With the festive season right around the corner, you’re no doubt wondering about the best Christmas markets in Europe. Since the custom originated in Germany during the Middle Ages, these open-air markets have become a roaring success across the continent.
When temperatures plummet, there’s no better way to warm up than over a glühwein or eggnog with tasty grub. Besides, if you want to get ahead of your Christmas shopping, you can also browse beautiful gift items and custom decorations at the same time.
Attend one of these markets and you’re sure to have the best Christmas in Europe!
What date are the European Christmas markets in 2022?
Christmas markets in Europe usually start at the end of November and run either until Christmas Eve or right after New Year’s Eve. They’re at their liveliest in December with evenings and weekends typically bringing the biggest crowds.
For each listing in this guide, you can find the dates for the European Christmas markets in 2022.
How to visit the European Christmas markets
The Christmas markets in Europe usually open from the late morning until around 11 pm. During the day, conditions are quieter with fewer crowds.
However, the atmosphere is more buoyant in the evenings when the lights sparkle, music often plays, and hot wine flows freely. If possible, it’s worth visiting a market during daylight hours to shop for trinkets, and returning in the evening for food, drink, and general merriment.
9 Best Christmas Markets in Europe
Read on for a selection of the best Christmas markets in Europe.
1. Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt, Germany
Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt is credited with being one of the oldest European Christmas markets. Therefore, if you’re intrigued by the history behind the festive markets, this is one to add to your radar.
The modern-day market closely follows the inaugural event that started in 1628. Every year, a local woman with blonde ringlets is chosen to perform the role of the Nuremberg Christkind. This figure dons a long white gown and a golden crown and symbolizes gift-giving.
It’s a voluntary post, and you can expect to spot the Christkind at the opening ceremony and make regular appearances throughout the market.
Stalls at Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt focus on old-fashioned toys, artisanal gifts, and culinary specialties. Nuremberg bratwurst is prepared on an open beech wood fire.
You’ll notice that these are far smaller than the German sausages sold at other markets. In fact, this only adds to the flavor! Plus, they’re usually served three to a bun. Do also leave room for locally made gingerbread products and Spekulatius almond cookies.
This year’s event: 25 November 2022 to 24 December 2022
2. Prague Old Town Square Market, Czech Republic
As one of the prettiest capital cities, Prague ranks high as one of the best Christmas destinations in Europe. Come late November, the city is teeming with a string of markets to take your pick from.
However, Old Town Square (Staroměstské náměstí) marks the setting for the principal event. As this is where you’ll find such stunning landmarks as the Church of Our Lady before Týn (Chrám Matky Boží před Týnem), the market has even more charm.
Vendors sell the full works of your typical yuletide bites plus Czech delicacies including Prague ham (Pražská šunka); cured, stewed, and beechwood-smoked to create a delectable flavor.
Do gravitate toward anyone selling trdelník. This spit cake is wrapped around a stick and then rolled in cinnamon, sugar, and walnut – and a dash of mulled wine on occasion. Prague is one of the best Christmas markets in Europe for food you’ll not find anywhere else!
Because the Old Town Square market trickles into the nearby Wenceslas Square; you can visit these in tandem.
In addition, if you are prepared to travel a little further afield, you can check out some of the smaller Christmas markets in Prague. Tylovo Náměstí Christmas Market is a weekly farmers market behind the Národní Muzeum that ramps up its offering in December with traditional Czech street eats. Elsewhere, the Náměstí Republiky usually has a smaller pop-up market.
This year’s event: 26 November 2022 – 6 January 2023
3. Innsbruck Old Town Christmas Market, Austria
Austria is one of those countries that, like Germany, is synonymous with Christmas cheer and winter wonderlands come December. Christmas markets flood all the cities, but Innsbruck nabs the top spot for Europe Christmas markets in Austria.
The Old Town Christmas Market is the flagship festival, located in front of the Golden Roof (Goldenes Dach) in the heart of the historic center. Surrounded by medieval buildings, the mountains rise in the background to create a thoroughly alpine atmosphere best appreciated at dusk.
Christmas ornaments, children’s toys, clothing, and handicrafts, are sold alongside traditional Austrian and German dishes. Look out for potato pancakes (kartoffelpuffer), stuffed pastries (krapfen), and sweet and savory doughnuts (kiachln). Meanwhile, brass bands add to the ambiance as they play from the Golden Roof.
Other markets in Innsbruck include the modern-centric Maria Theresien Straße Christmas Market on the city’s glamorous shopping boulevard. Elsewhere, the family-friendly Christmas Market at Marktplatz appeals to kids with its petting zoo and activities.
This year’s event: 15 November 2022 to 23 December 2022
4. Christmas in Tivoli Gardens, Denmark
Christmas in Tivoli Gardens is an outstanding celebration of the festive holiday and winter in general. Around 15 trees are placed in Copenhagen’s central amusement park and illuminated with lights and baubles. Snow-dusted cabins serve hot food, drinks, and high-quality gifts.
You’ll need to pay an admission fee of 145 Kr ($19) on weekdays and 155 Kr ($20) on weekends to enter the grounds. It’s a little cheaper for kids, at 60 Kr ($7.80). Once you’re in, you can hop on any rides (payable in Danish krone at the attraction) and gorge on food and drink.
In addition to Tivoli, you will find a scattering of other Christmas markets in Copenhagen. Do also swing by King’s New Square Christmas Market (Julemarked Kongens Nytorv) and the Freetown Christiania Christmas Market. These ones are free to visit so will suit budget-minded travelers.
