Europe’s Best Christmas Markets for 2017

‘Tis the season to take a Christmas market trip to the fairy-lit city of your choice. Hand-crafted trinkets, piping hot mugs of mulled wine and freshly-baked festive treats are set to fill beautifully-adorned market stalls across Europe. Here are our top picks for Christmas market city breaks…

PRAGUE

Every winter the charming Czech capital hosts Christmas markets in its Old Town Square and along Wencelas Square. A five minute stroll will take you between the two, and with the rich aroma of spiced apple cider and cinnamon in the air, getting into the festive spirit won’t be tricky.

Set against the stunning backdrop of Prague’s gothic skyline, the mighty Christmas tree in the heart of the Old Town Square makes for a magnificent centrepiece to the festivities. Find out more here.

Old Town Square, Prague
Old Town Square, Prague

Must-try treats: Treat yourself to trdelik, a hot, sugar-coated, chocolate-filled pastry. Klobasa, the local barbecued sausage is also worth a sample. Wash down with mulled wine or try a world-famous Czech beer like Pilsner Urquell, Staropramen or Budvar.

Don’t miss: Catch a Christmas concert in one of the wonderful array of opera houses, concert halls and churches around the city. Czech out the full programme of events here.

Dates: 02 December – 06 January 2018.

VIENNA

Visitors to Vienna are spoilt for choice when it comes to Christmas markets; the Austrian capital hosts more than twenty. Elegant squares across the city transform into glistening seas of stalls, with roasted chestnuts, toasted almonds and glorious-smelling punch for sale on every corner. Check out a complete guide to the markets here.

Vienna Christmas Market
Christmas markets, Vienna

Must-try treats: Vanillekipferl, a wonderfully light, crescent-shaped biscuit is the perfect accompaniment to a glass of Weihnachtspunsch (Christmas punch).

Don’t miss: The Viennese Christmas Market at City Hall is a true showstopper. Explore the hundreds of treasure-laden stalls, take a twirl on the ice rink or enjoy free entry to live Christmas carols in the Rathaus on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays during market season.

Dates: 17 November – 01 January 2018

BRUGES

This medieval city is the perfect place to get in the mood for the magical season. Snow-covered chalets brimming with Christmas gifts, mouth-watering chocolates, waffles and much more fill the central Market Square and Simon Stevinplein Square. Work off all that Belgian chocolate at the prettiest ice-rink you’ll ever see, perched beneath the city’s iconic bell tower.

Bruges streetscape
Market Square, Bruges

Don’t miss: Read our guide to the perfect weekend “In Bruges” here.

Dates: 24 November – 01 January 2018.

MUNICH

If you’re looking for a truly authentic Christmas market experience, Munich is a must-visit metropolis. The city oozes traditional Bavarian charm, brought to life with more than 160 market stalls and a towering Christmas tree in Marienplatz. Shop for ancient hand-painted glass baubles, sheepskin jackets, traditional German Christmas decorations, scented candles and more.

Munich Christmas Market
Marienplatz, Munich

Must-try treats: Chow down on sizzling Bratwurst. Sample the local Stollen (German fruit cake) and warm up with glühwein.

Don’t miss: When you’ve explored Marienplatz, venture into the ‘Square of Stars’ at Rindermarkt. Luminous stars in the trees turn the square into a glittering forest.

Dates: 27 November – 24 December. Find out more here.

ROME

There’s a lot to conquer on a Roman city break, no matter what time of year you visit. A Christmas visit to The Eternal City, however, is a real treat. See Piazza Navona in an entirely new light as it plays host to the Italian capital’s largest Christmas markets. Pop into Sant’Agnese church for a Christmas concert, visit the Nativity scene at Santa Maria d’Araceli church and hit the ice rink next to Castel Sant’Angelo.

The Colosseum at Christmas

Don’t miss: Rome’s dreamiest districts also take on a special atmosphere in the lead-up to Christmas. Take a special passeggiata through fairy-lit Trastevere, pick up vintage jewellery, clothes and collectables in the trendy Mercato Monti or join the locals on Gianicolo Hill for the best view of the city’s dazzling Christmas lights.

Must-try treats: Pizza, pasta, prosecco, panettone and panforte. The perfect pick-me-up treats on any trip to Rome.

DUSSELDORF

Germany’s fashion capital gets decked out for the festive season in style. Seven delightful locations across Dusseldorf light up with Christmas markets. Hop on the lovingly restored 100-year-old merry-go-round on Marktplatz, admire the sparkling chorus of angels at ‘Little Angle Market’ on Heinrich-Heinie-Platz or wrap up warm for a stroll along the pretty Rhine promenade.

Dusseldorf at Christmastime
Dusseldorf at Christmastime

Don’t miss: Sip on mulled wine at the impressive Glühwein Pyramid along Flinger Strasse before stopping in for a beer at the world’s longest bar at the Alstadt.

Dates: 23 November – 30 December. Find out more here.

AMSTERDAM

Get a taste of gezellig, the Dutch take on the Danish ‘hygge’ concept of ‘feeling cosy’ in Amsterdam this winter. Check out the twinkling Christmas tree in front of the Royal Palace on the Dam square, take a few laps around the ice rink at the Museumplein or tuck into waffles and Bratwurst at Leidseplein. Then settle in for a cosy evening one of the city’s brown cafés.

Festival of Lights
Festival of Lights, Amsterdam

Must-try treats: Dotted throughout Amsterdam’s Christmas markets you’ll find ice sugar-dusted Dutch doughnuts and stands selling apple-filled puff pastries, cinnamon and nutmeg-spiced biscuits, almond Christmas ring cakes and more delightful delicacies.

Don’t miss: Read our guide to ’48 Hours in Amsterdam’ here, which features the city’s Festival of Light, kicking off on 01 December.

To book flights to any of the destinations above, click here.