Five Festive Cities with Charming Christmas Markets

Sparkling lights and glistening ornaments. Mulled wine and roasting chestnuts. The crunch of snow. The sights, smells and sounds of Christmas come together at a Christmas Market. The joy of spending time with family and friends. The thrill of finding just the right gift. The cheer of the holiday season.

A Christmas Markets World Tour

We asked a few of our friends about their favorite Christmas Markets recently. What we got was a virtual trip around the world! Some of the globe’s greatest cities host charming and historical Christmas Markets that we know you’ll love as much as we do. Grab a cup of hot cocoa or mulled wine, and snuggle up with a little Holiday Magic in Five Festive Cities with Charming Christmas Markets!

Phil & Garth in Prague on Five Festive Cities with Charming Christmas Markets via

Phil and Garth in Prague

Phil & Garth are confessed sightseeing addicts who can help you maximize your travel time with comprehensive travel guides and 60-second video guides. It’s obvious these guys love Prague!

Prague’s Christmas Markets are our favourite because of the festive atmosphere. Quite literally, the air is filled with the smell of mulled wine, gingerbread or chestnuts roasting, so you feel Christmassy as soon as you arrive.

There are two main markets, one on Wenceslas Square, the other at the Old Town Square – our favourite. The market is set amongst gorgeous colourful Gothic and Baroque architecture. It’s delightful and feels somewhat magical.

Phil & Garth in Prague on Five Festive Cities with Charming Christmas Markets via

Don’t bother with dining in restaurants, grab another mulled wine or a famous Czech beer and wander the wooden huts selling many savoury and sweet treats. We chose the Prague ham, cooked on an open fire. Be prepared for gigantic proportions, it’s served with bread and relishes. (Tip – One portion will easily serve 2 people). We also loved the deep fried potato crisps that are spiralled onto wooden sticks as a continuous piece. For a sweet option then it has to be Trdelník, which you’ll find for sale all over Prague. A sweet doughy and cinnamon flavoured cake roasted over charcoal and dusted with tons of sugar. It’s crispy on the outside and soft in the middle. Choose the Nutella option if you want it extra sweet! It’s actually Slovakian in origin, even though it’s marketed as a traditional Czech cake.

We loved the Christmas shopping opportunities too! Craft stalls sell traditional gifts like wooden toys, puppets, scented candles and delicate glass Christmas tree ornaments. We bought some beautiful glass bells (reasonably priced) but sadly smashed one in our hand luggage on the plane home.

Phil & Garth in Prague on Five Festive Cities with Charming Christmas Markets via

When you’re done with the main market at Old Town Square, there are many smaller markets across town to explore like the one up at Prague Castle. Here you’ll find a more intimate setting with stalls selling similar gifts, food and drink, but their backdrop is the magnificent Gothic cathedral, St. George’s Basilica.

Evenings were easily our favourite time, when Prague’s gothic skyline turns into a winter wonderland. Standing in the Old Town Square is a huge Christmas Tree draped in millions of lights and ornaments. You may even catch children singing carols and, if you’re really lucky, it may even snow! What could be more festive? This year’s market opens 2nd December 2017 – January 6th 2018.

Vienna with travelsewhere on Five Festive Cities with Charming Christmas Markets via

Vienna with travelsewhere

David, creative force best known as travelsewhere, enjoys discovering the world’s hidden gems. He’s been known to enjoy the popular spots as well, including the incomparable Vienna!

The lead up to Christmas is the perfect time to visit the Austrian capital Vienna, as the city totally transforms each and every year for the festive season. Throughout the city centre, buildings and streets are illuminated with incredibly grand light displays. The chandeliers that line the Graben pedestrian street are a personal favourite of mine.

Vienna with travelsewhere on Five Festive Cities with Charming Christmas Markets via

Beyond the lights, massive Christmas markets spring up in every major square of the city and in front of palaces like the Belvedere and Schönbrunn. From the day they open right up to Christmas, these markets are always buzzing with life, whether it’s locals meeting up or tourists experiencing local customs. In the other city districts, smaller local markets can be discovered down back streets and usually have much fewer tourists at them.

