The Best Christmas Markets in Europe

The 19 Best Christmas Markets in Europe (2024)

Christmas is a magical time of year to be in Europe. That sounds like a well-worn cliché, but when you start touring Europe’s best Christmas markets, you’ll soon realize it’s true!

In Germany, you can visit Europe’s oldest Christmas markets. Here medieval squares have been hosting traditional festive celebrations for centuries. But look further afield, and you’ll quickly find that Europe’s countries are brimming with magical Christmas markets.

From November until January, major European capitals like London, Paris, Brussels, and Amsterdam all host multiple markets sprawled across the city, while offbeat cities like Tallinn, Copenhagen, and Ljubljana compete with charming markets packed with regional Christmas cuisine and artisanal gift buying opportunities.

With so many amazing European Christmas markets to visit, you might not know where to begin. That’s why we’ve compiled our list of the best Christmas markets in Europe for you. Add these fun and festive markets to your holiday season bucket list, and there’s no doubt you’ll have an amazing time exploring Europe this winter!

Don’t forget to check out our web story: The 19 Best Christmas Markets in Europe

The 19 Best Christmas Markets in Europe

1. Dresden Striezelmarkt: Dresden, Germany

Best Christmas Markets in Europe: Dresden Striezelmarkt: Dresden, Germany

Germany is the best country in Europe for Christmas markets, and every village, town, and city in the country hosts an extravagant display of festivities from Advent through Christmas Eve. Competition is fierce, but there’s no better place to visit than Dresden, which hosts the oldest Christmas market in Germany

Dresden’s Christmas market (known locally as the Striezelmarkt) has been held in the city since 1434, and it’s just a decade away from celebrating its 600th anniversary! With the historic city center as the backdrop, you’ll love perusing the hundreds of stalls that fill the streets and squares of Dresden. 

Keep warm with a mug of traditional Gluhwein, listen to the dulcet tones of the local choirs, and enjoy some of the best stollen (a type of Christmas fruitcake) in Germany!

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2. Vorosmarty Square: Budapest, Hungary

Must Visit Christmas Markets in Europe: Vorosmarty Square: Budapest, Hungary

Budapest is a beautiful city any time of the year, but during the Christmas season, it’s a particularly impressive destination. You’ll love how Budapest’s avenues are brightly illuminated with Christmas lights while tall Christmas trees stand proudly in the squares. 

In Vorosmarty Square, in downtown Budapest, you’ll find the largest and liveliest Christmas market in the city. Open from late November until New Year’s Eve, the Vorosmarty Square Christmas Market features hundreds of traditional stalls selling everything from fluffy sheep slippers to handcrafted wooden toys. 

Live music, choirs, and Christmas carols fill the cold, chilly air, but the best reason to visit is the food. Warm up with huge bread bowls filled with hearty goulash, enjoy a Chimney cake doused in sugar and cinnamon, or gorge on freshly roasted pork or chicken smothered in paprika. 

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3. Winter Wonderland: London, UK

Where to Shop Europe Christmas Markets: Winter Wonderland: London, UK

Don’t let the English winter weather put you off because London hosts one of the largest Christmas markets in Europe throughout the festive season. Christmas cheer is much needed in dreary London, and you’ll spot the lights, fun fair rides, and beer tents of Winter Wonderland from the other side of the city!

Winter Wonderland takes over London’s Hyde Park from November through January, and every day the winter festival welcomes thousands of visitors. You’ll need a ticket just to get in, but it’s well worth it for the rides and the outdoor ice skating rink. 

Interestingly, Winter Wonderland is directly inspired by the German Christmas markets that have proven so popular. Londoners visit Winter Wonderland for the Bavarian-style beer tents that are set up in the food quarter of the festival, where you’ll be entertained by raucous live music as you enjoy bratwursts and steins of beer.

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4. Krakow Christmas Market: Krakow, Poland

Best Christmas Markets in Europe for Shopping: Krakow Christmas Market: Krakow, Poland

Krakow’s Christmas market brings joy and Christmas cheer to the cobbled streets of the Old Town from November until January. 

You’ll love how this festive celebration takes over the city’s UNESCO World Heritage-listed central square, where traditional wooden stalls sit in the shadow of Krakow’s iconic 14th-century basilica and 15th-century Cloth Hall. 

If you’ve got a sweet tooth, then the chocolate, jam, candied nuts, and sugary-coated Chimney cakes will quickly satisfy your cravings. If you’re more of a savory person, then the market is known for its huge sourdough sandwiches that are stuffed full of meat and vegetables and then soaked in gravy. 

5. Seville, Spain

Must Visit Europe Christmas Markets: Seville, Spain

Spain is often overlooked by travelers looking for the best Christmas markets in Europe, but the country hosts some of the most interesting festive fiestas on the continent. You’ll find some of the best in Seville, where the Andalusian capital is resplendent in Christmas lights and decorations.

