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Christmas Market Magic 2023: Europe's Top Festive Destinations Unveiled

Charles Nagy Nov 09, 2023
58 People Read
Christmas Markets
Table of Contents
  1. Cologne, Germany
    1. Nov 23- Dec 23
  2. Strasbourg, France
    1. Nov 26 - Dec 26
  3. Heidelberg, Germany
    1. Nov 27 - Dec 22
  4. Vienna, Austria
    1. Nov 11 - Dec 26
  5. Munich, Germany
    1. Nov 27 - Dec 24
  6. Prague, Czech Republic
    1. Dec 2 - Jan 6, 2024
  7. Tallinn, Estonia
    1. Dec 1 - Jan 7, 2024
  8. Brussels, Belgium
    1. Nov 24 - Dec 31
  9. Budapest, Hungary
    1. Nov 24 - Dec 31
  10. Salzburg, Austria
    1. Nov 23 - Jan 1, 2024
  11. Basel, Switzerland
    1. Nov 23 - Dec 22

Disclosure: Some of the links in this article may be affiliate links, which can provide compensation to me at no cost to you if you decide to purchase. This site is not intended to provide financial advice and is for entertainment only. 

Christmas Market Magic 2023

Europe's Top Festive Destinations Unveiled

Christmas Markets

As the festive season unfurls its snowy wings over Europe, you might find yourself wondering, "Where are the best Christmas markets in Europe?" The answer lies scattered like precious gems across the continent's most picturesque cities—each market with its own unique sprinkle of holiday magic.

"What dates are the Christmas Markets in 2023?" I hear you muse. Fear not, for within the pages of this festive diary, I shall reveal the when and where for each of our European holiday havens—from the country to the city, right down to the days these markets will open their welcoming arms to the world.

And as for the "biggest Christmas market in Europe," look no further than the sprawling, twinkling expanse of Germany's Christkindlesmarkt. A place where the spirit of Christmas is as grand as the market itself, echoing with carols and brimming with stalls that stretch as far as the eye can see.

Now, which European country has the best Christmas market? The title, with a chorus of jubilant cheers, goes to Germany. Here, the Christmas market is not just an event; it's a cultural phenomenon. The air is fragrant with the aroma of roasted almonds and the sizzle of bratwurst, the taste of which is as synonymous with German yuletide as the iconic Tannenbaum. And let's not forget the handcrafted ornaments and the gingerbread houses so intricately decorated, they could only hail from the workshops of the finest German artisans.

So, with questions poised and answered, let's embark on this festive journey, with eyes and hearts wide open to the wonders of Europe's Christmas markets. Get ready to embrace the food, the fun, and the timeless traditions that await.

Cue Mariah Carey's Christmas anthem, let its jubilant melody be the soundtrack to our yuletide adventure. Pour yourself a cozy mug of glühwein, and let its warmth seep into your soul as we embark on our Christmas journey through Europe's most enchanting markets.

Let the festivities begin!

Christmas Market

Christmas Market

Cologne, Germany

Nov 23 - Dec 23

Ah, the Cologne Cathedral Christmas market – this one holds a special place in my heart because it's not just any market; it's a beloved memory. Picture this: the iconic Cologne Cathedral standing tall as the backdrop, casting a spell that's truly enchanting. As you step into this festive wonderland, the air is filled with the enticing scent of gingerbread, and your eyes are drawn to the majestic Christmas tree that seems to touch the sky, warming your heart with its radiant charm.

But what sets this market apart is the culinary delight that's in the air. The city, during this magical season, seems to be perfumed with the tantalising aroma of sausages sizzling on open fires. It's as if the whole town comes together to celebrate the flavours of the season, from savoury bratwurst to sweet stollen. This is where I fell in love with Cologne during Christmas, where the atmosphere is not just festive but utterly mouthwatering. The backdrop of the Cologne Cathedral and the historic old town is like the icing on the Christmas cake, making this market one of the most atmospheric and joyful in Germany. If you're looking for a blend of tradition, charm, and hearty laughter, Cologne Cathedral Christmas market is the place to be. Plus, it's just as personal to me as it will be for you when you experience it. Cheers to the sausages, the festivities, and the magic of this wonderful market. Below you'll find a range of excellent hotels just a stone's throw away from the Christmas market.