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At Vienna’s Christmas markets you’ll find everything, from festive handcrafts to delicious and hearty foods. Oh, and let’s not forget the trillion different types of mulled wine and hot cider on offer to warm you up as you brave the increasingly biting cold of winter. As per local tradition, you pay a deposit for a charming little, often boot-shaped, mug that you can reuse while there. Once you’re done drinking you can either return it for a refund or keep the mug as a souvenir. Some like to collect the mugs from each of the city’s different markets.

Vienna with travelsewhere on Five Festive Cities with Charming Christmas Markets via

If you’re looking for the biggest and busiest Christmas market in the city, then it probably has to be right in front of Vienna’s Town Hall. Here you’ll find absolutely everything, including live music. In the surrounding park, each year they have different light installations from different objects in the trees to massive art installations. Basically, if you only have time for one Christmas market during Vienna, this one would be safe bet.

Munich with TraveLexx on Five Festive Cities with Charming Christmas Markets via

Travel Lexx in Munich

Combine a love for sport, adventure, and travel, with a desire to inform and inspire others, and you have Travel Lexx. While we see him in some pretty exotic locations, he’s agreed to show us around the Christmas Markets of Munich!

There is no perfect time of year to visit Munich. Bavaria’s capital is full of things to see and places to explore all year round. However, the city comes into its own in the run-up to Christmas. Traditional Christmas markets spring up all over the city and draw in locals and tourists alike with their festive atmosphere, delicious treats and, of course, mulled wine.

Munich with TraveLexx on Five Festive Cities with Charming Christmas Markets via

The Weihnachtsmarkt at the Chinese Tower has plenty of stalls offering traditional Christmas food, handmade decorations and hot drinks to help battle the cold. Located in the Englischer Garten (English Garden), one of the world’s biggest public parks, the market is a pleasant walk away from the city centre. Bands often play live music from the tower and there is a carousel and horse-drawn carriage rides around the park.

The Weihnachtdorf (Christmas Village) just outside Odeonsplatz, has plenty of character with wooden huts spread around the courtyard with the Residenz palace as a grand backdrop. This is the place to try spicy currywurst which you can wash down with a Maß (a litre) of Bavarian beer or a hot punch.

Munich with TraveLexx on Five Festive Cities with Charming Christmas Markets via

Other options include the Christmas Markets at Sendlinger Tor and Viktualienmarkt, featuring live music, nativity scenes and even a curling rink!

Munich’s Christmas Highlight

The main draw, however, is a massive Christkindlmarkt at Marienplatz – Munich’s central square since 1158. Framed by the beautiful Rathaus (New Town Hall), the market’s stalls offer an incredible variety of things to eat, drink and take home. Snack on stollen, chocolate dipped fruit and gingerbread, shop for colourful handmade toys and decorations and wash it all down with all the Glühwein you can handle.

Munich with TraveLexx on Five Festive Cities with Charming Christmas Markets via

The market would even get The Grinch into a Christmas spirit – colourful, varied and festive, it is everything a Christmas Market should be. Add a giant Christmas tree, carol singers and a joyful atmosphere and you have a special experience like no other.

Experiencing Munich during the festive season should be on every traveller’s Christmas bucket list!

CaliGlobetrotter in Strasbourg on Five Festive Cities with Charming Christmas Markets via

Strasbourg with California Globetrotter

Lorelei, the California Globetrotter, is a Cali expat (as you might have guessed) living in Germany. She documents her travels throughout her new home country (and beyond!), but couldn’t resist hoping across the border to THE Capital of Christmas, Strasbourg!

Visiting Europe’s oldest Christmas Market is just as magical as you might expect it to be. Dating back to 1570 and with over 300 stalls located throughout the half-timbered town which still celebrates Alsatian holiday traditions, this is one Christmas market you don’t want to miss. Enchanting Christmas decorations and twinkling lights cover every inch of the city making it one of the most romantic markets in France to visit.

See also  An American Christkindl Market

Warm aromas of vin Chaud (mulled wine), chestnuts roasting on a mini portable train stand, and delicious crepes fill the air while perusing the stalls filled with traditional handcrafted goods from around the Alsace region. Here, you can also find mini Tarte flambée, macarons and sugary donut-like pretzels to fill up on while you sip on your warm vin Chaud.

