The 10 Best Christmas Markets in Europe

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best-christmas-markets-in-europe: a local christmas market with lots of lights and decorations.
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Europe is famous for many things, but one of the continent’s best traditions is the Christmas market. Held annually in November, December and sometimes early January, Christmas markets are a popular attraction in most countries, although Austria and Germany are especially famous for them. Historically, the markets celebrate the Christmas Advent, but they’ve since been embraced by visitors of all faiths, who can appreciate the charming atmosphere, delicious food and warming mulled wine.

There are literally hundreds of Christmas markets around Europe, both large and small, and you can’t really go wrong at any of them. But there are a few that stand out above the rest thanks to their culinary offerings, events and performances and locations. Here are the ten best Christmas markets in Europe.

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best-christmas-markets-europe: an array of colorful christmas lights in front of a castle.
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1. Christkindlmarkt on the Rathausplatz (Vienna, Austria)

  • Location: Rathausplatz
  • Dates: Nov. 10 – Dec. 26, 2023
  • Why We Love It: family-friendly, lots to see and do, ice skating
  • Where to Stay: Hilton Vienna Plaza (from $188/night); Spacious Vienna Condo (sleeps 6, from $161/night)

Vienna boasts a plethora of Christmas markets, which kick off in early November, but the festive, magical one in the city’s Rathausplatz is the very best. Located in front of city hall, with roots dating back to the 18th century, the market features more than 100 booths with food and goodies, ice skating, colorful lights, a brand new carousel and an emphasis on sustainability. Enjoy roast chestnuts, cream-filled pastries or some delicious Christmas punch as you explore the arts and crafts. While the market closes right after the holidays, the ice rink will be open until Jan. 7, 2024.

best christmas markets europe budapest Vörösmarty
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2. Vörösmarty Square (Budapest, Hungary)

Budapest’s main square has hosted an impressive Christmas market for more than to decades and it’s now one of Europe’s must-visit holiday stops. There are separate craft and food sections of the expansive market, which is best experienced with a warm mug of mulled wine. Visitors can expect handmade gifts and ornaments, choir performances, an array of Hungarian snacks and treats and fairy tale lights everywhere. There is another popular Christmas market outside Saint Stephens Basilica, located only a short walk from Vörösmarty Square.

best-christmas-markets-europe: people sitting at tables under umbrellas at the market.
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3. Weihnachtszauber (Berlin, Germany)

German Christmas markets are a sight to behold and there’s no better experience than the one in Berlin’s Bebelplatz. Its filled with rows and rows of stalls selling artisan crafts, ceramics, local treats and delicacies and artwork, and there’s daily entertainment for all ages, from acrobats to choirs to dance groups. The culinary offerings are especially sophisticated, with high-end restaurants you can book in advance, and there are heated indoor areas to eat—ideal in Berlin’s frigid temperatures. There’s a small entry fee for adults (kids are free), but it’s worth the price.

best-christmas-markets-europe: local businesses decorated with christmas lights.
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4. Christmas at Liseberg (Gothenberg, Sweden)

Gothenberg is a charming, colorful city year-round, but during the holidays its annual Christmas market makes it even more compelling. The market takes place in the popular Liseberg amusement park, which means there are rides and games alongside the craft stalls and Christmas merriment. Expect ice skating, open day and night, and tons of booths selling homemade gifts and crafts. Kids will love Santa’s grotto and the furry characters in Rabbit Land, while adults will appreciate the high-end wares and the delicious mulled wine.

best-christmas-markets-europe: local buildings christmas lights.
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5. Tallinn Christmas Market (Tallinn, Estonia)

Each winter, Tallinn’s oldest square becomes a whimsical Christmas market, which has extended its hours later into the evening for the current year. Kids can expect Santa Claus and several carousels, as well as the House of Sweets, a bakery with a vast array of sweet treats. There are also stalls with crafts and traditional dishes like stewed sauerkraut and duck legs, and an impressive range of glöggs, a spiced wine usually served hot. Daily entertainment is a highlight, with performances by folk dancers and folk music performers from all over Estonia. Come for the market’s opening and closing ceremonies for something extra special.

best christmas markets europe tivoli denmark
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6. Christmas in Tivoli (Copenhagen, Denmark)

Copenhagen’s Tivoli Gardens is famous for being the world’s second-oldest amusement park, which regularly celebrate various holidays with traditional flair. In November and December, Tivoli becomes a winter wonderland with sparkling décor, booths selling food and crafts and musical performances by the Tivoli Youth Guard. The park tailors its offerings to the younger crowd with visits to Santa’s house and lots of rides and family shows. Don’t skip the food, which includes traditional Danish classics like gingerbread hearts, marzipan and roast pork sandwiches.

best christmas markets europe basel switzerland
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7. Basel Christmas Market (Basel, Switzerland)

Two of Basel’s main squares, Barfüsserplatz and Münsterplatz, welcome holiday revelers each year to the city’s main Christmas market. It’s one of Switzerland’s largest, located in the heart of the already-festive Old Town, and it has a fairy tale charm you can’t aptly capture on Instagram. There are more than 150 stalls with crafts and culinary treats, including waffles, mulled wine and, of course, Swiss raclette. For an especially impressive view, ascend the tower of the Basel Cathedral, which is open daily until 5:30 p.m.

best-christmas-markets-europe: people posing next to a local christmas tree.
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8. Winter Glow (Bruges, Belgium)

  • Location: Markt and Simon Stevinplein
  • Dates: Nov. 24, 2023 – Jan. 7, 2024
  • Why We Love It: lots to see and do, ice skating, lively atmosphere
  • Where to Stay: Hotel Aragon (from $84/night); Historic Fish Market Suite (sleeps 2; from $171/night)

The historic city center of Bruges is a magical location for the annual Winter Glow, a more modern Christmas market that pairs high-tech offerings like a Light Trail with two collections of traditional market stalls. There’s also an ice skating rink dubbed the Lake of Love, an outdoor bar and lots of events. The actual markets, in Markt square and Simon Stevinplein, feature crafts and food in quaint stalls. The Light Trail, which launched a few years ago, is a great way to explore Bruges’ famous spots.

best christmas markets europe salzburg
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9. Salzburg Christkindlmarket (Salzburg, Austria)

Salzburg is home to one of the world’s oldest Christmas markets, which pops up each year in the center of the city. The current iteration has been around since 1974 and features more than 100 stalls with folk crafts, gifts and Austrian specialties like mulled wine, hot punch and sausages. There are daily events and activities, including choir sing-alongs, readings, Krampus parades and visits from the Christ child. It’s a great place to experience a traditional Christmas Advent market and it even carries on into the New Year.

best-christmas-markets-europe: a gazebo decorated with christmas lights.
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10. Advent Zagreb (Zagreb, Croatia)

Zagreb’s annual Christmas market is often named the best in Europe—and for good reason. It takes over multiple streets and squares in the Croatian city, ensuring that there is Christmas spirit everywhere you turn. It boasts a large ice skating rink on King Tomislav Square and features an extensive program of live music, as well as exhibitions and open-air movie screenings. It caters to adults and kids alike, with plenty of food and drink vendors, as well as crafts and gifts. The market is extensive, taking over multiple locations throughout Zagreb, so be sure to give yourself a few days to explore it all.