The European Christmas market tradition dates back to medieval times when townspeople were allowed to shop for a day or two at a local market to stock up on food, supplies, and other household goods to prepare for the long-awaited winter. Cushy, right?
The first true Christmas market, (Striezelmarkt), was first held in 1434 in Dresden, Germany. Since then, Germany welcomes nearly 85 million people every year to its iconic Christmas markets.
Since those early years, villages and shopkeepers have continued the tradition of annual markets with seasonal food and festive merchandise. In the early 1800s, local families began setting up stalls and selling handmade items, gifts, baskets, toys, almonds, roasted chestnuts, and gingerbread to make extra money and help their neighbors.
In the 19th and 20th Centuries, European Christmas markets began popping up in cities big and small. The markets vary in cuisine, gifts, and local music and entertainment.
The one thing that rings true at every Christmas market around the world — they are designed for community, sharing food with friends and family, and enjoying the holiday season in your hometown or anywhere around the world.
Keep reading for your European best Christmas markets to visit this holiday season. From the sparkling Christmas lights to the hot mulled wine, we know your trip will be made complete by experiencing the magic of the holiday season in Europe. Buckle up for a grand tour of the European holiday market!
What could be more magical than Christmas in Budapest? The city is alive with festive cheer and there are plenty of opportunities to find unique gifts for your loved ones. On this tour, you'll visit two of the best Christmas markets in town, learn about Hungarian Christmas culture, and end the tour with a delicious hot mulled wine. You'll also get to enter the famous St Stephen's Basilica, one of the most beautiful monuments in the city. Don't miss out on this magical experience!
Looking for a festive way to celebrate the holiday season? Then look no further than the Munich Christmas Markets Tour! This 2-hour guided tour takes you through some of the city's most popular markets, including Christkindlmarkt in Marienplatz. Shop for handmade Bavarian gifts, savor delicious glühwein (mulled wine), and try traditional lebkuchen gingerbread cookies. It's the perfect way to get into the holiday spirit!
Looking for a unique way to get into the holiday spirit? Why not take a tour of Bratislava's world-famous Christmas markets with a local guide? You'll get to sample delicious hot punch and traditional Slovakian Christmas dishes, hear fun stories about the city and its holiday traditions, and of course do some shopping at the many festive stalls. This is a great way to experience the true magic of Christmas in one of Europe's most beautiful cities.
Table of Contents
- Best Christmas Markets in Europe to Visit
- 1. Budapest, Hungary
- 2. Basel, Switzerland
- 3. Vienna, Austria
- 4. Metz, France
- 5. Craiova, Romania
- 6. Trier, Germany
- 7. Strasbourg, France
- 8. Trondheim, Norway
- 9. Montbéliard, France
- 10. Salzburg, Austria
- 11. Prague, Czech Republic
- 12. Manchester, United Kingdom
- 13. Cologne, Germany
- 14. Florence, Italy
- 15. Brussels, Belgium
- 16. Bratislava, Slovakia
- 17. Edinburgh, United Kingdom
- 18. Nottingham, United Kingdom
- 19. Leipzig, Germany
- 20. Zagreb, Croatia
- 21. Birmingham, United Kingdom
- CHRISTMAS BONUS! Funchal, Madeira
Best Christmas Markets in Europe to Visit
The best European Christmas markets can put you in the festive spirit while experiencing some of Europe’s most historic holiday traditions. Here are the must-see Christmas markets in Europe.
1. Budapest, Hungary
Address: St. Stephen’s Basilica in Budapest, Hungary
Budapest, Hungary is home to one of the most magical Christmas markets in Europe. The Advent Feast and Christmas Fair is an iconic Christmas celebration that begins in November and runs through January.
Visitors can enjoy mulled wine and gingerbread as they wander the stalls of various Hungarian vendors, browsing through unique handmade gifts, including crafted ceramics, designer hats and scarves, and Christmas tree decorations. You’ll find vendors selling jewelry, art, wine, leather goods, nutcrackers, and much more.
Make sure to bring your appetite, as Budapests’s Christmas market has many delicious food options! From classic fair food to gourmet specialties, you’ll get a taste of the best Hungarian food around at this Christmas market. From roasted chestnuts and trumpet cake to pizza pies and gastro pub food stalls, there’s something for every taste bud.
