Sometimes it’s a great idea to get away at Christmas, especially if you can afford a hotel to avoid the cooking and cleaning! Here are my top 10 European Christmas market breaks in Europe, but wrap up warm – these destinations can get pretty cold!
10 Best European Christmas market Breaks
Some of my favourite European Christmas Market Breaks include Manchester, Edinburgh, Leipzig and Tallinn.
#1 Lapland, Finland
Rovaniemi, the capital of Lapland and the home of Santa Claus, is located just 10 kilometres south of the Arctic Circle and is famed for its gorgeous scenery and amazing views of the Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights. Rovaniemi, popularly known as Santa Claus Village, welcomes visitors from all over the world during the Christmas season to see their huge Christmas Market. The winters in Lapland are harsh, but the typical Christmas image presented here is a wonderfully magical setting for Christmas shopping, as we all know. The village also provides Santa visits and rides in a real reindeer sleigh. The magnificent, snowy, wintery landscape gives this location a genuine, magical Christmas feel. Christmas feasts and a variety of holiday programmes allow you to get the most out of your vacation. They are known for their handcrafted goods, Finnish designs, traditional cuisine, and kid-friendly activities such as reindeer rides and visits to the Elves Forest. A holiday visit to Rovaniemi, Finland’s original Christmas city, is a one-of-a-kind memorable experience. Getting to Finnish Lapland necessitates a flight.
Some European planes fly directly to Lapland airports such as Rovaniemi, Kittila, Ivalo, and Kemi. Simply take the bus number 8 from Rovaniemi railway station to Santa Claus town. These buses also make stops in the city centre and at the airport. Every hour, buses leave from Rovaniemi train station. It is important to keep in mind that bus schedules vary depending on the day of the week and season. The address for Santa Claus Town is 96930 Rovaniemi, Finland and has been open every single day of the year since 1992.
#2 Leipzig, Germany
Leipzig, in central Germany, hosts a lovely and delightful Christmas market every year from the second half of November until two days before Christmas. The market is located at the foot of the municipal council house, in the lovely ancient market square, behind the Old Town Hall. They are known for their incredible amount of stalls. More than 200 wooden huts and vendors sell diverse handcrafts, gifts, and Christmas presents alongside hotdogs, hot chestnuts, candied almonds and apples, hot wine, and punch, which, according to German custom, warm the heart and spirit of visitors on cold winter nights. Because accommodation can be fully occupied during the Christmas Market days, it is advisable to make hotel reservations in advance to obtain a place at a fair price.
The world-famous St. Thomas choir performs in the Leipzig Christmas Market on a regular basis, exciting the crowd with each performance. Over 250 glittering stalls add to Leipzig’s spectacular environment, which combines rich tradition and cultural delicacies with a Christmas light display that captivates people from all over the world. Leipzig has a train station (Willy-Brandt-Platz 5, 04109 Leipzig) which is a 15-minute walk away from the Old Town Hall.
#3 Manchester, England
Manchester is my university town, so will always have a special place in my heart. Expect to spend your evening admiring the different crafts, jewellery, and soap vendors which are great for gifts along the city centre’s beautiful market trail. before stuffing your faces with the wide variety of food and drink on offer, such as hog roasts, smoked sausages, mulled wine, and hot chocolate! There’s no reason to miss out on this joyful event when there are so many veggie options available. Manchester Christmas market has been going on since 1999 and improves significantly every year. Piccadilly Station is the nearest mainline train station to the main centre of the Christmas Markets. Piccadilly Gardens is just a 10-minute walk away, and it’s virtually a straight line from the station, so you’re unlikely to get lost. It usually runs around Piccadilly Gardens.
#4 Edinburgh, Scotland
Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland is stunning during Christmas time. It’s one of my favourite European Christmas Market Breaks. I highly recommend whiskey to keep you warm! Take ear muffs or a hat too.
Edinburgh’s Christmas is a six-week season of magnificent festive entertainment in the heart of the city. The gorgeous Christmas Market in East Princes Street Gardens has something for everyone, from mulled Irn Bru to vegan pigs in blankets, Harry Potter-themed souvenirs to local homemade food.
