Christmas in Europe have a completely different allure. An essence of grandeur if you like! Now is the time to plan (yes, in August) in order to get the best possible prices for airfare and accommodation.
A sizzling blazing spirit goes through Europe each year bringing up the best of Christmas markets that are out there. Fantastic decorative lights and ornaments elevate warm feelings everywhere around.
Our experts team put together this really useful post for Christmas in Europe, taking into consideration the preferences of our fans, of other travelers and a little bit of… Christmas magic.
Here it is!
Best 23 Destinations for Christmas Markets in Europe
Why Europe? It could be the architecture when all the glittering lights fill the night with amazing colors and buildings of Old Europe get a different life of their own.
Maybe it is the spectacular range of different foods that each European country has to offer in Christmas period! Could be the warm wine, spiced with cinnamon and herbs of Northern countries.
Could be all of these put together, next to a dazzling Christmas tree, aside to a blazing fireplace.
It could be love! Who really can tell? Christmas have their own magic dust and certain European destinations take that magic and mix it with each local magic ingredients.
Let’s find out…
Vienna is one of the best cities to enjoy your Christmas holiday. These are some of the events that you can plan for; “ Christmas in Vienna” concert, Ice skating, advent concert at Stephansdom, Belvedere palace Christmas market, Schonbrunn palace orchestra Christmas and new year concert, Freyung Christmas market, Karlsplatz Christmas market, “ Winter in MQ” (winter in the Museumsquartier) and Mozart Christmas concert.
If you plan to go to Vienna besides Christmas period, read our post for things to do in the city.
Copenhagen presents several; Christmas events worth visiting. They are Tivoli amusement park, Ice skating in Frederiksberg Have, Copenhagen street foods, the Royal Copenhagen’s Christmas tables, Visit Fairytale castle, Paper island street food, strolling down Kronprinsensgade; you may also visit the old candy factory.
Copenhagen is a great city (top for living). We spent a week there. Read our posts from here.
Wonderful sites during Christmas in Nuremberg include; Be part of a stagecoach tour, the market of the sister cities for international gifts, Visit the Christmas market, See the Nuremberg Christkind, The funny prune men, The children’s Christmas market, Find a selection of Christmas tree decors at the Christmas market.
If you choose to go to Germany then read this post for things to do in the country in a few (or many) days.
In London expect the following; London Christmas concert, Christmas lightings in London, meet Father Christmas at ZSL London zoo, visit London museums, Christmas carols at Trafalgar square, Battersea cats and dogs home carol concert, St Paul’s Cathedral, St Martins-in-the-fields Church among others, Go ice skating.
In Strasbourg expect to see; Cathedral Notre-Dame, The Strasbourg Christmas markets, the huge Christmas tree in Strasbourg city that’s about 30 feet.
Prague, Czech Republic
Prague presents these wonderful sights and events; Watching the Nutcracker ballet and other international class performance, Ice skating in the old town, Relaxing moments at Prague river cruise, A visit to Prague Zoo, Czech traditional food stands, Shopping in Prague street markets, The Christmas atmosphere in Prague town.
One of the most popular destinations in Europe for all year around trips. Read what to do in Prague.
In Colmar city you and to enjoy the following; A visit to Toy museum, Colmar Christmas park for children, A stroll through Colmar’s Christmas market, A visit to the hills, Christmas carols by boat. Shopping and sampling foods at Colmar City markets, Christmas tasting at Colmar, a visit to the historic town.
If you travel all the way to France then you need to see more things. Depending on where you will choose to stay, there are many options. Read all our posts from here.
Dresden city has the record of having the tallest Christmas tree, which is around 14 meters high. Dresden has one of the oldest Christmas markets in the world. The Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady), The Moritzburg water castle with is one of the world best water castle, and the Green Vault museum a rococo-styled palace.
Brussels has some of the ancient cathedrals in Europe; St Catherine, St Gudula, and St Michael cathedrals. Expect to see amazing Christmas lightings in Brussels streets; the city hall is well light with Christmas decorations. A visit to the Brussels Christmas market should be in your list, skating at Place de la Monnaie. And finally Christmas tree, sound and a light show at the Grand- Place.
Did you know that Brussels is considered one of the best affordable destinations in Europe? Read why.
A visit to Cologne city you should expect the following; The Fragrance Museum, The cathedral or Dom, Cologne city Christmas markets for a variety of Christmas gift for family and friends, A Visit to Museum Ludwig. A visit to the old town and a stroll by the waterfront, the chocolate museum is also worth visiting.
Paris France presents the following during Christmas; Grand Magasins like the Bon Marche and the Galeries Lafayettes, A visit to Trocadero square for a spectacular view of the Eiffel tower, ice skating, A visit to the Paris Christmas markets, Christmas in church at Notre-Dame Cathedral, Sacre-Coeur Basilica of Montmartre or The Church of Saint Eustache. You may also opt to sample wine in Pairs bars and watch the Christmas lighting in Paris streets.
Budapest presents the following during Christmas; Budapest Christmas boats- cruising on river Dunabe, Christmas concerts In Budapest, A visit to the Budapest Christmas markets, Budapest nutcracker ballet, Ice rink in the city, Hot springs of Gellert spa, Christmas streetcar ride.
Another city that is not only for Christmas and also included in the best affordable destinations in Europe list.
Trier is one of Germany’s oldest cities. During Christmas you can; Visit Trier Dom( Which is the high cathedral of saint peter), Porta Nigra( An ancient Roman city gate), Konstantin Basilica, Rheinesches Landmuseum, A visit to Trier Christmas markets, a stroll in Trier streets, attend Trier Christmas concerts, Visit The Hauptmarkt the main city market.