If you are hanging around town for a few days, be sure to explore Budapest as best you can. Take an evening sightseeing cruise around the Danube River. Embark on a Hungarian wine tasting tour. Enjoy stunning sights and restful nights and a convenient location at Hotel Clark Budapest, which is within close walking distance of St. Stephen’s Basilica.
See Related: Best Places to Travel For Your Birthday
2. Basel, Switzerland
Address: City Center in downtown Basel
Basel, Switzerland is known for its public markets throughout the year, so it comes as no surprise that its Christmas markets are highly popular. Located in the heart of Old Town on Barfüsserplatz and Münsterplatz streets, the Basel Christmas market is known for its stunning twinkling lights, a magnificent Christmas tree, and incredible views of the Rhine. It’s easily one of the best Christmas markets in Europe with snow, almost every year!
Basel’s Christmas market has an old-world feel and that’s why many tourists flock from all over the world to witness it for themselves. On Barfüsserplatz, you’ll find numerous stalls selling Christmas decorations, unique gifts, and tasty treats.
On Münsterplatz, you’ll be welcomed to the market by the huge Christmas tree, along with glowing snow globes and market stalls selling artisan goods, local food, and beverages. The town square is known for its quaint village atmosphere and bustling Christmas spirit as locals and visitors shop, eat, and socialize.
The Basel Christmas market dates are usually late November through December. If you’re in town for a few days, you can’t miss a guided walking tour through Old Town to learn the history of the city.
If you’re spending more time in Switzerland, check out the Swiss Travel Pass for unlimited transportation around the country. For an enjoyable day trip, we highly recommend a tour of the alpine village of Zermatt and seeing the stunning Matterhorn. For an easy hotel in the city center, try Hotel Wettstein.
3. Vienna, Austria
Address: Christkindlmarkt, Rathausplatz, 1010 Vienna
Experiencing Christmas in Vienna is a once-in-a-lifetime kind of feeling, and the city’s Christmas markets contribute to that magical effect the city has on visitors. Viennah as several Christmas markets throughout the city, and the most popular is located in front of the Rathaus (City Hall). The Christkindl Market is Vienna’s largest Christmas market.
This Vienna Christmas market event welcomes guests with a large Christmas tree dominating the town square, which glitters with over 2,000 LED lights! It’s quite a sight and will get you in the Christmas spirit almost instantly.
You’ll find vendors selling roasted chestnuts, cream-filled pastries, pretzel varieties, giant donuts, and lollipops. Wash the sweets down with a mug of Christmas punch as you browse the stalls for Christmas decorations, handmade arts and crafts, and wooden toys.
The adjacent park is full of Advent surprises and lights, including the iconic Tree of Hearts, carousels, a nativity scene trail, and a Ferris wheel. If you’re feeling adventurous, rent skates and glide around the ice skating rink in the park.
Vienna Christmas market dates range from mid-November through late December. If you’re looking for other activities in the city, good news; there’s tons to do! Make sure you witness the wonder and magic of the Belvedere Palace Museum. Ride the giant Ferris wheel at Wiener Prater. Experience a breathtaking concert at the Golden Hall. For a convenient place to stay near the city center after all that festive fun, try the Ruby Lissi Hotel Vienna.
See Related: Best Places to Visit in Austria & Things to Do
4. Metz, France
Address: Metz City Center
Known around the world for its stunning Gothic cathedral, Metz is also home to one of the most beautiful Christmas markets in Europe. Welcoming up to 2 million people each season, the Metz Christmas market in the Lorraine region has several market sites that are unique, memorable, and filled with festive French culture and history.
Your first stop should be at Place d’Armes, a town square with a 196-foot Ferris wheel (one of the tallest in Europe). Climb aboard a gondola and enjoy beautiful panoramic views of Old Town Metz.
Next up is Place Saint-Jacques, which features a radiant merry-go-round that will delight your children. This Christmas market features 90 market stalls where you can buy mulled wine, local produce, artisanal candies, gingerbread, and much more.
You can’t miss the magical Christmas tree at Place de la Gare to get you in the Christmas spirit. At Place de la République, you’ll find the heart of the Christmas markets in Lorraine with the iconic Christmas Pyramid, ice skating rink, and 30 stalls for shopping. You’ll find chocolates, jams and honey, local beer and wine, and macaroons for sale, among other treats.
