Christmas tree in Old Town Square Prague

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Top 10 European Christmas Markets In One Trip 

Embark on a festive adventure through the Top 10 European Christmas Markets. The crisp winter air fills with the fragrance of spiced mulled wine, and the twinkly lights create a magical setting. Join us as we explore the most captivating holiday markets in one incredible trip. From the historic streets of Berlin to the charming squares of Prague, the Christmas spirit will be everywhere.

In this ultimate guide to the top 10 European Christmas markets, we’ll tour some of the most iconic destinations, including Berlin, Cologne, Brussels, Munich, Vienna, and Prague. Each stop on our itinerary promises unique traditions, mouthwatering treats, and an unforgettable holiday spirit.

Prepare to be dazzled by the grandeur of Berlin’s Christmas markets, immerse yourself in the festive spirit of Cologne’s Cathedral market, and indulge in Brussels’ Winter Wonders. We’ll also delve into the cozy atmosphere of Munich’s Christkindlmarkt, the imperial elegance of Vienna’s Rathausplatz, and the fairytale charm of Prague’s Old Town Square. As we go, we will experience the top destinations of Europe.

This is my dream Christmas Market tour, and it takes 14 or more days to complete. Although visiting all ten cities in one tour would be a dream, the information in this post can be used when visiting only one or two cities.

Not able to make the trek to Europe for the Christmas markets? Stay closer to home read about the 21 Best Christmas Markets in The US for 2023.

Punsch & Glühwein stall at Vienna Christmas Market

History of Markets

The tradition of the famous Christmas markets in Europe dates back to the late Middle Ages. It is believed that the markets originated in Germany, with the earliest known market dating back to the 14th century in Dresden. These markets originally served as a place for people to gather and purchase goods for the upcoming Christmas celebrations.

Over time, the popularity of Christmas markets spread throughout Europe, with each region adding its unique flair and traditions. In the 16th century, markets began to include entertainment, such as music and performances.

During the 19th century, Christmas markets evolved into the elaborate spectacles we know today. The markets became more focused on the holiday season, with vendors selling traditional Christmas decorations, handmade crafts, and seasonal treats like mulled wine and roasted chestnuts.

Today, Christmas markets are loved by locals and draw millions of visitors from around the world each year, making them an integral part of Europe’s holiday traditions. From the bustling streets of Vienna to the quaint squares of Strasbourg, Christmas markets continue to enchant visitors with their festive spirit and timeless charm.

Itinerary To Visit The Top 10 European Christmas Markets

Here is a list of the top 10 European Christmas Markets and how to visit all of them in one fantastic trip. You don’t have at least 14 days to spare? This journey could easily be split into multiple trips, and doing so would give you more time to explore all of these incredible destinations. 

The list is compiled to give you great markets and a seamless journey starting in Berlin and ending in Prague. Each stop will provide you with the highlights of the Christmas markets in that city and a suggested number of days to explore. 

Most people think Germany is the only country to visit for the best Christmas Markets, but that isn’t true. France, Austria, and Belgium have some of Europe’s most charming and largest markets. Each city features unique Christmas markets, with different food and merchandise reflecting its culture and traditions. Our journey starts in Berlin due to its fabulous markets and easy access from around the world. 

As you explore each city, remember that it has different markets in various locations. Many people think there is just one big market for each city, when in reality, markets are spread all over the larger cities. Some are focal points for tourists, and others draw a more local crowd. You will usually find the main market focused around the main square or city hall. 

Berlin, Germany

Start your Christmas Holiday Market tour in Berlin. You need a plan to explore this city’s over 80 markets. Hitting the highlights will take two days.