CaliGlobetrotter in Strasbourg on Five Festive Cities with Charming Christmas Markets via

With seven markets spread throughout the city, you will have plenty to explore as you check out each of the different markets offering unique goods from teas, to hats, to wine decor. Stroll around the market wrapped snuggly around the impressive Strasbourg Cathedral, the Place Kléber square with the largest Christmas tree you’ll ever see, or perhaps mingle and jingle your way through the markets in La Petite France, the most picturesque quarter of Strasbourg.

If you’re feeling ambitious, consider climbing the Strasbourg Cathedral tower for a breathtaking view over the town and the markets or simply enjoy the street musicians charming you with their holiday carols.

You can expect to find that this magical Christmas market gets quite crowded throughout the holiday season, and even more so in the evenings when the streaming Christmas lights light up the town. Only thing even more magical would be if it snowed.

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Christmas in New York on Five Festive Cities with Charming Christmas Markets via

TravelLatte in New York City

TravelLatte, that’s us! Being the only ones here based in the USA, we felt an obligation to point out that we have Christmas Markets, too! New York City pulls out all the stops for holiday markets across Manhattan. (Note: Being in America, many of our Christmas Markets are closed on Thanksgiving.)

Christmas in New York City is like no place else. From the tree at Rockefeller Center to store windows at Macy’s, iconic scenes come to life across the city. It shouldn’t be surprising to find some of the country’s best Christmas markets, too!

We’ll start on Central Park West, where the red-and-white striped tents of the Columbus Circle Holiday Market welcome visitors from November 28 to Christmas Eve. Grab a warm cup of New York apple cider and some artisan chocolates, and look for the Artisan Pledge for gifts that are 100% handmade in the USA, organic-certified, Fairtrade-certified, and/or recycled, reused, or vintage items.

Christmas in New York on Five Festive Cities with Charming Christmas Markets via

A few blocks south is Grand Central Terminal and NYC’s longest-running indoor market, the Grand Central Holiday Fair. From mid-November to Christmas Eve, you can enjoy shopping for unique gifts without enduring the cold. While you’re there, the whole family will enjoy the New York Transit Museum’s Holiday Train Show.

Nearby is one of the city’s biggest holiday traditions: ice skating and hot chocolate at the Winter Village at Bryant Park. From late October into January, glowing glass huts make a warm winter scene, even when it’s snowing! The Winter Village is open daily with holiday gifts and décor, restaurants, and free ice skating. ($20 if you need to rent skates.)

Finally, there’s the Holiday Market at the heart of the city, Union Square. Stroll through shops with the same Artisan Pledge you’ll find at Columbus Circle, and enjoy live entertainment every day. When it gets frosty, there’s a warming station, plus a kid’s craft area. Union Square Holiday Market is open daily, mid-November until Christmas eve.

Christmas in New York on Five Festive Cities with Charming Christmas Markets via

Nothing makes the holidays sparkle like handcrafted ornaments and unique gifts, and New York gives you four great places to enjoy an American Christmas Market!

Christmas Markets Around the World

Have you picked a favorite? Or is your favorite Christmas Market not on our list? Either way, we’d love to hear about it in the comments.

Special thanks to Phil & Garth, David at travelsewhere, Travel Lexx, and Lorelei, the California Globetrotter. When it comes to travel advice, these are trusted friends who know how to find the best places to visit all around the globe. Be sure to visit their blogs for more.

Phil & Garth on Five Festive Cities with Charming Christmas Markets via travelsewhere on Five Festive Cities with Charming Christmas Markets via TraveLexx on Five Festive Cities with Charming Christmas Markets via California Globetrotter on Five Festive Cities with Charming Christmas Markets via TravelLatte on Five Festive Cities with Charming Christmas Markets via

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66 comments on “Five Festive Cities with Charming Christmas Markets

  1. These all look fantastic. I will be seeing the one in New York next month! Toronto’s Distillery District’s Christmas Market is huge and is becoming truly a worldwide sensation. You should check it out as well 🙂 Thank you for coming to Fly Away Friday! See you tomorrow!

