By Michelle Yastremsky
There are few who visit Christmas Markets just for the shopping. It’s the cups of toasty mulled wine, the holiday carols ringing through the streets, the smell of fresh pine filling the air, all blended seamlessly together to create that special holiday magic.
From historic markets to bazaars that boast displays of grandeur, these pop-up holiday villages are straight out of a storybook.
One of the oldest holiday markets in existence.
Dating all the way back to 1434, the haunting city of Dresden plays host to one of the most traditional German Christmas markets. Take a walk under the world’s largest usable Christmas arch, or snap a photo in front of the whimsical Christmas pyramid.
Holiday festivities in a fairytale city.
Picturesque Bruges transforms into an illuminated wonderland during the holidays, the perfect backdrop for its annual holiday market. Consider ascending the steps of the medieval Belfort bell tower for panoramic views of this spectacular site.
France’s oldest Christmas market.
In operation since 1570, you’ll find artisan gifts and culinary masterpieces at this market. Be sure to try the bredele, a festive holiday biscuit that can be had in a variety of flavors from orange to cinnamon.
Birthplace of gingerbread!
Enjoy holiday magic in Germany’s medieval city with a stroll through Nuremberg’s Christmas market, which dates back to 1628. Sample the 600 year-old recipe for *lebkuchen *(gingerbread) while sipping on a cup of mulled wine!
One of Germany’s largest and oldest, dating back to 1458.
You won’t just find vendors selling the staple holiday wares here! In between shopping the over 250 stalls, enjoy a stroll through their pop-up fairytale forest or listen to the melodies of the trombone players on the city hall balcony.
Christmastime in Austria’s capital city.
Vienna during the holiday season is known for its extravagant balls, but the markets are certainly worth paying a visit to as well! Amongst the typical holiday market wares, you’ll find gifts and decorations made of handcrafted wood, blown glass and traditional Viennese treats at this market.
One of 60 holiday markets in Berlin!
Germany’s capital city is overflowing with Christmas markets on every street, corner and square during the holidays. Located in between two stunning cathedrals and the imposing Baroque Konzerthaus, the city provides an idyllic location for the famous Gendarmenmarkt. Stop by the nearby ice rink if you fancy it!
Gift shopping & goulash!
Budapest’s Vörösmarty Square becomes illuminated during the holiday season. Shop traditional folk instruments, homemade ceramics. Take a break in the 1,200 square-meter food terrace, where visitors can indulge in traditional Hungarian dishes from goulash to beigli (poppy seed pastry served during Christmastime).
Listen to church bells and glockenspiels!
Unlike many of the German cities on this list, Frankfurt puts its efforts towards just one holiday market. Proof of a holiday market in Frankfurt actually dates back to 1393; explore this historic holiday pop-up for yourself!