Ultimate Guide to Christmas Market Breaks in Europe

Christmas markets in Europe are full of traditional charm to get you in the mood for Christmas. I’ve been to many Christmas Market Breaks over the years so I wanted to tell you all about some of my favourites from all across Europe. You can’t escape the Christmas cheer when you have these incredible Christmas markets on their way throughout November and December and some of them have flights for less than £9.99.

From smoked beer and Christmas markets to snow-coated medieval towns – these are Europe’s best cities to visit in winter months…

From the food inspired Christmas market in Padstow to the traditional French Christmas market in Strasbourg there is a multitude of choice when it comes to booking a long weekend away.


Looking for a Christmas Market Break in Europe this festive season?

Here are ten of the best Christmas Market Breaks in Europe….

  1. Vienna, Austria
  2. Budapest, Hungary
  3. Cologne, Germany
  4. Padstow, UK
  5. Strasbourg, France
  6. Bruges, Belgium
  7. Prague, Czech Republic
  8. Bath, UK
  9. Santa Claus Holiday Village, Finland
  10. Erfurt, Germany 



READ MORE: Europe in Winter Packing List: Backpacking Essentials

1. Vienna, Austria

When: 13th November till the 26th December
Where: Vienna, Austria
Best for: Baroque architecture
How to get there: Fly from Manchester to Vienna International or Gatwick to Vienna in just 2hrs 15mins

Vienna hosts several Christmas markets over the festive period, each twinkling with an irresistible Christmassy glow. One of the city’s most popular markets is the Viennese Christmas Market, which starts mid-November and takes place outside the City Hall. As the aroma of candied fruits, hot chestnuts and warm punch fills the air, browse the pretty market stalls and their festive, colourful wares. Inside the City Hall there is a space dedicated to children’s activities, where they can make Christmas candles and cookies. Another tourist favourite is the Christmas Village Belvedere Palace, sitting just in front of the stunning baroque palace. Traditional Austrian brass bands, gospel choirs and music groups line the streets, while a variety of stalls sell mulled wine, delicious food and handcrafted gifts.

2. Budapest, Hungary

When: 28 November 2015 to 1 January 
Where: Vörösmarty Square
Best for: Unique Gifts
How to Get There: Fly from Gatwick to Budapest in just 2hrs 25mins

Not only does Budapest host one of the best Christmas markets in Europe, it also offers concerts, laser shows, thermal baths, an ice rink and ballet performances during the festive season. Budapest’s Christmas Market stalls offer an array of unique gifts and handmade crafts that you won’t find anywhere else. Budapest provides approximately 150 cottage-style wooden stalls, so you won’t be short of choice!

3. Cologne, Germany

When: 23th November 2015 to 23rd December 
Where: Cologne Cathedral, Rudolfplatz, and Neumarkt
Best for: Decorations
How to Get There… Fly from Gatwick to Cologne in just 1hr 20mins

Cologne offers a total of eight main Christmas markets to choose from, although the most impressive include the Cologne Cathedral, Alter Markt, Rudolfplatz, and Neumarkt. Visit any of these markets, and you’ll understand why it attracts over two million visitors from all over the world each year. Cologne offers something for everyone over the festive season!

Christmas Markets Europe

4. Padstow, UK

When: 3rd – 6th December
Where: Around Padstow harbour
Best for: Fabulous food
How to Get There: From the M5 south, turn onto the A30 just after Exeter, then follow signs for Padstow

As one of the country’s leading Christmas Festivals, the event returns to 2015 for its eighth year. The picturesque town of Padstow on the north coast of Cornwall, will host 100 crafts folk and producers, 40 star chefs and 45,000 visitors all celebrating what the town does best: food and drink. It’s also the perfect place to spot special Christmas gifts with over 100 artisan stalls. Renowned chefs Rick Stein and Paul Ainsworth will be welcoming a variety of the finest British chefs including Mark Hix, Nathan Outlaw and Michael Caines who will be participating in live cookery demonstrations at the festival this year. The Winter lantern parade takes place on December 4th, before Father Christmas makes a magical entrance arriving on a horse drawn Victorian. Music and carolling will be the soundtrack, before the spectacular firework finale takes to the skies, lighting up the harbour.

