Toggle Navigation
The best Christmas markets to visit in Europe in 2023

Table of contents

7 min read

The best Christmas markets to visit in Europe in 2023

As most of Europe turns into a winter wonderland, many people travel to visit and enjoy the sites and sounds of cute little cities. Blanketed in beautiful white snow below, and twinkling Christmas lights above, it’s always a wonderful experience. To take it a step further are the Christmas markets. Each city, town, or village ushers in the festive season uniquely. Some are better known than others, but, today, we’ll showcase a mixture of both. So, grab your warmest scarf and a cup of hot cocoa. Let’s explore some of the most popular Christmas markets alongside some unique hidden gems around Europe.

Vienna, Austria: A Classic Fairytale Come to Life

First stop, Vienna! Imagine strolling through the imperial setting of the Rathausplatz, where the Viennese Christmas Market sparkles. It looks like a scene from a fairytale. With its majestic backdrop, the market offers a blend of things that make the festive season so beautiful.

Imagine exploring traditional crafts, heavenly treats, and an atmosphere that’s pure joy. Don’t miss out on the mouth-watering Sachertorte and some warm Glühwein to keep the chill at bay.

The best part? Rathausplatz is only a 20-minute drive to Vienna Airport. There, can do some last-minute shopping before heading for your flight. It’s also the perfect chance to experience the Vienna Airport Parking‘s many options.

Strasbourg, France: The ‘Capital of Christmas’

Next, let’s hop over to Strasbourg, the self-proclaimed “Capital of Christmas”. It’s the perfect blend of historical charm and modern conveniences. Strasbourg’s Christmas market brings together French and German traditions.

It offers a unique cultural experience. The towering Christmas tree at Place Kléber is an absolute must-see. And while you’re there, try some local Alsatian delights. Local producers are happy to share their homemade jams, chocolate, hot apple juice, wines, and more!

Dresden, Germany: A Step Back in Time

Home to Germany’s oldest Christmas market, the Striezelmarkt Dresden is a historical wonder that dates back to 1434. With its festive stalls, traditional crafts, and the famous Stollen (a German Christmas bread), Dresden offers a nostalgic and heart-warming experience.

The highlight is the grand Stollen Festival. It’s held on the second Saturday in December. A giant Stollen, sometimes weighing several tons, is paraded through the streets of Dresden. It’s then ceremonially cut and distributed among the crowd. Many visitors enjoy being a part of this vivid celebration of Dresden’s baking heritage.

Prague, Czech Republic: A Romantic Escape

With its Gothic architecture and the dreamy Vltava River, Prague is a romantic’s paradise, especially during Christmas. The Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square markets are a wonderland of lights, with handcrafted gifts and Czech specialities. The setting is so picture-perfect, that you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into a Christmas card!

Carolers and performers add to the festive spirit with live music ranging from classical to folk. Also, the markets are not just about shopping; they’re a celebration of Czech Christmas traditions. Check out the various cultural programs and events that showcase the country’s heritage.

Tallinn, Estonia: A Medieval Yuletide Adventure

For something a bit off the beaten path, Tallinn’s Christmas market is a hidden gem. Set in the medieval Old Town, it’s like stepping into a storybook. The snow-covered cobblestone streets, the medieval buildings, and the joyous atmosphere make it a unique experience.

A luscious Christmas tree, a tradition that dates back to 1441, is the focal point of the market. It’s one of the first public Christmas trees in Europe. And the hand-knit pullovers, showcasing the rich textile traditions of Estonia? They’re the cosiest souvenirs you could ask for.

Make sure to get a taste of traditional Estonian holiday foods and drinks. Try the black pudding, sour cabbage, gingerbread, and hot mulled wine.

Bruges, Belgium: A Chocolate Lover’s Paradise

Last but not least, Bruges! This charming Belgian town, with its medieval architecture and canals, turns into a chocolate wonderland during Christmas. The market squares are filled with the scent of Belgian waffles and the world’s best chocolate. It’s a sweet ending to our festive journey.

If you want to get some unique Christmas gifts for loved ones overseas, it’s a great place to stop on your way to the airport. Bruges is a 90-minute drive to Brussels Airport Zaventem, so, it makes sense to pass by there. You can then leave your car at Brussels Zaventem parking before checking in and taking off for your holiday.

Exploring Europe’s Christmas markets is more than just a trip; it’s an immersion into the heart of winter’s magic. Each market, with its unique charm and traditions, tells a story of the festive spirit that unites us all.

So, as the holiday season approaches, why not make new memories in these winter wonderlands? Happy travels, and may your festive season be as bright and joyful as the Christmas markets of Europe.