‘Tis the season for lots of shopping. Europe is well known to be an enjoyable summer getaway, but ancient history comes alive, especially around the holiday season. Decorations, lights and Christmas markets flood streets and squares in celebration for the most festive season of the year. European Christmas markets are an integral part of the European spirit throughout the holiday season. Forget modern online shopping, and get classy with old-school markets. Get ready to sip on mulled wine and eat elaborate pastries as you spend lots of cash at Europe’s best Christmas markets.
With four miles and 1,800 strands of lights, visit the elaborate market located near the Tivoli Gardens. Trees, crafts and treats dominate this Danish market. Try one of the famous æbleskiver, which are ice doughnuts filled with black currant jam. Or drink the schnapps mulled wine soaked with raisins, cinnamon sticks, almonds and cloves. More markets are available along the canal in historic, Nyhavn District.
The English sure take advantage of Christmas. Visit the Trafalgar Square for a frolic on the ice rink in the Somerset House. The main German Christmas market is located at Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland. Experience carolers, ice rink, toboggan shoots and lots of shopping. Thanks to the size of London, visitors find more Christmas shopping opportunities located at Greenwich Market and The Natural History Museum.
Munch on some potato pancakes, German sausages and gingerbread at the main Marienplatz Christmas market. Situated amidst a 100-foot fir, stalls filled with ornaments, crafts and gifts flood the square. Smaller markets are found throughout the city with the Kripperlmarkt at Rindermarkt and the Medieval Market at Wittelsbacher Platz.
Prague, Czech Republic
Czech into some Christmas spirit with two major city markets. The first is located on the slopes of Wenceslas Square and in Old Town Square. The Bohemian Style decorations set the mood for traditional and modern shopping. Shop for Bohemian crystals, jewelry, Christmas trees, mangers and sweets. Take a bite of the honey gingerbread, and “wasps nests” (nutty cookies with rum) as you guzzle sweet mulled wine.
One of Europe’s oldest market, Christkindlmarkt, which fills the Salzburg Cathedral square with 85 stalls. Browse through gifts and good selling slippers, pewter crafts, coats and roasted chestnuts. Sausage, almonds, gingerbread and spiced wine are also found throughout this intimate and quaint market.
The 318-year-old market boasts the traditional Christmas Village with historic houses and Gothic cathedral. With 270 stalls, vendors sell everything from ornaments to nutcrackers to sheepskin clothing. Try some waffles, sheep cheese, or stick to the traditional mulled wine. Kids enjoy Kinderland and a ride on the old mini steam railway.
With near three million annual visitors, it’s no wonder why people are buzzing to get to Vienna. The Christkindlmarkt on Rathausplatz is an absolute beautiful sight to explore. Search stalls for glass ornaments, beeswax candles and wooden toys. Snack on candied fruits, chestnuts, cream-filled pastries and Weihnachtspunsch – Christmas punch featuring wine, schnapps or brandy infused with fruit.
Elizabeth is a fitness professional, workshop presenter and freelance writer. She is an active traveler who treks the globe looking for interesting stories to write and places to photograph. Her most significant travel achievements include living and volunteering in Australia twice and studied yoga in India.