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The 10 Best European Christmas Markets


Modified: December 27, 2023

by Elissa Cupp



When it comes to celebrating the holiday season, Europe is known for its enchanting Christmas markets that offer a delightful mix of festive atmosphere, traditional delicacies, and unique handmade crafts. These markets are not only a great way to get into the holiday spirit but also provide a glimpse into the rich cultural heritage of each country. Whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway or a family-friendly adventure, there are plenty of options to choose from in Europe.


Each year, millions of visitors flock to these markets to soak up the magical ambiance, listen to carolers singing in the streets, and indulge in delicious treats like mulled wine, roasted chestnuts, and gingerbread cookies. The variety and scale of the European Christmas markets are truly remarkable, offering something for everyone.


From the grandeur of Vienna’s Christkindlmarkt to the medieval charm of Prague’s Old Town Square, there is no shortage of breathtaking destinations to explore. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the top 10 European Christmas markets that should be on your travel itinerary. Prepare to be transported into a winter wonderland filled with festive lights, joyful laughter, and the warm embrace of holiday cheer.


Vienna, Austria

Vienna, the capital city of Austria, is renowned for its captivating Christmas markets that attract visitors from around the world. The most famous of these is the Christkindlmarkt in Rathausplatz, which transforms the city into a magical wonderland during the holiday season. With over 150 stalls, it offers a wide array of handmade crafts, traditional decorations, and delicious festive treats.


Wandering through the market, you’ll be mesmerized by the aroma of freshly baked pastries and the sound of lively music filling the air. Make sure to sample the iconic Austrian delicacies such as Sachertorte, a rich chocolate cake, and warm up with a cup of Glühwein, the traditional mulled wine. If you’re traveling with children, they’ll be delighted by the ice-skating rink and carousel.


Another highlight of the Vienna Christmas market is the stunning decor, with the Rathaus, Vienna’s city hall, providing a majestic backdrop. The entire square is adorned with sparkling lights, oversized Christmas trees, and an impressive ice tree, making it a picture-perfect setting for memorable holiday photos.


Aside from the Christkindlmarkt, Vienna also hosts several smaller markets that are equally charming. The market at Belvedere Palace is known for its elegant setting and exquisite handicrafts. The Spittelberg market, located in the historic Biedermeier district, offers a more intimate and traditional atmosphere. Here, you’ll find unique gifts, wooden toys, and local handicrafts.


When visiting Vienna during the Christmas season, it’s also worth experiencing the Advent markets in the city’s other districts. Each has its own distinctive character and showcases regional traditions and culinary specialties. In these markets, you can savor seasonal treats like Lebkuchen (gingerbread) and Kaiserschmarrn (shredded pancake dessert), and shop for unique souvenirs to take home.


Vienna’s Christmas markets provide an unparalleled opportunity to immerse yourself in the city’s festive spirit and experience the magic of the holiday season like never before. From the lively atmosphere to the variety of culinary delights and handicrafts, Vienna offers an unforgettable Christmas market experience that will warm your heart and create lasting memories.


Cologne, Germany

Cologne, located in the heart of Germany, is home to one of the most festive and vibrant Christmas markets in Europe. With its impressive cathedral backdrop and bustling atmosphere, the Cologne Christmas market attracts millions of visitors each year.


The highlight of the market is the stunning Cologne Cathedral, which serves as a breathtaking backdrop to the festivities. The market itself is spread across several squares, with the largest being the Cathedral Market and the Old Market. Here, you’ll find an array of beautifully decorated stalls offering a wide range of traditional crafts, from handmade ornaments to intricate wooden toys.


One of the unique aspects of the Cologne Christmas market is the famous local specialty, called “heinzelmännchen.” These gingerbread-like treats come in various shapes and flavors, and are a must-try when visiting the market. Don’t forget to wash them down with a warm cup of traditional spiced glühwein or a refreshing local Kölsch beer.


In addition to the numerous food and drink options, the Cologne Christmas market offers a range of entertainment and activities for all ages. From ice skating and carousel rides to live music performances and festive parades, there’s always something happening to keep you entertained.


