Are you looking for Europe visa?

The best Christmas markets in Europe: A winter holiday guide

by Pilar Dujan | November 27, 2023
Visit Prague to see one of the best Christmas markets in Europe

Christmas markets are staples of European culture surrounding the holidays, with centuries of history and thousands (or even millions!) of visitors every year. They’re more common in predominantly Christian countries, like Germany or France. 

Why are they so popular? First of all, Christmas time coincides with winter, which means two things: cold and snow. And what better way to keep warm on a snowy day? Mulled wine! Hot chocolate! Sweet treats! Holiday shopping! Some Christmas markets even offer cultural activities and shows. 

Here you will discover the history of Christmas markets. If you’ve never been to one, pick your favorite cities from this article and experience the best Christmas markets in Europe!

What European countries do Christmas markets? 

Christmas markets are incredibly common in Europe, you can find one anywhere you travel. However, in some cases they’re not such an important part of the holiday experience. One example is Turkey, a predominantly Muslim country. 

What is the earliest Christmas market in Europe?

The history of Christmas markets has two beginnings: the Dezembermarkt of 1298 in Vienna (Austria), and the Striezelmarkt of 1434 in Dresden (Germany). The Dezembermarkt of Vienna was a winter market, the earliest of its kind recorded, but the Striezelmarkt in Dresden was the first to actually honor the holiday, and that’s why it’s widely regarded as the first in the world.

What is the most famous Christmas market in the world?

There’s no definitive answer for this question, each market is beautiful in its own right! However, some of the most renowned worldwide are the markets in Strasbourg, Prague, Bruges, Nuremberg and Vienna

The market in Vienna is one of the best Christmas markets in Europe

What is the biggest and best Christmas Market in Europe?

What European city hosts the world's largest Christmas market?

The Christmas market in Dortmund (Germany) is usually considered the largest in the world in terms of size, with more than 300 stalls and a giant Christmas tree (also the largest in the world).

Which European country has the best Christmas markets?

All European Christmas markets are good and worth the visit! But, if you deeply feel the holiday spirit, the most renowned markets are in Germany, France, Czech Republic, Austria and Belgium.

Which city has the best Christmas markets?

Although there are many, these cities are considered as hosts of the best Christmas markets in Europe:

  • Prague (Czech Republic)
  • Budapest (Hungary)
  • Bruges and Brussels (Belgium)
  • Basel (Switzerland)
  • Vienna (Austria)
  • Strasbourg (France)
  • Nuremberg and Cologne (Germany)

Christmas market in Cologne, Germany

Is Amsterdam good for Christmas markets?

Yes, the Christmas markets in Amsterdam are good and more modern than those in other countries. There are new ones opening every weekend leading up to Christmas Eve, all selling local products. Since Amsterdam can get extremely cold in winter, a warm drink at a Christmas market will be a welcomed treat. 

Is Copenhagen good at Christmas?

Yes, the city is great at displaying Christmas spirit, and some of the best Christmas markets in Europe take place in Copenhagen (Denmark). Although you can find several throughout the city, the two most famous ones are the markets at Tivoli Gardens and at Nyhavn

Is the Budapest Christmas market good?

The Budapest Christmas market is more than good: it’s widely regarded as one of the best Christmas markets in Europe. There are actually two markets: the one in Vorosmarty Square and the one in front of the Basilica. Although they’re both excellent, the Christmas market in the Basilica offers its visitors two unique activities: a roller rink for ice skating and a light show.

Christmas lights at the market in Budapest

Are Christmas markets popular in Spain?

Yes! Some of the biggest cities in Spain (like Barcelona, Madrid and Sevilla) host their own Christmas markets, where you can find traditional local food, warm drinks and more. 

What is the oldest Christmas market in Spain?

The first Christmas market in Spain took place in 1786: it was the Fira de Santa Llúcia in Barcelona. It still takes place in the original location: in front of the Catedral de Barcelona (Barcelona Cathedral).

Is the Barcelona Christmas market good?

Even though it’s not one of the biggest or more renowned markets, the Barcelona Christmas market is a wonderful winter activity if you find yourself in the city in December. 

This year the Fira de Santa Llúcia will open from November 24th to December 23rd, but there are more you can visit.

Are German Christmas markets good?

Yes, some of the best Christmas markets in Europe are in Germany. In fact, they’re usually regarded as the ultimate best markets in the world! 

Some of the best Christmas markets in Germany are found in Munich, Berlin, Nuremberg and Dresden, home of the first Christmas market in the world.