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Experience Europe's Christmas Markets

Winter is a magical time of year to visit Europe. Christmas markets are a beloved part of holiday traditions in Europe. Picture market stalls filling medieval town squares in front of centuries-old churches and palaces. Local artisans sold their handcrafted goods—toys, ornaments, decorations, and sweets—and each city established unique traditions that captured the spirit of their people. Experience an authentic insider's view of centuries-old holiday markets and the seasonal festivities that surround Christmas. Our collection of European Christmas Market vacations takes you to the heart of the action, where alpine villages dazzle with twinkle lights, legendary cities celebrate in style, and Europe's time-honored traditions come to life. What are you waiting for? Reserve your 2020 European Christmas Markets vacation package today!

Best Christmas Markets in Europe

Christmas Markets of Austria

Vienna at Christmas Time

The Austrian capital was one of the pioneers of the Christmas market tradition, holding its first event in 1298. Visitors today can enjoy any number of markets, including the Viennese Christmas Market—in front of city hall—and the market at baroque Schönbrunn Palace, as well as shopping stalls in the historic Spittelberg District.

The Am Hof Christmas Festival in Vienna blends the old world with new, pairing traditional wooden gifts and beeswax candles with modern Christmas lights. That doesn’t mean this market has lost its authenticity, though. There are very few plastic modernized toys and the presence of Santa Clause is against the rules altogether!

Instead, look for the nativity of the official Christ child, typically played by a young woman with blonde curls. Keep a keen ear out as well for the choirs from all around the world who are invited to perform as part of the market. 

Salzburg & Innsbruck Christmas Markets

Salzburg opens their market a bit earlier -  on November 17th - and features local food and renowned musicians throughout the festival. Innsbruck also features a particularly beautiful market as the lights from the Christmas tree glitter off the tiles of the Golden Roof. Another early opening market, this one on November 15th, Innsbruck is known for the medieval facades and Alpine beauty that make this quaint market one worth visiting.

Discover the Christmas Markets of Austria and Bavaria

Christmas Markets in Switzerland

Visit Zurich for the Holidays

With 150 stalls and operated completely indoors, a 50 foot Christmas tree adorned with Swarovski crystals welcomes visitors as they arrive at the Main Train Station. With fruit cake, vendors from all over the world, and all kinds of other traditional Christmas cuisine, the air is filled with the scents and sounds of the holidays. Exhibitors compete for the honor of being named the “Most Beautiful Stall” at the market, ensuring that the entire venue is beautifully adorned. The Zurich market is the largest indoor market in Europe, making it the perfect escape for those blustery cold evenings.

Basel's Beautiful Christmas Market

This is considered to be one of the largest and most beautiful markets throughout Switzerland. With 180 wooden vendor stalls, this quaint market feels like a step back in time. A highlight is the children’s “Christmas fairy-tale forest” playground and activities where children can make and pour their own wax candles, decorate gingerbread cookies, or eat campfire bread and drink hot chocolate. There is also a kiddie train ride and the option to purchase kid-friendly trinkets.

Discover the magic of Christmas in Switzerland

Christmas Markets of Germany

Dresden

230 craft stalls lined with lights and often capped in snow await you in this German Christmas Market. From November 24- December 24th you will also find a four-ton fruit cake and a 43 foot “Christmas Pyramid” here. In fact, the Christmas Pyramid is a main draw of the market, as it is the world’s largest. Believed to be a predecessor to the Christmas tree, a Christmas pyramid is a German icon of Christmas consisting of a wooden carousel structure with figurines that revolve in circles with the help of heat generated by a candle. Dresden is also the home of the world’s biggest nutcracker. With roots dating back to 1434, Dresden is Germany’s oldest continually running Christmas Market. Highlights here include traditional blue and white ceramics, wooden crafts, hand-blown glass, and nutcrackers.

Munich & Nuremberg

These German cities both fully embrace the Christmas spirit. Munich’s Marienplatz, the city’s central square since the 12th century, hosts a popular Christmas market, complete with an 85-foot tree. At any of the city’s markets, you can enjoy Glühwein (mulled wine), sausages, Lebkuchen (gingerbread), and Reiberdatschi (potato pancakes).

Munich - Stalls surround an impressive 85 foot Christmas tree in the German Capital. Here you’ll find children dressed as angels and learning to be the next generation of crafters inside the “Heavenly Workshop” in town hall. Musicians fill the air with festive music every Friday before Christmas as guests hop on the Christmas tram that parades them through the old city as they eat gingerbread cookies and sip hot spiced wine.

This market, like many others, operates from November 25- December 24. In addition to the wooden crafts and blown glass, many children favor this market for the Christmas Post Office found here. It will post and deliver festive “Chriskindl” for children and adults. Letters sent to the “North Pole” will actually receive a reply, too!

Nuremberg - located about 100 miles north of Munich, is renowned for its Christkindlmarkt. With over 180 stalls in the city’s old town, the setting feels like a real-life fairy tale. While there, be sure to look for the Nuremberg plum people, painted figurines made of prunes, figs, and walnuts. Adding to the ambiance is the Christkind, who opens the season by reciting, “Welcome, young and old, to my little community of wood and cloth. While this market’s splendor is fleeting, the joy it brings is eternal.” Take a German Christmas Markets tour and prepare to be delighted!

The abundant Gothic architecture provides a perfect backdrop to the Christmas scene you’ll find in Prague. The two most famous Christmas markets, held at Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square, are walking distance from each other.

Wander among the traditional wooden huts to admire handmade wooden toys and jewelry, Czech marionettes, nativity scenes, and even a petting zoo. Prague also offers numerous culinary delights, including klobása (sausage), roasted ham, Trdelník (a rolled pastry), Vosí Hnízda (beehive cookies), and hot mulled wine. Experience Prague at Christmas Time!

London for the Holidays

If you’re partial to A Christmas Carol, then you can’t go wrong by visiting London during the holiday season. You’ll see plenty of Victorian garb and themed events to delight your Dickensian spirit. The season officially kicks off in late-November with a massive parade along Regent Street.

Hyde Park hosts a Christmas market, outdoor skating rink, light displays, and more. You can attend a carol sing-along at the iconic Royal Albert Hall. Or, simply browse window displays and dip into any of London’s famed shopping districts. Visit the Christmas Shops of London during your free time in the city. 

Offer Terms & Conditions:

$100 AARP Member Discount AARP member benefits are provided by third parties, not by AARP or its affiliates. Providers pay a royalty fee to AARP for the use of its intellectual property. These fees are used for the general purpose of AARP. Some provider offers are subject to change and may have restrictions. Please contact the provider directly for details.

Pay in Full Discount applies to the land portion of select guided vacations. Pay your deposit at time of booking and the final payment by the date shown. Valid on new bookings only and may be withdrawn at any time. Not valid on all departures, Eastern Mediterranean & Egypt Guided Vacations, Costsaver tours or River Cruises. 

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