15 Best Christmas Markets in Europe and the UK

November 16, 2023 in Destinations, Austria, Tips for Travellers, Belgium, Events & festivals, England, Europe, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Scotland, Spain, Wales & United Kingdom

Gather up your reindeer, wrap a warm scarf around your neck and bring plenty of small change, it’s time to visit some of the best Christmas markets in Europe! The beauty of Christmas markets lies in how much is universal, like stalls selling ornaments and handmade goods, the plethora of delicious food and how much is unique to each market. It’s worth visiting different Christmas markets each year, so you can compare them all and know which ones to return to in the years to come!

We’ve rounded up the 15 best Christmas markets to visit in 2023, so you can dive into the festive season filled with joy and plenty of baked goods!
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1. Bruges Christmas Market

November 23, 2023 to January 7, 2024

Bruges is a beautiful city to visit all year round, but it is especially breathtaking during the holiday season. It’s easy to visit this little Belgian city, as you can take the Eurotunnel to Calais or the ferry to Hoek van Holland, and drive to Bruges. 

Bruges is home to two Christmas markets in the centre, with one in the main Markt square and the other in Simon Stevinplein. At both markets, you’ll find Christmas gifts, food and drinks stalls, live performances and outdoor ice skating. But the real highlight of the Bruges Christmas Market is the captivating Light Experience Trail that fills all of the city’s squares and iconic monuments with vivid colours. 

2. Cardiff Christmas Market

November 9 to December 23, 2023

This is one of the best Christmas markets in the UK for handmade gifts, as artists from across Wales flock to the Cardiff Christmas Market to showcase their work. You’ll find one-of-a-kind gifts, often with a very special Welsh touch to them. This market has been running for over 30 years, and you’ll find over 200 exhibitors selling their ware here. This is also the perfect place to get some new decorations for your Christmas tree before the big day!
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3. Berlin Christmas Markets

October 28, 2023 to January 1, 2024

This is one of the best Christmas markets in Europe for travellers who aren’t too attached to tradition. Berlin is known for its artsy and unique style, and this translates into its Christmas markets. You’ll find 80 Christmas markets here, all covering something different. For example, there’s a whole Christmas market dedicated to dogs, perfect for anyone travelling with their pup

This is the ideal place to find artistic gifts, or unique crafts to give your loved ones. You can also combine it with exploring this bustling city, which truly comes alive in winter.

The Berlin Christmas Market is also ideal for active holidaymakers, as there is a whole Winter World at Potsdamer Platz, where you can warm up from the cold with some sports. Try your hand at tobogganing, curling or ice-skating, and then enjoy a Glühwein.

4. Merano Christmas Market

November 24, 2023 to January 6, 2024

You’ll feel like you’re in Austria rather than Italy at this Christmas market, but that’s what you get when you’re so close to the border! Situated in northern Italy’s Alps, the pretty spa town of Merano is home to a bustling Christmas market. You can stroll along the stalls filled with homemade crafts, toys, ornaments and delicious delicacies, all with the backdrop of snow-capped mountains. 

This is also the perfect Christmas market to combine with a ski holiday, and after a long day on the slopes, you can fill up on Sudtirol cakes and apple strudel.
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5. Prague Christmas Market

December 2, 2023 to January 6, 2024

The Prague Christmas Market is ideal for those travelling after Christmas, as it runs all the way until the 6th of January. Prague already looks like it was snatched right from a postcard, and this sentiment only intensifies with Christmas. The market is located right in the centre of the city, between the 14th-century Church of Our Lady Before Tyn and the 15th-century astronomical clock. You’ll be so focused on this view, that it will take you a moment to notice the bustling market itself!

Swap your mulled wine for a local speciality, a glass of grog, which consists of rum, water, lemon and sugar — a bit like a Hot Toddy! Sip this as you enjoy the delicious delicacies, including garlic and cheese flatbread, fresh pancakes and glistening sausages. 

Little ones will adore the animals at the Old Town Square, where they can pet sheep, goats and a donkey!

6. Birmingham Frankfurt Christmas Market

3 November to December 23, 2023

Did you know that Frankfurt is Birmingham’s twin town? That’s why this is one of the best Christmas markets in the UK, as it recreates all the twinkle and glory of a real German Christmas market. The Birmingham Christmas Market in 2023 will go on for almost two whole months, giving you plenty of time to visit.

At this market, you’ll find all of the delicacies of a German Christmas market, including pretzels, mulled wine and bratwurst. There’s an ice rink to keep the little ones entertained and plenty of live music. 

But the real highlight of visiting the Birmingham Christmas Market in 2023 is that you can go on the nearby Big Wheel to get a bird’s eye view of the entire spectacle — glorious!
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7. Swansea Christmas Street Market

November 24 to December 20, 2023

The Swansea Christmas Street Market starts with a parade, which is definitely worth watching. It features a marching band, actors in festive costumes, and Santa with all of his helpers. They’ll head through the city centre and switch on the Christmas lights to commence this bustling market.

Once the performance is over, you can explore the rest of Swansea Christmas Street Market, including an ice rink, Santa’s Grotto, plenty of craft stalls and delicious food. 

