Europe’s best Christmas markets offer everything you want from a festive day out: carol singers, steaming mince pies and the scent of chestnuts roasting on an open fire.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year – or so sang Andy Williams in 1963, and every year since. Here’s our round up of Europe’s best Christmas markets to visit this winter.

Christmas market in Edinburgh in Scotland

Edinburgh, Scotland

Voted Europe’s Best Christmas Market in 2021, Edinburgh’s Christmas market captivates visitors with its charm. Set in the shadows of the capital’s castle, this annual event transforms Princes Street Gardens into a magical winter wonderland. Wooden stalls adorned with twinkling lights offer an array of crafts, wild game burgers, mulled Irn-Bru and whisky. The scent of spiced wine and roasted chestnuts fills the air, while carollers serenade the crowd. A Christmas tree and an outdoor ice rink add to the festive atmosphere. 

The Mound, Princes Street and Princes Street Gardens
17 November 2023 to 6 January 2024

Brussels, Belgium

Brussels’ Christmas market is a cherished tradition, enchanting visitors with its yuletide magic. Nestled in the heart of the Belgian capital, brass bands, choirs, and roaming entertainers transform Grand Place into a festive extravaganza. Adorned with sparkling lights, the market’s 220 chalets sell handknitted woollen socks, artisanal chocolates, and mulled wine. The centerpiece is a magnificent Christmas tree, which casts a glow over visitors indulging in steamed mussels, fondue and Belgian waffles.

Grand Place and around
24 November to 31 December 2023

Cologne, Germany

Cologne is renowned for its Christmas markets. The aroma of gingerbread, roasted almonds and riebekuchen – grated potato and onion patties with applesauce – fills the air as the city’s squares transform into a twinkling wonderland. The biggest market, outside Cologne Cathedral, has 150 stalls beneath a swathe of fairy lights. Here, visitors can find snow globes, handcrafted Erzgebirge wooden toys and painted ceramics. 

Around Cologne Cathedral, Rudolfplatz, Alter Markt and Heumarkt
23 November 2023 to 23 December 2023 

Christmas village at Belvedere Palace

Vienna, Austria

Historical architecture illuminated with fairy lights and artisans showcasing wooden toys and handmade soaps make Vienna’s Christmas markets captivating. Each market possesses its own allure, from Rathaus’s sloping, winding ice rink to the youthful vibrancy of Christmas Village Campus University of Vienna. Wrap up warm and wander around their narrow alleyways, nibbling on freshly baked pretzels as you go.

Belvedere Palace, Rathaus, Maria Theresien Square, Christmas Village Campus University of Vienna, Schönbrunn Palace, Spittelberg
11 November 2023 to 4 January 2024 (most close by 26 December)

Christmas market in Prague

Prague, Czech Republic

Cobbled streets and old clock towers make Prague romantic all year round, especially so when it glitters with Christmas markets. Once you’ve said hello to the enchanting donkey, sheep and goats in Old Town Square, shop for traditional Czech crafts such as hand-blown frosted glass baubles and sample seasonal treats including pancakes, grog – rum, lemon and sugar – and svarak, a citrusy hot wine with a cinnamon scent. 

Old Town Square, Wenceslas Square, Prague Castle, Republic Square
3 December 2023 to 6 January 2024

Whether you choose Edinburgh or Prague, Europe’s best Christmas markets are sure to enchant you. Contact our advisors for assistance booking your trip.

Image credits: Edinburgh Christmas market by Ashley Angela Miller/Shutterstock; Christmas Market, Rathausplatz credit WienTourismusPaul Bauer; Christmas Village at Belvedere Palace credit WienTourismusChristian Stemper; Prague Christmas market ecstk22/Shutterstock.

Christkindlmarkt, Rathausplatz / Christmas Market, Rathausplatz

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