While the United States has cornered the market on Christmas lights in the wild, no one does Christmas markets better than Europe. From London to Berlin, it’s hard to find a city that doesn’t have a quaint market filled with treats and gifts to purchase. It’s such a beautiful way to celebrate the holiday season. If you’re lucky enough to visit Europe this winter, here’s our list of ten markets that you might want to put on your list.
Christmas By The River, London UK. This is a relatively new market located in London Bridge, and has more than 65 stalls set up selling drinks, snacks, and handmade gifts. You can stroll through the market while enjoying famous London landmarks, including the Tower of London, bridge, and a gorgeous view of the skyline from River Thames. The market runs daily from 11am to 10pm until January 3rd.
Christmas In Leicester Square, London UK. Explore the beautiful candy and gifts in historic Leicester Square in East London. You can visit the National Gallery during the day, and then Leicester Square to see the beautiful lights, mulled cider, and any of the many events hosted at the Square. You’ll need to purchase tickets to any events, including Santa’s Grotto, but the markets themselves are free. The market runs daily until January 7th.
Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park, London UK. Have a drink in the ice bar, skate on the ice rink, and enjoy a hot cider while viewing London from the ferris wheel. When you’re done, purchase ornaments and gifts from the more than 200 Bavarian style huts. Just make sure to book tickets ahead! It’s one of the most popular winter events in London and is a bit manic with people. The market is open 10am to 10pm until January 1st.
The Magic of Christmas, Carcassonne France. We had a chance to visit Carcassonne this summer, and it was beautiful even without Christmas events in full swing. So I can imagine just how beautiful this market is, especially at night. Stroll through medieval streets enjoying all the wonderful shops and restaurants. Details of exact dates and times are hard to find online, but you can contact the tourism office at 04 68 10 24 30.
Berliner Weinachtszeit, Berlin Germany. While the market has the traditional gifts, foods, and events available what sets it apart is the perfectly quaint and historic feel to this market. View a life size nativity, carousels, and other quintessential German Christmas details. Don’t forget to pick up nutrackers and candle-powered wood carousels. The market runs from noon to 8 pm every day until December 29th.
Rothenburger Reiterlesmarkt, Rothenburg, Germany. The second walled medieval city on our list, this market has occurred every season for over 500 years. Don’t forget to pick up a Lebkuchen, or gingerbread heart, the German equivalent of a Valentine. The market runs daily from 11am to 7pm (Mon. to Thurs.) and 11am to 8pm on weekends until December 23rd. Other events will run until January 7th.
Weiner Weihnachstraum, Vienna Austria. At 400-years-old, this is one of the oldest Christmas markets in the world. Over the centuries it has moved to various locations, finally ending up in Rathousplatz in 1975. The market has, in addition to the traditional vendors, daily concerts from children’s choirs, a reindeer train, and trumpet fanfares every day. Can’t be there in person? They even have webcams up on the website! The market is open from 10am to 9:30pm every day until December 26th.
Winter Wonder, Brussels Belgium. I haven’t had the chance to visit Brussels, but friends who have been have fallen in love with this city. This market is setup in Grote Markt, just outside of the beautiful Town Hall, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Which makes it one of the most scenic and beautiful locations for a market. Hours and days of operation of each event vary, but the market is open daily from 12 to 10pm until December 31st.
Christmas Market at Champ Mars, Paris France. While not the most beautiful, historical, or expansive of markets, you really can’t beat the view. This annual market sets up shop within site of the Eiffel Tower. Grab a crepe (skip the cheap trinkets), and take a stroll over to the ice skating rink and then up to the Place du Trocadero to watch the lights of the tower. The market is open daily until January 6th.
Christmas Market at Notre Dame, Paris France. Blink and you’ll miss it! This short-lived market sets up shop under the shadow of Notre Dame. Purchase handmade gifts then take a break. You can sit and enjoy the music both inside and outside the cathedral. The market is open daily from 1oam to 8pm from December 15th to the 24th.
While not strictly a Christmas market, if you are in Copenhagen, don’t miss Christmas at Tivoli. It really is a magical place at night. And, if you get a chance, visit Aubagne, France which has created the world’s largest Provencal nativity scene with 3,500 figurines!