It’s everyone’s favourite time of the year!
Time for drinking hot chocolate by a roaring fireplace, snowy mornings, singing carols, roasted chestnuts, glazed apples, thick sweaters, the scent of ginger and cinnamon, glimmering lights and tall fir trees.
Has that description got you feeling the Christmas spirit yet?
For those of you who spend the rest of the year anxiously anticipating Christmas time to return, you may have already begun planning how you will spend the holiday season. The wonderful thing about this time of year is the absolute plethora of things to do and festivities to partake in! But one of the very best parts about the holiday season has to be the Christmas markets.
Christmas markets truly offer a combination of all the best parts about the holidays, all while giving you the most magical atmosphere to enjoy. Some will argue that the best Christmas markets are in Europe. However, with there being so many Christmas markets in Europe to choose from, it can be hard to know where to start... which is exactly why we have created this guide for you!
Ever wondered which European Christmas markets are worth visiting?
Here is our selection of the top Christmas markets in Europe:
Tivoli Christmas Market, Denmark
Let’s start with Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen, Denmark. Tivoli Gardens stands out with its brightly coloured stalls and its festive decorations twinkling beneath warm, inviting Christmas lights. With more than 500,000 fairy lights illuminating tall, majestic fir trees, the Tivoli Gardens lights up completely and becomes a shimmering, Christmas wonderland. The gardens were turned into a Christmas market starting in 1997. Now, more than a million people visit each year! Besides its dazzling beauty, the Tivoli Gardens is also known for its delicious goodies. Do not miss out on gløgg, otherwise known as mulled wine. Not only is it to die for, but it will heat you right up and make you forget all about that cold weather. And don’t forget about the Æbleskiver, a Danish snack similar to pancakes which is enjoyed with jam and icing sugar. The Christmas cakes, as well, from the Danish patisserie Cakenhagen, are a must have.
Prague Christmas Market, Czech Republic
Prague, with its colourful, fairytale-esque architecture and old-timey charm, is already enchanting enough all year round. Pair this whimsical city with the joy of Christmas markets, and you have yourself a truly irreplaceable, festive experience. Prague’s Christmas market is definitely the market for you if you like the idea of singing Christmas carols and drinking mulled wine while being surrounded by medieval domes, castles and towers looming over you. Stop by the stalls in Staromestské Námestie (the Old Town Square) and Wenceslas Square. These markets have some of the best Christmas trees to marvel at, and beautiful choirs to listen to. The stalls are full of unique trinkets such as hand-blown ornaments, scented candles, ceramics, hats, gloves and more! As for the food, you absolutely must try the classic trdelník, a popular pastry which is covered in cinnamon-sugar. In addition to this there is a glorious selection of pancakes, sausages, hot chocolate, honey wine, and grog (a drink made out of rum, water, lemon and sugar).
Cologne Christmas Market, Germany
The Cologne Christmas Market in Cologne, Germany, is located right before the grand Cologne Cathedral, a striking piece of architecture hovering over the holiday festivities with its perched gargoyles and gothic spires. At night, this makes for a slightly eerie yet very cool ambience for a Christmas market! The market boasts all the best parts of a German Christmas. The warm scents of spiced Gglühwein and cooked bBratwurst waft through the air, pulling in any curious passerby. The stalls are covered in twinkling lights and more than 100 stage performances are held throughout the festival. And as a perk, nearby you can find Hohe Strasse and Schildergasse, where some of Cologne’s best shops are, to get that Christmas gift-shopping done!
Dresden Striezelmarkt, Germany
This wouldn’t be a proper list without including at least one more German Christmas market! After all, Germany is known for its amazing Christmas markets, so there is no way you can include just one. For those that enjoy history, the Dresden Striezelmarkt, located at the Altmarkt Square in Dresden, is the oldest market in Germany. It began all the way back in 1434 as a one-day market. Now, it’s one of the most popular annual Christmas markets in Germany! Don’t miss out on the absolutely irresistible caramelized apples or mulled wine. And definitely keep a lookout for the fruitcakes, which are wrapped and sealed with a picture of the city’s former king, August the Strong. You’ll find yourself enchanted by the Dresden Striezelmarkt for hours- as it has over 240 stalls to look through! Most of these stalls sell local, hand-made products such as pottery and wood carvings. You can also see ‘Santa Clasus’s House’ as well as elf cottages and a puppet theatre! And glimmering over the market and all its treasures, you will see the sparkling lights of a 45-foot-tall Christmas tree. All of this sounds pretty magical, doesn’t it?
Tallinn Christmas Market, Estonia
So all of these markets have sounded cool and everything- but did any of them feature actual Santa Claus arriving in a reindeer-pulled sleigh? Well, the Tallinn Christmas Market in Estonia does!
The Tallinn Market was actually named Best Christmas Market of 2019. In addition to Santa Claus, there is also an unbeatable, beautiful Christmas tree which has actually been displayed in the Town Hall since 1441! This makes it the first Christmas tree to ever be displayed publicly in Europe- pretty cool, huh? 600 years later, the Christmas market is still as popular as ever. To get the full, Estonian Christmas experience, try out the black pudding and sour cabbage! Afterwards, buy yourself a nice hot cup of cocoa, or a hot wine if you prefer, to keep yourself warm while you explore the numerous wooden huts filled with handcrafted wreaths, gingerbread, locally made honey and more! The market also will sometimes put on open-air concerts and dance performances. And last but not least, surrounding the market are dazzling ice sculptures, adding a really unique and decorative touch.
Edinburgh's Christmas Market, Scotland
Often called “Santa Land” by locals who love it, the Edinburgh Christmas Market in Scotland offers a truly charming and joyful atmosphere. The market, which is adjacent to the Scottish National Gallery, transforms into “Santa Land” every winter when suddenly the East Princes St. Gardens becomes a Christmas tree maze with a mini-train ride for children. Enjoy this adorable train ride, or, if you prefer a view from above, hop onto the 108-foot-tall Ferris Wheel! The Edinburgh Christmas Market certainly stands out with its energetic and entertaining features. It’s a perfect place for kids, with lots of performances to enjoy, Christmas-themed projects, ice skating, and even the chance to possibly meet “Santa Claus” and receive a gift!
Those of you with a sweet-tooth will find yourself lured in by the absolutely delectable cinnamon-sugar chimney cakes and cotton candy. If you’re in the mood for shopping, you can find special items such as hand-carved wooden candle holders, handmade Christmas ornaments, or even Harry-Potter themed gifts.
You can’t go wrong when it comes to choosing any of these Christmas markets. They all sound absolutely enchanting and wonderful! And along with these markets, there are still so many more amazing Christmas markets in Europe to explore- it would be impossible to include all of them in one list!
So, will you be adding any of these markets to your holiday bucket list?
If you’re someone who is curious about any of the destinations on this list, and is considering moving abroad, feel free to reach out to a member of our team. We have job vacancies in Europe and are here to help guide you as you plan your journey abroad.