Christmas Market Breaks & Holidays 2024

Take your winter break in Europe and discover why it really is the most wonderful time of the year. With the smell of cinnamon in the air and the sound of the choirs singing carols, Christmas market breaks are the best way to get yourself into the festive spirit. Sip on warming mulled wine, enjoy a sneaky mince pie or two, and browse the tinsel-tousled stalls for gifts for friends and family. Aside from choosing what you’re going to buy for whom, the hardest decision you’ll have to make is which Christmas market you’re going to visit. Here’s our guide to the best Christmas markets 2024 has to offer.

And if you still need more inspo, check out these Christmas holiday breaks

Last minute Christmas market breaks

Krakow Christmas Markets

Krakow Christmas market is always popular and often remains open well past the festive season and right up until the end of January. With a dusting of snow almost guaranteed, you’ll feel as though you really are walking through a winter wonderland. Voted as one of the top 10 Christmas markets 2018, this is a spectacular venue in which to get some present-buying done. Expect snow-crusted spires and buildings draped in twinkling fairy-lights, while in the market you can enjoy the spectacle of the world-famous Christmas Crib Contest.

Budapest Christmas Markets

Budapest boasts two Christmas markets: one held in Vorosmarty Square and the other by the Basilica. Both are set among beautiful architecture, adding that little extra bit of magic to proceedings. They’re also famous for sumptuous street-food and live Christmas music. However, for something spectacular, head to the Basilica market, where you’ll be treated to a fabulous laser display on the side of this impressive church.

Berlin Christmas Markets

Christmas weekend breaks don’t mean you’re limited to just one market. Christmas market breaks put you in the heart of some of the most beautiful cities, where the yuletide celebrations have to be seen to be believed. Hop from market to market or immerse yourself in the one nearest to your hotel; the choice is yours. Berlin offers the chance to sample some delicious, festive food, such as Bratwurst, sweet, flaky pastries and local Gluhwein. You’ll find plenty of Christmas markets, both large and small, in which to hunt out that perfect gift for that special someone.

Prague Christmas Markets

It doesn’t get much more festive than drinking mulled wine and listening to carols being sung in Wenceslas Square. Book your Christmas weekend breaks to Prague, and you’ll find that there are plenty of markets, although this tends to be the most popular. In addition to steaming glasses of mulled wine and traditional Czech food such as ‘braided cake’, this is the place to come for traditional, handmade toys. You’ll find offerings from carpenters and blacksmiths, as well as delicate gifts made from glass.

Vienna Christmas Markets

Vienna really comes into its own at Christmas-time. Christmas markets are a long-standing tradition in Vienna, dating back as far as the 13th Century. Although there are plenty of markets to enjoy, if you really want to get into the swing of things, set some time aside to visit the one held in front of the City Hall. This is the perfect destination for family Christmas market breaks. In addition to wooden stalls packed full of gifts and traditional treats, you’ll find that the first floor of the City Hall holds some special surprises for children. Here, they can learn how to make candles and crumbly Christmas cookies, turning it into a really immersive family experience for everyon

Cologne Christmas Markets

Cologne’s Christmas markets are renowned for their festive spirit, sumptuous street food and live music. Climb the tower of the Gothic cathedral for breathtaking views of the seasonal scene and the city’s panorama. If you're searching for something truly extraordinary, make your way to Heinzels Winter Fairytale, with its ice skating rink and handicrafts stalls. The kids can look out for the brownies - these fairytale characters have a reputation for secretly helping out lazy crafters at night. In Cologne it’s socially acceptable to drink many glasses of Kölsch (the local beer) - as the traditional serving size is 200ml.

Copenhagen Christmas Markets

Copenhagen, the charismatic Danish capital, is a symphony of enchantment year-round, but during the Christmas season, it oozes “hygge”. Watch illuminated kayaks parade down the canals, glide on the ice at Broens, or do like the locals, and dip into the icy waters of the harbour. The main event of course, are the Christmas markets. Tivoli gardens is a must-see, decorated with over 70,000 baubles and 1,000 illuminated trees, fun fair rides and 60 market stalls. Julemarked on Højbro Plads is the popular German market in the Old Town. And the one in Christiana is as unique as this alternative-living free-town.

