Christmas is just around the corner and Europe has some magical places to celebrate the holiday. Here are our favorite places to spend the festive season in Europe…some are quite popular and some are less well known for their festivities but they are all good choices for a special holiday experience!
1) Dresden, Germany
The Dresden Christmas market gets pretty packed, but for good reason. It’s gorgeous and one of the oldest markets in Germany! There are several markets around town, one is a traditional medieval style market with various artisans, one has some rides for the kids, and they all of course have the famous gluhwein and sausages!
2) Colmar, France
We had never heard of this gem of a town until we moved a few hours away from it, but we are so glad we finally discovered it. Colmar has a winter wonderland set up at Christmas time and the town itself is like a fairy tale. Another big plus of the Christmas markets here is that they run until New Year’s while most other European ones close on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, so it’s a great place to go to extend the festive season a bit! Check out my post on Christmas in Colmar here.
3) Tallin, Estonia
photo by Allan Alajan
We’ve only been to Tallin in the summer, but Lukasz has been in winter several times for work and reports back that it is a great Christmas destination. Tallin’s old town makes a stunning setting for the Christmas market and the cold and snow will also help for a festive holiday atmosphere!
4) Innsbruck, Austria
photo by Nicole Baster
Innsbruck is a charming Austrian town with several different Christmas markets, including one with a panoramic view up on a mountain. Take the funicular from the center of town to get there. And being in the snowy, Austrian Alps should definitely set the stage for some Christmas cheer!
5) Zurich, Switzerland
This one surprised us at just how good it is for a Christmas celebration! There are several Christmas markets around town, candle dipping tents, ice skating, fondue chalets, cafes decked out in Christmas decor on every corner, and a magical Christmas tram ride for the kids. So much festive fun to choose from! Even better would be to stay a couple of nights in Zurich and then hit the mountains for some winter fun. Read about our Christmas weekend in Zurich here.
6) Krakow, Poland
photo by Pavel Netolicka
Krakow is one of the most beautiful cities in Poland, so naturally it’s a good pick at Christmas time. Sample some delicious Polish food, try some mulled wine or hot beer (better than it sounds ;)), take in a Christmas concert, and have fun exploring the city!
7) Rovaniemi, Finland
photo by fox jia on Unsplash
It doesn’t get more festive than visiting Santa’s village in the North Pole! You’ll want to plan way in advance if you want to meet the big guy in his home town, but we think it would be worth it for all the other winter wonderland magic you can experience while you’re in Northern Finland. Dog sled, snow mobile, reindeer sled…it’s holiday magic at its best!
8) Prague, Czech Republic
We might be biased since we lived there for almost four years, but we think Prague is the most beautiful place to experience Christmas in Europe. With an Old Town that looks straight out of a movie set, it’s the perfect backdrop for a Christmas market. And if you get lucky it might even be dusted in snow! Visit the giant Christmas tree, the nativity with real animals, sample svařák (Czech mulled wine) and tredlnik (wood fired dough rolled in cinnamon and sugar), and check out the different parts of the city. There’s a small market at Namesti Miru with some authentic, local handcrafts, and the church at this square is beautiful as well. Prague has quite a culture scene so take in a Christmas concert, ballet, or opera while you’re there and enjoy all this historic city has to offer!
Are there any places we’ve missed for a magical Christmas celebration in Europe? Drop us a comment and let us know…and Happy Holidays!