Gendarmenmarkt Christmas Market
  • The Gendarmenmarkt is one of Berlin’s most picturesque markets located in the historic Gendarmenmarkt square.
  • This market alone will attract over 800,000 visitors from late November until December 31.
  • Market dates for 2024 start on November 25 and run through December 31, 2024 (this may vary from market to market within the city).
  • Admire the beautifully decorated stalls selling traditional crafts, ornaments, and seasonal treats.
  • Enjoy live music performances, including classical concerts in the nearby concert halls.
  • Currently, the square where the market is usually held is being renovated, so it has been moved to nearby Bebelplatz and should return to its standard location in 2025. 
  • Be aware that there is an entrance fee of 2 euro.
Alexanderplatz Christmas Market
  • Alexanderplatz Christmas Market is one of the largest and most popular markets in Berlin, situated in the heart of the city.
  • Marvel at the towering Christmas tree and festive decorations that adorn the square.
  • Sample various culinary delights, from sizzling sausages to sweet pastries, and sip on warm mulled wine.
  • This market is part Christmas market and part festival/carnival, featuring rides and a nearby Ferris Wheel.
Charlottenburg Palace Christmas Market
  • Set against the stunning Charlottenburg Palace backdrop, this market exudes a fairytale-like ambiance.
  • Browse traditional handicrafts, unique gifts, and artisanal products in the nearly 250 stalls.
  • Take a nostalgic ride on the vintage carousel.
  • It is best visited at night for the lights. If you want to avoid a crowd or lines, stop in the later afternoon.
Lucia Christmas Market at Kulturbrauerei
  • Discover Scandinavian charm at the Lucia Christmas Market in the historic Kulturbrauerei complex.
  • Browse through Nordic handicrafts, textiles, and Christmas decorations.
  • Enjoy traditional Scandinavian food and drinks, including glögg (mulled wine) and hearty stews.

Getting Around Berlin

Berlin has an excellent public transportation system, including buses, trams, and the U-Bahn (subway) and S-Bahn (urban rail). Consider purchasing a day ticket or a Berlin WelcomeCard for unlimited travel within the city. Most of the Christmas markets are easily accessible by public transportation.

Where To Stay In Berlin

Stay in the central Mitte district to easily access the main Christmas markets and other attractions. Areas around Alexanderplatz or Friedrichstraße offer many accommodation options suitable for various budgets.

Check out the Hotel de Rome for a more luxurious option close to Gendarmenmarkt Square or the JW Marriott Berlin for a great room at a reasonable price.

Hamburg, Germany

The tradition of Christmas markets in Hamburg, Germany, dates back to the Middle Ages. The city’s markets have evolved over the centuries, reflecting its rich history and cultural heritage. Allow one day to explore this city’s markets.

Historic Christmas Market at Rathausmarkt
  • Located in front of the stunning Hamburg City Hall, this market is one of the city’s most picturesque.
  • Admire the twinkling lights, festive decorations, and the majestic Christmas tree.
  • Browse the stalls selling traditional crafts, gifts, and delicious holiday treats.
 Winterwald St. Georg
  • This enchanting market in the St. Georg district is nestled in a cozy forest setting.
  • Enjoy the magical atmosphere with wooden stalls, fairy lights, and a cozy bonfire.
  • St. Georg is also home to Winter Pride.
  • Sample regional specialties and warm up with a mug of mulled wine or hot chocolate.
Santa Pauli Christmas Market
  • For a more alternative experience, head to the Reeperbahn in the St. Pauli district.
  • This market combines traditional Christmas charm and Hamburg’s famous nightlife.
  • This is an adults-only vibe and is definitely a night-time event.
  • Browse the stalls, enjoy live music, and sample festive drinks in this vibrant setting. Some of the merchandise might shock you.

Getting Around Hamburg

Hamburg has an efficient public transportation system, including buses, trains, and ferries. Purchase a day ticket or single tickets for your journeys. The U-Bahn and S-Bahn are convenient for getting around the city. Many of Hamburg’s Christmas markets are located in the city center and are within walking distance of each other. Plan your itinerary to explore markets that are close together to maximize your time.

Where To Stay In Hamburg

Stay in the central area of Hamburg for easy access to the Christmas markets. Areas like Altstadt (Old Town) and Neustadt offer a range of accommodation options to suit different budgets. Consider staying in the St. Georg district close to the Winterwald Christmas Market. This area also offers plenty of restaurants, cafes, and shops.

The luxurious Fairmont Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten epitomizes a traditional European grand hotel. It makes an excellent base for exploring the Christmas Markets. Opened in 1897, the hotel at Binnenalster Lake in the heart of Hamburg is perfect for travelers looking for a grand European hotel. 

Two holiday mugs with drinks at Vienna Christmas Markets

Cologne, Germany

Experience the enchanting tradition of Cologne’s Christmas markets. Historic landmarks provide a picturesque backdrop to the festive atmosphere, offering a variety of stalls selling local delicacies and handcrafted gifts for a memorable holiday experience. Allow 1-2 days to explore the markets in Cologne.

