The holiday season is one of the best times of the year to visit Europe because there is nothing quite like a European Christmas. From the largest cities to the smallest towns, spending the holiday season anywhere here can feel almost like a fairy tale or a movie. With special treats only on offer during this time of the year, hot mulled wine to keep you warm, and beautiful decorations to be seen everywhere, Christmas in Europe must be experienced to be believed! And one tradition you’ll find almost everywhere is that of the Christmas markets, which are so festive it could get even the toughest Scrooge into the holiday spirit. Here are some of our favorites from throughout Europe.
Prague, Czech Republic
Prague has two Christmas markets within a five minute walk of each other – Old Town and Wenceslas Square. The gothic architecture surrounding this area really gives a stately and solemn atmosphere amidst the holiday joy in the markets. It can get cold in Prague in the winter, so make sure to pack some gloves and warm yourself with hot mulled wine – stalls are everywhere in the Christmas markets here. Also, don’t miss out on the traditional pastry enjoyed here during the holidays – the trdelník, a hot pastry cooked over a grill and rolled in cinnamon and sugar.
Looking to spend the holiday season in a smaller town? The old town of Colmar, located in the eastern part of France, is a perfect, fairytale-like setting, featuring timbered houses and cobblestone streets lined with canals. While this town is charming year-round, the charm is turned up to 11 during the Christmas season. The timbered homes are lined with twinkling lights, an ice-skating rink is set up, and the famed carousel brings joy to all. Don’t miss out on a performance from a local children’s choir to really get you into the Christmas spirit.
Originally founded as a one day market in 1434, Dresden’s Striezelmarkt is considered by some to be the oldest Christmas market in the world. Today it lasts throughout the entire holiday season and attracts around 3 million visitors from around the world every year. The trademark food item here is the stollen, a buttery fruitcake that is packaged with a special seal depicting the former king of Dresden, August the Strong. Also, make sure to see the famed Christmas candle pyramid here which is the largest in Germany. While typical pyramids in German towns are around 20 inches high, Dresden’s towers to a full 46 feet in the air!
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