I had a grand European adventure last year, spending 3 weeks in 4 countries during the Christmas season. In that time I got to visit Christmas Markets in 5 different cities. While many people think of Germany and Austria when they think of European Christmas markets, I haven’t had the pleasure of seeing them yet (maybe next year!) but I did get to see these cities and I thought they were all amazing and very unique from each other. So if you’re in Europe during December and looking for a weekend getaway, consider spending Two Days in one of these cities!
Zurich is filled with multiple markets across the city, including one inside their main train station! From the beauty of Old Town to the sparkly lights above the City Market to the sophisticated Opera House with an ice skating outside and mini classical concerts inside their entryway, Zurich Market’s have much to offer. You’ll find a beautiful light show in the courtyard of the Landesmuseum Zurich called Illuminarium (visiting the courtyard is free, and for an extra CHF 13 you can see a spectacular sound & light show as well). And don’t miss the Singing Christmas Tree at Werdmühleplatz – a tiered stage designed in the shape of a Christmas tree that hosts multiple choirs every night – it’s great fun!
One of my favorite markets was in the smaller town of Mulhouse, France. Mulhouse is historically known for its place in the textile industry and as such, creates a special Christmas fabric each year that’s used to decorate the market stalls and various spots around town. The main market is at Place de la Réunion in front of the Temple Saint-Étienne. Take a ride on the Ferris Wheel at night and get a great view of all the magnificent Christmas lights, lightening up the market and the facades of the buildings around the square.
The oldest Christmas Market in France is in Strasbourg and dates back to 1570! The old town area has various markets that are all easily walkable. Follow the illuminated lights hanging above the streets from one to the next. Each square has a unique feel despite being in the same city. There’s a beautiful Great Tree at Place Kléber, the Guest Country market highlighting Christmas traditions from another country (it was Iceland when I was there in 2017 and is going to be Finland in 2018) and the interesting OFF Market that highlights mindful consumption in the holiday season.
But be sure to walk around during the day as well, because so many of the buildings are decorated with adorable Christmas themes. There is so much to see here, you might want the whole week and not just a weekend to visit!
Luxembourg City, Luxembourg
The Luxembourg Christmas Markets were great fun. I enjoyed a ride on the Ferris Wheel at Place de la Constitution, watched the ice skaters at Place Guillaume II and enjoyed a delicious Asian noodle takeaway while listening to singers on the music stage at Place d’Armes.
I thought my favorite part about Luxembourg was going to be the Christmas Markets, and while they were beautiful and amazing, I fell in love with their hot chocolate! At the famous Chocolate House of Luxembourg, you can pick from hundreds of differently flavored chocolate spoons to mix up your very own hot chocolate. Located in a beautiful 15th-century building opposite the Grand Ducal Palace, you can sip your hot chocolate while watching the palace guards across the street.
One of the most popular tourist attractions in Brussels is the Manneken Pis – a water fountain of a boy doing his thing. What makes it even more fun is he is often dressed in different costumes and at Christmas time they don’t disappoint, he is appropriately dressed as Santa Clause, still doing his thing.
Once again I was able to see the Christmas lights from above with a ride on the Ferris Wheel at Plaisirs d’Hiver and I enjoyed a gorgeous sound and light show on Christmas Day at the Grand-Place. The whole square lit up as lights danced across the buildings to the music. It was super crowded but spectacular to watch.
While I had a lot of great food and drink during my Christmas Market adventure, I have to admit my absolute favorite was the traditional Belgian Waffel! Plain or with toppings, you can’t go wrong with this little treat and you should definitely indulge in one when you visit.
It’s been a dream of mine to visit the European Christmas Markets and while there are still so many more to see (can it be a bucket-list item to visit them all??!), I was really happy with the one I got to visit last year and I can’t wait to go back to see more!
Where is your favorite Christmas Market? Tell me in the comments below where I should go for my next Christmas adventure!
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