Get festive at Europe’s best Christmas markets

  • Christmas shopping
Published 3 weeks ago

You have so many options for your Christmas shopping — from bursting department stores and cosmopolitan shopping streets with spectacular festive window displays, to local boutiques and the internet, of course. However, for fairy-tale-like Christmas shopping experiences, we encourage you to head to the closest Christmas market, where you will find anything from handcrafted toys and ornaments, to fashion items and food (so much food!). Let the sounds of Christmas carols and the aromas of warm mulled wine, gingerbread, and roasted chestnuts guide you to one of our favourite European Christmas markets, and indulge into the holiday spirit!

Strasbourg, France

Christmas decorations in Strasbourg

It’s not without reason that Strasbourg in eastern France wishes to be known as the Capital of Christmas. Strasbourg’s Marché de Noël (called Christkindelsmärik in Alsatian dialect) dates back to 1570 and is one of Europe’s oldest Christmas markets. Three hundred stalls are spread over ten locations throughout the old town’s picturesque alleyways and squares, and shows and concerts spur visitors on to indulge in a festive mood. The highlight of Strasbourg’s Christmas ambience is the Great Christmas Tree on Place Kléber.

Vienna, Austria

Christmas in Vienna

Vienna’s Christmas market on Rathausplatz, just in front of the City Hall is one of the many Christmas markets that pop up throughout Austria’s capital city in November. Whether you mingle with locals to enjoy the warmth of mulled wine (Glühwein) and the delicious tastes of spiced biscuits, or you decide to show off your curling skills on the dedicated ice rink, it’s guaranteed that you will catch the Christmas spirit somewhere among the market’s 151 stalls.

Prague, Czech Republic

Christmas market in Prague
Rostislav Glinsky /

If you are an expat in Prague, and it’s in your nature to do your Christmas shopping last minute (some habits never die), don’t you worry! The city’s two primary Christmas markets — the Old Town Square and the Wenceslas Square Christmas market — stay open until January 6, including the 25th of December. A stone’s throw away from each other, both markets offer excellent shopping opportunities such as Christmas ornaments, fabrics, fashion items, and home decoration crafts. If you are looking for ways to survive the cold temperatures, warm yourself up with medovina, a traditional spicy honey liquor served hot.

Krakow, Poland

Christmas in Poland

Covering 200 square metres and being surrounded by iconic townhouses, Rynek square is one of the largest medieval squares in Europe and home to Krakow’s renown Christmas market. Here, you will find local Christmas crafts such as hand-painted baubles for your tree and antiques; you can also watch masters making chocolate and boiled candies, which there’s no doubt you will want to eat after. Following the 76th Christmas Crib Competition, all the participating szopki (colourful structures of cribs) are exhibited at Celestat museum, cherishing one of Krakow’s most respected Christmas traditions.

Birmingham, England

Christmas in Birmingham
Pefkos /

Are you an expat in Birmingham, who is desperately longing for a German or Austrian Christmas market? Don’t fret; England’s second biggest city boasts "the largest authentic German Christmas market outside of Germany or Austria". Held in Victoria Square, along New Street, UK’s largest outdoor Christmas market is home to over 120 stalls selling everything that comes to your jolly mind.

Berlin, Germany

Christmas decorations in Berlin

The whole of Berlin is atmospheric during the holidays, but the heart of Christmas beats in Gendarmenmarkt, one of the most beautiful public squares in the capital city. The Gendarmenmarkt Christmas market has it all: handmade goods, delicious food, and nighttime music and performance entertainment. To enter the magical world of Christmas, adults must pay one Euro admission fee, part of which goes to charity.

Budapest, Hungary

Christmas in Budapest
Calin Stan /

Budapest’s Christmas celebrations revolve around St. Stephen’s Basilica, the largest church in Budapest with 8,500 people room capacity. Vörösmarty Square is home to the Budapest Christmas Fair, which is the oldest and most famous Christmas market in the city. More than 80 vendors, a skating rink, folk dance shows, and live music compose the lively atmosphere. If you are a fresh expat in Hungary, don’t miss out the country’s culinary speciality, Goulash — a spicy meat stew served in bread.

Stockholm, Sweden

Christmas in Stockholm

Located on Stockholm’s island of Djurgården, the Skansen Christmas market has been an annual event since 1903. Pick any weekend from late November till late December to cherish the Christmas spirit with live music, dancing games around the Christmas tree at the Bollnäs Square, and Christmas decorations workshops. The market’s stalls sell anything from Swedish handicrafts and children’s books to spices, sausages, bread, and marmalades.

Copenhagen, Denmark

Tivoli Gardens
footageclips /

There are over 15 renown Christmas markets in Copenhagen, including one named after the world’s favourite Danish storyteller Hans Christian Andersen. However, Copenhagen’s number one Christmas market takes place in Tivoli Gardens, only a few minutes’ walk from City Hall. It’s not a coincidence that even Walt Disney conceived some of his ideas here, as there’s something for every aspiration. At night, about half a million lights create a magical atmosphere, which is enhanced by thrilling rides, a lake ice rink, and a variety of seasonal flavours such as hot chocolate, honninghjerter (honey cake), and sugar-roasted almonds.

Helsinki, Finland

Christmas in Helsinki
elina /

No Christmas list can be complete without a reference to Santa Claus’ home country, Finland. The 140 vendors of the Helsinki market at the Senate Square set the path to Christmas with local handicrafts such as kuksa wooden cups and himmeli ornaments, as well as traditional Christmassy flavours. But it’s not all about shopping and eating; there are a sauna and an old carousel in the centre of the market for those who are after experiences.