12 best Christmas markets in Europe you need to visit this winter

by | 22 Dec 2023

Twinkling lights, carols, laughter and mulled wine – it is never too early to get excited about Christmas. If you’re dreaming of the ultimate festive experience, let your mind drift to scenes of snow and merriment, and take a look at our pick of the best Christmas markets in Europe to visit this winter.

1. Dresden, Germany

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Our first pick of the best Christmas markets in Europe, Dresden, is Germany’s oldest Christmas market, first held in 1434. Expect glittering lights, twinkling stars, mulled wine, the scent of gingerbread and Christmas carols. Discover regional specialties, such as Ore Mountain wood crafts, Lusatian blue-printed fabrics and Moravian stars, and enjoy a delicious piece of Original Dresdner Christstollen fruit loaf in the light of the step pyramid from the Erzgebirge (Ore Mountains). If you want a slice of festive history, this is one of the best Christmas markets to visit this winter.

Enjoy Dresden Market on: Christmas Markets of Germany, Christmas Markets of Poland, Prague & Germany

 

2. Berlin, Germany

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Germany’s capital Berlin offers a wide variety of Christmas markets located all over the city, open up until December 31. Each with different ambiances catering to all kinds of travelers. Visitors can choose between Scandinavian or Japanese Christmas markets, Christmas markets with beautiful backdrops or, if the twinkling lights are making you feel adventurous, head to the markets with carnivals and rides.

Enjoy the festive magic of Berlin on: Christmas Markets of Germany, Christmas Markets of Poland, Prague & Germany

You may also enjoy reading: 11 destinations that are just perfect for the first-time solo traveler

 

3. Zurich, Switzerland

Prepare to be amazed by Europe’s biggest indoor Christmas extravaganza in Zurich, held in the main railway station. With over 160 wooden chalets and a three-story Christmas tree, draped with Swarovski crystals, this is one of the best Christmas markets in Europe for sparkle!

Whether at Zurich’s oldest Christmas market in the picturesque Old Town, or at the urban “Wienachtsdorf” Christmas village on Sechseläutenplatz near Bellevue, there is a Christmas market to suit each and every taste with a huge choice of gifts, food and aromatic gluhwein.

Do this on: Alpine Christmas Markets

 

4. Ljublijana, Slovenia

The Christmas markets of Ljublijana may not be the first you think of but are a sight to behold. Rich with the heady aromas od sweet treats and drinks, revel in full festive cheer in the most welcoming atmosphere. Now, have you ever wondered how the lights and music at a Christmas Market are designed? As a special treat Insight guests will meet with Urban Modic, the talented local artist who designs Ljubljana’s Christmas lights. Be treated to an insight into the city’s famous decorations and share tales of history and holiday season fun as you take a festive walk through the old town.

Discover this on: Christmas Markets of Croatia, Slovenia & Austria

5. Wroclaw, Poland

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In the Polish capital Wroclaw, known as the “Venice of Poland” for its waterways and bridges, enjoy a vibrant Christmas Market full of fairy-tale charm. Surround yourself in the city’s Baroque splendor adorned with thousands of twinkling lights. Wroclaw Christmas Market is regarded as one of the best Christmas markets in Poland and one of the most beautiful in Europe. It covers the whole Market Square as well as several side streets and turns the area into a twinkling fairytale. Enjoy Christmas themed rides and parades, along with delicious local specialties and wine. Buy souvenirs, traditional gifts and wooden toys. Definitely one of the best Christmas markets in Europe to visit.

Do this on: Christmas Markets of Poland, Prague & Germany

 

6. Vienna, Austria

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For the ultimate in opulent elegance look no further than the stunning city of Vienna. Imagine a backdrop of a magnificent Baroque palace, crisp winter air and the glitter of candles. Gather round steaming mugs of punch and savor the scent of baked potatoes, fresh bread, strudel, candied nuts and more. One of the most stylish and best Christmas markets in Europe to visit, treat yourself and your loved ones to the delicate crafts of a hundred artisans and join in the laughter and cheer.

