The 10 best Christmas markets in 2023

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The most magical Christmas markets to eat, drink and be merry

What’s that smell? When the aromas of gingerbread, cinnamon and mulled wine waft into your chilly nostrils, it can only mean one thing… it’s Christmas! And there’s no better way to enjoy the festive spirit than at a colourful Christmas market.

From tasty bites to fairy lights, we’ve got the inside scoop on the top 10 Christmas markets in 2023. They’ll put a snowy spring in your step and a jingle in your bells.

So, banish those bah-humbug blues and check your anti-Christmas cynicism at the door, thank you very much. It’s time to shop till you drop and indulge in some festive fun at the top Christmas markets 2023!

1. Berlin

Now, let’s kick off with one of the big players in the Christmas market, er, market. Berlin is the Christmas market capital of the world! In the jolly German capital, you’ll find not one, not two, but over 80 Christmas markets!

One of the best-known is the Gendarmenmarkt. This twinkling beauty takes place in the 18th-century Gerndarmenmarkt square. Many believe this square is one of the prettiest plazas in Berlin. The grand Deutscher Dom cathedral and the elegant French Cathedral (Französischer Dom) overlook the fun from either end of the square. Lit up at night, it’s quite a sight to behold.

And what can you buy? Well, a better question to ask might be, what can’t you buy? From crazy Christmas ornaments to mammoth-tusk jewellery to beeswax candles, you won’t be short on gift ideas.

Presents aside, make sure you arrive with an empty belly! This market offers a scrumptious smorgasbord fit for Santa. You’ll be glugging on Glühwein and binging on bratwurst like a true local.

  • Visit the Berlin Christmas markets from the 27th November to the 7th January.
  • There’s a small entry fee (2 euros); but don’t be a scrooge – you can’t put a price on Christmas cheer, can you? 

2. London

Winter Wonderland Christmas market, London

London during the holiday season is like stepping into a Charles Dickens novel. One of the jolliest spots to experience festive fun and frolics for the family is Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park. It’s all about busy market stalls, exciting rides and cozy Bavarian-style beer halls.

For a slightly more tranquil Christmas market experience, head to the charming Southbank Centre market. Set along the scenic banks of the River Thames, this classy market offers breathtaking views of the city’s major landmarks. Marvel at the London Eye and the Shard as you do your pre-crimbo present shopping.

No snacking beforehand! You’ll want to leave room for warm mince pies, creamy hot chocolate and the ubiquitous spicy mulled wine. And as you munch your merry way to an extra few crimbo kilos, you’ll hear the sweet sound of carolers crooning Christmas melodies.

  • Visit London’s cracking Christmas markets between the 17th November and the 1st January!
  • Prices vary according to the time and day you want to attend. 

3. Reykjavik

If you’re dreaming of a white Christmas, you might well get one in Reykjavik. With an average snowfall of 17.8 centimetres during December, the chances are pretty high! Even if it doesn’t snow, you can enjoy wintery fun at the huge ice rink in the middle of the market!

Reykjavik’s Christmas markets are magical. Check out Ingolfstorg Square for stalls offering local crafts and lipsmacking Icelandic delicacies. These include smoked lamb and kleina (traditional twisted doughnuts). We’re salivating just thinking about it! 

Iceland has a unique twist on the holiday season festivities. Icelandic children celebrate a group of thirteen mischievous trolls who visit throughout December. Meet the plucky Yule Lads! Keep your eyes peeled for these merry troublemakers as you explore the Christmas markets of the ice-cool Icelandic capital.

  • The Ingolfstorg Square Christmas market is open every day from the 1st December until the 23rd December from 12:00-22:00.
  • Entry to the Christmas markets is FREE! Pay to hire a pair of ice skates and a helmet, or bring your own and get your skate on for free!

4. Barcelona

Barcelona also has its own take on Christmas, and this one will appeal to the toilet humour of every young child. Tio Caga (the pooping log) is a hilarious Catalunyan Christmas character.

He’s a small, smiley wooden log wrapped in a blanket. Children beat him with a stick and he poos out presents. What could be more christmassy??

The best Barcelona Christmas market to pick up your own personal poo log is Fira de Santa Llúcia. This is the oldest, biggest and most impressive of Barcelona’s Christmas markets.