Hotel Mondial am Dom Cologne MGallery

Wyndham Köln

Dorint Hotel am Heumarkt Köln

CityClass Hotel Alter Markt

CityClass Hotel am Dom

Hilton Cologne

Maritim Hotel Köln

Kommerzhotel Köln

Eden Hotel Früh am Dom

Opera Hotel Köln

German Christmas Market

Strasbourg, France

Nov 26 - Dec 26

Strasbourg, often referred to as the "Capital of Christmas," is a city that epitomises the enchantment of the holiday season. Nestled in the heart of the Alsace region, Strasbourg's Christmas market offers a quintessential European Christmas market experience. Its picturesque old town square, Place Kléber, is adorned with an awe-inspiring Christmas tree and is surrounded by charming wooden stalls selling exquisite gifts and ornaments. The town hall, beautifully decorated with fairy lights, serves as a captivating backdrop for this magical market. Here, you can savoy traditional Alsatian delights, from spiced mulled wine to warm flammekueche, a regional specialty.

Strasbourg's Christmas market truly captures the spirit of the festive season and is a must-visit destination for anyone seeking a winter wonderland experience.

Here's a selection of top hotels conveniently situated near the Christmas market.

Hotel Cour du Corbeau Strasbourg - MGallery

Hôtel LÉONOR the place to live

Boutique Hotel Des XV

Hôtel & Spa Le Bouclier D'or

Pavillon REGENT PETITE FRANCE

Hôtel Tandem - Boutique Hôtel

Hotel Les Haras

Maison LUTETIA R

B&B HOTEL Strasbourg Nord Schiltigheim Lac 4 étoiles

Hôtel ORIGAMI

Residence Inn by Marriott Strasbourg

Maison Rouge Strasbourg Hotel & Spa, Autograph Collection

BOMA easy living hotel

French Christmas Market

French Christmas Market

Heidelberg, Germany

Nov 27 - Dec 22

Ah, Heidelberg during the holiday season – it's like the town is sprinkled with a touch of magic. Known for its romantic old town, this enchanting place becomes even more spellbinding when Christmas arrives. The heart of it all, the Heidelberg Christmas markets, nestled in the historic town, welcomes you with open arms into a world of cozy wonder. It's not just a market; it's where memories are woven with warmth. ❤️

Heidelberg's Christmas markets isn't just a stop on your European tour; it's a cozy embrace, a sip of mulled wine that warms your soul, and a place where every corner holds a new discovery. It's where tradition meets adventure, where you explore and indulge, and where the magic of the season envelops you like a warm blanket. So, bundle up, and enjoy while you explore the heartwarming charm of Heidelberg's Christmas markets.

Below you can explore accommodations that are ideally situated for enjoying the Christmas markets.

Hotel Weisser Bock

Hotel zum Ritter St. Georg

PLAZA Premium Heidelberg

Hotel Panorama

The Heidelberg Exzellenz Hotel

Hotel Europäischer Hof Heidelberg

Arthotel Heidelberg

House of Hütter - Heidelberg Suites & Spa

Hotel-Pension Berger

Hotel Villa Marstall

Christmas Market

Vienna, Austria

Nov 11 - Dec 26

Vienna, the grand capital of Austria, dons its holiday finest to become a true winter wonderland during the festive season. The heart of the city, its old town square, is a spectacle that will steal your heart. Drenched in a mesmerising display of Christmas lights, with an enchanting town hall square that's like something from a fairy tale, Vienna's Christmas market is a grand celebration of elegance and tradition. It's not just a market; it's a tapestry of delights where the magic of Christmas comes alive.

