Christmas lovers, rejoice! Europe is the perfect setting for Christmas markets you’ll never forget.
Christmas is a magical time, one that many holiday lovers wish would last all year. But alas, it comes once, and you better make the most of it.
Europe is teeming with majestic Christmas markets, and we’ve got the scoop on which ones are worth the trip. Here are the most beautiful Christmas markets in Europe, all for the sake of your seasonal bliss.
Advent Feast at the Basilica – Budapest, Hungary
According to European Best Destinations voters, Advent Feast at the Basilica is hands down the most beautiful Christmas market in all of Europe. From November 22 to January 1, this Budapest-based event takes place amidst Hungary’s largest church. Dance shows on the weekends, a skating rink, hundreds of vendors and traditional Hungarian soups are just some of the delicacies you’ll find here. Come evening time, Europe’s largest 3D light show attracts locals and travelers alike. To top it all off, charity opportunities and eco-friendly intricacies bring this event to the next level.
Christkindlmarkt – Salzburg, Austria
When it comes to Christmas, tradition carries weight. With Christkindlmarkt dating back to the 15th century, it’s one of Europe’s oldest Christmas markets. Back then, Salzburg’s elders slung decorated goods in front of the cathedral. Nowadays, you’ll find a lot more at this quaint gathering, not the least of which are cozy winter clothing items, spiced treats and savory Austrian flavors. Lights illuminate the event, which takes place November 21 to December 26 between cathedral walls.
Magic Christmas – Colmar, France
From November 22 to December 9, the small Northeastern French town of Colmar hosts a Christmas market to remember. Timber houses make this locale a year-round romance, but with wintertime comes more. An ice-skating rink, century-old carriage, lights and more accentuate the old town’s pedestrian walkways. There’s even a market meant solely for the youngsters, with kid-friendly stalls and activities that’ll bring joy to your family. Canal rides and carolers bring the experience full circle.
Tallinn Christmas Market – Tallinn, Estonia
Estonia is often a forgotten destination, but this nation is a magical place—especially come Christmas time. For nearly two months from November 15 to January 7, Tallinn evokes wintery glee by having Santa ride through town in his reindeer-drawn sleigh. A Whoville-esque Christmas tree stands right in front of the town hall, just as it has done since the early days of 1441. Every guest finds themselves enthralled by seasonal Estonian fare, and for good reason; gingerbread, Christmas tea and black pudding are just some of the delicacies you can taste.
Christmas Markets – Prague, Czech Republic
Why have only one Christmas market when you can have a handful? Prague features a freckling of Christmas markets throughout the city, with some of the most noteworthy being the festive Wenceslas Square (November 30 to January 6) and Prague Caste (November 25 to December 24). Small neighborhood gatherings accentuate large hubs set amidst centuries-old architecture. Wooden chalets sell local and handmade goods, from food to crafts and everywhere in between.
Advent in Zagreb – Zagreb, Croatia
A big name in the Christmas market world, Zagreb’s Advent festival runs from November 30 to January 7. Practically the entire town transforms into a Christmas affair, with Ice Park, the Main Square, Zrinjevac and more all joining in on the fun. Spiced hot chocolate, sweetened almonds, and handmade scarves are just some of the niceties you’ll uncover. Concerts in the evening bring everyone together. Wherever you are in Zagreb, the magic of Christmas has a way of finding you.
Piazza Duomo Market – Milan, Italy
Gothic architecture serves as the foundation of this festive scene, making Piazza Duomo Market a perfect fit for the Christmas market genre. From December to January, Milan keeps things cute and quaint, with long rows of small wooden boxes selling handcrafted goods and homemade Italian cuisine. If you’re in Milan for the season, you can visit one of their many other Milano markets to make the most of your trip.
Winter Wonders and Christmas Market – Brussels, Belgium
From November 29 to January 5, Brussels transforms itself into something of the cinema. At the annual Christmas market, indoor and outdoor activities like a Zumba Flash Mob, artist exhibitions and light shows give you and your loved ones the feeling of fullness. Brussels by Lights is a shopping street that’s decked the halls to the fullest extent. Whether eating, shopping or just being merry with your friends, this European Christmas Market is quite the fairytale.
Cologne Christmas Market – Cologne, Germany
The people of Cologne believe that Christmas is a precious time meant for loved ones, which is why their market runs from November 25 to two days before Christmas, December 23. German to the core, this market is home to lights aplenty and crafts galore. Stage acts singing Christmas music for every taste, bratwurst cooked by the hands of locals and shopping at Schildergasse are just a few ways you can stay busy. 150 wooden pavilions bring a bustling sense of community to Cologne’s Christmas market at the cathedral.
Winter Solstice Celebrations – Riga, Latvia
Come November 30, Riga becomes one with the magic of Christmas until well into the new year. Christmas markets bring action to the city center, with the fair in Doma Iaukums offering up a wholly authentic experience. Meanwhile, Esplenade Park is a dapper attraction thanks to its tiny village of rabbits. Whatever type of gift you’re after—wool socks, wooden toys and jewelry being some of our faves—you’re bound to find something for everyone on your list in Latvia’s capital. When the hunger hits, sausages with sauerkraut and homemade gingerbread cookies bring joy to every visitor.
A Holly, Jolly European Time
There are plenty of reasons to venture to Europe. With its buzzing fashion, varied languages and postcard-worthy landscapes, it’s no wonder this continent claims half of the world’s global tourism each year. Come December, Christmas marks yet another reason to explore the land.
Head to one of the most beautiful Christmas markets in Europe this year and you’ll know why.