There’s something special about wrapping up snug and toasting the arrival of Christmas while glugging a warm glass of glühwein. ‘Traditional’ Christmas markets have become incredibly popular in towns and cities across the UK. But for a more authentic experience, there’s no substitute for hopping across the Channel. Grab your mittens and join us on a whistle-stop tour of Europe’s best Christmas markets.
Wiener Christkindlmarkt am Rathausplatz
Vienna | Austria
Vienna has one of the world’s oldest Christmas market traditions, stretching back to 1294. So it’s fitting that it’s also home to the world’s most beautiful Christmas market, held in front of the jaw-dropping City Hall. Twinkling lights dance off the dazzlingly imposing neo-gothic architecture. And it’s not just the eyes that get a treat. International choirs bring the aural merriment, while little revellers can head inside the City Hall for a lesson or two in baking Christmas cookies. Perfect for keeping the kids occupied while you sip vanillekipferl (spiced punch) and soak up the ambience.
Ban Jelačić Christmas Market
Zagreb | Croatia
In the shadow of the beautiful Cathedral of Zagreb lies Ban Jelačić Square, which each year hosts one of the lesser know gems among Europe’s Christmas markets. There’s an open air stage with live music at weekends, the largest Christmas tree you’ve ever seen and a fabulous light display around the fountain. Oh and make sure you don’t miss the food stalls.
Aachen Christmas Market
Aachen | Germany
Aachen’s bakers are famous all across Germany and beyond. There’s a reason for that. They are seriously handy in the kitchen. Where better to tuck in to their decadent delicacies than the Aachen Christmas market? Browse traditional festive trinkets while treating your taste buds to Dominostein (chocolate-covered gingerbread), Spekulatius (spiced shortcrust cookies) and marzipan bread. Is your tummy rumbling yet? Carousel for kids, mulled wine for adults. Ideal.
Markt Christmas Market
Bruges | Belgium
Bruges is one of the prettiest cities in Europe. Don’t believe us? Believe UNESCO, who designated it a World Heritage Site. Head to Markt square for the Christmas market and you will see why. The festive revelry takes places below the 13th century belfry that stands atop an 83m tower. (Climb the narrow steps for an Instagram-worthy snap of the proceedings below.) Nibble on warm, cinnamon-dusted waffles while browsing jewellery, hats and scarves, leather bags and - of course - scrummy Belgian choccies.
Champs de Mars Christmas Village
Paris | France
It’s not every day that you get the chance to ice skate beneath the Eiffel Tower. But that’s all part of the allure of the Christmas Village on the Champs de Mars, where you will find wooden chalets selling local arts and crafts, gourmet food and...Champagne? You bet! This is Paris, after all.