Here at Winetraveler, Christmas in Europe means one thing: mulled wine! And the best place to drink it is at a bustling Christmas market, while you pair it with local fare and peruse holiday decorations. Since holiday markets can be found in almost every European country, we’ve has scoured the continent to bring you the best of the best — so prepare yourself for hot drinks, sugary sweets, holiday wares and lots of Christmas fun.

Top Christmas Markets in Europe to Visit - Vienna, Austria
The Christmas Market at Vienna Town Hall makes for a beautiful December experience.

Vienna, Austria

November 17 – December 26, 2018

While Vienna has a few different Christmas markets, the Christkindlmarkt at Rathausplatz comes complete with an ice rink, a carousel, a reindeer train, live music and stall upon stall selling beautiful homemade holiday wares. The glittering city hall is a backdrop to the festivities, and the space hosts indoor cookie making classes and workshops for kids.

Zagreb, Croatia

December 1, 2018 – January 6, 2019

Zagreb’s holiday market used to be under-the-radar, but now more and more visitors are traveling to Croatia to visit one of Europe’s most exciting Christmas markets. The stalls along the Ban Josip Jelačić Square are brightly illuminated with a towering tree and the main fountain is revamped into holiday lights display. Weekends are celebrated with live music, and you can warm up in the heated conservatory space with food and drinks on a brisk evening.

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Beautiful Christmas Markets to Visit in Europe - Cologne, Germany | Winetraveler.com
Cologne, Germany has one of the most beautiful Christmas Markets in the world with its imposing gothic Cologne Cathedral beset behind Christmas Trees.

Cologne, Germany

November 26 – December 23, 2018

Cologne is the mecca of Christmas markets — there’s even a LGBTQ Christmas market to visit. But the most popular is the Old Market in front of the Town Hall. Legend explains that the ‘house gnomes’ were the Santa Elves of the market, helping to organize and set up the different themes of the many market stalls. Kids will delight in the puppet theater and of course, in visiting Santa Claus.

Christmas Markets to Visit in Europe - Strasbourg, France | Winetraveler.com

Strasbourg, France

November 24 – December 30, 2018

With Strasbourg’s Christmas markets dating back to 1570, they’re some of the oldest on record in Europe. The city has actually deemed itself the “Capital of Christmas.” Strasbourg’s city center is walkable, so it’s best to hit up all the holiday spots on foot, exploring over 300 market stands located around the city. With specific areas set up for children, holiday street art and a special sustainable market area (the OFF market), the whole city is alive with the holiday spirit.

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Best Christmas Markets in Eastern Europe - Prague, Czech Republic | Winetraveler.com
The Beautiful Christmas Market in Stare Mesto (Old Town Square)

Prague, Czech Republic

December 1, 2018 – January 6, 2019

One of the most famous holiday markets in the world, this event, which takes place at Old Town Square is filled with laughter, music and fun. With traditional Czech treats, hand-carved ornaments and a nativity scene with real live animals, it’s a party for the whole family.

Manchester, UK

November 9 – December 23, 2018

Head to Albert Square to chow down on bratwurst, sip mulled wine, shop at over 100 stalls and see some impressive musical acts at Manchester’s main Christmas market. Last year’s lineup featured Pixie Lott and Yes Lad, and while it’s still unclear who will be performing this year, it will likely be fantastic. Make sure to stop at the Ice Village, which will have a frozen toy factory, Santa’s grotto and an ice bar for adults just half-mile down the road at Cathedral Gardens.

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Best European Cities for Christmas Markets - Copenhagen, Denmark | Winetraveler.com
Copenhagen’s Christmas Market in Hojbro Plads square.

Copenhagen, Denmark

Various November and December dates

The city of Copenhagen certainly knows how to celebrate Christmas. With not one, but ten different markets, you can sip beer and tour the Carlsberg Brewery all decked out for the holidays at the Carlsberg market, or the visit glittering Hans Christian Anderson market, where all stalls are named every fairy tales and covered in lights. If you’d prefer to soak in some renaissance vibes, hit up the market located at the Kronborg Castle.

Brussels, Belgium

November 30, 2018 – January 6, 2019

Ever had a warm Belgium waffle on a snowy evening? Winter Wonders in Brussels has it all — delicious food, an ice rink, lights shows, a giant tree, over 200 stands for shopping and snacks and a ferris wheel. Plan to wear comfortable shoes and warm clothes — this market is over a mile and a half long — and can even be experienced on bike.

Gothenburg, Sweden

Select days between November 16 – December 30, 2018 (check official calendar)

Sweden’s largest Christmas market can be found at the Liseberg Amusement Park. The winter wonderland may just be the biggest holiday market in all of Scandinavia. The park covers their 18th century buildings and many trees with over five million lights, and kids can ride on reindeer drawn carriages while parents hit the ice bar. Don’t forget to check out the ice ballet too.

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Nuremberg, Germany

November 30 – December 24, 2018

One of Germany’s most revered Christmas markets, Nuremberg’s Christkindlsmarkt is known for its gingerbread, which you can eat there or buy and take home as a souvenir. Stagecoach tours offer rides around the entire market, and there’s also a special children’s area with a merry-go-round, Santa Claus house and more. 

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Lori Zaino
Senior European Correspondent at Winetraveler
Lori Zaino is a freelance travel, food, fashion and wine writer based in Madrid. You can likely find her on a plane jetting off to an exotic destination, eating tapas or sipping a glass of Rioja wine.
Lori Zaino on Instagram

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