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21 Best Christmas Markets in Europe to Visit (+ A Bonus)

21 Best Christmas Markets in Europe to Visit (+ A Bonus)

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 held in 1434 in Dresden, Germany. Since then, Germany has welcomed nearly 85 million people to its iconic Christmas markets yearly.

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 worldwide is that 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 the best European Christmas markets to visit this holiday season. From the sparkling Christmas lights to the hot mulled wine, we know your trip will be complete by experiencing the magic of the holiday season. If you want a visual look, watch our web story on some of our favorite markets.

Here are the must-see Christmas markets in Europe.

$Christmas Markets in Europe to Visit

1. Budapest, Hungary

Budapest Christmas Market and City Lights

Address: St. Stephen’s Basilica in Budapest, Hungary

Budapest, Hungary, is home to one of Europe’s most magical Christmas markets. 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.

Bring your appetite, as Budapest’s Christmas market has many delicious food options! From classic fair food to gourmet specialties, you’ll taste excellent Hungarian food at this Christmas market. From roasted chestnuts and trumpet cake to pizza and gastro-pub food stalls, there’s something for every taste bud.

Take an evening sightseeing cruise around the Danube River. Embark on a Hungarian wine-tasting tour. Enjoy stunning sights, restful nights, and a convenient location at Hotel Clark Budapest, within close walking distance of St. Stephen’s Basilica.

See Related: Places to Travel For Your Birthday

2. Basel, Switzerland

Christmas Market in Basel
ecstk22 / Shutterstock.com

Address: City Center in downtown Basel

Basel, Switzerland, is known for its public markets throughout the year, so it is 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.

Basel’s Christmas market has an old-world feel, so many tourists flock from all over the world to witness it for themselves. On Barfüsserplatz, numerous stalls sell Christmas decorations, unique gifts, and tasty treats.

On Münsterplatz, you’ll be welcomed to the market by the huge Christmas tree, glowing snow globes, and 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.

If you’re spending more time in Switzerland, check out the Swiss Travel Pass for unlimited transportation nationwide. For an enjoyable day trip, we highly recommend a tour of the alpine village of Zermatt and seeing the stunning Matterhorn. For an ideally located hotel, try Hotel Wettstein.

3. Vienna, Austria

Vienna Christmas Market Scenery

Address: Christkindlmarkt, Rathausplatz, 1010 Vienna

Experiencing Christmas in Vienna is a once-in-a-lifetime feeling, and this winter wonderland contributes to the magical effect on visitors. Vienna has several Christmas markets throughout the city, and the most popular is 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, making it one of the best Vienna attractions to visit! It’s quite a sight and will instantly get you in the Christmas spirit.

Vendors sell roasted chestnuts, cream-filled pastries, pretzel varieties, giant donuts, and lollipops. Wash the sweets 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. 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 after all that festive fun, try the Ruby Lissi Hotel Vienna.

See Related: Places to Visit in Austria & Things to Do

4. Metz, France

Metz Christmas Market at Night
Laurent / Adobe Stock

Address: Metz City Center

Known worldwide for its stunning Gothic cathedral, Metz is also home to one of Europe’s most beautiful Christmas markets. 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 is Place Saint-Jacques, which features a radiant merry-go-round that will delight your children. This Christmas market features 90 stalls to buy mulled wine, local produce, artisanal candies, gingerbread, and 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, 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, plan a stay at Hôtel de la Cathédrale Metz.

See Related: Cheap Places to Visit in Europe

5. Craiova, Romania

Craiova Christmas Market Lights
OrangeNoire3 / Shutterstock.com

Address: Opposite the Craiova Town Hall on Mihai Viteazul Square

The Christmas market in Craiova, Romania, featuring a massive ice skating rink and a stunning Christmas tree, will take your breath away! Perhaps literally!

Craiova is like a dream at Christmas — radiant lights illuminate this winter wonderland. At the same time, 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 more. Try authentic Craiova cuisine, including fried polenta, leek, crayfish, and plum brandy.

While the Christmas market in Craiova is delightful, you’ll find that simply wandering the city’s downtown streets gets you in a festive spirit. For an enjoyable stay, try the Prestige Boutique Hotel Craiova.

See Related: Top Most Beautiful Cities in the World to Visit

6. Trier, Germany

Trier Christmas Market
lexan / Shutterstock.com

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 Christmas markets in Germany, 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 this iconic market and enjoy the delicious German street food. 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 taste the holiday season in Germany. The Trier Christmas market is open from November through December.

