The tradition of Christmas markets in Europe goes back more than 700 years. The experience is rich with sights, sounds and smells filling the crisp winter air—twinkling lights, decorated booths in medieval plazas, Christmas carols, hot mulled wine, roasted almonds and tasty sausages and sweets. Some of the oldest markets are in Vienna, Strasbourg, and Dresden.
Now popular all over Europe, they attract visitors every year with their lovingly decorated trees, chalets selling handcrafted gifts, delicious food, rides, ice-skating, music, entertainment—and unique traditions, including smiling, candy-pooping logs (see Barcelona near the end of this list.)
Last year—like almost everything—was a bad year for Christmas markets, and while many of the larger European markets are forging ahead for 2021, (some are already open) Munich canceled its market as of Nov. 16, due to a surge in Covid cases.
So if you’re going, plan to go, hope to go, or are just dreaming of going, check out this list and check travel advisories and restrictions, as well as the latest information for specific markets first.
European Best Destinations, a Brussels-based travel organization that promotes tourism in Europe, lists over 100 favorite markets. Here are some of the must-see Christmas markets of Europe, in no particular order, including six markets in the sunnier, warmer climates.