Guide to the Top 10 Christmas markets in Europe

It’s got to be Christmas when John Lewis releases its ad! And there’s nothing like a market to get you into the festive spirit. Why not visit one of the best Top 10 Christmas markets in Europe?

Sibiu, Romania
With new flights, new illuminations and a new sky-high Ferris wheel, Sibiu in Transylvania is predicting a big rise in bargain-hunting Brits to its traditional Christmas Market (above). The city’s medieval centre is transformed into a spectacular festive marketplace with a canopy of lights and spectacular fairy tale-themed illuminations beamed onto the surrounding buildings.
Taking centre-stage are a towering Christmas tree and a full-size, hand-sculpted nativity scene, with 100 stalls selling handcrafted gifts and food specialities from across the region. A giant Ferris wheel has been added for dramatic views of the festivities below and children’s activities include workshops with Santa, a big ice rink and miniature train.
Market dates: November 15 to January 3

Christmas markets

New: London’s Trafalgar Square has a market this year          Picture: Ben Pipe

Trafalgar Square – the site of London’s giant Christmas Tree – now has its first festive market. On the North Terrace by the entrance to the National Gallery, 34 wooden chalets are selling gifts, festival food and mulled wine and cider. The square is the perfect spot for Christmas cheer, with carol singers invited to serenade crowds throughout December.
While Trafalgar Square is London’s newest market, there are plenty more spread across the capital, including nearby Leicester Square and the bustling Southbank.
Market dates: November 8 to January 5

Christmas markets

King: Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt       Picture: Stadt Nürnberg/Uwe-Niklas

Nuremberg, Germany
Germany is the Christmas market king and one of the country’s most popular and oldest is the Christkindlesmarkt, which has been held in Nuremberg since the 16th century.
More than 180 stalls are decorated with fairy lights and the market is awash with smells of roasted almonds and bratwurst – Nuremberg is famed for its sausages. Stocking fillers to snap up include tiny ceramic houses, soaps made from sheep’s milk and extraordinary candles.
Market dates: November 29 to December 24

Christmas markets

Colourful: Kayaks sail Copenhagen’s canals     Picture: Wonderful Copenhagen

Copenhagen, Denmark
Copenhagen’s best Christmas market is the Winter Wonderland at Tivoli Gardens, which is transformed with thousands of lights, traditional wooden shacks, a steam train and carriages packed with food and gift ideas, and a 10-metre tree decorated with 3,000 Swarovski crystals.
Across the city, festive highlights include St Lucy’s Kayak Parade on December 13, when hundreds of boats are decorated to glide across the harbour and canals as the kayakers sing carols, plus the outdoor skating rinks at Frederiksberg Runddel, Toftegårds Plads and the Nimb Hotel. Shop for the popular pixie decorations and don’t miss the aebleskiver (apple dumplings) and glögg (mulled wine).
Market dates: November 16 to January 5

Christmas markets

Treats: At the Christmas market in Münsterplatz            Picture: Basel Tourism

Basel, Switzerland
Basel’s Christmas market is a great choice for foodies experimenting with different tastes for the season. Among the mouthwatering treats to discover are Swiss raclette (melted cheese served with potatoes and dried meats), Basel Läckerli (gingerbread made with honey, nuts and fruit peel), Flammkuchen (a thin pizza) and glühwein (mulled wine).
Basel’s main markets are at Barfüsserplatz and Münsterplatz, with 160 stalls selling handmade wooden toys, jewellery and ceramics.
Market dates: November 28 to December 23

Christmas markets

Gifts galore: Strasbourg Christmas market        Picture: Philippe de Rexel/STO

Strasbourg, France
France’s oldest Christmas market is in Strasbourg, where more than 300 wooden stalls sell speciality foods and wines from across Alsace, and Christmas gifts include wooden toys, jewellery and perfume.
The main event is called Christkindelsmärik and takes place around the famous Cathedral with smaller fairs spread across the city centre – they include a market dedicated to small producers of Alsace and Children’s World at Place Saint Thomas.
Market dates: November 22 to December 30

Christmas markets

Oldest: Vienna Christmas market                              Picture: Harald-Eisenberger

Vienna, Austria
Dating back to 1290, Vienna’s Christmas market is the oldest in Europe and features 20 official locations spread across the city. Stalls sell a huge array of gifts that include traditional handicrafts, art, ceramics, warm jumpers, rugs and jewellery.
Favourite festive foods include freshly baked Vanillekipferl (vanilla pretzels) and hot punch. The biggest market is located outside of picturesque City Hall, which is also used as a base for children’s workshops, and there’s an extraordinary ice rink constructed in the central Rathausplatz.
Market dates: November 15 to December 26.

Christmas markets

Double: Prague has two main Christmas markets                 Picture: Prague City

Prague, Czech Republic
Prague’s two main markets include one at Wenceslaus Square, named after the ‘good King’ himself. The second is at Old Town Square, where there is a mighty Christmas tree and a stable of sheep, goats and donkeys providing a traditional nativity scene.
Both squares have daily switch-on ceremonies for their impressive light displays, and locals keep warm with hot honey wine or grog (a mixture of rum, water, lemon and sugar), and spit-roasted hams, barbequed sausages, potato pancakes and hot sugar-coated pastries.
Market dates: November 30 to January 6

Christmas markets

Favourite: Stockholm Christmas market                Picture: Richard von Hofsten

Stockholm, Sweden
The world’s oldest open-air museum, Skansen, has hosted a Christmas Market for over 100 years old and it has become a favourite of festive Swedes.
The market square is filled with stalls selling traditional sausages, cheeses, spices and essences, while the historical houses and farmsteads are decorated to show how families celebrated in years gone by.
Market dates: November 30 to December 22

Christmas markets

Local crafts: At Budapest Christmas market       Picture: KarácsonyiVásár_bftk

Budapest, Hungary
Budapest’s biggest Christmas Market is the 150-stall setting at Vorosmarty Square on the Pest side of the Danube. There’s a team dedicated to ensuring gifts have been crafted locally with blown glass, leather belts and bags, and Hungarian embroidery and lace work among the specialities.
Warming meals include goulash served in a bowl of bread and there are free concerts celebrating traditional dance and live music.
Market dates: November 8 to January 1