Are you looking for the biggest Christmas Markets in Europe this year? Wondering which European city is best at Christmas and basically feeling completely 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.
Did I pick the biggest Christmas market in Europe? Or the oldest? Or the most famous? Seriously, how are you supposed to decide this stuff?
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.
Which is the biggest Christmas market in Europe?
Believe it or not, Nuremberg in Germany is 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!)
Why should you visit the Nuremberg Christmas Market, Germany?
As well as being the biggest Christmas Market in Europe, for me, Nuremberg 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.
Nuremberg Christmas Market
Where is the oldest Christmas market in Europe?
Dresden, Germany boosts 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?
Dresdenn has over 11 different Christmas Markets and each one has it's 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!
Dresden Christmas Market dates
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. 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.
Strasbourg Christmas Market dates
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.
Munich Christmas Market dates
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 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.
December 13th is St Lucia's Day, where there is a procession through the city by girls carrying candles and singing.
Copenhagen Christmas Market Entrance to Tivoli Gardens is around £20
Winter Wonders, Brussels, Belgium
The Brussels Winter Wonders is the biggest Christmas market in Begium 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 include 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 this Christmas market has to be the chance to see the…err… Smurfs??!!! (Nope, I have no idea why they are the star attraction – but they are!)
Brussels Winter Wonders Christmas Market
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!
Vienna Christmas Market
So, which city has 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!!)
Either way, you'll have a fantastic time. I promise. Here are some essentials tips for visiting Christmas Markets in Europe.
Want to remember these Christmas Markets? Pin it to your Christmas in Europe boards!