European Christmas Markets Will Capture Your Heart

As we are writing this from Florida, warmth and sunny skies deceive us into thinking Christmas isn’t far away. After five cold Christmas’ we’ve gotten used to the crisp air and just as the days become short and dreary, suddenly colorful lights appear and cute little wooden stalls are constructed. Yes, it’s time to be warmed by Glühwein (mulled wine or warm spiced wine) and delicious treats. There’s nothing better than awesome European Christmas Markets to lift the gloom of winter!

German Christmas Markets

So who holds the title for best Christmas market? Well, the Germans started the tradition in the 1400’s. So they have amazing markets all across the country. Alex and I have been to the Nuremberg Christmas Market and the Munich Christmas Market. Both were fantastic.

The Christkindlesmarkt in Nuremberg attracts over 2 millions visitors, so it is very crowded. Try and go in the evening. A lot of visitors are bussed in on tours during the day, so it’s even busier then. We personally preferred the Christmas Market in Munich over Nuremberg because it was more spacious.

Amsterdam Christmas Market

Outside of Germany, you can find European Christmas Markets across the continent. Amsterdam unfortunately doesn’t put on the best Christmas Market, mainly because it is small, overpriced and the quality of food and merchandise isn’t great. If you are in the Netherlands you would be better off heading to Maastricht in the south as they apparently put on a better show.

Brussels Christmas Market

We do however love the Christmas markets held in neighbouring Brussels. It stretches 2km and offers everything you would expect from a Christmas market and more. They even have escargot stalls- yup, fast food snails. Brussels generally has fantastic food, and their markets reflects this. They have your typical bratwürste sausages but lots of other yummy treats, with a quintessential Belgian twist.

European Christmas Markets Recap

Most markets are held in the town square. However Dublin does things a little differently. We did not make it to Dublin’s Christmas market last year as we had just moved and didn’t have time. But we will change that this year and be sure to get back to you on what we think of Ireland’s take on it. Christmas markets bring joy and entertainment, which are key to surviving winters.

We know there are loads of other great European Christmas markets scattered across the continent. Let us know if you have a favourite!


  • Alex&Bell

    Alex and Bell originally met while solo traveling after finishing university in 2002, in Brugge, Belgium. Alex grew up in the USA and Bell hails from Australia. During our nearly 20 year marriage we've lived around the world, including spending six years living in the Netherlands and Ireland. We have traveled to nearly 70 countries and enjoy giving readers authentic and quality travel tips. Alex is an award winning travel journalist and travel planner, who also freelances for other outlets. Bell is an award winning PhD scientist who currently works for a non-profit lung cancer advocacy research organization called Lungevity. Happy travels and if you have any questions leave a comment or drop an email!

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6 thoughts on “European Christmas Markets Will Capture Your Heart

    1. For the most part yes, but the quality changes along with variety. Glühwein can be gross if not made well, so it is nice to have choice with respect to that!

  1. I’m doing my christmas market planning and looks like I’ll have to skip Amsterdam. Such a shame, i was really hoping it was a good one.

    1. Hey Ann! When we moved to Amsterdam in 2008 they amazingly didn’t even put on a Christmas market and we were amazed at what a missed opportunity it was. They started putting on a market in Rembrantplein in 2010. We last experienced their Christmas market before moving in 2011. Maybe it’ll be better this year, but I’d be dubious. Belgians generally place a greater emphasis on food than the Dutch so that’s one thing reflected in the market. And if Amsterdam continues to hold the market in Rembrantplein there just isn’t the space to expand the party!! Amsterdam can also take tourists for granted because they visit anyway and hotels are frequently near capacity. Highly recommend Brussels over Amsterdam during Christmas season!

  2. As far as German Christmas markets go, the smaller the market is usually equates to more authenticity (in traditional food and hand-made crafts). Try Trier, Bernkastel-Kues, and the tiny two-day market in Dudeldorf. Outside of Germany, I have heard of, and not yet visited, the caves in Valkenburg, NL. Also, Strasbourg, FR, puts on a nicely decorated market.

    1. Thank you for the tips, Jackie! We would one day love to check out some of the smaller Christmas markets in Germany. Strasbourg also sounds fantastic, as it would be great to experience a French version…awesome food no doubt!!! 🙂

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