Shop for unique gifts including glass art, candles, soaps, and handmade Christmas ornaments. For gastropub food and drinks, make a stop at the Place de la Comédie Christmas market for gourmet food, wine, coffee, and more. Enjoy stunning views of all the Christmas lights as you delight in a delicious French meal.
If you’re spending several days in the area, be sure to book a full-day historical tour to see the sights, experience the culture, and learn about the city’s history. For an authentic stay in Metz city center, plan a stay at Hôtel de la Cathédrale Metz.
5. Craiova, Romania
Address: Opposite the Craiova Town Hall on Mihai Viteazul Square
Featuring a massive ice skating rink and a stunning Christmas tree, the Christmas market in Craiova, Romania will take your breath away! Perhaps literally!
Craiova at Christmas time is like a dream — radiant lights illuminate the entire city, while visitors and locals wander through the market stalls, sipping mulled wine, shopping for Christmas decorations, and enjoying all the sights and sounds.
At the market, visitors can listen to talented locals sing Christmas carols, enjoy a ride on a carousel, watch live performances, and much more. Kids can partake in holiday workshops and decorate Christmas crafts, including painting wooden Christmas trees and other holiday items.
Take your pick from vendors selling mulled wine, hot chocolate, candies, and much more. Try some authentic Craiova cuisine, including dishes like fried polenta, leek, crayfish, and plum brandy.
While the Christmas market in Craiova is very enjoyable, you’ll find that simply wandering the downtown streets of the city gets you in a festive spirit. The entire city is drenched in Christmas lights, making the holiday season very special and memorable for everyone who experiences it. For an enjoyable stay near the city center, try the Prestige Boutique Hotel Craiova.
See Related: Top Most Beautiful Cities in the World to Visit
6. Trier, Germany
Address: in front of the Trier Cathedral in downtown Trier
Not only are German Christmas markets some of the best European Christmas markets (as the inventors of them it’s no duh), but the Trier Christmas market has recently been voted the most romantic Christmas market worldwide.
Compared to other German Christmas markets, Trier’s is the new kid on the block – but it is fast becoming one of the most popular in the country. At just over 40 years old it’s set against the backdrop of the Trier Cathedral in downtown Trier. This Christmas market features 95 market stalls, with vendors selling a wide array of food, treats, gifts, wine, coffee, and more.
Known for its delicious hot mulled wine, the Trier Christmas market draws visitors from all over the world to experience one of the best Xmas markets in Europe. Watch traditional live puppet shows and musical performances while immersing yourself in the unique German culture.
Browse the stalls and buy authentic, handmade Christmas decorations so your family and friends can get a taste of the holiday season in Germany. If you’re lucky, the entire city will feel like a winter wonderland with seasonal snow, chilly temperatures, and fairy lights lit up all over the city.
The Trier Christmas market is open from November through December. If you have time to spare in the city, don’t miss the fun adventures around town. Visit historical sites around Trier to get a solid understanding of the city’s culture and traditions with a guided city tour. Try your hand at mixology with a private cocktail lesson. For a city-style hotel stay, try the Schroeder’s Hotel in Trier, less than half a mile from the city center.
7. Strasbourg, France
Address: Place de la Cathédrale
With a heavy dollop of German influence, locals and visitors agree that Strasbourg is undoubtedly the Christmas capital of France. Since 1570, the Christmas Market in Strasbourg has drawn millions each year to experience some of the Christmas magic France offers.
Located at the city’s towering Cathédrale Notre Dame de Strasbourg, this traditional Christmas market kicks off the Christmas season in France.
Strasbourg’s streets, homes, bridges, churches, and monuments are all decked out in unique Christmas decorations and lights to bring the festive season to life. In the heart of Place Kléber is the town’s magnificent Christmas tree, adorned with thousands of twinkling lights for a truly incredible view.
As you stroll the stalls at this French Christmas market, you can enjoy mulled wine and traditional bredele cakes and feel the magic in the air. Children can participate in Christmas crafts and workshops at the market while parents explore the area.
The Christmas season begins in Strasbourg in late November. Strasbourg may not have the best Christmas market in Europe, but its enormous Christmas tree, friendly locals, and the stunning city itself drenched in Christmas magic are all worth experiencing in person.
