The Best Christmas Markets in Europe
With charming cobblestone streets and snowy weather, there are many places across Europe that offer some wonderful Christmas markets. Whilst all promise to provide some festive cheer, you’ll also find local delicacies and artisan crafts to purchase, which you can choose to give to your loved ones for a Christmas present or keep for yourself!
With so many Christmas markets across Europe, it can be difficult to know where to start. We looked into the best Christmas markets in Europe.
Cologne is well known for its array of Christmas markets across the city. The largest is in the city centre, next to the iconic Cologne cathedral. It features around 150 stalls and gets around 4 million visitors every year. But there are also smaller markets in other areas of the city, like in the Old Town and in Stadtgarden Park, if you would prefer to avoid the crowds.
Christmas markets in Cologne promise a variety of wares, from handmade leather belts, to ceramics, to personalised embroidering done directly at the stall. Of course, there are plenty of culinary highlights too, with festive cinnamon rolls, organic roasted duck, and vegan bratwurst.
The Christmas market in Strasbourg is one of the oldest in Europe, dating back to 1570. The town is known as the French capital of Christmas and every year is transformed into a winter wonderland. The market spreads through the centre of the town and features around 300 stalls of handmade items, gifts, decorations, and food.
As well as the usual festive wares to buy, the market is also a learning experience, with skilled craftspeople demonstrating their skills. The market also features local Alsatian delicacies, like traditional Christmas biscuits known as bredele, sweet pastry mannele, and gingerbread.
Budapest has two major Christmas markets in the city, one in the centre at Vorosmarty Square and one in the Basilica. The Advent Basilica won the best Christmas Market in Europe last year and features over 100 stalls of artisan and culinary vendors. There are also demonstrations, like the traditional Hungarian blacksmith showing how to forge horseshoes and coat hooks.
The Christmas markets in Budapest also offer a variety of activities, like ice rinks, interactive selfie opportunities, and laser light shows. There are also a number of free concerts held across both markets, with Christmas choirs and music shows.
Zagreb Christmas market has previously been named the best Christmas market in Europe three times, and it’s easy to see why. The entire city is taken over with festive decorations and activities, including, of course, a variety of market stalls to browse and buy Christmas gifts and culinary delicacies.
The city also has a number of activities and entertainment, including open-air cultural performances. As well as the traditional, Zagreb also brings the modern, with augmented reality being used to find hidden toys around the city, to bring back the magic of a childhood Christmas.
Edinburgh has a huge number of markets and attractions across the city, combining Christmas and Hogmanay celebrations. The markets feature the usual beautiful Christmas gifts and culinary delights, including local Scottish cuisine. But Edinburgh also offers fairground rides, like bumper cars and a Ferris wheel, as well as ice skating and carol concerts.
Visitors to Edinburgh at Christmas can even see Santa in his grotto at Santa Land, outside Edinburgh Castle in West Princes Street Gardens. There’s even a Christmas-tree maze that the whole family can enjoy.
Denmark is home to ‘hygge’ the concept of cosiness and comfort. So, you can be sure to find exactly that at the Copenhagen Christmas markets, which span across the city. Visitors can enjoy the many Christmas lights and decorations around the city, as well as the variety of markets offering festive wares.
The H.C. Andersen market, located in the largest shopping area in the city, Strøget, features many expertly made artisan crafts, like jewelry and Christmas decorations. Visitors could even meet Santa Claus or Hans Christian Andersen walking around the market.
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