Winter is upon us! You can start waiting for the first snow, which is bound to come any minute now. And while you’re waiting for it, start planning your Christmas market visits. After all, they’re probably the best place to get into the season’s cheer – and probably the best idea for a winter city break in Europe. That’s why we made this handy list of European Christmas Markets to visit in 2019!
17. Vienna, Austria
November 15 – December 26, 2019
Vienna is a great stop for those looking for a Christmas market since it has plenty of those. Rathausplatz, Belvedere, Resselpark are some of the biggest Vienna Christmas markets – smaller ones exist as well, like Spitalgasse. But wherever you go, you can expect expertly made sweets, mulled wine, punch and traditional Christmas gifts. You may even find rides from time to time! And if you’d like to see fewer tourists, Salzburg has many squares that host many a Christmas market. It’s Christmas market traditions date back to the 15th century!
16. Cologne, Germany
November 25 – December 23, 2019
Yes, Cologne’s Christmas market is actually called “the Cathedral X-mas Market.” This year, 150 wooden pavilions will line up in front of the city’s amazing Cathedral (the construction which has lasted for 600 years and may have led to the invention of the world’s first NGO). You can also enjoy the sight of (meaning: take Instagram pictures in front of) the biggest Christmas tree in all of Rhineland. Buy yourself some wood carvings (maybe there are some depicting the Panther tank that was famously destroyed at the foot of the cathedral), glass balls, soaps and all sorts of local Christmas treats.
15. Prague, Czech Republic
November 30, 2019 – January 6, 2020
Prague boasts one of the best Old Towns in Europe. I would know, I’ve seen it! Naturally, the Prague Christmas market is hosted in the Old Town Square, a.k.a. the one square that is always swamped by tourists. Bracketed by Church of Our Lady before Týn (named so after Týn Courtyard) and the Old Town Hall (named so for being old), it hosts a special Christmas tree accompanied by a special light and music show. You can also visit the market at the Wenceslas Square – that place sells gifts and souvenirs even outside the Christmas season, so it gets even more extreme before the big holidays.
14. London, UK
November 1, 2019 – January 5, 2020
Brexit and/or the seas have yet to open up and swallow England whole, so why not visit the Winter Wonderland in London’s Hyde Park while you still can? Quite new as far as these things go – it was only launched in 2007 – it offers the largest outdoor skating rink in the UK as well as multiple Christmas markets to get your spirit of the season on. It’s free to enter, features about 100 rides and attractions (including the world’s largest portable observation wheel) and more. There’s even an imitation German area if you’re not feeling like visiting one of the millions of Christmas markets in Germany! How’s that for a family Christmas event?
13. Bratislava, Slovakia
November 22 – December 22, 2019
If you’re touring Europe looking for a Christmas market, why not try the Hlavné Námestie (literally “Main Square”), which hosts the main Christmas market in the heart of Bratislava’s Old Town? You can head up the Old Town Hall Tower to catch a bird’s eye view of the celebrations, or stay at ground level and enjoy all the Christmas treats and gifts that you can usually expect at such a market. Try the dense and salty lokša pancake, sample some goose (yes, that’s poultry) and sip some mead.
12. Tallinn, Estonia
November 15, 2019 – January 11, 2020
Tallinn Christmas market 2019 starts early – in fact, it has already started! From Christmas sausages to Christmas sauerkraut, there’ll be plenty of stuff to eat. There will be enough things to appease your sweet tooth as well. There will be gingerbread, sugary sweets, and mini pancakes, oh my! The market will feature a lot of traditional goods – including ceramics manufactured with 300 years of traditions behind them. Online sources claim that a lot of people will be heading to Tallinn come Christmas, so make your reservation soon.
11. Dresden, Germany
November 27 – December 24, 2019
Striezelmarkt may be the first real Christmas market, in that it was first hosted in 1434 to sell meat to Dresdeners going off fast before Christmas. Thus it has over 580 years of traditions behind it. Named after Stollen cakes (as it is claimed that true Dresden Stollen is only made in the city and bears a special seal), it now hosts 240 stalls selling a variety of season’s goodies. There are a lot of attractions as well, such as the world’s highest Christmas arch and the Erzgebirge Christmas pyramid.
10. Basel, Switzerland
November 28 – December 23, 2019
Running just until Christmas, Basler Weihnachtsmarkt – Basel Christmas Market – is one of the prettiest Christmas markets in Europe and certainly one of the best in Switzerland. It’s actually sprawled out into two sites that host 160 traders and craftsmen. Barfüsserplatz and Münsterplatz will greet you with wooden toys, traditional treats, and music. And if that’s not enough, you can visit Rheingasse to see a famous neighborhood Christmas market.
9. Gothenburg, Sweden
November 15 – December 30, 2019
Gothenburg amusement park operates throughout the year, but when Christmas time rolls around, it turns into Liseberg Christmas Market. It’s the largest one in Sweden, hosting five million Christmas lights, 700 Christmas trees, and more Christmas activities than you can shake a stick at. See “The Christmas Carol” recreated on ice, visit the medieval village to witness a mock battle (I’m sure it’s filled with season’s cheer) and buy traditional crafts and food.