192 stands sell anything and everything from trinkets to tambourines and Christmas crafts to candles. You’ll find the full complement of Christmas trimmings here. And with live music performances and bustling crowds, the Fira de Santa Llúcia market brims with energy and excitement.

  • Barcelona’s Christmas markets start on the 24th November and continue until the 6th January.
  • Entry is free!

5. Copenhagen

More Christmas merriment awaits at the hygge-filled wonderland of Copenhagen’s Christmas markets. There aren’t many cities more Christmassy than the delightful Danish capital.

Fittingly, their range of markets is wide. From Hans Christian Andersen-themed to gastronomic and even a Christmas market dedicated to sheep farmers (!), you’ll find it all in this snowy Scandinavian capital.

There are plenty of free Christmas markets. But if you’re willing to pay the entry fee, you’ll get access to the crown jewel of Christmas markets: Tivoli Gardens. And it’s worth it to see the cute gingerbread houses, snow-covered trees and more than 70,000 Christmas baubles lighting up the night sky.

You’ll also get the chance to see the northern lights light show, watch incredible fireworks displays and more!

Choose from around 60 stalls bursting with any Christmas decoration, snack, sweet or hot drink your heart could desire. Indulge in some hot cocoa, dig into a flaky æbleskiver (a traditional Danish pastry), and then work it all off with a skating session on the ice-skating rink. We hope you haven’t been too naughty this year, because Santa and his reindeer will be waiting to welcome you!

  • It’s open every day from the 19th November to the 31st December.
  • Get a ticket to Tivoli Gardens to enter their Christmas markets!

6. Budapest

You’re less likely to bump into Father Christmas at the Budapest Christmas market. But if you play your (Christmas) cards right, you might find yourself accompanied by the heavenly sounds of a Hungarian choir.

If you decide to travel to the vibrant capital to pick up some festive goodies and last-minute presents, you’ll be glad you did. The Budapest Christmas markets have been voted some of the most affordable in Europe!

One of the best is the christmas market at Vorosmarty Square, heaving with handmade toys and homemade handicrafts. Festive fare is plentiful and wide-ranging. From goulash served in a hollowed-out bread roll to Hungarian honey cookies to stuffed cabbage rolls, you won’t be left “hungary”! (Sorry!)

You might need to brush up on your Hungarian to order, however. Try ordering a kürtőskalác (spit cake) after a few glasses of palinka, the local Christmas fruit liquor!

  • The Vorosmarty Christmas market opens on the 17th November and closes on the 1st January. It’s open every day of the week, so no excuses for not grabbing your lucky loved ones some bargains!
  • Entry to the Christmas markets is free – we told you Budapest Christmas markets were cheap!

7. Edinburgh

Hold on to your (woolly) hats because Edinburgh’s Christmas markets are as chilly as the end of a snowman’s nose.

The East Princes Street Gardens market, in the heart of the capital’s historic centre, could not be more atmospheric. It’s surrounded by iconic Edinburgh Castle, the Gothic Scott Monument, and the Big Wheel which is, well, big! Scotland’s largest ferris wheel is a whopping 46 metres tall. The views of Edinburgh’s famous skyline are the next best thing to getting a ride in Santa’s sleigh.

Your wee ones will be excited to have Santa read them a story. Lace up your skates and show off your moves on the ice rink! Or just wander around, soak up the atmosphere and enjoy the Christmas lights.

Alongside the traditional Christmas fare, you’ll find some more unusual local offerings. If you’ve never tried the Scottish delicacy haggis, now’s your chance! Yule love it!

  • The East Princes Street Gardens Christmas market is open from the 17th November until the 6th January.  If you’re not keen on a long, wintry wait to get in, try to avoid peak times (early evening), as you might have to line up for an hour.
  • There is no charge to enter!

8. Prague

Prague simply oozes Christmas spirit. And its Christmas markets exude a fairytale charm that is second to none.

The Old Town Square Christmas Market is picture perfect. It has a stunning backdrop of Gothic architecture and the scent of freshly baked gingerbread floating through the crisp winter air.

Explore the wooden huts selling handmade crafts, gaze at the enormous Christmas tree and pick up some delicate glass ornaments.

