If you’re planning a trip to Europe around the winter holidays, you may be interested in checking out some of the world’s most incredible Christmas markets! There’s tons to do for everyone in your family — from shopping for holiday gifts to enjoying delicious treats to entertainment for the kids. Here are some of the top European Christmas markets you should visit this holiday season.
- Stuttgart Christmas Market (Stuttgart, Germany): This Christmas market began sometime in the 1600s, and has been an annual tradition. Open from November 27th through December 23rd of 2019, the Stuttgart Christmas Market boasts a vast array of stalls. For kids, they offer a Children’s Fairyland featuring a mini train ride, fondue, gingerbread baking, and more.
- The Esslingen Medieval Market and Christmas Market (Esslingen, Germany): This market combines both holiday shopping with history. It features artisans like basket weavers, glass blowers, and blacksmiths demonstrating their work. There are even workshops where kids can learn garment making, book binding, dancing, archery, and more.
- Cologne Christmas Markets (Cologne, Germany): Located in Cologne’s city center, this market features festive music, arts and crafts, wreath binding and glass blowing demonstrations, and yummy seasonal treats like gingerbread and roasted chestnuts.
- Heidelberg Christmas Market (Heidelberg, Germany): The Heidelberg market runs from November 25th through December 22 2019. Located near an old castle, this Christmas market is sure to delight. It features ice skating (in Germany’s most beautiful ice rink), yummy seasonal treats, and more.
- Christmas Market Ulm (Ulm, Germany): Located below the world’s highest church spire, there are over 100 festive stalls at the Ulm Christmas Market. It features a wide array of seasonal and regional foods, artisan demonstrations, musical performances, a petting zoo, and a carousel. There’s sure to be something to delight every member of your family here!
- The Ludwigsburg Baroque Christmas Market (Ludwigsburg, Germany): This year, the Ludwigsburg Baroque Christmas Market runs from November 27th through December 23rd. Described as one of Germany’s most beautiful Christmas markets, it features thousands of glowing lights and over 170 different stalls. Nestled between two Baroque churches, this market is sure to make you feel like you’re in a fairy tale!
- Frankfurt Christmas Market (Frankfurt, Germany): Dating back to 1393, the Frankfurt Christmas Market has become one of the biggest markets of its kind in Germany. Located in St. Paul’s Square, this market boasts a giant Christmas tree beautifully decorated. This year, the market opens on November 25th and will feature the Frankfurt Opera performing sing-along Christmas carols.
- Tübingen Christmas Market (Tübingen, Germany): An original Christmas market, this two-week event includes one of the world’s top chocolate festivals. Over 200,000 people are expected to visit this year! Master chocolatiers from all over the globe will gather here to sell their goods and compete in contests. After this event, over 450 unique stalls will open to share their wares, many of which are hand-made. For kids, the market offers a historic carousel, films, musicians, clowns, and more.
- Colmar Christmas Market (Colmar, France): Each year, Colmar hosts six Christmas markets in its fairytale setting. This year, the markets will be held from November 22nd through December 29th. Unlike most of the markets in Germany, these markets last through the Christmas holiday, giving you ample time to explore. Taking place in Colmar’s historic town center, these markets have previously been voted among the best Christmas markets in Europe.
- Montpellier Christmas Market (Montpellier, France): This year, the Montpellier Christmas Market is open from November 28th through December 28th. Hundreds of local shopkeepers participate in the event, offering tastes of sweets, savory items, and mulled wine. For kids, they offer a Christmas parade, arts and crafts workshops, Santa’s sleigh ride, an ice skating rink, and more. If you’re wandering the market at night, it’s enveloped in a heated tent for a comfortable shopping and dining experience.
- Strasbourg’s Christkindelsmärik (Strasbourg, France): Nicknamed the Capital of Christmas, Strasbourg’s Christmas market is a must-visit. Wander the stalls (over a hundred) and enjoy the beautiful decorations, including hand-crafted gifts. There’s also the Alsatian Christmas delicacies market, where you can enjoy some delicious seasonal cuisine.
- Mulhouse Christmas Market (Mulhouse, France): Located in Alsace, the center of the textile industry, this Christmas market is exceptionally colorful. The market is situated by Place de la Réunion near the church of Saint-Etienne and features over 100 booths. Artisans will host demonstrations, and local chefs will present their culinary specialties.
- Viennese Dream Christmas Market (Vienna, Austria): This magical Christmas market takes place in front of the glorious City Hall. In fact, the ground floor of City Hall transforms into a playland for kids, where they can learn how to make Christmas cookies and candles. The market also features international choirs singing Christmas carols to really set the mood.
- Christmas Village Belvedere Palace (Vienna, Austria): This year, the market begins on November 22nd and runs through December 31st. Set against the beautiful backdrop of the world-famous palace (one of Vienna’s most famous sights), this market is sure to delight everyone in your family.
- Salzburg’s Christmas Market (Salzburg, Austria): This market dates back to as far as the 15th century! Attractions include tons of booths selling all sorts of gifts (from jewelry to candles to toys), culinary delights, and live musical performances.
- Fira de Santa Llúcia (Barcelona, Spain): Arguably one of Barcelona’s best Christmas markets, the Fira is located on the large courtyard outside the Cathedral. Tons of wooden stalls offer numerous opportunities to buy unique gifts for everyone in your family.
- Fira de Nadal de la Sagrada Família (Barcelona, Spain): Located outside the glorious Sagrada Familia church, this market dates back to the 1960s. The open-air market provides plenty of options for holiday gift shopping. Plus, as Christmas gets closer, Santa Claus will be in attendance and children are welcome to take pictures with him.
- Mercado de Navidad de Plaza Mayor (Madrid, Spain): For over 100 years, artisans and vendors have come to this market to sell their wares over the holiday season. This market fills the Plaza Mayor with sparkling lights and offers beautiful views of the city. It’s no wonder why this market is one of Spain’s largest!
- Wonderland Parque Eduardo VII (Lisbon, Portugal): This is the largest Christmas market in Lisbon. In addition to the shopping opportunities, there’s also a ferris wheel, ice skating rink, Santa’s House for the kids, and live music.
- Natalis (Lisbon, Portugal): Taking place the first couple weeks in December, this popular market features over 180 companies selling everything from toys to handicrafts to books and so much more.
- Prague Christmas Markets (Prague, Czech Republic): There are two main Christmas markets in Prague. One is in the Old Town Square and the other is Wenceslas Square. You can see them both in one day, as they are only a five minute walk from each other. There’s another, smaller market at Prague Castle, which is open through January 6th – much later than most of the others!
- Christmas Fair Vorosmarty Square (Budapest, Hungary): This beautiful Christmas fair is internationally recognized. Since 1998, this market has taken place in the heart of the city. It features tons of shopping opportunities, food, and live musical performances.
- Budapest Basilica Christmas Fair (Budapest, Hungary): This Christmas market takes place in front of the beautiful St. Stephen’s Basilica, one of the biggest churches in Hungary. It features shopping, food stalls, and a laser Christmas show projected onto the basilica. There’s also an ice skating rink for even more holiday fun!