With the holiday season around the corner, we all know what that means: it’s time to make our wish lists! However, we think the best gifts have a story to tell and include travelling to a far-off destination, don’t you? Together with The Travel Corporation we’ve put together this list of the greatest gifts you’ll find at unique Christmas Markets around the world. Whether you consider exploring Christmas markets before or during Christmas, you’ll be sure to find gifts with a story here.
Travellers flock to Croatia during the summer months but did you know Croatia is a Christmas nirvana as well? Zagreb has been voted the best European Christmas Market last year by 180,000 people! This comes as a surprise for some but it actually does snow in Zagreb during winter, making for an idyllic scene as Christmas lights adorn the charming streets. The Jolly Christmas Tram offers rides around town including Santa Claus, Granny Claus, fairies, elves and more. Picking what to bring home from here will be a difficult choice with so many hand-made Croatian gifts and souvenirs but opt for the Licitar and you won’t be disappointed. Licitar are colourfully decorated biscuits made of sweet honey dough and are a traditional symbol of the Croatian capital, Zagreb. The Christmas market will be festooned with thousands of Licitar hearts.
You’ll get a taste of this dynamic capital city with your choice of tours and visit Budapest’s celebrated Christmas market. This festive market showcases the many talents of local Hungarians with displays of glass blowing items, knitting, wood carving, candle making, pottery, leather, traditional Hungarian embroidery, lace work and more. Opt for porcelain while you’re here as the art of Hungarian porcelain making dates back hundreds of years. Herend porcelain is considered the porcelain of royalty which has been used in royal gatherings in Mexico, Austria so you can count on the quality. Travel on a stunning river cruise along the Danube with Uniworld and the Danube Holiday Markets trip this Christmas to experience the real deal.
Zurich holds a Christmas Market (10 to be exact) for every taste and guarantees every visitor will find their favourites. Some may visit the oldest Christmas market in the charming Old Town (Niederdorf) or perhaps the Christkindlimarkt next to the Zurich Main Train Station, near the 49-foot majestic Christmas tree with more than 7,000 crystal ornaments, or even the “Wienachtsdorf” Christmas village on Sechseläutenplatz near Bellevue. Christmas Markets in Zurich are full of locally sourced designer and artisan goods and feature a multicultural range of cuisine. Insight Vacations offers a magical journey, Alpine Christmas Markets, amongst the Swiss alps with a stop in Zurich, offering guests an awe-inducing look at the three-story Christmas tree and time to explore the Christmas market. For the ultimate foodie in your life, be sure to find a Swiss fondue set and some Swiss cheese to go along with it. A true foodie will never say no to Swiss cheese!
Strasbourg is truly magical at Christmas, full of lights, wreaths and beautiful ornaments. They say the Christmas market in Strasbourg has an extra touch of special as it represents a historical time of the past when Germany once ruled the area though the market stills lives and brings families together to celebrate. In total, there are 300 stalls throughout the city and you’ll surely find treasures for anyone on your list this year. At the Christmas market at Place Broglie, you’ll find traditional Alsatian Christmas decorations so add these to your shopping list to represent a truly unique region when you return back home. There’s also Nut’Alsace, similar to Nutella! Don’t miss an incredible trip with Trafalgar, Enchanting France, stopping at this gorgeous Christmas Market.
Found in the Constitution Square in bustling Bucharest, also named “Little Paris”, this Christmas market offers many attractions for both children and adults, making it a perfect place to visit as a family holiday vacation. Traditional music concerts are an important part of Christmas in Romania with choirs of children filling the stands and they even go to door-to-door to surprise neighbours with beautiful carols. Handmade traditional Romanian jewellery can be found throughout the market, called “zgardan.” Women in Romania use zgardans to adorn themselves for special occasions and the pieces are made of beads sewn on a thin strip of cloth with elaborate patterns. Except to pay between $5 to $25 to surprise someone at home with a beautiful traditional Romanian piece.
Krakow becomes a beautiful wonderland in the winter as travellers explore the historic streets lined with snow-covered homes. Located on the Main Market Square in the Old Town’s center, Krakow’s Christmas Markets offers traditional treats, gifts and more, bringing the city’s ambiance to a new level. What to bring back home? The Polish Ministry of Culture has designated the Kaszubka dolls as Poland’s national item. You’ll find these little creations dressed in colourful folk clothes and handmade by the locals. Contiki offers a winter escape, Eastern Trails, stopping in Krakow where you can take some time to visit the charming Christmas markets and even experience the Nativity Crib contest, where locals who have spent months creating their art displays have their pieces shown under one of Krakow’s most famous monuments near the market stalls. The winners are shown in Krakow’s Historical Museum.
As one of the world’s oldest Advent markets dating back to the fifteenth century, visiting Salzburg during Christmas will mark a truly special occasion. You’ll find around 100 traditional stands as you stroll through and warm up with a classic cup of Glühwein, treat on Kletzenbrot, traditional Austrian bread with fruit and marvel at the many handicrafts the stalls have to offer. As a gift grounded in history and a real story, grab some Mozart Balls. Wrapped in foil, these traditional Austrian sweets feature the famous composer’s face and contain a marzipan centre covered in chocolate. Travel with Trafalgar to discover the best of Europe’s Christmas markets on a festive tour, Christmas Markets of Austria, Germany and Switzerland, and don’t forget the Mozart Balls!