The 12 Best Christmas Markets In Europe

The 12 Best Christmas Markets In Europe

There’s no better indication that the Christmas season has begun than the opening of the local Christmas market.

These cherished staples of the holiday epitomize Christmas charm. For one month of the year, cities across Europe draw in millions of people from around the world to showcase the festive cheer of the holiday and the idiosyncrasies that make their city so special.

Learn more about this time-honored tradition and see where to go for the 12 best Christmas markets in Europe so you can see them up close in person.

What’s The History of European Christmas Markets?

Christmas markets have been a part of the European holiday tradition for centuries. The first known Christmas market is believed to have been in Dresden. In 1434, Dresden's city center hosted a one-day market the Monday before Christmas. Locals could buy the meat to break their Advent fast and celebrate the approach of Christmas.

In the years that followed, these markets grew larger; more vendors set up shop in city centers; markets were open for longer, coinciding with the procession of Advent, the liturgical season wherein Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus.

Over the centuries, Christmas markets evolved into the festive holiday extravaganza we know them to be today. Now, Christmas markets can be found worldwide: from New York City to Brazil and even Japan. The world has embraced this beloved tradition, speaking to their appeal, although the pedigree of European Christmas markets makes them the most celebrated.

What Can You Find At A Christmas Market?

The items sold at Christmas markets have expanded considerably from their humble beginnings. Most Christmas markets have dozens if not hundreds of stalls, where visitors can purchase many festive holiday items.

Here are just a few items you can expect to find at your average Christmas market:

  • Hand-crafted ornaments
  • Winter attire
  • Candles
  • Seasonal food and drinks
  • Kitchenware
  • Christmas cards
  • Toys
  • Decorations
  • Wooden craft

What makes Christmas markets so special is that they support independent vendors. A market in one city may have completely different items; even Christmas markets located in different parts of the same city may have a unique selection of items.

The Best European Christmas Markets

Europe’s Christmas markets provide handmade products, traditional food, and drinks and support locally owned enterprises; they’re the most authentic way to experience the spirit of Christmas in Europe. Here are some of the best Christmas markets in Europe you have to see for yourself.

Striezelmarkt — Dresden, Germany

Dresden is the largest city in the German state of Saxony, right on the border of the Czech Republic. The city’s primary Christmas market, Striezelmarkt, holds historic accolades that establish it as a must-see Christmas market in Europe.

The Oldest Christmas Market In Europe

Dresden’s Striezelmarkt claims the oldest and longest-running true Christmas market in Europe, guaranteeing its place among the continent’s best. This enduring event will be celebrating its 588th anniversary in 2022.

The Striezelmarkt has grown to one of Europe’s largest markets, with 240 vendors participating each year.This year, Striezelmarkt will open on November 23rd and close on December 24th.

Nearby Attractions

  • Get a spectacular view of Dresden in the Frauenkirche – a Baroque marvel.
  • Partake in winter sporting activities like skiing, sledding, and snowboarding hosted in the nearby Ore mountain range town of Altenberg.
  • Tour the Dresden Royal Palace museum and see the legacy of Saxony’s nobles.

The Christmas Market In Marienplatz — Munich, Germany

Munich is Germany’s second-largest city. Its continued growth makes this Bavarian metropolis of almost 1.5 million a vibrant European hub. Its growing population has only deepened Munich’s love of traditional Christmas festivities, like its signature holiday event: the Christmas Market in Marienplatz.

The Christmas Market In Marienplatz Is Rife With Bavarian Charm

Marienplatz is Munich’s foremost city square. Surrounded by landmark neo-Gothic architecture, the Christmas Market in Marienplatz possesses an authentic, singularly Bavarian feel. It’s the perfect place to warm up with a hot cup of traditional German gluhwein or a cup of hot chocolate.

The Neues Rathaus, Munich’s captivating town hall, hosts traditional Bavarian music daily for visitors to enjoy. Families can visit the Himmelswerkstatt, a toy workshop where young children can assemble their crafts to give as Christmas presents.

The Christmas Market at Marienplatz will be open from November 21st until December 24th, 2022.

Nearby Attractions

Munich has no shortage of things to do: 

  • Partake in the season’s festivities in the city’s popular beer halls for Bavarian staples like bratwurst, pretzels, and overflowing beer steins.
  • See world-class art in one of Europe’s oldest museums — Alte Pinakothek.
  • Explore Neues Rathaus, Munich’s stunning town hall on Marienplatz.

Christkindlesmarkt — Nuremberg, Germany

Nuremberg is Germany’s 14th largest city, and second-largest city in Bavaria. Starting in late November, Nuremberg’s 500,000 residents host millions of visitors from around the world for one of the most famous Christmas markets in Europe: Nuremberg’s Christkindlmarkt.

