With the festive season just around the corner, it means it is finally time to visit Christmas Markets. This is the best way to kick off the festive season and get into the holiday spirit in Europe. These European holiday markets have a little something for everyone to enjoy.
With the twinkling fairy lights, festive decorations, and Christmas carols, the cities in Europe transform into a festive fairytale making it impossible not to get into the Christmas spirit. We have everything you need to know about winter markets in Europe to help you decide which to visit this festive season.
Top 5 European Christmas Markets
Europe has some of the best Christmas markets in the world. They are spread across the very diverse countries and cities that make up this continent, and each has its own unique setting. If you are visiting Europe this festive season don’t forget to check out some amazing tours in Europe.
With so many different markets to choose from, we have selected the top Christmas markets in Europe to visit this holiday season.
1. Basel Christmas Market, Switzerland
Located in northwest Switzerland on the Rhine River is the beautiful city of Basel. This city is infamous for hosting one of the most beautiful Christmas markets. This market has been voted as one of the best Christmas Markets in Europe. The Basel Christmas Market is so big that is has to be split up across the city center’s Old Town. Half of the market will be held in Barfüsserplatz and the other half will be at Münsterplatz.
The Christmas market in Münsterplatz is in the square in front of the Basel Münster cathedral. This market features an impressive Christmas tree on display, as well as beautiful decorations, creating a festive ambiance.
The Barfüsserplatz Christmas market has the most beautiful views which extend across the roofs of the stalls. The Basel Christmas Market features 130 stalls, where you can purchase festive goods from artisans. You can also indulge in the tasty Swiss delights on sale. The market will also host many pre-Christmas events during this season.
If you are interested in visiting the Basel Christmas market, be sure to check out a few day tours in Switzerland to make the most of your trip.
2. Helsinki Christmas Market, Finland
Helsinki is the Capital of Finland. It also happens to be the center of the country’s festive season. So it’s no surprise that approximately 300,000 visitors from all over the world enjoy the Helsinki Christmas Market each year.
The market is located in the city’s Senate Square which is decorated and features 120 stalls. This market has all the classic features of Christmas markets. Including traditional and festive foods, mulled wine, and hot chocolate on sale. As well as a beautiful Christmas tree and decorations on display.
However, what makes this market more unique is the wood-heated saunas which you can find in the middle of Senate Square. This sauna experience truly resonates with the Finish culture and will only cost you €5 ($5.66), this fee also includes a towel.
There are also plenty of vegan options available at this market, which attracts a much more modern audience. Other fun activities here include riding the carousel and shopping for wooden lanterns.
3. Tallinn Christmas Market, Estonia
The Tallinn Christmas Market was voted the best European Christmas market in 2019 by European Best Destinations. Tallinn is the capital of Estonia and has great historical significance, making it a special place to visit during the festive season. The Tallinn Christmas Market is set up in the Town Hall Square of the city.
What makes the Tallinn Christmas Market so unique is the historic story of the Christmas tree. The spectacular tree sits in front of the town hall which has been a tradition since 1441. The legend of the famous Christmas tree claims that a tree was carried in and placed in the center of Tallinn, now each year this tradition is carried on making this the 580th year of the tradition.
The market has several stalls, carousels, Santa Claus, and unique themed festive decorations. Another interesting feature of this Christmas market is the shape it has been designed in. If you view the market from above, you will see that it is in the shape of a heart. This is one of the reasons why the townspeople chose to decorate the Christmas tree with heart-shaped ornaments. To emphasize the symbol of love, especially during the festive season.
4. Nuremberg Christmas Market, Germany
The Nuremberg Christmas Market is not only the biggest Christmas market in Europe, but also in the world! This market dates back to 1530, making it one of the oldest too. Not only is this festive market historic, but it is also famous for its traditional German food, festive atmosphere, and the Nuremberg Christkind.
The Nuremberg Christkind is what makes this market stand out from any of the other Christmas markets in Europe. At the Nuremberg Christmas market, there is no Santa but rather a blond angel wearing a gold and white dress who gives the children presents, hope, and joy.
Every two years, a person is selected to be the Nuremberg Christkind. They will be the ambassadors of Christmas at the market.
Visiting the market, you will be able to enjoy both sweet and savoury Christmas treats. From mini German grilled sausages and crackling pork shoulder to delicious gingerbread treats. You can find it all at the biggest Christmas market in Europe.
If you are planning to stay in Munich and not in Nuremberg but you do want to visit this Christmas market, don’t worry. You can take a day trip to Nuremberg from Munich, and while you are there, check out the best things to do in Munich to make the most out of your trip.
5. Budapest’s Advent Basilica, Hungary
The Advent Basilica was voted one of the best Christmas Markets in 2023 by European Best Destinations. In 2021, the organisers made the decision to choose In Love and Safety as the theme of the market, to focus on the anxiety around the pandemic. The market has at least 100 artisans and gastronomic vendors each year. As well as a free ice rink, and their beautiful light show.
If you are visiting Budapest this festive season, you may be interested in taking a Danube River Dinner cruise before visiting the Christmas market. A dinner cruise will be a great way to start off the night while experiencing the culture in Budapest and ending it off with spending time at the Advent Basilica.
When will European Christmas Markets Open in 2021?
We have listed the date of when the best Christmas markets that we have listed will be opening. As well as a few more dates of other European Christmas markets to visit this year.
Opening and closing dates of Europe Christmas Markets for 2021:
- Manchester Christmas Market, United Kingdom: November 12th – December 22nd
- Govene Christmas Market, Italy: November 13th – December 19th
- Vienna Christmas Market, Austria: November 17th – December 26th
- Trier Christmas Market, Germany: November 19th – December 22nd
- Budapest’s Advent Basilica, Hungary: November 19th – January 2nd
- Basel Christmas Market, Switzerland: November 25th – December 23rd
- Nuremberg Christmas Market, Germany: November 26th – December 24th
- Tallinn Christmas Market, Estonia: November 26th – January 2nd
- Helsinki Christmas Market, Finland: November 27th – December 22nd
- Poznan Christmas Market, Poland: November 29th – December 23rd
3 Must-do Activities at European Christmas Markets
While all holiday markets have their unique activities and traditions, there are a few activities that you simply have to do when visiting any Christmas market in Europe. Add these activities to your to-do list so you get the full experience of the holiday market that you plan on visiting.
1. Taste the Local Festive Foods and Drinks
Every European Christmas Market will be selling a few of their local treats at their festive markets. Don’t miss out on trying out some of these tasty and unique foods. In Budapest, be sure to try out the Kürtöskalács (Chimney cake). While in Germany, don’t miss their mini grilled sausages and mulled wine.
2. Listen to Christmas Carols and Appreciate the Decorations
What better to get you into the Christmas spirit than Christmas carols and festive decorations? All the European Christmas markets that we have listed will have carols. You can either listen or join in and sing along! As well as appreciate the beautiful festive decorations on display.
3. Buy From the Local Stalls
Whether you plan to do your last-minute Christmas shopping at these festive markets or not, you should at least buy souvenirs or gifts from the Christmas Market that you visit. These will remind you of the great time you had at the markets.
Final Thoughts on the Christmas Markets in Europe
Europe is truly the place to be during the festive season. Not only do they have the best Christmas markets in the world but almost every country turns into a fairytale wonderland. With the beautiful decorations and the winter weather, it’s impossible not to get into the Christmas spirit when exploring Europe during this period.
If you are ready to book your trip for the festive season, there are some great European tours that you can include in your trip. You don’t want to miss out!