Enjoy an unforgettable atmosphere at one of the most beautiful Christmas markets in Europe. You can look forward to cheerful carols, typical gastronomic specialties, beautiful decorations, and handmade products. Buy a hot drink, listen to the sounds of Christmas carols, and let yourself be carried away by the magic of the most beautiful holidays of the year.
The Christmas markets in Nuremberg are among the most sought-after, not only in Germany. And no wonder. They are beautiful. The surrounding city, the majestic Kaiserburg towering over its historic center, and the ubiquitous half-timbered houses add a captivating atmosphere to the magical stalls.
Over 200 stalls are set up in the city center every year. Allegedly, you can buy the most beautiful Christmas decorations in them – stallholders are only allowed to sell goods made from traditional materials such as glass, wood, textiles, etc. The primary market is on the Main Square (Hauptmarkt) directly under one of the city’s landmarks – the church Virgin Mary (Frauenkirche), which has an astronomical clock. You can find others on the neighboring Rathausplatz and on the nearby Hans Sachs Platz, where there is also a nostalgic carousel. A pleasant walk will take you to the Craftsmen’s Yard (Handwerkhof), a marketplace with selected shops in tiny half-timbered houses.
A well-known figure and traditional symbol of the local markets is the Nuremberg Christmas angel Christkindl, who opens and accompanies the markets. In the times of church reforms under Martin Luther, the angel was supposed to replace the traditional Catholic Jesus. In addition to the live one, you will meet dozens of little angels offered by stallholders in Nuremberg.
Nuremberg is also the city of gingerbread, so treat yourself to the real ones here: Elizabeth’s gingerbread (Elisabetlebkuchen). The local Christmas specialty – warmed egg punch (Eierpunsch) with whipped cream – will also come to your taste. And when you get hungry, choose the local fast food: three small spicy sausages in a bun or Drei im Weckla.
Vienna is the biggest and most famous Christmas city. Several markets are held here. Austrians can’t even imagine Advent pre-Christmas markets. Four weeks before Christmas, the Christkindlmarkt is held in most Austrian cities – the Christmas market, which, for many locals, is a place where they like to go to drink Christmas punch, chat with friends, and soak up the real Christmas spirit.
And the biggest and most famous “Christmas city” is undoubtedly Vienna. On the first Sunday of Advent, Vienna lights up with Christmas lights, and Christmas stalls besiege its squares. Of all Austrian cities, Vienna has the most such market squares.
The biggest market in Vienna is the primary Christmas market on the Rathausplatz, directly in front of the local neo-Gothic town hall, whose windows are transformed into an Advent calendar every year. In addition to over a hundred stalls, you will find an Advent wreath of giant dimensions and a heart tree (Herzelbaum), a symbol of the Viennese Christmas holidays, especially for loved couples. Children, in particular, will surely enjoy the handicraft workshops on the ground floor of the town hall or a train ride through the Town Hall Park. And it is precisely the market near the town hall where you can meet Christchild – the local Christmas spirit.
If you walk from the town hall towards the Vienna Parliament and continue along the Ringstrasse, you will find yourself at the next market after a few minutes. The statue of Empress Maria Theresa in the square of the same name is surrounded by wooden stalls where you can buy Christmas-themed decorations, traditional handicrafts, and refreshments.
A visit to the Christmas village in front of the Karlskirche will undoubtedly be an experience for you. Karlspltaz Square is scented with straw, and sheep and goats graze right in the middle of the square. The artisans at this market often make their products right before you. Here, you can buy glass ornaments, candles, hammered jewelry, slippers, and other goods.
The markets in front of Schönbrunn Palace characterize the castle atmosphere. They are dominated by a giant Christmas tree (apart from the castle “backdrop”), and the most beautiful Christmas decorations can be bought here. You can also find a smaller market near another castle – Belvedere. There are not many tourists on it so that you can enjoy the undisturbed Christmas atmosphere here.
Old Vienna markets are located in the neighboring Freyung and Am Hof squares. When you get hungry, head here. In addition to refreshments, various traditional products are of course sold here.
During Advent, Vienna transforms into a magical Christmas city full of traditional markets characterized by the aroma of baked potatoes, chestnuts, and sweet roasted almonds. Not the last attraction of the Viennese markets is the hot punch of almost all fruit flavors, excellent hot chocolate, and traditional mulled wine. Drinks are sold here in a mug, for which you pay a refundable deposit, and then it’s up to you whether you get the mug refilled, return it, or take it home as a souvenir.
