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  • Writer's pictureWandering Ways

The Best Christmas Markets in Europe for 2023: A Festive Feast for the Senses

Christmas tree in Prague city centre
Prague City Centre /unsplash.com/

As autumn gently unfolds its golden hues across Europe, there's a whisper in the air—a promise of something magical just around the corner. You might think it's too early to be thinking about Christmas, but in truth, it's the perfect time to start planning your visit to the enchanting European Christmas markets. In this blog, we've done the groundwork for you. We've scoured Europe to find the best Christmas markets for the year 2023, ensuring that your holiday season is filled with wonder and delight.

1. Prague Christmas Markets: A Bohemian Wonderland (2nd December 2023 to 6th January 2024)

Prague, with its cobbled streets and historic squares, transforms into a winter wonderland come December. The Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square become epicenters of festive cheer, adorned with thousands of twinkling lights. The markets here showcase intricate glass ornaments, handcrafted wooden toys, and traditional Czech Christmas crafts. But it's the culinary delights that truly capture the senses. Don't miss the "trdelník," a traditional Slovak rolled pastry roasted over an open flame, often filled with a sugary walnut mix. Savor the warmth of "svařené víno," Czech mulled wine, or indulge in "klobása," a grilled Czech sausage. For a hearty meal, go for the "guláš," a stew usually served with dumplings. As you explore the Prague Christmas markets, let the rich aromas guide your gastronomic journey.


Christmas market in Budapest
Budapest Christmas Market /unsplash.com/

2. Budapest Christmas Markets: The Heart-Stealing Hungarian Capital (17th November 2023 to 31st December 2023)

Budapest comes alive in a special way during the Christmas season, with the Vörösmarty Square and St. Stephen’s Basilica markets stealing the show. Cobblestone streets adorned with twinkling lights, wooden stalls brimming with artisanal crafts, and the sweet melodies of festive tunes fill the air. A trip to these markets would be incomplete without indulging in traditional Hungarian culinary delights. One mustn't miss the "kürtőskalács," a spiral-shaped dough roasted over an open flame and coated with sugar and various toppings. Another savory treat to relish is the "lángos," a deep-fried bread topped with cheese, sour cream, and garlic. As the cold sets in, warm up with a mug of "forralt bor" (mulled wine) infused with spices and fruit. Embrace Budapest's Christmas markets' warmth, flavors, and ambiance for a truly unforgettable holiday experience.


Christmas market in old town in Stockholm
Stockholm Old Town Christmas Market

3. Stockholm Christmas Markets: Serenity Meets Festivity (18th November 2023 to 23rd December 2023)

Stockholm, the serene capital of Sweden, transforms into a winter wonderland during the Christmas season. Its Christmas markets, or "julmarknader," are integral to the city's festive celebrations. One of the most iconic is the market held in Gamla Stan, Stockholm's old town, which has been a tradition since the early 1900s. Cobbled streets and medieval architecture provide a picturesque backdrop to stalls laden with Swedish handicrafts, festive decorations, and an array of traditional treats. Visitors must try 'pepparkakor' (ginger snaps) and 'lussekatter' (saffron buns) for a culinary adventure. Pair these with a warming cup of 'glögg' – a spiced, often alcoholic, mulled wine bursting with flavors of cloves and cinnamon. For those with a savory palate, indulge in 'knäckebröd' (crispbread) topped with local cheeses or 'gravlax' (cured salmon). Immerse yourself in this Nordic festivity, and let Stockholm's Christmas markets satiate both your wanderlust and appetite.


Carousel on Christmas market in Copenhagen
Copenhagen Christmas Market

4. Copenhagen Christmas Markets: Danish Delights (17th November 2023 to 31st December 2023)

Copenhagen, Denmark's charming capital, is transformed into a winter wonderland during Christmas. Its streets and squares are adorned with twinkling lights and festive decorations, offering an enchanting backdrop for its renowned Christmas markets. Tivoli Gardens, one of the city's most iconic locations, is especially magical, with stalls selling traditional Danish crafts and delicacies. A must-try is the "æbleskiver," traditional Danish spherical pancakes, often dusted with powdered sugar and served with raspberry jam. Pair this with a warm glass of "gløgg," the Danish version of mulled wine infused with spices and raisins, for a cozy, heartwarming treat. Venturing through Copenhagen's Christmas markets, indulge in these flavors and let them enhance your festive experience.


Christmas market in Vienna
Vienna Christmas Market

5. Vienna Christmas Markets: Imperial Elegance and Festive Charm (18th November 2023 to 26th December 2023)

With its imperial elegance and timeless charm, Vienna transforms into a winter wonderland during Christmas. The city's Christmas markets, known as "Wiener Christkindlmarkt," are a true embodiment of the festive spirit, with their glittering lights, meticulously crafted ornaments, and the rich aroma of mulled wine and roasted chestnuts filling the air. The Rathausplatz, in front of the iconic City Hall, hosts the most renowned of these markets, beckoning visitors with its enchanting ambiance. For a culinary delight, one shouldn't miss the chance to savor 'Sachertorte,' a decadent chocolate cake, or 'Apfelstrudel,' a traditional apple pie. Pair these treats with a warm cup of 'Glühwein' (mulled wine) or 'Punsch' (a spiced, often fruity, alcoholic drink) to ensure you fully indulge in the Viennese festive experience. Remember, in Vienna, Christmas isn't just a season; it's a sensory experience.


Christmas Market food in Vienna
Christmas Market food in Vienna


These are just a few of the spectacular Christmas markets Europe has to offer in 2023. Stay tuned for the second part of our guide, where we'll explore the best Christmas markets in Germany and Italy, as well as provide tips on planning your European Christmas market adventure. Until then, let the Yuletide spirit lead the way, and may your holidays be filled with joy, wonder, and the delicious flavors of Europe's festive markets.

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