The Edinburgh Christmas Market is famous for Santa Land, which includes rides for people of all ages, returns to East Princes Street Gardens, while Santa’s Grotto returns to Castle Street. Since 2003, the Edinburgh Christmas market has been held in the middle of East Princes Street Gardens, where it has hosted its array of market stalls, attractions, and pubs. Some of the craft vendors are excellent for unique gifts not available on the high street. The Edinburgh train station is located at EH1 1BB and is an 8-minute walk away from East Princes Street Gardens.
The festive light show illuminates the castle at this time of year. Edinburgh is one of the top destinations for New Years Eve due to the Hogmanay celebration.
#5 Munich, Germany
Munich’s Christmas markets, which date back to the 14th century, are considered one of the country’s oldest. This Christmas market is in Munich’s Marienplatz, with lovely vendors spilling out onto the neighbouring commercial districts as well. This market has traditionally been the most touristy and busy in Munich’s Old Town, but it’s popular for a reason: booth after stall of traditional handcrafted products, delectable delicacies to be purchased, and the beautifully romantic backdrop of the Neues Rathaus. This is the city’s largest market, with more than 150 wooden stalls. And the setting is ideal: an imposing Gothic Town Hall that is festively lit in the evenings. A magical mood is created by a massive Christmas tree decked with 3,000 glittering lights which is famous and popular. The wooden huts sell a variety of Christmas sweets, tasty snacks, and handcrafted items.
This is the place to go if you want to try traditional German gingerbread, as there is a huge selection here. Then pour yourself a drink of mulled wine and take in the enchanting surroundings. The Munich Central Station called Hauptbahnhof is less than 500 metres away from the Old Town which is a 15-minute walk. (https://www.muenchen.de)
#6 Tallinn, Estonia
The capital of Estonia, Tallinn has a fairytale Old Town that you will love to wonder around at Christmas time. In 1997, the Old Town of Tallinn became a UNESCO world heritage site.
In the centre of Tallinn, the little Christmas market is often lightly covered in fresh snow. The cobblestone streets and the rosy faces of guests sipping mulled wine are illuminated by warm lights from wooden booths. Tallinn’s Christmas customs stretch back to 1441, making it the ideal location for capturing the spirit of the season and visiting a traditional and historical Christmas Market.
A ship travels from Helsinki to Estonia’s port on a regular basis and is connected by three ferry companies. Tallink Silja runs six times a day, Viking Line three times a day, and Eckerö three times a day. The crossing takes around 2 hours and costs between £30 and £100 euros round fare.
Tallinn is a city full of history, natural environment, historic architecture, delectable cuisine, and friendly people, and the holiday season only adds to the city’s charm. However, Estonia is a culturally distinct country, and you’ll discover that the Tallinn Christmas Market is unlike any other holiday market in Europe or the world. Warm drinks, hearty winter delicacies, handcrafted products, and festivals are all unique to Estonia, which is why this market is so memorable.
The address for the Christmas market is Raekoja Plats 8-9, 10123.
#7 Tromso, Norway
Tromso is the ideal destination to get into the festive spirit. You are bound for some Christmas magic, surrounded by snow-covered mountains and perhaps the green light dancing above your head which are the top highlights here. The city centre streets, as well as the businesses and restaurants, will be decked out in festive decorations. The arctic nights provide a warm and inviting environment in town, and there will be enough to do during your visit. Visit the Christmas markets or enjoy ice skating in the city centre rink, which offers stunning views of the Arctic Cathedral and the Cable Car. Warm yourself with a cup of hot chocolate or “glogg,” one of the Christmas specialties. Tromso is the epitome of Christmas, and you should be invited to partake in the festivities. There are direct flights from various European cities throughout the winter, giving Tromso the ideal entrance to the north’s spectacular natural regions. You can get busses and Taxi’s which takes 15 minutes to get to City Centre.
