If you find yourself in Europe in december, then don’t miss out on one of the many Christmas Markets. Eat a Bratwurst, take a Glühwein, get some nice Christmas ornaments and enjoy the cosy atmosphere! While Germany may have the most famous and oldest markets, you will also have a great time in Austria, The Netherlands, Belgium, the Czech Republic and the U.K!
Here we go, in no particular order:
1. Weihnachtsmarkt Düsseldorf, Germany
19 november – 23 december 2015
Düsseldorf is home to one of Europe’s largest and most famous Christmas Markets. All the city squares are filled with markets. Make sure you don’t mis the Marktplatz, Heinrich-Heine-Platz, Sternchenmarkt and the Schadowplatz.
Especially the citys main square, the Marktplatz, is beautiful. The square is filled with small charming stands that look as if they’ve always been there. Take a look at the handmade wooden crib from Bethlehem and the 100+ years old carousel.
2. Vienna Christmas Markets, Austria
13 november – 26 december 2015
Vienna hosts one of the oldest and most famous traditional Christmas Markets. The centered Rathausplatz becomes a beautiful fairytale. Decorations and workshops can be found here. The nearby Maria-Theresien-Platz, famous for its museums, has a village full of handmade crafts, and there are at least nine more markets to explore throughout Vienna.
Many tourists come here every winter, but beautiful Vienna has managed to keep its authenticity during the winter season.
3. CentrO Weihnachtsmärkte, Oberhausen, Germany
14 november – 23 december 2015
Oberhausen is great for shopping, but they have one of Germany’s most prominent Christmas Markets too. In Centro, Europe’s largest shopping mall, you’ll find an unusual combination of shopping and weihnachtsmarkt. Make your choice out of three differently themed markets, and a seperate children’s market. Be sure to taste some of the great foods here too!
4. Kerstmarkt Brugge (Bruges), Belgium
28 november – 3 januari 2016
A visit to Bruges is always a feast for the eyes. But around Christmas, you can enjoy beautifully lit Christmas stalls throughout the city. Go Ice Skating at the Grote Markt and visit the snow- and ice sculpture festival. Bruges is small, but the cobblestoned fairytale-like steets might make it the perfect place to visit aroung Christmas time.
5. Weihnachtsmarkt Köln (Cologne), Germany
24 november – 23 december 2015
Colognes Christmas Markets can be found throughout the entire city. Expect a food market, a sea market, a special pink-themed market for the gay scene, or just visit the Old Town to meet Santa in person 😉
6. Kerstmarkt Valkenburg, The Netherlands
14 november – 23 december 2015
The picturesque town of Valkenburg has a special kind of Christmas Market. The city is famous for the miles long cave systems underneath it. During Christmas time, the Fluweelgrot (Velvet Cave) and the Gemeentegrot (Municipality Cave) are taken over by Christmas stands and artists. The settinghere is absolutely incredible. If you want something different than a fancy,Valkenburg is the place to go. One con however: The place feels very commercial, it’s too well-done in a kitschy way and lacks the friendly chaotic and cosy atmosphere of any German Christmas Market. I was also unimpressed with what was sold at the stands.
And don’t miss out on the Christmas Parade downtown!
7. Christmas Market London, UK
November 21st – January 4th 2016
The Christmas Spirit in Londen never seizes to amaze. Downtown Londen (Southend) is transformed, shop windows are grown and squares are adorned with beautiful lights and decorations. The market takes place at Winterwonderland in Hyde Park. The park has something for everyone. In addition to beautiful decorations, cozy Christmas stalls, music, great food and drinks, there is also a circus, a carnival, a skating rink and a Ferris wheel. Do not forget to visit Santa Claus himself.
Make sure you pay a visit to the Christmas themed Covent Garden and Southbank Centre as well.
8. Christmas Market Brussels, Belgium
November 28th – January 4th 2016
Brussels gives you the Christmas spirit with a huge Christmas tree and life-size crib. There are more than 240 stalls, so be prepared to wander for many, but cozy hours. Do not miss the Electrabel Nights, which will feature a nice light show you must not miss.
Go ice skating on the square or enjoy a panoramic view over the city from the 48-meter-high Ferris wheel, illuminated with more than 18,000 lights.
9. Prague Christmas Markets, Czech Republic
November 29th – January, 1st 2016
Visit Pragues Winter spectacle this winter. Enjoying christmas in the city of hundred towers will guarantee a magical feeling.
The old market square is filled with Christmas stands, full of crafts and Czech delicacies. The huge Christmas tree can not be missed. The atmospheric, beautiful surrounding is a feast for the eyes. The Wences square and Vystaviste are certainly worth a visit.
10. Village de Noel in Liège, Belgium
28 november – 30 december 2015
The Christmas market in Liège is one of the largest but also the oldest in Belgium. With more than 200 wooden chalets and two locations, Place du Marché and Place Saint Lambert, you can gain enough Christmas spirit here for a year.
Go ice skating at the rink of Place de la Cathédrale or go window shopping and enjoy the beautifully decorated shop windows.
11. Kerstmarkt Maastricht, The Netherlands
29 november – 30 december 2015
With all the festivities in the Dutch winter-holiday season, there’s not as much room for Christmas Markets compared to the neighbouring countries. Maastricht is an exeption. The market is centred around a 800 square meter ice skating course at the Vrijthof square. In the indoor area, you will find Glühwein as well as some Dutch treats like poffertjes (tiny pancakes), oliebollen, crêpes of snert. Another thing worth seeing is the Grande Carousel with two stories. During these days, Maastricht is full of live performances, which really contributes to the nice and cosy atmosphere this medieval city is known for.
12. Dortmunder Weihnachtsmarkt, Germany
22 november – 31 december 2015
The bigger the better is Dortmund‘s way to go. Not only the Christmas market is huge, even the Christmas tree is. Towering more than five meters in 2014, it was the tallest Christmas tree in the world. And they want to keep the record going. The Christmas market can be found at the city centre. Highly recommended.
13. Aachener Weihnachtsmarkt, Germany
20 november – 23 december 2015
If you like the atmosphere of a Christmas market, but would like a more relaxed genuine experience, then check out Aachen. Aachen is the westernmost city of Germany, next to the tri-border area with the Netherlands and Belgium. Although the city has a very rich history, it has managed to stay relatively under the tourist-radar. Aachen has three markets full of Christmas awesomeness!
Other markets worth mentioning
- The Christkindelsmärik in Strasbourg, France (Europe’s oldest Christmas Market)
- Christmas Market in Zagreb, Croatia
- Colmar, Germany
- Nuremberg, Germany
- Leipzig, Germany
- Rothenburg ob den Tauer, Germany
- Lille, France
- Hasselt, Belgium
- Birmingham, U.K.
- Newcastle, U.K.
How to get there
Plan your visit to a Christmas market in advance to travel cheap. Bus rides can be booked from all major European city for tiny prices (10 euros and up). Don’t stay for an evening but book an overnight stay because these old cities have a history and beauty that deserves more attention than just a visit of the Christmas Markets 😉