If you’re studying abroad in Europe this year then you’ll know that it’s definitely time for the Christmas markets in Europe. Christmas is a major festival in Europe and as you may know, has spread over to countries like Japan where it’s not really celebrated but they do like to enjoy the magic of this time of year. If you’re from the southern hemisphere then Christmas and winter in Europe is also a lot colder and for those of us from Europe, it can definitely add to the magic.

One of the best parts is the Christmas markets in Europe, with traditional toys and decorations, sparkling lights, tasty bratwurst (we don’t know why but there’s always bratwurst) and of course, everything mulled.

So where are the best cities to see these markets and the accompanying illuminations?

London, UK

London, as you might expect, goes all out with their Christmas markets and illuminations. They tend not to have just one but several dotted around the city. One of the best is the Southbank Winter market, running alongside the Southbank of the River Thames, it’s got a distinctly international vibe to it, with a range of traditional wooden shacks that pop up for the holiday season. While the centre of many markets will be the bratwurst and mulled wine, Southbank offers a massive range of international cuisine so you can enjoy whatever takes your fancy.

However, the star of the London Christmas markets is Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park. This massive festive site has been up since November but combines the beauty of a Christmas market with an ice skating rink and fairground rides. It’s a great way to spend a day during the cold winter months.

Dublin, Ireland

Next up we have the wonderful Dublin, a city that has a welcoming and friendly feel to it all year round, this feeling significantly increases in the winter months. Similarly to London, there are plenty scattered around the city. Our favourite though is the Dublin Flea Market Christmas fair. With hundreds of stalls, you can find all sorts of weird and wonderful Christmas gifts.

Prague, Czech Republic

If you’re looking for something a bit more traditional, Prague is the place for you. With most of the markets centred in the Old Town Square. The historic buildings surrounding it certainly add to the whole effect. With plenty of local soul-warming food and a variety of delicious Czech beer on offer, it’s easy to get lost in the magical atmosphere. We also recommend the Medovina honey wine and the Trdelnik, a tasty hot sugary pastry.

Salzburg, Austria

Another delightful fair steeped in tradition. The market in the centre of Salzburg is thought to date back as far as the 15th Century. There’s a giant Christmas tree taking centre stage and if you’re lucky, there’s a high chance of snow to add to the winter wonderland.

Berlin, Germany

The market in Spandau is probably the best for the traditional market that we all think of with the mulled wine, bratwurst, and quaint German decorations. It’s also massive, with over 400 stalls. Possibly one of the oldest German markets, there’s a Ferris wheel and a free ice skating rink to make the most of your time there.

Bath, UK

Bath in the UK may not be as well known as some of the other cities, but with it’s famous Roman bathhouses, you can expect a city steeped in history. That also means it provides a great setting for its Christmas markets. The city tries to support its local businesses so you’ll be sure to find a range of local handicrafts that will work as a perfect gift. They also have festive craft sessions where you can learn to make your own wreath to hang on your front door.

Gothenburg, Sweden

With a range of both traditional and design based markets across the city, you’ll be able to find plenty of treats. The best day to visit the Gothenburg markets is on the 13th December to celebrate St Lucia’s day. There’ll be extra activities as they celebrate the light during the deep midwinter. There will of course, be plenty of food and also some glögg, the Swedish version of mulled wine.

Vienna, Austria

The old Viennese Christmas market has been around for centuries. With the usual offerings available, you’ll also be able to indulge in plenty of yuletide tunes with gospel choirs and music groups performing throughout the evenings. Why not treat yourself to some toasted almonds while you watch.

Copenhagen, Denmark

You’ll notice a lot of the markets on this list are in old historical cities dotted across Europe. While Copenhagen is often thought of as a little more modern, despite its age because of the difference in architecture. But it still offers an excellent setting for another lovely market. The market in Tivoli Gardens is one of our favourites. Tivoli is a wonderful, old theme park all year round but the lights and market decorating the grounds at this time of year is something to behold. Unlike the others there is an entry fee but it’s the same all year round and well worth it. You can also get a tour of the gardens and the markets, allowing you to enjoy the spirit of the season while learning about Denmark’s festive history.

Brussels, Belgium

No list would be complete without Brussels Christmas market. A train ride away from London, it can even be done in a day. One of the best things about this market? Of course, it’s the Belgian chocolates. It’s another one with a wonderful historic setting in the central square of the city. There’s the usual selection of stalls, carnival rides, and an ice rink. The food selection is certainly of note, in particular, there’s one stall where they put cooked pasta into a wheel of cheese and stir it around to coat it before serving it to you. Mmmm delicious.

Now you have your plans for the next month with this list of Christmas markets in Europe, you better make the most of these magical European cities and this festive time of year. Don’t forget the glögg!

Last Updated on December 17, 2019

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