The Christmas holiday is one of the most celebrated in the world due to its religious and traditional significance. Christmas according to Christian tradition is a time for the celebration of life, because the savior of the world Jesus Christ was born in the season. Also, the Christmas season is a time for gift-giving, spending time with family, and partaking in traditional activities such as decorating a Christmas tree, going shopping, or singing Christmas carols. It is by and large a happy season.

The continent of Europe is a major hub for Christmas activities; one such activity is shopping at the Christmas Markets. Most European cities have enticing and alluring Christmas Markets that are available for weeks in the Christmas season. Here is a list of our favorite 10 of the most fascinating, beautiful, and alluring markets!

Strasbourg, France

Strasbourg is regarded as the capital of Christmas; one of the main reasons for this is the Strasbourg Christmas Markets. It is one of the most charming and picturesque Christmas Markets in Europe. This iconic Christmas Market includes imposing fir trees on the Place Kleber, wooden houses decorated with bright light stars and red and white hearts suspended across the streets. This spectacle has been going on for over four hundred years in Strasbourg and attracted tourists from all over the world. The market is comprised of over three hundred stalls where you will find traditional craft, food, gifts and Christmas decorations. The market was voted the best European Christmas market in 2014 and 2015.

the Best Christmas Markets in Europe - Strasbourg Christmas Market

Strasbourg Christmas Market

Zagreb, Croatia

The city of Zagreb is one of the best places to celebrate the Christmas season in Europe. The city is transformed into a magical place that permeates Christmas charm and excitement. The bright decorations, traditional market stalls, and fabulous open-air entertainment are hallmarks of the Christmas Market in Zagreb. The entertainment includes live music and some of the best DJs in the country, creating an entertainment spectacle and Christmas spirit that can hardly be rivaled anywhere else in Europe. The Zagreb Christmas Market was voted the best in Europe for the last several years.

the Best Christmas Markets in Europe - Zagreb Christmas Market

Zagreb Christmas Market

Vienna, Austria

The Christmas Market in Vienna is etched in tradition, dating back to the 13th century. It has evolved over the years and today has grown to over twenty markets, selling a broad range of seasonal gifts and treats. The Market in front of the City Hall is the undeniable highlight due to the delightful backdrop provided by the City Hall and the delectable aromas emanating from the market. This creates a Christmas spirit and vibe enjoyed by one and all.

the Best Christmas Markets in Europe - Vienna Christmas Market

Vienna Christmas Market

Dresden, Germany

The Dresden Christmas Market is one of the oldest seasonal events in Eastern Germany, dating back to the 15th century. This is one of the most traditional Christmas Markets in Europe, incorporating elements of the mining, woodworking, and pottery traditions of the city. One such tradition is a cake made at this time of year called the “Stollen” which is said to represent the entrance to the mines in the area. Another tradition originating from the mining history of the area is the Christmas arch, this is a wooden arch that displays candles and figures and is also said to represent the candles that miners would hang from the entrance to the mine on the last day of work before Christmas. This market is an excellent option for people who are interested in the historical traditions of Christmas on display in a modern city.

 the Best Christmas Markets in Europe - Dresden Christmas Market

Dresden Christmas Market

Budapest, Hungary

The city of Budapest provides a stunning backdrop for the Christmas Markets with the many historic monuments present in the city. The Basilica and St. Stevens Square are central areas in the Christmas Markets. The Basilica is brightened with multi-colored lights and is host to several vendors selling traditional gifts. St. Stevens Square also hosts many traditional huts where artisans display their wares, there are also displays of jewelry, pottery and leather goods for visitors to enjoy. Also, Budapest hosts concerts, cultural events, and handicraft workshops helping to keep visitors festive for the entire duration of their stays.

the Best Christmas Markets in Europe - Budapest Christmas Market

Budapest Christmas Market

Tallinn, Estonia

The Tallinn Christmas Market is known for its enormous Christmas tree that towers over the square of the town, providing a fairy-tale and nostalgic feel. The markets in the square include over fifty stalls, serving traditional and local delicacies and also traditional crafts.

the Best Christmas Markets in Europe - Estonia Christmas Market

Tallinn Christmas Market

Brussels, Belgium

Brussels is the host to one of the more modern and dynamic Christmas Markets in Europe mixed with some old-world charm. The winter wonderland is the term used to describe the Christmas Market in Brussels; it includes over 250 stalls, expertly arranged around the Grand Palace of Brussels, the Bourse, and the fish market. These booths provide a myriad of gift ideas and enjoyable meals – there are also tasting sessions available. Also, the winter wonderland includes an ice skating rink, a magnificent Christmas tree, an exciting light and sound show, a traditional Ferris Wheel, merry-go-rounds, and an unforgettable Christmas Parade. These exciting activities come together to make the Christmas Market in Belgium one of the most festive and exciting options in Europe.

the Best Christmas Markets in Europe - Brussels Christmas Market

Brussels Christmas Market

Madeira Islands, Portugal

Madeira Islands are home to a traditional and festive Christmas market with several activities for the discerning traveler. The festivities are held in the Funchal Market area and include Christmas parties – culminating in a massive party on December 23, that goes all night, creating a truly enduring Christmas spirit. The food, large Christmas lights, church services, traditional floral displays, and fireworks adds to the allure and excitement of the Madeira Islands Christmas market.

 the Best Christmas Markets in Europe - Portugal's Christmas Market

Madeira Christmas Market

Leipzig, Germany

The Leipzig Christmas Market is one of the largest and probably the most traditional in Germany. The focal point of the market is the charming old market square in front of the old Town Hall. It includes over 250 colorful stalls, providing visitors with the best of Leipzig’s culinary and historical traditions. The entertainment options are amazing, there are daily trumpet fanfares, Christmas concerts held by the iconic St. Thomas choir, and performances of Bach’s Christmas Oratorio in numerous churches throughout the city. This Christmas market provides a unique traditional experience for all and is worth a visit.

the Best Christmas Markets in Europe - Leipzig Christmas Market

Leipzig Christmas Market

Manchester, England

The Manchester Christmas Market was the first established Christmas market in England and is fast becoming one of the most popular winter destinations in the country. There are ten markets in total in Manchester, strategically located in unique areas of the city, with over 350 chic and modern stalls to serve excited visitors. The stalls offer a shopping experience second to none in Europe – you can get from fine jewelry to handmade Belgian kitchenware. There is also a wide array of food and drinks to suit the palates of all! The Manchester Christmas Market is a real spectacle in the festive season in England.

the Best Christmas Markets in Europe - Manchester Christmas Market

Manchester Christmas Market

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Looking for more Christmas markets in Eastern Europe?
Check out this sample itinerary of the Grand Tour of Eastern European Christmas Markets