5 of the most festive Christmas markets in Europe
Ok, so the children have only just gone back to school. Summer has barely said adieu. It seems too early to be thinking about Christmas, but if you want to visit a Christmas Market in Europe this year, the time to start planning is NOW. Check out our pick of Europe’s top festive markets…
Christmas in Prague is magical. Prague's fairy-tale backdrop of cobbled streets and elaborate architecture is charming. The jewel of the Czech Republic is easy to reach, thanks to short flight times from the UK. With a history spanning ten centuries, a host of superb hotels and a wonderful classical music scene, it’s a joy to explore. Prague's Christmas markets, or Vánocní trhy, sell local crafts, wooden toys and traditional food. Twinkling lights illuminate the sky and the towering buildings of Old Town Square and St Wenceslas Square.
Just a short hop on the Eurostar, Paris is the perfect destination for a festive escape. It’s ideal for families. Little ones will enjoy sipping chocolat chaud, twirling on the pop-up Christmas carousels and admiring the lights adorning Boulevard Haussmann. The Champs Elysees Christmas Market has improved in recent years. It now includes artisanal food producers – shucking oysters, roasting chestnuts and stands whipping up freshly made crepes. After all that, try the ice skating rink on the first floor of the Eiffel Tower.
Romantic Salzburg is famous for its festivals all year round, and Christmas is no exception. The Christmas market here dates back to the 15th century. It’s located at the foot of the Hohensalzburg Castle. You’ll enjoy choral singing, Alpine wares and nativity exhibits. In Mirabellplatz, you can sample culinary delicacies such as sachertorte and mulled wine, while perusing lovingly decorated stalls. Getreidegasse, where Mozart was born and lived, is bustling with shops and restaurants serving nockerl and strudel. Café Tomaselli is where you'll find the best hot chocolate.
Berlin's modern, sophisticated vibe lends itself to an exciting city break any time of the year, but the city still embraces Christmas traditions with gusto. Boasting over 50 Christmas markets, from the trendy to the unashamedly naff, there’s a market to suit everyone. Breitscheidplatz is home to one of the city's most popular markets and is dominated by a 20m high Christmas tree. WeihnachtsZauber is brilliant for food, offering roasted almonds, bratwurst and the ever-popular glühwein.
Scandinavia is becoming an increasingly popular holiday destination and Stockholm's wintry landscape only enhances the city's chocolate-box buildings and cobbled alleyways. Gamla Stan (Old Town) is a slice of genuine Stockholm Christmas; the little red stalls crowd into the colourful square, selling traditional Swedish products like gingerbread, cheeses, crafts and the inescapable glögg. Spread over 14 islands, Stockholm is a delight to explore, and the winding streets of the Old Town are packed with eclectic cafes, bars and authentic Scandi shops, with the famous Sami patterns adorning everything from sweaters to baubles