For a unique experience, make sure to visit the Fairy Tale Forest, where you’ll find beautifully crafted scenes from classic fairy tales. It’s a captivating sight for children and adults alike, allowing you to immerse yourself in the enchanting world of your favorite childhood stories.


A visit to Cologne’s Christmas market wouldn’t be complete without exploring the nearby Alter Markt, where you’ll find the charming Heinzelmännchen market. This smaller, more intimate market is named after the mythical creatures said to have done the city’s work at night. Here, you can browse through a variety of handicrafts, sample local delicacies, and enjoy the cozy atmosphere.


With its enchanting setting, lively atmosphere, and array of delectable treats, the Cologne Christmas market is a must-visit destination for anyone seeking a truly magical holiday experience. Whether you’re in search of unique gifts, delicious food, or simply want to be immersed in the festive spirit, Cologne’s Christmas market is sure to captivate your heart and leave you with cherished memories.


Strasbourg, France

Located in the heart of the Alsace region, Strasbourg is known as the Capital of Christmas, and for good reason. The city’s Christmas market has been enchanting visitors for centuries and is regarded as one of the oldest and most beautiful in Europe.


The centerpiece of the Strasbourg Christmas market is the Grande Île, a UNESCO World Heritage site that transforms into a winter wonderland during the holiday season. The market stretches across several squares and streets, with each area offering a unique atmosphere and a delightful array of festive attractions.


One of the highlights of the Strasbourg Christmas market is the Christkindelsmärik, located in Place Broglie. This market is known for its charming wooden chalets, adorned with twinkling lights and filled with traditional Alsatian crafts and delicacies. From handmade ornaments to intricate lacework and delicious regional treats like bredele (Alsatian Christmas cookies), there’s something for everyone.


As you explore the market, be sure to visit the spectacular Strasbourg Cathedral, a masterpiece of Gothic architecture that dominates the city’s skyline. During the holiday season, the cathedral is illuminated with stunning light projections, creating a truly magical setting for visitors.


Another must-visit area is the Carré d’Or, where you’ll find elegant boutiques and high-end crafts. This section of the market is perfect for those looking for unique and luxurious gifts. Artisans from all over France gather here to showcase their craftsmanship and offer exquisite products ranging from jewelry to pottery.


Strasbourg’s Christmas market also embraces the festive spirit with numerous events and activities. From concerts and carol singing to puppet shows and ice skating, there is something for everyone to enjoy. The city even hosts a daily Advent calendar event, where a different shop or restaurant window is unveiled each day leading up to Christmas.


For a truly enchanting experience, make sure to take a boat ride on the Ill River. The Christmas-themed cruises offer a magical view of the market as you glide through the canals, surrounded by the beauty of the city and its illuminated decorations.


With its rich traditions, captivating architecture, and festive atmosphere, the Strasbourg Christmas market is an absolute treat for visitors. Whether you’re searching for unique gifts, savoring Alsatian cuisine, or simply immersing yourself in the joyful ambiance, this market is sure to leave you with lasting memories and a warm appreciation for the magic of Christmas.


Prague, Czech Republic

Prague, the capital city of the Czech Republic, is renowned for its picturesque architecture and charming atmosphere, which only becomes more enchanting during the Christmas season. The city’s Christmas markets, set against the backdrop of historic Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square, create a truly magical experience for visitors.


One of the highlights of the Prague Christmas markets is the towering Christmas tree in the Old Town Square. Decorated with thousands of lights and ornaments, it serves as a focal point for the festivities. Surrounding the tree, you’ll find a variety of stalls offering a wide range of traditional Czech handicrafts, such as wooden toys, glass ornaments, and intricate lacework.


As you stroll through the markets, there are plenty of delicious treats to sample. Indulge in traditional Czech pastries like trdelník, a sweet pastry cooked over an open flame and dusted with sugar and cinnamon. Warm yourself up with a cup of svařené víno, the Czech version of mulled wine, and savor the aroma of roasted chestnuts wafting through the air.


