The best christmas markets in Europe

Winter is a fantastic time of year to travel to Europe, and Europeans believe that winter is truly something to celebrate. And during the holiday season they really go all out!

Buildings are lost underneath layers of fairy lights, and ice skating rinks are set up in public areas. Outdoor Christmas markets line the main squares in many cities, and people flock to drink mulled wine and eat gingerbread biscuits iced with cheery holiday messages.

Traditional Christmas markets are now popping up all over Europe, though after reading about the great Christmas market debate on Emerald Waterways blog, we couldn’t help but wonder which are the best. So we found out!

The following are the best Christmas Markets in all of Europe, and provide unique shopping opportunities along with a celebratory atmosphere, festive treats and seasonal delicacies you’ll want to write home about!


Christmas in Brussels is a magical affair. 240 wooden chalets/market stalls extend along the streets from Grand’Place to place Ste-Catherine each year in a Christmas market (Winter Wonders) which covers almost 2 kilometers.

Quaint wooden-roofed huts sell handmade arts and crafts, souvenirs, and Belgian delicacies – visitors can pick up pots of moules (mussels), scrumptious Belgian fries, fluffy Belgian waffles, seasonal croustillons (sugar doughnuts), and Belgium’s “two most welcome additions to world cuisine: fine chocolates and powerful beer.”

Renowned for it’s festive atmosphere and sparkling lights, the Brussels Christmas market also features 35m toboggan slopes, a glittering ferris wheel with 18,000 lights and, of course, the 200 foot-long skating rink complete with jugglers and street musicians.

When? 27th November 2015 to 3rd January 2016

For other great Belgium Christmas markets, visit Antwerp (Grote Markt) and Bruges (Bruges Christmas Market). Book here your: hotel | Flight | car rental


Berlin has over fifty Christmas markets across the city every year, though the market at Kaiser Wilhelm Gedächtniskirche is the biggest and most popular.

Over 2 million visitors descend upon the Berlin markets every year for sales on jewellery, decorations and artwork, as well as to indulge in seasonal pleasures such as roasted almonds, hot chocolate, homemade eggnog and mulled wine.

When? 21 Nov 2016 – 1st Jan 2017

Book here your: hotel | Flight | car rental


The capital of Saxony, those who love Christmas will love Dresden! Germany’s oldest continuously running Christmas market comes alive each year in a blaze of lights, the scent of mulled wine and gingerbread, and Christmas music which spreads throughout the heart of this beautiful baroque city.

Dating back to 1434, the Striezelmarkt on Altmarkt Square is famous for it’s beautiful handicrafts, four-ton fruitcake and glittering stalls centered around a 48-foot high wooden “Christmas pyramid”.

Saxony’s best artisans sell stunning regional goods – everything from wooden crafts from the Ore Mountains, incense burners shaped like nutcrackers, delicate blown glass from Lauscha, and Dresden’s famous blue and white ceramics.

When? From 24th November to 24th December 2016

Book here your: hotel | Flight | car rental


Every year, millions of people from all over the world flock to the Christmas market at the Cologne Cathedral.

Set against the backdrop of a magnificent cathedral and the largest Christmas tree in all of Rhineland, Cologne is one of Germany’s most impressive Christmas settings.

“Christmas music, arts and crafts, toys, Christmas decorations and the scent of the Christmas bakeries create a wonderful atmosphere. It is not just children’s eyes that light up when pewter pourers, wreath binders and glassblowers demonstrate their art, and the aroma of mulled wine, hot chestnuts and gingerbread fills the air.”

When? From 21st November to 23rd December 2016

Book here your: hotel | Flight | car rental


Come December, Germany’s second largest city and maritime treasure turns into a real life fairytale, and visitors enjoy the diversity of 15 different Christmas markets catering to all tastes.

Traditional markets line the streets in front of the city hall, with rows of stalls offering handmade crafts, children’s toys and tasty treats, though one of the most popular attractions within the Christmas markets is the Schrottwichteln,or rubbish secret Santa!

Visitors exchange their least favorite Christmas gifts, with the profits going to the Winter Pride charity.

The Jungfernstieg market offers posh food and luxury gifts, and the smallerFleetinsel market is perfect for those looking to avoid the Christmas crowds.

The Fleetinsel is beautiful for an evening stroll with children, with fairy lights glittering on two antique sailing vessels, while the over-18s head to risqué Santa Pauli market on the X-rated Reeperbahn.

When? Dates of varying markets range from November 21st Nov – December 23rd 2016

Book here your: hotel | Flight | car rental


With the twinkling lights of the Eiffel Tower sparkling in the background, the Champs-Elysées hosts one of the most impressive Christmas markets Europe has to offer.

Stretching from the Champs-Elysées roundabout all the way to the Place de la Concord, rows of wooden chalets line the world’s most famous shopping street in one of the largest Christmas markets in France. It’s also one of the longest running Christmas markets in all of Europe.

Soak up the Christmas decorations, festive objects, regional produce and arts & crafts, and for an extra bit of Christmas magic, head over to ice-skate inside the Eiffel Tower.

When? 11th November 2016 until 8th January 2017.

Book here your: hotel | Flight | car rental


Prague’s Christmas markets are world renowned, and take place in Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square.

“The idyllic setting is completed by brightly decorated wooden huts surrounding a giant glittering Christmas tree with an authentic manger scene and small nativity-themed zoo, where littles ones get to see and touch real-life animals.”

Adults can choose from regional handicrafts including intricate glassware and jewellery, bohemian crystal, embroidered lace, wooden toys, Czech marionettes, and plenty to satisfy your sweet tooth; honeyed gingerbread,vánocvka (a braided pastry with raisins), and vosí hnízda (cookies laden with nuts and rum) are all readily available, best washed down with a sweet mulled wine.

Czech carols echo throughout the market and the beautiful medieval surrounds.

When ? From 6th November 2016 to 6 January 2017

Book here your: hotel | Flight | car rental


From mid-November to Christmas, Vienna’s prettiest squares transform into magical Christmas markets, an age-old tradition which dates back over seven hundred years.

Vienna is home to many different Christmas markets, though Christkindlmarkt in Rathausplatz square (in front of city hall) is one of the most renowned.

Over 150 stalls sell everything from Christmas decorations, beeswax candles and wooden toys, to Austrian handicrafts and glass ornaments, and the aroma of bakery items and hot punch creates a magical market atmosphere.

“Other venues include the Old Viennese Christmas Market on Freyung, which is more traditional and sells handicrafts, and the Christmas Market in front of Schonbrunn Palace, which offers the imperial backdrop and hosts a New Year’s market, staying open until January 1.”

When? Christkindlmarkt runs from 13th November to 24th December; other markets run on average from Nov 13th – December 23rd 2016.

Book here your: hotel | Flight | car rental


The oldest Christmas market in France, Strasbourg Christmas market dates back to 1577, and plays host to over 2 million tourists every year who flock to witness hundreds of miles worth of glittering Christmas lights, themed events, a giant ice rink, and the famous 100 foot ‘Great Christmas Tree’.

“Half-timbered houses sport giant red-and-white hearts; stars, angels and snowflakes garland the cobbled streets. No wonder Strasbourg won the title of “Best Christmas Market in Europe” last year.”

Accommodation books out weeks in advance of the markets, an event which is spread over 11 different villages. Visitors have the chance to sample some of the regions finest food, including bredle Christmas cookies and Strasbourg’s traditional spicy hot orange juice.

​When? From 25th November to 31st December 2016.

Book here your: hotel | Flight | car rental


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