Full of festival foods, mulled wine and whimsical holiday decor, European Christmas markets are a must-do on any holiday-lovers travel bucket list. Since this year may not be the year to experience a European Christmas market in-person, here's a "virtual" look inside 5 magical markets with snow-capped roofs which will make you feel like you just stepped inside a Hallmark movie.
In our experience, the best way to experience multiple Christmas markets is onboard a river cruise. Just remember to pack an extra suitcase for all the incredible holiday decor you'll be taking home! Contact us if you'd like more info on 2021 or 2022 itineraries.
1. France: Strasbourg Christmas Market
Strasbourg is France's oldest market (started in 1570!) and is known as the capital of Christmas. With over 300 wooden chalet shops, light displays, shows and events, there is so much to see. Watch a live nativity scene unfold in front of you, take in one of the themed Christmas trees, soak in the sounds of Handel's Messiah, or strap on some skates and take in the festive spirit.
2. Switzerland: Montreux Christmas Market
Located next to Lake Geneva, with a view of the snow-capped Alps, you can visit 172 chalet shops. Every evening, you can watch Santa soar in his sleigh (he will actually fly above you!) and a visit to Chillon Castle will give you the opportunity to see medieval tumblers, artisans and attend cooking, candle-making and pottery workshops. Your visit will be complete with a taste of classic Swiss Fondue.
3. Czech Republic: Prague Christmas Markets
Two of the main markets are located within a 5 minute walk from each other which makes these a great stop to really cover some ground. You'll find brightly decorated wooden huts stocked with local handmade goods and Christmas treats.
Must try food and drink:
- Large hams roasted on spits (Pražská Šunka)
- Wonderfully tasty barbequed sausages (klobása)
- Flatbread topped with garlic, cheese and ketchup (langoš)
- Smoked meat dumplings (knedlíky plněné uzeným masem)
- Sweet dumplings (sladké knedlíky)
- Pancakes (palačinky).
- Famous Czech beer such as Pilsner Urquell, Staropramen or Budvar
- Mulled wine (svařák)
- Honey wine (Medovina)
- Grog, a mixture of rum, water, lemon and sugar
4. Germany: Munich Christmas Market
Home to the original Christmas market and a great place to feast on bratwurst, mulled wine and gingerbread cookies. Listen to singers perform from the town hall balcony or take a culinary gourmet tour. Meet the Krampus (scary assistant of kind Saint Nicholas), try Kletznbrot (a type of bread with nuts, fruit and honey) and take in a live nativity scene complete with animals and the three Magi.
5. Austria: Vienna Christmas Markets
With nine markets in incredible locations like Belvedere Palace and Schonbrunn Palace, you'll take in the sights and sounds in style. Try a freshly made "Kiachln" (piping hot doughnuts laced with Sauerkaut) while listening to live Christmas carols by the towering Christmas tree. If you want to join in, you can even take caroling lessons!
Contact us if you'd like more info on 2021 or 2022 itineraries and which markets you could visit onboard a European river cruise.