The cold has already started knocking on our doors. Good-bye to those late summer days spent on the seaside. Now is the time to start looking ahead and planning for the upcoming Christmas season. Don’t wait to discover Europe’s finest five seasonal markets that shouldn’t be missed. After all, no matter how hard you try to prevent it, winter is coming!
Time to spare? Get ready because it’s almost time to discover the real joys of the season when the most important Christmas markets in Europe open up shop, a tradition anticipated by many in countries across the continent.
Candy canes, ginger snaps and cotton candy…
One of the biggest draws of the Christmas markets is the food and the chance to reconnect with traditional recipes that you’ve been waiting all year to taste again. Christmas markets of all shapes and sizes can be found in practically every country and region around Europe, both in large town centres and in tiny villages. It’s not just about the kids either, it’s about the adults rekindling their childhood memories and enjoying the festive atmosphere just as much as the little’uns. Grab a cup of apple cider, mulled wine or hot chocolate while we take you on a tour of Europe’s top 5 Christmas markets!
If the saying, “go big or go home” really appeals to you then Stuttgart’s marketplace might be the perfect place for you. With nearly 300 vendors, not to mention its irresistible charm, it’s the oldest Christmas market in Europe. It’s located between the castle and the church in Stuttgart’s Old Town. The smells of long stewed soups and grilled wurst fills the air… we dare you to hold back!
Don’t leave without trying a cup of mulled wine, glühwein. Share it with your friends and family or keep it all to yourself… it’ll definitely warm you up while you admire the Christmas tree in the main square.
Thinking of Christmas for two? Vienna, with its romantic atmosphere and historical centre, is the destination of choice for couples looking for a festive getaway. What is most impressive about this marketplaces is the seemingly effortless perfection of the stalls and displays. They are manned by craftsmen and artisans who are not only proud of their work, their displays but also the traditions that continue to live on each and every year the market takes place. There are smaller markets throughout the city and each one is worth a visit. Where can you find the largest number of handcrafts? Spittelberg.
Hungary’s capital city dresses to the nines when the holiday season rolls around. When the city is covered in snow, that’s when the locals really know that winter has arrived. It creates the perfect atmosphere for the main market place in Vörösmarty Square where you can find dozens upon dozens of street vendors, musicians and of course hundreds of foreigners and locals perusing the goods and partaking in the famous mulled wines.
Don’t miss out on trying kürtőskalács, a simple and sweet treat or langos, a deep-fried break topped with sour cream and cheese.
Back in Germany, Frankfurt also deserves a special mention. The city’s market stalls attract visitors from all across Europe. In the morning, take a tour of the city’s main streets and you won’t find any shortage of opportunities to enjoy local flavours. For lunch sit down for some sausage and chips. When evening sets in, take a stroll around the city centre, Römerberg not only looks like Christmas but it smells like it too.
If there’s any place in Italy that has the Christmas spirit it’s Naples. It’s famous for its terra cotta figurines for nativity scenes and there is no better place to replace that broken wise-man than this. Via San Gregorio Armeno and Via San Viagio dei Libreiros are the two best places to find these precious figures, all hand-carved and painted. Here the profane dances the tango with the sacred: not only will you find the traditional characters of the nativity but representations of politicians, actors, footballers and more to add a little humour to your scene.
Not to miss: Struffoli and Rococo are two traditional Christmas cakes from Naples. They’re perfect alongside an espresso.
Do you know any other Christmas markets worth mentioning? Share your experiences!