A Historic “Christkindlesmarkt” In Europe

Attributed to Protestant Reformer Martin Luther, the celebration of Christkind as the season’s gift-giving spirit marked a significant change in Christmas tradition; gifts were to be given on December 24th instead of December 6th on St. Nicholas’s Day. 

This tradition took hold in Nuremberg, leading to one of Germany’s first Christkindlmarkts. As part of the annual festivities, a young woman is named the year’s Christkind, donning a tall golden crown and cloak to serve as the market's symbol.

Nuremberg’s Christkindlmarkt boasts several signature features: the iconic Rauschgoldengels, festive paper angels found in the many market stalls; traditional Nurnberg lebkuchen, a seasonal gingerbread; and Christkind’s opening ceremony for the market.

Nuremberg’s Christkindlmarkt for 2022 will begin on November 25th and close on December 24th.

Nearby Attractions

  • Explore Nuremberg’s Sister Cities Market, where vendors representing Nuremberg’s sister cities worldwide sell their wares as a sign of international friendship.
  • Visit Kaiserburg: an esteemed castle in the Holy Roman Empire’s history.
  • See the Albrecht Durer House and Museum: one of Germany’s greatest painters.

You may need to enroll in the ETIAS to enter Germany, a travel authorization system that prescreens travels to Europe.

The Basel Christmas Market — Basel, Switzerland

The Swiss consider Basel, Switzerland’s third-largest city, the country's cultural capital. Basel nearly touches the borders of both France and Germany. The city has a reputation as a patron of intellectuals in European history. A cultural nexus, it’s little surprise that Basel’s Christmas Market is among the best.

One of Switzerland’s Prettiest Christmas Markets

The Basel Christmas Markets on Barfüsserplatz and Münsterplatz are honored to be named “Best Christmas Market 2021” as decided by online voters on European Best Destinations, a European travel website.

\With 140 stands last year, Basel’s best markets proved to be some of the year’s most outstanding. Basel’s Old Town serves well as the heart of these charming markets; visitors can see the markets’ many stands illuminating the city center’s cobblestones from a perfect vantage in Basel Minster, the city’s Gothic twin-spire cathedral.

Basel’s markets open this year on November 25th and close on December 23rd

Nearby Attractions

  • Basel is home to some of the best museums in Switzerland, with dozens in the city limits; check out the Kunstmuseum to see the classics of European art.
  • See the tomb of Erasmus of Rotterdam at Basel Minster, one of Europe’s most brilliant intellectuals.
  • Explore the Medieval Swiss architecture of Altstadt, Basel’s historic Old Town.

Starsmarket — Bern, Switzerland

Switzerland’s fourth-largest city, Bern, is world-renowned for its authentic medieval architecture. At 1,779’, the city sits at a higher altitude than its larger counterparts in Switzerland: Zurich, Geneva, and Basel. Between the impressive Alpine height and its striking architectural aesthetic, Bern is an ideal place for a scenic Christmas Market.

A New Addition To Bern’s Beloved Christmas Markets

The Starsmarket is a newcomer among Bern’s Christmas markets. It’s located in scenic Klein Schainse, a popular Bern park. The market grounds are a short distance from the local train station, making it easily accessible for travelers.

About 80 stands throughout the market, with festive Christmas items that range in styles, from traditional Swiss staples to modern takes on old classics. For conventional Swiss fare, seek out the fondue.

Starting on November 25th, the Startsmarket will be open until the New Year, closing on December 31st.

Nearby Attractions:

  • Explore Bern’s world-renowned medieval architecture in Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Get a fantastic view of scenic Bern and the surrounding Alpine peaks from atop Bern Cathedral.
  • Go tobogganing on Gurten, a local hill in Bern.

Christkindelsmärik — Strasbourg, France

Strasbourg is the 8th largest city in France. As the home of the European Parliament, it stands out as a distinguished city despite its small size. Further adding to Strasbourg’s position on the world’s stage is its claim as the Capital of Christmas; its Christmas markets are some of the best in Europe.

See France’s Most Festive Market In The Christmas Capital

Strasbourg's claims at the Capital of Christmas are well-earned. It hosted one of Europe's most long-lived Christmas Markets — the Christkindelsmärik, which started in 1570. Strasbourg is located in Alsatia, on the border of Germany.

Over the centuries, the city has been enriched by a dynamic cultural exchange: its signature market stems from its people's acceptance of Protestantism and its new customs following the Reformation in Germany.

Strasbourg lives up to its name as the Capital of Christmas because it embraces its dynamic history to become singularly European. Christkindelsmärik epitomizes the common bonds between Europe.