Cologne Cathedral Christmas Market (Weihnachtsmarkt am Kölner Dom)
  • Set against the backdrop of the stunning Cologne Cathedral, this market is one of the most iconic in the city.
  • Marvel at the impressive Gothic architecture while browsing the festive stalls selling handicrafts, ornaments, and seasonal treats.
  • Don’t miss the opportunity to climb the cathedral’s tower for panoramic views of the market and the city.
  • Look for the Advent Village Market, a delightful small market nearby.
  • Just announced the 2024 opening date is November 18, running until December 23, 2024
Alter Markt and Heumarkt Christmas Markets
  • These adjacent markets are located in the heart of Cologne’s Old Town, creating a charming holiday atmosphere.
  • Wander through the historic square adorned with twinkling lights and festive decorations.
  • You can sample traditional Kölsch beer, mulled wine (Glühwein), and regional specialties like Reibekuchen (potato pancakes) and bratwurst.
  • This is an excellent market for kids, where they can write wish lists at the Christmas post office, ride on the Ferris wheel or the historic carousel, go ice skating, and much more.
Angel’s Christmas Market (Nikolausdorf)
  • Located in Neumarkt Square, this market is known for its angel-themed decorations and nostalgic ambiance.
  • Explore the stalls offering handmade gifts, decorations, and sweet treats.
  • Enjoy live music and entertainment, including performances by choirs and musicians.
  • The well-known shopping streets Schildergasse, Mittelstraße, and Ehrenstraße are nearby and great for Christmas shopping.
Stadtgarten Christmas Market
  • For a more alternative experience, head to the Stadtgarten (city garden) for a hip and laid-back market atmosphere.
  • The Stadtgarten market is held in the beer garden of the main restaurant in the park.
  • Browse stalls selling artisanal products, vintage goods, and unique gifts.
  • Relax with a drink at the cozy outdoor bar and enjoy the festive vibes.

Getting Around Cologne

Cologne has an excellent transportation system, including buses, trams, and the U-Bahn (subway). Visitors can purchase day tickets. The city center is easily accessible by public transport. Many of Cologne’s Christmas markets are located in the city center and are within walking distance of each other. But the Angel’s Market and Stadtgarten are just outside the city center.

Where to Stay In Cologne

Stay in the Altstadt (Old Town) area for convenient access to the Christmas markets. This area offers a range of accommodation options, from hotels to holiday apartments. 

Check out the Stern am Rathaus for a boutique option or the Hyatt Regency Cologne along the Rhine River. Both are good locations for exploring the city and the markets.

Brussels, Belgium

Christmas markets in Brussels are set against the backdrop of the Grand Place and other iconic landmarks. Don’t miss the opportunity to sample Belgian specialties like waffles and mulled wine while soaking in the festive atmosphere of one of Europe’s most charming cities. And don’t miss out on the chocolate! Allow one day to explore the market (it is more like a large market taking over the city’s center than several small markets) and this incredible city. The Winter Wonders Market in 2024 starts on November 25 and runs through January 1, 2025.

Grand Place Christmas Market:
  • Located in the heart of Brussels, the Grand Place transforms into a magical winter wonderland during the holiday season.
  • Admire the stunning medieval architecture illuminated by thousands of lights.
Winter Wonders Market:
  • Explore the Winter Wonders market, spread across various locations, including the Bourse (Stock Exchange) and Place de la Monnaie.
  • Enjoy the festive atmosphere with various attractions. These include an ice skating rink, a giant Ferris wheel offering panoramic city views, and the Grand Place’s stunning sound and light show.
Catherine’s Christmas Market:
  • Experience the cozy ambiance of St. Catherine’s Square, where you’ll find a traditional Christmas market with wooden chalets selling local handicrafts, gifts, and seasonal delicacies.
  • Indulge in freshly prepared Belgian waffles and steaming cups of mulled wines. At the markets in Belgium, you will find some more unique food options, including oysters and champagne, which are way classier than sausages found everywhere else! Genever is another unique drink found in these markets. Like gin, it is a juniper-flavored spirit; Genever combines neutral alcohol and malted wine. It’s available in many flavors in the Brussels Xmas market—plain, fruity, chocolaty, and more. 

Getting Around Brussels

Brussels has an extensive public transportation network, including buses, trams, and the metro. You can purchase day tickets or single tickets for your journeys. But really, this is a walking town, and the market(s) are best explored on foot since they are more like one big market. Start at Grand Place, work your way northwest to the Bourse, and end at the Marché aux Poissons.

