As Europe welcomes the colder months, its cities come alive with the spirit of the holidays. Throughout the continent, the glow of Christmas markets transforms ordinary streets into festive celebrations. Rooted in tradition, these vibrant, open-air markets offer a unique experience of custom, holiday enchantment, and a feeling of childlike wonder.
Originating in medieval Vienna in 1296, Christmas markets have since evolved and spread throughout Europe, each showcasing the distinctive heritage and traditions of their destinations. From spicy sausage in Serbia to ice sculptures in Slovenia and Begian waffles in Bruges, each market offers unique and special experiences.
While there is no shortage of noteworthy Christmas markets throughout the continent, we do have some favorites. We’ve broken down the best European Christmas markets below, to help you get into the holiday spirit.
Strasbourg, France (Christkindelsmärik)
Known as the "Capital of Christmas," Strasbourg boasts one of the oldest and most charming Christmas markets in Europe. This market, named Christkindelsmärik, features hundreds of stalls, festive decorations, and the stunning Strasbourg Cathedral as a backdrop.
Cologne, Germany (Cologne Christmas Market)
No country does Christmas markets quite like Germany, and Cologne’s are certainly proof of that. The city boasts multiple markets, but one of our favorites takes place just in front of the Cologne Cathedral, where it hosts around 4 million visitors each year, all coming to see angels on stilts, snack on waffles shaped like cathedrals, and marvel at its giant Christmas tree illuminated in lights.
Vienna, Austria (Vienna Christmas Market)
Vienna's Christkindlmarkt,, which sits in front of the iconic City Hall and dates all the way back to 1296, is another stand out. Here you’ll find an abundance of traditional crafts, an area for children to learn how to make Christmas cookies or candles, and international choirs singing carols. This is a must-visit destination for those seeking a truly historic Christmas Market experience.
Prague, Czech Republic (Prague Christmas Markets)
The historic Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square host Prague's Christmas markets. Brimming with medieval charm, its stalls offer an abundance of handmade gifts, and Czech specialties like Trdelník, a sweet, cinnamon sugar-coated pastry. Prague's Christmas Markets offer a unique blend of history and cheer, creating a magical atmosphere that reflects the spirit of the season.
Stockholm, Sweden (Skansen Christmas Market)
The Skansen open-air museum hosts a charming Christmas market, inviting visitors to experience a traditional Swedish holiday atmosphere. Wooden stalls sell crafts, local delicacies, and Christmas decorations. The Skansen Christmas Market is a festive celebration of Swedish traditions, like folk music played in farmsteads, or traditional candle making classes. It’s a must-visit destination in Sweden for those seeking a unique and authentic holiday experience.
Up the holiday cheer this season and experience the excitement of Europe's magical Christmas markets firsthand. Reach out to us today to make your holiday getaway a reality.