With the crisp air calling for big jackets, cozy hats and warm gloves, Europe’s the place to be for a truly festive experience. The aromas of mulled wine and spicy nutmeg set the mood this winter season.
We’ve pulled together our top picks from some of Europe’s most loved Christmas markets. Now you can spend less time searching and more time shopping for that perfect gift.
For three years in a row, Zagreb’s been voted as having the ‘Best Christmas Markets in Europe’ in a worldwide vote with European Best Destinations, and it’s easy to see why.
As you navigate through the market stalls and stands with all their festive offerings, you’ll hear the echoes of Christmas choirs and concerts, all lit up by the glittering light and candle decorations. When you’ve eaten your weight in Christmas cake, take a quiet walk through the beautifully decorated Grič Tunnel or join one of the city’s famous Christmas tours. With music filling the halls and dazzling decorations, it’s the perfect setting for holiday snaps.
Taking center stage is the ice rink in King Tomislav Square – beautifully decorated with sparkling lights and the central fountain nearby. Visiting with children? Between ice skating, lights, and food stands, they’ll be more than sufficiently entertained while you secretly pick out their presents.
When you think of Christmas markets, your mind flies straight to Germany and with one lap around Aachen festive fete and you’ll see why. Aachen Christmas Market started in the 70s, growing in both size and popularity. It’s tradition for locals to pop in for a lunchtime holiday fix or meet friends in the evening.
With the cathedral and the town hall lit up, the lively market fills up with locals, visitors and families looking for a festive find. The gifts stay true to German tradition, with handcrafted wooden toys and unique souvenirs making this the perfect place to buy something special.
You won’t want to leave without trying the Christmas foods, biscuits, gingerbread-esque baked treats called Printen (it originated from Aachen), cinnamon cakes and marzipan bread. With upwards of 1.5 million visitors each year, you’ll need to be quick with the cakes though.
From November to January, Vienna lights up with glittering candles, the smell of cookies and candies travels through the streets, and carolers from all over the world set the tone as people take their pick of artisanal gifts and sweet treats.
In the Rathauspark, in front of Vienna City Hall, you’ll find one a more modern market, with popular music, a giant Christmas tree and a reindeer train. Want to escape the cold? Get cozy inside, where you’ll have the opportunity to wander the stalls—all with a glass of mulled wine in hand (or two). It’s the holidays, after all…
If you love arts and crafts, you’ll love the seasonal market at Spittelberg. Nestled in the trendy area of Neubau, you’ll find one of a kind items of clothing, handmade jewelry, original glass and wax pieces. With cobblestone streets and artistic decorations, Neubau is the perfect place to get into the Christmas spirit.
England’s capital city has no shortage of wintery offerings—from the Tower of London to Hyde Park, it becomes a one stop shop for all the festive cheer you can handle. Stroll along the Thames and you can almost taste the air it’s so sweet. The path is filled with stalls selling trinkets, souvenirs and stocking fillers, all sure to make you the most popular person at any family party!
As you venture further into the city, the lights display through Oxford Circus leads you all the way to the famous Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park.
With rides as high as you can see and rotating bars, this new style Christmas Market is an activity-filled take on what you may typically expect. An ice rink for all ages is the focal point, with plenty of activities to choose from. Winter Wonderland is like a fusion of a Christmas Market and an amusement park all rolled into one—growing increasingly popular with families and friends, it also makes for the most romantic date night, so grab some roasted chestnuts and a drink from one of the internationally themed bars and enjoy the city from a different point of view.