Rebecca Goodman
By Rebecca Goodman
Finance Journalist
Updated 31 January 2024
|Read time: 5 mins

Where are the best Christmas markets in Europe?

Christmas is the perfect time of year for a European break. There's something delightfully enchanting about visiting these beautiful mediaeval cities, decorated with twinkling festive lights and a touch of snow, at this time of year.

It’s also a great opportunity to stock up on unique presents and traditional gifts for the big day. With chalet-style stalls laden with everything you could wish for, from handmade baubles to Christmas lanterns.

From Strasbourg to Copenhagen and everywhere in between, the best European Christmas markets are a feast for the senses. You’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to the food and drink options, with cosy log cabins where you can relax with a warm gluhwein. You can also enjoy comforting local dishes accompanied by endless sweet options, from German pastries to Dutch pancakes.

We’ve picked six of our favourite European city markets for the 2023 season that we think are worth adding to your Christmas travel itineraries:

Copenhagen, Denmark

One of the most beautiful and colourful places to enjoy a Christmas market is in Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen.

This year, more than 70,000 Christmas baubles will be hung on 1,000 trees to set the perfect festive scene. The famous gardens will be covered in glittering lights, wooden houses covered in pine branches, and snow-topped trees.

There’s also a host of other activities in the Danish capital, including an appearance from Santa and his reindeer, and several ice-skating rinks, making it a great place for all ages.

There are plenty of delicious local treats to enjoy too, with Danish favourites including roast pork sandwiches and aebleskiver (sweet, fluffy pancakes). Plus, plenty of traditional spiced gløgg to warm you up in the cold weather.

When: 19 November to 31 December 

Where: Tivoli Gardens

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Cologne, Germany

You’ll be spoilt for choice visiting Cologne as it has some of the best European Christmas markets, with the largest next to the Gothic cathedral in the middle of the city.

A huge, colourfully decorated Christmas tree sits in the middle of the market with a layer of twinkling fairy lights covering the Roncalliplatz like a canopy of stars.

Under here, you’ll find market stalls selling everything and anything you could wish for.

If you want a slightly quieter experience, there’s also a market at Neumarkt. Known as the Market of Angels, there are beautifully decorated houses to admire, many featuring the celestial beings. Cologne’s old town also hosts a charming market which celebrates the city’s Heinzelmännchen — magical gnomes who carry out jobs and housework while the locals sleep, as the fairy tale goes.

When: 23 November to 23 December

Where: Roncalliplatz next to Cologne Cathedral and Neumarkt

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Salzburg, Austria

If you’re looking for a traditional Christmas market, Salzburg should be top of your list.

Its main Christmas market is located near the Hohensalzburg fortress and the Cathedral of Salzburg, and the setting of this picturesque city alone is perfect for a romantic getaway.

Along with historic market stalls selling beautifully crafted gifts, there’s also an impressive programme of festive events including free daily choir concerts in front of the cathedral. 

As the fourth largest city in Austria, there are several markets on offer, and plenty of foodie options if you’re feeling peckish. From roasted chestnuts, gingerbread, and Kaiserschmarrn (sweet shredded pancakes), to pretzels coated in just about anything, you won’t be disappointed. Of course, there’s no end to the glasses of steaming mulled wine and creamy hot chocolate to keep you going.

When: 23 November to 1 January 2024

Where: Locations across the city. The biggest is by the Cathedral and Residenz Square

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Berlin, Germany

Germany is the home of Christmas markets and there’s a wide selection to choose from in Berlin.

One of the most beautiful is the WeihnachtsZauber, which features tents lit up with strings of fairy lights.

The tents are heated as well, so you can stay cosy while you enjoy the crafts and delicious local produce. This year, it is located near the Bebelplatz.

There’s also the Winterwelt at Potsdamer Platz to keep on your list if you’re looking for a slightly different experience.

It has a 12-metre high and 70-metre long toboggan slide to speed down which offers an exceptional view of the Brandenburg Gate. After the slide, you can enjoy German favourites like roasted almonds, mulled wine, crepes, and bratwurst as you browse the many stalls selling unique handmade gifts and decorations.

When: 27 November to 26 December

Where: Across the city, but you’ll find the tobogganing at Potsdamer Platz

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Budapest, Hungary

Frequently voted as one of the best Christmas markets to visit, the Advent Feast at the Basilica is well worth a trip.

The charming market has everything you’d expect, with delicious local dishes including comforting goulash soup, or töltött káposzta – pork stuffed in cabbage leaves and coated with fresh cream.

For dessert, you’ll find kürtőskalács, which is a caramelised brioche roll sweetened with festive spices.

There is also a spectacular 3D light show which you can watch every 30 minutes, an ice rink where you can skate around a beautifully adorned Christmas tree, and you can even learn traditional Hungarian folk dancing with the Göncöl Ensemble.

When: 18 November to 1 January 2024

Where: Next to St Stephen’s Basilica

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Prague, Czech Republic

Prague at Christmas is one of the most beautiful spots to enjoy a festive market.

There are markets across its cobbled streets in many historic locations, including in the old town square where you’ll be treated to a magnificent view of the St. Vitus Cathedral.

The food on offer rivals any other European market, with tourists flocking to the city specifically to soak up the festive atmosphere and local delicacies. From gingerbread and Trdelnik, a traditional pastry flavoured with sugar and walnuts, to savoury delights including flatbreads, freshly-grilled sausages, and plenty of warmly spiced grog.

If you’re taking younger family members, there’s also a real-life nativity scene where they can meet sheep, donkeys, and goats.


When: 2 December to 6 January

Where: Across the city but you’ll find the biggest market in the old town square

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This article is for promotional or information purposes only.
You must not rely on it as advice. Please contact a financial adviser if you need advice before you buy a financial product or service.

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