Think Europe and timeless cities spring to mind – each one more charming than the other. But if there’s a time of the year they truly shine, it would have to be Christmas. The beginning of the holiday season means one thing – Christmas markets! Brightly lit cobblestoned streets transform into winter wonderlands as spicy-savory notes waft through the crisp air. Christmas markets are a tradition that goes back to the Middle Ages. Join us through some of the best ones to experience this winter.
The Christmas Market in Finland’s Helsinki draws over 300,000 visitors each year. One of the biggest attractions is the City Square dotted with more than 120 chalets and other attractions. What’s great about the market is it has something for everyone: classic mulled wine for tradition-seekers or vegan options for conscious eaters. Don’t forget to take a magical ride on the carousel near the Christmas tree.
The city of Vilnius in Lithuania is known to have one of the most stunning Christmas trees in all of Europe! Each year, the market dazzles with its light displays and a showcase of gorgeous trees at the center of the Old Town. Not only does it have chalets, but delightful igloos as well. Step into anyone to sample spicy gingerbread and hot tea!
The Strasbourg Christmas market is one of the oldest ones in Europe. The city outdoes itself each year. Narrow alleys illuminated with lights, a majestic tree at the city’s center, and almost 300 wooden chalets lining the square. The quaint market has stalls selling wooden toys and glass ornaments. In keeping with the Christmas spirit, drop by the Sharing Village to support local charities. Don’t leave without trying some Alsatian wine and gingerbread cookies!
What’s better than a Christmas market? Two magical markets! Budapest’s Christmas markets are within walking distance from each other. Don’t miss out on a visit to the oldest Christmas market at Vorosmarty Square where you can browse traditional Hungarian crafts and foods. Walk over to the second market outside St. Stephen’s Basilica that has a skating rink and folk dances on the weekends.
Bath, United Kingdom
The Christmas market in Bath is both a feast for the eyes and stomachs. The town’s cobbled stone streets dazzle in golden lights. Lining the streets are numerous chalets with handcrafted products – perfect to gift someone special. Local charities and organizations can take chalets for free, helping people support or learn more about their stellar humanitarian work. One of the things you must try here is a steaming mug of mulled cider.
By the end of November, the German city of Cologne sees numerous wooden stalls popping up. These charming stalls herald the start of the festive season. While the city is home to several markets, the most spectacular one happens at Cologne’s gothic-style cathedral. Over the years, the Cologne Christmas Market has grown to include new attractions. One of the most popular is “Christmas Avenue” – a market by the LGBTQ community featuring a host of live performances.