5. Strasbourg, France

When: 27th November – 31st December
Where: Strasbourg, France
Best for: Ski chalet style atmosphere
How to get there: Fly from London Gatwick to Entzheim Strasbourg

Strasbourg proudly calls itself the ‘Capital of Christmas’ and deservedly so. The city itself becomes one giant Christmas market between the 27th November and 31st December, as 300 chalets spread out across 11 sites. These chalets sell decorations, gifts, local produce and delicious food, with the smell of gingerbread and Vin Chaud lingering in the air. At the heart of the celebration stands Strasbourg’s Great Christmas Tree, a 30m tall tree that truly symbolises the city’s passion for Christmas. Market sites include the Christkindelsmärik on Place Broglie, the Cathedral Christmas Market, the Christmas Market of the Three Magi on Place Benjamin-Zix and the Christmas Market of the Carré d’or on Place Du Temple Neuf.

6. Bruges, Belgium

When: 20 November 2015 to 3 January 
Where: Grote Markt and Simon Steinplein
Best for: Chocolate
How to Get There: Eurostar from St Pancras (3hrs 30mins) or flight from Gatwick (1hrs 5 mins)

Arguably one of the best Christmas Markets in Europe, Bruges’ Christmas Market has a fairy-tale setting within a UNESCO World Heritage site. The medieval and Gothic centre of cobbled streets and stunning buildings is decorated with lights and typically Belgian decorations. There are delicious food and beverage stalls, cosy cafés, ice sculptures, gift stalls, and an ice rink all within a friendly and welcoming atmosphere.

Christmas Markets in the UK

7. Prague, Czech Republic

When: 28th November 2015 to 31st December 
Where: Wenceslas Square, Old Town, Namesti Republiky, and Hevelske Trziste
Best for: Traditional DIY crafts 
How to Get There… Fly from Gatwick to Prague in just 1hr 55mins

Prague offers a range of fantastic markets over the Christmas period, with all of them featuring brightly decorated wooden huts and impressive fairy light displays. The markets are even open on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. The markets offer a variety of gifts and handicrafts including glassware, jewellery, wooden toys, metal ware, ceramics and ornaments. Your visit to the markets will also be complemented by the international choirs and school children singing carols.

8. Bath, UK

When: 28th November 2015 to 31st December 
Where: Gloucestershire, Bath
Best for: British Christmas crafts, and good food
How to Get There… Drive from London in just two hours

Voted the UK’s favourite Christmas market in 2017, it’s easy to see why people love getting into the festive spirit in Bath. Against the backdrop of the city’s Roman baths and magnificent 16th-century abbey, over 200 twinkling chalets line the Georgian streets. These little grottos hold many beautiful gifts, from handmade jewellery and cosy hand-knitted socks to tasty gingerbread and cheeses. There really is something for everyone. For a bustling, atmospheric feel, look around the traditional wooden stalls during lunchtimes and weekends. For a slower, less crowded meander, visit in the mornings or on weekday evenings. Whenever you decide to go, you’ll be delighted by the choirs, carollers and musicians floating their festive tunes across the market.

9. Santa Claus Holiday Village, Finland

When: 28th November 2015 to 31st December 
Where: Santa Claus Holiday Village
Best for: Traditional Crafts
How to Get There… Fly from Gatwick to Finland in just 2 hours 10 mins

What says Christmas more than an entire village named after the man himself? If you fancy making the hop, skip and a jump over to the Arctic Circle, you may as well opt to stay in Rovaniemi, Finland’s Santa Claus Holiday Village. We’re talking reindeer, dog sleighs, hot chocolate and husky snowmobiles. IN THE SANTA CLAUS VILLAGE! There are varying degrees of fancy cottages to stay in, with a Classic Cottage with a Sauna coming from £289* for a night for three people.

Christmas Markets in the UK

10. Erfurt, Germany

When: 28th November 2015 to 31st December 
Where: Erfurt, Germany
Best for: Traditional German christmas market in Europe
How to Get There… Fly from Gatwick in just 1hr 15mins

Erfurt’s Christmas Market in Europe is your favourite Christmas Market in Germany and one of the best Christmas Markets in Europe. Erfurt’s Christmas Market is located in the medieval town of Erfurt and is undoubtedly one of the loveliest in Germany. The Cathedral Square area is the perfect setting for a magical Advent atmosphere.


Which one of these is your favourite Christmas markets in Europe?


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