Lights are twinkling in the trees and the smell of mulled wine is in the air, which means it must be time for a Christmas market (or three). There isn’t a more festive activity in my opinion and often the best ones are worth travelling for, so if you’re hopping on a plane this Christmas, make it to one of these destinations.
The stunning streets of Vienna make the perfect backdrop for this gorgeous Christmas market that dates back to 1298! The city has over 20 Advent Markets selling edible treats and handmade gifts which make lovely Christmas presents (or gifts for yourself…) Grab yourself a glass of Glühwein and explore all the festivities the markets have to offer. The main market is in front of the City Hall and you can go into the hall free of charge at the weekend, where you’ll hear choirs singing carols, and where children can learn how to make Christmas cookies. Stalls line the pretty, narrow, side streets selling artwork, jumpers, rugs and jewellery, so you can even get last minute Christmas shopping done while you’re there. If you love skiing Vienna is the place for you, as there are small resorts such as Sankt Corona am Wechsel just an hour’s drive from the city! Make sure you take the right safety precautions and get extra insurance if you plan to ski; there’s no better way to get into the Christmas spirit than some time on the snow!
This year, Brussels’ Winter Wonders is a great place to get into the festive spirit! With over 200 chalets, a light show and Christmas parades, it’s one of the livelier Christmas markets so it’s a great place to go with friends. There’s also an ice rink and fairground rides (including a Ferris Wheel) to enjoy! Brussels is celebrating Finland as its chosen country this year, so it’s a great way to discover the magic of Finland and the charms of the Finns – said to be the happiest people in the world! New for this year is The Dome, a structure between the Stock Exchange and the Place De Brouckère where you can watch film screenings, concerts, and other performances. It’s important to remember when travelling to Belgium that tourists aren’t exempt from their laws on burkas and niqabs, which are illegal, as is any item of clothing that covers the face. It’s a gorgeous country to visit, particularly at this time of year, so enjoy your trip and eat plenty of chocolate!
Copenhagen boasts many different Christmas markets across its city centre, from traditional markets selling local produce to unconventional markets reminiscent of an Oriental bazaar. Stalls are set up all along the water in the old harbour, which sell traditional Danish Christmas specialities and gifts. You can have a mulled beer at the old Carlsberg brewery, which acts as a rustic backdrop for the markets. If you’re going with children, don’t forget to visit Tivoli Gardens for rides and of course the chance to meet Santa! If you decide to travel around different European markets this year it’s important to know that Danish authorities have increased border controls at the land border with Germany and at all crossing points to Sweden. So make sure you have your passport on you if you’re travelling from Germany using the land border, or by rail, road or ferry from Sweden.
Whichever market you choose to visit this Christmas, make sure you check out the FCO’s travel advice so that your trip is as magical and hassle-free as it should be.