10 Festive Christmas Markets in Europe To Visit
As European countries continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, Christmas markets around the continent may be affected. This list will be updated regularly to include what is currently open.
Colorful rows of glittering fairy lights surrounding charming cobblestone streets with small wooden figurines ready to come home in your suitcase — it sounds like a dream.
The holiday season is one of the best times to go to Europe with the festive spirit in full swing and the cold weather just mild enough to walk around. And Christmas markets, found in towns large and small, are one of the best ways to soak it all in.
Drink mulled wine and nibble on petite cookies as you meander around the stalls and chalets from Strasbourg to Berlin to Amsterdam and beyond. Stuff your suitcase with figurines made of prune in Germany and collect tartan Christmas ornaments in Scotland.
These are 10 of the best Christmas markets in Europe, by country. Some markets might be a little different this year because of the coronavirus pandemic, but many are coming back (in some form) for the season.
Related: More holiday travel ideas
Gendarmenmarkt Christmas Market
Marvel at the fairy lights that illuminate this historic market in Germany's capital city. Shop traditional blown glass, wood carvings, and more. Head to the heated tents for some food and fill up on Bavarian treats. On New Year's Eve, be dazzled by the fireworks from the celebratory tents, ringing in the new year with cheer.
Please note, masks are mandatory at the market according to the German 2G rule.
When: Nov. 22 to Dec. 31
Where: Berlin, Germany
Strasbourg Christmas Market
Miles of fairy lights illuminate this city along the Rhine River as its Christmas market dates back to 1570 — Strasbourg used to be part of German Rhineland. Shop wooden toys and blown glass candles from the more than 300 market stalls where you can find the perfect souvenir. After, dig into some Alsatian bredele (traditional small cookies), or foie gras in true French fashion.
When: Nov. 26 to Dec. 26
Where: Strasbourg, France
Christmas Market at La Défense
This market is the biggest in the Paris area, with more than 300 chalets showcasing crafts and thousands of square feet of merry decorations, all underneath the Grande Arche de la Defense. After a long day of shopping, go ahead and indulge in some cheese — you are in France, after all.
When: Nov. 25 - Dec. 29
Where: Paris, France
Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park
Sip hot chocolate topped with marshmallows or mulled wine in London's Hyde Park as you shop for candle votives, ornaments, crafts, and gourmet food. After shopping, go ice skating or choose from different roller coasters before going to meet Santa.
When: Nov. 19 to Jan. 3
Where: London, England
Load up on sweets with cinnamon and sugar chimney cakes and cotton candy at this joyous celebration in the Scottish capital as you shop for hand carved wooden candle holders and Tartan Christmas ornaments. Later, spend a few hours in Santa Land where you can ride the Candy Cane Bungees and bumper cars.
When: Nov. 20 to Jan. 4
Where: Edinburgh, Scotland
Salzburg Christmas Market
This historic market dates as far back as the 15th century and turns the area at the foot of the Hohensalzburg fortress and around the cathedral of Salzburg into a winter wonderland with 95 different exhibitors. Breathe in the smell of hot chestnuts and mulled wine as you wander the charming market.
When: Nov. 18 to Dec. 26
Where: Salzburg, Austria
Plaza Mayor Christmas Market
Pick up Belen figures to make your very own nativity scene as well as intricate ornaments to decorate with at this centrally located Madrid market. While there, soak up the history of this large plaza, dating back to when King Philip II moved his court to Madrid.
When: Nov. 26 to Dec. 31
Where: Madrid, Spain
Piazza del Duomo Market
Stroll underneath the gothic-style cathedral of Milan's Duomo with a warm drink in hand as you browse the charming stalls and small huts set up in long rows. Shop Italian cheeses and Yuletide souvenirs as you take in the spirit of the city, making it the perfect way to cap off a day of sightseeing.
When: Dec. 1 to Jan. 6
Where: Milan, Italy
Het Amsterdamse Winterparadijs
This "winter paradise" is a sport and entertainment dream with Christmas spirit and seasonal delicacies built right in. Try your hand at a game of curling, have a snowball fight with real snow, or go tubing. Later, warm up by roasting marshmallows on the fire or heading to the Christmas cinema for a nostalgic Christmas movie.
When: Dec. 19 - Jan. 3
Where: Amsterdam, Netherlands