Europe in the winter is magical and especially during Christmas. The main reason for us is the Christmas markets. Great food (think bratwurst), homemade ornaments, and of course the Nativity scenes. If you can’t you get enough of the cozy Christmas atmosphere, head to Europe and visit as many Christmas markets as you possibly can. The Christmas market started in the Middle Ages in Germany but have spread throughout the world. We even have one in southwest Florida, but the true Christmas markets are in Europe. So, we have created here a list of the best Christmas markets. Make sure to visit these markets to have unique experiences and make the gloomy winters exciting. Let the Christmas fun begin!
1. Christmas Market in the Old Town – Riga, Latvia
The Latvian capital’s largest Christmas market is like something out of a fairy tale. It is located in Cathedral Square in the heart of Riga’s historic city centre.
The square is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List and does not disappoint as a setting for the stands, which offer lots of locally produced goods. Get warm with a delicious glass of mulled wine, and don’t hold back from roasted almonds and glazed gingerbread!
2. Christmas Market in the Old Town – Prague, Czech Republic
Prague ranks at the top when it comes to Christmas markets. The city is full of them – but head for the Old Town if you want to experience Prague’s best Christmas atmosphere.
Here, small wooden stalls lie side by side with a view of a huge Christmas tree, and they do not disappoint when it comes to the selection of souvenirs and – not least – the food stalls!
3. Stortorget Julmarknad – Stockholm, Sweden
Stortorget Julmarknad, in the heart of Stockholm’s Gamla Stan, is a traditional Christmas market that boasts the best location in the city.
It first opened in 1837 and is Sweden’s oldest Christmas market. It spreads over 41 small red stands that fit perfectly into the city’s historic setting, where you can buy everything from caramels to art to ceramics. And don’t miss Swedish Christmas delicacies such as gingerbread and saffron buns!
4. Christkindlesmarkt – Nuremberg, Germany
Every year, two million people visit the Nuremberg Christmas market – and there is a good reason why the market is so popular. Nuremberg’s Christmas market dates back to the 17th century, and with its 180 stands, it is one of the largest in Germany.
The market is located in the old town and can be spotted from a long distance, due to its red/white colours. Warm yourself up with a cup of the local blueberry mulled wine Heidelbeer Glühwein and enjoy a delicious Nürnberger Lebkuchen (gingerbread with chocolate coating).
5. San Gregorio Armeno – Naples, Italy
Naples’ charming street San Gregorio Armeno fills with life around Christmas, where the area’s many shops sell, among other things, small figurines depicting the birth of Jesus in all shades.
Enjoy traditional Neapolitan Christmas treats like rococo cookies, susamielli cakes and deep-fried struffoli buns as you let yourself be captivated by the charm of Naples!
6. Albert Square – Manchester, England
In Albert Square, you can roam among 300 stalls divided into several sections: an international market, a French market, a German market and a family-friendly market (the latter even boasts an ice rink!).
At the market, you can buy everything from artisanal goods to delicacies from all over Europe, but the food stalls alone are enough for you to stop by Manchester this Christmas. French crêpes and German flammkuchen (pizza-like bread with cheese and meat) are just a small sample of what awaits you.
7. Mercado de Navidad – Madrid, Spain
Madrid’s largest square, La Plaza Mayor, is transformed in December into a traditional Christmas market that was first held in 1860.
The market’s 140 stalls sell goods in all guises, from small biblical figures, for which the market is particularly famous, to the so-called ‘jokes and pranks’ items that Spaniards play tricks on each other on December 28th (this day of Spain’s is similar to our 1st April).
8. Tivoli – Copenhagen
Copenhagen’s most traditional Christmas market can be found in Tivoli. The market is surrounded by Christmas trees illuminated by thousands of lights, and the cosiness is completed by the smell of roasted almonds.
The skating rink is the last detail that makes the market a true adventure, and the hungry must not cheat themselves of Tivoli’s popular roast pork sandwich.
9. Basel Weihnacht, Switzerland
The Christmas market is spread over the entire old town of Basel. Beautiful large fir trees beautify Basel’s distinctive cityscape at this time. Most stalls can be found on Barfüsserplatz and Münsterplatz. Not least, the popular Basler specialities attract visitors to the Christmas markets. Above all, the delicious glühwein, gingerbread Lebkuchen and Basler Läckerli, which are traditional gingerbread-like cookies with candied fruit, are served in rectangular pieces. The festive musical opening of the Christmas market is an experience every year.
10. Salzburg Christkindlmarkt, Austria
The most famous Christmas market in Salzburg is the traditional Christkindlmarkt, which with its special charm offers an ideal setting to get into the Christmas spirit. The beautifully decorated cathedral square, the traditional stalls with a starry sky and the wide range of Christmas offers for all senses attract visitors from near and far every year. Performances by choirs and children’s choirs from Salzburg provide a festive musical atmosphere. Every Saturday, at 18.30, the Salzburger Turmbläser, a wind ensemble, plays traditional Christmas tunes on Residenzplatz – a truly unforgettable romantic experience in lovely Salzburg.
11. Christkindelsmärik Strasbourg, France
Since 1570, there has been “Christkindelsmärik” on Broglieplatz in Strasbourg. Protestants in Strasbourg then went against the Catholic tradition that favours saint names and called the Christmas market Christkindelsmärik instead of the “St. Nikolaus” market. The beautiful Strasbourg Christmas market has long since spread to many other squares and squares in the city. With its traditions and location in the heart of Europe, it belongs to one of the most famous Christmas markets. Young and old enjoy delicacies such as gingerbread, pretzels and many different Alsatian specialities. In the many stalls, you will find an impressive selection of special Christmas decorations.
Our Final Word
We are lucky to have family in Germany where we can visit the Christmas markets. We brave the cold and snow, love to buy some handmade items and eat some wonderful food. We always look forward to it and cannot wait to return. Head to Europe and eat a bratwurst for us.