15 Best Christmas Markets in Europe to Visit in 2023: Ultimate Winter Getaways

by Sam
The 15 Best Christmas Markets in Europe

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“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.” Christmas Day is almost upon us; simply my favourite time of year – the early morning wake-ups, bursting with excitement, ready to open my presents – the innocent excuse to eat Haribo for breakfast – Christmas music playing in the background with Mom’s horrendous cover version of Wham; the only time of the year I’ll endorse it.

Yet, to me, no Christmas feels complete without travelling around Europe to visit the Christmas markets and experience different cultural festivities.

Nothing beats learning about good old European Christmas traditions, whether I’m prancing around the Old Town of Bratislava while sipping on traditional mulled wine or singing along to the carols in front of the iconic Rathaus in Vienna. These moments create memories that make the holiday season truly magical.

When do Christmas markets start in Europe?

The consensus is that most European Christmas markets start around mid-November and run to the end of December. However, expect some of the most popular to open up even earlier, with some markets closing as late as early January.

Anyway, if you’re as excited about Christmas markets as I am, stay with me, grab your woolly hats, and let’s explore the ‘Best Christmas Markets in Europe to Visit in 2023’ (in no particular order).

Best Christmas Markets To Visit In Europe Pinterest Pin

 Best Christmas Markets in Europe

1. Christkindelsmärik, Strasbourg (France)

Date: 24th November to 24th December 2023

Visiting the Christmas market in Strasbourg is one of the best ways to start your Christmas. Held in the square of Place de la Cathédrale, this famous market will instantly make you feel like you’ve entered a winter wonderland.

Around the market, there is an array of wood chalets filled with lovely Alsatian treats such as gingerbread, mulled wine, and roasted chestnuts. 

The atmosphere around the city at Christmas feels enchanting. Strasbourg is decorated with lights, topped off with its very own 30ft Christmas tree in Place Kléber.

Christmas Tree in Cathedral Square Strasbourg

As you stroll through the city’s cobblestone streets, you’ll be serenaded by nearby carol singers and smell the warm smell of cinnamon and spices emanating from the Christmas market stalls.

The festive atmosphere is truly magical and makes Christkindelsmärik, Strasbourg, a must-visit for the holiday season.

The Christkindelsmärik Strasbourg entrance
One of the best Christmas markets in Europe

2. Cologne, Germany

Biggest market: Cologne Cathedral Christmas Market

Date: 23rd of November to 23rd of December 2023

Cologne is a fantastic place to visit during the holiday season. The Christmas market is spread around the city, with four separate locations, including the famous one by Cologne Cathedral in the town square.

One of the best highlights is the traditional German food, where you can enjoy many delights such as bratwurst sausages, roasted almonds, local beer, and glühwein (mulled wine).

In addition to the Christmas markets, the city is decorated with lights and has a bustling, festive atmosphere, making it an excellent destination for a winter getaway.

Ice skating during Cologne Christmas Market
Fun fact: The Christmas tree originated in Germany in the 16th century.

3. Frankfurt Christmas Market Birmingham, England

Date: 2nd November to Sunday 24th December 2023

Set in the heart of Birmingham along New Street and Victoria Street, you have one of the most celebrated Christmas markets in the UK and Europe. This market is a little closer to home, where I visit at least five times a year; I know, I’m obsessed.

This market features more than 180 stalls each year, where international traders sell a variety of crafts, decorations, festive gifts, clothing and delicious food.

The food pays tribute to German tradition, and you can expect to see some of Germany’s famous traditional foods, including Bratwurst and Frankfurter sausages.

Birmingham Christmas Market Chalets

If you’re looking for a place to do Christmas shopping and indulge in fun holiday activities, then you’re in luck. The market is conveniently located near the famous Bullring & Grand Central

Why not also head over to the Birmingham library?  Here, you’ll find carousels and ice rinks perfect for families and individuals who want to get into the Christmas spirit.

Christmas by Birmingham Library
Birmingham library has many festive activities outside it, including the big wheel!

4. Budapest, Hungary

Biggest market: Christmas Fair and Winter Festival in Vorosmarty Square

Date: November 17th 2023 to January 1st 2024

The famous Budapest Christmas Market is situated in Vörösmarty Square, right in the city’s heart. Upon arriving at the market, you will immediately be drawn to the giant Christmas tree in the square’s centre.

When you walk past the vendors in the square, try some of Budapest’s delicious food specialities, including the famous Chimney cake. Then, to top it off, why not soak it down with Mulled wine and roasted chestnuts?

Budapest Christmas Chalets

What made Budapest feel magical for me during the Christmas season was its atmosphere, with its live music performances, carol singing, and traditional Hungarian dance shows that set the festive mood.

And not to mention, The St. Stephen’s Basilica is also home to the Christmas market ‘Advent Feast At The Basilica’, which has been voted the ‘Best Christmas Market in Europe’ for the last three consecutive years. 

Recommendation: Stroll around the city and see some of Budapest’s most famous landmarks lit up.

The Hungarian Parliament and Buda Castle showcase picturesque illuminations an Instagram shots worth getting on a Christmas cruise along the Danube River.

