From Paris and London to Vienna and Munich, the winter months can be some of the best months to visit Europe‘s best cities where entire cities glam up in bright lights, food stalls line the streets, outdoor music plays for everyone to hear and vendors sell beautiful handmade gifts at the Christmas Markets. Even as the snow falls, you’ll enjoy wandering through these stunning markets that only come alive once a year. Although there are hundreds to choose from, here are our top five best Christmas Markets in Europe we love to explore.
Marienplatz Christmas Market in Munich
Munich‘s most famous Christmas Market has been an ongoing tradition for 600 years, yet the current location at Marienplatz has only been there for less than 30 years. Nonetheless, it’s one of our favorites due to the variety of vendors selling everything from mulled wine made with berries, cakes made from fruit, fresh-baked apples and traditional German sausages to handmade trinkets, clothing made from sheepskin and nativity figures and woodcarvings. Each day at 5:30pm, locals sing holiday songs from the Town Hall’s balcony, and in December on Sundays from 4pm to 5pm, you can watch the Krampus Run. People dress up as Father Nicholas’ helper (Krampus) in extravagant costumes that can cost up to $2,000 USD, and run around Marienplatz Christmas Market. Although it’s intended more for children, it’s fascinating to watch even as an adult. The Marienplatz Christmas Market is open from the 27th of November to the 24th of December.
Winter Wonders Christmas Market in Brussels
Winter Wonders in Brussels is famous and one of the largest Christmas events in the world. Millions of people come to explore, shop, eat and watch performances and concerts, and thanks to modern technology, the city is integrating computer-generated spectacles that will be projected onto buildings for all to see. Winter Wonders doesn’t refer to any specific Christmas Market, rather it’s a festive city-wide event that also features a parade every Sunday from 6pm to 8pm that runs throughout the city. For the best shopping, head to Marché aux Poissons and Grand-Place. Marché aux Poissons is also where you’ll find the ice-skating rink. Winter Wonders runs from the 29th of November through the 5th of January.
The Magic of Christmas in Paris
Paris is always alive, even in the wintertime. One of the City’s best Christmas Markets is called The Magic of Christmas (La Magie de Noël), located in the Tuileries Gardens near the Louvre. This Christmas Market offers visitors rides on a Ferris wheel and other attractions including an ice-skating rink, and more than 100 popup stalls to shop for gifts, eat and drink. As you walk around you’ll notice small cabins set up that you can go inside to dine on delicious French cuisine, or simply sit down for some mulled wine or hot chocolate. And because of its location, you can escape the festivities and enjoy wandering through the Louvre Museum. The Magic of Christmas market runs from the 24th of November to the 6th of January.
Southbank Center Christmas Market in London
Although it’s not the largest Christmas Market in London, it’s one of our favorites. The Southbank Center Christmas Market offers visitors not only an array of chalets to shop from but also magnificent views of the River Thames. The Southbank Center Christmas market hosts a timeless Circus performance like those in the early 1900s, tonnes of chalets where you can purchase handmade goods and various food stalls that not only have pancakes and waffles but also cuisine from other countries in Asia, as well as Indian and Greek foods. And if you’re a fan of cheese, head over to the Bar Under the Bridge for an array of cheese plates and charcuterie. The Southbank Center Christmas Market runs from the 8th of November to the 5th of January.
Rathausplatz Christmas Market in Vienna
Vienna is another destination that hosts one of the best Christmas Markets in Europe on Rathausplatz. This market, which has a 400-year-old history, features more than 150 chalets, an ice-skating rink, and a nearby park with a skating trail. If you find yourself wandering through the stalls, make sure to try the soft pastries, warm pretzels that come in a variety of flavors, large donuts and of course, roasted chestnuts. The Rathausplatz Christmas Market is open from the 15th of November to the 26th of December.
If these or any other destinations speak to you, we’d love to help you get there in comfort and save you up to 70% off. Submit a flight request or contact your agent and we’ll find the best dates to travel there!