Brussels Winter Wonders - 07

The Best Christmas Markets in Europe

Begin Slideshow
Getty Images

From Stuttgart to Strasbourg, these are the holiday festivities not to miss.

Brussels, Belgium

1 of 13

Brussels' Christmas market has been around only since 2002, but it pulls off its Plaisirs d'Hiver/Winter Pret ("Pleasures of Winter") festival with elegant style. The theatrics include a nightly sound-and-light show on the Grand Place and a market surrounding the Bourse (Stock Exchange) and along Place Sainte Catherine. In keeping with that Belgian spirit of a United Europe, the 200+ wooden chalets host artisans from around the world hawking a kaleidoscope of Christmas wares, handmade crafts, and souvenirs. Not that Belgian traditions are left out; browse the many food stalls for pots of moules (mussels) and caricoles (peppery whelks or winkles), Belgian fries and fluffy Belgian waffles, seasonal croustillons (sugar doughnuts), and Belgium's two most welcome additions to world cuisine: fine chocolates and powerful beer. At one end of the shopping, near the fish market, you'll find a spinning, glittering 160-foot Ferris wheel, and, at the Place de la Monnaie, a nearly 8,000-square-foot ice skating rink. 

Look For: The Winter Wonders guest of honor. Each year, Brussels invites a different guest to set up a market-within-the-market to share some of its own traditions. Past invitees have included Provence, Québec, Tallinn, and Lapland.

Dates: Late Nov.–early Jan.

For More Info: plaisirsdhiver.be

Get more holiday travel inspiration.

Brussels Winter Wonders - 07

The Best Christmas Markets in Europe

Brussels, Belgium

Brussels' Christmas market has been around only since 2002, but it pulls off its Plaisirs d'Hiver/Winter Pret ("Pleasures of Winter") festival with elegant style. The theatrics include a nightly sound-and-light show on the Grand Place and a market surrounding the Bourse (Stock Exchange) and along Place Sainte Catherine. In keeping with that Belgian spirit of a United Europe, the 200+ wooden chalets host artisans from around the world hawking a kaleidoscope of Christmas wares, handmade crafts, and souvenirs. Not that Belgian traditions are left out; browse the many food stalls for pots of moules (mussels) and caricoles (peppery whelks or winkles), Belgian fries and fluffy Belgian waffles, seasonal croustillons (sugar doughnuts), and Belgium's two most welcome additions to world cuisine: fine chocolates and powerful beer. At one end of the shopping, near the fish market, you'll find a spinning, glittering 160-foot Ferris wheel, and, at the Place de la Monnaie, a nearly 8,000-square-foot ice skating rink. 

Look For: The Winter Wonders guest of honor. Each year, Brussels invites a different guest to set up a market-within-the-market to share some of its own traditions. Past invitees have included Provence, Québec, Tallinn, and Lapland.

Dates: Late Nov.–early Jan.

For More Info: plaisirsdhiver.be

Get more holiday travel inspiration.

Getty Images

The Best Christmas Markets in Europe

Related: 13 Affordable Trips to Europe

Christmas markets are arguably one of the best parts about traveling to Europe in December. There's some sort of magic in the mulling spices of Munich's hot glühwein or the rum of Prague's vosí hnízda cookies. Europe boasts dozens of cities to enjoy the sights and smells of the season, be that by way of Brussels's croustillons (sugar doughnuts) or London's Great Christmas Pudding Race, an obstacle course in Covent Garden navigated while balancing fruitcakes on spoons.

Related: Europe's Best Winter Getaways

There's a lot of fun to be had, so read on for the full guide.

Promoted Stories
Explore More
More from T+L