Moving Abroad > The 5 Best Christmas Markets in Europe

It’s the most wonderful time of the year… almost.

Like it or loathe it, Christmas is coming.

Supermarket shelves are changing with the seasons. What was once a shelf of summer BBQ options is now full of festive snacks. Packaging is covered in snowflakes and adverts are telling you to ‘get your food orders in early’.

Christmas is coming.

There’s no doubting that Christmas marketing campaigns come too soon. But, while the adverts may be annoying, there is something magical about the festive season.

In the bleak midwinter, it can often feel like there’s no light at the end of the tunnel. The mornings and evenings are dark, the weather is miserable and everyone is sombre.

But there is a light. There’s a light shining so bright in the distance. 

There is also music, laughter and lots of food.

What is this light? Is it an oasis?

No, it’s not. This light is Christmas.

Christmas is magical. It’s warm, it’s cosy and comforting. It has the ability to make even the most ardent of scrooges smile.

It pulls you in from the cold, dusts the snow off of your shoulders and wraps you up in a tartan blanket on a cold winter’s night.

It smells like pine trees, mulled wine, roasted chestnuts and cinnamon. It warms the cockles, brings old friends together and, for one brief moment, makes you like your line manager and the staff Christmas party.

Everyone has their own version of what the perfect Christmas is. But, no matter how you celebrate it, there’s one thing that unites all the celebrations: love.

Well, love… and Christmas markets.

There is nothing better than a Christmas market and nowhere does them better than Europe. 

To get you into the festive cheer, and to give you some serious wanderlust, we’ve rounded up some of the best.

So, let’s jump aboard Santa’s sleigh and have a little adventure, shall we?



The first pit stop on our festive frolic is Budapest. 

The Hungarian capital is a hot-bed for Christmas fanatics looking to celebrate the festive season in a gorgeous and vibrant city. 

There are multiple markets scattered across the city, with the most popular being located at Vörösmarty Tér (Vörösmarty square). Situated in the centre of town, the market is easy to access via the city’s metro line. 

What to expect

The market is a traditional Hungarian affair. There’s plenty of delicious things to delight all of the senses and some serious Hungarian handicraft on display.

This market is a world away from the commercial and confrontational Christmas markets you might find elsewhere. It feels nostalgic, like the crackle of a record on an old vinyl player or an old sepia-stained photograph. 

The stalls are made of wood, the gifts are handmade and the lights are bright without being dazzling or cheesy. Its warm and authentic atmosphere make it the perfect place to pick up some unique gifts for loved ones. 

You can spend a whole evening at the Vörösmarty Tér Christmas market. Take a stroll around the shops and then sit down on the long tables for a traditional Hungarian Chimney Cake (cinnamon pastry), warm honey cookies and a glass of mulled wine. 

The market also comes alive once the skies darken. There’s a daily programme of events available to visitors, including free choir performances, folk concerts and ice skating. 

The market at Vörösmarty Tér isn’t the only Christmas market in Budapest. The city clearly loves this time of the year, as it has another festive market that you need to explore.

What to check out

The Christmas market on St Stephen’s Square is a sight to behold. Sitting right in front of St Stephen’s Basilica (St Istvan Bazilika), the market is overshadowed by one of the tallest buildings on the Pest side of Budapest, and one of the biggest churches in Hungary.

Not only does the setting make for a unique and incredible backdrop, but the stalls and variety of offerings also add to its charm.

The market is still relatively new, but it feels like a throwback. The first event was held in 2011 and was organised by National Association of Folk Artists. 

The association hoped that the market could be used to show off the high-quality and traditional craftsmanship available in Hungary. The sellers have all been approved by the Association and sell their produce from authentic wooden market stalls. 

The market also has a sizeable ice skating rink, with the Basilica being a stunning backdrop as you fumble around trying to balance on the ice. It also has impromptu dance performances by flash mobs and delicious Hungarian food available. 



Now, let’s head over to France. 

Paris may be the capital of France, but its title stripped when it comes to the festive period. 

Strasbourg considers itself the capital of Christmas. In fact, such is the city’s love for this time of the year, Strasbourg has even been labelled as the birthplace of Christmas celebrations!

It’s not hard to see why, either. 

What to expect

Strasbourg is home to one of the oldest – and largest – Christmas markets in Europe: the Christkindelsmärik.

The origin of the Christkindelsmärik dates back to 1570 and the word is of Alsatian origin. However, while the market started as a small and traditional affair, it is now a behemoth of festive fun. 

If you wander around Strasbourg at this time of the year, you’ll be convinced that you’re on a movie set. The market spreads out across the centre of Strasbourg and its influence can be seen outside of its boundaries.

Across the city, shop windows become winter wonderlands and the whole city becomes doused in the aroma of Vin chaud (mulled wine).  

The streets are lined by fairy lights and festive garlands, which all seem to be leading you to the Christkindelsmärik.

In fact, if you didn’t know where you were, you’d be forgiven for thinking that you’d been dropped in the town of Whoville – the location of the Grinch stories. 

The market runs from the end of November until the end of December. It attracts over 2 million visitors a year. You can expect the usual traditional selection of Christmas market goodies. 

