There is nothing like strolling through the isles of lively Christmas market at the end of long day sightseeing, even if the sights were mainly the insides of your eyelids as you slept in on a lazy winter morning. The food stalls are selling delectable treats, there are families with young children running to see the local incarnation of Santa Claus and the holiday spirit is at its peak. Here are our five favorite Christmas markets.
Prague – under Tyne Church
The Prague Christmas market is a triple threat. It has a the stunning Tyne church as a backdrop, more food stalls than souvenir shops. and more locals milling around and giving the market a very small town feel. They make sausages as long as your arm and cinnamon twirls that melt in your mouth (called Trdelnik in Czech).
Sandwiched between Andrew’s favorite art museum in Europe, the kunst (short for Kunsthistorisches), and the Natural History Museum, the Vienna Christmas market is wonderfully located for a weary traveler. After a morning or afternoon of sightseeing, grab a schnitzel while soaking in the good vibes.
For 11 months of the year Munich’s main square is dominated by its clock tower. But when the holidays roll around the Münchners install a Christmas tree of gargantuan size. Under its sprawling branches you will find its Christmas market is packed with stalls selling hand carved wooden trinkets and Gluhwein, a local mulled wine. Be careful though! Gluhwein can be something of an acquired taste for the unprepared.
No country has corned the market on Christmas markets (I couldn’t help myself), but Germany is easily the most enthusiastic about its markets. Nearly every town will have a market of some kind and there is feverish debate about which market is the best. Nuremberg often gets the top nod, but for us Dresden was the most fun. Unlike many markets, Dresden is focused heavily on food variety and much less on shopping and as a result you see more locals out enjoying the market. That makes for a fun, slightly rowdy, crowd and a market that doesn’t feel like a tourist trap.
France is not known for its Christmas markets, and we are stretching the term here a little, but there is a skating rink outside of city hall (7 Free Things to Do in Paris) that oozes Christmas spirit. They rent skates for a reasonable fee and kids and adults alike will have a blast gliding under the Gothic architecture.
Get Out There!
Are there any markets we missed or you wish you could see? A quick stroll through a Christmas market is a fantastic way to get out of the tourist vibe and into the local holiday spirit.
Lets Get Traveling!