Yes, we know it’s only September but sometimes in the travel game, you need to be prepared. So even though some of you may find this as unwelcome as Mariah belting out ‘All I Want for Christmas is You’ before Halloween has even hit, we need to talk about the festive elephant in the room – booking an Xmas getaway.
Christmas markets are pure, unadulterated joy, and as many good ones as you can find on our own merry shores, there is something even more special about witnessing our European counterparts’ versions. So with this in mind, we have compiled a short list of the best cities across the continent for some charming market breaks. Get your reading glasses on and find a holidays’ holiday that really grabs a ho-ho-hold of you.
One of the oldest markets across all of Europe, the first iteration of it was thought to be held back in 1570. Today, there are more than 300 stalls spread out across 10 festive locations, whichever one you spend the most time at, remember to swing by Place Kleber to take in the monumental Great Christmas Tree.
Another city steeped in Christmas market history, Vienna’s first festive-themed events date back to 1298. The delicious Christmas punch is a must-try for first-time visitors, though any children in tow should steer clear as it’s particularly boozy. Contrastingly, the ice rink, reindeer rides, and a quaint nativity scene are very much for the little ones.
The two main markets in Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square are just five minutes from each other, meaning you can split your time in Prague evenly. Both are open every day across the Christmas period, including on December 25th itself – on which the festive delights are amped up to 11.
Usually a picture of a white Christmas, Krakow is more often than not treated with a layer or two of snow during December – meaning your visit here will be just like a festive fairy-tale.
Copenhagen is a pretty city to visit all year round, but the famed site of Tivoli Gardens has something even more special during the holidays with lots of decorations, several light shows, and a traditional Pixie Band playing wonderful Christmas tunes.
An alternative entry because the events in Brussels are more reminiscent of a Christmas festival rather than a market. Known as Winter Wonders, it offers 200 chalets full of beer, waffles, and special chocolates, as well as lots of rides and attractions.
There are several spots to visit in Berlin for markets, but the main hub of Gendarmenmarkt offers the best of the city alongside the usual Xmas fare. Gaze up at the incredible architecture as you enjoy mulled wine, smooth jazz, and the search for presents.
Boasting a giant advent calendar etched on the side of the famous Gerbeaud Coffee House, the market in Vorosmarty Square is a truly magical place to visit in Budapest.
Where most of these destinations would have you embrace the cold, a warmer alternative is Seville. Blessed with winter sun, the city also offers Navideno Mercado de Artesania de Sevilla – a trendy artisanal market that has a thriving nightlife scene across many bars, stalls, and restaurants.
A final winter wonderland for you to consider, Zagreb has an ice rink, ice sculptures being carved before your eyes, and a whole host of local treats to sample. A popular pastime is the Jolly Christmas Tram which cruises through the city with Santa and his elves along for the ride.
Whether it’s a staple of your Christmas plans each year or something you want to try for the very first time, one thing’s for certain, there are a lot of amazing Christmas market breaks to choose from.