As the clocks change this weekend and the nights are about to become an awful lot darker, here at Not In The Guidebooks we’ve decided to look forward to the good parts of winter, and bring you our top 6 Christmas markets in Europe, so that you can get some inspiration for a Christmas markets break in 2021.
There’s something special about wandering the brightly lit stalls and chalets on crisp, cold December evening, drinking in the buzzing atmosphere and warming your hands around a cup of hot mulled wine. But whether it’s Krakow or Munich, Strasbourg or Prague, it’s hard to know where the best examples of Christmas markets are in Europe.
That’s why we’ve narrowed down the endless choice into our top 6 Christmas markets in Europe, so that you don’t have to do the endless research, and can just start dreaming of a unique Christmas adventure.
Nestled in the heart of the Alsace region and virtually within a stones’ throw of the German border, the Christmas market at Strasbourg combines French and German culture and cuisine to spectacular effect.
One of the oldest Christmas markets in Europe, as you explore you’ll stroll past stalls of sizzling bratwurst, pile upon pile of bretzels, and steaming vats of mulled wine. But remember that you’re still in France, and in the legendary Alsace wine region, so expect incredible cheese, wine, bread and chocolate. The only real question you’ll face is what to eat at this unique French Christmas market first…
Considered one of the most beautiful Christmas markets in Europe, Krakow Christmas market, located in the 13th century Rynek Główny main square, is a jaw-dropping display of technicolour lights under stunning Gothic and Renaissance architecture.
Cobbled, medieval streets wind their way towards scents of hearty goulashes and soups, grilling meats and boiling dumplings, all found in the main square itself at the different stalls and huts. Mulled wine becomes hot vodka-based drinks, the perfect tonic to combat the cold that you’re sure to encounter in this corner of Poland.
Not content with just one Christmas market, Cologne is a city so Christmas obsessed that it’s almost impossible not to stumble across a cluster of stalls selling culinary delights and hand-made crafts. At the centre of it all though, and in the shadow of one of the most spectacular cathedrals in Europe, is Cologne’s main Christmas market, centred around an enormous Christmas tree.
A wonderful place to simply get lost in the magical atmosphere, there’s not much that can beat a steaming Feuerzangenbowle, an age-old tradition where a rum-soaked sugarloaf is set on fire and drips into a mug of mulled wine after ice-skating with sweeping views of the glittering Rhine.
From 27th November, The Old Town Square in Prague plays host to another of Europe’s top Christmas markets. Pretty wooden stalls sell regional crafts like beautifully blown glasswork, all of which looks all the more hypnotic under the Christmas lights after a beer or four in a cosy Prague pub.
Even more tempting is the endless options of grilled skewers and sausages, hot roasted chestnuts and local sweet treats like cinnamon-dusted pastries and cakes. One thing is guaranteed by the time you leave Prague Christmas market; you certainly won’t be going hungry.
A lesser-known gem for you, this beautiful Christmas market in the heart of Champagne country boasts a beautifully lit cathedral and a unique light show along the River Vesle. It’s a small city made for indulgence at the most indulgent time of year, a glass of champagne under the Christmas lights is the perfect thing to get into a festive spirit.
Head on a Christmas market break to Reims with Not In The Guidebooks and get to know the city like a local, exploring the glittering Christmas markets, the surrounding winelands, and the generations-old Champagne houses, for a truly unique Christmas this year.
In the unique setting of Salzburg’s World Heritage Old Town, sits one of the oldest Christmas markets in the world, dating all the way back to the 15th century. With over 100 stands and the scents of incense, mulled wine and grills wafting through the market, it’s a wonderful maze of festive sights, smells and tastes.
And with choral concerts, Krampus experiences and brass bands, you can feel every year of the hundreds of years old traditions. A unique Christmas market in a beautiful part of the world, the magic of Salzburg gives it a worthy spot in our top Christmas markets.
Here at Not In The Guidebooks, we offer a wide variety of unique tours, breaks and experiences designed to get you off the beaten track, and to the beating heart of a culture or community. By connecting you with local people and showcasing the local side of a destination, we aim to create travel memories that stay with you for a lifetime.