Europe is home to the world’s oldest traditional Christmas markets. Why not venture abroad and experience European traditions? These Christmas markets will put you in a festive mood!
1. Nuremberg, Germany
The Christmas Market in Nuremberg dates back over 400 years. Nothing beats the feeling of walking around a Christmas market in Nuremberg. You can find gorgeous Christmas decorations and traditional toys here. Definitely try the city’s famous Nuremberg Lebkuchen (gingerbread), mulled wine (buy the souvenir mug – it’s worth the few extra $), sweet roasted almonds, and Rostbratwurst (sausages). The historic stagecoach takes about 10 minutes to tour around the market. Its a nostalgic way to see this city while all tucked up with warm blankets.
Where: Hauptmarkt, the central square
2. Colmar, France
The city feels like it was pulled straight from the 16th century. The fairy-tale setting of the old town is even more magical at Christmas. The whole town is decorated like in a dream. The old town of Colmar hosts 5 magical Christmas markets. Another big reason to visit Colmar is the incredible food options throughout the city. There are lots wooden stalls are dedicated to local produce, such as foie gras, Christmas sweets, and Alsatian wines.
Where: the old town
3. Prague, Czech Republic
The city has 2 main Christmas markets and you can visit both of them in one day. You can hang around for the main tree to be lit up on Old Town Square and then walk to Wenceslas Square (as in Old King Wenceslas). They are about 5 minutes’ walk from each other. If you are looking for great holiday destinations with beautiful Christmas markets to soak in the festive mood, you have to visit the Prague Old Town Square in December.
Where: Wenceslas Square
4. Strasbourg, France
This city has been running Christmas market since the 16th century. There are around 11 locations with 300 stalls today. A visit to La Petite France and a gingerbread bakery is a must.
Where: Various around Strasbourg
5. Zagreb, Croatia
Zagreb was voted Best European Christmas Market in 2015 and 2016. It offers a special atmosphere which simply must be experienced by yourself. Christmas market in Zagreb have traditional look and it’s spread out in numerous locations. Here you can enjoy Live Nativity Scene near the Cathedral. Zrinjevac offers food and drink stands to warm you up during the cold winter days. If you like ice-skating, you can stop at King Tomislav Park. The Ice Park is very nice, offering fun for all ages.
Where: Various around Zagreb
6. Cologne, Germany
Cologne hosts a number of Christmas markets throughout the city. Each has its own special atmosphere and its own program. The biggest one is at Cologne Cathedral. The best way to explore the Christmas markets is by foot. You can also ride on the Christmas-Market-Express train visit the various Christmas Markets directly.
Where: Cologne Cathedral
7. Brussels, Belgium
The Brussels Christmas market expands from the Grand Place until Place St. Catherine. It was pretty cold in December here. The two markets were within walking distance of each other. It includes a Ferris wheel, a huge Christmas tree, an ice-skating rink and the Christmas market with over 200 stands.
Where: Grand Place and Place Sainte-Catherine
8. Aachen, Germany
The location of Aachen is very accessible from the Netherlands, Belgium and France. Try their Punsch or Glühwein (the local mulled wine). Aachen’s Cathedral is the first UNESCO World Heritage site in Germany. Aachen’s main Christmas market is concentrated on the large squares around the cathedral in the old town area. There are around 120 stalls at the main market. The local specialty is the Aachener Printen (a type of Lebkuchen with Christmas spices). You will find the giant Printen cookies guard the entryway to the Christmas market.
Where: Around the Cathedral and Town Hall
9. Bruges, Belgium
Bruges is probably the most beautiful city in Belgium. Christmas markets in Bruges have a festive atmosphere. Beautiful medieval squares lit with colorful lights. The heart of the Christmas markets in Bruges can be found on the Grote Markt. The center is dominated by a huge ice rink. The Grote Markt offers about twenty or so stalls of Christmas goodies and food/drink such as Belgian waffles, local beers, hot Chocolate, etc. You will find a lot of festivities and restaurants, cafes, and chocolate shops next-door.
Where: Grote Markt (Market Square) and Simon Stevinplein
10. Lille, France
The Christmas Market in Lille is small but perfectly formed and very festive. Coming off the square are lots of cobbled streets. There is also a big wheel which you can ride and when at the top you can see for miles across Lille and all the decorated streets below.
Where: Place Rihour