Prague’s Christmas markets also offer a wonderful opportunity to experience Czech traditions and entertainment. Be sure to catch the daily performances of carol singers, folk dancers, and live music, adding to the festive atmosphere. You can also find a range of charming handmade gifts, including delicate porcelain, intricately painted Christmas decorations, and traditional puppets.


While exploring the markets, make sure to wander over to Wenceslas Square, just a short walk from the Old Town Square. Here, you’ll find another Christmas market with an equally enchanting atmosphere. With its larger stalls and wider variety of goods, this market is perfect for picking up unique gifts and sampling even more Czech delicacies.


Prague’s Christmas markets aren’t just limited to these two main squares. Venture outside of the city center to discover smaller, hidden gems like the market in Namesti Miru, with its charming nativity scenes, or the market at Náměstí Republiky, with its festive fairground rides and ice skating rink.


With its fairytale-like setting, Czech traditions, and a wide selection of crafts and culinary delights, the Prague Christmas markets are a must-visit destination. Take in the stunning architecture, embrace the joyful atmosphere, and immerse yourself in the magic of the holiday season. Prague’s Christmas markets offer a truly unforgettable experience for visitors of all ages.


Budapest, Hungary

Set along the banks of the Danube River, Budapest transforms into a winter paradise during the Christmas season with its charming and festive markets. The Hungarian capital boasts several Christmas markets, each offering its own unique atmosphere and delights.


The main Christmas market in Budapest takes place in Vörösmarty Square, located in the heart of the city. With its stunning backdrop of historical buildings and the iconic Gerbeaud Café, this market is a feast for the senses. Stroll through the rows of wooden stalls and discover a wide array of traditional Hungarian crafts, including hand-painted ceramics, embroidered textiles, and intricate lacework.


As you wander through the market, you’ll be enticed by the aroma of freshly baked pastries and the rich flavors of Hungarian cuisine. Treat yourself to a chimney cake, or kürtőskalács, a sweet cylindrical pastry sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar. Warm up with a steaming cup of spicy mulled wine, or try pálinka, a traditional Hungarian fruit brandy.


Beyond the market in Vörösmarty Square, Budapest offers other smaller markets that are equally charming. The market in front of St. Stephen’s Basilica boasts a majestic backdrop and houses a dazzling ice rink, where visitors can skate in the shadow of the splendid church. The Advent Feast at the Basilica also hosts a spectacular light show projected onto the facade of the basilica itself.


For a unique experience, head to the Budapest Christmas Fair in Óbuda, also known as the “Old Buda” district. Here, you’ll find a cozy market full of traditional handicrafts, delicious Hungarian delicacies, and a warm, welcoming atmosphere. Located in the historical heart of the city, this market offers a glimpse into Budapest’s rich heritage.


No visit to Budapest during the Christmas season would be complete without a visit to the Advent Market at the Basilica. Marvel at the dazzling lights adorning the square and admire the beautifully decorated Christmas tree. Enjoy live music performances and indulge in the festive Hungarian cuisine as you soak in the festive atmosphere.


Budapest’s Christmas markets offer an enchanting experience for visitors of all ages. From the traditional crafts and delightful food to the festive ambiance that fills the air, these markets capture the essence of Hungarian culture and holiday spirit. Immerse yourself in the warmth and joy of the season as you explore the magical Christmas markets of Budapest.


Stockholm, Sweden

Stockholm, the capital city of Sweden, is known for its beautiful architecture, charming streets, and vibrant culture. During the Christmas season, the city comes alive with a multitude of festive markets that add to its magical atmosphere.


The most iconic Christmas market in Stockholm is the Old Town Christmas Market, or “Julmarknad.” Set in the heart of Gamla Stan, the city’s enchanting old town, this market exudes a traditional Swedish charm. Stroll along the cobblestone streets and explore the stalls selling handmade crafts, festive decorations, and traditional Swedish delicacies.


One of the highlights of the Old Town Christmas Market is the presence of Tomte, a Swedish version of Santa Claus. Dressed in traditional red clothing, Tomte entertains children with stories and distributes small gifts. Children can also enjoy fun activities like riding carousel and participating in craft workshops.


