The Best Places to go for Christmas in Europe

There’s a magic that descends upon Europe during the Christmas season, turning every cobblestone street into a scene from a cherished Christmas movie. For someone like me, who grew up watching these movies and dreaming of a snowy wonderland, visiting Europe during this time is like stepping into those beloved tales.

Hailing from a sunny country where snow is a distant dream, the first sight of those snow-covered streets and rooftops is nothing short of extraordinary. That’s why, every year, I make it a point to travel to Europe during Christmas. It’s the most enchanting period of the year, and being part of the traditions, witnessing the Christmas trees, lights adorning every corner, and the delightful aromas of traditional dishes all come to life in front of my eyes.

Having wandered through numerous Christmas Markets and explored many cities during this festive time, I’ve felt the joyous spirit of Christmas in each one. It’s an experience beyond compare—walking through a labyrinth of stalls at the markets, each offering unique crafts, sipping on mulled wine to warm the soul, and indulging in seasonal delights like gingerbread and roasted chestnuts.

That’s precisely why I crafted this guide—an ode to the best places to experience Christmas in Europe. From the timeless charm of Colmar to the bustling markets of Cologne, each city offers its unique blend of magic. It’s about more than just the markets; it’s about immersing oneself in a culture steeped in festive traditions, exploring the snowy landscapes, and feeling the warmth of Christmas in the air.

So, here’s to the magical allure of Europe during Christmas—the place where dreams of snowy winters and festive wonderlands come true. It’s a journey I eagerly embark on, time and again, to witness the extraordinary beauty and timeless traditions that make this season truly special.

I hope this captures the enchantment and wonder of experiencing Christmas in Europe!

Brussels, Belgium

Particularly one of my favorite places to go for Christmas in Europe, and one of the main reasons for this is the beautiful sound & light show in the Grand Place. Every year the UNESCO World Heritage Site transforms into a magical scene, with colorful lights dancing around the buildings to powerful sounds. 

Every year the theme of the show changes, the first time I watched it, it was so emotional I cried (and I dont usually do that). 

Besides this show, Brussels offers different events, shows, and street performances across the city, that usually happen at night. So pay attention around you, and check their official website for more information on special events in the city during Christmas. 

Another good reason to spend Christmas time in Brussels is of course its waffles! There is no better waffles in this whole world than those in Brussels, trust me! There are many shops where you can buy them close to the Grand Place of the Manequi Piss, these are my two favorite locations to buy waffles as you can eat them while you enjoy a nice view. 

Bruges, Belgium

Bruges is often referred to as the “Venice of the North,” the Belgium town that transforms into a fairytale-like setting during Christmas. The little medieval town is adorned with festive lights and decorations in its main landmarks and streets such as the  Belfry Tower, Markt Square, and the canals, creating a mesmerizing scene.

Bruges counts with many Christmas Markets, the most famous being the Markt Square, which sells traditional dishes, including the cherry on top of any trip to Belgium: The Chocolate. 

Vienna, Austria

Vienna is probably the most famous destination for those who love Christmas. 

The Austrian capital is renowned for its splendid Christmas Markets. The Christkindlmarkt at Rathausplatz (City Hall Square) is the most famous, offering a dazzling array of stalls selling traditional crafts, seasonal gifts, delicious treats like roasted nuts, and delightful mulled wine.

Other Christmas Markets such as the one at Schönbrunn Palace and Karlsplatz are set against the backdrop of stunning palaces and historical landmarks, enhancing the festive experience with grandeur and history.

London, England

London is a city I could visit all year round. But there are perks to visit it during Christmas. If you are planning to enjoy Christmas Time in London, I would suggest getting there by the end of November, instead of December though. 

We all know England is all about tradition, so as you can imagine, Christmas is a big thing in the whole country. 

If you are heading to London, expect to find a city all decorated.  London’s most famous streets, such as Oxford Street, and Regent take on a special charm during the festive season, adorned with Christmas decorations and lights.

And it is on these streets that lie the perks of visiting London in November. Besides Christmas, London’s Black Friday culture is huge. Black Fridays happen every last Friday of November, and almost every shop in these two streets participates, offering 50% sometimes even more than that in discount. Although the amount of people that hit the streets to get the deals can be almost unbearable sometimes, for some reason the energy helps get me immersed in the Christmas vibe!

