Christmas is a magical time to visit Europe. The temperature drops, the streets are glittering and the shops have put up their Christmas displays, making everything look like a winter wonderland. If you’re lucky, you might even experience a white Christmas!
Another great thing to look forward to during this time of the year is the Christmas market. Did you know that Christmas markets originated from Germany? Yes, that’s true! The origin of the Christmas market goes way back to the Late Middle Ages in the German-speaking part of Europe, and in many parts of the former Holy Roman Empire which includes many eastern regions of France. Today, you can find Christmas markets in most parts of Europe and almost anywhere in the world! There’s usually an endless row of stalls selling Christmas ornaments, handmade items as well as festive food and drinks.
Are you already planning a trip to Europe? Check out these Christmas Markets that you need to check off your list.
Strasbourg Christmas Market
Dates: 22 November – 30 December
There’s a reason why Strasbourg is called the “Capital of Christmas”. The French city’s year-round appeal steps up a notch around Christmas as it looks like a real-life nativity scene at this time of year. Make your way to the traditional market near the Cathedral, complete with a large Christmas tree in the middle of it all. There are more than 300 stalls here where you can find local crafts, regional produce and traditional Christmas decorations.
Try: Flammekueche (a type of thin pizza topped with cheese and mushroom) and choucroute garnie (pickled cabbage usually served with smoked ham hocks, sausages and potatoes).
ICE Village, Amsterdam
Dates: 13 December – 26 December
Amsterdam is usually the point of disembarkation for most tourists in Europe. So, while you’re here, take a visit to the Museumplein where each year, it is transformed into a charming Christmas village complete with an ice rink, live entertainment, market stalls and plenty of festive food and drink to keep you warm. Enjoy a spin on the ice with the Rijksmuseum as a phenomenal backdrop, or simply watch the action and take in the great atmosphere.
Try: Glühwein (mulled wine) and oliebollen (fried doughnut balls).
Salzburg Christmas Market
Dates: 21 November – 26 December
If you’re planning for a white Christmas, Salzburg, Austria might be your best bet as it’s located in the northern Alps. It doesn’t hurt that the Christmas market in the hometown of Mozart and The Sound of Music has been taking place as far back as the 15th century. Located at the foot of the Hohensalzburg fortress, there are over 95 vendors helping to create the full Christmas joy. For optimum Christmas cheer, join the free daily concert at 5.00pm in front of the cathedral, or belt out carols at the Tuesday sing-alongs (6.00pm – 8.00pm).
Tip: Take a trip to St. Wolfgang on Wednesdays as this lakeside Christmas market is lit entirely by candles — forget tacky Christmas lights!
Tivoli Gardens Christmas Market
Dates: 16 November – 5 January 2020
For a fun Christmas celebration, the Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen, Denmark is a treat even for adults! There are 27 fun rides and a lively Christmas market with handmade gifts, festive food and drinks. The historic gardens are lovely to visit all year round, but it’s extra stunning at this time of the year as it’ll be filled with glittering Christmas lights, the cutest wooden houses decorated with pine branches, and snow-covered trees to create that perfect Nordic Christmas atmosphere. Of course, Santa Claus and his reindeer will also be there to welcome everyone to the amusement park’s fun rides and the cozy Christmas market.
Do: Enjoy a glass of gløgg (mulled wine) and aebleskiver (sphere-shaped pancakes sprinkled with powdered sugar and dipped in strawberry jam) while you wander around the gardens!
Berlin Christmas Market
Dates: 25 November – 30 December
No one does Christmas markets as well as the Germans as there are over 70 Christmas markets in Berlin. You might not have enough time to visit them all, so we’d suggest heading to Gendarmenmarkt, which is the most famous one in the city. Enjoy a stroll among the glassblowers and Christmas delicacies against a backdrop of the Französischer Dom and Deutscher Dom (French and German churches) which makes everything just extra special.
Try: Glühwein, or the kinderpunsch for the non-alcoholic version. You can keep the Christmas-themed mug for souvenirs too!
Hyde Park Winter Wonderland
Dates: 21 November 2019 – 6 January 2020
A list of Christmas markets is not complete without mentioning the famous Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park, London. From November to January, the park transforms into a giant modern theme park complete with rides, rows of stalls selling festive food and drinks, as well as bars and live music. There are plenty of activities to do here too such as ice skating, riding on a giant Ferris wheel, visiting the circus and exploring the Ice Kingdom’s beautifully crafted world of snow and ice sculptures, that depicts the cautionary tale of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.
Tip: Belt out your favorite Christmas songs in your own private hut at Bar Hütte, an Alpine-themed village.