As you meander through the wooden stalls, you'll unearth treasures like fine crafts, artisanal goods, and delectable Viennese sweets, making it a shopper's paradise. And let's not forget the tantalising array of festive food and drinks, from the comforting warmth of mulled wine to delightful local delicacies. But there's more: Vienna boasts multiple markets, each with its unique charm and an array of gifts that range from traditional to whimsical.

So, sip your mulled wine and immerse yourself in the melodies of carol singers, because Vienna's Christmas market is not just a market; it's a symphony of Christmas carols, the aroma of mulled wine, and a glittering showcase of Christmas decorations that make it a grand, unforgettable affair.

And now, as the grand finale, here's a list of places to stay that are close to the markets, ensuring your Vienna holiday is nothing short of enchanting.

Pertschy Palais Hotel

ARTIST Boutique Hotel

The Levante Parliament A Design Hotel

Boutique Hotel Das Tigra

Hilton Vienna Plaza

Hotel Josefshof am Rathaus

Steigenberger Hotel Herrenhof

Flemings Selection Hotel Wien-City

25hours Hotel beim MuseumsQuartier

Boutique Hotel Nossek

Austria Christmas Market

Vienna Christmas Market

Munich, Germany

Nov 27 - Dec 24

Munich's yuletide bazaars are a winter wonderland, steeped in Bavarian lore and bursting with festive joy. I know, I know—back to Germany we go, but trust me, when it comes to Christmas markets, Germans have the magic formula! Right in the pulsing heart of the city lies a quaint Christmas village that's an absolute gem, and believe me, it's not just for the schnitzel, though that's a hearty bonus!

Brace yourself for a Bavarian culinary odyssey—imagine nibbling on hot, roasted chestnuts that fill you with warmth from the inside out, and let’s not skip the iconic schnitzel, crumbed to perfection and a symphony of taste. And since we're in Germany, sipping on rich, aromatic beer amidst the winter chill is practically a rite of passage. The market overflows with holiday spirit, decked out in twinkling adornments that'll whisk you back to the wonder of childhood.

But there's more in store! Quaint stalls, brimming with the charm of old-world craftsmanship, offer an array of artisanal treasures that promise to tick every box on your gift list. Munich's Christmas market is more than a festive gathering—it's a jubilant celebration of all things merry and bright. So come along, bring your cheeriest holiday sweater, and let's make merry in Munich!

And for those plotting a Munich escapade, your itinerary would be incomplete without marvelling at the colossal Christmas tree at Marienplatz, outshining the celestial bodies with its radiant glow.

And to cap it all off, here's a curated selection of cozy accommodations near the markets, guaranteeing your Munich stay is utterly spellbinding.

Hotel Sendlinger Tor

Hotel Torbräu

Platzl Hotel - Superior

Vier Jahreszeiten Kempinski München

Mercure Hotel München Altstadt

Hotel Bayerischer Hof

Yours Truly

City Aparthotel München - KOOS Hotel und Apartments

Buddy Hotel

Hotel MIO by AMANO

Christmas Market

Prague, Czech Republic

Dec 2 - Jan 6, 2024

Prague transforms into a scene from a snow globe come Christmastime, with its cobblestone streets and spired skyline dusted in frost. The Christmas market in the Old Town Square, a festive soiree that lingers even after the holiday cheers of December, beckons you into a Czech fairy tale spun with tradition and merriment.

As you wander among the quaint huts, each a trove of local craftsmanship and sparkling ornaments, enjoy Czech Christmas biscuits—each a sweet masterpiece of spice and tradition—guide you through this winter tapestry. These treats are more than just confections; they are the baked heritage of the Czech Republic.

Looming above, the historic facades stand as silent sentinels to centuries of Yuletides past, with the Astronomical Clock ticking towards the next joyous celebration. The air is alive with a symphony of festive lights and the crackle of chestnuts roasting, weaving an enchanting ambience that’s quintessentially Prague.