In Bruges, You can; Visit Grote market, the largest market in Bruges for Christmas shopping, Basilica of the holy blood, Visit the Grand Hotel Casselbergh Bruges Christmas lounge. Walk in the streets of the city,
Enjoy nightlife at Bruges city, the city lighting, local delicacies and sample wine.
In Geneva, you can expect; a winter walk on the icy slopes, A visit to the Geneva Christmas markets like the Montreux Noel, Vie the splendid tall Christmas trees like the one at St Gallen’s, it is usually about 20 meters, Ice skating, Stay in an igloo village, Be part of a Christmas day procession.
Upcoming cities to consider for Christmas in Europe
This is what you will see in Ghent; Skating in the city, a visit to Ghent Christmas markets for a selection of Christmas gifts, The winter wonderland castle, a stroll through Ghent streets for spectacular lighting, Visit Ghent Christmas concerts and carols.
If you plan to visit Glasgow during Christmas expect; A visit to the Barras market, Glasgow Museums, Visit Glasgow’s west end area, Meet Santa at St Enoch center, See Santa Claus at snow factor, attend Glasgow international comedy festival and the Glasgow film festival.
Zagreb offers a unique Christmas atmosphere it boasts of some of the best Christmas markets in Europe. Other attractions during the Christmas season include; The Zagreb street Christmas lightings, a visit to the frozen Plitvice national park, a tour for the Christmas story in Cazma, A visit to an outdoor thermal spa, the museum of broken relationships, play an ice-hockey game, and skiing at Sjleme ski resort.
At Rovaniemi city you stand to enjoy; a visit to the Ranua wildlife park, Ice fishing, a reindeer ride at Santa Claus village and see the real Santa, A Northern lights hunting tour, you can also visit artic science Centre and museums like the Korundi house of culture, Arktikum, and the science Centre Pilke.
Manchester city offers the following; Skating at the ice rink, shopping at the Manchester Christmas markets for gifts from different parts of the world, Elf the Musical at the Lowry, Enjoy a magical time at Dunham Massey, and the Curious Teepee.
Salzburg presents a beautiful Christmas experience that includes; a stroll through the city streets, tracking the history of the carol silent night, that was originally done here at Eberndorf, Exposure to local cultures like the “Salzburger Adventsingen,” Visit a Perchtenlauf, A visit to the Salzburg Christmas markets. Go skiing.
These are some main attractions in Florence city during Christmas; best nativity scenes, lighting and Christmas trees, sample Florentine Christmas foods, Ice skating, Visit Florence Museums, Florentine Christmas markets like the Piazza Santa Croce, attend Christmas mass at Cathedral of Florence( Duomo), Ice skating at Florence winter park, Watch The Nutcracker at Teatro Della pergola.
Florence is a city where we’ve been twice. Both times as part of a road trip. Read our post from our experience and include these ideas in your Christmas in Europe in Florence itinerary.
In Tallinn you can expect the following during Christmas; Skiing in the snow, ice skating on a frozen lake, enjoying your time in a sauna or spa, a visit to Tallinn Old town, the frozen Jagala waterfall, Traditional Estonian Christmas food, Visit Christmas markets in Tallinn town.
How to get to Europe for Christmas?
First of all make a note of our Travel Resources page here, with lots of links for services for your holidays/vacations in all world destinations.
If you are already in Europe and don’t mind the driving from country to country then you can definitely drive to your destinations? In case you want to spent Christmas day in one city and New Years Eve in another then that is even better.
Driving in Europe
You may need a special license on top of your driving one. You can either navigate using your car GPS, or a smartphone app. In case your roaming service doesn’t charge you extra then you can use ViaMichelin website to plan your route and costs.
We have done that twice for 2 different road trips in Europe.
Cheap flights for European cities
Do not let time pass! Book at least 4 to 5 months ahead. This means that book in or before August, otherwise prices will start rising and many European cities are not that cheap to travel into.
To be sure that you scan for best prices and options, definitely use SkyScanner and do subscribe for their price alerts.
Take the train in Europe
You can travel with train all over the world. Europe is really “crawlable” via train, due to its extended railway network. This website is all you need to start planning your trip to Europe by train.
Book (way) ahead for European hotels in Christmas markets
Use AirBnB or Booking.com. As usually if you book early then you can get (better and cheaper) accommodation closer to the places of interest and where Christmas happenings are taking place. Click here to check prices and accommodation in Booking.com. Booking is a member of Priceline, Kayak, Agoda, RentalCars and OpenTable so you can be sure you can utilize the whole network.
You can also use HotelsCombined.com. The website brings results from Booking, Expedia, Agoda, Hilton, Hoteltopia, Accor and GetARoom. So, pretty much you get results from at least 80% of the accommodation market.
European Christmas Tours
With hundreds of Christmas in Europe related tours, or any type of cultural and culinary tours, this is the website to have in mind for your Christmas trip. Choose your city and adventure.
Moscow, Russia for Christmas markets in “Europe”?
Needs a special Visa but do consider being on Red Square of Moscow for New Years Eve. It is an absolutely totally crazy loud experience! Read our post here (we were there in 2013).
Which is the best market for Christmas in Europe?
Well, no clear conclusion can be made. Our research showed the inevitable (and logical) outcome of… it depends on what everyone wants.
There were people who would love to do some Christmas “hopping” if they could, by visiting as many Christmas markets destinations as possible in Europe.
What an idea… I mean if you have the budget to spare!
What about you? Have you decided on the Christmas in Europe destination for your trip yet?
Let us know!