18 Best Christmas Markets in Europe

18 of the Best Christmas Markets in Europe in 2020 – Prague, Vienna & the World’s Largest Gingerbread Town!

A complete guide to 18 of the best Christmas Markets in Europe for all traveller typesAh yes, Christmas. The sweet smell of mulled wine, grilled sausages and gingerbread biscuits. Endless gifts to be bought and food to be eaten. A huge Christmas tree to marvel at. All and more to be enjoyed at the best Christmas markets in Europe 2020!

Spending your Christmas in Europe offers huge potential for a great time. No matter if you’re a couple, family or solo traveller – European Christmas markets offer something for everyone.

So come on, let’s discover the top Christmas markets worth seeing this year!

Also: Discover 25 Best European Cities to Visit in Winter

Where are the Best Christmas Markets in Europe?

The best way to see Christmas markets in Europe is to have a clear idea of which countries host great markets, when they take place and what they offer.

We did the research for you and collected a selection of the best Christmas markets in the world. They are:

  1. Aachen Christmas Market
  2. Freiburg Christmas Market
  3. Christmas markets in Cologne
  4. Ghent Christmas Market
  5. Winter Wonders in Brussels
  6. Prague Christmas Market
  7. Vienna Magic of Advent
  8. Christkindelsmärik in Strasbourg
  9. Montbeliard Christmas Market
  10. Metz Christmas Market
  11. Gdańsk Christmas Market
  12. Advent Feast at the Basilica, Budapest
  13. Basel Christmas Market
  14. Cluj-Napoca Christmas Market
  15. Winchester Cathedral’s Christmas Market
  16. Valkenburg Christmas Markets
  17. Salzburg Christmas Market
  18. Tallinn Christmas Market
    EXTRA: Pepperkakebyen in Bergen
    Dates of European Christmas Markets

To help you out further, we’ve included a section for Christmas markets NOT worth it.

Just for fun: We’ve added some weird and funny European Christmas traditions to look out for.

1. Aachen Christmas Market, Germany

When it comes to the best Christmas markets in Germany 2020, Aachen Christmas Market is a real contender.

Every year for four weeks on the lead up to Christmas, the lanes and squares around the town hall and Aachen Cathedral come alive with lights, yummy smells and festive sounds. The entire area is transformed into a Christmas village! It’s an ideal meeting place for both Aacheners and visitors alike during the festive period.

Must try: Every heard of Aachen Printen? It’s a unique type of gingerbread found in the Aachen area and a must try at the market. See if you can spot the 6m high Prinen gingerbread man mascot!

This market attracts a whopping 1.5 million visitors every year, over the 47+ years it has been running.

For the foodies, here’s a fun video highlighting all of the delicious foods you can enjoy at Aachen Christmas market:

2. Freiburg Christmas Market, Germany

The historic centre of Freiburg transforms into a large Christmas village with over 100 wooden chalets filled with crafts and commercial products. In fact, this market is well-known for its craft products. From puppets and plush toys, to scarves, candles and wooden objects – you’ll find something, no doubt!

Highlight: Visit the candle workshop and watch your made-to-order candle being made with beeswax.

Eat plenty of gingerbread at the Best Christmas Markets in Europe

3. Cologne, Germany

Ok so Cologne doesn’t have just one major Christmas market, it has several, in fact. It all depends on what you prefer!

Germany is where Christmas markets originated, famous for Bavarian drinking and German sausages. Cologne does a tremendous job of showing off and keeping the tradition alive.

The greatest and most famous markets in Cologne include:

3.1 Cathedral X-Mas Market

  • Varied stage program of +100 music & entertainment performances
  • “The Nordmann fir” towering 25m high, lit up with 25,000 LED lights
  • Largest Christmas tree in Rhineland

3.2 X-Mas Market in the Old Town

One of the best Christmas markets in Europe for families. Children will love the puppet shows, children’s roundabout and Santa Claus’ quarter with endless toy stands.

3.3 Angel’s Market in the City

Wander around and spot angels dressed in white sprinkling glitter powder around the market. Once a week, Santa Claus and an angel make a grand entry to the market on horseback. This is held in Neumarkt and is the oldest Christmas market in Cologne.

