The smell of mulled wine, gingerbread and roasted chestnuts is in the air at the best European Christmas Markets. Hand-painted ornaments dangle from little wooden huts, scents of sausage waft through the air and the sounds of carolers and horse carriages clacking on cobblestones fill the old town squares.
BEST CHRISTMAS MARKETS IN GERMANY
The German Christmas markets are the original and the best. Since they date back to the 1300s, many of the German Christmas markets still celebrate traditions from the old days. You'll find richly decorated Christmas stalls and traditional Christmas food like bratwurst and kartoffelpuffer. I suggest starting your journey in Germany. My suggestions for Christmas markets in Germany are: Heidelberg, Rothenburg Ob Der Tauber, Munich, Nuremberg and Dresden. Most towns in Germany, including the smaller ones, will all offer a Weihnachtsmarkt, so you really can't go wrong!
BEST BERLIN CHRISTMAS MARKET :Best Berlin Christmas Markets:Your Local Guide with insider tips!
While I was living in Berlin, one of the things that I enjoyed the most during this time of the year was visiting their Christmas Markets. Everyone loves a Christmas market, and there is nowhere better to enjoy them than in Berlin.
The German capital does not just have one market; Berlin hosts over 70 of them, scattered throughout the city, each district with its own. It doesn’t matter if it is your first time visiting Berlin or your hundredth time, you will totally enjoy the beauty of the Christmas lights and the magical atmosphere of the markets.
There is a huge variety of German markets, from traditional historical markets to those specifically for children, so there’s something for everyone. They can be indoor, covered or outdoor, contemporary or nostalgic, and each one offers visitors something completely different.
THE COSIEST CHRISTMAS MARKET IN BUDAPEST: ST. STEPHEN’S BASILICA MARKET
Despite its smaller size, many visitors vote for the Christmas market in front of the St Stephen’s Basilica as their favorite one. The small ice skating rink and the gorgeous Christmas tree in the middle of the square offer excellent photo ops with the magnificent church in the background.What else makes this location special? The custom-designed light screening show displayed on the facade of St Stephen’s. In recent years there are two kinds of shows, both once every hour: a “traditional” one, and a 3D one for which you can buy your 3D glasses at any vendor of the market.
CHRISTMAS IN NUREMBERG
Nuremberg is Germany’s most famous Christkindlesmarkt…so popular in fact, that more than 2 million people visit it each year. Though it might sound packed, head there during the daytime any weekday and you’ll be able to enjoy and browse the more than 180 market stands selling everything from Nuremberg’s famous Prune Men to blueberry mulled wine.
BEST CHRISTMAS MARKETS IN AUSTRIA
Austria has many lovely Christmas markets and small towns. You'll find them in Salzburg, Ellmau, Graz, and Kitzbuhel, but the best is in Vienna. The Vienna Christmas markets are one of the most famous and popular in all of Europe. It's no surprise why: the elegant chandeliers light up the streets and paint a picture of rich opulence. I find the markets in Austria to be lovely, romantic, and a great combination of traditional and modern refinement.
BEST CHRISTMAS MARKETS IN VIENNA
There are multiple markets throughout the city but my favorites are Rathaus, St. Stephen's Square, Maria-Theresa Square, Schönbrunn Palace, Belvedere, and Altes AKH. Take a ride on the Ringstrasse on Tram 1 to map out every where you'd like to stop. You'll find that the buildings serve as incredible backdrops for the Christmas decor. At Rathaus (City Hall) there's a huge, lit tree, an ice skating rink, and even a stage for live music and performances. Don't forget to go inside the Rathaus for a beautiful view.
WHAT TO EAT AT CHRISTMAS MARKETS
Schokokuss – the best way to describe this dessert is to take marshmallow fluff, then cover it chocolate, and eat a dozen. Really, these are inexpensive and are so light and fluffy. I get one almost every time I go to a Christmas market.
Bratwurst – Authentic German food is bratwurst and Rostbratwurst roasting continually. Each Christmas market does it a bit differently so try one wherever you go. You can get it with bread and I always load up on mustard and onions.
Kartoffelpuffer – Take potatoes, fry them. It sounds simple but they are absolutely divine. Usually served with applesauce (weird but good) or garlic sauce. Give these a try!
Gingerbread – Also known as Lebkuchen, you'll find both soft and hard gingerbread sold. They also like to sell it in heart shapes, wrapped in plastic, with words written on the cookie. I can't say these are very tasty, but they are pretty!