If you have time to explore the city of Strasbourg, take a day trip to explore nearby villages on a guided wine tour in a convertible vehicle. Explore all the local villages and their unique Christmas markets on a guided tour. Need a good base of operations? Stay conveniently near the city center at Hotel Arok.
See Related: Best Day Trips from Strasbourg, France
8. Trondheim, Norway
Address: Trondheim City Center
The Trondheim Christmas market happens every December in the city center and is a magical event to experience. The traditional Christmas market is filled with Christmas food, crafts, and stalls filled with authentic decorations, home decor, and unique gifts.
Step into a Norwegian fairytale with thousands of sparkling lights, sleigh rides, a Ferris wheel, and over 100 cultural events. Christmas in Norway is breathtaking, and the Christmas market in Trondheim keeps the magic in the air for children and adults.
Visitors will feel quite festive as they listen to concerts, performances, and folk tales. Take a sleigh ride around the city center for a genuine Christmas experience.
Cozy up by the fire at the Lavvo, a fantastic fireside restaurant that seats up to 500 people. If you need a break from shopping and walking, grab a drink or a quick bite at the Lavvo and warm up a bit. Tasty food items include the reindeer burger, ox stew, Christmas porridge, and bratwurst. They offer local beer and wine, cider, Christmas soda, and more.
You will certainly never forget a Christmas spent in Norway. Whether you’re traveling with a partner, friends, or your entire family, it’s a spectacular place to visit this time of year. For a convenient stay nearby, try the Thon Hotel Trondheim.
See Related: 27 Fun & Best Things to Do in Manchester, Vermont
9. Montbéliard, France
Address: 10 Rue de l’Hôtel de ville, 25200 Montbéliard, France
Come celebrate Christmas, admire the incredible Christmas decorations, and take in the stunning architecture at the Montbéliard Christmas market! It’s arguably the best Christmas lights destination in Europe, but don’t take our word for it; you’ve got to see this authentic Christmas market for yourself!
The Christmas market is located at the foot of Temple Saint-Martin, the oldest Lutheran Temple in France, built in 1601. Featuring over 100 stalls with vendors and local businesses, this traditional Christmas market draws in over 400,000 visitors every year.
Purchase authentic French goods like pottery, candles, scarves, glasswork, paintings, and more. Enjoy local produce, pastries, and waffles as you wander the stalls. Your loved ones will adore the Christmas gifts that you bring home from this quaint French town.
The Montbéliard Christmas Market is normally open from late November through December. As mentioned, it’s the main Christmas market in the area, featuring some of the most impressive Christmas lights in Europe. The entire city twinkles under fairy lights and LED illumination. You’ll learn about legendary Christmas characters in French culture, including Aunt Airie, as well as globally recognized characters like Santa Claus.
Enjoy musical performances and entertainment as you browse the market for the perfect Christmas treat. For a pleasant stay in Montbeliard, try the Hôtel de la Balance right in the heart of the city.
See Related: Most Beautiful Villages in France to Visit
10. Salzburg, Austria
Address: Salzburg’s Cathedral Square
The Salzburg Christmas market is one of the world’s oldest Advent markets. The Salzburg Christkindlmarkt is one of the most unique European Christmas markets, thanks to the city’s rich history and culture.
At the Salzburg Christmas market, you’ll experience local folk customs and discover traditional decorations for the Christmas tree. Taste many Austrian delectable beverages, including mulled wine, hot punch, and more.
While at the Salzburg Christmas market, you can shop from over 100 vendors and experience many other performances and activities for the whole family. Christmas stories for children, Krampus parades, choral performances and concerts, festive melodies, sing-alongs, and Christmas carols are open to the public to join in. Just brush up on your German first!
Salzburg can be quite the winter wonderland in December, so if you’re looking for the most magical Christmas markets in Europe, the Salzburg Christmas market should be at the top of your list. It has a beautiful Christmas tree with thousands of lights and traditional decorations. Salzburg is a grand place to visit any time of year, but Christmas time is something special.
The Salzburg Christmas market begins in November and ends in January. If you’re in the area for a few days, don’t miss experiencing some peaceful chamber music at Mirabell Palace. Tour the Hohensalzburg Fortress, Salzburg’s most iconic landmark.