Where To Stay In Brussels

Stay in the city center (but not too close to the Grand Place since it can be overwhelming with the crowds) with easy access to the Christmas market and other attractions. At this time of year, prices at many hotels in Brussels are relatively reasonable. Give the Made in Louise hotel a look; it is beautiful and nicely located. 

Narrow cobblestone streets of Spittelberg Christmas Market

Strasbourg, France

Visiting the Christmas markets in Strasbourg is like stepping into a winter wonderland of Alsace tradition and charm. Wander through the city’s picturesque streets adorned with festive decorations, where the scent of mulled wine and baked treats fills the air, and discover the magic of one of Europe’s oldest and most enchanting Christmas markets. The Strasbourg markets in 2024 start on November 24 and run through December 24.

Strasbourg Cathedral Market:
  • This market is located in front of the iconic Strasbourg Cathedral, which is the centerpiece of the city’s Christmas celebrations.
  • Admire the majestic cathedral illuminated by thousands of lights as you browse the festive stalls selling handicrafts, decorations, and Alsatian specialties.
Place Kléber Market:
  • Explore the main square of Place Kléber, where you’ll find another bustling Christmas market with a giant Christmas tree as its centerpiece.
  • This is the largest market, with over 130 stalls selling goods.
  • Sample local treats like bredele (Alsatian Christmas cookies) and foie gras while shopping for unique gifts and souvenirs.
Petite France Market:
  • Wander through the charming Petite France neighborhood, where you’ll discover a smaller, more intimate Christmas market along the canals.
  • Enjoy the cozy atmosphere and picturesque surroundings as you browse through the stalls offering regional delicacies, locally produced jam, cheese, and more.

Getting Around Strasbourg

Strasbourg’s Christmas markets are centrally located and easily accessible on foot, especially if you stay in the city center. Most markets are within walking distance of each other, allowing you to explore at your own pace.

Where to Stay in Strasbourg

Stay in the city center near the Cathedral or Place Kléber to conveniently access the main Christmas markets. This area also offers a variety of hotels, guesthouses, and holiday apartments. Prices are relatively high during the holiday season, but if you want a genuinely Alsace hotel experience, try Hotel Cour du Corbeau Strasbourg, located near the cathedral and city centre.

View of the Munich Christmas Markets at night.

Munich, Germany

Visiting the Christmas markets in Munich is a quintessential Bavarian experience filled with festive cheer and tradition. With various markets offering unique crafts, gifts, and entertainment, Munich’s Christmas markets capture the magic of the season in one of Germany’s most charming cities. Allow 1-2 days to explore. The Munich markets in 2024 start on November 25 and run through December 24.

Marienplatz Christkindlmarkt:
  • Admire the enchanting atmosphere of Munich’s main Christmas market in the historic Marienplatz.
  • This is one of the largest nativity scene markets, where you will find everything for an authentic nativity scene.
  • Enjoy traditional Bavarian crafts, festive decorations, and delicious treats such as Glühwein and roasted chestnuts while surrounded by the iconic Neues Rathaus and the sounds of carolers.
Residenz Christmas Market:
  • Immerse yourself in the festive ambiance of the Residenz Christmas Market, set against the backdrop of the majestic Residenz Palace.
  • Explore the cozy stalls offering handmade gifts, intricate decorations, and regional delicacies, creating a magical experience in the heart of Munich’s Old Town.
Christmas Village in the Munich Residenz:
  • Discover the charming Christmas Village nestled within the historic courtyard of the Munich Residenz.
  • Experience the warmth of the holiday season as you browse through traditional handicrafts, sip on mulled wine, and enjoy live music performances in this picturesque setting.
Winter Tollwood Festival:
  • Visit the Winter Tollwood Festival at Theresienwiese for a multicultural art, music, and cuisine celebration.
  • A highlight of this market is the Fairytale Forest, which is great for families.
  • Explore the diverse market stalls which offer international foods, handmade goods, and sustainable products. Enjoy live entertainment and cultural performances.

Getting Around Munich

Munich has an efficient public transportation system, including buses, trams, and the U-Bahn (subway).  Most Christmas markets are located in the city center and are easily accessible by public transport. Many of Munich’s Christmas markets are within walking distance of each other, especially in the city center.