    • We have been seeing lots of great pictures from friends in Toronto at their Christmas Market. We’ll have to add that to the list next year. We’ll be enjoying more of the New York markets in December, too! It’s just so iconic. Thanks for your comment Janine – see you next on Fly Away Friday!

  2. Strasbourg is HIGH on my Christmas Market wishlist! Also Prague looks amazing! I have heard that Zadar Croatia also has amazing atmosphere and markets for the holidays. NYC is pretty darn iconic at Christmas too – love the tree and rink – even if you don’t skate! – at Rockefeller and the Bryant Park market also! Thanks for sharing and getting us all in the mood for the season! Cheers from Copenhagen, Erin #FarawayFiles

    • We are right there with you on Strasbourg! Good to know about Zadar – we’ll have to investigate. Maybe do some first person research. You know, just to be sure. 😉 Thanks so much for your comment, Erin!

  3. One of the best Christmas Market posts (if not THE) this year! Absolutely helpful and amazing pictures! I’m dying to go to one someday! Thanks for joining Fly Away Friday, hope to see you again this week! xo

    • Hi Kana – Thanks for the kind words! It was a lot of fun putting this one together with these stellar travel bloggers. And wow! They really brought it with those pictures! Thanks so much for your comment. Looking forward to another #FlyAwayFriday! 🙂

    • We haven’t been, but after reading David’s piece, we can’t wait! Soooo many Christmas Markets, so few holiday days to go see them all! Thanks for your comment, Tanja, and Happy Holidays!

  4. Lovely round up of the Christmas markets. I just love the markets in Northern Europe – there’s such a magical feel about them. I prefer the more traditional, old-fashioned ones like the ones in Germany and Austria. #FarawayFiles

    • We agree – a traditional Christkindlmarkt has a very special appeal. There’s a romance to it, as well as the ages old tradtions. We would love to explore further north – we’ve just recently be reading about markets and traditions in Estonia and Latvia, and they look fabulous! Thanks for your comment, Clare, and Happy Holidays!

    • Munich would be fantastic! Lexx definitely got us eager to visit during the holidays. Well, anytime, really! New York is great for all of the holiday traditions there, but all of those markets sure make it a great destination. Thanks for your comment, Vanessa, and Happy Holidays!

    • New York’s a good one! Besides the markets, there are so many other traditional Christmassy things to do. Thanks for the kind words – we hope you guys get to go see more of the Markets soon! Happy holidays, and thanks for your comment.

  5. I absolutely love Christmas and especially Christmas lights. I’ve only been away from home one time during Christmas and that was the year I went to Rio for the holiday. Not exactly a Christmasy place! I’d love to go to NYC or anywhere in Europe sometime during the holidays for the joy of just walking around and soaking in all of the Christmas spirit!

    • We love Christmas lights! Rob’s on a campaign to have them up all year round just because they automatically make someplace seem cheery. We’d love to get out more around the holidays – the season is so short as it is, that we usually only have time for one trip. Better than none, though! 🙂 Thanks for your comment, guys, and Happy Holidays!

  6. Pingback: An American Christkindl Market - TravelLatte

    • Mmmm! Now you’re talking! Thanks for your comment, Shona. I think we all had a lot of fun “researching” and putting this together. A great start to Happy Holidays!

  7. This post is really getting me excited about visiting some markets! I don’t think I can pick a favorite, but I love the photo of the tree in your New York Market section! Simply stunning! I’m planning on grabbing some of that mulled wine when I visit the Markets in London this season! #farawayfiles

    • Oooh – London! We have never been to a London Christmas Market, so we’re looking forward to a full report! We’ll have to do a Part 2 next year and recruit you. 😉 Thanks for your comment, Hilary, and congrats on joining the #FarawayFiles family!

    • Hehehe…you are not alone! Krakow – brilliant! We’ve heard good things about Hamburg too, but no one has mentioned Krakow to us. Thanks for the tip! And happy holidays. 🙂

    • Thanks Barry! We are privileged to have some very talented blogger friends who agreed to join us for this one. We loved reading about their favorite cities for Christmas markets, and are glad you did too! Thanks for your comment, and Happy Holidays!

