Celebrating Advent and the Christmas season is one of Europe’s longest traditions. But these days it’s more than just a tradition. Christmas is a social event for friends and family to get together after work or on the weekends leading up to Christmas Day and often includes time spent at the local Christmas market.
I’ve been fortunate to live much of my life in Europe, where visiting the Christmas markets is a winter highlight. In this guide, I share my views on the best Christmas markets in Europe for 2022.
Best Christmas Markets in Europe 2022
It really is difficult to choose the best as every city has something special to offer. But you can’t go wrong spending Christmas in one of these incredible cities.
1. Dresden, Germany
Dresden Christmas Market – The oldest Christmas market in Europe is in one of the most beautiful cities in all of Germany. Dresden gets my vote for the best Christmas market for its stunning location, historic market, delicious food from around the world and relatively low prices.
2. Vienna, Austria
Vienna Christmas Market – As one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, Vienna’s Christmas markets are stunning and include the famous Schoenbrunn Palace market, the popular Town Hall Market and many smaller markets in the city’s different districts.
3. Manchester, England
Manchester Christmas markets – Honestly, having visited Manchester a couple of times, I never imagined it would one day be home to one of the most fun Christmas markets in Europe. But yes, it’s a huge event that is massively popular with both locals and visitors. It’s great for skating, the Giant Santa and delicious food.
4. Strasbourg, France
Strasbourg Christmas Market – If you would prefer to visit a smaller city with a fairytale old town with half-timber houses and romantic canals, Strasbourg is a great option. In the heart of Alsace, Strasbourg is a foodie’s paradise and wonderful to visit all year round, not just at Christmas.
5. Prague, Czechia
Prague Christmas Market – One of the most dynamic and exciting cities in Central Europe, Prague is home to a mix of modern and traditional Christmas markets. Prague is a relatively affordable destination with great food and complex history.
6. Zurich, Switzerland
Zurich Christmas Market – Switzerland is famous for its cosy winter festivals and Zurich is home to the best. The old town streets are lined with timber Christmas stalls selling delicious food like raclette (served as melted cheese on a baguette), handmade gifts made by local Swiss artisans and traditional decorations.
7. Budapest, Hungary
Budapest Christmas Market – One of Europe’s great cities, Budapest is beautiful, historic, affordable and packed with markets and events over the winter period. Budapest may not be a traditional Christmas destination but is now one of the most popular winter destinations in Europe.
8. Ljubljana, Slovenia
Ljubljana Christmas Market – Slovenia’s capital is an adorable historic city situated on a winding river lined with Christmas stalls. Ljubljana is a modern market with sustainably produced organic food, locally made eco-friendly gifts and a bonus of great views from the hilltop castle.
9. Edinburgh, Scotland
Edinburgh Christmas Market – Edinburgh has a brilliant Christmas market, great nightlife, the fascinating Edinburgh Castle and incredible winter events like the Hogmanay Festival.
10. Krakow, Poland
Krakow Christmas Market – Christmas markets are a relatively new event in Poland but the longest-standing one takes place in the main market square in Krakow. You can try unique Polish dishes like pierogies and smoked cheese while drinking flavoured vodka or traditional mulled wine.
Best Christmas Markets in Germany
- Dresden – Dresden is a smaller city in the east of Germany close to Prague, Berlin, Nuremberg and Wroclaw. You could visit a couple of these cities in one trip or stay and explore the historic city, its top museums and the oldest Christmas market in Europe.
- Nuremberg – Nuremberg is a historic city with half-timbered houses, classic food and excellent museums. The market is one of the largest, oldest and most traditional in the world. Nuremberg is popular with families as they have a market dedicated to children’s activities.
- Munich – One thing that puts Munich ahead of other Christmas market destinations is simply the number and variety of markets to choose from. Munich has everything from a Medieval-style market, a Pink Christmas market and the alternative Tollwood Winter Festival.
- Bamberg Christmas Market – Known for its historic architecture that dates from the 11th to the 19th century, it’s a wonderfully walkable city that can be visited in a day or two. The highlight is the nativity scene that changes from week to week throughout Advent.
