One of the most magical traditions around the holidays, especially in Europe, is paying a visit to a Christmas Market. There seems to be nothing more quintessentially Christmas than bouncing from stall to stall perusing handmade gifts with a mug of mulled wine or a Hot Toddy in hand. While most towns have Christmas Markets, there are some that truly stand out, and since people are all about making lists and checking them twice this time of year, we’ve made one as well. So pack your bags, get ready to drink delicious mulled wine, and head to one of these stellar Christmas Markets.
Prague, Czech Republic – Old Town Square
There are Christmas Markets littered throughout the city of Prague, but this is the city’s biggest and best. The crowds here can get large, especially at night, but that just adds to the festive atmosphere.
If Christmas Markets around the world had a capital, this would be it. There’s spiked cider, delicious sausages, and fantastic gifts. You can even grab a stein or two of beer.
This Christmas Market is held inside the famed Tivoli Gardens, and it features and incredible array of decorative lights. In Copenhagen they drink a mulled wine that includes raisins, almonds, cinnamon sticks and a shot of Aquavit for good measure.
The Christmas Market in Salzburg is one of the oldest in all of Europe, with records dating it all the way back to the 15th century. The mulled wine here is of the sweet variety, and it’s the perfect accompaniment to the idyllic setting.
While there are Christmas Markets throughout Italy, the towns in the north of the country, with the Austrian and Swiss influence, are the markets most Italians think of when it comes to Christmas. Trento, in Alto Adige, is one of the most famous. At this market you can sample local delicacies such as grilled polenta, and wash it all down with their version of a hot toddy called a Parampampoli.
This market takes all of its influence from the Christmas Makets of Germany, which makes sense, since the Germans and French have been trading this land back and forth for centuries. It’s the oldest Christmas Market in France, having been open for almost 450 years. There is of course delicious wine, including Alsacian Riesling, but what you really want to go for is a Flammekeuche, a pizza of onions, bacon and crème fraîche.
Walking around a Christmas Market with a stein of beer is one of the most traditional things you can do this time of year, and Cologne is one of the best places to do it. This market is so popular in fact, that Cologne because the second most visited city in all of Germany during this time.
The Galway Christmas Market may not have the history of some of the other markets, but what it lacks in history, it makes up for with great crafts and delicious pints of Guinness.
Almost three million people visit this market every year, and we think it’s for the market’s famous Weihnachtspunsch which is a Christmas punch made with wine, brandy, schnapps and fresh juices.
New York City, USA – Union Square
Yes this market isn’t in Europe, but it’s Christmas in New York, and that has to count for something! The market is filled with a plethora of crafts, treats, and delicious libations, perfect for fueling you through a spending frenzy.
Bethlehem has dubbed itself America’s Christmas city, and this quaint town sure puts on a show during the holidays. It’s the closest you’re going to get to a European Christmas village in the United States, so if you don’t have the time to travel across an ocean this year, head to Pennsylvania.