And to top off your storybook holiday, "here's a list of accommodations" nestled in the heart of this Czech wonderland, each promising a stay as magical as the city's festive allure. Indulge in the spirit of a Prague Christmas, where every moment is a memory in the making, and the joy of the season lingers in the air, as enduring and delightful as the Czech Republic itself.

Residence Bologna

K+K Hotel Central

Grandium Hotel Prague

987 Design Prague Hotel

Ibis Praha Old Town

Old Town Square Apartments

Grand Majestic Hotel Prague

Hotel Zlatá Váha

NYX Hotel Prague by Leonardo Hotels

The Julius Prague

Prague

Tallinn, Estonia

Dec 1 - Jan 7, 2024

Tallinn's Old Town, with its medieval charm and UNESCO World Heritage prestige, becomes a Christmas card come to life as the festive season dawns. The town hall square, a canvas of yesteryear splendour, is crowned with a resplendent Christmas tree that whispers tales of ancient yuletides.

Here, wooden stalls, as if conjured by holiday spirits, beckon with the allure of Estonian craftsmanship—each gift a frozen moment of Baltic tradition. Wrap your fingers around a cup of soul-warming mulled wine, and let the aroma of seasonal spices mingle with the crisp Estonian air, enchanting your senses.

The quaint cobblestones and historic aura of Tallinn offer a Christmas market experience that's both unique and steeped in Baltic festivities. It's a place where the hum of holiday folklore is as tangible as the delicate chill in the air. And while you're enveloped in this magical milieu, don't miss the chance to delight in the unique flavours of Estonia—perhaps a bite of piparkoogid, the local gingerbread, or a nibble on marzipan figurines, a sweet homage to a bygone era.

And for a truly Estonian twist, "here's a list of accommodations" that are hidden gems, promising a cozy retreat after your market meanderings. So come, be part of Tallinn's Christmas enchantment, where every corner promises a new discovery, wrapping you in a festive spirit that's as unique as Estonia itself.

Tallink Express Hotel

Park Inn by Radisson Central Tallinn

Metropol Hotel

Hestia Hotel Europa

St.Olav Hotel

Nordic Hotel Forum

Radisson Collection Hotel, Tallinn

Park Inn by Radisson Meriton Conference & Spa Hotel Tallinn

Citybox Tallinn City Center

Hestia Hotel Kentmanni

Christmas Market

Brussels, Belgium

Nov 24 - Dec 31

In the festive heart of Brussels, the air shimmers with the joy of the season, and its Christmas market stands as a beacon of holiday splendour. Illuminated by a tapestry of twinkling lights, this market is a carousel of wonder, with each turn offering a kaleidoscope of traditional charm and contemporary flair.

Amidst the bustling stalls, each a treasure chest of curiosities, you'll find a myriad of hand-picked gifts and crafts that echo the city's eclectic spirit. The aroma of Belgian delicacies weaves through the air, promising a culinary adventure as rich as the country's famed chocolates.

The towering Christmas trees, bedecked with glittering baubles, stand sentinel over Brussels' storied market—one of the grand dames of European yuletide festivities. Yet, with every sparkling light, Brussels infuses a dash of modern zest, ensuring the celebration remains as effervescent as a glass of fine Belgian ale.

Here, in Brussels, the Christmas market isn't just a shopping destination; it's a vibrant festival of joy, a place where history dances hand in hand with the present to the tune of the most magical time of the year.

And as the final touch to your Brussels adventure, nestled near the heart of the festivities, you’ll find a curated list of accommodations. Each offers a cozy haven, ensuring that the spirit of the market is but a snowflake's drift away. So, after a day of revelry and discovery, rest assured that comfort and Belgian hospitality are waiting to welcome you through their doors.

