Christmas is all about hot mulled wine, roasted chestnuts, gifts, spending your days with your loved ones, and a lot of delicious food to top it all off. And a Christmas spent in Europe is always a Christmas well-spent! In case you’re looking for the best Christmas markets in Europe, this article is here to provide! I have made a selection of my 10 all-time favourites to share with you below.
The best things to do at any Christmas market in the world is to taste ALL the food from the wooden chalets, buy Christmas gifts and souvenirs, try the rides or the Ferris wheel, have some fun in the ice rink, admire the (usually giant) Christmas tree and listen to the music and carols. And that sounds absolutely wonderful to me!
Christmas markets strive hard to create a winter wonderland for visitors and it’s a well-known fact that the ones in Europe are among the best ones in the entire world, regardless if we’re talking about Germany, Austria, England or France.
Okay, now let’s dive right into the subject:
10 Best Christmas Markets in Europe
1 - Prague Christmas Market, Czech Republic
Let’s start this list with one of the best Christmas markets in the world – the one in Prague, Czech Republic, which is as close to a real-life “winter wonderland” as we can get!
Prague has been one of the most popular Christmas destinations in Europe for many years in a row now, so it’s only natural for this gorgeous city to have a beautiful Christmas market, am I right? Luckily for us visitors, Prague has not one, but several beautiful Christmas markets all around the city, on both sides of the Vltava River.
The two main ones (and the ones I’m recommending too) are conveniently located in the Old Town – the one in the Old Town Square and the one in Wenceslas Square, both open from the end of November and only 5 minutes away by foot from each other.
While you’re in Prague, don’t forget to try their grog (a strong alcoholic mix of rum, sugar and lemon) and mulled wine, as well as the world-renowned sausages and chimney cakes!
OPENING DATES FOR 2021: 27th of November – 2nd of January
CLOSEST AIRPORT: Vaclav Havel (PRG), 30 minutes by car from the city centre. Book your tickets here.
BEST HOTEL CLOSE TO THE MARKET: Alcron Hotel Prague
2 - Vienna Magic of Advent in Vienna, Austria
“Vienna Magic of Advent”, also known as Rathaus Christkindlmarkt (try to pronounce that!) is located right in front of the City Hall and it’s surely the most beautiful one in the country. Prepare for a traditional experience: a Christmas tree, souvenirs, wooden handicrafts, Christmas decorations and lots of hot food and drinks. Don’t you dare miss tasting a cup of gluhwein (mulled wine), the traditional doughnuts or their pretzel with bratwurst (sausage, of course, we’re in Austria after all!).
Vienna is a gorgeous destination for families, couples or solo travellers and it’s simply magical at Christmas time! Except for this famous Christmas market at the Town Hall, I can also recommend the one at Belvedere Palace or Schönbrunn Palace.
OPENING DATES FOR 2021: 20th of November – 26th of December
CLOSEST AIRPORT: Vienna International Airport (VIE), 35 minutes by car. Book your ticket here.
BEST HOTEL CLOSE TO THE MARKET: The Levante Parliament
3 - Basel Christmas Market, Switzerland
Maybe you weren’t expecting this, but Basel was voted as one of the best European Christmas markets for 2021! Basel Christmas Market is one of the largest and most beautiful in Switzerland and it is divided into two different sections – Barfüsserplatz and Münsterplatz. Both of them have a cosy, traditional atmosphere that will be enjoyed by children and adults alike!
Golden fairy lights, superbly decorated Christmas trees and around 160 wooden chalets – this is what the best Christmas market in Switzerland is all about! Oh, and by the way, while you’re there, don’t forget to try their famous Basel Läckerli, a type of gingerbread. And some fondue, of course!
OPENING DATES FOR 2021: 25th of November – 23rd of December
CLOSEST AIRPORT: Basel Airport (BSL), 23 minutes by car. Book your tickets here.
BEST HOTEL CLOSE TO THE MARKET: GAIA Hotel
4 - Advent in Zagreb, Croatia
Many people consider the market in Zagreb to be the most beautiful Christmas market in Europe. In fact, “Advent in Zagreb” was voted as the best Christmas market in Europe in 2016, 2017 and 2018, so that MUST mean something! It’s three years in a row!
Zagreb Christmas Market, also known as “Advent in Zagreb” is located in the main square of the city – Trg Ban Jelačić, or Ban Jelacic Square in the Old Town of Zagreb. It’s filled with nicely decorated wooden chalets, knitted goodies to bring back home to your dear ones, live nativity scenes, a gorgeous open-air ice skating rink and, of course, lots of sweets. Oh, and make sure to visit Park Zrinjevac as well for a romantic winter walk!
