Looking for the biggest Christmas Markets in Europe this year? Wondering which European city is best at Christmas? Here are 7 of the best choices for you to plan your next trip to!
Which are the best & biggest Christmas Markets in Europe?
Hands up if you love Christmas Markets?
Hands up if trying to decide which European Christmas market is best makes you feel a little overwhelmed?!
I know exactly how you feel. I remember trying to choose our FIRST Christmas market experience; wanting to get it ‘just right' and make sure we weren't missing out on anything. But then came the decisions.
Do you pick the biggest Christmas market in Europe? Or the oldest? Or the most famous? Seriously, how are you supposed to decide this stuff when spending Christmas in Europe?
So, here's a quick run-down on 7 of the best & biggest Christmas Markets in Europe and what makes them awesome. And then you have to choose one.
If you're in or visiting the UK, here are some of the best UK Christmas markets (updated for this year).
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Which is the biggest Christmas market in Europe?
Believe it or not, Nuremberg in Germany is home to the biggest Christmas market in Europe, and in fact the WORLD. (Or at least, it was last year. I suppose someone could be building a bigger one somewhere this year!) And to help you navigate this amazing Christmas market, here are 9 essential tips for visiting Christmas markets in Europe.
Why should you visit the Nuremberg Christmas Market, Germany?
As well as being the biggest Christmas Market in Europe, for me, the Nuremberg Germany Christmas market is one of the most intriguing! I LOVE the story about how the locals pick a girl to be the ‘face of Christmas' (Christkind). She must be blond, local, 16-19, and not afraid of heights!! On the opening day of the Market, she is the most important person there. Santa who?
Apart from that, you'll find hundreds of beautiful wooden stalls, selling everything from traditonal Christmas gifts, local delicices, food (mmmmm) and glühwein (warm wine). The Glühwein mugs are unique each year and become collector's pieces. They also make great stocking fillers for people back home! (After you've finished the wine, of course!)
The best thing about visiting the biggest Christmas market in Europe is the atmosphere. Germans know how to party anyway, but the scale of the festivities gives it a uniquely awesome touch. All the locals gather in the markets after work and party into the evening- it becomes a fun place to hang out, which is why this is easily one of the best Christmas markets in Germany. We highly recommend planning a motorhome trip to Germany to visit here- there's plenty of parking nearby.
When is the Nuremberg Christmas Market on this year?
You can find all the dates and opening times of the Nuremberg Christmas market here, including the opening ceremony
Where is the oldest Christmas market in Europe?
Dresden, Germany boasts the title of the oldest Christmas market in Europe. It's apparently also the oldest Christmas market in the WORLD- dating back to 1434!
Strasbourg (see below) is regularly (and wrongly!) touted as the oldest Christmas market in Europe, but its Christkindelsmärik only goes back to 1570. Pfft.
Why should you visit the Dresden Christmas markets?
Dresden has over 11 different Christmas Markets and each one has its own appeal. I particularly like that you can watch the artisans at work– glass blowers creating Christmas baubles, bakers plaiting Christmas wreaths- it adds to the atmosphere and traditional feel.
They also boast the World's Tallest Christmas Pyramid and the world's biggest Nutcracker! So definitely be sure to visit one of the best Christmas markets in Germany. Dresden is also just over 2 hours from Berlin so, if you're lucky, you can visit the Berlin Christmas Markets as well. Winner.
When is the Dresden Christmas Market open this year?
You can find all the opening times and dates for the Dresden Christmas Market here
Which is the most famous Christmas Market in Europe?
This is a tough one, as fame fluctuates, but the market known as the ‘Capital of Christmas‘ is Strasbourg, France. I've asked several people which is the best Christmas market in Europe and they've mentioned Strasbourg and Christkindelsmärik every time.
The sheer scale of it makes it one of the biggest Christmas markets in Europe, and every street is full of lights, beautiful decorations and festive cheer!
Why should you visit the Strasbourg Christmas Market?
Strasbourg really goes ‘all out' at Christmas. Every shop, street and alley has decorations, lights, ornaments, and often some type of animation. It's a feast for the senses in every way, all set against the backdrop of the beautiful city of Strasbourg and the incredible Strasbourg Cathedral!