Where To Stay In Munich

Stay in the Altstadt (Old Town) area for easy access to the main Christmas markets in Marienplatz and the Residenz. This area also offers a range of accommodation options, from hotels to holiday apartments. Consider staying near Sendlinger Tor for a central location with easy access to public transportation and several Christmas markets within walking distance. One suggestion is Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten Kempinski München, which has the grand old style and a good location for exploring.

Salzburg, Austria

Visiting the Christmas markets in Salzburg is like stepping into a fairytale winter wonderland. With the backdrop of the city’s historic architecture and snow-capped mountains, the markets offer a magical atmosphere filled with traditional crafts, festive music, and delicious treats. Allow one day to explore Salzburg’s markets. This stop could be a day trip from Munich on the way to Vienna without an overnight stay. The Salzburg markets in 2024 start on November 21 and run through December 24.

Salzburg Cathedral Christmas Market:
  • Located in the shadow of the majestic Salzburg Cathedral, this market exudes charm with its traditional stalls, festive decorations, and live music performances.
  • Enjoy the magical ambiance as you browse through handcrafted gifts (you will find lots of traditional wooden ornaments), sample local delicacies like Lebkuchen (gingerbread), and sip on warm Glühwein (mulled wine) while admiring the illuminated cathedral.
  • November 21, 2024 – January 1, 2025 are the dates for this market.
Mirabellplatz Christmas Market:
  • This market, set against the backdrop of the beautiful Mirabell Palace and Gardens, offers a picturesque setting for holiday shopping and entertainment.
  • Explore the stalls selling unique crafts, ornaments, and regional treats, and take in the festive atmosphere with music and seasonal decorations.
  • The Christmas market at Mirabellplatz in Salzburg, 2024, was recently announced to open on November 21 and close on December 24.
Hohensalzburg Fortress Christmas Market:
  • Perched atop the city, the Hohensalzburg Fortress hosts a charming Christmas market with breathtaking views of Salzburg and the surrounding mountains.
  • It is less well-known than the previous markets but worth seeking out.
  • Wander through the medieval fortress while enjoying the festive stalls and take in live performances in this unforgettable setting.

Getting Around Salzburg

Salzburg’s Christmas markets are located in the city center and are easily accessible on foot. Most markets are within walking distance of each other, allowing you to explore at your own pace. Salzburg also has a bus system that can take you to different parts of the city if needed. 

Where to Stay In Salzburg

Stay in the Old Town area for easy access to the Christmas markets and other attractions. This area offers a range of accommodation options, from hotels to holiday apartments. Hotel Bristol Salzburg is a bit pricey but has a quintessential grand hotel feel and is just a short walk across the bridge to Old Town.

Berlin Christmas markets at night
Photo courtesy of Birk Enwald from Unsplash

Vienna, Austria

Visiting the Christmas markets in Vienna is a delightful experience steeped in tradition and festive charm. From the Rathausplatz market’s grandeur to the Spittelberg market’s artisanal stalls, visitors can explore a variety of markets offering unique crafts, delicious treats, and joyful entertainment against the backdrop of Vienna’s historic landmarks. Two days are needed to explore the markets of Austria’s capital. The tentative dates for 2024 are that most markets will open on November 15 and run until at least December 24. 

Rathausplatz Christmas Market:
  • Experience the grandeur of Vienna’s largest Christmas market set against the backdrop of the historic City Hall.
  • Wander through the festive stalls offering traditional handicrafts and delicious Austrian treats.
  • Marvel at the spectacular light displays and ice skating rink; it has a very festive feel.
Spittelberg Christmas Market:
  • Explore the charming Spittelberg district, where narrow cobblestone streets are lined with stalls selling unique artisanal gifts and culinary delights.
  • This is a very intimate market with stalls lining the streets. It definitely has a different vibe from the larger Rathausplatz market.
  • Enjoy the cozy atmosphere as you sip on mulled wine and sample local specialties, surrounded by beautifully preserved Baroque buildings.
Schönbrunn Palace Christmas Market:
  • Step back in time at the Schönbrunn Palace Christmas market, set in the imperial surroundings of Vienna’s most famous Palace.
  • Combine this with a tour of the Palace.
  • Admire the festive decorations, shop for traditional Austrian gifts, and soak in the market’s ambiance against the backdrop of the Palace’s grand facade.
Belvedere Palace Christmas Market:
  • Visit the enchanting Belvedere Palace market, located in the palace gardens, which offers stunning views of the Palace’s Baroque architecture.
  • Vienna’s markets offer wonderful food, don’t miss the sausages!
  • Browse through the stalls selling handmade crafts, local delicacies, and Christmas decorations, and enjoy live music performances in this picturesque setting.