Another popular market in Stockholm is the Skansen Christmas Market. Located on the island of Djurgården, Skansen is an open-air museum that showcases traditional Swedish culture and heritage. During the Christmas season, the market offers a unique experience with its historical setting and collection of traditional stalls. Visitors can enjoy live performances, purchase handcrafted items, and sample Swedish festive treats.


For a more modern take on Christmas markets, visit the Christmas market in Kungsträdgården, one of Stockholm’s largest parks. Here, you’ll find a mix of contemporary design, fashion, and food. The market features a range of stalls selling unique gifts, clothing, and artwork created by local designers and artists.


Don’t miss the chance to visit the Christmas market at Drottningholm Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage site located just outside of Stockholm. The beautifully lit palace and grounds create a fairy tale setting for the market. Explore the stalls to discover traditional Swedish handicrafts and locally produced food and beverages.


Stockholm’s Christmas markets are not just about shopping. They are also a feast for the senses. Indulge in Swedish culinary delights such as gingerbread cookies, saffron buns, and warm glögg (mulled wine). Take in the festive atmosphere, enjoy live music performances, and marvel at the beautifully decorated stalls and ice sculptures.


With its mix of traditional and modern markets, Stockholm offers a delightful Christmas market experience. From historic settings to contemporary venues, each market promises a festive ambiance and an opportunity to immerse yourself in Swedish traditions and culture. So bundle up, savor the seasonal treats, and get ready to be enchanted by the magical Christmas markets of Stockholm.


Krakow, Poland

Krakow, the historic city in Poland, is renowned for its rich cultural heritage and picturesque scenery. During the Christmas season, Krakow’s charming atmosphere is elevated to new heights with its wonderful Christmas markets that capture the essence of Polish traditions.


The main Christmas market in Krakow takes place in the stunning Rynek Glowny, the city’s main square. The market offers a festive experience with its beautifully adorned stalls, showcasing a variety of unique crafts, handmade decorations, and traditional Polish products. Enjoy browsing through the intricate amber jewelry, Polish pottery, and intricately carved wooden ornaments.


One of the highlights of the Krakow Christmas market is the range of delicious Polish food available. Treat yourself to pierogi, traditional Polish dumplings filled with cheese, meat, or vegetables. Warm up with a steaming cup of grzaniec galicyjski, a hot spiced wine, or savor a mug of traditional Polish piwo grzane (mulled beer).


In addition to the market in Rynek Glowny, Krakow also hosts several smaller markets scattered throughout the city. For a more intimate experience, head to the Christmas market in the district of Kazimierz, known for its vibrant Jewish heritage. Here, you’ll find local artisans selling unique crafts, delicious Jewish pastries, and an assortment of traditional Polish and Jewish foods.


For a truly magical experience, visit the Krakow Nativity Scene Exhibition, which showcases intricate, hand-carved nativity scenes. This unique Polish tradition dates back centuries and is recognized by UNESCO as an intangible cultural heritage. Admire the artistry and attention to detail in these elaborate miniature masterpieces.


While exploring the markets, don’t miss the opportunity to visit some of Krakow’s iconic landmarks illuminated with festive lights. The Wawel Castle and Cathedral, as well as the magnificent Cloth Hall in the main square, create a magical backdrop for the Christmas festivities.


As night falls, the streets of Krakow come alive with carolers and live performances. Listen to the enchanting melodies of traditional Polish Christmas carols and experience the joyous spirit of the Polish people during this special time of year.


Krakow’s Christmas markets offer a unique blend of tradition, culture, and holiday cheer. Immerse yourself in the historic surroundings, sample the delicious Polish cuisine, and enjoy the festive ambiance as you explore the markets. Discover the magic of a Polish Christmas in Krakow and create unforgettable memories.


Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona, the vibrant city in Spain, offers a unique and festive take on Christmas markets. While it may not be as synonymous with Christmas markets as some other European cities, Barcelona has its own special charm and captivating markets that showcase the city’s rich culture and traditions.