Strasbourg is the one of the biggest Christmas markets in France and dates back to 1570. It is also one of the best Christmas markets in France since there are over 300 stalls spread across the city in 10 different locations, selling traditional food, drinks and an abundance of cheese! There is also an ice rink, live music performances and cultural events arranged throughout the festive period.
What dates is the Strasbourg Christmas Market this year?
You can find all dates and opening times for the Strasbourg Christmas Market here
If you're visiting Strasbourg with a motorhome, this page is very helpful!
Want to tie in a trip to a Christmas Market with another activity? Why not hire/ bring your motorhome or camper and go motorhome skiing!
Other best & biggest Christmas Markets in Europe to visit this year
Ahhhh, Munich. My very first Christmas Market in Europe and it was AWESOME! The sheer overwhelming size (Munich is spread out across several sites in the city), the amount of food and beer being consumed and the happiness of everyone was totally addictive.
Munich is a great first Christmas market to visit. It's not TOO big and there's something for everyone. The main square is full of your traditional stalls, bratwurst, glühwein, crepes, waffles and beer. The HUGE Christmas tree is a fantastic backdrop to all the festivities, and you need to stop and watch the Glockenspiel while you are there too.
We also loved the Munich medieval Christmas market, which was a LOT of fun and had a different range of stalls and goods if you're looking for that perfect gift while strolling through one of the best Christmas markets in Germany.
Dates for the Munich Christmas Market this year
You can see all the dates and opening hours for the Munich Christmas Market here
Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen, Denmark
Copenhagen has the biggest Christmas Market in Denmark, at Tivoli Gardens. Each year, they use over 120,000 Christmas lights!! (Just think of the electric bill!!!)
I love the backdrop of this Copenhagen Christmas Market against the water of the sea, canals and the lakes – the whole city shimmers. There are around 100 stalls and you'll see a distinctly Nordic range of gifts, clothing and food being offered!
There are also fairground rides and light shows taking place in the park and often live music.
Don't miss St Lucia's Day, where there is a procession through the city by girls carrying candles and singing.
How much does it cost to visit Tivoli Christmas Market?
Copenhagen Christmas Market Entrance to Tivoli Gardens is around £20
When is the Tivoli Christmas Market open this year?
You can find all the opening hours and dates for the Christmas Market here
Winter Wonders, Brussels, Belgium
The Brussels Winter Wonders is the biggest Christmas market in Belgium and has one of the best party atmospheres of them all! There are more than 200 chalets serving glühwein, crepes, bratwurst and of course lots and lots of Belgian beer!
The wonderland is spread across several areas in Brussels and includes a Ferris Wheel, ice skating, light shows and a HUGE Christmas tree to enchant the 2.5 million Christmas visitors!
If you've never been. Brussels is a beautiful European city anyway, but the real draw of one of the best Christmas markets in Europe is that you have the chance to see the…err… Smurfs??!!! (Nope, I have no idea why they are the star attraction – but they are!)
When is the Brussels Winter Wonders Christmas Market open this year?
You can find all the information for the Brussels Christmas Market here
Rathausplatz In Vienna, Austria
Vienna has the largest Christmas Market in Austria and receives nearly 3.5 Million visitors per year! There's a Ferris wheel, fair ground rides, ice skating rink, and hundreds of stalls selling presents and food. They also have one of the best light displays in Europe!
What are the Vienna Christmas Market dates this year?
There are several markets in Vienna. You can find all the opening times and dates for visiting here.
Most markets are open between midday (some open at 10am) and close around 9pm.
So, which city is home to the BEST Christmas market in Europe?
I'm sorry, but there's no way I'm making that decision. I highly recommend you visit them ALL and decide for yourself. And then let me know!
But seriously, don't worry too much. Just pick one. Pick the one with the cheapest flights, or the best deal or the one closest to you if you're driving! (Heck, if you're driving, you could visit them all and make a real road trip out of it! while you visit some of the best European cities to visit in winter or discover some of the warmest places in Europe in February!)
Either way, you'll have a fantastic time. I promise.
Want to remember these Christmas Markets? Pin it to your Christmas in Europe boards!