The first recorded Christmas celebration was held in Rome in 336 AD, and Europe has been the go-to destination for Christmas markets ever since. Europe delivers festive feelings in the form of snow-capped cathedrals and dazzling architecture nestled in breathtaking scenery, angelic choirs filling the air with carols, sweet treats, and unique gifts.
Whether they prefer the temperate climate in southern Europe or to snuggle with someone special over the long nights of a Nordic winter, travelers are sure to find it in one of these 10 amazing Christmas markets.
Most Amazing Christmas Markets in Europe in 2023
10. Edinburgh, Scotland
Each year, Edinburgh’s East Princes Street Gardens magically turns itself into a sprawling “Santa Land,” where visitors can wander through a Christmas tree maze, fill up on traditional German sausages, and enjoy Scottish craft brews.
9. Metz, France
This market has an open-air ice rink and merry-go-round, but its best feature is “Sentiers des Lanternes,” or “Lantern Trails” in which lighted paths wind through the market.
8. Basel, Switzerland
160 stalls make Basel’s Christmas market the largest in Switzerland. The market has two main sections: Barfuserplatz and Munsterplatz. Barfuserplatz features handmade wooden toys, jewelry, and nativity scenes, while Munsterplatz is a fairytale forest that the kids will love.
7. Winter Wonders in Brussels, Belgium
Brussels, Belgium, is the place to go for an upscale gourmet Christmas experience. Winter Wonders, also locally known as Plaisirs d’Hiver, takes over the area around the Bourse stock exchange, the Marché aux Poissons, the Place Sainte-Catherine, and the Place de la Monnaie to create a gigantic winter wonderland.
The market stalls offer a huge variety of local delicacies, such as Belgian chocolate and waffles, along with locally crafted and artisan goods.
6. Budapest, Hungary
Two markets in Budapest really stand out – Vorosmarty Square and Basilica. Vorosmarty Square is in the heart of the city and features several food stalls, concerts, and handicraft shops. Basilica has those too, but also attracts visitors with some amazing Christmas laser projections on the Basilica itself and an ice-skating rink that encircles a majestic Christmas tree.
5. Spandau, Berlin, Germany
Berlin Germany has about 80 Christmas markets, but Spandau market is the largest and trendiest. Visitors make their way along cobblestone roads
4. Málaga, Spain
If you are tired of winter’s chill, the south of Spain may be your favorite place to spend the holidays. You can amble from Santa’s Grotto to Paseo de Parque to fill your stocking with local crafts before strolling over to see the elaborate light displays at Calle Marques de Larios.
3. Senate Square in Helsinki, Finland
This market mixes contemporary with traditional offerings during the holiday season. Tourists can enjoy watching local pups compete for the best holiday outfit one minute, and then sing old-timey Christmas carols the next.
Strolling along the illuminated market stalls in Senate Square is a popular holiday activity. Shoppers can indulge in hot mulled wine, enjoy some artisan cheeses, or treat themselves or jam-filled pastries.
2. Salzburg, Austria
Salzburg, Austria is the holiday destination for fans of ancient traditions, Christmas carols, or The Sound of Music.
The market stalls haven’t changed much since merchants first set them up in the 15th century. As was the case back when it was first opened, quality and authenticity is of the utmost importance – visitors should expect to see hand-knitted scarves for sale instead of plastic trinkets, for example.
1. Cologne, Germany
Cologne, Germany, has more Christmas markets than Santa has reindeer. The largest Christmas markets are in the center of Cologne, while smaller markets dot the neighborhoods.
The market just outside of Cologne Cathedral is one of the most popular and best-known, attracting more than 4 million visitors each year. More than 100 stage performances take place at this market each year, as do puppet shows and other performances for children; families may also take a trip to Saint Nicholas’s village, where they learn the true story of Saint Nicholas