Do you scent that? It is sizzling spiced wine wafting by means of the air blended with roasting sausages and nuts. It is Christmas in Europe which suggests one of the crucial festive methods to get into the spirit of the season: Christmas Markets! Ornately adorned stalls nestled collectively in metropolis squares promoting hand painted glass ornaments, seasonal meals, and all-around yuletide cheer. Rising up in America (Texas to be actual) I by no means skilled the magic that’s Christmas in Europe.
Now that I’ve had the pleasure of going to a number of the greatest markets throughout Europe I am creating my final information to the European Christmas Markets! I made it my mission to go to a number of the greatest in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France, and past. I’ve bought you coated to your final information for one of the best Christmas markets in Europe.
*Fully up to date for 2021!
In relation to Christmas I at all times really feel like a child once more. However Europe appears so as to add an additional contact of magic. Strolling into the markets is simply an amazing sense of enjoyable, mates, and happiness. For this itinerary I am breaking down one of the best Christmas markets in Germany, France, Switzerland, Austria and past. I’ve additionally bought a breakdown of what to purchase, eat, and I am exhibiting you a typical route with the intention to get essentially the most out of your time!
See my picks for the greatest Christmas markets in Europe and my present Christmas market highway journey itinerary!
What to anticipate
Europe’s Christmas markets are steeped in historical past. The primary market was mentioned to be held in Vienna, Austria relationship again to 1296, however the first “winter market” was in Munich, Germany in 1310. The primary “official” market was Dresden’s Strietzelmarkt in 1434. Christmas markets are also called Christkindlmarkt, Christkindlesmarkt, Christkindlmarket, Christkindlimarkt, and Weihnachtsmarkt and happen in the course of the begin of Introduction. Every market has it is personal traditions, decorations, and meals. Germany’s markets are typically extra conventional whereas Austria’s are typically a bit extra elaborate. Most markets finish simply earlier than Christmas, however in cities similar to Speyer, Germany they delay the celebration. You will see pretty stalls (or chalets) promoting handcrafted ornaments and crafts, native meals, and sizzling, mulled wine referred to as glühwein.
Keep away from the crowds: Europeans take Christmas markets very significantly. Keep away from crowds and features by going in the course of the day, or go for going in the course of the week, Mondays or Tuesdays are greatest.
Good to know
Most of the stalls promoting glühwein (and a few meals) may have one thing referred to as a “pfand” that is extra cash that you will pay for the cup, often just a few euros. As soon as accomplished along with your drink you possibly can maintain the cup (often they’re an amazing memento as they are saying the situation and date) or return it to get your a reimbursement.
Deliver money, most sellers will solely take money at a Christmas market. The winter markets will be chilly, so ensure that to convey one thing heat and cozy footwear. You will most probably be in your toes to peruse the stalls.
Most main European cities have Christmas markets, and they’re all pretty. However, I’ve been to dozens so I am pulling out one of the best Christmas markets to get the “actual” expertise together with an itinerary that will help you in your method.
Finest Christmas Markets in Germany
The German Christmas markets are the unique and one of the best. Since they date again to the 1300s, most of the German Christmas markets nonetheless have a good time traditions from the previous days. You will discover richly adorned Christmas stalls and conventional Christmas meals like bratwurst and kartoffelpuffer. I recommend beginning your journey in Germany. My options for Christmas markets in Germany are: Heidelberg, Rothenburg Ob Der Tauber, Munich, Nuremberg and Dresden. Most cities in Germany, together with the smaller ones, will all provide a Weihnachtsmarkt, so you actually cannot go fallacious!
See my full information to one of the best Christmas Markets in Germany right here.
Nuremburg is steeped in custom and you will find an enormous market with heaps to see, do, and eat. However my favourite is the extra laid-back Heidelberg. The markets are all through the Haupstrasse (the lengthy pedestrian road) and make it simpler for crowds to ebb and stream by means of the road. You will discover ornately adorned stalls, roasting meats, and a car-free road to skip alongside from market to market. It exudes a small city and alluring feeling.
Munich began one of many first Christmas markets, so it is a disgrace to not go right here. They exit of their option to beautify and even have themed markets, similar to their “pink” Christmas market. Bavaria tends to do issues just a bit bit in another way and Munich actually takes Christmas up a notch.
Munich from above, picture by way of Completely happy to Wander!
