Christmas time in Europe is truly magical. From hot wine and sausages to giant fruitcakes, Europeans do Christmas right. The best way to experience this festive time of year is by visiting one of the many European Christmas markets. These outdoor winter-wonderlands offer locals and visitors a place to celebrate the holiday season complete with great food, warm drinks, and plenty of unique crafts and gift ideas. Cities like Munich, Prague, and London top the list of the most popular Christmas market locations but what of the lesser-known and unique European Christmas markets? Turns out, there are plenty to choose from. Here are a few of my personal favorites:
Luxembourg City, Luxembourg
Those looking for everything that makes a Christmas market special but with fewer crowds should head to Luxembourg city. Perhaps due to the country’s small size, Luxembourg Christmas markets can be enjoyed with fewer lines, fewer tourists, and more locals. With its cobblestone streets and castle setting, Christmas markets in Luxembourg are also incredibly scenic. Highlights include Feuerzangenbowle (essentially flaming gluewein!), fondue, and an outdoor skating rink for all ages.
- READ MORE: 48-Hours in Luxembourg
Strasbourg is located on the border between Germany and France and therefore benefits from the culture of both countries. Visiting a Christmas market in Strasbourg gets you the best from both worlds. Enjoy Gluehwein and Fois Gras Sandwiches or Beignets and beer while admiring the lights draped from the timber-framed houses.
Visiting the Strasbourg Christmas market also means visiting the oldest Christmas market in Europe. Known as the Capital of Christmas, Strasbourg first celebrated the holiday season with an outdoor Christmas market in 1570!
If you’re looking for a true German Christmas market that is compact and scenic, head to Frankfurt. Surrounded by reconstructed old wooden timber homes, the Christmas market in Römer square is beautifully set up. There is plenty of food stalls, a classic carousel, Christmas lights, and a massive tree in the center of it all.
Also, as I found, Frankfurt is so much more than big business. There is plenty to see and do beyond the Christmas market making this stop a win for fewer crowds and plenty of sights.
Salzburg is the home of Mozart and the background to the Sound of Music. It is also home to some wonderful Christmas Markets. Throughout the old town’s Mirabellplatz you will find great food, warm drinks, and maybe even a visit from Krampus.
Outside of Salzburg’s core Hellbrunner Adventzauber, arguably Europe’s most romantic setting for a Christmas market, awaits. Decorated trees in and around the outdoor courtyard is made even more captivating with a fresh dusting of snow.
Last up on this list of unique European Christmas markets is Zagreb. This unlikely location consistently tops polls of Europe’s best Christmas market. What makes it so unique? Full on brass bands, ice sculptures, skating rinks, and a scenic backdrop of old world architecture. Croatia’s capital city truly is a wintertime gem and the world is starting to take notice.
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