square

Craiova Christmas Market
Craiova Christmas Market © Adobe Stock

Latvia

Riga, Latvia

Riga offers both travellers and locals alike an enchanting holiday experience, with its annual Christmas markets. You will encounter a medley of Christmas markets throughout Riga, making the city a prime location to celebrate Christmas. Sip on mulled wine as you scour the streets, picking out your favourite hand-crafted gifts. Latvia is also known to snow during December, a great opportunity for those seeking a White Christmas.

When: 3 December to 7 January
Where: Doma Square

Portugal

Madeira, Portugal

Christmas is a monumental celebration for Portugal, and the Madeira Christmas markets are a big part of it. Visitors can enjoy a merry Christmas, with a relatively warmer climate compared to other parts of Europe. As you enter the markets, you will instantly be in awe of the gorgeous Christmas lights, which are set up in the streets, buildings gardens and mountains of the island. The Children’s Christmas Village is an absolute must-visit for families, as the little ones will get the opportunity to explore the long wooden Christmas train, Santa’s Sleigh and will even encounter Saint Nicholas himself. A walk through these European Christmas Markets is perhaps the biggest attraction, as beautiful flowers decorate the streets along the stalls. A diversity of delicacies and gifts are available for purchase while Christmas carols can be heard from the fish markets, all in keeping with the Christmas spirit. 

When: 1 December to 7 January
Where: Avenida Arriaga central walkways

Belgium

Brussels Winter Wonders, Belgium

If you’re searching for one of the best Christmas markets in Europe and happen to be staying in Belgium, look no further than Brussels Winter Wonders. A hugely popular Christmas market in Belgium, Brussels Winter Wonders receives close to 2.5 million visitors. If you’re planning to fill up Christmas stockings for yourself or your loved ones, over 200 stalls await your perusal. There are lots of activities to do too, with two ice rinks and multiple rides available. Explore the tastes that Brussels Winter Wonders has to offer, whether it be deep-fried sweet dumplings or a cup of hot wine or gin.

When:  Last Friday of November to first Sunday of January
Where: Place Saint Catherine

Brussels Winter Wonders
Brussels Winter Wonders © Adobe Stock

Scotland

East Princes Street Gardens Christmas Market, Scotland

Edinburgh comes to life during the holiday season, bursting with Christmas cheer. The entire city turns into an Advent haven, with East Princes Street Gardens Christmas Market showcasing festivities for all. Found in Edinburgh’s historic city centre, be amazed with views of the city skyline. Close to 70 stalls can be found in the markets, featuring products from both local and international producers. These products range from hand-crafted gifts to tasty treats, all Christmas-themed, of course. Scotland’s largest Ferris wheel can also be found in the Christmas markets, as well as the magical Santa Train that travels through a winter wonderland that is completely lit up. Rides are available too, for the thrill seekers at the markets. 

When: 17 November to 6 January
Where: In Edinburgh’s historic city centre

Denmark

Zoologisk Have Copenhagen, Denmark

This European Christmas market, which is held in a zoo, takes Christmas spirit to new heights. Christmas lights are showered over the zoo, with no dark spots in sight. Try your hand in one of the gift workshops, where you can create hand-crafted Christmas gifts. Enjoy the smell of pine from the 900 Christmas trees that surround the zoo. While exploring the numerous stalls full of Christmas gifts and goodies, you may encounter the reindeer and horses that tour around the park. A truly unique Christmas experience, Zoologisk Have Copenhagen is one of the best Christmas markets Europe provides.

When: 18 November to 1 January
Where: Copenhagen Zoo

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