Christmas Market Dates in Germany: Heidelberg – November 27 December 22, Munich – November 27 – December 24
Discover my full information to Heidelberg right here and Christmas Markets right here. Additionally information to Nuremberg’s right here.
Finest Christmas Markets in France
Going to France is like stepping right into a Currier and Ives print. The peerlessly positioned real-life gingerbread homes surrounded with Christmas stalls, music, and candy smelling pastries are a feast for the senses. Probably the most lovely Christmas markets are in Strasbourg and Colmar within the Alsace area.
Strasbourg’s Christmas markets are sprinkled all through the town and each is prettier than the subsequent. The decor is over-the-top however a lot enjoyable. The background of the overwhelming Notre Dame cathedral makes a grand assertion over the sq.. However the actual spotlight is the 30 meter tall Christmas tree! They name Strasbourg the Capital of Christmas and it at all times proves its level as one of the best place to spend the vacations.
In case you suppose the decorations in Strasbourg have been elaborate, wait till you get to Colmar. Each constructing appears to be adorned with lights, ornaments, and even teddy bears! In every single place you flip is a half-timbered panorama of uneven, multicolored homes. It really appears to be like extra like a doll’s playhouse.
Christmas Market Dates in France: November 24 by means of December 30
Discover the information to Strasbourg’s Christmas markets right here.
Finest Christmas Markets in Switzerland
The proper place for a winter wonderland is certainly in Switzerland. You will discover ski chalets nestled subsequent to Christmas markets and, in fact, the beautiful alps. You will enjoyment of artisan items and a few of my favourite treats. The perfect markets are in Basel, Bern, Lucerne, and Zurich. After touring by means of France it’s extremely straightforward to get to Switzerland. The gap from Colmar to Basel is about an hour and a half by automobile.
Basel is a reasonably metropolis overlooking the water and a number of Christmas markets all through the big squares. The decor right here is vibrant and wonderful and the markets are all inside strolling distance from each other.
My favourite market in Switzerland shouldn’t be too removed from Basel in Lucerne, Switzerland. Located on the lake, you may discover extravagant shows and a number of the greatest cheeses on this planet. All of the retailers and shops are decked out for the vacations with blankets and sheepskin stools.
Christmas Market Dates in Switzerland: Lucerne – December 1-20, Basel – November 23 – December 23
Finest Christmas Markets in Austria
Austria has many pretty Christmas markets and small cities. You will discover them in Salzburg, Ellmau, Graz, and Kitzbuhel, however one of the best is in Vienna. The Vienna Christmas markets are one of the crucial well-known and standard in all of Europe. It is no shock why: the elegant chandeliers mild up the streets and paint an image of wealthy opulence. I discover the markets in Austria to be pretty, romantic, and an amazing mixture of conventional and fashionable refinement.
Finest Christmas Markets in Vienna
There are a number of markets all through the town however my favorites are Rathaus, St. Stephen’s Sq., Maria-Therea Sq., Schönbrunn Palace, Belvedere, and Altes AKH. Take a experience on the Ringstrasse on Tram 1 to map out each the place you’d prefer to cease. You will discover that the buildings function unbelievable backdrops for the Christmas decor. At Rathaus (Metropolis Corridor) there’s an enormous, lit tree, an ice skating rink, and even a stage for dwell music and performances. Do not forget to go contained in the Rathaus for a ravishing view.
Do not miss St. Stephen’s and the magnificent church. You actually cannot miss it, the steeple is that prime. Take a stroll alongside Kärtnerstrasse to see the unbelievable chandeliers. Take a look at the Altes AKH to see the College campus reworked into Christmas wonderland. The museum quarter already boasts pretty structure but it surely packs an added punch with the market in Maria-Theresa-Platz. That is additionally an excellent place to cease and have a standard strudel.
For an over-the-top market have one outdoors a palace! Two alternatives for this at Schloss Belvedere and Schönbrunn. Each are lovely and the palaces solely add to the ambiance.
Christmas Market Dates in Austria: Vienna – Late November – December 23
Your European Christmas Market Route
Fly into Germany – I recommend Frankfurt. This can be a main airport hub and makes it straightforward to go to your subsequent vacation spot. From right here, you possibly can take a practice or a automobile (I discover vehicles are best and make it so you possibly can cease off at any time). From right here, take a practice or automobile to Heidelberg, Germany. This can be a typical Christmas market and can put you proper within the spirit. Subsequent, we’re heading to France! Strasbourg is just about an hour and a half away from Heidelberg. After you get your fill of Glühwein our subsequent cease remains to be in Alsace: Colmar, France. An precise gingerbread city, it is one of many cutest locations I’ve ever stepped foot in!