Bearing in mind that Denmark is a pricier getaway, Tivoli is one of the best Xmas markets in Europe if you’re not tethered to a tight budget. Even at the free-admission markets, prices for food and gifts are higher than elsewhere in the continent.
This year’s event: 18 November 2022 to 31 December 2022
5. Hyde Park Winter Wonderland, UK
Winter Wonderland is one of several Christmas markets in London. Located in Hyde Park, the market is a full-blown yuletide extravaganza with an ice skating rink, theatrical shows, roller coasters, rides, and live music acts. In fact, the food and gift stalls almost take a back seat! But, rest assured you can get your fill of bratwurst, mulled cider, and hot whisky as well as an array of international eats.
The vibe at Winter Wonderland is inclusive to all ages and attracts a spread of families, couples, and groups of friends and co-workers. It’s one of the most popular things to do in London in winter for Londoners and tourists alike.
Note that other markets in London tend to be slightly less crowded and have a comparable atmosphere.
However, due to the presence of funfair rides, Winter Wonderland is one of the best Christmas markets in Europe for thrillseekers. Do also check out the Southbank Winter Market, Covent Garden, and Christmas by the River at London Bridge City.
If you want to visit Winter Wonderland during peak hours, you will need to pre-book a ticket online and pay for admission. However, if you choose an off-peak time slot, there is no fee. Besides, this way you can escape the crowds and avoid queuing for the rides.
This year’s event: 18 November 2022 to 2 January 2013
6. Berlin Christmas Markets, Germany
Germany, on the whole, constitutes one of the best Christmas destinations in Europe. While you can rock up in practically any German city and find a spread of markets, Berlin shines as the best all-rounder.
Berlin’s festive markets, pop-ups, and special events reflect the country’s heritage while honoring the contemporary identity of the capital. You can easily spend a long weekend in Berlin hopping around a selection.
Berliner Weihnachtszeit is perhaps the most diverse, with its ice rink and amusement rides. Occupying the space between the Rotes Rathaus (Berlin City Hall) and St. Marienkirche, the market has an old-worldly backdrop with a life-size nativity scene laid out among the stalls and trees. The food offering is an assortment of bratwurst, smoked salmon, stuffed bread (Handbrot), and mead.
Meanwhile, the Botanical Garden is reimagined as the Christmas Garden Berlin with a dazzling array of lights and illuminated trees. The Advent Market at the Domäne Dahlem requires a train ride but its setting at a historic farm makes it worth the journey.
This year’s event: Berlin’s markets take place throughout December with some running only on select weekends. The Berliner Weihnachtszeit runs from 21 November 2022 to 1 January 2023, while the Christmas Garden Berlin runs from 16 November 2022 until 15 January 2023.
7. Vörösmarty Square Christmas Market, Hungary
Not only is Budapest one of the best places to visit in Europe in December, but it’s also home to some of the most magical Christmas markets in Europe.
Vörösmarty Square (Vörösmarty tér) is the star of the show when it comes to festivities in Budapest. A huge tree is erected in the heart of the plaza and there’s usually a stage where music performances take place throughout the festival. Best of all, Hungarian food was made for Christmas and will take the edge off a chilly night!
Tuck into lángos, a fried bread topped with sour cream, shredded cheese, and toppings of your choice. Generally, these include sausages or bacon but there are usually vegetarian options as well. You will also find the likes of goulash (gulyás) and chimney cake (kürtőskalács). The latter is associated with Czech cuisine but the recipe originates from Hungary.
If you’re feeling courageous, you can sample pálinka, a pungent spirit that is toned down with fruity flavorings. And, naturally, mulled wine (forralt bor) flows. After eating your body weight in seasonal grub, you can wind down at the ruin bars of Budapest.
This year’s event: 24 November 2022 to 1 January 2023
8. Helsinki Christmas Market, Finland
Helsinki’s main Christmas market, Tuomaan Markkinat, takes place in Senate Square. This market draws on the classic German elements however the organizers are known to add a Finish twist to the offering.
In fact, you can even experience a traditional Finish sauna right in the heart of the square! This unisex sauna is accessible for a small fee (usually, €5) and includes towel hire. So if you’re seeking European Christmas markets with a touch of luxury, this might be the one for you.
Beyond the sauna, you can appreciate the colossal tree in the heart of the square, take a spin on the carousel, and play games.
Helsinki is one of the best Christmas markets in Europe for vegans. Food on sale is heavily sourced from local providers and focuses on organic ingredients, in keeping with the sustainable values of the market. Wash down any food can with glögg, available in a wide variety of flavors.
This year’s event: 1 December 2022 to 22 December 2022
9. Trento Christmas Market, Italy
Trento is a small town at the foot of the Dolomites in Northern Italy. Surrounded by the magnificent mountain range, Trento is the perfect destination in summer for a hiking and road-tripping excursion. However, in the middle of November, the town is transformed into a festive wonderland.
Christmas markets take place in Piazza Fiera and Piazza Cesare Battisti. Traditional wooden huts are erected where you can find handcrafted gifts including wood-carved ornaments and magical tree decorations. In the evenings, you can expect live music performances while you browse.
Standard German bites are sold alongside Trentino delicacies and Italian favorites. Expect to find cheeses from the Trentino region alongside preserves and bakery items that you can take home. As with the Helsinki Christmas Market, Trento is known for its commitment to sustainable practices and minimal to zero waste.
Trento is actually one of several towns within the mountain range for Europe Christmas markets. If you are considering a winter road trip around the region, you can also check out Bolzano in South Tyrol.
This year’s event: 19 November 2022 to 8 January 2023