The centerpiece of Barcelona’s Christmas market scene is the Fira de Santa Llúcia, located near the stunning Barcelona Cathedral in the Gothic Quarter. This market has been a holiday tradition for over 230 years and offers a wide variety of stalls selling everything from Christmas decorations and crafts to Catalan treats and traditional holiday plants.


At the Fira de Santa Llúcia, you’ll find the famous Catalan Christmas figure, the Caganer, in various iterations. This cheeky character is depicted squatting with pants down, and it is believed to bring good luck for the coming year. It is a unique and amusing addition to the market that never fails to catch the attention of visitors.


Another popular market in Barcelona is the Mercat de Nadal at the Sagrada Família. Set against the breathtaking backdrop of Gaudí’s masterpiece, this market offers a mix of traditional Christmas fare and artistic crafts. It’s a great place to find unique gifts, enjoy live music performances, and soak in the festive atmosphere.


If you’re looking for a more offbeat experience, head to the fairgrounds of Fira de Barcelona, where you’ll find the fair known as Fira de Reis. This market celebrates the arrival of the Three Kings, who bring gifts to children on the night of January 5th. The market features amusement rides, stalls selling sweet treats, and various activities for kids and families to enjoy.


Barcelona’s Christmas markets also incorporate a Catalonian tradition called Caga Tió, or the “Pooping Log.” This unique character, often a small log with a face painted on it, is believed to bring gifts to children. It is “fed” treats and then “poops out” presents when hit with sticks. This playful and quirky tradition adds a touch of Catalan charm to the holiday season.


While exploring the markets, don’t forget to indulge in the traditional Catalan sweets such as turrón (nougat), polvorones (shortbread cookies), and neules (rolled wafer cookies). And of course, no visit to Barcelona would be complete without trying the local specialty, Cava, a sparkling Spanish wine, to toast to the holiday season.


Barcelona’s Christmas markets offer a unique fusion of Catalan traditions, festive charm, and artistic flair that sets them apart from other European markets. Explore the stalls, enjoy the lively atmosphere, and immerse yourself in the colorful and joyous spirit of the holiday season in this vibrant Spanish city.


Brussels, Belgium

When it comes to Christmas markets, Brussels, the capital city of Belgium, knows how to create a magical and enchanting atmosphere. The city comes alive with a variety of markets that showcase Belgian traditions, culinary delights, and festive spirit.


The centerpiece of the Brussels Christmas market is the famous Winter Wonders, or Plaisirs d’Hiver. Located in the city center around the Grand Place, this market is one of the largest and most renowned in Europe. The square is transformed into a dazzling winter paradise with an array of stalls selling crafts, gifts, and mouthwatering Belgian delicacies.


For a delightful treat, don’t miss out on the Belgian chocolates, pralines, and waffles that are staples of the Christmas market experience. Stroll through the market, enjoying the festive lights and decorations while sampling traditional treats and sipping on a cup of delicious Belgian hot chocolate.


Another highlight of the Brussels Christmas market is the iconic Ferris wheel, offering panoramic views of the city and a magical perspective of the market below. Take a ride on the Ferris wheel and soak in the breathtaking views while accompanied by the sounds of festive music and joyful laughter.


Other markets in Brussels, such as the Christmas market at Place Sainte-Catherine, offer a more intimate and traditional setting. Here, you’ll find local artisans showcasing their crafts, handmade gifts, and regional foods. The market is beautifully decorated with lights and ornaments, creating a cozy and festive atmosphere.


While exploring the Brussels Christmas markets, make sure to marvel at the stunning architecture of the city. The Grand Place, with its ornate buildings and intricate Christmas decorations, is a sight to behold. Take a moment to appreciate the craftsmanship of the market stalls and the festive ambiance that fills the air.


Brussels also hosts an ice rink during the Christmas season, providing an opportunity for visitors to lace up their ice skates and glide along the ice in the heart of the city. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced skater, it’s a fun and exhilarating activity that adds to the festive spirit.


The Brussels Christmas markets offer a unique blend of Belgian traditions, delectable treats, and a joyful ambiance that is sure to delight visitors of all ages. Soak in the festive atmosphere, savor the flavors of Belgian cuisine, and experience the magic of the holiday season in the vibrant city of Brussels.


