This year we'll combine buying presents with travel. Well, Christmas isn't just about buying presents – the true Christmas spirit lives on the street (not in over-crowded shopping malls) – or to be exact: on the Christmas markets. Singing Christmas carolers while sipping hot mulled wine and watching your little one take his first bite of roasted chestnuts – priceless. Creative crafts, arty stuff, entertainment and local traditions are waiting for you at the Christmas markets all around Europe.
Get inspiration from our list of best Christmas markets in Europe, take a city break and have a sparkling Christmas.
Christmas markets in the UK
At this special time of the year, UK offers a vast selection of Christmas markets. Some of the best one you'll find nowhere else but in the capital city. More than 15 markets are bringing the festive spirit to the streets of London. Visit one or two or more Christmas market in London! Also look out for the shops having sales during the last week of December! Perfect timing to do some last minute Christmas shopping on Oxford Street!
Hot cider at the East Princess Street Gardens in Edinburgh is another great idea for your holiday break. But also Manchester and Lincoln city have a lot to offer at this magical times.
Christmas markets in Germany
German's Christmas markets are all about tradition and food. Gingerbread and sausages are filling the air with pleasant aromas spreading across over 60 markets only in Berlin. At the Cologne Cathedral – a UNESCO Heritage site you'll find over 160 wooden pavilions offering local delicacies and organically certified food, mulled wine and lots of creative crafts such as ceramics, children's toys, soaps, etc.
Looking for more Christmas markets (Weihnachtsmarkt as they call it) in Germany, read about them here. You will find details about the Christmas markets in Berlin, Cologne, Dusseldorf, Dresden or Munich.
Christmas markets in France
France is known as the country where Christmas markets have been around for the longest. The oldest Christmas market dates back to the 14th century and it was held in Strasbourg, which at the time was under Germany. We all know Paris is known as the most romantic city in the world, but its nickname is "The city of lights" and oh, boy does this city shine during the Christmas holidays. Visit one of many Christmas markets in Paris and be amazed by the sparkling lights, especially if you visit the Christmas market at Champs de Mars, which just happens to be located in front of the Eiffel Tower, providing its visitors with one of the most spectacular Christmas sights. Grab your ice skates and skate underneath the Eiffel tower for a truly memorable experience this holiday season.
Looking for a Christmas getaway in Northern France? Drive your car hire in France to the city of Lille, which is known as not only the host of one of the best Christmas markets in France, but also in Europe. Christmas market in Lille attracts vendors from Canada, Russia, Poland and other countries! Hop on the giant Ferris Wheel and enjoy the stunning view of Lille.
Christmas markets in Austria
Middle of November is the time when Austria lights the town. One of the oldest Christmas markets is set in Vienna City. Vienna may not be as big as Berlin, but its Christmas market is super charming, romantic and bursting with culture.
Graz with its ice nativity scene and Christmas carol singing in the Rathaus will also overflow you with Christmas spirit this year. Drive your car hire in Graz and hop up on the hill where lays the famous clock tower! Plus the view from there is simply stunning! After that, stroll through the main sqaure where you will find the wooden stalls where you can warm up with some traditional and delicious Austrian food.
Visit Salzburg during the holiday season and enjoy the Christmas market with deep historical roots! Christmas market in Salzburg is also considered to be one of the oldest Advent markets in the world. The origins date back to the late 15th century, when the Christmas market in Salzburg was held on the Cathedral square where locals were able to buy a variety of homemade goods. Today the The Salzburg Christkindlmarkt offers a colourful daily program filled with different events, like concerts, special readings of Christmas stories for children, guided tours and much more!
Christmas markets in Belgium
Belgium is known as the country that hosts the most charming Christmas markets in Europe. The prominent historic city centres on cobbled streets are filled with little decorated chalets, where you can try the traditional Belgium waffles or chocolate. Christmas market in Bruges will make you feel like you are walking around in winter wonderland. Medieval buildings and bridges over the canals are beautifully light up with Christmas lights during this festive season. Switch things up this Christmas and car hire in Bruges for the most charming winter experience of the year.
If you are headed towards the capital of Belgium, make sure to stop by the Christmas market in Brussels, which begins to spread its Christmas spirit in the middle of November and it lasts till the beginning of January. Leaving you with plenty of time to drive your car hire in Brussels to one of many Christmas market spread through the capital. Make sure to pay a visit to the Christmas market at Castle Karreveld if you are an art-enthusiast or if you are bringing your family the Anderlecht Christmas market is the one for you.
Christmas markets in Czech Republic
You will find the most popular Christmas markets in Prague! They are also voted as the best Christmas markets in whole Europe. Therefore, you must visit Christmas markets in Prague this holiday season! There is nothing better than strolling around the beautifully decorated wooden stalls while sipping on some hot honey wine in the old medieval city centre on the Old Town Square. Watch as the snow slowly falls from the sky onto the twinkling cobbled streets while driving your car hire in Prague.
Notice that traditional Christmas food is a big part of Czech tradition. Don't miss out on trying some of their delicious cookies, gingerbread and braided cake known as "vanocka". Do some last-minute shopping at the Christmas markets in Prague, where you can buy charming ornaments made out of glass. What an amazing souvenir for your loved ones to put on their Christmas tree!
Christmas markets in the Netherlands
Christmas market is a relatively new concept to the Dutch people, but they quickly learned how to bring the festive spirit to the streets. Christmas market in Amsterdam is a classic one – it takes place on the central square, and the goodies and handmade crafts are first-rate. Best Advent is just a car hire away.
Christmas markets in Croatia
Croats know how to play the game – last year their Christmas market in Zagreb scooped prize for the third time around. Best Advent programme in Europe with live music and pre-Christmas markets is a must for all of you who love Christmas and are ready to take the trip. By now it has attracted not only people from neighbour countries, but also visitors from all over the world! Christmas market in Zagreb is perfect destination if you are travelling with children as they have many fun activities for children of all ages! Plus, Santa is waiting for them in the market. Take a perfect family picture with him. What a fun memory that will be! Don't forget to check the Josip Jelačić square where they transform the fountain into a whole light display!
Christmas markets in Poland
One of the most expansive Christmas markets in Poland if not in Europe takes place in Krakow's main market square. Polish people take Christmas seriously which is visible in every street corner during December. Lively streets full of people, decorations, and carriage rides. Krakow truly becomes a fairy tale at Christmas. Christmas market in Krakow has been around for centuries, but it was not until a few decades that they became truly popular and are growing every year.
Christmas market in Wroclaw is located on one of the most beautiful market squares in Europe. Therefore, it is a sight you simply cannot miss! Another stunning story book location is Warsaw, where they organise Christmas market in front of the Royal Castle. Drive your car hire in Warsaw and visit the festival on Castle Square.