Every year, millions of people worldwide travel to Christmas markets in celebration of the festive season. However, like many, if you love Christmas, it can be hard to decipher which market ticks all of the boxes. After a challenging few years, many cities have only recently started opening up their stalls, including the famous Riga Old City, a popular Christmas market located in Latvia, which has returned after a two-year interval.
You can find Christmas markets all around Europe - from wooden chalets to decorative Christmas lights, Ferris wheels to roasted walnuts, we’ve rounded up the cities that have the best Christmas markets on offer this Winter.
Christmas markets originally started in Germany in the Middle Ages before becoming something of a festive tradition. One of the oldest and best Christmas markets dates back to 1434 in Dresden, so they’ve been around for some time.
For those who want a more modern take on Christmas traditions, Berlin has you covered. The city is speckled with around 80 Christmas markets and even has one specifically for dogs! If you want to visit one of the bigger markets, Spandau is your best bet; however, if you’re more interested in looks, Weihnachtszauber, located in Gendarmenmarkt square, is one of the prettiest with plenty of arts and crafts on offer.
Known as one of the most festive destinations in Europe, Cologne hosts some of the best Christmas markets each year. Full of Christmas atmosphere and non-stop glitter and shine, Markt der Engel offers some of the most magical moments during Christmas. Angels are present everywhere, and not just statues - living ones too!
If you want something festive and scenic, the Nicholas’ Village Christmas market located in Rudolfplatz is the ultimate Winter Wonderland! You will be amazed at the half-timber houses, candy floss sellers, and the backdrop of Hahnen gate, the 13th-century gate that used to be a crucial part of the city walls in medieval times.
If you want to avoid busy crowds, the Stadtgarten Christmas market is just as magical. This Cologne Christmas market is aimed at the locals more so than tourists, however, it does not disappoint. Stadtgarten is a great place to soak up German traditions over Christmas with great places to shop that stock handmade souvenirs from art and fashion to jewellery.
Hungary ignites its Christmas atmosphere in mid-November and is a popular destination with many tourists.
Budapest, in particular, outshines the rest of the country during this time of year with two of the biggest and best Christmas markets in Europe - Vorosmarty Square and Basilica. Tucked in the heart of the city and Budapest’s oldest Christmas market, Vorosmarty Square offers plenty of food stalls, craft shops and free concerts. Basilica, on the other hand, offers all of the above but with laser projections on the Basilica itself and even an ice-skating rink for all to enjoy!
Prague, Czech Republic
Best for open-air concerts and traditional nativity scenes, Prague is one of the most picture-perfect cities to visit this Christmas. Offering traditional glasses of grog, a Czech classic made with rum, water, lemon and sugar, Prague hosts one of the most magnificent Christmas markets year after year. The setting is even more postcard perfect - on one side of the market resides the 14th-century twin spires of Our Lady Before Tyn, whilst the other side includes the city’s famous 15th-century astronomical clock.
In fact, there are plenty of great things to do while in Prague for the winter. Once you’re finished with the Christmas market, you’re not far away from the entertainment district, with plenty of great restaurants, bars and casinos to enjoy. However, if you’re too busy Christmas shopping to visit any of these attractions, there are plenty of Christmas-themed games available to play online, whether you’re in the UK or Prague. Games such as 9 Gifts of Christmas, A Christmas Carol and All About Christmas are sure to get you in the Christmas spirit, and bonuses such as a 100% matched deposit of up to £200 will make anyone feel festive. There are many sites that offer the best casino bonuses in the UK, so it’s best to read reviews before signing up. Whether you’re relaxing after a long day looking around the markets or just looking to have some fun back in the UK, there are plenty of great sites to play on.