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A Guide to Europe’s Festive Christmas Markets

Spending Christmas in Europe is such a magical time. Luckily for you, Europe is full of amazing festive Christmas markets. The joyful spirit of Christmas lives on in Europe, from legendary Christmas Markets to Old-World traditions, tree-decorating, and steaming mugs of glühwein. It will warm your heart when you visit Europe’s festive Christmas Markets.

If this is your first time planning your winter holidays in Europe, this guide will help you get into the holiday spirit. Typically these markets run from the last weekend in November right up to Christmas eve.

Winter wonderland in Bruges, Belgium

Undoubtedly, celebrating the holidays in Bruges, Belgium, would be ideal. As you gaze out at the beautiful view, you see gingerbread houses, cobblestone streets, and a wintery wonderland.

Back in the 17th century, chocolate was a sign of luxury. Cocoa beans were first introduced to Belgium by explorers. Initially, it was used to make hot chocolate. Today travelers enjoy it made into fine chocolates.


Strasbourg is the oldest Christmas market in Europe. Often voted as a favorite amongst travelers, the market first started in 1570. Stalls are set up in front of the Strasbourg Cathedral. Strasbourg gets very crowded this time of year, so you may want to look at accommodations outside the town.

Nuremberg, Germany

To enter the market, you will pass through the old city walls. The market stalls offer visitors a variety of goods, including Christmas ornaments, sausages, and wines. If you enjoy gingerbread, you should try it along with sausages topped with sauerkraut. Of course, if you have time to spend in the city, don’t hesitate to visit the museums and explore the restaurants.

Vienna, Austria

The Vienna Christmas markets are undoubtedly one of the best in Europe. The central city has over 20 markets to explore. You’ll find an ice skating rink and children’s workshop at Rathausplatz and market stalls to keep the kids entertained.

There are many other options to visit festive Christmas markets in countries such as Prague, Budapest, Zurich, or Brussels. Some are so well-known that people plan their destination with the thought of visiting them. Others are hidden gems you may want to add to your trip itinerary.

For instance, Brussels has an impressive family Christmas market with many attractions, including ice skating, Ferris wheel rides, festive decorations, and light shows. Of course, one reason to pick Brussels is it stays open until the first weekend in January.

Experience the holiday season by River Cruise

A delightful way to experience timeless holiday magic while exploring several countries is by taking a river cruise. During the Holiday season, both the Rhine & Danube are popular routes for holiday cruisers. These tours provide delightful opportunities for families worldwide to reconnect onboard the elegant ships.


I would recommend you plan your visit to the festive Christmas markets well in advance because the hotels fill up quickly. Also, you may want to include other regions in your itinerary if you plan on a self-drive trip.

Has our guide inspired you to visit the Christmas markets? Let us know in the comments below.


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