If you’re one of those average members of the human race, you probably don’t love queuing for half an hour for an old bratwurst that costs a fiver and a mulled wine that tastes like a pungent candle. Christmas markets have been popping up everywhere recently, and while lovely, a lot of them are guilty of straying away from the real deal, being incredibly overcrowded, and leaning towards the pricier side of things. We aren’t naming any names here, but one guilty party, in particular, sounds something like shminter shmunderland. We want you to get your festive jollies on so here are some enchanting little markets in Europe.
Basilica Christmas Market, Budapest
Budapest pretty much looks like it was made to be covered in ornaments and gingerbread all year round, but they really bring out the big guns this time of year. Their Basilica Christmas Market is located outside of the beautiful St. Stephen’s Basilica, which (fun fact) is one of the largest churches in Hungary. You can soak in some history, browse their hundred stalls for local delicacies, and even go ice skating. Top tip: even though it may seem like an excellent idea, ice skating after a few mulled wine is not a good plan.
The Christkindlesmarkt draws in visitors annually with their rum punch, sugar-glazed roasted almonds and the traditional sausages that make the city so famous. Christkindlesmarkt was first mentioned in writing in 1628 and is one of the oldest markets in Germany, so you’re basically guaranteed an authentic experience. It opens on the 30th of November, right before the first advent. Expect a very cute children’s choir, lots of fancy dress and the best damn nuts you’ve ever put in your mouth.
Gendarmenmarkt Christmas Market, Berlin
It’s a well-known fact that the Germans excel at all things Christmas. The cookies, in particular, are a massive showstopper. But when you think of Berlin, you usually associate it with döners and parties, not tinsel and chocolate covered treats. Don’t let the city’s reputation fool you; they have a vast variety of themed markets popping up during November and December. There are enough themes to keep everyone happy, but the Gendarmenmarkt is an all-around crowd pleaser. It’s held in one of Berlin’s prettiest squares and has jugglers, jazz, temporary indoor restaurants, and countless stands. You definitely have to get your hands on some Flammkuchen while you’re there.
St. Gallen Christmas Market, St. Gallen
St.Gallen may be off the beaten track, but the gorgeous Swiss town is only an hours drive away from Zurich, and it is certainly worth the journey. Located near the Bodensee and snowy mountaintops, this destination is the perfect place to get all merry. It’s referred to by locals as the ‘city of stars’ during the holiday period, referencing the 700 stars they drape over their streets. Their market covers a lot of ground, stretching from Waaghaus all the way to Market Square. You can get involved with some raclette, or even sample mulled beer. If you’re lucky, you’ll even get to see Santa and his little helpers parade through the town.
The Old Town Christmas Market, Stockholm
Gamla Stan is Stockholm’s old town, and one of the largest maintained medieval city sectors in all of Europe, which basically means it’s like a page out of a fairy tale. Every year the old town transforms into a snowy, traditional market with traditional glögg (mulled wine), smoked sausages, Swedish sweets, and even reindeer and elk meat. While eating Rudolph may not seem like a festive thing to do, it’s a local tradition.
Freyung Christmas Market, Vienna
This market may be small in size, but it is incredibly broad in what it offers. This is the market that locals tend to go to. It’s incredibly family friendly, offering entertainment for the little ones, and it has everything you could possibly want; local cuisine, baked goods, drinks to keep you warm, and some last minute gift shopping inspiration.