Best Christmas Markets in Austria
- Vienna – One of the top reasons for choosing Vienna as your Christmas holiday destination is the huge number of Christmas markets that run at the same time. You can visit a different market each day and attend classical music concerts and choir singing as well as visit all the typical Viennese attractions.
- Salzburg Christmas Market – Salzburg is one of the most charming destinations in Austria, the pedestrianised centre is lined with boutique shops, you can walk through the Mirabell gardens to visit the palace and take the fortress funicular to visit the castle and enjoy the views over the city.
- Hallstatt – Hallstatt is one of the most picturesque villages in Austria. Situated on a lake surrounded by snow-capped mountains, the scenery is breathtaking and the short-lived Christmas market adds to the charm.
My guide to the Christmas markets in Austria goes into a lot more detail of what you can expect to do.
Best Christmas Markets in the UK
- Edinburgh – Edinburgh has a great Christmas market with so much to do and see throughout November, December and after the New Year.
- Manchester – The markets in Manchester are massively popular and the city is teeming with festivities throughout December.
- Birmingham Christmas Market – This market is known as Birmingham’s Frankfurt Christmas Market. It’s the largest Christmas market outside of Germany and Austria.
- Bath Christmas Market – The historic city of Bath is worth visiting all year round but especially for a winter break. Stay in a romantic bed and breakfast, explore the Roman baths during the day and then visit the festive markets in the evening.
My list of the best Christmas Markets in the UK should provide you with plenty of inspiration for a Christmas getaway or local celebration.
Best Christmas Markets in Belgium
- Brussels Christmas Market – For the most options for things to see and do in Belgium, visit Brussels and its lively Christmas markets. The main market is in Grand Place, the centre square lined with elaborate architecture with gold touches. The Grand Place is one of the most exquisite squares in Europe and the rest of the city is busy with events over Christmas and New Year’s.
- Bruges Christmas Market – In spring, Bruges is known for its flower-lined canals but in winter, visitors focus on the Flemish architecture, an abundance of excellent restaurants, small museums and the popular Christmas market.
- Ghent Christmas Market – Ghent is similar to Bruges in that the old town is built around canals lined with historic architecture. The difference is Ghent is quieter with fewer tourists so it’s a great option if you want to experience a less crowded Flemish city.
Best Christmas Markets in Switzerland
- Zurich Christmas Market – Advent events take place all over the city from late November until New Year’s Eve. The festive Christkindlimarkt is held inside Zurich’s central train station, while the traditional Christmas market in Niederdorf is Zurich’s oldest and is known as the Village Christmas Market.
- Lausanne – Bô Noël brings Lausanne to life during the four weeks of Advent by showcasing local creations in all their forms.
- Basel Christmas Market – Basel is Switzerland’s cultural and Christmas capital. The Christmas Market takes place across two main squares in the Old Town but the rest of the city is also decorated with Christmas decorations and pretty lights.
Best Christmas Markets in France
- Strasbourg – The German and Alsatian influence mixed with French traditions and one of the prettiest cities in France make Strasbourg a great choice for a winter getaway. Strasbourg is the most popular Christmas market destination in France and rightly so.
- Lille Christmas Market – Less well known as a Christmas market destination, Lille’s market is compact but high quality. Lille is a great destination for foodies, museum-goers and those looking for a quieter winter city holiday.
- Paris – Of course, the French capital has plenty to offer over Christmas and New Year. The Parisian Christmas markets are possibly more touristy and commercial than elsewhere but Paris is never a bad idea.
Best Christmas Markets in Poland
- Krakow – Krakow’s Christmas Market is the most popular and the best Christmas market in Poland. It’s located on Rynek Glowny, the 13th-century square in the centre of the old town. You can shop for handmade gifts at the market or the boutique shops in Kazimierz.
- Gdansk Christmas Market – The Gdansk Christmas Market is a stunning and unique market thanks to its Baltic Sea location. Forming part of Poland’s Tricity region alongside Sopot and Gdynia, its Hanseatic history adds to the cultural appeal of the city.
- Warsaw Christmas Market – As Poland’s vibrant capital, it’s not surprising there are several Christmas markets in Warsaw. There’s not just the traditional event in the Old Town Market Square but contemporary Christmas markets in Praga, Warsaw’s alternative neighbourhood.