Budapest St. Stephen's Basilica Christmas Market
St. Stephen's Basilica Christmas Market is definitely worth the visit!

5. Prague, Czech Republic

Biggest market: Old Town Square

Date: December 2nd 2023 to January 6th 2024

Prague is your go-to choice if you’re looking for a place with options this Christmas. It has an array of markets, with the most iconic being held in the famous Old Town Square.

Strolling around the square is a delight. There are plenty of festive stalls selling handmade crafts, traditional Czech food, and hot mulled wine. 

Recommendation: Try Trdelník; it is a lovely, sweet pasty and a staple in Czech food culture.

Christmas market in Old Town Square Prague

The best thing about Prague is that it’s relatively compact. You can explore the other markets at your own pace.

If I could recommend one thing in Prague this Christmas, it would be to walk across the Charles Bridge at night. No words are needed. Just do it! 

Snow along Charles Bridge Prague
Fingers crossed the weather plays its part!

6. Tallinn, Estonia

Date: 1st December 2023 to 7th January 2024

Tallinn, Estonia, is a true winter wonderland. There is nothing more magical than celebrating Christmas by visiting a city set in a snowy aesthetic.

Located in the town hall square, the capital’s famous market truly embodies the Christmas spirit with its many market stalls beautifully decorated with lights.

Note: It can get absolutely freezing in Tallinn in Winter, with expected snowfall, and average temperatures of -4° (24.8F).

Tallinn Christmas Market Stalls Selling Clothes
Plenty of stalls sell winter accessories to keep wrapped up warm!

But hey, that makes it even more magical, right? 

The snow-covered cobblestone streets overlooking the medieval architecture should keep your mind busy. It is a very picturesque and fairy-tale-like setting.

However, if you’re in need of warming up, the market vendors can provide plenty of hot mulled wine and hearty stews. Otherwise, get those scarves and gloves at the ready!

Tallinn in the snow
Tallinn turns into a true Winter Wonderland at Christmas!

7. Edinburgh’s Christmas, Scotland

Date: December 2nd 2023 to January 6th 2024

Edinburgh’s Christmas market is a festive spectacle. With its surrounding cobbled streets and well-preserved architecture, it feels like a scene reminiscent of Dickens’s Christmas Carol.

This year’s market is situated at the East and West Princes Street Gardens, which is a perfect location for a picturesque backdrop of Edinburgh Castle and surrounding areas.

Recommendation: Get a sweet snack from one of the vendors and hop on to the big Ferris wheel for the best viewing experience of the city.

For a fun family activity, put on your skates and head down to the Ice Rinks on West George St. Also, not to forget, Santa is also in town! So head down to St Andrew Square to hear what stories he has to tell.

Edinburgh Christmas Ferris wheel
Hopping on to the big Ferris wheel is a must-do at Edinburgh this Christmas.

8. Bratislava, Slovenia

Biggest market: Christmas Market at the Main Square

Date: 23rd November to 23rd December 2023

One of Europe’s best Christmas markets lies in the Main Square and Hviezdoslavovo Square of Bratislava. The market is beautifully decorated, with festive lights scattered around the chalets.

Recommendation: While you’re in the market, be sure to try Lokše. This thin potato pancake, often served with cheese and bacon, is delicious.

My personal highlight at the Bratislava market was the atmosphere created by the locals. Expect to see many live performances in the Old Town, showcasing local Slovakian culture, enough to make you feel joyful and dance while you sip on that mulled wine.

Bratislava Christmas Market
Bratislava is one of my favourite winter getaways!

9. Zagreb, Croatia

Date: 2nd December 2023 to 7th January 2024

You couldn’t compile this list without including the Advent in Zagreb, voted theBest Christmas Market in Europe’ for 2018, 2019 and 2020.

In contrast to most European Christmas markets, Advent in Zagreb is spread throughout the city, including different themes and locations, offering a variety of unique experiences.

The main section is in Ban Jelačić Square, featuring a beautifully decorated tree that you can only marvel at. Expect numerous live performances, music, and cultural events while roaming about in the square.

Recommendation: To enhance your experience, visit Zrinjevac Park. It has beautiful fountains and trees adorned with an array of Christmas lights. It is a spectacle to behold!

Zrinjevac Park Zagreb at Christmas
Zrinjevac Park is one of the best places to visit this Christmas!

10. Dresden, Germany

Biggest market: Dresden Striezelmarkt

Date: 29 November to 24 December 2023

Home to some of the oldest and most famous Christmas markets in Europe, Dresden’s Winter Extravaganza is a perfect place for a winter getaway.

The most famous market, Dresden Striezelmarkt, held over the square of Dresden Altmarkt, will have plenty of vendors to get you in the festive spirit.

Recommendation: If you’re feeling like a traditionalist, try the Dresden Stollen. This rich, sweet, fruit-filled bread feels homely while you’re standing out in the refreshing cold air.

Be sure not to miss the ‘The Christmas Pyramid’ in the centre, an iconic feature of Dresden’s festive market. This 26ft carousel showcases a moving art form that tells the story of many Christmas tales.