Do this on: Christmas Markets of Croatia, Slovenia & Austria

 

7. Zagreb, Croatia

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Once one of the best kept secrets of the European Christmas Market scene, the festive Zagreb Christmas Market has quickly becoming known as one of the best Christmas markets on the continent. Ice skate at the ice skating rink. Christmas carols from the balconies dance in the air together with snowflakes, transforming the already charming city with its cobblestone streets weaving through Austro-Hungarian and Baroque architecture, into a winter wonderland. Packed with opportunities to buy traditional gifts and sample local specialties, try the Kobasice (homemade pork sausage) and fritule, delicious balls of dough laced with brandy, powdered sugar and chocolate sauce.

Do this on: Christmas Markets of Croatia, Slovenia & Austria

Read more: Where to sample the best chocolate in the world

8. Krakow, Poland

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One of the most picture-perfect settings for a Christmas market that you can imagine, Krakow’s main square is one of the largest medieval squares in Europe. Amongst the sparkle and bustle of all the Christmas market stalls stands the beautiful twin towered basilica of St Mary’s, watching over the festivities. Soak up the atmosphere of the Old Town’s historic district and immerse yourselves in festive spirit as you shop for authentic Christmas decorations, gifts, toys and savor tasty treats at one of the best Christmas markets to visit this winter.

Do this on: Christmas Markets of Poland, Prague & Germany

9. Munich, Germany

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With roots dating back to the 14th century, Munich’s Christmas market, known as the “Münchner Christkindlmarkt,” holds the distinction of being the original among the city’s festive gatherings. Annually hosted at Marienplatz and set against the backdrop of its majestic Town Hall and Glockenspiel, the market transforms the city into a winter wonderland.

A magnificent 25-meter-high Christmas tree adorned with 3000 candles takes center stage, casting a radiant glow. The market’s stalls, embellished with twinkling lights, showcase handcrafted ornaments, traditional Bavarian crafts, and tempting treats such as roasted chestnuts and mulled wine. Beyond its festive ambiance, the market proudly houses Germany’s largest Nativity scene market, a tradition dating back to Munich’s first independent Nativity market in 1757.

Visit Munich on: Alpine Christmas Markets

10. Salzburg, Austria

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Step into Salzburg’s Christmas Market is a magical blend of history, tradition, and alpine charm. Set at the Dom and Residenzplatz in the UNESCO World heritage listed old city, the traditional stands and long history make for a special festival atmosphere in this Capital of Christmas.

The birthplace of Mozart, this elegant city always carries an air of prestige, only accented by glittering lights and the sound of traditional advent music. Travel with Insight and you’ll meet a local stallholder. Ask anything you wish to know about life at the markets and taste the delicious gingerbread with a fragrant cup of Glühwein.

Enjoy Salzburg for yourself on: Alpine Christmas Markets

 

11. Strasbourg, France

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Strasbourg’s Christmas market, tracing its origins to 1570, stands as France’s oldest markets and one of the oldest in Europe. Every year the city transforms into a unique winter wonderland during the festive season. Throughout December, Strasbourg is one of Europe’s most brilliantly illuminated cities, as lights and decorations adorn streets, houses, windows and balconies, each year unveiling even more original displays.

The iconic Place Kléber in Strasbourg, France hosts a towering thirty-meter Christmas tree, bedecked with vibrant ornaments and shimmering lights—an essential symbol of “Strasbourg, Capital of Christmas” and the tallest decorated Christmas tree in Europe. You can test your skills on the ice skating rink. The city center buzzes with life as 300 chalets, occupied by hundreds of merchants and craftsmen, pop up in almost every corner.

Enjoy Strasbourg for yourself on: Alpine Christmas Markets

12. Copenhagen, Denmark

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In Denmark’s cosmopolitan capital Copenhagen, enjoy Christmas in historic Tivoli Gardens against the backdrop of glittering lights and Ferris Wheels. Every year the market transforms the amusement park into a winter wonderland. Dating back to 1843, it stands as one of the oldest amusement parks in the world and the vintage rides add an extra layer of nostalgia to this enchanting yuletide experience. Mulled wine and cinnamon, fill the air. The garden is decorated with 70,000 Christmas baubles and 1,000 Christmas trees covered in lights. And a merriment of stalls showcase Danish craftsmanship and seasonal delights.

If you’re dreaming of a Christmas getaway, full of festive spirit and fun, then take a further look at our full collection of the best Christmas Markets in Europe.

We are curious about the world, and we know you are too. And it’s that curiosity and sense of adventure we aim to spark through our Insightful blog. Each month we bring you stories, interviews, awe-inspiring photography and videos from around the world – always threaded through with our expert insights and destination knowledge.

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