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Best Christmas Markets around Europe worth checking out

Christmas markets have a long rich history dating back to the late middle ages, where the first market was believed to have originated from Vienna in 1294. Today, all over Europe, you’ll find stalls set up in pedestrian zones, with a lively carnival-like atmosphere, filled with singing and dancing. The stalls offer an assortment of one-of-a-kind ornaments, to handmade gifts to yuletide favourites like hot mulled wine and eggnog, and the smell of roasted chestnuts wafting through the air. Now with cheap flights from Singapore, there hasn’t been a better time to partake in these charming time-honoured traditions. Winter in Europe is a wonderful time to visit and there are hundreds of beautiful markets to see. Here's a list of Skyscanner's best destinations for the perfect Christmas holidays.

1. Berlin & Dresden, Germany

Christmas market in Berlin
Every Christmas Market in Berlin is worth checking out.

German Christmas Markets are among some of the most renowned in Europe, with famous names in every city, particularly popular ones like Munich, Cologne, Frankfurt and Nuremberg. This presents endless places to indulge in German favourites like gluhwein (mulled warmed wine) or take generous swigs of beer, as you munch on festive sweet breads.

In Berlin alone, there are more than 50 wonderful markets dotting the streets, with the Christmas Market at Kaiser Wilhelm taking pole position as the largest market raking in over two million visitors annually.

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Christmas Market in Dresden
Everything is pretty and festive at the Christmas Market in Dresden.

Over at Dresden, The Striezelmarkt at Dresden’s Altmarkt Square is one of the oldest Christmas markets in Germany, dating back more than 500 years ago. Get your cameras ready for the “Christmas Pyramid” in the middle of the market – the tallest in the world at a majestic 14m height. If you’ll like a memento to bring home, you’ll find plenty of wood-carved ornaments at the stands. Other than the signature stollen, grab a little pflaumentoffel (plum devil), a cute good luck charm fashioned from prunes – to be eaten after Christmas!

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2. Salzburg, Austria

Castle-looking buildings behind water lit up at night in Salzburg
Spend a romantic and lovely winter in Salzburg.

The Christkindlmarkt in Salzburg is one of Europe’s oldest markets, standing proudly in front of the Salzburg cathedral, flanked by the Hohensalzburg Fortress for a larger-than-life feel. Revel in the Baroque architecture as you get to know the rich history of the place. If the name Salzburg rings a bell, it’s because it’s because its more famously known as the birthplace of Mozart. True to its musical affiliation, you can expect wonderfully orchestrated performances by some of Europe’s most talented student musicians.

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3. Brussels, Belgium

Christmas Market in Brussels
Christmas in Brussels is amazing. Photo credit: DFDS
 

For a bustling Christmas-time, don’t miss the merry-making with Plaisirs d’hiver (Winter Wonders), with over 200 stalls along from the streets of Grand’Place right down to Ste-Catherine. Spread over two kilometres, trod along to find everything from arts and crafts, to food and drinks, in charming little wooden huts. There’s even a skating rink – 200-feet worth to do loops and jumps!

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4. Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona Christmas Market
Get lost in the festivities of Barcelona. Photo credit: Easy Booking Group

Located at the Avinguda de la Catedral, the Fira de Santa Llúcia celebrates over 200 years of history, growing in size to host more than 300 stalls today. From mistletoe to fresh Christmas trees, this is one huge fair where you’ll be able to find almost everything Christmas and more. For those with little ones, zoom straight for the popular Caga tió (shitting log), a big piece of wood that releases presents when beaten with a stick. Looking for a novel gift? Don’t miss the Catalan caganer, interestingly the most popular figure in the Nativity scene – an entertaining small figure with his pants around his ankles, caught in the act of defecation.

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5. Budapest, Hungary

Christmas Market in Budapest
Everyone will find something to enjoy here.

From mid-November onwards, visit the Budapest Christmas Market for the best Budapest has to offer – in the pretty cottage stalls of Vörösmarty tér, a public square in the Budapest city centre named after a beloved patriotic poet. Enjoy the line-up of traditional folks dances and live music, to Hungarian treats like lángos (fried bread with a variety of toppings), kürtöskalács (a cone-shaped sweet hollow pastry), or savory fashions like roasted meats and fried sausages. The handicraft quality ranks among of the best in Europe, with all handicrafts verified by a professional jury before they are sold.

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6. Copenhagen, Denmark

Christmas Market in Copenhagen
Christmas in Copenhagen awaits you. Photo credit: Visit Copenhagen

For Christmas with a Danish twist and a dash of Scandinavian influences, the Tivoli Gardens are your best bet – promising a fairy-tale experience with Christmas markets and nisser (Danish Christmas pixies). When you’ve had your fill of handicrafts and flora, explore the ice-skating rink and theme park rides.

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7. Prague, Czech Republic

Christmas Market in Prague
Prague’s Christmas Market is worth a visit.

With two popular vanocni trhy (Christmas markets) found in Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square, visitors are guaranteed their fill of the unusual and interesting. For starters, don’t be surprised by the huge tubs of water filled with carp, a traditional Czech Christmas dish. Don’t leave without trying the grog and honey liquor – a traditional Czech favourite!

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8. Stockholm, Sweden

Christmas Market in Stockholm
Christmas is a magical time in Stockholm.

Skansen’s Christmas Market offers a thick slice of Swedish heritage tracing back to 1903. With authentically-Swedish ornaments and exotic Christmas fare, you’ll be pleased with a meal of eel, smoked sausage, salmon and sweets like pepparkakor (gingersnaps) and saffron buns, all heartily washed down with mulled wine. It doesn’t get any warmer than that!

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Don’t delay! Christmas is coming real soon. Book cheap flights, hotels and car rental via Skyscanner today, or download our free mobile app for easy browsing and booking on the go.

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Originally published on 20 December 2013 and updated on 28 October 2016. Any prices are lowest estimated prices only at the time of publication and are subject to change and/or availability.

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