OPENING DATES FOR 2021: 29th of November – 2nd of January
CLOSEST AIRPORT: Zagreb International Airport (ZAG), 25 minutes away by car. Book your tickets here.
BEST HOTEL CLOSE TO THE MARKET: Hotel Dubrovnik
5 - Advent Feast at the Basilica in Budapest, Hungary
The main Christmas market in Budapest, Hungary is called “Advent Feast at the Basilica” and it was awarded as #1 in the list of best Christmas markets in Europe in 2020. In fact, Budapest has become the ultimate European Christmas destination lately and I’m all for it!
Budapest Christmas Market in front of St. Stephen’s Basilica is the best place to try kürtőskalács (their traditional chimney cake), langos (fried doughnuts with cheese) and, of course, tons of sausages. But it’s also where you’ll find special Hungarian handicrafts made of glass, leather or wood and an unforgettable light show on the façade of the basilica. What I love most about this Christmas market is that it combines the traditional elements with modern, striking laser projections and a huge ice skating rink located around a HUGE Christmas tree!
NOTE: By the way, Advent Feast at the Basilica in Budapest is on the eco side: it’s one of the few Christmas markets that I know that uses biodegradable cups and eco-friendly cutlery. Even Santa Claus is proud of this!
6 - Nuremberg Christmas Market, Germany
Next in line is Nuremberg, Germany. We all know that the Christmas markets in Germany are among the best ones in the world, right? And the one in Nuremberg must be among the most popular and beautiful ones for sure. If not that, then it’s surely one of the oldest, dating from the 1500s.
Nuremberg Christmas Market (Christkindlemarkt) takes place right in the main market square and has more than 100 wooden stalls selling anything from gingerbread (lebkuchen) and sausages to traditional souvenirs made of dried figs, delicious hot mulled wine and everything in-between. Talkin’ about a magical Christmas, eh?
NOTE: This market uses reusable cups and it works with regenerative energy from photovoltaic sources – how awesome is that?!
7 - Le Marché de Noël de Strasbourg, France
Strasbourg Christmas Market (“Marché de Noël” in French) is hands-down among the most beautiful Christmas markets in France! And Strasbourg has been among the “Christmas capitals” of Europe for many years now, so you already know it’s a great choice.
The Christmas market in Strasbourg, France takes place right in the city center, in a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It has more than 300 market stalls that will help you get in the mood for the festive season with Christmas lights, a Christmas tree and lots of gifts and souvenirs from the region of Alsace. Make sure to taste some “vin chaud” (mulled wine), traditional cookies and Christmas beers that they brew especially for the occasion!
And yes, you might not believe it, but the Strasbourg Christmas market is better than the one in Paris and it was founded in 1570!
OPENING DATES FOR 2021: 19th of November – 30th of December
CLOSEST AIRPORT: Strasbourg Airport (SXB), 10 minutes away by train from the city centre. Book your plane ticket here.
BEST HOTEL CLOSE TO THE MARKET: La Résidence de l’Orangerie
8 - Salzburg Christkindlmarkt in Salzburg, Austria
Here comes Salzburg, Austria. Yes, yet another spot in Austria makes it on my shortlist of the best Christmas markets in Europe!
Salzburg Christmas Market (Salzburg Christkindlmarkt) takes place in front of the famous Salzburg Cathedral and it’s a magical place to try roasted chestnuts, mulled wine, chocolate and various local cakes. This Christmas market is a bit similar to the one in Vienna because you’ll be immersed in a traditional Austrian experience with live music, parades and more.
By the way, one of the best things about Salzburg is that it doesn’t only have Christmas markets inside the centre, but on the outskirts as well, such as the one at Hellbrunn Castle!
TIP: You can go in front of the cathedral at 5 PM daily for a free concert!
9 - Tivoli Gardens Christmas Market in Copenhagen, Denmark
One of the best things about the Christmas markets in Copenhagen is that they open early, in mid-November, so they’re the perfect choice for Xmas enthusiasts that don’t want to wait until December!
It’s a popular opinion that Tivoli Gardens amusement park hosts THE best Christmas market in Copenhagen thanks to its twinkling lights, live performances, fun rides, the special place where the little ones can meet Santa Claus, the market stalls selling tons of food and tons of Christmas decorations!