8. Munich, Germany
November 27 – December 24, 2019
Christkindlmarkt has a history dating back to 1310, making it the oldest Christmas market in Munich and certainly one of the oldest in the world. Marienplatz, the place where it, uh, takes place, is only 200 years older! Around 140 stalls cater to around 3 million visitors a year. If that’s too crowded for your tastes, you can try the stalls in Neuhauser Straße and Kaufingerstraße or just root around the city for smaller markets. For example, they have an entire market dedicated to nativity scenes, called “the Munich Manger Market.” Oh, and don’t forget the Krampus Run – where else will you see a bunch of devils competing in a race in a Christmas market in 2019?
7. Helsinki, Finland
December 6 – December 22, 2019 (closed on Mondays)
The Finns start “pikkujoulu” – “little Christmas” – parties in early December, and Christmas markets just add to the cheer. The one in Helsinki is probably the largest. Located in Senate Square, it can offer every Christmassy thing that your heart desires. Hand-made gifts, Christmas ornaments, locally grown food (and fish, don’t forget the fish) make it all very Finnish. And who wouldn’t want a Christmas gift from Finland? There’s also Aleksanterinkatu, the city’s official Christmas street, which enjoyed this status since 1949. And if you don’t like Helsinki that much, you can always visit the market in the “small medieval city” of Porvoo.
6. Rome, Italy
December 8, 2019 – January 6, 2020
Seeing how Rome hosts the Vatican, a site of some importance to Catholics and whatnot, it would be amiss to not mention at least one Christmas market situated in the ol’ eternal city. Christmas and Epiphany Market – named so as it ends at Epiphany, meaning January 6th or so – is one of the biggest Christmas markets in the country. Piazza Navona is impressive on any regular day, yet its transformation into a Christmas Market is nothing short of breath-taking.
5. Copenhagen, Denmark
November 16, 2019 – January 5, 2020
The Dane is no more opposed to the Christmas cheer than you are, and that’s why they head to Tivoli Gardens Christmas Market to get their fill of cheer. The second-oldest amusement park in the world offers you all of the rides, yet with a Christmas twist. Wooden houses decorated with pine branches, snow-covered trees, and about 70,000 Christmas toys will whip up an atmosphere you won’t soon forget. 60 stalls will sell everything from food and drinks to knitted and leather goods. You will have to pay an entrance fee, though.
4. Berlin, Germany
November 25 – December 30, 2019
Berlin Christmas market isn’t a solitary thing; the German passion for Christmas markets dictates that there would be over 70 of them spread all over the city. Probably the most famous one takes place in the Gendarmenmarkt Square, named after the cuirassier regiment that was stabled there. See jugglers and fire eaters perform against the backdrop of the famous French and German Churches, mistake the noble German paper-folding art of origami, and get some mulled wine. If there’s one thing you can gather from this article is that people love their mulled wine.
3. Budapest, Hungary
November 8, 2019 – January 5, 2020
If you’re looking for things to do in Budapest for Christmas, make sure to swing by Vorosmarty Christmas Market. Located in the square of the same name (Vorosmarty, not Christmas), it’s a delightful assembly of wooden stalls, chimney cakes, sausages, potato dumplings and mulled wine. Of course, you can expect to see all of the traditional arts and crafts – there will be more than 100 stalls to visit. You can also expect to hear musical performances during the day and see a light show in the evening.
2. Krakow, Poland
November 29, 2019 – January 7, 2020
Repeat after me: wooden stalls, middle of the Old Town, a historic square. Yes, that’s how the Christmas Market 2019 in Krakow looks as well. You will witness live performances and listen to appropriate music, all while you wander around 80 stalls laden with traditional crafts and Polish food. You should also notice the Krakow Christmas Crib Contest, which features competing nativity scenes up to 2 meters tall!
1. Strasbourg, France
November 22 – December 30, 2019
When Strasbourg goes Christmas, it goes hard. Strasbourg Christmas Market goes back to 1570, which means it has a lot of tradition to uphold! 300 – yes, 300 – wooden stalls have been set up around the Great Christmas Tree and kilometers of Christmas lights were spread around as if by some electrical wiring-spewing spider. You will see shows for kids, an ice skating rink, beautifully lit riverside, go on a Nativity Scene Tour and maybe even shop at the OFF-Market, which is dedicated to reusing. You’ll be able to enjoy the Alsatian take on mulled wine (spoiler alert: it’s white), and munch on the bridle, the traditional Christmas cookies. Oh, and there’s the city itself!
As you can see, Europe is jam-packed with Christmas markets you could visit. We can’t even list all of them, choosing only the biggest and the best. And they all go on for a long time, so it’s hard to miss them. However, flight disruptions can still darken the cheer – nobody wants to be stuck at an airport when they’re supposed to be stuffing themselves with stollen, baked apples and other wonders of traditional Christmas cuisine. Instead of griping about your situation, why not claim flight compensation? Delayed flights, canceled flights, overbooking – you can claim up to €600 for these terrible inconveniences! Visit our flight delay compensation calculator and learn how much you can get for your disrupted flight. Afterward, you should just relax and try getting into that Christmas mood – that’s why you’re going to those markets, right?