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The 9 Best Christmas Markets in Europe 2023

Once you’ve discovered the magic of the Christmas Markets in Europe it becomes like an obsession, you’ve suddenly got to experience them all. Or maybe that’s just me. Each Christmas Market in Europe brings its own flavor, with different traditions, foods, and setups. 

If you’re struggling to get into the Christmas spirit or heck even if you don’t celebrate Christmas, visiting any of the best Christmas Markets in Europe will instantly make you excited for the winter

And as someone who detests the months of January and February with every fiber of my being, visiting some of the best cities in Europe for Christmas in November and December lifts my spirits before it all goes to hell when the new year rolls around. Seriously does anyone like January, aka the longest and most miserable month of the entire year? Yeah, I didn’t think so.

What to expect at some of the best Christmas markets in Europe

Well for one thing you will certainly experience a lot of festive cheer. It’s hard not to get into the holiday spirit when you’re surrounded by delicious food, warm alcoholic drinks, gift ideas, and lots of Christmas trees and decorations. 

Aside from how quaint some of the Christmas markets are, I think one of my favorite aspects if trying all the different foods available at the markets. Whether you’re in Germany nibbling on thick German wursts, or in Antwerp and knocking back Jenever, there is something new to try for out-of-towners like you and me.

Also if you are someone who likes to collect souvenirs, then you’ll find adorable mugs and glasses in the European Christmas Markets that make excellent presents and collectibles.

When planning your visit to some of the best European Christmas Markets make sure to plan in advance, book your accommodation, and travel from each destination. Renting a car is a great way to get from some of the smaller cities and means you can almost do two markets in a day if they are close to one another. 

Top Tip: Bring cash. Depending on the market, they can sometimes be cash only. 

Bonus tip: Bring wet wipes. Between the food, drinks, and lots of people, it can get sticky pretty quickly. Throw a packet of wet wipes into your pocket. 

German Christmas Markets

Cologne Christmas Market

The best Christmas Market in Europe is located in Cologne, Germany. Not only is there not just one large marketplace, but you’ll find up to 5 other Christmas markets around the city of Cologne.

The largest underneath the Dom (the magnificent Gothic Cathedral in Cologne) is the centerpiece of the Cologne Christmas Market and hugely impressive. The Weihnachtsmarkt am Kölner Dom (aka the Dom Christmas Markets) includes a whopping 150 stalls, and whilst impressive, the best Christmas markets in Cologne are located just around the corner. 

Heumarkt & Alstadt Markets are the prettiest Christmas markets in Cologne and are worthy of a fairytale. If you’ve ever imagined a European fairytale come to life, then Heinzels Winter Fairytale is it. Adorable wooden chalets selling beautifully handcrafted trinkets, delicious food, and lots and lots of alcohol. 

Where to stay in Cologne: You cannot beat the location of the CityClass Hotel Residence am Dom! Immediately outside the front door, the hotel is Heinzels Winter Fairytale. 

Read more about the Cologne Christmas Markets in my detailed post on what to eat, see and do when visiting the Cologne Christmas Markets in 2023. 

Dates for the Cologne Christmas Market start from November 23rd, 2023 until 7th January 2024. 

Trier Christmas Market

One of the oldest Christmas Markets in Europe, Trier Christmas Market is a great first-timers visit to experience the magic of what a Christmas market can mean.

The beautiful German city of Trier is gorgeous and even more beautiful lit up with all the Christmas lights and festive stalls that sell everything from Gluwein to Reibekuchen (potato cakes), and of course a wonderful selection of presents and gifts from the wooden chalet stalls. 

Trier Christmas Market is located near the border of Luxembourg which means you can easily visit the Luxembourg Christmas Markets which just happen to be next on the list. For a more detailed post on the Trier Christmas Markets click here.

Luxembourg Christmas Market

Luxembourg is a small gem of a country. It packs a punch and often slips under the radar for Christmas Market visitors. Which is a shame as the Luxembourg Christmas Markets are really worth visiting. 

Spread out across Luxembourg City, the free use of public transportation means you can easily hop across the city (or walk – Luxembourg City is tiny) and visit all the different sections of the Christmas Markets. 

The setting of the main market is beautiful, located on Place de la Constitution which overlooks the deep valley that cuts through the center of Luxembourg City. 

For a more detailed post on the Luxembourg Christmas Markets click here.

Belgian Christmas Markets

Antwerp Christmas Market

One of the best Christmas markets in Europe flies very much under the radar – the Antwerp Christmas Markets are a hidden gem and perfect for those heading to Belgium for some supreme Christmas festivities. 