After France we’ll cross one other border and head into Switzerland. Right here we’ll go to Basel then Bern and if time permits we’ll go to Lucerne and again north to Zurich. This itinerary is ideal when you’ve got 5-7 days. Have extra time, or simply need to see extra? Carry on going! From right here you possibly can return into Germany for Munich’s markets or go straight over to Austria. In case you’re driving, cease off in Salzburg. However since it is a lengthy journey, I recommend flying to Vienna. Subsequent you possibly can both head to Prague (my private favourite) or east to Budapest.
Pictured: Prague’s Christmas Market in Outdated City Sq.
Different nice spots for Christmas are London, Nuremberg, Dresden, Paris, Copenhagen, Brussels, Budapest, and Zagreb.
What to eat at Christmas Markets
Schokokuss – the easiest way to explain this dessert is to take marshmallow fluff, then cowl it chocolate, and eat a dozen. Actually, these are cheap and are so mild and fluffy. I get one virtually each time I am going to a Christmas market.
Bratwurst – Genuine German meals is bratwurst and Rostbratwurst roasting regularly. Every Christmas market does it a bit in another way so strive one wherever you go. You may get it with bread and I at all times load up on mustard and onions.
Kartoffellpuffer – Take potatoes, fry them. It sounds easy however they’re completely divine. Often served with applesauce (bizarre however good) or garlic sauce. Give these a strive!
Gingerbread – Also referred to as Lebkucken, you may discover each mushy and laborious gingerbread bought. Additionally they prefer to promote it in coronary heart shapes, wrapped in plastic, with phrases written on the cookie. I can not say these are very tasty, however they’re fairly!
Crepes – In case you’re within the temper for one thing candy that is the proper Christmas market meals. Rolled up with nutella, cinnamon, sugar, or honey, anybody can get their fill from this straightforward traditional.
Frikadella – One among my favourite meals on the Christmas markets are these hamburgers made with pork. Often served with onions and mustard they make for the proper hearty meal. Do not forget to seize some fries or pommes frites!
Candied nuts – the proper heat Christmas market deal with to pop in your mouth as you amble from stall to stall. These aromatic nuts will make you whip your head round as you stroll previous! It’s also possible to strive roasted chestnuts aka “maroni” if you would like as properly.
Germknödel – This standard spherical dumpling is a German traditional and often full of jam and topped with vanilla cream sauce. It is not overly candy however a pleasant addition to your mulled wine.
Glühwein – You can’t go to the Christmas market with out glühwein! I am completely hooked on this sizzling, mulled wine made with spices. It is going to maintain you heat inside as you drink this candy liquid. Some markets additionally serve Feuerzangenbowle which is a combination of punch and glühwein and topped with a rum-soaked sugar dice then set on hearth. Go forward, order two. In case you’re alcohol free you may as well order kinderpunsch!
See the 25 issues it is best to strive at a Christmas Market right here!
What to purchase on the Christmas Markets
Every part sheepskin is on the market – gloves, hats, rugs and extra.
Preserve your glühwein cup as a enjoyable memento. If you wish to maintain with the alcohol pattern, many stalls provide liqueurs in fairly bottles which are a great gift.
Most markets have their very own traditions and issues on the market. For instance, in Nuremberg they promote dolls manufactured from dates! Most objects on the market at Christmas markets are handmade and top quality. You will not essentially discover the most cost effective objects however you can find one thing particular that may final.
Everybody deserves a winter wonderland break and Europe’s Christmas markets make for the proper magical escape. Christmas markets in Europe are a number of the greatest recollections of my life, and I am already counting down the dates till subsequent 12 months!
Want extra Christmas markets? Take a look at much more posts!
15 Finest Christmas Markets in Germany
25 Issues to Eat at A German Christmas Market
25 Photographs That Will Encourage You To Spend Christmas in Europe
Information to Heidelberg’s Christmas Markets
Finest Aspect Journeys for Christmas in Germany
Issues to Do in Strasbourg, France at Christmas
This is a useful infographic and temporary have a look at one of the best of Christmas markets in Europe: