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Best Christmas Markets to Check Off Your Bucket List


There’s truly nothing like the holiday season in Europe. Century-old towns with snow-covered cathedrals, seasonal cookies and cakes in display windows, and don’t forget the hot mulled wine! So if you’re looking to get into the festive spirit with local food and artisanal products, look no further. We’ve rounded up the best Christmas markets you’re going to want to check off your bucket list.

1. Prague, Czech Republic

Prague is a postcard city on a good day, but come November/December, it becomes a festive hotspot. Instead of the mulled wine you’ll see at other Christmas markets, try the local grog (a mixture of rum, water, lemon & sugar). Enjoy your drink while exploring all the local vendors, including famous frosted, hand-blown glass baubles. The food is also something you’ll want to “Czech” out with lots of native pastries and delicacies.

2. Strasbourg, France

Located in the Alsace region, the “Capital of Christmas”, Strasbourg, is a must-visit during the holiday season! At the market, you’ll find over 300 local vendors creating holiday decorations and selling famous Alsatian foods. With all the lights and decorations hung throughout the city, it will truly make you feel like you’re in a festive fairytale. Drawing over 2 million visitors each year, be prepared that this market will be busy, but so worth it!

3. Budapest, Hungary

This spectacularly decorated Christmas market is one of the most beautiful you’ll find in Europe. With more than 100 vendors, you’ll find unique gifts for everyone for the holidays. In addition to the vendors, make sure you check out the glistening light show that is projected onto the façade of the Basilica each evening.

4. Basel, Switzerland

Basel’s Christmas market is the biggest and certainly the most beautiful in Switzerland. With more than 160 stalls selling a wide arraying of food and artisanal products. This market is unique in that it’s actually split into two different sections – one that offers handmade wooden toys, nativity scenes, and jewelry, and the other is a festive forest filled with activities for kids, including gingerbread decorating and bauble-making workshops.

5. Vienna, Austria

Widely known for its traditional “Vienna Magic of Advent”, this Christmas market transforms the City Hall Square into a festive fairytale each December. The radiating sea of lights is a Viennese experience not to be missed around the holidays!  The atmospheric market offers traditional handmade goods, concerts, and workshops for children.

6. Madeira, Portugal

The islands of Maderia and Porto Santo welcome thousands of visitors from around the world each December for year-end celebrations for Christmas and New Year’s. Decked out in a magnificent light display, the islands boast a variety of local products for purchase, including traditional souvenirs and local delicacies and drinks that will help get you in the holiday spirit. The islands showcase performances by local folk groups and also celebrate with a firework show that has been recorded in the Guinness Book of Records as the World’s Greatest Show.

7. Brussels, Belgium

The famous “Winter Wonders” Christmas market in Brussels is home to 2.5 million visitors each year. It’s during this time that the city sports its best festive attire, including an unsurpassed sound-and-light show at the Grand Palace, along with a massive Christmas tree, a life-size manager, and a skating rink. Don’t worry, you’ll be able to experience the local drink and food as well, as this Christmas market is bursting with festive treasures.

8. Govone & Astri, Italy

Considered one of the most beautiful Christmas markets in Europe, the “Magico Paese di Natale” is a must-see! Held in the small village of Govone, in the wine region of Piedmont, this market is actually part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. During the winter months, the entire village is transformed into the magical kingdom of Santa Claus. This market brings vendors from all over Italy, offering arts and crafts, street food, and regional wine.

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