Christmas markets are always a vibrant mix of colours, lights, laughs, joyful caroling and tempting aromas wafting from food-stralls. And the best ones? No doubt, in Europe! Here, the markets are absolutely next-level, thanks to that one-of-a-kind old-world atmosphere. When in Europe during the festive season, you just can't help but feel like you're a character in some kind of magical story that beautifully blends the past and the present. If you've been yearning to experience the taste of a European-style Christmas, but still find it hard to decide where to go, we've got you covered. Check out our personal favourites below!
When: November 11, 2023 to January 4, 2024
Vienna is so magical during the festive season! With all the Christmas ornaments, fairy lights and grandiose historic architecture around, the city offers the perfect backdrop for those incredible winter photos and videos. Even though Vienna has plenty of markets, the most famous is the market on Rathausplatz, the square in front of the town hall. It has everything — and that's not an exaggeration! Reindeer rides? Check! Ice rink? Check! Stalls with souvenieres? Check! Plus, there's also a ferris wheel and an old-fashioned merry-go-round.
When: November 18, 2023 to January 1, 2024
Starting mid-November, Budapest brings the Christmas spirit with not just one, but two incredible markets - the city’s oldest fair annually takes place at Vorosmarty Square, and the other one is usually set right by St. Stephen’s Basilica. Both markets feature plenty of food stalls with delicious Hungarian treats (the aroma alone is worth the visit!), handicraft shops and free live concerts with song and dance performances. Make your Christmas adventure complete with some skating fun at a seasonal ice rink or take the Ferris wheel ride that opens magical panoramic views of the market and the city.
When: November 24 to December 24, 2023
Strasbourg proudly holds the title of "Capital of Christmas," and for a reason! It's home to one of the oldest and most charming Christmas markets in Europe, each year attracting millions of tourists from all around the world. Set against historic architecture, the whole scene feels like a fairy tale brought to life! During your visit, make sure to explore Alsatian crafts, dive into the region's festive culinary traditions, and capture the iconic seasonal sight: the beautifully illuminated Great Christmas Tree at the heart of Place Kléber.
When: November 23, 2023 to January 1, 2024
Salzburg is not only famous for its rich musical heritage (it’s Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s hometown!), but also for its wonderful Christmas market nestled in the city's historic Old Town. The market stalls here have the same look they had when they were first set up centuries ago, now transporting visitors to a time long gone by. Come to Salzburg's market for locally-made gifts, heart-warming mulled wine and fun Christmas workshops where you can create your own ornaments and decorations. For an extra dose of Christmas magic, join the daily choral performances and sing-alongs.
When: November 23 to December 23, 2023
Cologne hosts several Christmas markets scattered throughout the city, each with its own unique theme and offerings. The most famous and largest one is nestled beneath the awe-inspiring Gothic Cologne Cathedral, a historic gem dating back to the 13th century. Adorned with a massive Christmas tree and surrounded by over a hundred wooden stalls, this market has everything you'd expect of a classic German holiday experience. Other must-visits include the Market of Angels, which charms with hundreds of twinkling lights, and the market at Niklasdorf — perfect for coming with kids. Cologne goes beyond the ordinary by featuring markets dedicated to mythical gnomes and even maritime history.
Prague, Czech Republic
When: December 2, 2023 to January 6, 2024
Prague's Gothic architecture and cobblestone streets set the stage for an absolutely magical Christmas experience. The must-visits are definitely Old Town and Wenceslas markets, both postcard-pretty! While you're busy shopping for gifts and belting out Christmas carols, don't forget to to fill up on traditional fish soup, flatbreads topped with cheese and the sweet, cinnamon-y goodness of trdelník. And to wash it down? Grab a glass of grog — rum, water, lemon, and sugar.
When: November 23 to December 23, 2023
Switzerland truly shines during the festive season — just as expected of winter wonderland. The biggest and most popular Christmas market in the country takes place in Basel, boasting everything for the most wonderful time of the year. It's split into two different sections at Barfusserplatz and Munsterplatz in the heart of the beatifully decorated Old Town. For a fantastic view of the festive scene, make sure to check out St. Martin’s tower which is open throughout the Advent period. And don't forget to pen down your Christmas wishes in the Basel Wish Book!