It’s not too late for a quick weekend getaway to one of these amazing European cities, where you can find wonderful Christmas markets in full-swing. While they are popular for picking up unique gifts for friends and family, Christmas markets are also a great way to get into the spirit of the season – walking around you’re dazzled by the lights and decorations, and often the snow; you’re immersed in the aroma of roasting chestnuts, and the sounds of carol singers and happy children. It’s a Christmas experience not to be missed! Here’s our pick of the best European Christmas markets in 2017 should you fancy a last-minute city break…
The history of Christmas markets, of Krippenmarkts, in Vienna, goes all the way back to the 13th century, and today there are more than 20 of them to choose from. The best-known is the one outside the beautiful City Hall, where international choirs entertain shoppers, and children can bake cookies or create their own candles to give as lovely personal gifts. Another market is held at Belvedere Palace, which makes for a truly stunning backdrop when the windows are illuminated in the evenings.Amsterdam
Amsterdam is another European city that’s serious about getting festive. Probably the best Amsterdam Christmas markets are those held on Leidesplein and Museumsplein, where you’ll find plenty of tasty treats, including the ubiquitous Dutch donuts, olibollen. We love walking and cruising along the Amsterdam canals during December, when they’re lit up with stunning arrangements of Christmas illuminations.Copenhagen
Perhaps not quite as well-known for its Christmas markets as other European capitals, Copenhagen nevertheless has much to recommend it for a December city break, from its epic fireworks displays to its design-led gifts, to the thrilling rides at Tivoli Gardens in the heart of the city. Expect a very lively night out in a capital that loves to party.Prague
The most Christmassy of all European capitals, Prague even has a Wenceslas Square. The city is reckoned to be of the most sought-after Christmas break destinations for American travellers, and it’s not difficult to see why. They really go the whole hog in Prague, with an immense tree in the Old Town Square, delicious Czech food, traditional music and dance, and masses of activities for parents and children alike. The atmosphere is incredible.Brussels
The historic architecture of Bruges is breathtaking, and that really enhances the Christmas feeling as you feast on scrumptious hot waffles, or take an unforgettable ride over the cobblestones in a horsedrawn carriage. Climb to the top of the medieval belfry for a fantastic view of the Grote Markt, with the ice skaters zipping around and fairy lights twinkling everywhere.Edinburgh
Of course Edinburgh is one of the best places in the world to spend New Year’s Eve, or Hogmanay, but the Scottish capital also has a growing reputation for its Christmas markets held throughout December. There are several scattered around the city centre, selling traditional handicrafts, winter warmer snacks and naturally there are no end of stalls where you can purchase a wee dram of whisky to keep the cold at bay. Kids can pay a visit to Santa’s grotto, or find the Elves wonderland at the centre of a fun maze.Dusseldorf
German Christmas markets are famously fun, and Dusseldorf, in western Germany, is among the biggest and best of them all. City-wide celebrations run throughout December, and you can shop for handmade trinkets, snack on gingerbread men, and generally drink in the happy ambience, before making your way to the Old Town which has over 250 bars for you to toast the arrival of Christmas.