Our Favourite European Christmas Markets
At Jules Verne we’ve been lucky enough to experience some of the best Christmas markets Europe has to offer. We have tours which offer the chance to visit Christmas markets; Christmas Markets on the Danube, Winter in Tirol and Christmas on the Rhine.
Here are our choices for the best ones to visit this advent:
Despite being a relatively small town, the capital of Tirol, Austria is home to half a dozen Christmas markets between the end of November and Christmas Eve. The whole town is filled with sparkling lights, the scent of Christmas spices, and the sound of traditional carols. Of all the markets that line the streets of Innsbruck, our favourite is the Old Town Christmas market, where local craftsmen display handmade ornaments and other crafts. The main draw is its fairy-tale location, nestled among medieval ramparts alongside the famous golden roof, which is tiled with nearly 3000 fire-gilded copper tiles and covers a decorated wooden balcony that overlooks the main square. The Glühwein, or Austrian mulled wine, and Kiachln, a type of doughnut eaten during advent, also contribute to the festive atmosphere.
The old farming village of Seefeld in the Austrian mountains plays host to one of the most charming Christmas markets on our list. Located on a sunny plateau above Innsbruck, it’s an idyllic place to stay in the winter with authentic alpine charm and snow-capped market booths. Enjoy gingerbread fresh from the oven and browse the displays of trinkets which line the entire pedestrianised area. Although the market tends to be crowded, with many tourists travelling from all over the world to visit, a jovial atmosphere still shines through.
If Austria is the spiritual home of the Christmas market, Vienna is the capital of the Austrian Christmas market scene. Christmas markets are a long-held tradition in Vienna, with the forerunners of today’s markets gathering since the Middle Ages. The historic streets are the perfect backdrop for the markets, the largest of which is found in the City Hall. Indulge in soft, sweet Christmas cookies, paper bags of roasted chestnuts, and the sounds of acclaimed choirs serenading you with carols. Another favourite is the Spittelberg Christmas Market which embraces the arts-and-crafts feel of its Biedermeier surroundings, and is the perfect place to find gifts including ceramics, knitwear, and handmade jewellery.
The Christmas market in BudapestA Musical Christmas on the Danube bills itself as a Christmas festival, and with over 200 acts performing throughout its duration, it’s easy to see why. Most musical genres are covered by the extensive line up, with the most popular being local artists interpreting traditional Christmas music. The fair also boasts many culinary delights, including Hungarian seasonal specialities such as stuffed goose thigh, goulash with prunes, and sticky, sweet Sekler cake. The whole city embraces the Christmas spirit, with smaller markets lining side streets, and decorations as far as the eye can see. Even the local trams are bedecked in sparkling lights. Be sure to catch tram no. 2 which runs along the Danube and has wonderful views.
The Christmas market in Bratislava has a special Slovak flavour. The stalls jostle for position in the main square, brimming with crafts, ornaments and gifts. The scent of baked goods and seasonal food fills the air. Particular favourites include the rich honey biscuits, the thick, wholesome soups, and potato pancakes, as well as the various Christmas punches available. There are also regular performances of folk music and dancing, as well as carols sung by local groups and children’s choirs, perfectly completing the festive experience.