Europe just knows how to do Christmas. There’s something extra magical about spending time close to the holiday season in Europe. From the festive lights to the hand-crafted glass ornaments, the sweet treats and rich mulled wine, we round up the prettiest and most festive Christmas markets to visit in Europe this year that will definitely get you in the spirit.
Rathaus Christmas Market, Vienna, Austria
Vienna is one of the most beautiful cities in the world – especially beautiful during the holiday season. White fairy lights decorate the main streets, trees are decked out in twinkling ornaments and there’s a never-ending supply of hot drinks to be had (the hot chocolate in this city will change your life, we swear). So it makes sense that it also has one of the most famous and beautiful Christmas markets in the world. The most famed market in town is at the main town hall (which is stunning in architecture by itself even before you add extra lights) called Rathaus. The square is packed with stalls and booths filled with handmade trinkets, ornaments and try as hard as you can, but you won’t be able to pass by the stalls with sweet treats, baked, stuffed potatoes, roasted chestnuts and the steaming hot punch (a mix of rum, brandy, spices, tea and sugar).
Marienplatz Christmas Market, Munich, Germany
You can’t get much more festive than spending the holidays in Germany – especially in the heart of Bavaria, where buildings look like gingerbread houses, mulled wine is always on hand, sweet treats are bountiful and you’ll find Christmas markets at nearly every city square. The market in the middle of Munich’s largest and most beautiful square, Marienplatz, is flanked by the intricate town clock (where you can hear the chimes every half hour) and is the perfect, snowy setting for wooden stalls filled with holiday trinkets, fresh and hot pastries, hot wine (flavoured with cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar and orange) and even Bavarian beer.
Old Town Square Christmas Market, Prague, Czech Republic
The Christmas market scene in Prague might be a bit smaller compared to ones you’ll find in Germany and Austria, but its quaintness adds to the charm. Add in the fact that Prague is one of the prettiest cities in Europe and you know that it’s the ideal setting for festiveness. Cups of hot cider and wine are ready for the taking, as are loads of booths selling local meats and sausages. But the one treat you cannot pass on is the sweet, twisted bread-like pastry called Trdelniks, dusted with cinnamon sugar and served piping hot right off the fire. Don’t even worry about the calories when you go back for another round, because you’ll be walking it off going from stall to stall buying hand painted glass ornaments that the Czech city is known for, and wooden toys.
Alexanderplatz Christmas Market, Berlin, Germany
With the harsh, stark architecture and the gritty, arty vibe that Berlin is known and loved for, it might be hard to think that it can have a pretty, festive side. But it most certainly does. Not as over-the-top as the Bavarian, Munich market, it’s more simplistic but just as worthy of a visit. Piping hot mulled wine in take-home mugs is a must, as is a sampling of local German sausages and bags of hot, candied nuts. You’ll also be able to pick up more unique, handmade arts and crafts from local artists.
Tivoli Gardens Christmas Market, Copenhagen, Denmark
Copenhagen’s Tivoli Gardens – an amusement park with rides and a Ferris wheel – is a not-to-be-missed sight in the Danish city anytime of year. But during the holidays? Not matter what the weather, it’s a necessity for anyone who loves the magic of Christmas. Bundle up and head to the market as soon as nightfall hits to catch the pretty lights, smell the sweets being baked and the festive scent of wine infused with a rich blend of spices. Snow covered rooftops on the stalls and choirs singing make it feel more like a fairytale experience than any other Christmas market.