The Most Cheerful Christmas Markets in Europe

Traveling during the holiday season lets you experience some of the most popular places to visit in Europe while they’re at their seasonal best. Falling snow, twinkling lights, and deliciously warming treats—these Christmas markets in Europe have it all.

1. Tallinn, Estonia

Christmas Market in Tallinn by Marit & Toomas Hinnosaar (CC)
Christmas Market in Tallinn by: Marit & Toomas Hinnosaar (CC)

Plan a trip to Tallinn to see why Estonia’s capital gives more famous European cities a run for their money. Hike up the hill to Toompea, the fortified part of town, and gaze out over the spires of Old Town backed by the Gulf of Finland. Covered with a layer of fresh snow, it’s even more magical. The Christmas market of Tallinn fits right into its beautiful surroundings: centered on a huge Christmas tree in the historical center’s main square, the market features tons of stands from which to choose. Browse the stalls, which sell everything from local handicrafts and ornaments to homemade sweets and Estonia souvenirs. Of course, no Christmas market visit would be complete without some local grub; look for the giant grills churning out tasty sauerkraut and potatoes, perfect for a cold evening. Afterward, grab your cup of mulled wine or apple cider and marvel at the town hall or enjoy one of the many live music performances on the nearby stage.

Check out this travel plan for ideas on other things to do in Tallinn while you’re in town for its Christmas market:

2. Edinburgh, United Kingdom


Edinburgh's Christmas Markets and skating rink as viewed from the National Gallery of Scotland, 2009 by Ally Crockford (CC)
Edinburgh’s Christmas Markets and skating rink as viewed from the National Gallery of Scotland, 2009 by: Ally Crockford (CC)

Not limited to a single area, Edinburgh’s Christmas “market” is actually a collection of smaller markets spread out across the city’s many squares and plazas. Head for the Mound to delve into the European Christmas market, focused on Germanic-themed gifts, decorations, and foods paying tribute to the great holiday gatherings of Central Europe. In St. Andrew’s Square you’ll find the Scottish Christmas Market, featuring a huge array of stalls hawking gourmet delicacies from around the region, from Scottish gin to delicious Atlantic smoked salmon. Princes Street Gardens, on the other hand, features a kid-themed market and a skating rink.

While just glimpsing the stately Edinburgh Castle sitting atop its rocky promontory is sufficient to stir the souls of most, there are plenty of other things to do in Edinburgh. You can even climb to the viewing platform of the iconic Scott Monument to survey the city’s attractive skyline from a fantastic vantage point. Afterwards, head up (or down) the Royal Mile, also decked out with Christmas splendor, and explore its huge array of shops and eateries—or even indulge in a little holiday tipple at one of the many pubs serving fine Scotch whiskey.

Browse other things to do in Edinburgh while in town for the Christmas festivities:

3. Nuremberg, Germany

Prune People - Nuremberg Christmas Market by charley1965 (CC)
Prune People – Nuremberg Christmas Market by: charley1965 (CC)

Nuremberg’s Hauptmarkt plays host each year to the Christkindlesmarket, perhaps one of the most iconic Christmas markets in Europe. Surrounded by the city’s historical old town core, a near-endless array of food and gift stalls decorated with plenty of festive lights wows visitors from around the world. Gluhwein (mulled wine) flows freely at German winter markets, and Nuremberg is no exception. Of course, when it comes to warming up, it’s also tough to beat a steaming hot bratwurst fresh off the grill, particularly when followed by some famous local gingerbread. If you’re feeling worn out after a day of sightseeing in Nuremberg, simply hop aboard a horse-drawn stagecoach for a delightfully nostalgic jaunt around town. Don’t forget to grab yourself one of the market’s most iconic gifts: entertaining figurines made from dried plums and figs and dressed in humorous costumes, known as “prune people.” At the very least, they make a delicious (if temporary) Christmas decoration to commemorate your holiday in Nuremberg.

Take a look at this sample Nuremberg itinerary to help you with other sightseeing ideas in and around the city:

Yuletide Charm in the Old World

Christmas in Tallinn, Estonia by Nathan Lund (CC)
Christmas in Tallinn, Estonia by: Nathan Lund (CC)

Few experiences are as merry as exploring the streets of some of the world’s most beautiful cities aglow with a healthy dose of holiday spirit. If you’re eager to indulge in the cheeriest Christmas markets in Europe, try planning your trip with Inspirock to get the most out of your visit.

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