The shorter days and colder nights can only mean one thing… it’s nearly time for the Christmas Market season to begin. Over the next few weeks we will see the streets and market squares of the beautiful European cities come alive with Christmas spirit. Each year during the run up to Christmas I try to visit at least one European Christmas Market, but this year I have planned to visit two cities. My first trip will be to Salzburg in Austria, which has come highly recommended by a family member so I hope it does not disappoint. The second will be to Dusseldorf in Germany, a market that I have visited many years ago, long before I founded WorldWideWill.
If you haven’t yet booked your Christmas market break there are still some fantastic deals up for grabs at British Airways and on Lastminute.com, but here are a few of my favourites from previous years to wet your appetite!
WorldWideWill’s Top 5 European Christmas Market Breaks
5 – Basel, Switzerland
I visited the Basel Christmas Market for two days in December 2014. The markets are located at various locations around the city, with the main markets being located in Munsterplatz and Burfusserplatz. The markets stalls are mainly traditional log cabins which are beautifully decorated and offer a wide range of products, from beautiful Christmas decorations to delicious food, sweets and drinks. Don’t miss the rustic pizzas which seemed to be available everywhere!
British Airways offer daily services to Basel from London Heathrow, and easyJet also fly to Basel daily from London Gatwick and Luton. The city centre is easily accessible from the airport by taxi, bus or tram.
4 – Munich, Germany
I made a last-minute stop at the Munich Christmas Market in 2016 because I had an evening lay-over in Munich on my way to Australia. I thought I would travel into the city to visit the markets rather than stay at the airport hotel – and I’m glad I did! The markets are located mainly in and around Marienplatz, which was easily accessible from the airport on the train. The markets stalls are some of the most festively decorated that I have seen, although the actual size of the market wasn’t as big as some that I have visited. There is plenty of Gluhwein and Wursts to enjoy, but don’t forget to try some Kartoffelpuffer which are delicious fried potato cakes, enjoyed with either apple sauce or garlic mayo!
There are daily services to Munich from London Heathrow on British Airways, as well as daily flights on easyJet from London Gatwick, Stansted and Luton. The city centre is easily accessible from the airport by taxi or train.
3 – Brussels, Belgium
I visited the Christmas Markets in Brussels in 2016 for a long weekend. The Markets in Brussels were very extensive, with the main markets located in Marché aux Poissons, near Place Sainte-Catherine, with markets also in the surrounding areas as well as in the roads and squares between Place Sainte-Catherine and Grand Place. There was also a large Nativity scene and Christmas tree located in Grand Place. The markets in Brussels were probably the most extensive that I have visited to date, with many stalls offering a large range of food, drinks and Christmas related decorations and gifts.
There are many ways of getting to Brussels, either by Eurostar from London or you can fly from Heathrow, Gatwick, City and Stansted to Brussels on either British Airways, easyJet or Brussels Airlines.
2 – Prague, Czech Republic
Prague is the most recent Christmas Market that I have visited, and although not one of the biggest it was one of the most magical. The actual market was extremely beautiful and was set in Prague’s fairytale Old Town Square, and to add to the Christmas magic it was heavily snowing the evening I arrived. There were other smaller markets located at various locations around the city mainly comprising of food and drink stalls. There was also a very large Christmas tree located at the main market in Old Town Square, and on the evening when I arrived was the first day of the markets, we were lucky enough to see the lighting of the tree which was accompanied by the theme tune for the Home Alone film.
There are many low cost airlines such as easyJet, Wizzair and Ryanair that fly to Prague from Gatwick, Luton and Stansted, and there are a few daily services on British Airways from Heathrow.
1 – Luxembourg, Luxembourg
And my number one Christmas Market spot has to go to Luxembourg. I visited the Luxembourg Christmas Markets in 2015 and, without a doubt, Luxembourg was the best European Christmas Market I have visited to date. The main markets were located in Place de la Constitution, Place d’Armes and Place Guillaume II, along with some smaller markets dotted around the city. The Markets in Place d’Armes were mainly food stalls as well as a stage for live Christmas music and the main Christmas tree. In Place Guillaume II there was a huge ice skating rink, and rink side bar served many delicious festive drinks. Lastly, Place de la Constitution was home to the main market stalls as well as some festive fair ground rides.
For one for the best Christmas Markets I have been to, Luxembourg is also one for the cheapest places to get to. With flight times from London less than an hour and low-cost options from most London airports, as well as scheduled services daily on British Airways, Luxembourg is an extremely easy city to reach, making it perfect for a European Christmas Market break.