The legendary Vienna Christmas Market is mesmerising! With more than 145 vendors on Rathausplatz in front of the 19th-century City Hall, this postcard-perfect market provides an outstanding setting for seasonal shopping. From Vienna central station, it only takes a 10-minute taxi ride to get to City Hall. The annual “Vienna Magic of Advent,” which transforms City Hall Square into a gleaming fairytale realm, is one of the most well-known features of the Vienna Christmas Market. Christmas gifts, tree decorations, snacks, and hot beverages, as well as a carousel and DIY fun Christmas Workshops for kids, are all waiting for you. The trees in the City Hall Park surrounding it are festively decorated and glow in an ocean of lights – a Viennese experience you won’t want to miss! The cultural and Christmas market in front of Schönbrunn Palace is another popular destination in the run-up to Christmas. It offers pure romance against an imperial backdrop, and after Christmas, it transforms into a New Year’s market. Traditional handicrafts, hand-made Christmas decorations, Christmas concerts, and a large children’s programme, including a Christmas workshop, are all available at the ambient market. The square has been used as a marketplace since the 13th Century.
#9 Brussels, Belgium
The Grand-Place, Bourse, Place Sainte-Catherine, and Marché aux Poissons are all locations for the Brussels Christmas market. Place Flagey is known for hosting the world’s largest indoor Christmas market. Crafters from Belgium, France, Germany, and Hungary sell their wares here, making it a perfect spot to purchase unique presents and stocking stuffers for the holidays. Brussels Central Station is a 3-minute walk away from The Grand-Place which is perfect. Overall, there are approximately 250 wooden stands selling everything from distinctive souvenirs to Christmas tree ornaments to exquisite sweet and savoury drinks and meals. Riding the Giant Ferris Wheel during the Christmas Markets is possibly the best way to obtain a bird’s eye view of the city. The ferris wheel is one among the more expensive market attractions in Brussels, costing roughly €10 for an adult. Every year, from the end of November until the beginning of January, a Christmas tree is placed in the main square. In addition, there is a massive Nativity scene. LED lights, including 1.3 kilometres of shimmering red lights, adorn the tree. Beautiful illuminations line the streets surrounding the Grand Place, glittering, and twinkling overhead. Brussels is one of the most popular and accessible of the European Christmas Market Breaks.
Another Eurostar hop! From 18th November to 30th December 2015 you can visit Lille for Lille’s Christmas Market is a popular destination for French, British, and Belgian visitors, and is beautifully situated amid the city’s bustling commercial centre. Each year, around one million people visit Lille to see the market and the Christmas lighting, lured by the warm and festive ambiance. Lille’s streets are lit up with bright and festive lights every year, making the city centre a welcoming and exciting destination to visit. Ornaments, lights, tinsel, and garlands adorn the colourful facades and shop windows. Lille’s Christmas market is small in comparison to some of Europe’s more well-known counterparts, but it makes up for it in convenience. Lille is a foodie’s paradise, with plenty of fantastic restaurants and food shops, so you’ll have plenty of energy to browse the market and complete your Christmas shopping.
The Grand Place, also known as Place du Général de Gaulle, is where most of the main shopping streets are located, so you won’t have to travel far. Lille’s Christmas market has roughly 90 stalls on Place Rihour, the big Christmas tree and Ferris wheel on adjoining Grand Place, so it’s only a 10-minute walk from the train station. You’ll have plenty of time to visit the market, ride the giant wheel for some spectacular overhead views, eat some delectable food, and finish off your Christmas shopping before catching a train home. Lille is easily accessible from Paris (220 km), Calais (110 km), Brussels (123 km), and Amsterdam thanks to its location at the intersection of five major highways (287 km). Keep an eye out for these regional delicacies and holiday fare. Merveilleux — A meringue and cream-based delicacy topped with shaved chocolate, the Merveilleux is one of the lightest and most exquisite desserts in the world. Lille is the birthplace of the Merveilleux. beer. It’s a wonderful walkable city with a lot to see.
This Christmas, I will be enjoying the Liverpool Christmas market before I head off to Morocco for my winter break. Where will you be this Christmas time? What are your favourite European Christmas Market Breaks?
For more on Europe check out this article on how to see Paris in 3 days.