But if you get tired of all the shopping, don’t worry, you will find many Christmas Markets scattered across the city, where you can buy yourself a hot chocolate and gingerbread and enjoy it while you admire one of the many landmarks of the city. 

The most famous Christmas Market though is definitely the one in Hyde Park, known as the Winter Wonderland. It is the biggest Christmas Market in London and counts with an ice skating rink, carnival rides, festive shows, and a vibrant atmosphere that captivates visitors of all ages.

Rovaniemi, Finland

Rovaniemi is known as the official hometown of Santa Claus, and as you can imagine, one of the highlights of the city is the Santa Claus village, a Christmas-themed amusement park. Inside the park, you can visit Santa Claus himself, take pictures, and even visit his office and leave him a letter. 

The environment gets even more magical during the Christmas season when you have more chances to see the Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights. 

Another cool experience is visiting one of the many Reindeer farms, where you can have contact with this beautiful animal and even try to ride a sleigh. 

Rothenburg, Germany

The medieval town of Rothenburg is already a dream place for anyone who likes fairytales, now imagine it in the winter, during Christmas!

Rothenburg hosts one of Germany’s oldest and most picturesque Christmas Markets, the Reiterlesmarkt. Its over 50 stalls offer handmade crafts, ornaments, and local treats like gingerbread, hot chocolate, etc. 

If you have a thing for Christmas decoration, don’t forget to take a look at the Käthe Wohlfahrt, a retail shop that sells everything Christmas. 

The city also has a German Christmas Museum showcasing different decorations from the 19th and 20th centuries. 

Cologne, Germany

Cologne is famous for its enchanting Christmas Markets. The most popular is the Cologne Cathedral Christmas Market, set against the stunning backdrop of the Cologne Cathedral, the beautiful Gothic Cathedral that was once the tallest building in the world and is still the tallest twin-spired church.

The Cologne Christmas Market is considered the largest and most visited one in Germany, with over 200 stalls, selling delicacies, ornaments, and traditional crafts, they are all organized around a twenty-five-metre-high Christmas tree. 

Cologne counts with other Christmas Markets though, including one in the Alter Markt and Neumarkt, which are very famous. 

Colmar, France

Probably the most Instagrammed town at Christmas? Well, recently Colmar got all the attention thanks to Instagram, so although it is a small town, you have probably already heard of it or seen the many photos and videos of a beautiful timber-framed building decorated with huge teddy bears. Yes? So yeah, you know Colmar. 

Colmar is a well-preserved medieval town that seems to have come directly from a fairytale. The town’s charming ambiance and festive decorations become even more enchanting during Christmas.

During Christmas time, the entire town is illuminated with thousands of twinkling lights and festive decorations. The historical buildings and squares, especially in the La Petite Venise district, create a magical backdrop for the Christmas Markets, which is one of the most famous in the town. 

Colmar’s Christmas Markets offer a variety of Alsatian treats, including gingerbread, bredele (traditional Alsatian cookies), foie gras, and local wines, so don’t miss the opportunity to try them!

Traditional Estonian Christmas Market

Tallinn, Estonia

The Old Town of Tallinn, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, becomes even more enchanting during Christmas. The medieval-looking town, with its historic buildings, and Gothic architecture adorned with festive decorations creates a fairytale-like ambiance.

Tallinn’s surrounding landscapes, including the views from Toompea Hill, provide a scenic view of the snow-covered cityscape, helping to set the ambiance for the Christmas season. 

Tallinn’s Christmas market was elected the best Christmas Market in Europe in 2019, the main market, located at the Town Hall Square counts with a beautiful 14-meter tall Christmas tree, adorned with ornaments and lights. The market offers a variety of handmade crafts, Estonian Christmas delicacies, mulled wine, and local treats like gingerbread and sauerkraut.

Christmas season in Tallinn is also a great time of the year to try the traditional husky sleigh rides, many companies offer this kind of activity, that, as the name says, consists of a sleigh being pulled by dogs!

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