Christmas Markets in Europe to Get You in the Holiday Spirit

The best way to celebrate the holiday season in Europe? Visit craft-filled wooden stalls, watch performances by Christmas carolers, or take in the lights at these delightfully festive markets.

A distinctly European tradition, Christmas markets are essentially amusement parks for the winter holidays, bringing the spirit of the season to life in the form of seasonal treats, goods, and attractions. They’re not exactly hard to come by in Europe—Germany alone has almost 70 spread across the country. But that doesn’t mean they’re all the same. As the most wonderful time of the year approaches, we’ve rounded up eight unique Christmas markets in Europe. Some are lesser-known and others are well-trodden, but each is a must-see during the holiday season.

Dates will vary but generally Christmas markets across Europe open in mid- or late November and close around January 1. Some are open until just after Three Kings’ Day—the 12th day of Christmas—which falls on January 6, though the operations are noticeably quieter.

1. Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square Christmas Markets

Prague, Czech Republic

Prague’s largest Christmas markets are in the heart of the city, just a five-minute walk from each other, so you can easily explore both in one day. Old Town Square’s festivities include daily carol concerts, dozens of stalls selling traditional crafts, and a brightly lit central Christmas tree, while the Wenceslas Square market specializes in handmade goods and Czech treats such as klobása (Czech sausage) and Pražská šunka (roasted ham). If that’s not enough, Prague Castle will also hold a Christmas market on the square in front of St. George’s Basilica in 2023.

How to visit

Christmas markets in Prague are open every day from December 2 through January 6, 2024, including on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day.

The Ravenna Gorge Christmas Market, with snow, beneath railroad bridge carrying red train

The Ravenna Gorge Christmas Market is located in Germany’s Black Forest.

Photo by Olga Niekrasova/Shutterstock

2. Ravenna Gorge Christmas Market

Black Forest Highlands, Germany

The setting of the Ravenna Gorge Christmas Market—in a gorge under the viaduct of the Höllentalbahn railway in the Black Forest Highlands—is best described as straight out of a fairy tale. The market’s various stalls are surrounded by forest, which adds a true “winter wonderland” feel when dusted with snow. Unlike most other German Christmas markets, which are open daily, the Ravenna Gorge Christmas Market is only open on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.

How to visit

The pop-up shopping and entertainment fair takes place from the last weekend in November (November 24–6) through December 17.

Rows of small ornaments, including Santas and animals, at the Velvet Cave Christmas Market

Head underground to shop ornaments and more at the Velvet Cave Christmas Market.

Photo by Hans Wrang/Shutterstock

3. Velvet Cave Christmas Market

Valkenburg, Netherlands

This Valkenburg holiday celebration features more than 50 vendors alongside the intricately detailed chapel, murals, and sculptures in the Netherlands’ 18th-century Velvet Cave (a network of passageways below the Valkenburg Castle ruins). The Christmas market is set within a maze of underground passageways and rooms, making an experience here both a festive shopping trip and a historical tour.

How to visit

This year’s edition of the Velvet Cave Christmas Market will be open to guests from November 17 until December 30 (with the exception of Christmas Day, when it will be closed).

Fountain at Piazza Navona, with holiday market in background

At the holiday market in Piazza Navona, visitors can shop and snack on Italian delicacies.

Photo by Shuang Li/Shutterstock

4. Christmas and Epiphany Market in Piazza Navona

Rome, Italy

Set in one of Rome’s grandest piazzas, the Christmas and Epiphany Market in Piazza Navona juxtaposes the new—think sweet treats like torrone (a type of Italian nougat), souvenir-style trinkets like handmade ornaments, twinkling lights, and Mylar balloons—with the gravitas of the 1st-century outdoor plaza, filled with three massive fountains. It’s one of the largest Christmas markets in Italy.

How to visit

Throughout December until January 6, visitors can browse stalls filled with handmade crafts, Italian treats, and local art, all while keeping an eye open for the oft-appearing Babbo Natale (otherwise known as Father Christmas).

Outdoor Christmas market in Vienna at dusk, with large, lit City Hall in background

Christmas markets in Vienna date back to the Middle Ages.

Photo by S. Borisov/Shutterstock

5. Vienna Christmas Dream Market

Vienna, Austria

In 1298, Austria’s capital held its very first Christmas market. Today, there are more than 20 Christmas-related events to choose from across Vienna during the holiday season. Revelers can enjoy reindeer rides, sip glühwein (a hot spiced wine), nibble on roast chestnuts, marvel over classic nativity scenes, and wander through more than 150 food and souvenir stalls in front of the grandiose City Hall at the Vienna Christmas Dream Market.

How to visit

This year, Vienna’s Christmas Dream Market is open from November 10 to December 26.

6. Royal Christmas Market at the Hohenzollern Castle

Burg Hohenzollern, Germany

With a location high atop a mountain overlooking the southern Germany countryside (just north of the border with Switzerland) the Royal Christmas Market at the Hohenzollern Castle challenges visitors to decide between browsing the festive goods or taking in the sweeping views first. Don’t worry: While the castle’s interior rooms house most of the market’s vendors, ticketed visitors are free to roam the treasure room, two churches, cellars, and outdoor terraces of the Prussian royal family’s ancestral seat.

How to visit

The market will be open November 25 through December in 2023.

A few vendors' stalls at St. Gallen Christmas Market

Mix history with holiday shopping at the St. Gallen Christmas Market.

Photo by Mauro Piccardi/Shutterstock

7. St. Gallen Christmas Market

St. Gallen, Switzerland

It’s not every day that you can visit a UNESCO World Heritage site, explore a historic Swiss town, and get your Christmas shopping done all in one place—but that’s exactly what the St. Gallen Christmas Market offers to the thousands of guests who visit each holiday season. While visitors are often taken with the series of stands lined up from the Waaghaus (a historic building in the old town) to Market Square, they shouldn’t forget to look up: The sky over St. Gallen is illuminated by 700 electric lights in the shape of stars every year during Advent; locals have nicknamed the quaint town in northern Switzerland “the city of stars.” Back on the ground, you can enjoy merry-go-rounds, seasonal drinks and food, choir performances, and a lit Christmas tree.

How to visit

This year, visitors can attend the market from November 30 through December 24.

Entry gate to Copenhagen’s Tivoli Gardens lit at night, with Christmas trees in background

During the holidays, Copenhagen’s Tivoli Gardens are decorated with bright lights and Christmas trees.

Photo by Shutterstock

8. Christmas in Tivoli

Copenhagen, Denmark

Bring the whole family along to the annual Christmas in Tivoli in Copenhagen, when the world’s second-oldest operating amusement park opens a festive market alongside its famed year-round attractions, rides, and games. Locals and tourists of all ages will be delighted by the more than 1,000 lit Christmas trees and approximately 60 stalls with seasonal offerings, including Christmas treats (like gingerbread hearts and marzipan), decorations, and gifts.

How to visit

For the 2023 holiday season, the Tivoli market will be open from November 19 to December 31.

A version of this article originally appeared online in December 2016; it was updated on October 18, 2023, to include current information.

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