Christmas is my favourite time of the year, the whole world turns into a festive snow globe, where flavoured lattes and sugary treats hit all the stores, Christmas carols can be heard in every retail shop, and twinkling lights adorn the streets, and there is no better way to celebrate the best holiday than in Europe, home to the most delightful Christmas markets and the most delicious hot chocolate that are always absolutely scrumptious. With so many picture postcard worthy cities hosting these magical events it is hard to choose which ones to visit, so here is my go to guide on where to find the creme de la creme of the European Christmas Markets this holiday season.
1. Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany
This is one of my favourite towns in all of Europe, and is one of the most festive places in Germany not only around Christmas time, but all year long. With stores dedicated to the happiest holiday and an entire Christmas museum, Rothenburg is the perfect place to celebrate the Christmas season. At the markets mostly located within the main town square, you’ll find all sorts of charming trinkets, homemade souvenirs, and tasty treats including the trademark Rothenburg dessert, Schneeballen.
2. Edinburgh, Scotland
Hosted at the banks of Edinburgh Castle, these magical markets combine thrilling rides and a Santa Land with its very own Christmas tree maze. Finding your way through the endless paths you’ll find the exit at the foot of the stairs that lead up to the markets that have about a million different hot chocolate flavours, and best of all, they offer vegan sausages that make the experience even more incredible for all those vegans out there.
3. London, England
This list could not be complete without including one of the most visited Christmas markets not only in Europe but in the world. Winter Wonderland in London’s Hyde Park is what Christmas dreams are made of, with sparkling lights, a large ice rink where you can test your skills on skates, and tasty mulled wine that may leave you just a bit wobbly on the ice. With over 200 market stalls you’ll be able to find a Christmas gift for everyone you know!
4. Stockholm, Sweden
If you’re after that classic white Christmas atmosphere, then you are almost certain to experience one in the beautiful Swedish capital, Stockholm, where you will be greeted to snow covered market stalls set in the Gamla Stan, one of the cutest old towns in Europe. With all the typical Christmas market delicacies, you’ll also be able to sample some traditional Scandinavian treats including reindeer and elk meat for something new and unique.
5. Dresden, Germany
It is no secret that Germany has some of the best Christmas markets in the world, and they are often the inspiration for many other markets across Europe, but Dresden may just have the best. One of the oldest cities to hold these famous markets, dating back to 1434, they are most popular for their rich dried fruit and marzipan cake, or Stollen, and let’s not forget about their Nutcracker, that rumour has it is the tallest one in the world.
6. Lille, France
This small town in northern France is Christmas crazy with garlands and fairy lights strung around the town, though you’ll find the real magic on Place Rihour where chalet style stalls are set up with all kinds of figurines, decorations, and gifts. Right at the centre you’ll find an 18-meter high Christmas tree that is always beautifully decorated and the highlight of the season. With traders coming from Canada, Poland, and Russia, you’ll find an abundance of one of a kind treasures.
7. Vienna, Austria
Austria is renowned for its Advent Christmas markets, and the epitome of them is of course the Viennese markets sitting in front of the Rauthaus. With carollers enhancing the festive atmosphere with holiday classics, stroll through the many seasonal booths, before checking out the activities on offer where you can make your own cookies and create your own Christmas scented candles. This joyful scene is a must see for all the Christmas fanatics (like myself).
8. St Gallen, Switzerland
Switzerland is a Christmas lover’s dream, with snow-capped mountains and wooden chalets set into the backdrop of the alps, the cities here definitely know how to do Christmas right. But one that goes above and beyond is St Gallen that year after year decorates with over 700 star lights, giving it the name “the city of stars.” With the distant chimes of the choir singing in the abbey you’ll find it hard to not start singing along with them.
9. Vilnius, Lithuania
With Santa Claus and his elves flying by on his sleigh, and gingerbread, hot tea, and delicious sweets on offer on every street corner, you’ll feel as if you have stepped into Santa’s Village here in Lithuania’s capital. With the smell of roasted almonds and fresh Christmas trees in the air, you can’t not be merry in Vilnius! Located in the Cathedral Square in the historic centre you will be spoilt for choice for ceramics, jewellery and other little trinkets.
10. Brussels, Belgium
The Winter Wonders event held in Brussels gather crowds from all over Europe to see the ferris wheel, merry-go-rounds, ice rink, and the ever impressive Christmas tree sound and light show. All throughout the month of December, you can wander through the 200 stalls and fairground getting in the holiday spirit with a mulled wine in hand. Make sure not to miss the parade and the origami light show for a spectacular performance that is truly enchanting.