Last Updated on December 5, 2022 by Cody Livingston
There’s nothing as grand and lively as a European Christmas. If you’re there from late November through the New Year, it’s easy to see why. All around Europe, Christmas markets have started to open, and this is the perfect opportunity to enjoy the festive spirit. Don’t miss the luscious barbecue or a hot, pastry rolled in cinnamon and sugar. Follow the aroma of mulled wine, seasonal cookies and gingerbread; buy glistening gifts, linger around food stands and shop for seasonal items. Just put it all together and revel in the Christmas spirit with these top Christmas markets in Europe that are worth visiting.
1. Resselpark, Vienna
Vienna, the capital of Austria has numerous Christmas markets popular as ‘Christkindlmarkt’ spread all over the city. The name ‘Christkindlmarkt’ is derived from the traditional Christmas culture. And among the Christmas markets, the one at Resselpark is the best. It is full of rides and other adventure activities for children and young people. It gets dark quite early and taking walks around the Resselpark Christmas market is what Viennese people love to do. Revel in the aroma of baked items, sip on delicious mulled wine, shop for wonderful gifts, watch jugglers and street magicians at their best and cherish the festive atmosphere.
Best time: 22 November – 05 January
How to reach: Situated in Karlsplatz, this magnificent spot can be reached either by subway (Karlsplatz station) or via Operngasse Street.
2. Havel’s Market, Prague
Visitors come from everywhere to experience the Christmas markets in Prague, especially Havel’s Christmas Market. Prague Old Town Square Havelska is the location of this large market. It’s situated between the Old Town Hall and Church of Our Lady before Tyn. Some exceptional items that are available here during Christmas are handmade ornaments, toys, holiday decorations, traditional cookies, tablecloths, Frankincense and the Czech Christmas potpourri called purpura. Some other products on sale are Czech wooden puppets, artistries, clothing decorations, scented candles and handmade soap. Taste hot wine, grog and warm honey liquor called medovina as they come in handy in the cold climate. Czech Christmas carols add to the festive atmosphere. After dark, the market is lit up gorgeously. The key event at the market is a special musical night and light ceremony on the Christmas tree, which is frequently repeated as visitors settle down.
Best time: 30 November – 6 January
How to reach: If you are at Prague’s central district, you can take Bus 55A and 56A.
3. Piazza Navona Market, Rome
With the Christmas flavour in full-swing and the Eternal City already floodlit in cheerful displays, what better time to sip coffee and pick up various gifts at one of the many markets happening during November and December in Rome. Wander through the stately Piazza Navona as you pause between local hawkers offering sweets, chestnuts, artisanal crafts and artwork. You are sure to be amused by the festive holiday rides, nativity scene and live performers, all of which are surrounding the architectural beauty of Bernini’s Quattro Fiumi, Saint Agnese Church and Palazzo Pamphili. Wait until twilight as the Piazza market glows majestically with the crowd slowly setting in. Escape to this famous spot for a chance to show off your skill on the ice rink. And don’t forget to witness the traditional Christmas concert and performance, packed with more than 50,000 people, also featuring food from various Italian regions, artisan works and hand-crafted gifts.
Best Time: 01 December – 06 January
How to reach: To reach this market, just walk to the Termini Station and from there, take Bus Number 64 or Bus Number 40. Stop at Vittorio Emanuele. Just a few minutes’ walk and you have arrived!
4. Nyhavn’s Christmas Market, Copenhagen
If there’s one thing that can stir up the Christmas spirit amidst Denmark’s cold, wind-swept atmosphere, it’s Nyhavn’s Christmas market and central Kongens Nytorv. Offering abundant gift options with pungent aromas of cinnamon-infused mulled wine and roasted almonds, visitors have the prospect of enjoying the best goodies while savouring a glass of hot liquor along the way. The market has ample festive events running up to the 25th for those in need of early festive inspiration. The harbour front provides an iconic setting to select your holiday gifts with the option to soak up the winter feel by strolling along its cobbled walkways. Grab your camera and a cup of something warm as the canal captures the ideal winter-time shot of the city.
Best time: 08 November – 23 December
How to reach: Take the city metro from Nyhavn and walk down for 5 minutes till you reach the market.