Copenhagen, Denmark

Copenhagen, the capital city of Denmark, is renowned for its hygge and Scandinavian charm, which shines brightly during the Christmas season. The city’s Christmas markets add an extra layer of enchantment to the already captivating atmosphere, making it a magical destination for holiday festivities.


One of the most popular and picturesque Christmas markets in Copenhagen is held in Tivoli Gardens, the beloved amusement park located in the heart of the city. During the holiday season, Tivoli Gardens transforms into a winter wonderland with twinkling lights, festive decorations, and a warm and inviting ambiance. The market offers a wide range of stalls selling Christmas decorations, crafts, and Scandinavian specialties.


At the Tivoli Gardens Christmas market, you can indulge in Danish culinary delights, such as æbleskiver, small pancake-like pastries served with powdered sugar and jam, and gløgg, a spiced mulled wine, which warms you from the inside out. Take a leisurely stroll through the park, ride the vintage carousel, and immerse yourself in the joyful atmosphere that fills the air.


Another highlight of Copenhagen’s Christmas market scene is the market at Nyhavn, the iconic waterfront district famous for its colorful buildings. Here, you’ll find stalls selling unique handicrafts, Danish antiques, and a variety of holiday treats. Enjoy a cup of hot chocolate as you stroll along the canal, taking in the festive decorations and the lively ambiance.


For a truly authentic Danish Christmas experience, visit the market in the atmospheric Christianshavn district. This market showcases the local Danish traditions with stalls selling homemade crafts, organic produce, and traditional food items. Here, you can find everything from handmade soaps and candles to local cheeses and baked goods.


Copenhagen’s Christmas markets also embrace the Danish concept of hygge, which refers to creating a cozy and warm atmosphere that fosters a sense of wellbeing. The markets are adorned with twinkling lights, fire pits to keep visitors warm, and plenty of opportunities to enjoy live music performances and traditional Danish folk dances.


As you explore the Christmas markets in Copenhagen, take the time to soak in the city’s overall festive spirit. Be charmed by the historical architecture, marvel at the beautiful Christmas decorations adorning the streets, and immerse yourself in the warm and friendly Danish hospitality.


Copenhagen’s Christmas markets offer a delightful blend of Danish traditions, delectable treats, and a cozy and joyous atmosphere. With their stunning settings and authentic Nordic charm, the markets are sure to create lasting memories and provide a truly magical holiday experience.



The European Christmas markets offer a truly enchanting experience that captures the essence of the holiday season. From the grandeur of Vienna’s Christkindlmarkt to the cozy streets of Copenhagen, each market has its own unique charm and traditions to share.


These markets serve as a celebration of local culture, heritage, and craftsmanship, bringing communities together and creating a sense of joy and togetherness. Whether it’s savoring traditional delicacies, shopping for unique gifts, or simply immersing oneself in the festive ambiance, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.


As you wander through the markets, you’ll be struck by the alluring aromas, the twinkling lights, and the lively music that fills the air. The craftsmanship displayed in the intricately made handicrafts and the attention to detail in the festive decorations are truly remarkable.


Each market offers its own distinctive vibe and attractions. Whether you’re seeking the grandeur of Vienna’s Rathausplatz, the medieval charm of Prague’s Old Town Square, or the hygge-filled streets of Copenhagen, these markets provide an opportunity to create lasting memories.


As you explore the Christmas markets, take the time to embrace the local traditions and immerse yourself in the cultural richness of each destination. Try the traditional foods and beverages, appreciate the unique crafts and decorations, and enjoy the live performances and entertainment that add a special touch to the festive atmosphere.


The European Christmas markets truly embody the spirit of the holiday season. They bring people together to celebrate, indulge, and create lasting memories with loved ones. Whether you’re looking to shop for gifts, sample local delicacies, or simply soak in the magical ambiance, these markets are sure to leave you with a sense of wonder and joy.


So, plan your visit to one or more of these delightful European Christmas markets and experience the magic and warmth that they bring during the most wonderful time of the year.