Bratislava Christmas Markets

If you love a quiet old-timey town, you’ll adore Bratislava. Nestled in the heart of Slovakia's charming capital, the Christmas markets may be small, but they’re oh-so-cosy, easy to get around, and perfect for families! The city’s charming medieval streets are illuminated by a thousand twinkling lights, and lined with stalls selling unique gifts and Slovak woollies. Plus, your taste buds are in for a treat! Try the traditional Loksa (savoury pancakes), and classic poppy strudels - all washed down with a boozy grog (spicy rum). Chin chin! While you’re here, make sure to visit the impressive castle, offering breathtaking views of the Old Town. 

Salzburg Christmas Markets

On the northern fringe of the Alps you'll find the picturesque setting of the beloved film 'The Sound of Music.' Salzburg's Christmas Markets have a unique charm, opening on the 1st Sunday of Advent and running through to New Year. They also have a slightly religious focus, with “Christ Child” festive melodies and readings. The kids will be either excited or scared by the Krampus parade on 5th December. Salzburg is famous for being the birthplace of Mozart. Before you leave you must try one of the marzipan chocolates named in his honour.

Nuremberg Christmas Markets

Nuremberg's Christkindlesmarkt dates all the way back to the 16th century and today it’s one of the largest. Grasp a mug of glühwein as you discover the beautifully crafted ornaments and toys housed in traditional wooden huts. Let your nose guide you towards the sizzling bratwursts (sausages) and delectable gingerbread treats. You can also explore Nuremberg’s historic walled Old Town - home to a castle and medieval squares. Along the River Pegnitz you’ll find numerous attractive bridges, providing the perfect place to snap a selfie.

Basel Christmas Markets

As well as being a melting pot of different cultures Basel offers a delightful selection of Christmas Markets. Head to Barfüsserplatz for handcrafted festive ornaments and gifts, or explore Münsterplatz for a traditional market experience against the backdrop of the majestic Basel Minster, where you'll discover artisanal crafts and seasonal treats. Be sure to explore the city's rich cultural heritage, including the Kunstmuseum (the oldest art collection in the world). And no trip to Switzerland would be complete without sampling the gorgeous chocolates.

Seville Christmas Markets

This Andalucian gem may not be well known for its festive markets, but it actually boasts four delightful ones. Head to Feria del Belén for handcrafted nativity figures, while Alameda blends tradition with kid-friendly fun like Disney characters and pony rides. And there’s plenty of present-buying opportunities galore at the other two including jewellery, ceramics and wooden toys. While in Seville don’t miss the opportunity to visit the stunning Royal Alcázar. And when you need a sweet treat Confitería La Campana is the go-to place - it’s been serving delicious cakes and sweets since 1885.

Zagreb Christmas Markets

Croatia is not just a summer destination - its capital boasts a fantastic Christmas market scene. Ban Josip Jelačić Square is transformed into a winter wonderland with stalls offering handcrafted goods and local delicacies. Don’t miss out on the chance to sample the Štrukli (cheese pie) or the local mulled wine recipe. While you're in Zagreb you must visit the historic Upper Town, home to the famous St Mark’s Church with its colourful roof representing the arms of the Tripartite Kingdom. 

Bruges Christmas Markets

Christmas market breaks to Bruges are especially atmospheric. Rows and rows of houses (which look as though they could have been made from gingerbread) line Market Square, which as its name suggests, hosts the main market. In addition to a sea of stalls and delicious treats on every corner, there’s usually a huge ice-rink where you can practice trying to stay upright. As with Berlin, there are plenty of smaller markets on the smaller, cobbled streets and don’t forget to sample the delicious Belgian hot chocolate.