Walk down the Avenida de la Constitucion, and you’ll love the festive illuminations while choir singers and Christmas hymns bring Seville’s cathedral to life in the cold winter months. In the distinctly Catholic style, you’ll also find bright, colorful, and often elaborate depictions of the Nativity Scene in every available space across the city. 

The Plaza Nueva in front of Seville’s City Hall becomes an outdoor market where you can browse for souvenirs and Christmas eats. The market at the Plaza Nueva is called the Feria de Artesania because it welcomes local artisans from across the region to display and sell their handicrafts. 

It’s a wonderful opportunity to see Andalusia’s best artisans, and we’re sure you’ll find a few Christmas presents to take home with you. 

6. Christkindlmarkt: Vienna, Austria

Top Christmas Markets in Europe: Christkindlmarkt: Vienna, Austria

Austria is a winter wonderland during the holiday season, and in Vienna, the Austrian capital, you’ll find one of Europe’s most exciting Christmas markets. 

Head to the city’s Rathausplatz (the Town Hall), and you’ll be wowed by the Christmas spirit and cheer that floods this historic central square. This is the Christkindlmarkt (also named the “Vienna Christmas Dream” by savvy marketers), and you can browse through traditional market stalls or take to the open-air ice rink. 

This is Vienna’s largest Christmas market, where you’ll find the Tree of Hearts (decorated with thousands of Christmas lights) brightly illuminating the square. Admire the elaborate decorations and enjoy Austrian Christmas delights like Christmas punch and Christmas cookies.

There are many more Christmas markets in Vienna, too, including equally extravagant festivities in beautiful settings at Maria Theresien Square and Belvedere Palace.

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7. Cologne Cathedral Christmas Market, Germany

Must Visit Europe Christmas Markets: Cologne Cathedral Christmas Market, Germany

Rising to a height of 157 meters, Cologne Cathedral is a masterful work of religious architecture. It took centuries to build, with work commencing in the 13th century but not being completed until the 19th century. This magnificent twin-spired cathedral is now the backdrop to one of Germany’s most popular Christmas markets and one of the best Christmas markets in Europe. 

From Advent through Christmas, the public square in front of Cologne Cathedral is transformed into a dizzying, blinding display of Christmas cheer. The sky above is filled with hanging Christmas lights, while a tall Christmas tree attempts to compete with the height of the cathedral. 

Indulge in a warming mug of Gluhwein or step into the warmth of a local bar for a traditional Kolsch beer. There will be gingerbread, stollen, grilled meats, and potato pancakes, while the wooden market stalls will be packed with Christmas gifts and souvenirs to purchase. 

8. Birmingham Frankfurt Christmas Market: Birmingham, UK

Best Christmas Markets in Europe: Birmingham Frankfurt Christmas Market: Birmingham, UK

Traditionally, the English never really did Christmas markets. In recent years, though, the German Christmas market experience has been recreated in English cities, and the Frankfurt Christmas Market in Birmingham has become one of the best in Europe.

Yes, they stole the idea from Frankfurt, but at least they had the decency to acknowledge this in the Christmas festival’s name. The market claims to be the largest German-style Christmas market outside of Germany, and it welcomes millions of visitors every year who can’t make it to the real ones in Germany.

This market is perhaps more German than Germany, though, and every cliché German Christmas food or drink you could imagine will be on sale here. You can munch on bratwurst and sauerkraut while sipping on Gluhwein, while the beer tents and entertainment would be more at home at Oktoberfest than a Christmas market!

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9. Prague Christmas Markets, Czechia

Festive Christmas Markets in Europe: Prague Christmas Markets, Czechia

Prague is an especially romantic city to visit in winter when snow blankets the rooftops and the chill air is brightened by Christmas lights and filled with the atmospheric sound of Christmas carols. You’ll find Prague’s many public squares host small Christmas markets, but head to the Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square for the largest. 

These are Prague’s two main squares. They are just a short walk away from each other, and you’ll be happy to know that they are tourist attractions in their own right (even when the markets aren’t there outside of the Christmas season). 

You’ll quickly fall for the traditional Czech Christmas food on offer, as your taste buds are tantalized by grilled sausages, roasted hams, langos (flat bread covered in savory toppings), and sweet and savory Czech-style dumplings. Wash it down with a cup of mulled wine or a glass of delicious Czech pilsner! 

10. Edinburgh Winter Festival: Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Best Christmas Markets in Europe: Edinburgh Winter Festival: Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Winter is a dreamy time to explore Edinburgh, the historic capital of Scotland. From November through January, the city hosts its ever-popular Winter Festival, which sees citywide events and markets bringing Christmas joy to the people of Edinburgh!