Getting Around Vienna

Vienna has an extensive public transportation network, including trams, buses, and the U-Bahn (subway). All of the Christmas markets above are easily accessible by public transport. Many of Vienna’s Christmas markets are within walking distance of each other, especially in the city center. Vienna has dozens of smaller markets near these markets that are easy to explore on foot.

Where To Stay In Vienna

Stay in the Innere Stadt to easily access the main Christmas markets at Rathausplatz and Spittelberg. This area also offers a range of accommodation options, from luxury hotels to boutique hotels. I suggest considering the Boutique Hotel am Stephansplatz. This is right in the center of all the action in Vienna. In fact, you will walk out your door into one of the most famous Christmas markets.

Budapest, Hungary

From the iconic Vörösmarty Square market with its dazzling lights and artisanal crafts to the charming streets of the Buda Castle district, visitors can indulge in traditional foods, mulled wine, and unique gifts while surrounded by the city’s historic landmarks. Allow 1-2 days to experience the markets of Budapest.

Vörösmarty Square Christmas Market:
  • Immerse yourself in the festive atmosphere of Budapest’s most iconic Christmas market in Vörösmarty Square.
  • Don’t miss the goulash. You will find this at the markets in central Europe, but Budapest is a great place to try the best.
  • Explore the beautifully decorated stalls offering traditional Hungarian handicrafts, delicious street food, and mulled wine, and enjoy live music and cultural performances.
Stephen’s Basilica Christmas Market:
  • Experience the magic of the holidays at the Christmas market in front of St. Stephen’s Basilica.
  • The setting is perfect, and it is one of the more beautiful markets in Budapest.
  • Admire the dazzling light show projected onto the basilica’s facade, shop for unique gifts and souvenirs, and indulge in sweet treats like chimney cake and hot chocolate.
Buda Castle Christmas Market:
  • Discover the charm of the Buda Castle Christmas market, set against the backdrop of the historic Royal Palace.
  • Wander through the medieval-themed stalls, enjoy panoramic views of the city, and sample traditional Hungarian dishes like lángos and kürtőskalács.

Getting Around Budapest

Budapest has an efficient public transportation system, including metro, trams, and buses. Most of the Christmas markets are easily accessible by public transport. Many of Budapest’s Christmas markets are located in the city center and are within walking distance of each other.

Where to Stay In Budapest

Stay in the city center, in District V, for easy access to the main Christmas markets at Vörösmarty Square and St. Stephen’s Basilica. This area also offers a range of accommodation options. You will find Budapest to be one of the more affordable cities to explore Christmas markets. Try the Hotel Clark Budapest. It’s a short walk across the bridge to Vörösmarty Square and not far from the Buda Castle market.

Christmas market with tradelnik cooking over hot coals

Prague, Czech Republic

With the backdrop of the city’s stunning architecture, the markets offer a magical atmosphere filled with twinkling lights, traditional crafts, and delicious Czech treats like trdelník and mulled wine, making it a must-visit destination for the holiday season. The markets in Prague are not as big or plentiful as those in other cities on this list, but they are beautiful against the backdrop of this incredible city. Allow one day to explore the Prague markets. Before you visit Prague in the winter read my post The Best Things To Do In Prague During A Winter Visit.

Old Town Square (Staroměstské náměstí):
  • Experience the magical atmosphere of Prague’s primary Christmas market, set against the backdrop of the Old Town Hall and the Church of Our Lady before Týn.
  • Close to many of the top attractions in the old town, it’s easy to explore both day and night. The Christmas tree is stunning at night.
  • Admire the beautifully decorated stalls offering traditional Czech handicrafts, ornaments, and souvenirs, and indulge in delicious treats like trdelník (chimney cake) and svařák (mulled wine).
Wenceslas Square (Václavské náměstí):
  • Explore the festive market at Wenceslas Square, where you’ll find a mix of traditional and modern stalls selling mostly culinary delights.
  • An ice rink is set up along the square beneath the giant Christmas tree.
  • Enjoy the live music and entertainment, and take in the dazzling lights and decorations adorn this historic square.

Getting Around Prague

Most of Prague’s Christmas markets, especially in the city center, are within walking distance of each other. To maximize your time, plan your itinerary to explore markets that are close together. Prague has an efficient public transportation system, including trams and the metro. 

