Every year leading up to December large squares throughout Europe transform into Christmas wonderlands. From the small villages tucked high in the Alps to bustling seaside metropolises, the highly anticipated “Christmas Markets” seem to pop up over night. Here you can buy everything from piping hot local delicacies, holiday gifts, and the ever so popular warm wine which helps braving the cold nights a little more bearable. The christmas markets throughout Europe are not only an annual event, but a way to spend the holidays with friends and family and enjoy the winter season.
Looking for the best Christmas Market? How about half a dozen! The city of Copenhagen in Denmark is home to six different Christmas markets that are scattered throughout the downtown area. This is amazing during your day of exploring as you will never be too far from your next hot dog! Wait, HOT DOG??? Copenhagen is FAMOUS for their hot dogs and for good reason. Get whatever gross processed meat you have out of your mind. Tasting a Copenhagen hot dog will forever change your view of this deliciously. We also couldn’t talk about Copenhagen without mentioning the Tivoli Gardens, a huge central park that is transforms each year with millions of lights.
Capturing the holiday spirit and feel of a winter wonderland Tallinn, Estonia, transforms its central square into one of the most beautiful markets in Europe. While Estonia in the winter might not be the first country you think of for your Christmas vacation, it’s actually a magical place to visit! If you are looking for a more cozy winter experience with a small town feel then Tallinn is the place for you. Make sure to take a photo in front of the famous old town square Christmas tree!
Bolzano (Dolomites), Italy
In the far reaches of northern Italy, right on the boarder of Austria and Switzerland lies the small town of Bolzano. The famous ski slopes of Dolomites are not the only draw of the winter, this little town has made quite a name for its self during the holiday season. Revered as the most traditional Christmas market of Italy, people travel from all over to take part in the celebrations.
In 1570, the first Christmas market known as a Christkindelsmärik or “market of the Infant Jesus” took place. Over the past 400 years the tradition has held strong and grown eminently. These days over 300 stalls transcend ten locations throughout the city with thousands of miles of lights shining bright to illuminate the streets. Strasbourg has actually ben voted for the past two years in a row as the best Christmas market in Europe, so this is not one to miss. While planning your European Christmas Market tour don’t miss out on the proclaimed “Capital of Christmas.”
Prague, Czech Republic
Often taking the title of the most beautiful christmas market in the world, Prague is sure to delight any admirer. The majority of the festivities are split between two locations of Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square. Lights, shopping, and endless amounts of food are offered in this month long celebration. Make sure to get your fill of the local food and drink, including Czech Christmas cookies and warm honey liquor called medovina. There are also plenty of local gifts such as tablecloths, Frankincense, or the Czech Christmas potpourri called purpura.
Many say that in Slovenia, you can see the lights radiating from the market before you see the market itself. The city of Ljubihana, Slovenia, has the most extravagant light display out of possibly any other Christmas market, without a single inch of the square being left bare. Of course this market holds all the other wonders you are looking for. Local food, warm drinks, and traditional crafts. Want to spread some holiday cheer? Learn the phrase “Vesel Bozic,” which means Merry Christmas in Slovenian!
It’s only natural that Hungary would be known for serving up some of the best holiday eats. The Christmas market in Budapest is packed full of yummy treats, but one not to miss is Kürtőskalács, This traditional desert here is a tall, hollow sweetbread that is transformed when it is covered with cinnamon and walnuts. Besides cinnamon, the traditional honey cookies and mulled wine fill the air and keep you coming back for more!
We saved the best for last! It would be impossible to decide on one single Christmas market in Germany as literally every city small and large has a unique celebration. While Strasbourg, France, may hold the title of the first Christmas market, Germany quickly overtook the tradition as the Christmas fever spread. Of course the large cities of Berlin, Desden, Stuttgard, and Munich have spectacular markets. However, the magical markets hidden in the lesser known small village soffer a unique sense community, warmth, and Christmas sprit that should also not go unnoticed!