Europe’s best Christmas markets
Mulled wine, ginger biscuits, handicrafts, carols... If you’re wondering where the best Christmas markets in Europe are, keep on reading. We’ve prepared a selection with the best from Budapest to Prague, including Berlin’s 80 traditional markets, so that you can start soaking up some Christmas spirit on your getaways in Europe this autumn.
1 Almost 80 markets in Germany’s capital
At this time of the year, Berlin is transformed by more than 80 Christmas markets. There are classic markets in the old Spandau area, romantic ones – like the one at Charlottenburg Palace – or lavish ones, in Gendermenmarkt. Besides the traditional stands, they also feature acrobats, dancing, music and the legendary glühwein. This hot wine served in a mug might not sound very appetising, but after spending some time walking in the snow, it’s the best way to warm up your Christmas spirit. The Germans make theirs with red wine, cinnamon sticks, anise, clove, citrus peel and sugar.
2 Budapest: Christmas ambience next to the Danube.
One of the places you should visit for a perfect weekend in Hungary’s capital is the Central Market, which has countless food stands. The market hangs the classic lights to flood it with Christmas ambience. There’s nothing like browsing the city’s markets in search of souvenirs or gifts to take back home this Christmas. There are markets for every taste, such as the one in Szent Istvan Square, which projects a 3D light show on the St. Istvan Basilica in Óbuda – one of the most traditional – presided over by a Christmas tree more than 16 metres high; or the largest, in Vörösmarty Square. This latter opens in early November and, from the first week of December, receives visits from Santa Claus, whom children can meet from 4.00pm to 7.00pm.
3 Paris: Christmas spirit in every neighbourhood
There are Christmas markets at the most emblematic spots of the French capital, such as the Eiffel Tower, Notre-Dame, the Tuileries Garden and City Hall (the Hôtel de Ville), but the most picturesque are in places less frequented by tourists. To see an authentic Christmas market (which originated in Germany), you’ll need to visit the Alsatian market in Gare de l’Est. Trains to Alsace –a French region with German heritage – leave from this station. This market offers the best traditional local products, such as spice bread, bretzels and spätzle (Alsatian-style pasta). From 21 November to 29 December, the La Défense financial area at the other end of the city, hosts the Christmas village Le Village de Noël de La Défense. With more than 10,000m2 of stands with artisanal products located in wooden chalets, it’s Paris’s largest market.
4 Christmas markets in Prague: it’s all in the centre
If you’re planning a getaway to the Czech Republic and would like to know where Prague’s best Christmas markets are this year, here are the details. There is one in Wenceslas Square, although the biggest one – the one in Old City Square – offers the most iconic snapshot of the city. Its festively lighted booths and stands featuring jewellery, ceramics and hand-embroidered garments have Prague’s famous astronomical clock – one of the city’s icons – as a backdrop. If you like to try sweets when travelling, don’t forget to order a Trdelnik (a traditional Christmas pastry made of a baked cone sprinkled with sugar and other ingredients).