Where To Stay In Prague

Stay in or near the Old Town area for easy access to the primary Christmas market at Old Town Square. My favorite hotel is the BoHo Prague Hotel; its location is perfect for exploring, and the rooms and service are excellent.

Holiday Market In Philadelphia PA at night
More Christmas Markets

Looking for a Christmas Market in the US? Check out the 21 Best Christmas Markets in The US for 2023

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How To Plan Your Trip To The Top 10 European Christmas Markets

If you are following this itinerary, here is where to start planning.

Step 1: Plan your air travel to visit the Top 10 European Christmas Markets early. For this itinerary, we are starting in Berlin and ending in Prague; both have plenty of flights, making air travel easy. You may think December would mean fewer tourists flying to Europe, but the markets bring plenty of travelers. So planning will make your trip more affordable. Starting this trip from another city might be cheaper or more convenient since cities like Amsterdam or Frankfurt have numerous flights direct from the US. All you need to do is add a short train trip to one of the cities on this list. 

Step 2: Plan your train travel; this is easy to do with Trainline, an app and website for booking travel. If you plan on going to all ten cities, purchasing a Eurail Global Pass, available on the Trainline website, is the best option. The Global Pass allows for ten days of travel over a 2-month period, which would get you to all the cities mentioned in this itinerary. If you plan on doing only part of this trip, you can also purchase Global Passes for 4,5 and 7-day periods to be used over a month. But if you are doing only a small part of this, three cities, it would be best booking individual train tickets between the cities, and this can also be done on Trainline. Having seat reservations is a good idea; for a little extra money, your journey will be smoother. 

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Step 3: Book your hotels. Do this early. You will be shocked at how popular Christmas Market travel is and how crowded some cities will be in the winter. Book a reservation that can be canceled, and you can keep shopping for the best price. I have suggested one or two hotel options in each city on this tour.

Step 4: Prep and pack. Ensure you have the right things for a trip to Europe’s Christmas Markets. The correct coat would be something that is waterproof and can work on warmer days as well as in frigid cold. Get the proper footwear; this will not be a fashion event; everything is outdoors. Pack light; you will be moving from city to city, and winter clothing is bulky, so it takes up more room and weighs more, so don’t take everything you own. Plan on layers; it’s the best way to prepare for the changing weather.

If you are not interested in independent travel, you will find several organized tour options, including riverboat cruises through Europe for Christmas Markets. The most popular cruises sail either the Danube River or the Rhine River. Most river cruise tour companies offer sailing featuring the iconic Christmas markets. It’s a great way to move from town to town without unpacking, and you will see some smaller cities along these small group tours. 

Once you are in each destination, remember that there are many Christmas market tour offerings. Even more general tours will show you around one or two markets. I suggest booking a food tour in some of these cities as a unique way to see the city and the markets. 

Tips For Visiting The Top 10 European Christmas Markets

For travelers visiting the European Christmas Markets for the first time, here are some tips to ensure a memorable and enjoyable experience:

Plan Your Itinerary:

– Research the Top 10 European Christmas Markets you want to visit and plan your itinerary accordingly. Consider factors like location, opening hours, and special events or performances. Be aware that not all of the cities hold markets at the same time; opening dates vary. I will update this list with opening and closing dates for 2024 as they become available. 

Dress Warmly:

European winters can be chilly, so dress in layers and wear warm, waterproof clothing and comfortable shoes for walking. Don’t forget hats, gloves, and scarves to stay cozy while exploring the markets. During my last trip to the European Christmas markets, I experienced rain, inches of snow (which made it beautiful), and a few sunny days, so be prepared. You will enjoy this festive season a lot more if you are appropriately dressed!

Arrive Early:

– Beat the crowds by arriving at the markets early in the day, especially if you want to take photos or browse without the hustle and bustle of peak times. I suggest you visit both during the day and at night, the markets are entirely different at night. Also, weekends at the Christmas Markets can be very busy, so be prepared. I found the crowd size on the weekends 4 to 5 times larger than during the weekdays. 

Try Local Treats:

– Sample the delicious food and drinks available at the markets, such as mulled wine, traditional pastries, roasted chestnuts, and regional specialties. Don’t be afraid to try something new!

Bring Cash:

– While some larger markets may accept credit cards, having cash on hand for smaller purchases and transactions is always a good idea. I found it varied greatly from town to town; Prague took credit cards at every booth, whereas Vienna was strictly cash.