NOTE: There’s only one thing to keep in mind about this Christmas market, though. Unlike the rest of the markets in this list, Tivoli Gardens has an entrance fee of 120 KR (11.70€) per person to enter the amusement park. Entrance is free if you have a Copenhagen Card. In case you don’t want to spend your money on this, you can visit some other Christmas markets around such as the one at Nyhavn Harbour or the one in the Old Town Square.
OPENING DATES FOR 2021: 13th of November – 3rd of January
CLOSEST AIRPORT: Copenhagen Airport (CPH), 15 minutes by car from Tivoli. Book your plane ticket here.
BEST HOTEL CLOSE TO THE MARKET: Nimb Hotel (right inside Tivoli Gardens!)
10 - Tallinn Christmas Market, Estonia
Last but not least, we have Tallinn, Estonia. But because I haven’t properly thought of an order for all these markets, I hope you won’t disregard Tallinn just because it’s #10 on this list!
Tallinn Christmas Market takes place in the Old Town, a magical UNESCO site that will feel exactly like stepping into a fairytale! There’s always been a superb Christmas tree in the middle of the Town Hall Square ever since 1441, so it’s a dear tradition for locals. You’ll also get to enjoy lots of folk performances, dance shows, Christmas lights, cute rides for the little ones and, of course, lots of food.
If you ask me, one of the best things about this Christmas market is its size – it’s small, cosy and intimate.
OPENING DATES FOR 2021: 19th of November – 2nd of January 2022
CLOSEST AIRPORT: Tallinn Lennart Meri Airport (TLL), 10 minutes by car. Book your plane ticket here.
BEST HOTEL CLOSE TO THE MARKET: Hotel Regent Tallinn
Other notable Christmas markets in Europe
Oh, my list of the 10 best Christmas markets in Europe wasn’t enough?! No worries, I did my homework and prepared a bonus section for you. Take a peek and pick one!
- Manchester, England – Manchester Christmas markets come strong from behind with gorgeous Christmas decorations and lots of delicious food! The city hosts some of the largest markets in the country and they’re growing year after year, now attracting 9+ million visitors per year. Going to London instead? Here’s how to spend Christmas Day in London: 15 Festive Things to Do
- Berlin, Germany – one of the most eclectic European Christmas market options out there! There are many Christmas markets taking place in Berlin – some have ice skating rinks, some have a Ferris wheel, some are smaller while others are large and impressive. Just pick your favourite!
- Edinburgh, UK – the Christmas market at East Princes Street Gardens is one of the best ones! Make sure you try some pigs in blankets and get some Harry Potter gifts for your loved ones!
- Poznan, Poland – Poznan makes for an excellent city break in Europe and, coincidentally, it also has a gorgeous, festive market. So why not combine both of them for an unforgettable getaway?
- Dresden, Germany – yep, another one on my list of the best Christmas markets in Germany! The one if Dresden is among the largest ones in the country and it’s dating from 1434 – can you believe it?!
- Munich, Germany – in case you just can’t get enough of Germany, here’s another option for you! The home city of Oktoberfest also hosts one of the most fun Christmas markets in the country with cute stalls and lots of food!
- Helsinki, Finland – this Christmas city is among the best destinations you can think of if you realllly love the cold and the snow!
- Brussels, Belgium – “Winter Wonders” in the capital of Europe is another gorgeous choice, visited by more than 2.5 million visitors each year during the festive season. There are beautiful light shows at the Grand-Place in the city center, big Christmas trees and, of course, an ice rink! By the way, I think you should check out this article too: 12 Top Attractions in Brussels
- Tbilisi, Georgia – Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia might be an unconventional choice, but it’s a wonderful one indeed! There are lots of Christmas markets going on all around the city from the 25th of December until the middle of January, so you have plenty of time to organise a late Xmas celebration.
- Govone, Italy – This one’s definitely #1 on the list of best Christmas markets in Italy by far! It was also voted two times in a row as the most beautiful European market and simply entering the city will feel like opening the door to Santa’s land!
- Bruges, Belgium – Cute and cosy, Bruges also hosts an amazing Christmas market full of Belgian goodies in the historic centre. The homemade hot chocolate is a must-try for sure! By the way, I think you should check out this article too: 7 Unmissable Things to Do in Bruges, Belgium
Wooo-hoo! This was my ultimate list of top 10 Christmas markets in all of Europe! From Prague to Vienna, Nuremberg, Strasbourg and more, I’m absolutely convinced you’ll find your dream destination for this year!
And remember: Christmas markets are all about good food, warm drinks and a good mood. Are you ready for the festive season?