11. Prague, Czech Republic
Address: Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square
Prague Christmas Markets are known for their buzzing energy, festive atmosphere, impressive vendors, and delicious foods to try. Prague Christmas Markets are rife with brightly decorated wooden huts stocked with local, handmade items and traditional Christmas treats.
Christmas in Prague is something to witness with the capital city’s bright, illuminating lights, festive spirit, and busy markets full of jolly locals and visitors.
The Old Town Square Christmas market, also known as Staromestske Namesti, is one of the most popular markets in the city. It is located right in the middle of the historic center and is buzzing with festivities day and night.
Every day at sundown, crowds gather to watch as the brilliant Christmas tree is lit up. It illuminates the entire downtown square with its beauty. Standing at over 72 feet tall and dressed with red and gold festive decorations, it’s quite the sight against the dark Gothic skyline.
Explore many sights and sounds of the Old Town Square Christmas market in Prague as you enjoy Czech Christmas biscuits, one of the city’s most popular food items, loved by locals and visitors alike. You’ll also encounter large hams roasted on spits, flatbread topped with garlic, cheese, and ketchup, smoked meat dumplings, and pancakes. It’s a feast for any tastebud!
To wet your whistle, choose from citrusy mulled wines, spit cakes rolled in cinnamon, and many other local delicacies you must experience firsthand to appreciate fully.
The Old Town Square Christmas market in Prague is open from November through January, notably including Christmas Eve, unlike some markets. If you have a few days in the city, embark on a Prague foodie tour to taste even more delectable Bohemian dishes. If you yearn for more winter wonderlands, take a day trip to Bohemian Switzerland National Park and experience some amazing views.
See Related: 3 Days in Prague Itinerary
12. Manchester, United Kingdom
Address: Cathedral Gardens, Corporation St, Manchester M4 3BG, United Kingdom
There are several Manchester Christmas markets that shine bright, but Cathedral Gardens is the best spot for families. Cathedral Gardens features a large ice rink for children and adults to enjoy in between shopping and eating.
Visitors will be dazzled by the cute wooden huts that take over the city. Be on the lookout for the infamous Manchester giant Santa Claus, who could make appearances! Throughout the weekend, Cathedral Gardens Christmas Market also hosts live performances and musical shows for children and adults.
Other popular Christmas markets in Manchester include King Street, which offers gallic food and wine for visitors, and a gin bar. Exchange Square sells locally grown produce and gourmet pizza, among many other delightful treats. New Cathedral Street is filled with high-end shoemakers, skincare, jewelry, and other unique gift items.
13. Cologne, Germany
Address: OutsideCologne Cathedral
Cologne is the 4th largest city in Germany and is well-known for its splendid German Christmas Markets. Also known as Cathedral City, Cologne is filled with large, lavish Christmas markets throughout the city by the end of November.
The locals go all out to bring the festivities to the Christmas season, and it’s working — as you can probably tell by now, German Christmas markets are a worldwide phenomenon.
The best Cologne Christmas markets are located beneath the city’s massive, shrapnel-scarred Gothic-style cathedral (built in the 13th Century), with hundreds of booths covered in red-topped roofs for a classic Christmas aesthetic.
Too cold to walk? Catch a ride on the Christmas Market Express to explore a few markets in one night. The Cologne Christmas market at the Cathedral offers live music by local musicians and bands, including a local choir and a jazz band. Great entertainment at every market will put you in a festive mood no matter what.
Visitors can snap a picture in the photo booth and grab a mulled wine, German donuts, almonds, cookies, moonshine, and Cologne’s famous chocolate! Handmade gift items sold at the markets include natural leather goods, jewelry, clocks, snow globes, and glass-blown items.
The Cologne Christmas Market begins in November and through Christmas Eve. Don’t miss a guided brewery tour or a classic segway tour for other fun activities in Cologne.
See Related: Best Breweries in Cologne, Germany | Top Beer Halls
14. Florence, Italy
Address: Piazza Santa Croce
This Italian Christmas market welcomes crowds of people to its beautiful city every year. The Santa Croce Christmas market is the largest Christmas market in Florence and delivers the same charm and excitement as its predecessors, dating back to the 12th Century.
The Santa Croce market offers German-style food, including bratwurst and pretzels, with German-style open stalls for easy browsing and shopping. The market strives to provide international and local foods for its visitors; it features foods from Germany, Italy, Netherlands, and Austria, to name a few.