Collecting the Mugs

– At most markets, you will pay a deposit when you purchase a drink mug (most do not use disposable mugs, which is great for the environment). You can reuse that mug when purchasing other drinks and take it home as a souvenir. Many tourists collect the mugs as they go. If you don’t want to keep the mug, return it to any vendor, and you will get your deposit back.

Shop for Unique Gifts:

– Take the opportunity to shop for unique handmade gifts, ornaments, and souvenirs you won’t find anywhere else. Support local artisans and craftsmen by purchasing their creations. Honestly, some markets are better than others, even in the same city. Many vendors sell the same things from one market to another. In a few cities, you will find markets focused on arts and local crafts and might be very selective of vendors, but others are not so much.

Prepare for The Return Home:

– If you plan on shopping a lot, consider shipping your purchases back or bringing an extra bag you can check with all your treasures. I personally was able to transport most of my purchases in my tummy; I skipped the merchandise for the most part (a few small souvenirs) and instead ate and drank my way through the Christmas markets.

Enjoy the Atmosphere:

– Take time to soak up the festive atmosphere of the markets, with their twinkling lights, holiday music, and the scent of cinnamon and spices in the air. Don’t rush—enjoy the experience! You won’t be able to see all the markets in many cities, and they are somewhat similar, so take your time and focus your efforts.

Check the Weather:

– Be prepared for changing weather conditions, including rain, snow, or cold winds. Check the forecast before you go, and dress accordingly. Bring layers, and be waterproof; most markets do not have shelter or places to warm up. 

The lights and decorations of the Vienna Rathaus Christmas Market at night
Rathaus Christmas Market At Night

Alternative Itineraries For Visiting The Top 10 European Christmas Markets

Not everyone can dedicate 14+ days to touring Europe, and some people just don’t want to spend that much Christmas in one trip. Two alternative itineraries work great and can be done in 7-10 days.

Alternative Option 1

Arrive in Vienna and travel by train to Budapest and Prague. You will need three days in Vienna, two in Budapest, and two in Prague. You will experience some of the largest markets in Vienna and then explore two smaller cities with unique markets and sights. 

Alternative Option 2

Again, arrive in Vienna, where you should spend 2-3 days, then travel to Munich and spend two days, Cologne for two more days, and finish in Brussels for 1-2 days. You will notice that Vienna is on both options because it is easy to get to and honestly has the most amazing markets. 

The Top 10 European Christmas Markets In One Amazing Trip

Walking through Europe’s top Christmas markets is like stepping into a fairytale. From Berlin’s historic charm to Prague’s picturesque squares, each destination offers unique traditions and delights. 

In this ultimate guide, we’ve explored the top 10 European Christmas markets and delved into their rich history and cultural significance. From the medieval origins of Christmas markets to their evolution into elaborate spectacles, these markets continue to enchant visitors worldwide, drawing millions each year.

Whether you embark on a 14+ day adventure to experience all these markets or explore just one or two cities at a time, the information provided here is a comprehensive guide to making the most of your holiday travels. From Berlin’s charming Gendarmenmarkt to Prague’s magical Old Town Square, each market promises unforgettable memories and an authentic taste of the European holiday spirit.

So whether you’re drawn to the grandeur of Vienna’s Rathausplatz or the cozy ambiance of Strasbourg’s Petite France, let the magic of the holiday season and Europe’s Christmas markets ignite your holiday spirit and create memories to last a lifetime.

Below are links and resources to help you plan The perfect trip

Travel Resources

  • HOTELS
    Booking.com and Expedia.com are great resources for accommodations around the world. Book almost any hotel directly from these links.
  • TOURS
    The best places to book tours and activities are Viator or Get Your Guide . From great food tours to guided hiking adventures to local walking tours, you will find great experiences to add to your travels here.
  • FOOD EXPERIENCES
    EatWith is a great resource for authentic culinary experiences with passionate locals worldwide. Connecting travelers with hosts in over 130 countries, providing unique, intimate, and immersive experiences in private homes and exclusive venues.
  • TRAINS
    Trainline is Europe’s leading train and coach app. They work with over 210 rail and coach companies to help their customers travel to thousands of destinations across 45 countries. 

The links above contain product affiliate links. We may receive a commission at no additional cost to you if you make a purchase after clicking on one of these links. But your support of Fork & Wander is greatly appreciated!

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