Top 5 European Christmas Markets You Can’t Miss This Winter

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Twinkling lights, towering ornate trees, warm mulled wine – these are some of the things that come to mind when we think of traditional Christmas markets. While we see Christmas markets all over the world, Europe is where they all started and arguably where they come into their own best.

With countless markets across the continent, we’ve rounded up the top 5 European Christmas markets we think you should visit this year, as well as why these 5 are the best. Can’t come to Europe? Check out our top 5 Christmas markets in the US

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Christmas Markets in Dresden

The oldest known Christmas market in Europe is the Striezelmarkt in Dresden, Germany, which was founded way back in 1434. The Striezelmarkt sets the bar high for all other markets and is still in business – celebrating their 588e market this year!

Although it has evolved beyond recognition (they certainly didn’t have a Ferris wheel or thousands of bright, sparkling lights), the tradition remains the same and has inspired Christmas markets around the world.

Sign at the entrance to the Christmas markets of Dresden

The heavy hitters are not always in the major European cities. While popular destinations like Munich, Vienna and Brussels are sure to play host to some fantastic Christmas markets, traveling off the beaten track will reward travelers with a more intimate, authentic and unique experience. And with the current strength of the US dollar, these destinations are all great options for US tourists this year.

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Mulled wine simmers in Budapest's Christmas markets as thirsty spectators watch

Basel, Switzerland: the best Christmas trees

Nestled in a beautiful corner of Switzerland on the Rhine, Basel borders Germany and France, making it a city with a unique blend of cultures. Visitors to the Basel Christmas Market are welcomed by hundreds of brightly lit trees lining the streets leading to the market.

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The beautiful main Christmas tree soars above the market and is beautifully decorated by Johann Wanner, a local craftsman and the world’s largest producer of hand-blown and hand-painted Christmas decorations. Visitors can visit Wanner’s nearby shop and take home a unique ornament to commemorate their trips to Basel.

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Salzburg, Austria: Best Christmas Carols

Best known as Mozart’s city, Salzburg is also home to Josef Mohr, the composer who wrote one of the world’s most famous Christmas carols, Silent Night. The musical traditions of this World Heritage-listed Old Town sparkle at the city’s Chriskindlmarkt, where traditional Christmas carols and nightly concerts bring the Christmas cheer to everyone within earshot.

Salzburg Austria

Budapest, Hungary: The Best Christmas Lights

Advent Festival at the Basilica in Budapest is no stranger to “best of” lists, as it has won several awards for its Christmas market in previous years. The shining star of this market is the laser light projections on the basilica that transform the building into a giant Advent calendar where every day a new window reveals a different painting.

Local artisans proudly sell their wares, which have been curated by the Association of Hungarian Folk Artists for the purpose of showcasing traditional Hungarian culture to all who visit the market.

Bright lights illuminate the tree and buildings at the Budapest Christmas Market

Strasbourg, France: Most Charming Christmas Market

Strasbourg, the self-proclaimed capital of Christmas, is easily Europe’s most charming Christmas market. Strasbourg’s Christmas Market, located along the Rhine near the German border, dates back to 1570. This beautiful fairytale city transforms into a veritable winter wonderland covered with miles of lights during the festive season.

Visitors can support local artisans selling their handicrafts at dozens of wooden market stalls and take home authentic gifts of wooden toys, local pottery, and hand-blown glass baubles. No trip to Strasbourg’s Christmas Market is complete without trying the traditional dishes, including “bredele” (small cookies), “mannele” (brioche in the shape of little men), gingerbread and hot mulled wine.

Strasbourg France looks iconic with its Christmas glow

Copenhagen, Denmark: Best market for fun

The Christmas market at Tivoli in Copenhagen has something for everyone. Located in the famous Tivoli Gardens, this market is pure magic. Copenhagen is already a city full of fun and really puts its best foot forward in Tivoli. The entire market is draped in twinkling lights and the Tivoli Youth Guard plays festive music throughout the park.

Bright Christmas trees take up residence among the old-fashioned fairground rides, and Santa Claus and his reindeer usually make an appearance. Tivoli’s Christmas market also has several fireworks displays and vendors sell delicious Christmas cakes and donuts that go perfectly with a mug of the local glogg.

The entrance to the Tivoli Christmas market is very bright and welcoming ?

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