While many Christmas markets have been made famous through River Cruises, there are many others throughout Europe that are hidden gems and well worth a visit. Here are ten of the best.
Tallinn Christmas Market, Estonia
Tallinn’s Market has a Santa who arrives by reindeer-pulled sleigh. The Christmas tree is the Market’s highlight and has been displayed in front of Tallinn’s town hall since 1441—making it the first Christmas tree ever to be displayed in Europe. This Market is a mix of contemporary and traditional. Visitors stroll the illuminated market stalls while drinking hot mulled wine and listening to the choir sing Christmas carols on the weekends. Visitors can also indulge in quirky activities like playing bingo for a vegan ham, watching a holiday outfit contest for dogs, or relaxing in the wood-heated unisex sauna in the middle of the Market in Senate Square.
Tuomaan Markkinat, Helsinki
This Market is a mix of contemporary and traditional. Visitors stroll the illuminated market stalls while drinking hot mulled wine and listening to the choir sing Christmas carols on the weekends. Visitors can also indulge in quirky activities like playing bingo for a vegan ham, watching a holiday outfit contest for dogs, or relaxing in the wood-heated unisex sauna in the middle of the Market in Senate Square.
Edinburgh Christmas, Scotland
This annual Christmas market transforms Edinburgh’s East Princes St. Gardens into “Santa’s Wonderlandland” There is a mini-train ride for the wee ones and a Christmas tree maze for the older kids. For a bird’s eye view, ride the 108-foot-tall Edinburgh Eye.
Trento Christmas Market, Italy
The cobblestoned streets of the northern Italian town of Trento are filled with 90 huts and brightly lit Christmas trees, creating what is known as Città del Natale, or “Christmas Town.” Nestled below the 13th-century Buonconsiglio Castle and the Alps in the distance, the scenery provides an incredible backdrop creating an exceptional experience at this Christmas Market.
Brussels Winter Wonders, Belgium
Every December, Brussels Christmas Market transforms the square into a winter wonderland, with a light and sound show projected onto the Grand-Place and more than 200 wood chalets for you to visit. Once you have had your fill of shopping, you can enjoy the fairground attractions and ice skating rink.
Wrocław Christmas Market, Poland
This traditional Christmas market, located in the central city square of Wrocław, officially comes to life around December 6 when the tree lighting ceremony is held, and Santa Claus greets visitors. Wander amongst the wooden stalls and sample the treats like chocolate gingerbread, potato pancakes, waffles (in various flavors), and the delicious mulled wine.
Christmas in Tivoli, Copenhagen, Denmark
This twinkling theme park is decked out in more than 500,000 fairy lights and is beloved by locals and visitors alike. Try the Danish treats like aebleskiver (small pancake puffs topped with powdered sugar) or honninghjerter (honey cake sometimes filled with jam and buttercream and topped with a chocolate glaze).
Christmas Market at Skansen, Stockholm, Sweden
Located in the center of Stockholm, historic homes decorated for Christmas surround this Christmas market, adding charm. The smoked turkey and sugared almonds at the Market are a must-try. If you’re feeling adventurous, join the traditional dances around the Christmas tree or make your own Christmas decorations in the workshop.
Sibiu Christmas Market, Romania
Romania embraces Santa Claus just as much as Dracula. The See Sibiu Christmas Market is where you will find more than 100 stalls and fairy lights along with Santa’s workshop, an ice rink, and a 72-feet-tall Ferris wheel.
Jul i Vinterland, Oslo, Norway
Located in Oslo’s city center, Jul I Vinterland has all the elements you’d expect from a traditional European Christmas market. But what makes this Christmas festival unique is the food. Be prepared for coconut cupcakes, caramel apples, gløgg, warm porridge, currywurst, and smoked salmon.