Christmas markets – finally a holiday that you can pretend is for the good of your loved ones! Do all your Christmas shopping, explore a new destination and de-stress all at the same time. Awesome. There are so many Christmas markets in Europe it can be hard to know which ones to go to. We have hand-picked our top 5, which are all quite different. The bigger markets are popular but that also means you’ll be battling the crowds, sometimes an off the radar Christmas market means it costs you less to get there and you can have a more relaxing visit. Here’s what each of our top European Christmas market has to offer and why you should go…
Prague Christmas Market
Prague Christmas markets have been voted the most beautiful of all the markets, plus your money goes a lot further so make sure you take a big suitcase for all the gifts you want to take home! Prague offers 2 main markets: Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square which are a 5 minute walk from each other. Plus there are several smaller markets at Prague Castle, Kampa Island, Republic Square, Havel’s Market and on the square by St. George’s Basilica.
Prague sight-seeing: Known for its beautiful architecture, cheap beer and ballet, Prague is a varied destination with plenty to explore on a short break. After all your shopping you can head to a spa – but not just any spa, a beer spa (yes, you read that right). Sit in a giant tub of beer and feel all your stresses melt away! Prague Castle is well worth a visit, there is a small Christmas market there too. By night make sure you don’t miss a folklore dinner and a night out on the town.
When to go: The Prague Christmas markets open every day from 2nd December to 6th January, including on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.
Best for: Value for money
Copenhagen Christmas Markets
Head to the Trivolli Gardens and you will get into the Christmas spirit in no time! Although there are only 60 stalls here, there are lots of beautiful things to buy including knitted gifts, leather products and beautiful crafts. What’s even better is the 27 fair rides and the reindeer. There is another out of town Christmas market with 100 stalls which is located in Kronborg Castle (yes, it is a real castle!) With lots of unusual things to buy it’s definitely worth a visit. Kids can also make their Christmas gifts. Expect beer tasting mulled wine and jazz music.
Copenhagen sightseeing: The Christmas markets themselves are in pretty cool places but the fun doesn’t end there. You can also visit Amalienborg Palace where royal family live, get your dose of culture at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, or keep the kids entertained at Experimentarium where they can get involved in playful experiments and activities. Grown-ups will love the Michelin starred restaurants and the annual Crazy Christmas Cabaret show at Tivoli’s Glasssal.
When to go: The Christmas market in Tivoli Gardens is on from 19 November to 31 December and Kronborg Castle is on only on 2 weekends; 2 – 3 December and 9 – 10 December from 10.00 am – 5.00 pm.
Best for: Fun
Frankfurt Christmas Markets
Frankfurt Christmas is as about as traditional as you can get; the market is huge and with over 200 stalls you are sure to find beautiful gifts. This Christmas market has been running a very long time, over 600 years, so they know how to make sure you have a great time. There are regular concerts, ice skating and entertainment as well as lots of shopping opportunities.
Frankfurt sight-seeing: Get a great view of the city from the Main Tower skyscraper, it has an observation platform 200m high and explore many museums. If you have time to explore there are many great day trips from Frankfurt including a steam boat river cruise on the Rhine River.
When to go: The market is located at Römerberg & St Paul’s Square and opens from 27 November to 22 December Monday – Saturday 10:00 am – 9:00 pm and Sunday 11:00 am – 9:00 pm.
Best for: Tradition
Dresden Christmas Market
Dresden Christmas market is Germany’s oldest Christmas market and it’s located in the beautiful historic city square. Find lots of handmade crafts, textile products, glassware and plenty of food and drink. You can watch glass blowing and carvers making gifts too.
Dresden sight-seeing: Climb on board an historic paddle steamer and enjoy the stunning scenery on a boat ride along the Elbe River, see the largest green diamond in the world at the famous Green Vault which is Europe’s greatest jewellery collection or get cultured at the opera.
When to go: Dresden Christmas market will open from 29th November to 24th December and is located at Dresden Altmarkt square. The stalls are open from 10am to 9pm.
Best for: Biggest Christmas market