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  • Writer's pictureannasweekendonawhim

European Christmas Markets

Updated: May 4



In 2014 I attended my first European Christmas market in Munich, Germany. I loved it so much that I started a tradition that every year I would experience a Christmas market in a different location. The smell of glühwein, shopping the local stalls and of course, who can forget the food, draw me back each time. The Europeans do it right when it comes to their festivals. They don't charge an entrance fee. They make it affordable for all families to enjoy. When I travel for the Christmas markets I don't just make it about the markets. I make sure that I see what the city has to offer as well. My dream would be to have my own Christmas market tour because I would love to share this experience with you all.


Itineraries:

Option 1: Frankfurt to Strasbourg

Flights typically arrive in the morning if flying in from the US. Stay one night in Frankfurt and attend the market in the evening. The following day take the train down to Strasbourg. There are a few towns along the way that have Christmas markets (Heidelberg and Karlsruhe). If you choose to not take the train back to Frankfurt there is a 2 hour fast train to Paris from Strasbourg. You can attend the markets there as well.


Option 2: Munich 3-4 days

When staying in Munich the Deutsche Bahn (German Train) is your best friend. It's a 2 hour train ride to Nuremburg and 2 hour train ride to Salzburg. If traveling with a group of 5 or less you can purchase the Bayern (Bavaria) train pass. Price starts at 25 EUR and is 7 EUR per each additional person.


Market Tips:

  • Most markets begin Nov. 23rd and run through Dec. 25th. Be sure to check the dates of your desired location before you go as they do vary.

  • Depending on the location, hot drinks such as glühwein are served in a mug. You pay a 3 EUR deposit for the mug as well as 3 EUR (price differs for drink) for the drink. If you choose to return the mug you will get your deposit back. I try to save a few mugs from each location and that will be my souvenir for the trip.


I have the following markets ranked from 1-5 based on affordability, ambiance and abundance of stalls.


12. Bratislava, Slovakia




Bratislava sure knows how to draw in a crowd. Their market had more visitors than some of the larger venues I have visited. There were plenty of food stalls and everything was reasonably priced, which means you can literally try everything and you should.


How to get there:

REX 8: 1 hour train ride from Vienna

Cost: 22.00 EUR round trip


Inner City Travel:

Once you arrive to the train station, you'll want to transfer to the tram.

Cost: .90 EUR

Helpful tip: Be sure to have enough change on you, because the ticket machine for the tram only takes coins.


Where I ate:

Cost: $$-$$$

If you want to try some local cuisine without it costing a fortune, then you need to come to Modrá Hviezda. Everything on their menu looked delicious. It's about a 10 min walk outside of the town square.







11. Vienna, Austria




There were 5 Christmas markets spread throughout the city. Each had their own theme based on mugs that were being distributed. There were several local artisan stalls as well as food stalls to choose from. From Vienna, you also have the option to take the the 1hr train ride to Bratislava, Slovakia to check out more Christmas markets and trust me, you'll want to. To learn more, visit my Vienna, Austria blog.


Where I stayed:

Cost: $581.44 USD (4 nights with breakfast included)

This hotel was super hip and was an easy 5 minute walk from the metro.


What to try:

  • Glühmost

  • Glühwein

  • Bitzinger kasekrainer (hot dog wrapped in hoagie type roll) This can also be found at several street food stalls throughout the city.




10. Brussels, Belgium




Brussels had two Christmas markets that were easily accessible by metro. I gave them 3 trees due to their Christmas parade was so disorganized. It was 1 hour behind and the floats were disappointing.


Where I stayed:

Where I ate: Le Petit Bedon




9. Salzburg, Austria




Salzburg is a 2 hour train ride from Munich. I gave Salzburg 2 trees due to their lack of stalls. I suggest trying their glühmost, which is a pear version of glühwein. If you do the Sound of Music tour, stop at the castle. There's a market to browse there.



8. Bruges, Belgium



Bruges is a walkable city surrounded by canals, which if you choose to brace the cold you can take an open air boat ride through the canals. It's historic buildings bring out the charm of the city. I gave Bruges 2 stars due to the lack of stalls.


Where I stayed:

Where I ate:

  • Soup (Yes, that's the name of the restaurant)



7. Budapest, Hungary




Budapest, for most, would be the #1 Christmas market. The only reason as to why I didn't give it 5 trees is because I felt as if their food stalls were highly priced compared to the the other markets I've been to. Budapest had two markets which both had plenty of food stalls and local trinkets to purchase.


Where I stayed:

Where I ate:

  • Pörc & Prézli Étterem



6. Munich, Germany




I've been to the Munich Christmas market on 2 different occasions. It's easily accessible by metro and close to other markets within Bavaria as well.


Where I stayed:



5. Frankfurt




Frankfurt's market is quaint but it had plenty to offer. The market is a 15-20 minute walk from the main train station.


Where I stayed:



4. Prague, Czech Republic





There were several markets spread throughout the city. Definitely wear your walking shoes as there are plenty of cobblestones.


Where I stayed:

Where I ate:



3. Colmar, France





Colmar is the sister city of Strasbourg and is only a 30 min train ride away. If you have time to spare while visiting Strasbourg then definitely put this place on your map. Colmar has 6 markets all within walking distance of each other.



2. Nuremburg, Germany




Nuremburg, thus far, has been my favorite Christmas market in Germany. There's so many stalls filled with goodies and it's easily accessible from the train station.



1. Strasbourg, France




Strasbourg is the oldest Christmas market in Europe, dating back to 1570. It's nick name, Capitale de Noël fits perfectly. Strasbourg is definitely my favorite Christmas market. I visited the market in 2018 and 2019 and hope to come back again. There are several markets throughout the city and it constantly draws a crowd each year.


Where I stayed:

Where I ate:

  • Au Muensterstuewel

  • Au Pont St Martin

  • Au Vieux Strasbourg

  • La Petite Alsace