East Princes Street Gardens is home to the most popular Christmas market in Edinburgh, where you’ll find a large selection of stalls and quirky Christmas drinks and food you’ll only find in Scotland (mulled Irn-Bru and deep-fried mince pies, anyone?). 

There are more events at Edinburgh Castle and the Botanic Gardens, while the shops along the Royal Mile will be resplendent in their Christmas decor. 

Hang around until New Year’s, and you can experience Hogmanay, the highlight of the Winter Festival. This three-day event celebrates the end of the old year and the start of the new, and there are fireworks, street parties, concerts, parades, and the ritual burning of a Viking longship!

11. Salzburg Christkindlmarkt: Salzburg, Austria

Best Christmas Markets in Europe for Shopping: Salzburg Christkindlmarkt: Salzburg, Austria

If you’re looking for history and heritage with a side of Christmas cheer, then the Salzburg Christkindlmarkt in Austria is easily one of the best Christmas markets in Europe.

This stunning Christmas market claims to be one of the world’s oldest, and with a recorded history dating back to the 1400s, they’re not wrong. For hundreds of years, the market has been held in Cathedral Square, where it’s still found to this day.

You’ll find hundreds of traditional stalls sprawled across the square, where Christmas trees rise above the crowds. It’s the cathedral and the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Old Town, though, that really steal the show.

The Christmas market opens the week before Advent officially begins, and it’s well worth attending the opening ceremony to experience the city’s joy as they welcome the start of the festive season. You’ll love how the sound of carol singing fills the square, as lights are switched on and mulled wine and punch are enjoyed!

12. Amsterdam, Netherlands

Must Visit Europe Christmas Markets: Amsterdam, Netherlands

Amsterdam is full of Christmas cheer and Christmas markets in November and December, but our favorite market to visit is found at Museumplein.

This is the largest Christmas market in Amsterdam, although it’s as much a celebration of winter and Christmas as it is a place to shop, eat, and drink. As well as the many stalls selling Christmas decorations, souvenirs, and festive trinkets, here you can explore the Ice Village.

The highlight of the Ice Village is, of course, the outdoor skating rink, where you can glide across the ice while listening to Christmas tunes. The rink is located in front of the iconic Rijksmuseum, which is one of the top cultural attractions in the city!

Take in some history, a bit of heritage, go skating, buy some Christmas presents, and then top it all off with a cup of hot mulled wine.

13. Copenhagen, Denmark

Best Christmas Markets in Europe for Shopping: Copenhagen, Denmark

If the German Christmas markets are too busy for your liking, then why not travel north to Denmark, where you’ll find yourself a little further off the beaten Christmas path.

There are a lot of festivities in Copenhagen, the Danish capital, and you’ll love how there’s a real local feel to the city’s markets. Grab yourself a map of the city, order up a hot cup of Christmas Glogg (a hot alcoholic Danish specialty), and start planning your route through the city. 

The most famous markets are found in Tivoli Gardens. This is Copenhagen’s historic amusement park, where you’ll find theme park rides, cafes, bars, market stalls, and thousands of Christmas lights adorning the surroundings. 

Next, make your way to Nyhavn, the city’s lovely old harbor area. Stroll along the waterfront, admiring the colorful architecture that’s resplendent in Christmas decor, before indulging in another Glogg and some traditional Danish Christmas cakes.

Don’t rest for too long because you’ve still got the Hans Christian Andersen Market (held in honor of the city’s famous author), the Hojbro Plads Christmas Market, and the Freetown Christiania Market to visit!

14. Tallinn, Estonia

Must Visit Christmas Markets in Europe: Tallinn, Estonia

Tallinn is Estonia’s trending capital city, and here you’ll find one of the newest and best Christmas markets in Europe.

Although it only started in 1997, a few years after Estonia threw off the shackles of Soviet rule, Tallinn’s Christmas market draws on centuries of Christmas traditions and history.

You’ll find the market stalls and Christmas trees take over the Old Town from November to January. With heritage-listed merchant houses and medieval walls as the backdrop, you’ll love the sense of nostalgia and wonder as you shop for presents and drink mulled wine.

Despite having one of Europe’s newest markets, though, Tallinn is thought to have the oldest Christmas tree tradition in the world. Since the early 1400s, the city’s merchants traditionally came together to buy and raise a Christmas tree for the city, a tradition that continues today.

15. Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt: Nuremberg, Germany

Best Christmas Markets in Europe for Shopping: Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt: Nuremberg, Germany

Historic Nuremberg has hosted one of Germany’s most fascinating Christmas celebrations for centuries. Arrayed around the Hauptmarkt – Nuremberg’s medieval city square – this is the market to visit if you’re interested in serious German Christmas traditions.