The Antwerp Christmas Market is beautiful (and if this is your first time visiting Antwerp you are in for a massive treat), with the Grote Markt set up with dozens of chalets that sell the traditional Christmas market goodies. The enormous Christmas Tree is the star of Grote Markt and one of the most impressive sights in a city that is jaw-droppingly incredible. 

In the Groenplaats you’ll find a large covered ice rink with stalls around the perimeter of the rink. 

A must for those visiting the Antwerp Christmas Market is to try Jenever, a gin-based liquor with numerous flavors. 

Where to stay in Antwerp: You can’t beat the location of the Hilton Antwerp Old Town which overlooks the ice-rink of Groenplaats.

Brussels Christmas Market

The largest Christmas Market in Belgium is perhaps the most beautiful and visited one. The Brussels Christmas Market takes place in the absolutely stunning Grand Place, one of the most remarkable squares in Europe. 

Photo by Juliana on Unsplash

And as you walk around Brussels you’ll find the street decorations embrace the season with festive windows and string lights adorning pretty much everything. Even the Manneken-Pis (little peeing boy) enjoys the festivities. 

The Brussels Christmas Market spills from the Grand Place to adjoining streets and squares of Rue de la Bourse, Place de Brouckère, Place Saint-Catherine, and a few more areas. 

Like most of the European Christmas markets on the list, they’re best visited in the early evening as the winter sun sets and the illumination begins.

Enjoy over 200 stalls, a Ferris wheel, and lots of events that occur from the end of November to late December. 

Bruges Christmas Market

The Bruges Christmas Market may not be the most impressive Christmas Market on the list but it is one of the most romantic of settings. Beautiful Bruges is dreamy at the best of times, but it particularly shines in the winter months. 

The Winter Glow as the Bruges Christmas Markets are marketing themselves as takes place from the 24th of November 2023 to January 7th, 2024. 

The beautiful light installation returns for another year at the Bruges Christmas Markets and illuminates parks, waterways, buildings, and much more.

Throughout the city of Bruges, you’ll find 2 Christmas markets, ice-skating rink, winter bars, and lots of opportunities to shop till you drop. 

Where to stay in Bruges: Hotel de Orangerie oozes romance in the historic center of Bruges. The perfect place to base your stay in Bruges. 

Austrian Christmas Markets

Vienna Christmas Market

The Vienna Christmas Markets have been voted the best Christmas Markets in Europe several times and it’s easy to see why. Set all across the city of Vienna, visitors will have their choice of numerous European Christmas Markets to enjoy. 

The Vienna Christmas Markets are one of the earliest Christmas markets to start in early-November and are spread out across the city.

Photo by Aneta Pawlik on Unsplash

The Viennese Dream Christmas Market takes place in front of the City Hall and has a huge collection of wooden chalets offering typical Christmas Market fare – Gluwein, Cookies, Wursts & Gifts.

The Christmas Village Belvedere Palace may have one of the most breathtaking settings of all the European Christmas Markets on this list. Located in front of the stunning baroque Belvedere Palace, you’ll find 40 stalls here selling everything from handmade gifts to mulled wine.

Top Pick: Vienna Christmas Market Walking Tour

There are a lot of Christmas Markets in Vienna to explore so don’t miss one of the best ways to discover everything the city has to offer with a Guided Walking Tour of the Vienna Christmas Markets.

The Christmas Village on Maria Theresian Square is also incredible, and throughout the city of Vienna you’ll keep stumbling across smaller and more intimate Vienna Christmas Market stalls and squares.

The Vienna Christmas Markets start from November 11th, 2023 until December 26th, 2023 (each market has its own start and end date).

Photo by Alisa Anton on Unsplash

Salzburg Christmas Markets

One of the oldest Christmas Markets in Europe is the Salzburg Christmas Market. Located beneath the beautiful Dom (Cathedral) and in the center of stunning Salzburg, the markets date back to the 16th century. 

Nowadays you’ll find the typical Christmas market complete with mulled wine, wursts, potato pancakes, and other deliciousness. The Salzburg Christmas Markets have over 100 stalls and numerous events throughout its duration including sing-along choirs and guided Christmas tours. 

The Salzburg Christmas Markets are operational from November 23rd, 2023 to January 1st, 2024. 

Italy Christmas Markets

Rome Christmas Markets

You’ll find the Piazza Navona Christmas Market the hub of the Rome Christmas Markets. One of the most famous piazzas in Rome hosts over 30 stalls that sell all the traditional fares from yummy Christmas staples to gifts.

You may not experience snow, but you’ll encounter a live Nativity set, an enormous Christmas Tree at the Pizza Navona Christmas Market. It may not have the cute chalets of German or Austrian Christmas markets, but come on, it’s Rome!

Rome is endlessly magical and incredible with every turn and makes for one of the best European cities for Christmas.

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