Craves

NH Collection Brussels Centre

Novotel Brussels City Centre

Ibis Brussels City Centre

Marivaux Hotel

Atlas Hotel Brussels

Dansaert Hotel

easyHotel Brussels City Centre

Bedford Hotel & Congress Centre

Christmas Market

Budapest, Hungary

Nov 24 - Dec 31

Budapest's Christmas markets, a twinkling constellation in the city's festive firmament, are the heartbeats of Hungarian holiday cheer. At Vorosmarty Square and St. Stephen's Basilica, tradition weaves through the crisp air, blending the allure of yesteryear with the pulse of modern merriment.

Step into Vorosmarty Square Christmas market, and you're immediately wrapped in a tapestry of holiday charm, with wooden stalls offering more than just gifts; they're a showcase of Hungarian craftsmanship. From delicate ornaments to the cozy embrace of hand-knit winter wear, every find is a treasure waiting to warm the heart.

Beyond the joy of discovery, Budapest's markets are a feast for the senses: the sweet spiral of chimney cake rises in the air, mingling with the robust notes of mulled wine. Melodies and carols drift in the backdrop, a soundtrack to the spellbinding Hungarian Christmas saga.

And to complete your Yuletide journey, "here's a list of accommodations" just a stone's throw from this enchanting scene, ensuring every moment is steeped in Budapest's festive wonders.

Danubius Hotel Erzsébet City Center

Radisson Blu Béke Hotel, Budapest

7Seasons Apartments Budapest

Medos Hotel

Silver Hotel Budapest City Center

NETIZEN Budapest Centre

H2 Hotel Budapest

DORMERO Hotel Budapest

Stories Boutique Hotel

The Magazine Hotel & Apartments

Budapest Christmas Market

Salzburg, Austria

Nov 23 - Jan 1, 2024

Step into Salzburg, the melody-laden cradle of Mozart, now aglow with the golden twinkle of Christmas lights. Here, the Salzburg Christmas market stands as a jewel in the crown of Europe’s yuletide celebrations, a place where the festive season is not just observed but felt deeply in the heart.

Amid the cobbled byways, festooned with cheery stalls, the air buzzes with anticipation of the Christmas season. These wooden booths are a cornucopia of wonder, offering everything from hand-carved wooden toys to the sweet, spicy allure of festive foods. This market, a popular Christmas destination, is an annual highlight, its charm as perennial as Santa Claus’s jolly “Ho, ho, ho!”

Salzburg is not just another dot on the map of more Christmas markets; it's a grand place where Christmas festivities are an artform, as integral to the city as its baroque architecture and alpine setting. Indulge in a cup of steaming hot chocolate or a sip of the traditional Christmas punch, each a toast to festive fun.

In Salzburg’s street gardens and squares, the spirit of the holidays dances through the air, inviting you to partake in the merriment. Here, the blend of history, art, and the magic of Christmas concocts an extraordinary experience that stays with you long after the season fades.

So, wrap up your Christmas destinations tour with a visit to Salzburg, where every moment is steeped in holiday cheer and each market stall holds the promise of festive treasures. And when the day’s joy gives way to the evening’s peace, "here's a list of accommodations" that offer a warm, festive welcome, ensuring your stay is as magical as the city’s Christmas tapestry.

Hotel Goldener Hirsch, A Luxury Collection Hotel, Salzburg

Hotel Sacher Salzburg

ARCOTEL Castellani Salzburg

Altstadt Hotel Hofwirt Salzburg

Leonardo Hotel Salzburg City Center

H+ Hotel Salzburg

JUFA Hotel Salzburg City

Wyndham Grand Salzburg Conference Centre

Wolfgang's managed by a&o

Hotel Elefant

Christmas Market

Basel, Switzerland

Nov 23 - Dec 22

Nestled in Basel's embrace, a city as romantic as a Christmas tale, the twinkling lights of the Christmas market beckon. Here, along the cobbled paths of Barfüsserplatz and Münsterplatz, the festive spirit is a tangible delight. It's more than a market; it's where the essence of Christmas unfurls in the crisp Swiss air.