  8. This is a very helpful, inspiring list! I’ve only been to the Christmas Markets in Munich and some other small cities in Germany. My favorite was the one in Bamberg, Germany. I’ve been dreaming of taking a Christmas Market tour, maybe next year or the year after, and I definitely want to include Prague! Great post. 🙂 #TheWeeklyPostcard

    • Bamberg…noted! We would love to do a tour of Christmas markets, too. We often wonder how many years it would take to see them all, since it’s really just about a month every year. We’d be willing to give it a shot, though! Thanks so much for your comment, Ava!

  9. So many wonderful Christmas Markets here, so many of them I want to visit! I have only done the one in Prague which was lovely, but I still feel I haven’t given it enough justice. Definitely want to see Vienna … and Xmas in New York is one my bucket list anyway so will be checking out the markets! Wonderful collaboration from a bunch of fabulous bloggers, thank you! #feetdotravel

    • We agree, Angie – Great group of people joining us on this one! We must say, we were kind of hoping there was some crazy Christmas Market scene in the Gilis! That would be…well, kind of surreal. 😉 We want to go visit them all, too! That would be so much fun. Thanks for your comment, and Happy Holidays!

  10. At the risk of sounding awfully ignorant here, I always thought Christmas markets were more of a European thing than anything else – so glad to find out that there are Christmas markets in the US too! I’ve been to the one in Zurich (apparently the biggest indoor Christmas market in the world) and it was so fun!! Thanks for getting me in the Christmas mood! Now I feel like having a glass of mulled wine… *goes off to google*

    • A glass of mulled wine is always a good start to the holiday spirit! 🙂 Christmas markets do seem to be a “European thing,” but they’re getting more popular in the U.S. – finally! And not just in New York. We’ll cover some of the bigger ones next week. 🙂 Happy holidays, Michelle – thanks for your comment!

    • They’re all so fun, we don’t think we could pick a favorite! We think the only reasonable thing to do is keep visiting as many as we can find. You know…for “research.” 😉 Thanks for your comment, and happy holidays!

  11. I wish Christmas markets were as big in the US as they are in Europe. Sure, some of the bigger US cities have some sort of Christmas market, but if you ask me, it’s nothing like Europe. I would love having a cute little market to go spend a day at and just enjoy the festivities. Would definitely be a great way to spend a day!

    • Hi Kiyoko – We’re with you! With so much European ancestry in the U.S., it’s a little surprising we haven’t had Christmas Markets for ages. More and more cities are getting on board though! In fact, we’ll look at more American Christmas Markets in our next post. We’re glad to see it and hope it continues to grow. Thanks for your comment!

  12. Wow, what a great collaboration of World Christmas Markets. I have not been to any Christmas Markets yet, but do love to travel in the winter to walk in the cold snowy weather. I must make my next winter travels around Christmas to visit these amazing markets on my bucket-list. I will pin this for later and am looking forward to seeing these markets. ? Thanks for sharing! #feetdotravel

    • Thanks for the Pin, Stephanie – We hope you get to do that holiday traveling soon! The collaboration was fun to work on – this lot gave us real Christmas Market Envy! 😉 As always, thanks for reading and for your comments!

  13. I’ve only been to one Christmas Market before – Denver – but I will be remedying that this year and making it to Chicago and New York’s. Traveling to a Christmas Market in Europe is way up there on my travel wish list. Gonna have to make that happen soon!

    • The Denver Christkindl is great! We’re hoping to make it to Chicago also – we love the city, but never seem to be there during the holidays. We’re with you on the European tour – would love to take the month to just hop from one market to the next. Who great would that be? Thanks for your comment, Jill!

  14. So much love! These markets are my absolute favourite. I loved the intimacy in Braunschweig… it felt like home, but with just enough of the treats and sweets found in larger markets like Munichs. The New York one looks interesting! I am super exvited that this tradition is making it’s way to North America ?. Thanks for sharing!

    • Hi Kaylee – With the number of Europeans that have settled in North America, it was sure to catch on. We’re surprised it didn’t happen ages ago! We are excited that it’s moving beyond New York, which has had great markets for quite a while. Glad you liked the little world tour, and thanks for the comments on Braunschweig. Much appreciated!