The largest and best-known Christmas markets in France are the markets in Strasbourg Alsace. They are renowned for their gastronomic delights, and French casual style meets German care and etiquette. In addition, the market in front of Strasbourg’s Notre-Dame Cathedral ranks among the oldest Christmas markets in Europe thanks to a more than 400-year-old tradition.
The so-called Christkindelsmärik was held at the Gothic gem, Notre-Dame Cathedral, for the first time as early as 1570. Since then, over time, it has been supplemented by markets, especially on Place Broglie, Rue de la Comédie, and Place Kléber – there, in addition to dozens of stalls from which smells of mulled wine, sausages and pretzels, there are also a decorated Christmas tree of giant dimensions and an advent calendar.
Each stall town has a different focus. For example, the market at Place des Meuniers specializes in products from the local Alsace region.
In Strasbourg, you will also come across gastronomic and other specialties from abroad during Advent. Go to Place Gutenberg to see them – this square, in the center of which stands a statue of the famous inventor of the printing press, is reserved every year for the presentation of one of the foreign countries.
The stalls offer everything from Christmas decorations to Christmas trees and gastronomic delicacies. Alsatian gastronomy is a mixture of French and German delicacies, so in the stalls here, you can try Bredle – butter aromatic sweets with different flavors, special Christmas caramels or marzipan pigs, as well as Choucroute – a dish made of sausages and cabbage, or the French specialty foie gras – goose and duck liver.
Right in the heart of Strasbourg, you can also play sports during Advent. An artificial ice rink is installed on the Place du Château near the Notre-Dame Cathedral and is skated to accompany Christmas carols. Like other churches in the city, the Notre Dame Cathedral also hosts numerous Christmas concerts. Their atmosphere is unforgettable. Nowhere else in France does Advent inspire you with as much of a Christmas atmosphere as it does here.
Krakow is undoubtedly the most sought-after Polish city for tourists. Advent, which starts in Poland at the end of November, welcomes many visitors in a festive mood yearly. Christmas is Poles’ most important Christian holiday, so everything connected with it maintains a long and intact tradition. That is why you will only meet sellers of traditional items and food at the local Christmas markets – market traders with dubious goods are not allowed here.
The biggest Christmas markets can be found in Kraków’s Main Square (Rynek Główny), which for a few weeks turns into a so-called Advent town, recognizable not only by the decorations and stalls but also by the smell of mulled wine, needles, and beeswax. In the wooden stalls, you can buy high-quality Polish handmade products from local artists – from colorful and cut flasks to woven baskets, Christmas trees, jewelry, and tied bouquets of dried flowers. Beautiful local decorations are ceramic products (angels, aroma lamps, trees, etc.). Popular products are beeswax candles and sheep wool products.
In addition to shopping in the Advent town, you can visit Sukiennica on the Market Square. In this long one-story building, you can buy traditional Polish souvenirs, such as amber jewelry, dragon statues (the symbol of Krakow), etc.
Christmas traditions, goodies, and souvenirs The Christmas atmosphere of the markets is enhanced by the tones of traditional Polish carols, which are accompanied by folk dances on the raised stage at the former town hall.
If you are in Rynka Głównem, wait for the sound of the trumpet, which will sound every hour. It is the Kraków flock that blows its trumpet from the tower of the Marian Cathedral, and it is a tradition that has survived from the time of the city’s siege by the Mongols.
Kraków is also the proud origin of a rare Christmas tradition, the production and exhibition of the so-called “Szopki krakowskie”. These colorful wooden “nativity scenes” can be up to two meters high and three meters wide and are most often inspired by St. Mary’s Cathedral or Wawel Castle. Their festive exhibition takes place every year on the first Thursday of December at the Główny Market Square next to the statue of the writer Adam Mickiewicz.
Try one of the local specialties in the city center, either in the stalls or in one of the restaurants. For example, dill soup, borscht, grilled sausage, ribs, or poached bread. Polish specialty is bigos – a dish made from fresh or sauerkraut, red meat, sausage, smoked belly, mushrooms, and spices (pepper, salt, bay leaf). You can warm up with mulled wine or tea with cherry vodka. The local specialty is excellent drinking honey. Let yourself be captivated by the beautifully decorated Krakow and the atmosphere full of smells, tastes, history, and tradition.
Prague, Czech Republic
Prague Advent markets are among Europe’s most beautiful and most visited Christmas markets. Every year, they find themselves on the list of the best Advent markets in Europe. They are popular with tourists as well as locals. It smells of trdelnik, mulled wine, and carols.
The market on Prague’s Old Town Square attracts visitors with a unique atmosphere, goodies, and a varied selection of goods in traditional wooden stands and a rich accompanying program. Nothing will put you in the Christmas mood more than the performance of local children’s choirs. The stage is located right next to a huge glittering Christmas tree. It is carefully selected every year.
