There’s no season more magical than the holiday season in Europe. Many European cities put on their winter fairytale clothes adorned with a faerie of lights and Christmas decorations and mesmerize travelers from all over the world. Lasting from late November to the last day of December, the Christmas markets in Europe metamorphose European capitals and towns into backdrops for festive medieval tales.
From the wooden chalets that make an appearance in 13th-century little towns to the snow-capped cathedrals of the European capitals, the Christmas décor is splendid. Enriching this romantic ambiance with the sweet perfume of mulled wine and adding festive jingles as a soundtrack, the Christmas markets in Europe create idyllic settings for romantic tales. If you’re planning a trip to Europe during the holiday season, add these top 5 Christmas markets in Europe to your itinerary.
1. Prague, Czech Republic
Prague is a wonderful European capital all year round. With its majestic Prague Castle and marvelous Charles Bridge and a plethora of fascinating historical attractions, Prague is a splendid travel destination. When winter comes, and Christmas is just around the corner, the city’s beautiful Old Town Square receives gorgeous festive clothes and resounds with the music of bells and carols. The historical center is invaded by pretty wooden stalls that abound in delicious traditional food, like pražská šuna (hams roasted on a spit), klobása (barbecued sausages), and trdelník (hot pastry rolled in sugar and cinnamon). Winter is cold in Prague, but it’s nothing that a pair of gloves and a cup of mulled wine or grog can’t solve. Don’t miss a tour of the Wenceslas Christmas market too, situated only 5 minutes from the Old Town market, in a more modern but as charming and inviting setting.
2. Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany
The charming medieval town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber, situated on the Romantic Road of Germany, seems untouched by time or contemporaneity. Its maze of cobbled streets and cluster of splendid half-timbered houses with red-tile roofs become even more fascinating when the Advent period arrives in town. The town is dipped in Christmas magic and enlivens a 15th-century Christmas world. It’s like a Christmas card suddenly came to life! The wooden stalls and Christmas carols, the traditional bratwurst sausage and sauerkraut, and the delicious glühwein (mulled wine) add flavor and cheer to this fairytale painting. The town loves Christmas so dearly they even have an all-year open Christmas store and museum housed inside the Kathe Wohlfarcht store. Don’t leave Rothenburg without trying a crunchy schneeball (snowball) first, delicious pastry dough rolled up into a ball and deep-fried. Also, don’t miss the chance to become a character into the charismatic Night Watchman’s tales while you tour the town at night and find more about its medieval mysteries.
3. Cologne, Germany
Since Germany is the birthplace of Christmas markets, it’s no surprise that numerous German cities embrace the Christmas spirit with passion and dedication. The main Cologne Christmas market is a beautiful example of a traditional German Christmas market with a twist. The twist is provided by the market’s extraordinary entertainment that includes everything from carols to gospel and swing music. The market is set in front of Cologne’s landmark cathedral, a Gothic masterpiece and the third largest cathedral in the world, and invites visitors to indulge in a frenzy of traditional Christmas specialties, like currywurst, potato pancakes, gingerbread, roasted almonds, and waffles. You’ll find about 150 wooden pavilions in the square that sell a variety of products, such as ceramics, wood carvings, glass balls, toys, soap and, of course, all the Christmas decorations you can dream of. This winter wonderland is under the spell of a majestic 25-meter Nordmann fir Christmas tree, adorned with no less than 50,000 LED lights, and the aroma of mulled wine and cinnamon.
4. Tallinn, Estonia
The Christmas market in Tallinn has a tradition of almost 600 years. Moreover, we have Tallinn to thank for the first public Christmas tree in the world. As expected, the city knows how to organize a winter wonderland and set a fabulous Christmas market wrapped tightly in a festive spirit. Tallinn Christmas market takes place in the walled, cobblestoned Old Town, and enchants visitors with magnificent medieval old buildings, historical sights, and a delightful coziness that invites to daydreaming. The wooden stalls tempt visitors with typically seasonal cuisine that includes sour cabbage and black pudding, but also rivers of spicy-scented mulled wine, cider, and hot chocolate. Children have the chance to meet Santa Claus in his little wood house, while adults can indulge in some Christmas shopping that will probably include handicrafts, wreaths, and garlands.
5. Bath Christmas market
Bath is the magical realm where the romantic Georgian streets meet the festive British Christmas spirit. This unique blend creates a whimsical setting adorned with over 200 twinkling wooden chalets that sell authentic British artisan products, handmade jewellery and toys, artwork, ceramics and glassware, and tasty food, like hog roast and burgers, waffles and pancakes. The Christmas market in Bath is not as famous as the other Christmas markets in Europe, but this only adds to its romantic and intimate ambience. The historical centre of Bath becomes a winter fairytale framed by the majestic Roman Baths and Bath Abbey. If you’re ready to take a break from Christmas shopping, the nearby ice rink and Royal Victoria Park are the perfect destinations to warm up and have fun.
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