EUROPEAN CHRISTMAS MARKETS
The Holiday Season is almost upon us AGAIN… it goes SO fast, right? Anyway, if you’ve not had the opportunity to experience a European Christmas Market, it’s a MUST for your bucket list. It’s truly magical. So different from our version of pre-season atmosphere……we are actually planning on going this year and I will do some “live” Instagram reports so you can get in on the excitement!
I thought I’d share some of the markets / hotels / hot spots with you here so you can begin to think about which marketing you’d like to visit.
European cities pull out all of the stops during the Holiday Season with Winter Wonder Land streets, displays and festivals (don’t forget the Gluhwein by the mug full!). This is a great time to get away and enjoy Christmas under sheepskin by the fire as you dine outside. Airfares are usually lower over the period from Thanksgiving until the week before Christmas – see our recent blog on “Off” Season travel posted on September 4th.
If time permits, consider flying into one central city and then visiting a number of surrounding cities. Hotels generally have lower rates and you can easily get around by train in most European countries. One of our favorite trips was to fly into Munich and visit a couple of other German towns and then take the train to Prague (about a 4 hour trip) for their Market. We then went by train to Vienna (4 hours) for a few days – it’s one of our favorite cities. From Vienna, you can add on Budapest and / or Salzburg – both about 2 hours from Vienna. Keep in mind that on the trains there they serve food and, most importantly, wine…….enough said!
Some of our favorite Christmas Markets along with their opening / closing dates for this year are:
- Vienna November 16 – December 24 This is one of Europe’s oldest markets with 20 or so market areas throughout the City. One of the main and largest markets is in front of the City Hall (Rathaus Platz) and features a large ice skating rink (scary things have happened with us skating here…..details later). The Schonbrunn Palace Market stays open until January 5. This is Vienna so the music is everywhere – Mozart, Beethoven, Haydn and many more. Like I said, nothing quite like sitting outside as it snows lightly, snuggly under a large sheepskin warming yourself by the fire…..it’s like being on a movie set.
- Munich November 27 – December 24 The main Market is in the Marienplatz and surrounding streets. Advent music is featured nightly.
- Prague November 30 – January 6 The Market features a large Christmas tree which is illuminated every evening at 430 accompanied by classical music.
- Nuremberg November 29 – December 23 This is a very popular and old market (dates back to 1638).
- Budapest November 23 – January 6 There are 2 main Markets, one in Vorosmarty and the other at the Budapest Basilica.
- Brussels November 29 – January 5 Brussels hosts one of Europe’s largest Markets in its Grand Place.
- Salzburg November 21 – December 26 With a small town atmosphere, the Market is in the Cathedral Square. The birthplace of Mozart will entertain you.
- Leipzig November 27 – December 23 Another smaller town with an intimate Market that is front of the Old Town Hall.
These hotels offer a great place to relax and unwind after a day and evening of Shopping the Christmas Markets (and, of course, consuming vats of Gluhwein):
- Brussels Sofitel Brussels Le Louise is conveniently located.
- Munich The Mandarin Oriental is a short walk to Marienplatz.
- Prague Both the Mandarin Oriental and The Four Seasons Prague have access to the Old City.
- Salzburg The Hotel Goldener Hirsch will put you close to the festivities.
- Vienna The Park Hyatt Vienna, Hotel Bristol, Hotel Imperial and Ritz Carlton will all put you close to the larger Markets.
Need to chat about one of these locations? Leave a comment with your questions and we will get back to you lightening quick! You can book these hotels here.
Remember that this is Europe in the winter – dress warmly – and the sun sets earlier compared to the US. The Gluhwein will help keep you warm. Take great gloves and a cute hat too. Bring an extra suitcase to fill with all of the wonderful gifts that you will invariably purchase. Sounds silly…..it’s a THING….happened to me!
WANDER UNTIL FOUND,