There are hundreds of stalls selling ornaments, toys and handcrafted goods. There’s also an array of food vendors and mulled wine stalls to keep your energy up as you navigate this sprawling and busy landscape. 

What to check out

The centrepiece of Christkindelsmärik is its tree. Dressed in a stunning selection of lights and decorations, the tree will put your jaw on the floor and leave you full of festive spirit. 

The Christkindelsmärik and Strasbourg city is a true Alsatian Christmas experience. The combination of bygone traditions and modern Christmas customs will charm both young and old. 



Strasbourg isn’t the only city with a long-standing history relating to Christmas, however. Vienna has also been celebrating the festive season for hundreds of years.

The Christmas markets in Vienna have been transforming the city into a winter wonderland for over 700 years, dating back to the Middle Ages.

In 1298, Albrecht I permitted Vienna’s citizens to hold a December Market. What was previously known as ‘Krippenmarkt’ has now been considerably transformed into something much larger. 

What to expect

There are now over 20 official advent markets in Vienna, with each having their own charm and personality. However, one thing they have in common is their array of unique gifts and delicious food.

While Vienna has a selection of markets to pick from, the best of the bunch is the Viennese Dream Christmas Market.

The market is situated in front of the City Hall and is the perfect location for getting into the festive spirit. The backdrop is stunning, and what lies inside is charming, entertaining and delicious. 

With the aroma from mulled wine filling the air, visitors to Vienna’s Dream Christmas Market get to enjoy performances from international choirs, delicious roast chestnuts and an eclectic range of other treats. The delights on offer include indulgent cream-filled pastries, sweet and savoury pretzels, giant doughnuts and lollipops. 

For people coming with children, the market has a children-dedicated area. The space is located inside of the City Hall and runs workshops that teach children how to make Christmas cookies and candles. 



It would be fair to say that Vienna is known as a classy city. A city of style, culture and substance. The same, however, is not said for Prague.

Largely known for its stag and hen parties, Prague may not seem like a magical city for Christmas. However, away from the cheap pints and wild nights out, the city has a Christmas market to rival the very best in Europe.

What to expect

Prague’s Christmas Market is located in the old town square. It’s the biggest market in the Czech Republic and packs plenty of festive fun. 

Merchants offer the typical festive delights from traditional wooden stalls. There’s also plenty of delicious food and drink available for visitors to enjoy. 

Whether you’re after mulled wine and chestnuts, or something a little different, Prague’s Christmas Market caters to all taste buds. However, for a true Czech Christmas, be sure to have traditional Czech Christmas biscuits and the array of Czech grilled sausages and skewered foods. 

The market can be found easily – you just need to look up. 

What to check out

At the centre of Prague’s festive fiesta is a 22-metre and lavishly decorated Christmas tree. 

The tree is covered in thousands of lights and ornaments that are designed specifically for the occasion. It also comes alive on the stroke of every hour through an audio-visual animation that is supported by atmospheric music. 

Despite the mass-crowds and consumerism, Prague’s Christmas Market strives to be as considerate to the environment as possible. All refreshments purchased and materials used are environmentally friendly and 100% biodegradable. This is a European first and is an incredible achievement. 



Prague, Vienna, Strasbourg and Budapest are all heavy-hitters in the European city league. All of these cities are popular with tourists, no matter what time of the year. But, hidden away in Germany, lies a small medieval town with arguably the best Christmas market in Europe.

Have you ever heard of Erfurt? Probably not. But you should’ve.

What to expect

Erfurt’s Christmas Market is magical. It’s a traditional, hearty and fun-filled affair. 

The market lights up this small town in a warm hue from its 65 ft Christmas tree. It douses the streets with the smell of mulled wine, Bratwurst and beef stew. Erfurt’s market is everything you could want from a Christmas market.  

Situated in the town’s main square, the backdrop of the Cathedral creates the perfect setting for this atmospheric and charming market. 

Full of fun attractions and fascinating sights, the Erfurt Christmas Market is sure to delight both young and old visitors. There’s traditional handmade gifts, delicious food and gorgeous Christmas decorations available to shoppers. 

However, the market’s most stunning attraction is its tree.

The 65ft, candle-lit fur is a true sight to behold. It illuminates the wooden stalls underneath and leaves visitors dazzled. 

What to check out

Next to the tree, you’ll find Erfurt’s Christmas Pyramid. The 12m high structure tells the story of the town’s founders and is a unique attraction to this market. There is also a hand-crafted nativity scene with life-size figures and an enchanted forest for children. 

The market is best enjoyed at night, when the light from the tree and the stalls illuminate the town and create a festive buzz. To keep the cold away, make sure you try the Riesenbratwursta huge veal sausage served in a baguette. Alternatively, the Gulaschsuppe is a meaty broth that’s more of a stew than a soup.


Christmas is a magical time of the year. It’s best spent eating, drinking and laughing with loved ones. 

Of course, there’s nothing better than Christmas at home. But, why not use the festive period to explore some of Europe’s most interesting cities at their magical best? You won’t be disappointed.