However, the Old Town Square market is not the only one that takes place in Prague. Christmas stalls full of handicrafts and sweet and salty delicacies can also be found on Náměstí Republiky. Pleasantly tuned in to the tones of Christmas carols and the intoxicating aroma of mulled wine, you can head down the Christmas-decorated Na Příkopě street to Wenceslas Square. No one can even imagine its lower part in December without Christmas stalls.
The markets on Náměstí Míru (and the nearby Tyl Square) are trendy among Prague residents. This is where they offer the best welder in town. Especially in the evening, Náměstí Míru thus becomes a popular stop for people returning from work or school to warm up and chat with their acquaintances and friends: ice rink, swan feeding, and illuminated alleys.
And that standing around and drinking is a little too much for you? In Prague, they also think about sports-minded visitors. At the Fruit Market, you can skate on the artificial ice rink in winter. The tones of Christmas carols and the illuminated Stavovské Theater form the most beautiful backdrop.
Of course, it’s not just Advent markets that attract thousands of people to Prague in winter. Snow-covered streets, inviting for pleasant walks, picturesque corners of Prague, feeding swans by the Vltava, Christmas decorations, and the ever-present touch of history are other magnets inviting you to visit. Prague always manages to surprise, and what’s more, it looks excellent in its Advent garb!
Munich’s town hall creates an impressive backdrop for the markets. Munich is the state of Bavaria’s capital and the “capital of beer.” During the Advent season, however, you’ll be more comfortable with hot punch or mulled wine sold at decorated stalls in the city center. It feels majestic yet intimate and historic.
The main pre-Christmas markets are on Marienplatz Square in the city’s heart. Markets and tournaments were held here already in the Middle Ages. Looking at the magnificent yet fragile building of the Gothic New Town Hall almost makes you dizzy. It is decorated with an astronomical clock with characters reminiscent of the tournament that was held here in 1586. The Christmas post office and a kind of “heavenly office” with workshops for children are located in the town hall. If you need to warm up, run up the stairs to the tower of the Peterskirche church. You will be rewarded with an unforgettable view of the city and all the roofs of the surrounding Christmas stalls.
You will also find many stalls on the adjacent streets, Kaufingerstrasse and Weinstrasse. The Viktualienmarkt, with a tradition of over 200 years, is worth a visit. Not only children can have fun on the artificial ice rink at Karlsplatz.
Only in Munich is the Munich Feuerzangenbowle prepared in the markets. It is a red mulled wine with a characteristic flavor of caramelized sugar. Above the vessel with the wine, the stallholder fixes a large lump of sugar soaked in rum, which he lights and lets it drip into the wine in a caramelized form.
Every year, the Slovak capital, Bratislava, comes alive with a Christmas atmosphere. This metropolis will undoubtedly pleasantly surprise you (and not only) during Advent. In Bratislava, you can immerse yourself in the authentic pre-Christmas atmosphere, especially in Hlavní, Primaciální, Františkánská, and Hviezdoslavov náměstí, where the most stylishly equipped stalls are in full display from the Friday before the first Advent Sunday. They are ideal for meeting people, having a pleasant conversation, tasting traditional delicacies of all kinds, and doing small shopping.
The center of the Slovak capital, and at the same time one of the smallest capital cities in Europe, is perfect for pre-Christmas walks. It is almost one big pedestrian zone. It comprises historic winding streets that lead you from the main squares to the opulent palaces, the Old Town Hall, the picturesque Michael’s Gate, and the largest and most famous sacred monument in Bratislava – St. Martin. The historic center of Bratislava is small but all the more cozy.
If you are tired of the Advent markets in the city center but still want to get to know the city “at Christmas,” head up to Bratislava Castle. You can boldly continue browsing around the Advent stalls in one of its courtyards. Here, you will also see a giant Christmas tree and enjoy the view of the festively decorated city.
Bratislava stallholders boast various goods, such as Christmas decorations, ceramics, or handmade beeswax candles. You can also buy books and souvenirs with a Bratislava theme here. And since pre-Christmas comfort includes gastronomic delights, you must not miss vendors whose stalls waft the aroma of roasted almonds, lox, sauerkraut, punch, or even hot mead. You can warm yourself at the wooden tables with a stylish, colorful roof while eating sausage and sipping mulled wine.
A big bonus of the Advent markets in Bratislava is that the vast majority of visitors are mainly residents, among whom you will feel comfortable. Markets are popular here, where friends and acquaintances meet, and the atmosphere is contagious.AustriaChristmasCityCzech republicEuropeFranceGermanyPolandSlovakia