Grab a warm cup of mulled wine as you stroll the aisles to find the perfect snack. You may discover crepes, waffles, and chimney cake sound appetizing, or perhaps you’ll be in the mood for Italian cheese, jam, or chocolate. Any craving or tastebud will be satisfied at this iconic Italian Christmas Market!
If you’re getting some Christmas shopping done, the market vendors offer items including authentic handmade scarves, candles, ceramic goods, and more. The loved ones on your shopping list will be amazed at the beautiful gifts you bring from Italy.
If you’re visiting Italy around the holidays, this Christmas market in Florence can’t be missed. While in Florence, make sure to explore as much as you can. Enjoy a one-day sightseeing tour to Tuscany and back or explore a gallery tour of David and the Accademia.
15. Brussels, Belgium
Address: Grand Place
Brussels is host to one of the most exciting and flashy Christmas markets in Europe. Brussels in winter may be one of the most romantic and spellbinding destinations on Earth. The city’s lights and energy are contagious!
The enormous, festively festooned Christmas tree is a sight to witness; it’s next door to the tower at City Hall in the heart of Brussels, adding to the sheer beauty of the neighborhood. You can’t skip a ride on the Ferris wheel, where your kids will be thrilled to enjoy the magical, lit-up views of Brussels day or night. There’s also an ice rink and a merry-go-round for thrill seekers.
You’ll see the wooden nativity scene in the town square, which is a memorable part of the Brussels Christmas market. On weekends, there are parades, shows, and many other events to witness.
Countless market stalls sell Christmas decorations, ornaments, and handmade goods. The market is filled with entertainment and attractions, including a Christmas ice monster, light projections all over the square, and much more. There’s so much to see!
Enjoy Belgium nougat or try the traditional Belgium drink, Jenever, for a taste of the local culture and tradition. You can warm up with a glass of mulled wine or indulge in a Belgian waffle. Oh, the chocolate in Brussels this time of year is beyond legendary.
Don’t miss the Sound & Light Show at the Grand Place. It’s filled with magic and wonder for the whole family. All the buildings in the town square are lit up as the music and illumination wow the crowd. You can see the Light Show any time after 5 pm, every hour on the hour from Sunday to Thursday.
The Brussels Winter Wonders is open from late November through January. There are so many festive things to see and do in Brussels, but the Christmas market is definitely the most memorable. Got extra time in the city? Try a beer and chocolate tour in Brussels.
Before you leave, don’t forget to check out what Mennekin Pis (the city’s mascot and the world’s favorite urinating statue) is wearing. During the Christmas season, he’s typically wearing something festive!
See Related: Brussels vs Amsterdam: What’s the Difference?
16. Bratislava, Slovakia
Address: Bratislava Main Square
The Bratislava Christmas markets are scattered throughout the city, with the major parts of the markets located in the town’s main square. If you’re coming to Bratislava from Vienna (as I did a couple of Christmasses ago), the train will drop you off within walking distance of the main square, where the biggest Christmas market takes place.
Slovakia may not have the reputation of magical Christmas markets the way Germany and France do, but the customs and traditions are just as magical and festive in Slovakia as they are anywhere else in the world. This is one of the smaller European Christmas markets, but it still packs a punch for visitors and is one of the more unique experiences on this list.
The Franciscan Square is connected to the Main Square and provides a variety of wooden stalls with handmade items to browse. At another market site, at Hviezdoslavovo Square, you will find an ice rink, food, and drinks stalls. The Old Market Hall has traditional Christmas ornaments and festive decorations to admire.
As for food, the Loksa, potato pancakes, and poppy strudel are essentials in the Slovakian Christmas diet and should not be missed! Enjoy a cup of Hora (or grog), the traditional Slovakian hot spiced rum drink.
The Bratislava Christmas market is open in November and December. There is so much to explore in this quaint European town; try the Archbishop’s Palace and the Presidential Palace on your visit. Don’t miss the gleaming white Bratislava Castle while you’re at it!
17. Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Address: East Princes Street Gardens
Edinburgh is a sight to witness at Christmas time! With so much to see and do, it’s no surprise Edinburgh’s Christmas market made our list of the best Christmas markets in Europe.