Nuremberg is famous for its Christkind. Every year, a Nuremberg child is chosen to perform the role of the Christkind, or Christ Child, a role that involves officially opening the market, spreading Christmas cheer, and upholding traditions. They effectively become Nuremberg’s Christmas ambassador, and being chosen as the Christkind is a much-lauded achievement for the city’s youngsters.

You may see the Christkind performing their ceremonial role as you explore the market. You can also enjoy traditional gingerbread and almond cakes while sipping on Gluhwein, you can shop for handmade Christmas decorations and artisanal products, and you can listen to Christmas carolers and Christmas bands filling the air with music. 

16. Brussels, Belgium

Must Visit Europe Christmas Markets: Brussels, Belgium

Brussels feels like one giant Christmas market during winter, and that’s because, in many ways, it is!

Sprawling out from the Grand Place, it seems as if every street, square, and avenue in the Belgian capital is attempting to outdo its neighbors with Christmas decor, lights, and cheer. 

It all culminates with the fantastic Music and Light Show, which takes center stage in the Grand Place, where the historic buildings of Brussels’ central square are magnificently lit up with Christmas lights while music reverberates around the UNESCO World Heritage-listed architecture.

There’s also an enormous Christmas tree, an elaborate nativity scene, traditional market stalls, and an ice skating rink for you to enjoy after taking in the Christmas spectacle of the Music and Light Show. Oh, and don’t forget to enjoy the mulled wine and Belgian frites!

17. Ljubljana, Slovenia

Where to Shop Europe Christmas Markets: Ljubljana, Slovenia

Tiny Slovenia’s petite capital is a mesmerizing panache of Christmas lights and decor throughout the festive season. This is one of the top Christmas destinations in Europe, and we know you’re going to fall in love with the city as quickly as we did.

Ljubljana’s main Christmas market is found in Preseren Square, the city’s central public space. Here you’ll find quaint wooden market stalls selling traditional Slovenian products, and trust us when we say you’re going to have a fantastic time trying the artisanal cheese, meats, and preserves brought in from the mountains and countryside. Slovenian wine is to die for, so rest assured that the mulled wine here is top quality! 

After exploring the central market, why not take a boat cruise along the Ljubljanica River to see the city’s riverside lights and decor in all their glory? After that, stroll through the brightly illuminated streets of the Old Town, then head up high to the castle for sweeping panoramas of Ljubljana below.

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18. Mercado de Navidad: Madrid, Spain

Best Christmas Markets in Europe for Shopping: Mercado de Navidad: Madrid, Spain

Madrid‘s Plaza Mayor hosts one of the best Christmas markets in Europe. Known as the Mercado de Navidad, you’ll love how the historic square is taken over by over a hundred market stalls, all decorated in red.

The surrounding buildings are covered with Christmas lights, while a tall Christmas tree can be spied poking above the market stalls. The Plaza Mayor is known for its alfresco cafes, bars, and restaurants, and these all add to the atmosphere as they serve up tapas, coffee, churros, wine, and beer.

As fun as the square is at Christmastime, the locals come here for one thing. Walk around the stalls, and you’ll see that almost every one of them is selling a unique selection of nativity scenes or the individual figurines and parts needed to build your own. These are Spain’s iconic “Belenes,” and people come from far and wide to buy them!

19. Paris, France

Must Visit Europe Christmas Markets: Paris, France

The city of love, romance, and delectable croissants and pastries is always in top form when it’s Christmastime.

Paris is consumed by Christmas decor, and as you walk along the banks of the River Seine or absorb yourself in the streets of different arrondissements and districts across the city, you’ll fall in love all over again with the French capital. 

As one of Europe’s largest capital cities, you’ll have plenty of different markets and Christmas experiences to choose from in Paris. You might want to start at the iconic Eiffel Tower, where you’ll find an entire Christmas village set up around the base of the city’s most famous landmark.

Next, head to La Defense Esplanade, where you’ll be able to browse hundreds of stalls that collectively create Paris’ largest Christmas market. Enjoy mulled wine and roasted chestnuts, then head over to Gare de l’Est for a traditional Alsatian-style market where you can purchase regional cheeses and meats from Alsace!

There you have it! The 19 best Christmas markets in Europe! What’s your favorite European Christmas market?

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About the Author:

  • Richard Collett

    Richard is an award-winning travel writer based in Southwest England who’s addicted to traveling off the beaten track. He’s traveled to 75 countries and counting in search of intriguing stories, unusual destinations, and cultural curiosities.

    Richard loves traveling the long way round over land and sea, and you’ll find him visiting quirky micronations and breakaway territories as often as he’s found lounging on a beach (which is a lot).

    When he’s not writing for BBC Travel, National Geographic, or Lonely Planet, you can find Richard writing for the Wandering Wheatleys or updating his off-beat travel blog, Travel Tramp.

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