Europe's best Christmas market deals, from magical Munich to Lille's wonderland
Travel across the continent and you’ll discover a various selection of Christmas markets, with beautifully decorated log cabins and inviting beer halls.
But Christmas markets aren’t all about beer and bratwurst; they’re also the perfect place to pick up handmade gifts, ornate decorations and tasty sweet treats for your seasonal hamper.
Here's the best European Christmas markets, complete with jingle bells, mulled wine and gifts galore.
1. Munich, Germany
Along with Berlin and Cologne, Munich boasts one of the Continent’s best-loved Christmas markets.
Just the mention of the German city’s annual festive bash is enough to conjure up images of snow-topped lodges and glowing market stalls.
And if that doesn’t get you in the Christmas spirit, we guarantee the aroma of roasted nuts, grilled German sausages and spiced cider certainly will.
2. Mt Pilatus, Switzerland
Europe’s highest Christmas market is also one of its cutest. Situated a shade under 7000 feet above sea level, it’s one of the world’s only markets where you can follow your shopping with a spot of snowboarding.
With a firm focus on handcrafted items, this is the perfect place to pick up all your stocking fillers. Get Mum a beeswax candle and your younger brother more handmade gingerbread than he can eat.
3. Lille, France
A giant Ferris wheel is the centrepiece of Lille’s dazzling Christmas market, which takes place in the picturesque Place Rhiour town square.
The French city sums up the magic of Christmas, with rows and rows of fantastic stalls, where you’ll find everything from artworks to handcrafted wooden toys.
After deciding what to include in Santa’s sack, pay a visit to one of the many bars or eateries to enjoy authentic French cuisine – baked Camembert is a must - and a well-deserved glass of champagne.
4. Dubrovnik, Croatia
Croatia’s sun-soaked Dalmatian Coast may not seem like the most obvious destination for a trip to the Christmas markets, but the region certainly rises to the occasion during the winter months.
One of the best features of Dubrovnik’s Christmas markets is the fabulous decorations and displays, which illuminate the city’s historic landmarks and UNESCO World Heritage sites – even the city’s 13th century city walls get a makeover.
The market itself boasts a vast array of stalls and shops, specializing in handmade gifts, goodies and authentic Croatian food, like arancini and kontonjata (a sweet Christmas candy made with quince).
5. Stockholm, Sweden
The UK’s bizarre climate means you can never predict a white Christmas. Fortunately, snow is almost guaranteed in the Swedish capital.
Stockholm’s Christmas markets are a must if you’re looking to add a little Scandinavian magic to your winter holiday, with traditional treats like Swedish meatballs and pear cider all on offer.
Combine your visit to Stockholm with a tour of the city’s best sights and attractions, including the Nobel Museum, the Riddarholm Church and the fantastic ABBA museum, a tribute to four of the nation’s biggest stars.
6. Madrid, Spain
Looking for something a little different? Why not put a bit of a Spanish twist on your Christmas markets holiday with a trip to Madrid.
Spain’s bustling capital is a great choice for a winter holiday; it’s also relatively mild considering the time of year. The city is transformed during Christmas time, with impressive displays and plenty of festive sparkle.
Madrid is a fantastic choice for foodies, with a delectable selection of Spanish cuisine, mulled wine and Spanish lagers. Swap the turkey for chorizo, and the Christmas pudding for tasty churros.
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