The best Christmas markets in Europe and where to stay

These days, most cities want to take advantage of the magic that Christmas markets can bring, but it takes more than a few fairy lights and expensive trinkets to make one truly special. You want the right mix of fantastic food stalls, a few places to shop for gifts beyond the usual wooden toys on offer, and an atmosphere that will get even the grumpiest of Grinches into the festive mood. Here are 10 of the best options in Europe.

Budapest, Hungary

They like to start the Christmas season early in Budapest, where food and gift stalls appear on Vorosmarty Square from the beginning of November. The square in front of St. Stephen’s Basilica also joins the fun, with ice skating and more delicious Hungarian food and trinket stalls, along with smaller markets in Deak Square and Fovam Square. Just follow the scent of cinnamon chimney cake mixed with mulled wine.

When: November 4, 2022 to December 31, 2023

To stay: D8 Hotel is a simple but modern three star, not far from Vorosmarty Square; doubles from £70.

Zagreb, Croatia

Croatia’s capital enters a six-week festive frenzy, when at least a dozen Christmas markets take over Zagreb. They are everywhere: in parks, along paths in the hills, in tunnels, in squares and pedestrian streets. Not surprisingly, in Croatia you find many more food stalls than gifts, so let your nose be your guide. Then join the ice skaters as they glide down the rink that twists and turns at Ledeni Park.

When: November 26, 2022 to January 7, 2023

To stay: Hotel 9 is a contemporary boutique hotel with free breakfast and a rooftop terrace; doubles from £78.

Lille, France

A quick jog across the English Channel on the Eurostar or Eurotunnel and you are in the heart of French Flanders. Rustic wooden chalets fill Lille’s Place Rihour, selling toys and gifts alongside tempting tubs of cheesy tartiflette and sweet waffles dripping with chocolate. Just around the corner in the majestic Grand Place, take a ride on the giant Ferris wheel before seeing more stalls and the Christmas grotto.

When: November 24 to December 30, 2022

To stay: Mama Shelter Lille brings couples a fun, modern design with a stylish bar/restaurant; doubles from £76.

(Adam Batterbee)

Berlin Germany

More than 70 Christmas markets spread across Berlin and its suburbs, offering you an amazing choice. The largest is in the old town of Spandau, a historic western suburb of Berlin. For something more central, check out the stalls at Gendarmenmarkt for the classic German Christmas market experience. Jump through the centuries at Alexanderplatz, where there is a medieval market and a Ferris wheel that offers fabulous views.

When: November 21 to December 26

To stay: The four-star NH Collection Berlin hotel has modern rooms a stone’s throw from the Gendarmenmarkt; doubles from £95.

Vienna, Austria

Posh Vienna gets a brilliant makeover as 14 markets pop up around the city. For a full traditional Christmas, stroll through the market in front of Schönnbrunn Palace and the Christmas Village that takes over Maria-Theresien-Platz. Join the ice skaters at the Vienna Christmas World rink at Rathausplatz after you’ve sampled all the Austrian culinary delights on sale at the Advent Delight Market next to the Opera.

When: Dates vary from November 11, 2022 to January 8, 2023

To stay: The four-star Parkhotel Schönbrunn, near Schönnbrunn Palace, offers elegant and spacious rooms; doubles from £86.

Bruges, Belgium

Picturesque Bruges has loads of Christmas charm, with its medieval gingerbread house-style buildings festooned with fairy lights. Known as ‘Christmas Glow’, its celebrations go beyond the Markt, where you’ll find craft and food stalls, with more bars and pop-up stalls just around the corner at Simon Stevinplein, and extend to a light trails and skating experience. on ice on the track in front of the bell tower. Best of all, this picturesque city can be reached by train from the UK in just 3 hours 30 minutes by taking the Eurostar to Brussels and then a service to Bruges.

When: November 25, 2022 to January 8, 2023

To stay: The 3-star Martin’s Brugge is just behind the famous 13th-century bell tower and 50 meters from the central market square; doubles from £76.

Copenhagen, Denmark

The wonderfully over-the-top Tivoli Gardens get even more delightfully kitsch when the Christmas market takes over. In addition to browsing the food and gift stalls, you can take a spin at the ice skating rink. And if you happen to be in Copenhagen on December 13, you can watch St. Lucia’s floating parade of light-adorned kayaks down the canals.

When: November 19 to December 31, 2022

To stay: A three-minute walk from Tivoli Gardens, CitizenM’s Rådhuspladsen outpost, a favorite of millennials, offers easy sophistication at affordable prices; doubles from £74.

(Maria Eklind/flickr)

basel, switzerland

Smaller in scale but full of charm, the Basel Christmas Market boasts 155 stalls from Münsterplatz to Barfüsserplatz, where the array of food stalls will tempt you with gooey raclette and chunky sausages. If you haven’t had enough to eat, check out the food stalls along the right bank of the Rhine at Claraplatz.

When: November 24 to December 23, 2022

To stay: The Passage has an urban design as well as a gym and sauna; doubles from £107.

Strasbourg, France

The oldest and largest Christmas market in France makes this exquisitely pretty city quite extraordinary. Once you’ve marveled at the Christmas scene in front of the imposing cathedral, browse the 100 or so stalls on Place Broglie before sampling Alsatian delicacies at the Place du Marché-aux-Poissons market. Strasbourg is also home to the OFF Market, a socially responsible way to celebrate the season, with second-hand stalls and fair trade products.

When: November 25 to December 24, 2022

To stay: The 4-star BOMA lifestyle hotel has brightly colored rooms, a fitness room and a lively bar/restaurant; doubles from £155.

(Daniel Schönen)

Birmingham, United Kingdom

Germany comes to Britain as the Frankfurt Christmas Market takes over Victoria Square. It’s the largest German market outside of Germany, and the place to fill up on sausages, glühwein, schnitzel, and every other type of winter comfort food. Right next door is the Christmas Craft Market, with more than 80 stalls to browse.

When: November 3 to December 23, 2022

To stay: Malmaison Birmingham brings stylish rooms to a canalside location not far from Victoria Square; Doubles from £85.

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