3.4 Harbour Market

  • Over 70 exciting stands
  • Impressive three-mast 15m boat serving mulled wine out of its hull
  • Seafaring themes with sailor yarns, pirate juggling & fish specialties

3.5 Gay Christmas Market

This market enjoys support from Cologne AIDS Hilfe and KLuST e.V. (organizers of Cologne Pride), among others. There’s a stage where well-known artists and stars can be enjoyed, and 3 traditional Glühwein huts serving delicious mulled wine.

Read: Our perfect itinerary for Germany

Meet Santa at many of the best Christmas markets in Europe

4. Ghent Christmas Market, Belgium

Locally known as Gentse Winterfeesten, the heart of Ghent becomes a Scandinavian Christmas village, oozing the atmosphere of the Nordics. Get ready for the smell of pine, moose, wooden chalets, plenty of green and fancy trinkets.

There are over 150 wooden market stalls to keep you occupied, plus a big ice skating rink and a christmas-tree-merry-go-round. Fun!

5. Winter Wonders in Brussels, Belgium

For those looking to enjoy a large Christmas market that continues over the New Year period (continuing for almost a week in January, to be exact), head to Winter Wonders in Brussels. On average it receives around 2.5 million visitors each year.

There’s so much to look forward to here, including:

  • A covered ice skating rink
  • Over 200 stalls at the market
  • Fairground attractions (Ferris wheel, merry-go-rounds etc)
  • A sound & light show on the Grand Place – a real highlight!

This can feel more like a multicultural country fair than a Christmas market. But if you’re keen to enjoy it all, you’ll love Brussels in winter.

A merry-go-round at Brussels Christmas Market - one of the best Christmas markets in Europe

6. Prague Christmas Market, Czech Republic

Certainly one of the most beautiful in Europe, Prague Christmas market is in the heart of the city, in a traditional marketplace that’s covered with wooden stall, merchants and excellent food & drink.

There are endless products and gifts to buy such as hand-embroidered tablecloths, wooden toys and blown glass balls. Don’t forget to fill up on typical Czech skewered food!

This market is open on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.

Spending longer in the city? Our one week in Prague guide is designed to help you achieve a stress-free & memorable stay.

Here is a cool video discovering the smaller Christmas markets in the city.

7. Vienna Magic of Advent, Austria

From mid November to Christmas Vienna is host to an array of wonderful Christmas markets. One of the most well-known and traditional of these is called Vienna Magic of Advent. This is when the City Hall Square turns into a shining fairy-tale land!

There’s something for everyone: workshops for kids, Christmas gifts, warm drinks, sweets, a sea of lights – you name it!

We’d easily vote this as the best Vienna Christmas market and the top choice if you only have time to experience one.

Want to know more about Vienna in regards to visiting? Check out our guide to one week in Vienna.

Read: Where to Stay in Vienna? An insider’s guide for first-time visits.

Vienna Christmas Market is one of the best Christmas Markets in Europe

8. Christkindelsmärik in Strasbourg, France

Also known as Christkindelsmärik, Strasbourg Christmas Market is one of the oldest in Europe, dating back to 1570!

This is one of my absolute favorite Christmas markets Europe has to offer. It is absolutely underrated;both the Christmas market and the city!

It happens to be set in the heart of Grande Île, a UNESCO world heritage site.

The majestic “Great Christmas Tree” is certainly a highlight, with many beautiful illuminated streets and over 300 wooden chalets set up nearby. It’s loved by young and old every year.

Read: One week in Strasbourg – itinerary, where to stay, food + more!

Strasbourg is also one of the 35 most beautiful cities to visit in France.

Christkindelsmärik in Strasbourg is one of the best Christmas markets in Europe

9. Montbeliard Christmas Market, France

Easily the most beautiful Christmas market in France. It’s world famous for impressive illuminations, offering a traditional and authentic experience for everyone.

During Advent, the town revives the old tradition and sets up 170 stalls within the Christmas market. There’s even an outdoor ice rink!

Read: Our perfect itinerary for France to enjoy at its best

Ice rinks are popular and fun at the best Christmas markets in Europe

10. Metz Christmas Market, France

Like the sound of carol singing and folk dancing? This is just some of the street entertainment that happens at Metz Christmas market.

Metz is pretty good at lighting up the city at the best of times, but throughout December the Christmas lights are fantastic. There are almost 100 wooden cottages erected along the Esplanade and medieval arcades of Place St Louis. Get ready for waterfalls of lights, roasted chestnuts and festive music galore.

