CITY BREAKS, FAMILY FRIENDLY TRAVEL, FOOD & WINE, WEEKEND TRAVEL
‘Tis the season to be jolly, and what better way to embrace the festive spirit than by exploring the enchanting world of Christmas markets? As winter unfolds its snowy blanket, markets around the globe come alive with twinkling lights, the aroma of mulled wine, and the joyous sounds of carols. Join me on a magical journey as we discover the best Christmas markets across eight different countries, each offering a unique blend of culture, heritage, and mouthwatering delights.
1. Nuremberg, Germany – A Classic Christmas Wonderland: Christkindlesmarkt
Our Yuletide expedition begins in the heart of Germany, where the city of Nuremberg transforms into a classic Christmas wonderland. Nestled in the Old Town, the Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt dates back to the 16th century, creating an atmosphere steeped in tradition. Cobblestone streets adorned with twinkling lights are lined with wooden stalls, offering exquisite handmade ornaments, toys, and seasonal treats and the scent of mulled wine filling the air. The main attraction? The Christkind, a young angelic being, opens the market with a prologue, setting a magical tone for visitors.
Don’t miss the chance to savor the world-famous Nuremberg sausages and gingerbread cookies—a true taste of German holiday traditions.
Here is a great three-week-trip templated you could combine with this magic Christmas market (and 7 more along the road).
If you are looking for a shorter Christmas trip, this one week itinerary might be your perfect choice.
2. Strasbourg, France – The Capital of Christmas: Christkindelsmärik
Crossing the border into France, Strasbourg, the self-proclaimed Capital of Christmas, welcomes us with its Christkindelsmärik. This market is one of the oldest Christmas markets in Europe, dating back to 1570, and enchants visitors with its medieval charm. The city’s UNESCO-listed Old Town turns iinto a winter wonderland, with stalls offering Alsatian crafts, festive decorations, and local gastronomic delights. Immerse yourself in the rich French heritage as you stroll through the city’s illuminated streets, where the spirit of Christmas comes alive in every corner. Don’t miss the Grande Île, bathed in the warm glow of Christmas lights, creating a truly fairy-tale atmosphere.
3. Vienna, Austria – Imperial Elegance Meets Festive Delights: Christkindlmarkt
Continuing our journey, we arrive in Vienna, Austria, where imperial elegance meets festive delights. The Vienna Christmas Dream at Rathausplatz, set against the backdrop of the City Hall, is a spectacle of lights and colors. Explore the city’s baroque architecture adorned with twinkling decorations and indulge in Austrian delicacies like pistachio marzipan, potato fritters, and the delightful Sacher Torte. This market is a sensory delight, from the aroma of chestnuts roasting to the melodies of traditional Austrian carols. The backdrop of the City Hall adds grandeur to the festive spirit, and the ice-skating rink is perfect for a twirl under the stars, a truly magical Christmas experience.
4. Prague, Czech Republic – A Fairytale Christmas: Pražský vánoční trh
Our next destination takes us to the fairytale city of Prague, Czech Republic. The Prague Christmas markets, centered around the Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square, transport visitors to a storybook setting. Admire the Gothic and Baroque architecture illuminated by festive lights as you browse through stalls offering Bohemian crystal, wooden toys, and traditional handicrafts. As you stroll through the market, savor traditional Czech treats like trdelník (sweet pastry) and warm up with a cup of svařák (mulled wine) or medovina (honey wine), adding a sweet note to your Czech Christmas experience.
Our recommended itinerary to discover Prague and other Eastern European capitals during this Christmas season.
5. Copenhagen, Denmark: Nordic Hygge in the Winter Wonderland
Heading north, we arrive in Copenhagen, Denmark, where the concept of hygge (coziness) takes center stage. The Tivoli Gardens Christmas Market, nestled in one of the world’s oldest amusement parks, exudes Nordic charm. As you stroll through the market, surrounded by twinkling lights and holiday decorations, relish Danish specialties such as æbleskiver (pancake balls) and gløgg (spiced mulled wine). Embrace the warmth of Danish hospitality in this winter wonderland.
6. Tallinn, Estonia – Tallinna Jõuluturg:
Venturing to Northern Europe, Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, invites us to its charming Christmas market, Tallinna Jõuluturg. Set against the medieval backdrop of the Old Town, this market is a treasure trove of Baltic delights. Handcrafted ornaments, gingerbread cookies, and warming Estonian drinks create an intimate and authentic holiday experience.
Discover Tallinna Jõuluturg and other Northern Europe capitals with this itinerary.
7. Quebec City, Canada – German Christmas Market:
Let’s cross the Atlantic to North America, where Quebec City in Canada offers a slice of Europe with its German Christmas Market. The Petit Champlain district transforms into a festive village, echoing with the sounds of carolers and the clinking of mugs filled with spiced wine. This market brings a touch of Old World charm to the New World.
8. Toronto, Canada: A North American Winter Extravaganza
Crossing the Atlantic, our festive exploration leads us to Toronto, Canada. The Toronto Christmas Market, located in the historic Distillery District, offers a North American winter extravaganza. Immerse yourself in the festive spirit as you wander through the cobblestone streets adorned with Christmas lights. Indulge in Canadian treats like butter tarts and poutine while enjoying the lively entertainment that includes carolers and a towering Christmas tree.
Here is a well rounded trip templated which doesn’t just include Torontos’ Christmas market but also the ones in New York and Montreal!
9. Melbourne, Australia – A Southern Hemisphere Christmas Fiesta: Christmas Square
Our journey takes an exotic turn as we head to the Southern Hemisphere. Melbourne, Australia, welcomes us with its Christmas Square. While it might be summer Down Under, the festive spirit is in full swing. The Melbourne Christmas Market, set against the backdrop of the Royal Exhibition Building, captures the essence of an Aussie Christmas. Explore the market stalls offering handmade crafts, local delicacies, like Aussie Christmas bush spices, and unique gifts. With the sun shining down on the Southern Hemisphere, enjoy a Christmas celebration in the warmth of the Australian summer.
10. Kyoto, Japan: A Serene Oriental Celebration
Venturing into Asia, we find ourselves in Kyoto, Japan, where Christmas is celebrated with a serene Oriental touch. The Arashiyama Hanatouro, or “Hanatoro for Arashiyama,” transforms the iconic bamboo forest into an illuminated spectacle. While Christmas is not a traditional Japanese holiday, the celebration in Kyoto is a blend of Western and Japanese influences. Experience the tranquility of this unique celebration as you explore the illuminated bamboo groves and historic temples.
11. Tokyo, Japan – Roppongi Hills Christmas Market:
Our festive journey concludes in the vibrant city of Tokyo, where Roppongi Hills transforms into a winter wonderland during the Christmas season. The market combines Japanese precision with festive cheer, offering a mix of local and international holiday treats. It’s a unique blend of East meets West in the heart of Japan.
Explore this Japanese winter dream with a trip template that guides you through the city highlights of Japan.
In wrapping up our global expedition through the best Christmas markets, it’s evident that each destination offers a unique blend of cultural heritage, festive traditions, and delectable treats and that the spirit of the season knows no border.
Whether you’re sipping mulled wine in the historic streets of Nuremberg, marveling at the Gothic charm of Prague, or enjoying an Aussie Christmas in Melbourne, each market offers a unique celebration of culture, tradition, and joy. The spirit of Christmas unites us all in a joyous celebration of togetherness and wonder.
So, wherever your festive travels take you, may your days be merry and bright, and your heart be filled with the magic of the holiday season. Happy holidays, fellow travelers! 🎄✨
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