10 Best Christmas Markets in Europe

The most awaited festival, Christmas is around the corner, and we can't keep calm. Do you know why? Because Christmas is a time for family and friends, but that doesn't mean you have to celebrate at home. Visit a Christmas market, eat well, warm yourself at a spa or enjoy crispy ski turns on the slopes.

And what are the best places in Europe to experience the Christmas carols? In Europe, Christmas is considered to be the most favorite time of the year. Celebrating Christmas on the most celebrated destination can be an eye-opening way to experience how other countries and cultures celebrate one of the most treasured festivals. Treat yourself to a little time off before Christmas.

Christmas roots come from the Roman harvest festival Saturnalia, to the god Saturn. And with the arrival of Christmas in a few days, there are plenty of markets in Europe for Christmas that are decked in red and white colours, huge trees, with the prettiest decor. Now if you are visiting Europe on Europe honeymoon package, you must delve into a Christmas retreat and hear the carols in the air *happy sighs*!

Hand crafted ornaments like these can be found at the many baden's (booths) within the Christmas Markets located throughout Central Europe. Garland was one of the original decorations that were used to decorate trees along with popcorn and dried fruit which were easily accessible. Dried fruit ornaments allowed farmers to take their expired crops, dry them out and sell them during the off season for holiday use.

This tradition has continued and today you will find examples of these original fruit ornaments at the Christkindlesmarkt. The festive annual holiday celebration features traditional crafts, culinary treats, holiday entertainment and festivities to warm your holiday spirits.

Best Christmas Markets in Europe

On that note, we have scouted the best Christmas markets in Europe where you can witness and sample the sweet aroma of mulled wine and cinnamon spice, and experience the Christmas Carols. Take a look!

1. Budapest, Hungary

When - Between 22 November to 1 January

Make sure to visit the Advent Feast at the Basilica in Budapest which is listed among the finest markets for Christmas in Europe. You will get to witness the never seen charm of Christmas at this market since the organizers of the event go extra miles to make Christmas spirit sparks.

Advent Feast at the Basilica in Budapest is where Santa Claus himself goes shopping. From delightful gifts to drool-worthy Hungarian and international cuisine to flavorsome burgers, guests can have fixed their cravings. Also, if you have kids with you, make sure they have their hands-on ice skating, skateboarding in a central rink that surrounds a magical Christmas Tree.

There are good places available so you can stay in one place. Choose the Pest side. Prices for food and liquor are much lower than the rest of Europe with plenty of good restaurants, bars, and kebab shops for late night. It's OK to take beer to the parks and drink as long as you don't act like an idiot. There's a place outside of town where you can drive a TANK! There are excellent Escape Rooms, Thermal baths. Ruin Pubs are awesome!

Holiday time at Szt. István Square just outside the beautiful Cathedral in Pest, you will find the annual Advent fair. Featuring an ice skating rink, full Christmas Market with stalls of homemade crafts and delicious local gastronomy, daily concerts and a nightly 3-D visual spectacular upon the Cathedral will bring you a fantastic memorable holiday celebration.

Tip: Sample the traditional Hungary spirit Palinka which will warm you head to toe.

2. Strasbourg, France

When - From 22nd November to 30th December

Voted as the most awesome European market for Christmas for decades, Strasbourg in France is also among the oldest one in Europe. The specialty of this market is that it is tucked in the heart of the Grandelle, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Make sure to check out the Strasbourg market on your France visit.

This place is also considered the birthplace for a marvelous Christmas celebration since ages. Pack your bags and hear Christmas carols and head to Strasbourg, France to discover the intriguing journey to marvel around 300 wooden chalets.

3. Vienna, Austria

When - From 15th November to 26th December

If you intend to visit a European destination with your family or friends or soulmate, then Vienna in Austria could be your Christmas base camp. Guest could witness the enchanting Christmas setting at the Vienna’s prettiest square or Vienna Magic of Advent. This market is known for offering guests the best experience and ambience, and you will spot plenty of Christmas trees, sweets, warm drinks and much more.

Read More: Best Christmas Markets In Vienna

4. Erfurt, Germany

When - Between 26th November to 22nd December

Erfurt, Germany is one of our favorite markets for Christmas in Germany and is situated in the medieval town of Erfurt. If you will visit this Christmas market in Germany, make sure to open the magical advent atmosphere at The Cathedral Square area where you would get access to fun attractions and amazing sights.

Also, you could shop till you drop and purchase the traditional handmade crafts, drool-worthy treats and fancy a selfie with the towering Candle-Lit Christmas Tree.

