Thinking of a surprise last minute getaway? Get into the festive spirit and plan a city break to visit one of Europe’s many Christmas markets.
Whether you’re in the market for the big and brash or the small and simple, each has one thing in common – great food, drink and music, all with their own regional flare. Here are five of our favourites.
Hamburg’s Christmas celebrations span a few different markets running simultaneously, so there’s something here to cater to everyone’s tastes. There’s a traditional market in front of the city hall. If you’re travelling with children – or shopping for them – the Spielzeuggasse or ‘Toy Street’ has playthings from around the world. The market at Jungfernstieg is perfect for romance, while the Fleetinsel market, down by the water, is smaller and tends to escape the bigger crowds.
When it’s on: 24th November – 6th January | Find out more
Many of the UK’s best Christmas markets are inspired by German ones, and if you’re looking for an authentic experience there’s nowhere better than Stuttgart. Dating back to 1692, it’s one of the best known in the country. More than 300 stalls litter the cobbled streets and sell all the delights you’d expect of a world-class market – spiced wine, traditional foods and handmade gifts. Add to that regular free concerts on the steps of the Town Hall and you have the recipe for a perfect pre-Christmas getaway.
When it’s on: 24th November – 23rd December | Find out more
The first Christmas market in Stockholm was held 500 years ago, (though the more modern iteration is only about a century old) so it’s no surprise Stockholm hosts a cracking festive season. The market is held outside the iconic Nobel Museum and are filled with crafts made exclusively in Sweden. For an expensive city, it’s a surprisingly affordable market, so you don’t have to blow your budget. Don’t forget to try some glögg and pepparkakor, better known as mulled wine and ginger biscuits.
When it’s on: 22nd November – 23rd December | Find out more
France’s chocolate box city can thank its friends across the border for many of the traditions at its market, now more than 400 year’s old. There’s a distinctly German flare at the Strasbourg Christmas Market, but don’t mistake it for some shabby copycat; the city won the title of “Best Christmas Market in Europe” last year. It’s back again this year with 11 different ‘villages’ that group together the charming stalls. Finishing touches like old cobbled streets, snowflake garlands and a towering fir tree on the Place Kléber make this market extra special.
When it’s on: 28th November – 31st December | Find out more
Austria’s capital city comes out in full swing for its wonderful Christmas Market. Dating back to the 13th century, the original market is held in front of the city’s Town Hall, but today the celebrations are so big they span much of the city. There’s plenty of handcrafted goods and traditional foods to enjoy, so take your walking shoes – and a hat! – and get ready to explore the city market by market.
When it’s on: 17th November – 24th December | Find out more