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Top Weihnachtsmärkte in Europa

Gingerbread, mulled wine, and twinkling lights can only mean one thing—the start of Europe’s Christmas market season.
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Alicia is a writer, video creator, and content manager based in Cambridge, UK. She has 10+ years of experience creating content for a diverse range of travel, food, and lifestyle clients including, Lonely Planet, Red Bull, Skyscanner, The Guardian, and Time Out. She’s happiest when exploring Japan, hiking in the Polish mountains, and testing out new recipes she’s collected during her travels.

In a tradition that dates back to the 12th century, Christmas markets (also known as Christkindlmärkte or Weihnachtsmärkte) pop up in destinations around Europe and city centers are transformed into magical winter wonderlands. Think: giant Christmas trees, live entertainment, and wooden cabins selling hearty local cuisine, gifts, and handmade crafts. Here are our picks for the best Christmas markets in Europe.

Berlin, Germany

Visitors shop at a Christmas market in Berlin.
Gendarmenmarkt in Berlin is one of Europe's top Christmas destinations.Bildquelle: Sina Ettmer Photography / Shutterstock

Berlin takes top spot as one of the most popular places for a European Christmas.

Berlin sometimes has more than 80 Christmas markets scattered all over the city, so it’s the perfect place to tick off multiple markets on the same trip. Highlights include the market at Potsdamer Platz, ideal for kids and thrillseekers thanks to winter sports such as tobogganing; Gendarmenmarkt, the place for gourmet food and hand-crafted artisan goods; and the Kollwitzplatz market, an environmentally-friendly option held on the four Sundays of Advent with recycled, sustainable, and organic goods.

Wroclaw, Poland

A visitor enjoys a sweet treat at the Wroclaw Christmas Market.
Don't miss the sweet treats on offer at Wroclaw Christmas Market.Bildquelle: Masson / Shutterstock

Poland's Christmas markets have some of the continent's best food.

With its magical Old Town setting, Wroclaw Christmas Market is one of Poland’s most atmospheric. The Market Square has rides, an animatronic fairy-tale forest, hand-painted baubles, and food stalls selling tempting local specialties such as placki ziemniaczane (crispy fried potato pancakes), oscypek (smoked Polish mountain cheese), and bigos (hearty sauerkraut and sausage stew).

Insider tip: While in Wroclaw, also look out for its famous mascots—the tiny gnome statues. There are more than 400 around the city, including a biker gnome, a gardener gnome, and even a gnome doing his laundry.

Copenhagen, Denmark

Exterior of Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen.
Tivoli Gardens puts on one spectacular show at Christmas.Bildquelle: yuliya ivanenko / Shutterstock

Nothing says Christmas quite like a historic amusement park.

Copenhagen is home to multiple markets—including the Nyhavn Christmas Market at the harbor and the Hans Christian Andersen Christmas Market at Nytorv—but the real star of the show is Tivoli Gardens. This magical amusement park (which allegedly inspired Walt Disney to create Disneyland® Park) has been open since 1843 but it really comes to life over the festive period. Expect more than 1 million fairy lights and more than 1,000 Christmas trees, as well as rides, parades, and festive souvenirs.

Tallinn, Estonia

Visitors shop at the Tallinn Christmas market in Estonia.
Tallinn, Estonia is worth visiting for the Christmas markets alone.Bildquelle: snowflakediana / Shutterstock

Brave the Estonian winter for these fantastic Christmas markets.

Tallinn’s UNESCO–listed medieval center’s Christmas market is a great choice for high-quality artisan handicrafts, such as hand-knitted hats, felt slippers, and wooden carvings. As well as great shopping, there’s also a particularly impressive performance schedule with dancers, brass bands, bell ringers, and Santa arriving on a sleigh pulled by real reindeers. Be sure to try Vana Tallinn Glögi, too—red wine mixed with Vana Tallinn, a famous local spirit made with vanilla, citrus, and rum.

Did you know?: It’s believed Tallinn was the home of Europe’s first ever Christmas tree and the tradition of erecting one in front of Tallinn’s Town Hall dates back to 1441.

Nuremberg, Germany

Visitors shop at the Nuremberg Christmas market.
Nuremberg is home to one of the oldest Christmas markets in Europe.Bildquelle: Perati Komson / Shutterstock

Historic Nuremberg's Christmas markets are among the best in Europe.

If Berlin’s myriad markets are too many to choose from, then make for the beautiful city of Nuremberg instead. Its Christkindlesmarkt dates back to 1628 and takes place on the Main Market Square. There’s also a Children’s Market with a steam railway, merry-go-round, and Ferris wheel. While in the city, be sure to try the Nuremberg bratwurst, the city’s famous mini sausages with over 700 years of history and protected EU status.

Vienna, Austria

Exterior of the St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna.
St. Stephen's Cathedral makes for a striking Christmas market backdrop.Bildquelle: Ondrej Bucek / Shutterstock

Combine Christmas markets with classical music in Vienna.

There are over 10 different markets to choose from in Vienna, most of which are set on pretty squares near grand palaces and beautiful monuments. If you’re a foodie, the Advent Pleasure Market at the Vienna State Opera has gourmet specialties such as meat, cheese, and wine from regional producers. There’s also the Christmas Market on Stephansplatz, which boasts a stunning backdrop of St. Stephen’s Cathedral. To keep the kids happy though, head to the Winter Market on Riesenradplatz, which has children’s rides and live performances.

Prague, Czech Republic

Christmas decorations in Prague.
Prague doesn't hold back when it comes to Christmas decorations.Bildquelle: Balate Dorin / Shutterstock

A classic for the holidays, Prague never fails to deliver Christmas cheer.

Prague’s stunning Old Town with its Gothic architecture makes the perfect backdrop for a fairy-tale Christmas market. Take a romantic stroll down its cobblestone alleyways and courtyards while sipping grog, a local drink made of rum, lemon, sugar, and water, and sampling langos (flatbread with garlic, cheese, and ketchup) or klobásy (barbecued sausages). The local crafts are especially great here—look out for lace embroidery, hand-blown baubles, wooden toys, and beautiful ceramics.

Insider tip: Don’t miss the nativity scene in Wenceslas Square, which has a petting zoo of sheep, goats, and donkeys.

Strasbourg, France

Visitors shop at a Christmas market in Strasbourg.
Shoppers browse the festive stalls at a Christmas market in Strasbourg.Bildquelle: Kiev.Victor / Shutterstock

Enjoy a French take on traditional European Christmas markets.

Set in the Alsace region of France, Strasbourg is one of Europe’s oldest Christmas markets, dating all the way back to 1570. The main market is set around Cathedral Square with hundreds of stands selling food, arts, crafts, and toys. A highlight is the Christkindelsmärik, where local artisans demonstrate their skills and sell one-of-a-kind handmade goods, although food fans may prefer the market at Place des Meuniers where small food producers showcase delicious Alsatian specialties.

Zagreb, Croatia

Visitors shop at a Christmas market in Zagreb.
Zagreb Christmas markets will have you rushing back to the Croatian city.Bildquelle: Ladanivskyy Oleksandr / Shutterstock

Croatia is a surprisingly good Christmas destination.

Consistently voted Europe’s best Christmas market, Zagreb has it all—live music, illuminations, great shopping, delicious food, and even a Santa who drives a “Merry Christmas tram” around the city. Go ice skating at King Tomislav Square, try food by top chefs at Fuliranje, and explore the wooden huts selling festive arts and crafts at Ban Jelačić Square. Then, take a stroll through the picturesque lantern-lit Zrinjevac Park and be sure to sample Medenjaci, delicious Croatian honey cookies.

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