Christkindelsmärik starts on November 24th this year and ends on Christmas Eve.

Nearby Attractions

  • Get a spectacular view of the Capital of Christmas from the Strasbourg Cathedral — the tallest building in the world until the 19th century.
  • Leave a gift for the less fortunate underneath the Place Kléber Christmas tree; note its theme, which changes yearly.
  • Tour Grand Île, an iconic Strasbourg neighborhood, and UNESCO World Heritage Site

Viennese Dream Christmas Market — Vienna, Austria

The Austrian capital Vienna may not be the first true Christmas market; the first open markets in the city dating back to the 1200s are technically considered “December Markets”. Nevertheless, the rich tradition for winter celebrations in the market squares of stunning Vienna makes it an essential destination for travelers eager to see Europe’s best Christmas markets.

You may need preapproval from the ETIAS to enter Austria; learn more here.

The Viennese Dream Christmas Market Sees Millions Of Visitors A Year

Set at the feet of Vienna’s arresting City Hall, the Rathaus, the Viennese Dream Christmas market is among the most scenic in Europe. The Gothic Revival style architecture of the Rauthause presents a captivating backdrop to the hundreds of vendors gathered beneath its illuminated façade.

The Rathaus interior hosts a workshop where children can learn to bake Christmas cookies and make festive candles. On the weekend, choirs fill the hallways of the Rathaus with holiday songs — no charge for admittance.

The Viennese Dream Christmas Market will be open from November 19th to December 26th this year.

Nearby Attractions:

  • Visit the Hofburg: the imperial palace for the Habsburgs, one of Europe’s most powerful royal dynasties.
  • Explore St. Stephen’s Cathedral, Vienna’s most impressive church.
  • See the tombs of Austria’s many Emperors in the Imperial Crypt at the Royal Burial Vaults.

Winter Glow — Bruges, Belgium

Bruges is a small medieval city and capital of the Belgian province of West Flanders. The Historical Centre’s cobblestoned streets are a UNESCO World Heritage site, making it the perfect location for a scenic Christmas Market.

Enjoy Classic Holiday Festivities In Beautiful Bruges

Winter Glow is a vast winter event set in Bruges’ central square, hosting plenty of winter festivities for attendees to enjoy; primary among them is the Christmas market set right below the towering Belfry of Bruges.

Visitors can peruse signature items from Bruges, like ornate patterns of lace, rich cups of hot chocolate, and more. The Medieval setting in this iconic European city puts the Winter Glow Christmas market at the top of any list of must-see markets.

Winter Glow runs from November 25th to January 8th this year.

Nearby Attractions:

  • Explore the surrounding festivities offered by Winter Glow, like ice-skating, light shows, and a winter bar.
  • Climb to the top of the Belfry of Bruges for a spectacular view of this beautiful medieval city.
  • Visit the Basilica of the Holy Blood, a one-of-a-kind that claims to have cloth that contains the Blood of Christ.

Winter Wonders — Brussels Belgium

The Belgian capital city Brussels is also the de facto capital of the European Union. This city of 2 million is a true European world city. The Christmas markets of its annual Winter Wonders celebration are a hallmark of European culture.

See A Vast Christmas Market In Europe’s Capital.

The Christmas market in Brussels for Winter Wonders is easily the largest in Belgium. Most of the festivities center on Grote Place, Brussels’ marvelous city square, and a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Grote Place is lined with the Gothic façades of Brussels’ guildhalls, made all the more striking by their lit exteriors for a holiday. The square hosts the annual Christmas tree and a popular music and light show. In recent years, the market stalls have expanded down the side streets leading away from Grote Place, giving attendees the opportunity to explore Brussels at its most festive.

Winter Wonders has a planned opening date on November 25th, with a closing date on January 1st.

Nearby Attractions:

  • Visit Atomium, an eccentric stories-high construction shaped like a giant molecule.
  • Stop by Train World and learn about Belgian’s railway infrastructure, the oldest on the European continent.
  • Stroll through the modern glass buildings of the European Union campus.

Budapest Christmas Fair and Winter Festival — Budapest, Hungary

The Hungarian capital Budapest is its largest city, with a population of almost 2 million. With its rich imperial history from the days of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Budapest imbues the town with a charming elegance—a perfect setting for the Christmas season. Budapest’s annual Christmas celebrations are an increasingly popular destination for the holidays.

Attend A Prize-Winning Market In Historic Budapest

The Budapest Christmas Fair and Winter Festival is a city-wide event. The market in Vörösmarty Square, in the middle of Budapest, is the city’s largest. Attendees can enjoy a host of festivities with a distinctive Hungarian flavor.

