Get the Glühwein on the stove, here are five cities in no particular order to visit for their Christmas Markets!
16th November – 5th January
Of course, this is completely biased, being that your humble writer is from Edinburgh, but it deserves its spot!
Set against the backdrop of neoclassical and medieval buildings, a castle on a hill in the city centre and in the middle of some beautiful gardens.
When you’re away from home, you can appreciate just how special it is. They have a German market, which sells currywurst and all kinds of Bavarian delights. Glühwein is a favourite!
There are Scottish, independent sellers too. If you take a walk up to the Royal Mile, you’ll find the ‘Silent Light’ light show and George Street is also a popular shopping street with bars aplenty.
Ice skating, fairground rides, an antique carousel and fun family activities are all on offer too.
Best thing to try: A Hot Toddy! Whisky, honey, lemon and cloves is sure to warm yer cockles!
23rd November – December 28th
This is a city in the south of the Czech Republic, which is of course well known for the beautiful markets in Prague.
Although a lesser known city being a student hotspot rather than a tourism one, it’s got an amazing charm that feels genuine and welcoming.
Most of the stands sell actual Czech, handmade products. The prices are very cheap, and you’re not bombarded by tourists.
You’ll find mulled wine for just over 1 euro…!
It’s a beautiful city, with markets on Liberty Square, Moravian Square and the Cabbage Market.
Highlight: The handmade crafts are a great thoughtful gift, parents will love it.
09 November – 01 January
Further down, along the Danube River is the Hungarian capital of Budapest.
The secret’s out of the bag on this city as a Christmas market destination, it’s most certainly the perfect city break destination.
The oldest market can be found on Vörösmarty Square in the centre of the city from early November to the end of December each year.
Again, this is the ideal balance of homemade crafts, traditional food and lots of folk dancing and singing.
Famed cafe, Gerbeaud Coffee House on Vörösmarty Square is transformed into a giant advent calendar, with a new door opened every day on the run up to Christmas.
Highlight: A trip would not be complete without a dip in the outdoor thermal baths and Chimney Cake.
23rd November – 22nd December
For a few weeks a year the old town in Bratislava is consumed by Christmas cheer, with markets in the Main Square and Hviezdoslav Square, and other places around the city.
Only an hour from Vienna we recommend a day here to sample Slovak culture. It’s a quaint city with a wonderful contrast between baroque and Soviet architecture, but a beautiful place with a castle that looks out over the Danube River.
The markets sell handcrafted goods, lots of gorgeous honey-based items and local food and drink – the mead or ‘honey wine’ is especially good. Stages set up around both markets have performances with folk singers, choirs etc and there is ice skating to be enjoyed!
We have a Slovak Christmas market food and drink guide here.
Highlight: On the Main Square there’s a cafe called Maximilian which is perfect for having a hot chocolate and watching the festivities.
November – end of December (varies)
The Austrian capital can be described as the Mecca of Christmas market destinations in terms of extravagance and just having a LOT of markets.
December normally also brings snow and this city is even more enchanting when it looks like a real life snow globe.
Their markets also date all the way back to 1298. Traditionally the markets are referred to as “Christkindlmarkt” as it is Christ-child that brings you gifts. You will find everything you need here, from artisan wares, mulled wine, strudel, ice pavilions and sparkly Christmas trees.
Some of the best spots to check out is the Museums Quartier (MQ), the oldest market on Freyung, Belvedere Palace and there is even a Vegan advent market every weekend in the 17th district.
Highlight: You must have a traditional Viennese coffee on your visit, try Cafe Diglas for a more authentic experience.