Ready for the most wonderful time of the year? Europeans take Christmas atmosphere to another level with Christmas Markets everywhere! If you are backpacking through Europe during Christmas season or just jumping into a short weekend break in city, see our recommendations for a true genuine backpacker experience with the Best Christmas Markets in Europe:
1. Stockholm, Sweden
Visit the most well known traditional annual Christmas market at the largest open air museum in Europe called ’Skansen’.
It is the season to be jolly and now is the time of year when Christmas markets in Sweden are in full swing. The market is open every weekend from the first weekend of advent up until the celebrations of New Years Eve. The market has many stalls filled with specialities such as hand made warm clothing, locally produced seasonal foods, handicrafts, Christmas decorations and much more, not forgetting the irresistible mulled wine (glögg), delicious Swedish gingerbread biscuits (pepparkakor), saffron buns (lussekatter) and mouth watering home made treats.
2. Warsaw, Poland
The market is open every day from 11 am to 8 pm (Friday and Saturday till 9 pm).
3. Salzburg, Austria
Also a nice thing to do in town is to go iceskating at Mozartsquare, directly next to the markets in the centre of town. Xmas markets in Salzburg are open till the 26th of December, some privately owned markets such as at the “Sternbrew” or at “St. Peter” (insidertip!) are opened till the 6th of January.
You can find the biggest market in Salzburg directly next to the cathedral of Salzburg. A famous hot drink next to the gluehwine is the Feuerzangenbowle (ask for an extra shot of rum and two or three will keep you warm the full night. In terms of food, very tipical are some baked potatoes with a huge variety of toppings and the so called Bauernkrapfen for desert, kind of a traditional yeast dumpling with jam and sugar.
Xmas markets have a big tradition in Salzburg. Of course we all know (or we don’t?) that one of the most famous christmas songs `Silent Night, Holy Night`is from Salzburg and within a 20 mins train ride you can visit a little chapel in the town of Oberndorf where the song had its premiere.
4. Madrid, Spain
Traditionally, the market in Plaza Mayor would be visited by spaniards from all around the country, as here was where you could get figurines, grass, mistletoe and any other objects needed for a homemade nativity scene.
In Madrid, there are a few unofficial signs, naturally highly anticipated by all locals, which announce the start of the Christmas and New Year’s joyous season. One of them is the turning on of the colourful street lights and particularly, the Christmas tree lights in Puerta de Sol: the modern main square of the city. Another, much more traditional, is the inauguration of the Christmas market in Plaza Mayor: the old main square.
Nowadays, from the last days of November until early January, the colourful stands still offer that but also other things like funny hats commonly worn by the locals before and during the New Year’s.
A couple weeks after Plaza Mayor, from the beginning of December, other big squares follow suit and start their own artisan and food markets. They are perfect for getting souvenirs, X-mas presents, stuffing your belly full of deliciousness or just for a casual stroll, allowing you to check out the markets and the street lights in one go. It is definitely one of the brightest times of the year; absolutely worth a visit!
5. Frankfurt, Germany
The Römerberg frequently hosts carollers and is home to a large and festive carousel, which is sure to get you into the holiday spirit!
Frankfurt is home to one of Germany’s oldest and biggest Christmas Markets. While the heart of the market is located in the Römerberg, Frankfurt’s Christmas Market stretches all the way from Hauptwache to Mainkai, offering its visitors a seemingly endless supply of glühwein, hot apple cider (a local favourite), sweet and salty treats and pastries, traditional lebkuchen, and so much more! Aside from the delicious drinks and food available at the market, you can also browse the many vendors selling handcrafted ornaments, traditional clothing, unique gifts, and many other goodies.
6. Prague, Czech Republic
The holidays might be the only time of year where Prague gets a little bit more magical. Like in many European cities, Christmas decorations are up in full force by the end of November – just in time to bring some light to the days that have grown colder and shorter. Lively markets spring up in squares throughout the city center, encouraging people to enjoy one another’s company instead of hibernating indoors. Markets come heavy on the hot beverages con alcohol to help warm our bodies and souls.
For local favorites, Náměstí Míru is not to be missed (and just a few minutes walk from Czech Inn!) Make sure you try the very special lavender svařák, and a delicious crepe to go with – sweet or savory.
Try “Svařák” – the Czech version of mulled wine and some roasted nuts or gingerbreads and you will be doing it right. Where are our favorites? Old Town Square certainly takes the cake for most stunning, with a giant Christmas tree that becomes the focal point of the square, along with just about every treat and craft you can imagine. For other scenic sites that might not be as busy as Old Town Square, try the romantic Kampa, a square in Malá Strana just next to the Charles Bridge or the newest located within the Prague Castle with the tree in front of the Gothic giant, St. Vitus Cathedral.
Another locally loved market is at Náměstí Jiřího z Poděbrad. The markets serves as a regular year-around farmer’s market and becomes heavy on the Christmas theme come December. You will likely catch many more locals stocking up on traditional items – like Vanocka, a brioche like bread with almonds or Linecke cookies with jam (from Astro-Hungarian empire days), items that are not as available in the tourist hubs. Another special feature, there are often local designers selling their creations that make a great unique souvenir or gift. If you are lucky enough to be in Prague closer to Christmas, look for what looks like mini swimming pools. They are filled with live Carp to be sold to families for their Christmas eve dinner.
7. Rotterdam, The Netherlands
For the largest market in the Netherlands you can hop on the waterbus to Dordrecht, the oldest city in the Netherlands.
There are plenty of Christmas Markets in Rotterdam where you can buy festive products and enjoy gluhwein. Around town there are smaller Scandinavian style Christmas Markets and the iconic Market Hall will of course also be transformed into Christmas style. And last but not least there’s also the Swan Market, the vintage lifestyle market of Rotterdam and surroundings. Not a real Christmas market, but a very nice alternative!
Where to stay?
If you are looking for afordable hostels with great location and true genuine backapacker experience, look no further! Famous Hostels offers you all that and a guarantee of a lifetime experience! Ready for some adventure? Stay famous erverywhere you are:
- City Backpackers Hostel – Stockholm, Sweden
- Oki Doki Hostel – Warsaw, Poland
- YoHo International Youth Hostel – Salzburg, Austria
- Cat’s Hostel – Madrid, Spain
- Five Elements Hostel – Frankfurt, Germany
- Czech Inn Hostel – Prague, Czech Republic
- ROOM Hostel – Rotterdam, The Netherlands