As for culinary delights, the star of the show is the traditional Christmas fish soup. Prague might be known for its Czech beer, but at the most wonderful time of the year, you’ll be looking for a cup of Christmas cheer. In Prague, that’s svařák, a traditional mulled wine with a festive twist. The twist being a stiff shot of plum brandy!

If that’s too much Christmas cheer for you, sip on a glass of hot honey wine! You can also indulge in Czech festive treats like trdelnik, a sweet pastry that is as delicious as it is Instagrammable.

  • The old town square market is open every day from the 25th November to the 30th December from 10:00 to 22:00.
  • Entry is free!

9. Warsaw

Warsaw might be the ultimate Christmas city. Its Christmas market in the Old Town Square is straight out of a winter fairy tale. As you stroll through its cobblestone streets, admire the Royal Castle and the medieval city walls.

Its incredibly picturesque round ice rink encircles the mermaid statue. You’ll be twirling and jumping under row upon row of the twinkliest, christmassiest strings of lights hanging above.

As you wander around, you’ll be surrounded by the joyful hum of holiday shoppers and the festive ambience of its decorated huts.

Polish cuisine, naturally, takes centre stage. Munch on mouthwatering pierogi, steaming bowls of bigos and delectable oscypek (smoked sheep’s cheese).

  • Warsaw’s Old Town Square Christmas market opens on the 26th November and closes on the 7th January 2024. And, for those of you who’ve left your Christmas shopping until really late this year, it’s even open on Christmas day!
  • It’s free to enter!

10. Toronto

Now, when it comes to Christmas markets, Europe definitely has the monopoly. But, for this tenth and final Christmas market, you’ll need to cross the pond to experience the charm of Toronto’s Christmas markets.

The Distillery District Christmas Market transports you back in time. Its Victorian-style architecture and cobblestone streets are reminiscent of years gone by. Try warm spiced apple cider, browse the artisanal stalls for one-of-a-kind gifts and marvel at the stunning light displays.

Oh, and don’t forget to visit Santa’s House for a chance to meet the man himself and maybe even whisper your present requirements!

  • The Distillery District Christmas Market is open from the 17th November until the 17th December.
  • Entry is generally free, apart from Friday to Sunday after 16:00, when you’ll need to pay for a ticket.

Jingle all the way to a Christmas market

So, we’ve come to the end of our list of the best Christmas markets in 2023! And it’s pretty clear that, if you’re looking to get in the Christmas mood, nowhere will you feel merrier than at a Christmas market, basking under twinkling lights, sipping on a mulled wine and perusing goodies.

And of course, the markets are the perfect excuse to have a winter city break in one of these fantastic destinations! It couldn’t be easier to get around the cities and to the markets themselves.

So, don your woolliest hat, bundle up and get yourself to one of our top Christmas markets in 2023!

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Frequently Asked Questions

It’s hard to pick just one country as the best for Christmas markets, as many European countries are renowned for their spectacular offerings. Germany is famous for its traditional and charming markets, as are the Czech Republic, Hungary and the Scandinavian countries (Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Norway). There are too many to choose from! 

Christmas markets are not only about shopping for gifts and indulging in delicious food and drinks; they may also offer a wide range of entertainment and activities. You can enjoy live music performances by local artists, with choirs singing timeless carols or bands playing festive tunes. Some markets even have ice-skating rinks, where you can glide across the ice while surrounded by the magical atmosphere. There are often funfair rides and exciting attractions for children and adults alike, including traditional carousel rides and Ferris wheels with stunning views of the market and city.

Absolutely! Christmas markets are known for their family-friendly atmosphere and attractions. You’ll find a variety of activities that cater to children of all ages. Many markets have dedicated areas for kids, offering interactive workshops where they can make their own crafts or decorate cookies. Santa Claus or different versions of him, such as Saint Nicholas or Father Christmas, are often present at the markets, giving children the chance to meet and share their wishes with the jolly old man himself. Additionally, there may be puppet shows, storytelling sessions, and even petting zoos with adorable animals for little ones to enjoy. With a wide range of entertainment and attractions, Christmas markets are the perfect family outing during the holiday season.

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