Five Alternative European Christmas Markets
The traditional Christmas market originated in Dresden as far back as 1434, but Christmas markets can now be found across Europe, collectively attracting millions of visitors each year. With sparkling Christmas lights adorning snowy trees, aromas of chestnuts roasting on open fires, and traditional mulled wine warming you down to your toes, Europe’s Christmas markets are guaranteed to leave you feeling festive.
Selling everything from handmade wooden toys to traditional local cuisine here’s our pick of the most magical European markets to visit this winter.
Nuremberg Old Town is transformed into a Christmas city, where fresh greenery and sweet gingerbread hearts decorate the stalls. Here you’ll find traditional handmade wooden Christmas decorations and the famous Zwetschgenmännle prune men. And of course, it wouldn’t be a German Christmas market without mulled wine and roasted sugared almonds.
Several town squares around the UNESCO World Heritage site of Strasbourg host Christmas markets, each with their own unique characteristics. The oldest and best-known Christkindelsmärik in Place Brogile, features over 300 wooden chalets. Browse beautifully decorated Christmas stalls brimming with handmade decorations, local delicacies, and Alsatian fare. For an even more magical experience, take a short stroll over to Place Kléber, where you’ll find the square illuminated by the city’s iconic 30-metre-tall Christmas tree.
Prague, Czech Republic
For five weeks of the year, Prague’s iconic Old Town Square transforms into a magical Winter Wonderland. A celebration of traditional Czech culture and handicrafts, you can browse stalls stocked with embroidered lace, wooden toys, Christmas ornaments, and traditional puppets and dolls. When hunger strikes, there’s plenty of classic Czech foods to indulge in; roasted hams, klobása(barbecue sausages) and the hot sugar-coated chimney cake known as Trdelnik.
In the centre of Krakow’s Old Town, the Main Market Square is filled with wooden stalls offering Bolesławiec Pottery, traditionalSzopkas (nativity icons) and fresh mistletoe. Foodies can’t miss out on oscypek (a traditional Polish smoked cheese made from sheep milk), topped with jam. For a truly unique Christmas experience, take a short walk to the Church of St. Francis of Assisi, where you can watch a live nativity scene and be entertained by bands and carollers.
Vienna has over twenty official Advent Markets across the city, but no setting is more beautiful for a Christmas market than Vienna’s Schonbrunn Palace. The tempting aromas of warm punch and freshly baked Vanillekipferl (crescent biscuits) fill the air around this neoclassical palace – the perfect place to sample hearty Austrian delights.