5. Krakow, Poland

When - Between 29th November to 26th December

Fabulous, beautiful and well preserved hospitable fairy tale city of Krakow in Poland attracts more tourists than ever. Medieval architecture and classic cafes are crowded with a modern folklore. Pastel Renaissance buildings and Gothic masterpieces are vying for your attention. Add a large dose of the Christmas spirit and the experience is complete!

6. Annaberg Christmas Market, Germany

Nestled in the charming and beautifully decorated Old Town and crowned by the famous St. Anne’s Church, the Annaberg Christmas Market is one of the most beautiful Christmas markets in the Ore Mountains (Erlebnisheimat Erzgebirge) and in Germany too.

Genuine Ore Mountain woodworking, the smell of incense cones, Annaberg folded stars, regional treats and over 80 lovingly decorated booths together with festive Christmas music create a very unique atmosphere that visitors far and near love and cherish. One highlight of the Christmas market in the Stadt Annaberg-Buchholz is the oversized Christmas pyramid that tells the stories of Christmas, the city, and the local mining industry.

7. Zwickau Christmas Market, Germany

Zwickau, in the foothills of the Ore Mountains (Erlebnisheimat Erzgebirge), is home to one of Saxony's most popular and Germany’s most beautiful Christmas markets.

Every year, the beautiful old quarter is bathed in the glow of a giant Christmas tree and a traditional Christmas pyramid. Surrounded by charming old gabled houses, the Christmas market in Zwickau (open until December 23) is officially opened by Father Christmas and his entourage, and with the traditional blowing of the pyramid.

The absolute highlight is the miners' bands parade (December 15), a time-honored custom involving hundreds of miners, marching bands and traditional costumes. This is typical for the Erzgebirge region and is not practiced anywhere else in Germany. The dazzling finale is the miners' concert in the cathedral square in front of the Priests' houses.

8. Radebeul Christmas Market, Germany

Far away from the loud Christmas hustle and bustle in Dresden, the Christmas market "Lichterglanz und Budenzauber" (blaze of lights and booth magic) in Radebeul is a place for contemplation and inner meditation. Accompanied by live music and merry productions, baking and performing handicraft work, you can enjoy the pre-Christmas period on the second and third Advent weekend in a familiar and cozy atmosphere in front of the historic backdrop of Altkötzschenbroda.

9. Tallinn Christmas Market, Estonia

The Tallinn Christmas Market delights everyone with its coziness, historical location, and long traditions. In recent years, the Tallinn Christmas Market has been elected as one of the best Christmas Markets in the world, so much so, it has become one of the must-see events in Europe.

10. Barcelona, Spain

When - Between 26th November to 23rd December

Meet Tió de Nadal, the Christmas log. Tió de Nadal is made from a hollow log, with stick legs, a smile, and a red hat. Every evening between December 8th when Catalans celebrate the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, and Christmas Eve, the children feed the log small treats with water, and leave him under a blanket to keep him warm.

On Christmas Eve, things get weird. Children are tasked with beating the log with sticks while singing traditional songs. Once all the songs are sung and the log has been given a good beating, the children lift the blanket to find what the log has pooped out, typically small gifts and trinkets, nougats, dried fruits and candy.

After Tió de Nadal has discharged his gifts, he is pconsidered useless, thrown in the fire for warmth. The next morning, ashes are scattered on the fields to ensure a good harvest the following year.

Nativity scenes in Catalonia – known as pesebres – tend to represent pastoral scenes reminiscent of the local countryside, with large country houses and depictions of rural life.Catalonian nativities have one special figure that separates them from the rest- Caganer, a crouched man more or less relieving himself im proximity to Mary, Joseph, and the Three Wise Men.

Tradicionally, the caganer wears a barretina (typical Catalan hat) and holds a pipe in his mouth, but over the years this tiny fellow has evolved to the extent that nowadays we find models of celebrities, politicians, actors, musicians and football players, as well as caganers dedicated to towns, to distant traditions, to jobs, and to animals.

The exact origin of the Caganer is unknown, but the tradition has existed since at least the 18th century. Most people in Catalonia have no idea how Caganer became part of the Christmas tradition, but each house buys a figure every year. How he entered the nativity scene is uncertain, but according to one theory this has to do with the fact that Catalans traditionally referred to new-born babies as caganers because they do little else other than eat, sleep.

Best Christmas Markets in Europe So, with the Christmas season in full swing, which Christmas market in Europe you will bookmark? We would like to hear from you in the comments.

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Kalyan Panja