The Scottish capital welcomes visitors to its unique Christmas markets all over the city, with the same festive cheer, welcoming locals, and delicious food. Edinburgh itself is a town in possession of a certain stern beauty, making this one of the most romantic Christmas markets in Europe.
East Princes Street Gardens is a large public park where the largest Christmas market takes place in Edinburgh. It’s also been home to one of Europe’s largest ice rinks. The market features food, drinks, crafts, and art. You’ll be able to shop for unique gifts and treats, including Harry Potter-themed gifts and festive trinkets for family and friends.
You’ll experience incredible Scottish cuisines, such as the infinitely delicious (if slightly cliche) black pudding, deep-fried Mars Bars and haggis with neeps n’ tatties. There’s other traditional British fare to sample, such as stuffed and roasted turkey, mashed or roasted parsnips, Brussel sprouts, pigs in blankets (which are sausages wrapped in bacon to the Brits), mince pies, and Yorkshire puddings from south of the border.
If you’re interested in something spicier, know that Scotland is literally the home of the Chicken Tikka Masala. Yup.
Santa Land, an outdoor, Christmas-themed pop-up site for children to visit with Santa Claus, will be open this year at the West Princes Street Gardens during the Christmas holiday. Take the little ones to meet St. Nick in Scotland!
If you’re in Edinburgh for the holidays, I highly recommend staying for New Year’s Eve. New Year’s Eve as we know it (in the English-speaking world anyway) was pretty much invented in Scotland and “Hogmanay” in Edinburgh is a 2-day party like no other. The good news is Edinburgh’s Christmas market dates are November through January! While you’re at it don’t miss a walking tour of Edinburgh Castle too!
See Related: Best Beaches in the United Kingdom to Visit
18. Nottingham, United Kingdom
Address: Old Market Square
Kick your Christmas spirit into high gear by visiting the Nottingham Christmas market in Robin Hood country, England. Featuring Bavarian-style wooden stalls with over 70 vendors, visitors will experience classic British and German foods, drinks, and unique handmade gifts that make fantastic Christmas presents.
You can’t miss Nottingham’s giant Christmas tree, towering over the market at 59 feet tall, and a sparkling Ferris wheel on-site. There’s also a pristine ice rink, so get ready to lace up your skates for some fun on the ice!
Be sure to grab some food to keep you going. When I was there a few years ago, I got to sample local foods, including artisan cheese, chutneys, and a stew I still have dreams about. There was also be an Après Ski-themed pop-up bar to wet the old whistle.
There’s an additional Christmas market in Nottingham this year which will be located at Trinity Square, complete with a Christmas Village for guests to enjoy a beverage, mingle with locals, and keep warm within igloo-style domes.
There’s no doubt that Nottingham’s Winter Wonderland Christmas market is one of the most festive events in the East Midlands. The Nottingham Christmas market is open from November through December and is incredibly popular.
Nottingham is a lovely historical town, worth exploring. Browse the locally owned businesses, chat with store owners, and learn about the culture and charm of Nottingham and what its residents love most about the city. Nottingham has some incredible sights if you’re in town for a few days; the Nottingham Castle tour is a memorable way to experience Nottingham’s history.
19. Leipzig, Germany
Address: Leipzig City Center
The Leipzig Christmas market dates back to 1458, and the locals who run the event each year work hard to maintain the charm, history, and culture of the event to this day.
We can all agree that the best Christmas markets in Europe are usually in Germany, or they resemble Germany’s classic Bavarian-style wooden stalls and open-air atmosphere. It’s the best way to get into the spirit of Christmas, and what better city to do it in?
Start your visit at Market Square, where you’ll catch a glimpse of the towering 60-foot Christmas tree. More than 250 stalls are present at Market Square, selling food, gifts, home decor, Christmas decorations, and more. You can sample various German cuisine items, including currywurst, bratwurst, potato pancakes, roasted almonds, mushrooms, and more.
Don’t forget your glühwein! Explore the city’s traditional medieval market with that cup of warm mulled wine to stay true to German Christmas culture. The market square stage welcomes numerous musical guests and talented performers throughout the month. This includes a traditional performance by trombonists staged on the balcony of the Old Town Hall — a must-see!