Dresden Christmas Pyramid
The Christmas Pyramid is a must-see in Dresden over the winter period.

11. Krakow, Poland

Date: 24th November to 26th December 2023

Krakow’s Christmas market is a brilliant choice if you’re looking for a blend of winter festivities and stunning architecture.

Held in the historic Old Town Square of Krakow, this well-placed market is a setting of a Christmas fairytale, with plenty of vendors and a giant decorated Christmas tree, all next to the iconic two towers of St Mary’s Basilica

Krakow Old Town Square At Christmas

To top it off, Krakow is notorious for snowfall during winter, so it will feel like you have entered a winter wonderland.

Recommendation: For meat lovers, try some of the city’s local food. 

Poland is notable for its meat, with Kiełbasa (sausage) and Gołąbki, to name a few of their famous dishes.  

Krakow Christmas Meat Vendors
My favourite by far was Kielbasa Wiejska, seasoned with garlic, which was delicious!

12. Vienna, Austria

Biggest market: Christkindlmarkt am Rathausplatz

Date: 11th November to 26th December 2023

Vienna is one of the world’s more beautiful cities, known for its architecture and well-preserved buildings, and at Christmas, it gets even more magical.

If you are looking for a market to visit in Vienna, you will not be stuck for choice. There are several Christmas markets you can see around the city in 2023.

Recommendation: For the biggest and best market, visit the Christkindlmarkt am Rathausplatz, next to its city hall (Rathaus).

The markets hosts an array of vendors selling festive treats alongside local entertainment, ensuring a truly festive experience.

Vienna Christmas Market
The Christkindlmarkt am Rathausplatz is a truly stunning Christmas market

13. Copenhagen, Denmark

Biggest market: Christmas Market Højbro Plads

Date: 3rd November to 22nd December 2023

There are many Christmas markets for you to enjoy in Copenhagen in 2023, with its most famous this year, Højbro Plads, set in the city’s heart.

As you explore the market, you can enjoy the festive delights from its stalls and absorb the aesthetics around you that will soon make you feel the holiday cheer.

Copenhagen Christmas Market

Once you’ve had your fill of Danish treats, take a 10-minute walk to experience the Christmas magic at Tivoli Gardens. This was, far and away, my favourite Copenhagen memory.

The park is beautifully lit up during Christmas and is home to a famous amusement park, one of the oldest in the world.

Recommendation: Pre-book admission tickets before arrival, as it is very touristy in the winter season. 

Pre-booking your tickets will prevent you from being denied entry if it reaches its maximum capacity of visitors, + you can skip the ticket lines, which are HUGE! 

Tivoli Gardens Copenhagen at Christmas
Tivoli Gardens at Christmas is a true winter getaway!

14. Brussels, Belgium

Biggest market: Winter Wonders and Christmas Market 

Date: 24 November to 31 December 2023

Brussels is incredible to visit at Christmas. The city transforms into an illuminated winter wonderland with festive activities for everyone to enjoy. 

This year’s biggest market, ‘Winter Wonders’, is being held in the Grand Place, hosting over 200 chalets across the iconic square. 

Note: The Grand Place, Belgium’s very own UNESCO World Heritage Site, comes alive every year during the festive season with a mesmerising sound and light show reflecting on the square’s Baroque Guildhalls.

Be sure to pick up a Belgian treat as you walk around the chalets.  I’ll never forget standing there, nibbling away at my warm, chocolate-covered waffle while watching the spectacle light show unfold. Truly stunning!

Grand Place Illuminated at Christmas
Brussels is a must-visit winter getaway.

15. Zürich, Switzerland

Biggest market: Zürich Sechseläutenplatz

Date: 23rd of November to 23rd of December 2023

The beautiful country of Switzerland is out for the festive season, with some of Europe’s best Christmas markets to visit. Zürich, its largest city, is home to a few of the best to get you into the Christmas spirit.

Perhaps the largest and most popular is the market in Sechseläutenplatz, Zurich’s most significant town square. This Christmas market is home to over 100 chalets, producing a quaint Christmas village with a lovely backdrop of its Opera house.

The Main Zurich Christmas Market

Recommendation: Take a 20-minute walk to Werdmühleplatz and visit the famous singing Christmas tree, which hosts daily live concerts. 

If you’re like me and don’t fancy being in the cold for too long, you can also head to Zurich Main Train Station, just a 4-minute walk from Werdmühleplatz, home to one of ‘Europe’s Biggest Indoor Christmas Markets’.

Zurich Train Station Christmas Market
Wrap up warmly and settle down with some delicious Swiss fondue in Zürich main train station.

Final thoughts on the best Christmas markets to visit in Europe

Christmas is almost upon us, and I’m incredibly excited. Europe is one of the best continents in which to spend the festive season. 

There are so many Christmas markets to choose from for the perfect festive experience. And even if markets aren’t your thing, the cities all come alive with the season’s spirit. 

From historic landmarks like the Grand Place, which puts on festive spectacles, to the lively atmosphere in Europe’s finest Old Towns with live carols performances to get you in the holiday spirit.

You will not be disappointed! Europe has everything you need for that ultimate winter getaway. 

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