For the latest on the Christmas markets in Poland, read my guides to each of Poland’s wonderful cities.
Best Christmas Markets in Italy
- Bologna Christmas Market – Bologna is the foodie capital of the Emilia-Romagna region and in my opinion all of Italy. The Bologna market is a historic market in the city centre with food events taking place over the entire winter period. If you love Italian food, visit Bologna.
- Venice – Venice’s Christmas market has artisan products like local Murano glass, traditional carnival masks and great tapas-style food. It doesn’t hurt that Venice is one of the most unique and stunning locations in the world.
- Milan Christmas Market – If you want a big city winter holiday with boutique shopping, classy Italian food and popular events, Milan has a lot to offer.
Best Christmas Markets in Northern Europe
- Copenhagen Christmas Market – Copenhagen is home to a lovely Christmas market in front of the Town Hall or you can enjoy the family atmosphere at the Tivoli Gardens. Walking along the lit-up Nyhavn in December will round out your Danish experience.
- Stockholm Christmas Market – A great city to visit all year round, Stockholm has excellent museums and galleries, a scenic archipelago, indoor shopping areas where you can stay warm and pretty decorations to get you in the Christmas spirit.
- Tallinn Christmas Market – The most beautiful city in the Baltic States, Tallinn has one of the most well-preserved historic old towns with cobblestone streets and a huge Christmas market in the main city square. Tallinn is relatively affordable, there are lots to do in the city and places worth visiting just outside. You can even take a day trip to Helsinki to experience the Finnish winter markets.
- Riga Christmas Market – It may not be the most visited of cities but Riga is underrated and deserves more attention. Riga is cheap to get to and cheap once you get there. The city centre is walkable and charming with cafe-lined streets and incredible Art Nouveau architecture.
- Vilnius Christmas Market – The Vilnius Christmas Market (known as Christmas Town) is the highlight of winter in Lithuania with Cathedral Square being home to one of the most stunning Christmas trees in the world.
Best Christmas Markets in Southeastern Europe
- Zagreb – The Croatian capital Zagreb has probably the most traditional of the Balkans Christmas markets. Zagreb is a quiet city, especially in winter but it’s cute and compact, perfect for a winter markets break.
- Sibiu Christmas Market – You might not think of Romania when it comes to Xmas markets but historic destinations like Brasov and Sibiu are charming and relatively cheap destinations with small markets and interesting food.
- Tirana – Yes, even Albania has Christmas markets these days. I wouldn’t go just for the market stalls but Tirana is always a fun city to visit and very unusual compared to elsewhere!
Those are my recommendations for Christmas markets to visit in 2022. As you can see, there are many options so I can understand it’s a difficult decision!
I suggest picking one of the top 10 markets to start with or choosing your preferred country first and then taking it from there.
Sustainable Travel Tips
The choices we make have an environmental and social impact on the places we visit. When visiting the Christmas markets, it’s important to keep sustainability in mind.
Implement some or all of these simple measures to create a positive impact.
- Shop mindfully. Only purchase what you really need.
- Walk, cycle and use public transport to get around.
- Stay in a sustainable hotel powered by renewable energy.
- Stay in hotels. Short-stay apartment accommodation can lead to a lack of affordable housing for locals.
- Avoid using plastic or buying items made or packaged with plastic.
- Try to eat locally sourced organic food where possible.
- Limit your consumption of meat and dairy.
- Be open to diverse cultures and experiences.
- Explore more than just the main tourist areas.
- Support the arts and attend local events.
- Visit fewer places but stay longer at each destination.
25th November to 24th December 2022.
This is completely subjective but I think you’ll find the best Christmas markets in the world in Germany, Austria, Belgium and the United Kingdom.
This is debated as there have been several Christmas-like markets in existence throughout history. Germany’s Christkindlmarkts are generally believed to be the first with Dresden Christmas Market being the first true Christmas market as we understand them to be today. They became popular in the 16th century and you can now find them in almost every city in Europe.
Travel Tip: Read my guides to help plan your Christmas holiday or winter break.
Play your trip – everything you need to know before you go.
Christmas market tours – get local insights into the destination and culture.
Best Christmas hotels – book a hotel recommended by our travel experts.