The Advent Feast of the Basilica at St. Stephen’s Basilica hosts another Christmas market, which was the distinguished 2019 winner of “Best Christmas Market In Europe” by popular vote. In addition to the seasonal stalls, the Advent Feast is a must-see for “foodies;” popular Hungarian dishes like goulash are abundant, along with seasonal offerings.

The opening date for the Budapest Christmas Fair and Winter Festival markets in 2022 is November 19th, until New Year’s.

Nearby Attractions:

  • Stroll the scenic Danube Promenade and take in the seasonal decorations.
  • Visit historic Vajdahunyad Castle, a castle that showcases Hungary’s distinctive architecture.
  • Explore the Fisherman’s Bastion, a massive 19th-century castle on the Danube with scenic views of the city.

Old Town Square Christmas Market — Prague, Czechia

Czechia’s capital city Prague is the fifth most visited city in Europe. The natural beauty of the city’s rolling hills and gorgeous buildings are deeply enchanting. By December, the city is at its most beautiful, with plenty of seasonal festivities for visitors to see.

The Old Town Square Christmas Market Is Prague At Its Peak

Prague’s Old Town Square is at the heart of the city and the location for its largest Christmas market. This market has a wide range of handicrafts for sale and serves up classic Czech fare: roasted hams, Czech-style sausages, and universally loved treat trdelník, a signature Czech pastry.

The Old Town Square is the site for Prague’s biggest Christmas tree. Every year, a 22m tree is chosen from the Liberec region of Czechia to signal the beginning of the season. There’s a new theme every year, so there’s always a reason to come back.

Prague’s Old Town Square Christmas Market starts on November 26th this year and ends on January 6th.

Old Town Aarhus Christmas Market — Aarhus, Denmark

Located on the coast of the Jutland peninsula, the Danish city Aarhus has natural seaside beauty. With a population of just over 300,00, it's Denmark's second-largest city. Its accessible charm is found in its many distinctive neighborhoods; Old Town Aarhus is one of its most gorgeous, making it an ideal environment for Denmark’s most popular Christmas market.

Have The Ultimate Danish Christmas Experience In Aarhus

The Old Town, or Den Gamle By, is Aarhus at its best, a singularly Danish setting. The first open-air museum of its kind, the neighborhood was established in 1914 by moving authentic Danish buildings from 20 townships from the 16th to the 19th centuries into one place.

Den Gamle By hosts one of Denmark’s most popular Christmas markets. With such an incompatible setting, visitors can enjoy the wintertime festivities while taking in the fascinating collection of Danish buildings that make up this truly unique neighborhood.

The Old Town Aarhus Christmas Market generally runs from late November until Christmas Eve, with select days open until New Year’s.

Nearby Attractions:

  • Check out ARoS, one of the largest museums in Europe and a spectacular vantage point to see the city.
  • See the artifacts of the Moesgaard Museum, like ancient weapons dating back to the 3rd century BC.
  • Visit Dokk 1, a captivating glass prism building and Aarhus’ cultural center; the huge bell in the atrium is connected to the local hospital — every ring indicates a new birth.

Which European Country Has the Best Christmas Market?

Choosing just one country to visit for the best European Christmas markets can be difficult with so many different places. Based on popularity, quantity, and legacy, the country with the best Christmas markets in Germany. 

Dresden has both the oldest continually operated Christmas market and the largest: Striezelmarkt was started in the 1400s and boasted over 200 vendors. 

Nuremberg has some of the most attendees every year, and is one of the originators of Christkindlmarkt — the Christmas market celebration that’s a staple across Europe. With plenty of other Christmas markets across the country,

If there’s one place to choose from the best Christmas markets in Europe, Germany should be at the top of the list.

ETIAS Helps You See The Best Of The Season

Recent changes to European travel codes with the ETIAS aren’t as complicated as they seem. Early approval is easy; just apply here, and you’ll be able to travel to all the Schengen Area countries of Europe easily.

Get yours now so you can see the best Christmas markets in Europe come wintertime.


Dresdner Striezelmarkt | Striezlmarkt.Dresen.De

The Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt |

 Munich’s Christmas Markets 2022 | Simply Munich

Christmas Market In Basel | This Is Basel

Christmas Markets In And Around Bern |

Christmas In Strasbourg | Noel Strasbourg

Christmas Markets In Vienna |

Winter Glow | Visit

Christmas Market In Brussels | European Best Destinations

Budapest Christmas Market 2022 | Dates, Hotels & More | European Best Destinations

Budapest Christmas Fair |

Prague Christmas Market | 2022 Dates, Locations & Must-Knows! | European Best Destinations