  15. I have only seen a couple of Christmas markets in Europe so far: the one in Munich and the one in Budapest. They were lovely, but I can see from your list that there are so many more to visit. I would particularly like to go to Prague around Christmas. It’s one of the most charming cities in Europe. #TheWeeklyPostcard

    • Oddly, we hadn’t thought a great deal about Munich as a Christmas Market destination, but Travel Lexx certainly set us straight! We’ve seen some photos from Budepest at Christmas, and it looks lovely also. Your right, the list is long…and the Christmas season is short! Maybe St. Nick can gift us more time to see it all? 😉 Thanks for your comment, Anda!

    • Strasbourg would be so great! We have not made it there, but Lorelei definitely moved it up a few notches on our To Do List! What’s your favorite of the markets you have been to so far? Thanks for commenting, and sharing your love for Christmas!

  16. My favourite place for Christmas markets is either Hamburg in Germany (seriously, wny German Christmas market is good) or the one I visited in Leuven, Belgium. I have heard amazing things about the huge Christmas market in Brussel too. And there is a lovely Christmas market just around the corner from my house in a large and beautiful castle (De Haar) can’t beat a Christmas Market in an ancient castle!!

    • Really? We’re going to look into the De Haar market – that sounds awesome! We’ve heard about Brussel’s market, too – perhaps something for next year. There are so many great options across Europe…we just need more time to get to them all! Thanks for the comment, Esther – and the tip on De Haar!

  17. Some beautiful cities to experience the magic of Christmas, so different from Christmas here is Australia – sunshine, BBQ’s and days at the beach.

    • Those of us in the Northern Hemisphere have such a hard time reconciling Christmas in the summer. 😉 We were hoping to find someone with a similar experience in Australia for this post, in fact, but came up empty. Maybe that’s a collaboration of its own: Christmas BBQs Across Australia? 😉 Thanks for your comment, Sally!

  18. I will visit any of these cities during the holidays without any hesitation. Last year, I went to New York for two weeks at the end of the year. I had so much fun! Everything was decorated and there were markets in different spots of the city. Will love to go back! #TheWeeklyPostcard

    • How fun! We’ll be in New York for more this year, too. Any plans for holiday travel this year? It’s almost a shame that the holiday season is so short – no time to make it to every market we’d like to enjoy. 🙁 Thanks for your comment Ruth!

      • I think I will have to pass on New York this year. We still do not know where we are going before the end of the year. My company has a paid shut down and I would have like 10 free days. I am thinking about Arizona.

        • Awwww, that’s too bad, Ruth. 🙁 Nice having the time off at the end of the year, though, and that’s a great time to visit Arizona! One of these holidays, we’ll have to get back for las Posadas in Tucson, and to see the beautiful luminarias at the missions in San Xavier and Tubac. Hmmm…I sense another Christmas post coming on! 😉 Enjoy the holidays, Ruth!

    • Oooh! Lucky you! Lolo really got us excited to go to Strasbourg…except that we don’t have any immediate plans taking us there. (Insert pouty faces here. 😉 We’ll be looking for your reports back from France. (And probably wanting to go even more!) Thanks for your comment, Cynthia.

    • Good call, Shere! Really, there are so many awesome Christmas Markets around the world that this list could have been a hundred pages long – maybe more! Thanks for the tip, and your comment.

  19. Now that I am in England I can’t wait to go to some of the Christmas markets! First up, I am actually going to Riga. I will have to visit the ones on your list at some point! #TheWeeklyPostcard.

    • You are in a good spot! Most of these European markets are not that far from you now. Plus, the English markets and fairs – you’ll get to indulge in those, too! (Yes, we’re a little jeally!) Meanwhile, can’t wait to read about Riga. Thanks for your comment, Anisa!

  20. Christmas really is the most magical time of the year. I have to admit New York City is my favorite, but that is probably because my dream is to one day have a white Christmas in New York.

    • So much fun to put together, and even more fun to read and daydream! Gotta say, we’re a little jealous that you and David will be galavanting through Vienna’s Christmas Market. Just have some yummy gluhwein for us! Thanks again for your awesome coverage of Strasbourg. We haven’t been, so it’s gotten a big bummp up on our To Do List now!

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