With so many stalls, vendors, and visitors, Leipzig’s Christmas market frequently jostles with the likes of Dresden, Nuremberg, and Vienna as the largest Christmas market in Europe and the most magical as well!
The Leipzig Christmas market dates are late November to December. While you’re in town, walk around the city like a local with a walking tour and experience all the charming sights.
20. Zagreb, Croatia
Address: In the city center
Croatia may not be the first country that comes to mind when you think of Christmas markets, but don’t be fooled — it’s the location of one of the most magical Christmas markets in Europe.
More than 25 individual Christmas markets span the capital city, with charming stalls selling artisan products, Christmas decorations, mulled wine, and local cuisine. Many handmade items nod to local tradition and culture, including the hand-carved wooden toys from northern Croatia, the tradition originating in the 19th Century.
Make sure you come to the Christmas markets in Zagreb with an appetite; the food stalls offer a wide array of seasonal cuisines and delicacies, both local and international. Your stomach will be rumbling at the smells of tasty homemade pork sausage, cabbage leaves stuffed with mincemeat and rice, dessert pastries, and more. You can enjoy mulled wine or warm brandy to stay comfortable as you shop and explore.
Check out the open-air ice rink, a live nativity scene, life-size nutcrackers, live concerts, and performances on Zagreb’s promenades, squares, and balconies. Enjoy Christmas music performances from local soloists, ensembles, and orchestras. The entire city comes to life for Christmas, and it’s something you have to experience to appreciate fully!
Advent in Zagreb begins in late November through January. To experience more culture in Zagreb, you can take many great tours around the city by locals. Learn about the history of Croatia with this Homeland war tour or, if weather permits, take a bike tour through the city.
21. Birmingham, United Kingdom
Address: Centenary Square, Chamberlain Square, New Street, and Victoria Square.
My British editor tells me that a lot of people around the UK have a lot of cruel things to say about the city of Birmingham in England’s Midlands. “It’s an industrial wasteland!” “The populace is made up of savages!”
Nonsense. It might have looked that way at the turn of the 20th Century, or while it was being hammered by German bombers, but anyone who has spent 5 minutes wandering around Birmingham city center knows that’s a load of old “cobblers”. Central Birmingham is genuinely an attractive and happening city with sights to see and things to do. This could not be more true during November and December.
As well as being home to the hit show Peaky Blinders, and more canals than there are in Venice, Birmingham boasts the incredibly popular Frankfurt Christmas Market, Birmingham, courtesy of its German twin town Frankfurt. Possibly as an apology for all the bombs.
In what is touted as the largest Christmas market outside of Austria and Germany, Frankfurt Christmas Market, Birmingham regularly sees an excess of 5 million visitors each year! Here you can explore the cute cabins, enjoy German staples such as bratwurst and candied apples, and of course, hot glühwein, which comes in a souvenir mug!
Speaking of souvenirs, the Birmingham Christmas Market is a great place to source some Christmas gifts or make memories on a winter wonderland date. This is probably the easily accessible Christmas market in the UK, so look into it if you’re visiting ol’ Blighty this winter.
See Related: Best Warm Winter Destinations in Europe
CHRISTMAS BONUS! Funchal, Madeira
Address: located in the heart of the capital, Funchal
Spend the Christmas holidays in Madeira and experience the true magic of the holiday season with the brilliant illumination of lights around this beautiful place.
The Portuguese territory of Madeira is a stunning island, just off the northwest coast of Africa, and the entire town square of Funchal is lit up with the most beautiful Christmas market. Madeira’s night Christmas market is a must-see if you’re on the island.
Shop local businesses selling foods and produce, pastries, flowers, souvenirs, and more. You will want to try pork in wine sauce, Portuguese chicken soup, King’s cake, and sweet rice.
Madeira offers a very unique spin on Europe’s Christmas markets with more of their island culture in play. Enjoy local folklore performances, live music, and traditional festive characters you can take pictures with.
If you plan to be on the island for New Year’s Eve, you can witness the award-winning fireworks show in Madeira. In December, Madeira’s average temperature is 68 degrees, making it a very warm getaway.
The Christmas market typically begins in December and goes through January. The evening of December 23 is the most exciting night of the Christmas market, known as Market Night. The city center and surrounding area are closed to traffic, and the whole town square area is used for the general public to do last-minute shopping, enjoy a hot drink, and spend time with loved ones.