Next to the cathedral there is a wonderful “big wheel”, and shops are also open on the two Sundays before Christmas. If that’s not enough, there’s hand-crafted gifts and an open-air ice rink!

Light display at Metz Christmas Market - one of the best Christmas markets in Europe

11. Gdańsk Christmas Market, Poland

Probably the most romantic Christmas market in Europe, Gdańsk Christmas fair has set up a special area where lovers can kiss under the mistletoe and make a wish.

It’s set in the historical centre of Gdańsk, offering a real fairy tale vibe that is loved by both visitors and locals alike. Even the streets are renamed for this time of year: cinnamon, chocolate and Christmas Eve street to name but a few.

Highlight: A two-level Gdańsk carousel and food court. There is plenty of polish cuisine to try!

Kiss under the mistletoe at the best Christmas markets in Europe!

12. Advent Feast at the Basilica in Budapest, Hungary

It’s no secret that the Advent Feast at the Basilica has been a favourite Christmas market in Hungary for a long time. It’s also officially the most beautiful Christmas market in Europe.

This is home to the largest 3D Christmas projections in Central Europe! Light shows are shown several times a day and cannot be missed.

Other highlights include:

  • Free attractions for all ages (inc. ice skating)
  • Hungarian contemporary hand-craft products
  • Eco-friendly food vendors
  • Charity-boosting concerts

Here’s everything you need to know about spending one week in Budapest, including where to stay, how to get around etc.

Here’s a useful video about the Budapest Christmas Fair (Budapest Karácsonyi Vásár) at Vörösmarty Square.

13. Basel Christmas Market, Switzerland

Basel Christmas market has a deep-rooted tradition as Switzerland’s biggest and most beautiful market. It is located on Barfüsserplatz and Münsterplatz – one of the most impressive squares in the Old Town.

You can’t miss the 100 or so pine trees lining the streets, brightly lit and showing you the way.

With over 160 traders selling everything from culinary delights to that must-try Basel Läckerli – a local kind of gingerbread – you’re sure to enjoy an Europe Christmas in Basel.

Basel Christmas Market in Switzerland

14. Cluj-Napoca Christmas Market, Romania

Why not consider Romania for your X-Mas festivities? Cluj-Napoca has been ranked 8th is a list of European Best Destinations (EBD) and their Christmas market is the best in Romania.

This is a celebration for the whole family, made up of children, parents, grandparents, pets, friends, uncles, cousins… you get the idea.

Get ready for the majestic church of Saint Michael, little white houses, music concerts and a skating rink. It’s a really friendly time and place for all, much like a fairytale Christmas you’d expect.

Cluj-Napoca Christmas Market is one of the best Christmas markets in Europe

15. Winchester Cathedral’s Christmas Market, UK

Winchester is quintessentially British and its Christmas market is well-worth experiencing.

Looming nearby is the stunning Winchester Cathedral. Inspired by German Christmas markets, this one attracts a whopping 350,000 visitors each year.

There are 112 chalets filled with high quality exhibitors, a specular covered ice rink and a bustling atmosphere around the clock. Classes British cuisine is on offer, plus British crafts and that good old classic nativity scene where a fun photograph can be taken.

Winchester Christmas Market is one of the best Christmas markets in Europe

16. Valkenburg Christmas Markets, The Netherlands

How about discovering Christmas markets in underground caves?! Yes, you read that right!

Valkenburg transforms the extraordinary caves under the city into awesome Christmas markets, with plenty of merchandise for sale and lights to enjoy.

There are three to visit

  1. Fluweelengrot (Velvet Cave)
  2. Wilhelminagrot (Wilhelmina Cave)
  3. Gemeentegrot (Municipal Cave).

Wilhelmina Cave is particularly impressive, showcasing sculptures by artists from all over the world.

Top tip: make sure you get back above ground in time for the fascinating Christmas Parade with costumed dancers and illuminated floats. There’s also a Santa’s village perfect for the children.

17. Salzburg Christmas Market, Austria

This is a top choice if you’re keen for some Christmas carols and ancient traditions.

Salzburg is the pretty hometown of The Sound of Music and Mozart, not to mention where Silent Night was written and first performed. The market stalls look much like they did back in the 15th century when they were first set up.

There are free daily concerts in front of the cathedral, and sing-alongs every evening if you fancy belting out some carols. Oh and hand-knitted socks and other local crafts replace novelty gifts at this Christmas market.

Festive and local crafts at Salzburg Christmas market