5. Main Market Square, Krakow
Where better to soak up a slice of Christmas joy than in Poland? Take a break at one of the season’s most popular highlights – Krakow Christmas fair on the main market square. According to the Irish Times, Krakow Christmas Market is one of the top ten Christmas markets in Europe. One cannot imagine how beautiful Krakow Christmas Market becomes during this season. Situated on the Main Market Square and the Old Town’s centre, the decorated wooden booths of the Main Square Christmas market offer a selection of gifts, delicacies and brews that are best enjoyed out in the cold air while exploring all the best that Krakow has to offer. If you’re planning an extraordinary December holiday, consider Krakow as a budding destination – certainly, it has much more to offer than the Christmas market but the festival event takes the city’s unique atmosphere to the next level.
Best time: 30 November – 26 December
How to reach: Main Market Square is right in the heart of Krakow, a 10-minute walk from the city’s main train station. Being a walkable area, the square is only accessible by foot or on a bike.
6. Gendarmenmarkt Christmas Market, Berlin
Who doesn’t love Berlin? The German capital is worthy when it comes to enjoying the last two months of the year when the city turns into a real-life Christmas-fairy-tale. There are roughly 80 Christmas markets spread out all over the city but the historical Gendarmenmarkt Christmas market is quite famous and one of the most beautiful to behold. From gifts, souvenirs to the best waffles and more, immerse yourself in the magic of the festive season. Witness glassblowers, basket weavers, jugglers, handicraft makers, winter delicacies and origami art during Advent. The market transforms into a small city with copious exhibitors and stands as well as more than 1,000 fairy lights providing a cosy ambience. The nostalgic Christmas market has an impressive array of artisans, amusement rides and traditional culinary delights such as roasted almonds and a variety of cakes.
Best time: 25 November – 26 December
How to reach: The market is located in front of the Konzerthaus on the Gendarmenmarkt and can be reached by foot from several stations like Stadtmitte and Franzosische Straße.
7. Museumplein, Amsterdam
Witness festivities in the Dutch capital. Each year, Amsterdam’s Museumplein transforms into a charming Christmas village with an ice rink, live entertainment, market stalls and plenty of festive food and drink to keep you warm. Take a spin on the ice or play some human bowling at this spectacular event. Warm-up with mulled wine and Dutch Doughnuts, find the perfect gifts for friends and family and just take in all the festive charm of the city. The Ice Village is a traditional Dutch Christmas market in the centre of Amsterdam, right by the huge ice rink at Museumplein. If you fancy a spot of ice skating and warming yourself up with hot mulled wine and Dutch Christmas foods, this is the market for you. The atmospheric market will be glowing with lit up trees and dazzling lights and you can glide on the ice with the stunning Rijksmuseum as your backdrop.
Best time: 16 November – 02 February
How to reach: You can get to Museumplein by Bus, Light Rail, Train or Metro. These are the lines and routes that have stops nearby – Bus – 142, Bus – 170, Bus – 197
8. Vorosmarty Square Market, Budapest
Budapest has smaller and bigger Christmas Markets that have been attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors and are the most spectacular. The most beautiful, oldest and internationally acclaimed Budapest Christmas fair is the Christmas Market on Vorosmarty Square in the heart of the city. The winter festival in Vorosmarty is celebrating its 24th year and every year surpasses the previous one in terms of size and activities. The festive Christmas markets showcase young and old talents of Hungary, who master in glass-blowing, knitting, wood carving, candle making, pottery, leather & shoe trade. Moreover, enjoy 3D projection light show, street food on Zrinyi and Sas Streets, roasted chestnuts, plum juice with cinnamon, hot chocolate, mulled wine, spit cake and much more.
Best time: 08 November – 01 January
How to reach: The centrally located Vorosmarty Square is unmissable since it lies in the inner city of Budapest (district V.), at just a few minutes’ walk from the Danube.
So, what makes many of the Christmas markets enticing and outstanding in Europe is that there is a real focus to preserve authentic European folk art, traditions and offer really good quality handicrafts. The above ones are voted the best Christmas markets in Europe that truly ignite the Christmas atmosphere. It’s nothing but pure holiday magic, mixed with spectacle.