8. Aberdeen Christmas Village

November 17 to December 23, 2023

This Christmas market in Aberdeen is only growing more popular with each passing year and is simultaneously growing bigger and bigger. It features a bit of everything, attracting sellers from across Scotland, and even the rest of Europe.

You’ll find stocking fillers, traditional wooden toys, German foods like Bratwurst, and perhaps the best beer in Scotland. Of course, this is also a great place to buy some malt whisky to bring home for your loved ones — or keep for yourself on Christmas Eve!

If you manage to tear yourself away from the stalls, you can visit the ice rink, go on fairground rides and watch the frequent carol performances.
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9. Cologne Christmas Market

November 23 to December 23, 2023

This is the last German Christmas Market on our list, we promise! This delightful city is worth visiting any time of the year, but especially at Christmas. You’ll find several Christmas markets in Cologne, with the largest one in the city centre. It truly looks like something out of a dream, with hundreds of twinkling lights hanging above you like stars, and angels decorating the skyline. 

The Cologne Christmas Market is a great place to purchase unusual gifts. You’ll find something for everyone, whether that’s mythical gnomes, books on maritime history, or liquor made from every type of fruit imaginable. 

And it wouldn’t be one of the best Christmas markets in Europe without an outdoor ice skating rink, which you’ll find on Heumarkt. 

10. Bath Christmas Market

November 23 to December 10, 2023

This time you don’t have to take our word for it, as the Bath Christmas Market was voted one of the UK’s favourite Christmas markets! This market aims to complement the city’s famous Roman baths and surrounds the city centre. You’ll find everything from cosy knitted mittens to artisanal cheeses. 

Just keep in mind that this market runs for a lot shorter than others on this list, so visit early in December to get your Christmas shopping out of the way.
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11. Salzburg Christmas Market

November 23, 2023 to January 1, 2024

What makes this Christmas market so special is the music, and you wouldn’t expect anything less from the hometown of the great Mozart. You’ll find plenty of live performances around this traditional Christmas market.

Gazing around at the snow-lined streets and bustling market stalls, it’ll feel like you’ve been transported back to the 15th century, which was when this renowned Christmas market was first set up. 

It’s not one for novelty gifts or unusual finds, but the Salzburg Christmas Market is ideal for traditional gifts, so expect plenty of hand-knitted socks, tree ornaments and delicious Austrian delicacies.

12. Budapest Christmas Market

November 18, 2023 to January 1, 2024

Budapest is actually home to two popular Christmas markets. The first is Vorosmarty Square, which is situated right at the heart of the city and is Budapest’s oldest Christmas market. It’s filled with handicraft shops and food stalls, with a real focus on the traditional market style. It also has free concerts every day, so you can enjoy beautiful music as you shop.

The second is Basilica. This features many of the same things as Vorosmarty Square but more modernised. There are festive laser projections on the Basilica and a massive ice-skating rink around a huge Christmas tree.
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13. Strasbourg Christmas Market

November 24 to December 24, 2023

Our list of the best Christmas markets in Europe would not be complete without the ‘Capital of Christmas’ in France! As soon as you enter the Strasbourg Christmas Market, you’ll see how it earned this illustrious title. It’s a massive market, with over 300 transitional stalls, wooden decorations everywhere, and visitors from across Europe.

All the photos you’ll be snapping away will surely work up an appetite, which you can fill with local delicacies like sausages, gingerbread and kugelhopf.

14. Edinburgh Christmas Market

November 17, 2023 to January 6, 2024

We have no doubt that Edinburgh is home to one of the best Christmas markets in the UK. It has something for everyone, especially the little ones, with a Santa’s Grotto, fairground rinds, an oval ice rink, a Christmas Tree Maze with an elves’ workshop in the ventre, and more. 

To make it truly special, Edinburgh Christmas Market features plenty of Harry Potter-themed gifts, a fun nod to the birthplace of this children’s classic. Rather than mulled wine, you can enjoy mulled Irn Bru while you stroll through the decorated streets of Edinburgh. 

This city is always known for its artistic talent, and the Christmas market is no different. You’ll find plenty of local performances, as well as talent showcases at pubs across the city. Once you’ve had your fill of the Christmas market, head to the Royal Botanic Garden to witness the incredible Christmas illuminations.
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15. Seville Christmas Market

December 1, 2023 to January 5, 2024

Our list of the best Christmas markets in Europe wouldn’t be complete without a trip down south, bringing a slightly warmer climate for your holiday cheer. The Seville Christmas market in Spain will provide an artistic, cultural and entertaining atmosphere, perfect for getting you in the festive spirit, despite the lack of snow. Situated around the Seville Cathedral, you can stroll past countless wooden stalls featuring artsy Andalusian gifts and delicious food. You could go for a Christmas classic, like gingerbread, or a Spanish classic, like churros. You’ll also spot nativity scenes and musical choirs all around, providing the full festive experience.

There is no better way to get into the Christmas spirit than visiting a festive market. It’s a great way to find unique and personal gifts, opting to shop local and support small businesses. But the real attraction to these Christmas markets is the delicious food and drink you’ll find, plenty of which you can bring home to enjoy over the holiday season. 

If you’re looking to extend your trip, check out the best places in the UK to visit in winter, and our top tips for Christmas camping in a campervan.  Happy holidays!