The Five Best European Christmas Markets

by Laurene Mondet
   
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There's tough competition for the most iconic Christmas activity - filling stockings with special presents, buying a traditional Christmas tree, and eating sumptuous roast dinners (with all the trimmings) are hugely popular, and for good reason. 

If you're planning on taking a luxury holiday in Europe and want to enjoy a festive atmosphere with all these popular activities, take a 5-star trip to one of Europe's best Christmas markets for the ultimate cultural getaway this year.

Cologne

Every year, the city of Cologne boasts six wonderful Christmas markets, each with its distinct character. The biggest one takes place under the glow of the magnificent gothic cathedral. Located under the Rhineland’s largest Christmas tree, it features over 120 stalls where you can find diverse arts and crafts of real quality and a wide variety of food and drinks on your best gastronomy break in Germany.

Another interesting Christmas market stands in the middle of the idyllic old town. The postcard-pretty Alter Markt was, according to Cologne fable, the home of elves who were very good craftspeople! You can find a wonderful range of handcraft stalls there, where goods are still produced in the traditional way. This market also posseses a very romantic feel thanks to its rustic wooden stalls and trees hung with red hearts. If you want to experience a luxury family getaway in Cologne, a beautiful carousel gives a child-friendly appeal to this place.

Looking for a place to stay? The Van der Valk Hotel Moers is what you need. It is the ideal location for those who like to explore different German Christmas markets, due to its close proximity to several major cities, including Cologne.

Vienna

The annual “Christkindlmarkt”, taking place from mid-November to Christmas, is located on the incredible Town Hall square. Dating back to 1294, it is one of the oldest and greatest in Europe. As its row of wooden huts attracts million of visitors each year, we recommend you visit the market in November to avoid the pre-Christmas crowds.

Enjoy Austrian specialities on your luxury gastronomy break in Vienna, admire the magnificent illuminations and hear choirs from all over the world at the International Advent singing in Vienna’s City Hall to get in the Christmas mood. Smell the delicious scents of roasted almond, hot mulled wine, grilled chestnuts and gingerbread while strolling through the traditional stalls.

Stay at the Austria Trend Hotel Savoyen, an elegant building with modern design located in the heart of the city, to make the most of your vacation on your next special city escape in Austria.

Brussels

Every winter, the heart of Brussels becomes a true "Winter Wonderland" thanks to its magical Christmas market. Located in the city centre, along a magnificent illuminated pedestrian street, the market features approximately 240 chalet-style wooden huts offering hand-crafted toys, warming mugs of mulled wine and mountains of Belgian chocolates. At the end of the walk-route, in Marché aux Poissons square, you can find a 200-foot long skating rink perfect to experience a special family escape in Belgium.

If you love bright lights, cold winters and good food, Brussels Christmas market is the ideal place for you. From the food stalls offering steaming plates of moules mariniere or snails, jars of preserved fruits and hard gingerbread shaped like Father Christmas to the carols filtered through loudspeakers, jugglers, street musicians and painters entertaining the crowds, Brussels boasts a great array of festive delights.

For a complete Christmas experience, book a room at the Hotel BLOOM, ideally located near the centre of the city, not far from the market and historical centre. The  quality of its service, delicious creative cuisine and grand surrounding make this hotel the perfect stay on your leading weekend holiday in Brussels.

Budapest

Each year, from the end of November to the end of December, Vörösmarty Square turns into a festive market place where you can find over 100 wooden pavilions offering exclusive goods and unique Christmas-themed arts and crafts. Enjoy some delicious mulled wine and take home your mug as each year it has a different design.

If you have a taste for traditional fare, Budapest’s Christmas market is a real heaven. The scent of fresh sausages, grilled meat, authentic stuffed cabbage, töki pompos (oven-baked dough), caramelised pastry, home-made strudel and kürtöskalács (spiral-shaped sweet pastries cooked on hot coals) is sure to whet your appetite.

After a visit to the highlight of the Christmas market, a giant musical Advent calendar on the glamorous façade of the Gerbeaud building, head to the Boscolo New York Palace and enjoy a truly unforgettable experience.

Prague

The Prague Christmas markets take place in Wenceslas and Old Town squares. They consist of brightly decorated wooden stalls where you can find a variety of Czech glass, wooden toys, scented candles, Christmas tree ornaments, hand-made jewellery and puppets. But the Prague Christmas markets are not just about shopping! You can also observe authentic foods being made at the many festively decorated huts and taste them on your best city break in Prague.

Aside from food, drink and shopping, children can stroke sheep, goats and ponies in the petting zoo located at the Old Town Square. A live Bethlehem scene depicting Mary, Joseph, Jesus and the three Kings in a wooden stable completes the festive setting.

If you want to make the most of the Christmas markets, stay at the Boscolo Prague situated in the heart of the Czech capital. Housed inside a magnificent neo-classical palazzo, the hotel is a perfect combination of refined ambience, comfort and luxury on your best romantic getaway in Prague.

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