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One of our favorite things to do in winter is to visit Europe’s Christmas markets.

Picture the following: twinkling lights, the sweet aroma of mulled wine, and the joyful sound of live music filling the crisp winter air.

This isn’t a holiday fantasy. It’s the fascinating reality of every Christmas market on the Old Continent.

Every year, as the holiday season approaches, towns and cities across Europe transform into magical winter wonderlands, hosting markets that abound in tradition and brim with holiday cheer.

In these markets, every nook and cranny tells a story. Every stall holds a treasure. And every bite and sip offers a taste of local holiday spirit.

Whether you’re an expert market-goer or you’re planning your first festive foray, in this article, we’ve prepared the top 5 European Christmas markets that should be on your travel list this holiday season.

Wrap yourself in a scarf, grab a cup of warm Glühwein, and journey through the heart of Europe’s Christmas festivities.

Let’s dive in:

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1. Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt, Germany

Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt, Germany

Set in the historical backdrop of Nuremberg’s Old Town, this market is a festive journey into tradition.

Known for its opening ceremony led by the ‘Christkind’, it’s a place where the air is filled with the aroma of Nuremberg’s famous Lebkuchen (gingerbread) and mulled wine.

Here, you can wander among stalls adorned with handmade gifts, including the unique “Nuremberg Plum People” – one of our favorite sweet treats.

Amidst the melodies of Christmas carols, Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt offers a cozy, traditional German Christmas experience, complete with quaint crafts and culinary delights.

2. Strasbourg Christmas Market, France

Strasbourg Christmas Market, France

Since Strasbourg sits on the border of France and Germany, it combines French elegance with German traditions in its well-known market. That’s why it’s no wonder it’s known as the “Capital of Christmas”.

With its cobblestone streets and timbered houses, the city offers a picturesque setting, especially in the cold winter months.

The illuminated Grande Île, the historic center, and the iconic towering Christmas tree enchant both locals and tourists alike, including Svet who visited Strasbourg a few years ago.

The market is a treasure trove of unique Alsatian decorations, delectable mulled wine, and savory treats like tarte flambée.

The Strasbourg Christmas Market is a festive experience that seamlessly blends the charm of a French Christmas with a touch of German heritage.

3. Viennese Dream Christmas Market, Austria

Viennese Dream Christmas Market, Austria

Vienna transforms into a Christmas Dream with its markets set against imperial backdrops like the Rathausplatz.

Festive lights and decorations accentuate the city’s elegant architecture, which creates a sophisticated yet warm holiday atmosphere.

At the Viennese Deam Christmas Market, we highly recommend watching the classical Christmas concerts, indulging in traditional Austrian sweets like Sachertorte, and exploring artisanal crafts.

The blend of Vienna’s historic charm and the joyous spirit of the season makes Austria’s enchanting Christmas markets a must-visit destination if you’re seeking a refined Christmas market experience.

4. Prague Christmas Markets, Czech Republic

Prague Christmas Market, Czech Republic

Set in the fascinating Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square, discovering the Prague Christmas markets is like stepping into a medieval fairytale.

The enchanting blend of Gothic and Baroque architecture creates a gorgeous city backdrop, illuminated by twinkling lights.

The Christmas markets in Prague will entice you with their wooden toys, intricate ornaments, and handcrafted Bohemian glass.

While strolling around, don’t miss a chance to try traditional Czech treats like Trdelník (a mouthwatering spiral pastry), honey-wine Medovina, or hot mulled wine.

When you grab the treats, we suggest you stop for a second and marvel at the cozy, old-world charm that Prague is celebrated for during the Christmas season.

5. Tallinn Christmas Market, Estonia

Tallinn Christmas Market, Estonia

Nestled in the heart of its medieval Old Town, the Tallinn Christmas Market is a hidden gem in the Baltic region.

Thousands of visitors flock to the market known for being the first European city to put a Christmas tree on display. Other eye-catching attractions are the quaint wooden huts that dot the market.

We recommend trying delicious local delicacies like gingerbread and black pudding. When you feel your tummy with goodies, try on a few handmade woolen hats and complete them with amber jewelry.

The market might be small and intimate, but it’s nonetheless enchanting. Couple that with Tallinn’s gorgeous charm, and you’ll see why the market is a captivating Christmas destination.

Pack a scarf and a warm jacket as it snows quite often during the winter months in the Estonian capital.

Tips for Visiting European Christmas Markets

European Christmas Market - Toys

Below, we’ve curated a list of our best tips to visit Europe’s most beautiful Christmas markets, so you can have a magical experience.

Best Times to Visit

You can best experience the charm of Christmas markets in the early evenings when the lights turn on. This creates a heartwarming ambiance. Weekdays are usually less crowded than weekends.

Navigating the Markets

  • Language: While many locals speak English at these markets, learning a few local phrases can improve your experience.
  • Payment Options: Most vendors accept cash and some may take credit cards. Carrying small denominations of local currency is handy for quick purchases.

Accommodation and Travel

We highly recommend booking your accommodations as early as possible as places fill up quickly during the holiday season.

Consider staying in central locations for easy access to the markets.

Public transport is typically reliable in European cities, but double-check the schedules for any holiday changes.

The Best 5 Christmas European Markets in 2023 – Nuremberg, Strasbourg, Vienna, Prague, and Tallinn

European Christmas Market - Kids with Mum

This wraps up our article with the top 5 Christmas European markets this season.

Each city offers a unique blend of culture, tradition, and holiday magic.

From the historical charm of Nuremberg through the royal ambiance of Vienna to the fairytale-like streets of Tallinn, these markets are not just shopping destinations. They’re your best way to experience the heart and soul of European Christmas.

Whether it’s the food, the crafts, the music, or the atmosphere, these 5 markets epitomize the spirit of the season and are a must-visit if you’d like to immerse yourself in the holiday joy.

Now, we’re curious:

Have you visited any of these Christmas markets or do you have others to recommend?

Share your experiences and travel plans in the comments below.

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Svet

Svet has lived on three continents. He graduated from his Master’s in Belgium, did a Work & Travel program in the USA, and in 2015, spent several months working, traveling, and exploring the Chinese culture. As a result, he found how challenging yet fun it is for a Westerner to live in China. Fun fact: Svet loves doing push-ups in public places and has a crush on tractors.

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