See Related: European Palaces to Visit

7. Strasbourg, France

Strasbourg Christmas Market Sceenry
Kiev.Victor / Shutterstock.com

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 France’s Christmas magic.

Located at the 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. If you have time to explore Alsace, 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.

Here’s a first-hand perspective from our visit to Strasbourg from the ViaTravelers YouTube channel.

Stay in the middle of the action during the festive season activities at Maison Rouge Hotel & Spa. This is where I stayed during the Christmas season, and it was terrific. Read our full Maison Rouge Hotel & Spa review for a personal perspective.

See Related: Day Trips from Strasbourg, France

8. Trondheim, Norway

Trondheim Christmas Market Tents

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 food, crafts, and stalls 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. 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.

9. Montbéliard, France

Address: 10 Rue de l’Hôtel de ville, 25200 Montbéliard, France

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 display. You’ve got to see this authentic Christmas market for yourself!

The Christmas market is 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 annually.

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 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.

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.

See Related: Most Beautiful Villages in France to Visit

10. Salzburg, Austria

Salzburg Christmas Market

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 due to its 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 anytime, but Christmas is 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 peaceful chamber music at Mirabell Palace. Tour the Hohensalzburg Fortress, Salzburg’s most iconic landmark.

11. Prague, Czech Republic

Prague Christmas Market Aerial View

Address: Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square

Prague Christmas Markets are known for their buzzing energy, festive atmosphere, impressive vendors, and delicious foods. 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 bright, illuminating lights, festive spirit, and busy markets full of jolly locals and visitors.

The Old Town Square Christmas market, Staromestske Namesti, is one of the most popular. It is in the middle of the historic center, 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 over 72 feet tall and dressed in 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 most popular food items loved by locals and visitors alike.

You’ll also encounter large hams roasted on spits, a flatbread topped with garlic, cheese, 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.

Unlike some markets, Prague’s Old Town Square Christmas market is open from November through January, notably including Christmas Eve. If you have a few days, take a Prague foodie tour to taste even more delectable Bohemian dishes.

See Related: 3 Days in Prague Itinerary

12. Manchester, United Kingdom

Manchester Christmas Market Display

Address: Cathedral Gardens, Corporation St, Manchester M4 3BG, United Kingdom

There are several Manchester Christmas markets that shine bright, but Cathedral Gardens is a great option for families. Cathedral Gardens features a large ice rink for children and adults to enjoy between shopping and eating.

Visitors will be dazzled by the cute wooden huts that take over. Watch for the infamous Manchester giant Santa Claus, who could make appearances! Cathedral Gardens Christmas Market hosts live performances and musical shows for children and adults throughout the weekend.

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 has high-end shoemakers, skincare, jewelry, and other unique gift items. All the Christmas markets in Manchester are open from mid-November and December.

13. Cologne, Germany

Cologne Christmas Market Aerial View

Address: Outside Cologne 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 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 largest market is located beneath the 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. Don’t miss a guided brewery tour or a classic segway tour for other fun activities in Cologne.

See Related: Best Breweries in Cologne

14. Florence, Italy

Crowd in Florence Christmas Market

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 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, the 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.

If you’re getting some Christmas shopping done, vendors offer 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 is a must-visit. 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

Brussels Christmas Market Lights

Address: Grand Place

Brussels hosts 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 lights and energy are contagious here.

The enormous, festively adorned Christmas tree is a sight to witness. It’s next door to 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 Brussels’s magical, lit-up views 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, a memorable part of the Brussels Christmas market. On weekends, there are parades, shows, and many other events.

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 Belgian drink, Jenever, to taste local culture and tradition. You can warm up with a 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 wonders 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.

See Related: Brussels vs Amsterdam: What’s the Difference?

16. Bratislava, Slovakia

Bratislava Christmas Market Scenery

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 Christmases ago), the train will drop you off within walking distance of the main square, where the biggest Christmas market occurs.

Slovakia may not have the same Christmas reputation as other countries like Germany and France. Still, 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. You will find an ice rink at Hviezdoslavovo Square, as well as food and drink 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.

Don’t miss the gleaming white Bratislava Castle, the Archbishop’s Palace, and the Presidential Palace while visiting.

17. Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Edinburgh Christmas Market Scenery

Address: East Princes Street Gardens

Edinburgh is a sight to witness at Christmastime! With so much to see and do, the Scottish capital welcomes visitors to its unique Christmas markets with festive cheer and delicious food. Edinburgh is a town with a certain stern beauty, making this one of Europe’s most romantic Christmas markets.

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 can 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 another traditional British fare to sample, such as stuffed and roasted turkey, mashed or roasted parsnips,

Brussel sprouts, pigs in blankets (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 the home of the Chicken Tikka Masala. Yup. Santa Land, an outdoor, Christmas-themed pop-up site for children to visit Santa Claus, will be open this year at the West Princes Street Gardens during the Christmas holiday.

Take the little ones to visit Santa Claus in Scotland! I highly recommend staying for New Year’s Eve if you’re in Edinburgh for the holidays.

New Year’s Eve as we know it (in the English-speaking world anyway) was 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!

18. Nottingham, United Kingdom

Nottingham Christmas Market Vendors
by It’s No Game is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

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 an Après Ski-themed pop-up bar to wet the old whistle.

There’s an additional Christmas market in Nottingham this year, 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.

Undoubtedly, 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 holiday season. If you’re in town for a few days, the Nottingham Castle tour is a memorable way to experience the history.

19. Leipzig, Germany

Leipzig Christmas Market Scenery

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.

Germany’s classic Bavarian-style wooden stalls and open-air atmosphere are some of the best ways to get into the spirit of Christmas, and what better place to do it in?

Start visiting Market Square, where you’ll glimpse the towering 60-foot Christmas tree. More than 250 stalls are here, selling food, gifts, home decor, Christmas decorations, and more.

You can sample various German cuisine items, including currywurst, bratwurst, potato pancakes, roasted almonds, and mushrooms.

Don’t forget your glühwein! Explore the 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-visit!

With so many stalls, vendors, and visitors, Leipzig’s Christmas market frequently jostles with Dresden, Nuremberg, and Vienna as the largest Christmas market in Europe and the most magical! While in town, walk around like a local with a walking tour and experience all the charming sights.

See Related: Day Trips From Leipzig

20. Zagreb, Croatia

Crowd in Zagreb Christmas Market

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, with charming stalls selling artisan products, Christmas decorations, mulled wine, and local cuisine. Many handmade items nod to local tradition and culture, including hand-carved wooden toys from northern Croatia, which originated 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 rumble 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 while shopping and exploring.

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.

Advent in Zagreb begins in late November and through January. To experience more culture in Zagreb, you can take many great tours with locals. Learn about the history of Croatia with this Homeland War tour or, if weather permits, take a bike tour.

21. Birmingham, United Kingdom

Birmingham Christmas Markets Scenery
Shanae Ennis-Melhado / Shutterstock.com

Address: Centenary Square, Chamberlain Square, New Street, and Victoria Square.

My British editor tells me that many people around the UK have a lot of cruel things to say about 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 German bombers were hammering it, but anyone who has spent 5 minutes wandering around Birmingham knows that’s a load of old “cobblers.” Central Birmingham is genuinely attractive and energetic, 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 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 yearly! Here, you can explore the cute cabins and enjoy German staples such as bratwurst, candied apples, and hot glühwein, which comes in a souvenir mug!

Speaking of souvenirs, the Birmingham Christmas Market is a great place to source 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: Warm Winter Destinations in Europe

CHRISTMAS BONUS! Funchal, Madeira

Crowd in Funchal Christmas Market
GerritR, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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.

Shop local businesses selling foods, 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 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. Madeira’s average temperature in December is 68 degrees, making it a warm getaway.

The Christmas market typically begins in December and goes through January. The evening of December 23 is the most exciting night to visit, known as Market Night.

In town for a few days? Don’t miss the chance to explore the town by cable car. If the weather is nice, enjoy a whale-watching tour. For a stunning ocean view, stay at Pestana Churchill Bay.

Best Christmas Market Tours in Europe

1. Budapest Christmas Market Tour with Mulled Wine Top Recommendation

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 top Christmas markets in town, learn about Hungarian Christmas culture, and end the tour with a delicious hot mulled wine.

2. Munich Christmas Markets Tour

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 most popular markets, including Christkindlmarkt in Marienplatz.

3. Bratislava Christmas Market Tour with A Local Guide

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.

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