This is not just any gathering—it's touted as the most beautiful Christmas market in Switzerland, and rightfully so. As you meander through this UNESCO World Heritage-listed setting, each stall offers a glimpse into the heart of Swiss yuletide joy. The air is rich with the scent of cinnamon and the harmonious choirs of nativity scenes, each tableau a story waiting to be told.

Here, handcrafted gifts are more than mere objects; they're keepsakes of Basel's artistry, perfect for those seeking to celebrate Christmas with a touch of Swiss elegance. The romance of the season is alive in the dance of skaters on the outdoor rink, their laughter a melody that mingles with the jingle of bells and the soft whisper of snow.

Basel's market is a canvas of holiday cheer, painted with a palette of community, tradition, and the joy of shared moments. It’s not simply a place to find Christmas gifts; it’s a destination where the spirit of the season is celebrated in every light-strung stall and every crafted wooden toy.

And as the day's festivities wind down, "here is a list of accommodations" that offers a restful haven just steps from the merriment. Basel awaits to wrap you in its festive embrace, promising a Christmas experience that sparkles with the unique charm of this Swiss jewel.

Hotel Euler Basel

Hotel Spalentor - Ihr sympathisches Stadthotel

Sorell Hotel Merian

GAIA Hotel Basel - the sustainable 4 star hotel

Grand Hotel LES TROIS ROIS

Hotel Victoria

Hotel Märthof Basel

Motel One Basel

Hotel Rheinfelderhof

ibis Basel Bahnhof

Radisson Blu, Basel

Hotel Rochat

Christmas Market

Christmas Market

And so, we tie the bow on our whirlwind tour of Europe's most magical Christmas markets. Remember, the spellbinding journey we've embarked upon is but a prelude to the splendour that the festive season has in store. Whether you're questing after that quintessential wooden toy in the labyrinth of stalls or simply soaking up the convivial spirit that thrums through the oldest Christmas markets, each European nook we've visited is a portal to wonders untold.

Prepare to be ensnared by the romance and revelry that only European Christmas markets can offer, as we've only skimmed the surface of their rich traditions and enticing aromas. Picture this: the silvery glide of skates on an ice skating rink, the hearty clink of mugs brimming with hot mulled wine, and the twinkle of a romantic city dipped in festive lights.

From the half-timbered houses of Germany to the snow-dusted squares of Estonia, each market spins a yarn of Christmas joy unique to its locale. Mid-November heralds the opening of these festive realms, where local crafts and unique gifts await, and the scent of apple strudel lingers in the wintry air.

Stay nestled in your scarves and mittens, dear readers, for there's more yuletide cheer to uncover. Join us again as we dive deeper into the heart of Christmas events, where the entire city becomes a backdrop to the holiday's jubilant echo. We're not merely recounting tales of markets; we're inviting you to become part of a living Christmas card, where each market is a popular stop in a winter market wonderland that's waiting for you.

Happy Holidays 🎄🎉🎈

Christmas Markets

Table of Contents
  1. Cologne, Germany
    1. Nov 23- Dec 23
  2. Strasbourg, France
    1. Nov 26 - Dec 26
  3. Heidelberg, Germany
    1. Nov 27 - Dec 22
  4. Vienna, Austria
    1. Nov 11 - Dec 26
  5. Munich, Germany
    1. Nov 27 - Dec 24
  6. Prague, Czech Republic
    1. Dec 2 - Jan 6, 2024
  7. Tallinn, Estonia
    1. Dec 1 - Jan 7, 2024
  8. Brussels, Belgium
    1. Nov 24 - Dec 31
  9. Budapest, Hungary
    1. Nov 24 - Dec 31
  10. Salzburg, Austria
    1. Nov 23 - Jan 1, 2024
  11. Basel, Switzerland
    1. Nov 23 - Dec 22

Disclosure:  Some of the links in this article may be affiliate links, which can provide compensation to me at no cost to you if you decide to purchase. This site is not intended to provide financial advice and is for entertainment only.