Home to some of the best Christmas Markets in Europe, with an atmospheric dusting of snow, plenty of fairy tale style architecture and the aroma of mulled wine perfuming its cities make it an ideal winter holiday destination. On top of that, it offers some superb places to do some Christmas shopping. Forget faceless shops and penny-a-dozen gifts; Europe is home to some of the best Christmas markets in the world, where you can by unique and exciting presents that’ll add something magical to your festive celebrations. However, there are an awful lot to choose from, which is why, to help you, we’ve put together our list of some of the best.
Strasbourg Christmas market
As well as being home to one of the best Christmas markets in Europe, Strasbourg is also home to one of the oldest. This market has the charming tradition of throwing the spotlight on a different guest country each year. Head to the central ‘village’ in the middle of the market and you’ll find the chosen country showcasing the best of its yuletide offerings.
The market itself is spread across ten squares, linked by Dickensian alleyways, giving the whole affair an ‘Olde Worlde’ feel. Expect around 300 stalls selling handmade gifts and unusual arts and crafts, as well as some delicious and warming street-food. Don’t forget to pay a visit to Place Kleber, where the skyline is dominated by the towering, Great Christmas Tree, sporting more tinsel and countless baubles.
Christmas in Copenhagen
The Christmas market held in Copenhagen’s Tivoli Gardens manages to combine fairground fun and leisurely shopping, to create a spectacular experience. Underscoring the sounds of carol singing, you might hear the delighted squeals of youngsters on carousels or the beautifully-lit Ferris wheel. Stalls are decorated to look like dainty houses, capped with snow and glittering with tinsel and multi-coloured baubles.
You’ll find plenty of traditional treats to try, including silky-smooth hot chocolate, freshly-fried doughnuts, and roasted almonds. With fantastic firework displays held over Christmas Day and Boxing Day, it’s no wonder that this is widely hailed as one of the best markets in Europe.
Let it snow – Krakow
If you’re dreaming of a white Christmas, book your winter break to Krakow, in Poland. Easily one of the best Christmas markets in Europe, Krakow market is usually blessed with snow, transforming it into a winter wonderland worthy of Santa himself. Set in the middle of the city’s Old Town, the market sprawls across Rynek Glowny, which is Krakow’s impressive central square.
Among the wooden stalls, you’ll find antiques, metalwork, bric-a-brac and arts and crafts, plus street entertainers and choirs adding their own yuletide glitter to proceedings. For younger visitors, there are some outstanding sweets to sample and buy, while grown-ups can warm their cockles with a mug of spicy mulled wine.
Germany or Birmingham?
Believe it or not, you don’t have to travel to Germany to enjoy the sights, smells and sounds of one of the best German Christmas markets. The UK city of Birmingham plays host to what has been described as “the largest authentic German Christmas market outside Germany”. Shop for incredible wooden toys, delicate jewellery and treats sculpted from chocolate, while you’re serenaded by the brassy parps of a traditional Oompah band.
Food lovers will be spoilt for choice, with the stunning array of German sausages, sticky strudels and flaky pastries. While there’s plenty of beer to enjoy, cinnamon-sweet Gluhwein makes everything feel that much more Christmassy.
A Croatian Christmas
Croatia’s Zagreb market is continually voted as one of the best Christmas markets in Europe and a visit will show you exactly why. While the central Zrinjevac Parc is where you’ll find wooden huts, lit by flickering fairy-lights and selling an astonishing array of goodies, the market spreads across the whole city. However, there’s much more to enjoy than picking presents and sipping mulled wine. Look out for the stunning Ice Park, close to Tomislav Square, where you can burn off a few calories. The Maric Passage, a Narnia-style tunnel formed from frost-white branches and twinkling lights is a popular attraction, as is the Christmas-card-worthy spectacle of the Klovikevi Dvori Gallery. With festive tunes fed across the whole city, even the Scroogiest members of your party can’t fail to get into the festive spirit