Christmas markets in Europe

We headed to Europe in November for six weeks and one of the main attractions for going at that time of the year was to experience the Christmas markets. We found them such a contrast from Christmas here in Australia.




Not just because of the chill in the air, but all the sights, sounds and smell that create a festive atmosphere. The sights of the sparkles and glow of the lights twinkling through the foggy air and the sounds of the music of the carousels and Christmas carols.




Best of all is the enticing smells of gluhwein, ginger bread and bratwurst filling the air. The Gluhwein is served in cute little cups and many give a token. You can either return the token for a refund of around 2 Euro or keep the cup as a souvenir.




People young and old, local or not gather everywhere near the ice rink, the carousel, listening to the magic in the air. To experience the festive atmosphere is like we are walking straight into scenes from Christmas cards.




There are little wooden huts selling everything from hand crafted Christmas decorations, candles, soaps, jewellery all unique and quirky and an impressive selection of culinary delights.




The hotels we stayed in at Cologne, Frankfurt and Basel were ideal for seeing the best of the markets in those cities.




These charming Christmas markets are set throughout the streets and squares, amongst the architecture of cathedrals and town halls. Almost every Christmas market has massive beautifully decorated Christmas tree, a carousel and a nativity scene, we even saw one with a living advent calendar.


Cologne, which has about 5 Christmas markets, has a little train that takes people hop on-hop off style to each of the markets. Several have the traditional wooden Christmas pyramid. These are decorated with angels or manger scenes and traditionally the wooden propeller at the top spins from the rising heat of candles that light the pyramid.



Europe is transformed as the nights are longer, the days are shorter and it’s not just the aroma of gluhwein that warms the soul.  These markets bring locals and tourists together to share in the spirit of a true winter wonderland.


Regardless of whether you visit these Yule themed markets for seasonal shopping, wine drinking or indulging in gastronomic delights with a choice of so many European towns hosting these markets, you will find each one unique.


It may be cold but the magic of Christmas and the ambience from the illuminated decorations creates a warm Christmas mood in the heart of many towns. We visited markets in France, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovenia and could not choose a favourite.


Have you been to any European Christmas markets?  Which was your favourite? Please leave a comment below and let us know.


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23 Responses

  1. That is quite a trip! I am a huge fan of the Christmas markets, they do help create a festive atmosphere…especially if you are usually enjoying the sunshine! I once had Christmas in the Southern Hemisphere and it felt rather strange. The lead up to Christmas in Europe is a of fun and I do enjoy it, glad you enjoyed sampling it too. Thanks for linking #citytripping
    Elizabeth (Wander Mum) recently posted…Review: Affordable Prints With ‘Canvas Design’My Profile

  2. Mandy says:

    Christmas markets in Europe are so much fun! … I thought I knew what to expect after visiting American Christmas markets, but I sooooo didn’t! The gluhwein in actual mugs, Krampus!, gingerbread cookies, lights and decorations! It’s all so much fun! I wish I could go this year!

  3. Lolo says:

    Boy last year you certainly did hit up all the best markets! Heidelberg is definitely my favorite after having lived there! You captured the true essence of Christmas in your photos! #wkendtravelinspiration
    Lolo recently posted…Exploring Nuremberg’s Christmas MarketMy Profile

  4. Yes, it’s that time of year again! Would you believe I live about 100 meters from a Christmas Market in a quaint German town and still haven’t had one cup of Gluehwein? Thanks for linking up with #wkendtravelinspiration!
    Jim ~ ReflectionsEnroute recently posted…Best Way to Cruise Alaska? with the Alaska Marine Highway!My Profile

  5. Ruth says:

    Would like to experience the Christmas market in Europe! Looks like there is so much to experience. #wkendtravelinspiration
    Ruth recently posted…Street Art in Dallas (Deep Ellum)My Profile

  6. Wow, you are making me feel all festive. Stunning photographs.
    Paula McInerney recently posted…The Top 10 Places to Visit in the Top 10 Most Visited Cities in the WorldMy Profile

  7. Rhonda Albom says:

    The markets look like a lot of fun. I would need a lot of those hot drinks to keep me warm.
    Rhonda Albom recently posted…A Cow Parade and Other Interesting Sites in Perth AustraliaMy Profile

  8. Alice Clover says:

    Hello Lyn

    One of my fondest memories of Christmas was my mom’s wonderful assortment of Christmas cookies. How she did it with four kids, I’ll never know, but boy do I thank her! There are so many different ways that people view and celebrate Christmas. Please remember that Christmas is really a time for giving and sharing. Many of my traditions center around giving to the people who are less fortunate. I strongly believe this. I’m very fortunate to have a happy and healthy family and want to instill in my children the gift of generosity, caring, sharing and love.

    Best of luck to you and your family.
    Alice Clover recently posted…Health and beauty benefits of applesMy Profile

  9. Patti says:

    Great photos! I’ve only visited Europe in the summer but I think I would prefer visiting in the winter. The Christmas markets look like a lot of fun!
    Patti recently posted…The 11 Best Gifts for Travelers This YearMy Profile

  10. great photos! I love Christmas markets, especially in Austria:)
    Tanja (the Red phone box travels) recently posted…Your travel wardrobe sorted!My Profile

  11. Amber says:

    I love European Christmas markets! You got some really great photos!!

  12. Anita says:

    Lovely post, great pictures.

  13. Linda Bibb says:

    Hi Lyn – That was a great introduction to Christmas markets. Did any of the market food stand out as particularly memorable? #TheWeeklyPostcard
    Linda Bibb recently posted…How to Celebrate Carnival in PanamaMy Profile

  14. These markets all looks so pretty and fun to discover, even if you are freezing cold 🙂
    Sally@Toddlers on Tour recently posted…Photo Flashbacks: Things to do in PenangMy Profile

  15. Jill says:

    Six weeks at the Christmas Markets sounds like a dream come true. Love your photos!

  16. liz says:

    I love a Christmas market – especially for all the sweets and cakes!! V tasty!!
    liz recently posted…Vizio Virtù – the finest chocolatier in VeniceMy Profile

  17. I was in Vienna in December too! Love its Christmas markets:) #the weekly poscard

  18. GiGi Eats says:

    Europe is quite possibly the BEST PLACE to spend the holidays in! Ugh, they do is so much better than the state! ha ha!
    GiGi Eats recently posted…Fishing For Healthier Fish & ChipsMy Profile

  19. Hi Lyn – your photos of the Christmas markets are just lovely – and oh so different to Christmas in Australia, that’s for sure! So jealous 🙂

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