Want to escape the UK Freeze for some continental Christmas shopping? We've found the 5 most popular European Christmas markets for UK travellers - roll the dice and pick your next winter escape here!

Rathaus Christmas Market

Image credit: Marco Aldeia

When the nights draw in and the snowflakes begin to fall, magical Christmas markets sprout up all over Europe and lure travellers from across the globe with their local culinary delights and intriguing handicrafts. From mesmerising light parades to ginormous “stollen” cakes, each region celebrates Christmas in its own weird and wonderful way.

But where are the most popular European Christmas Markets? With all the scrumptious grub and awe-inspiring architecture on offer, the competition is tough! But we’ve managed to whittle it down to our top five, and in true Global luggage style, we want your trip to be as effortless as possible, so we’ve suggested the best hotels, flights and luggage to help you create the Christmas market break of your dreams.

 

Dresden Christmas Market

Image credit: LH DD Wifö

Dresden Christmas Market, Germany

Maybe it’s the Dresden Striezelmarkt’s beautiful historical setting and treasure trove of handmade crafts that make this Christmas market so popular, or could it be the barbecued bratwurst, sugared dough balls and gallons of sumptuous hot cider?

Hmmm… maybe, but we think the giant cake might have something to do with it. On the 9th December, tourists and locals flock to Germany’s oldest market to witness a gigantic stollen (traditional German fruitcake) being paraded through the streets. And yes, everyone gets to eat a piece when the parade is over. Yum!

In fact, this market is so obsessed with cake, it’s even named after one. The Striezelmarkt’s name is derived from a fruity, moist cake called the “striezel” which happens to be one of the main crowd pullers. The world famous Christmas cake, the “Original Dresden Christstollen®” is also made here and tastes divine washed down with a fruity hot punch – mmmm…

Aside from the copious amount of cake, there’s also the world’s tallest Christmas pyramid to marvel at and the world’s biggest nutcracker. This market certainly doesn’t do things by halves!

Stay: Hotel Taschenbergpalais Kempinski

Built by a Saxon King in the 18th century for his beloved mistress, the Taschenbergpalais is one of the grandest and most romantic hotels in Dresden. Starry-eyed lovers will adore the elegant bedrooms, grandiose ballroom and luxury spa, whilst the hotel’s central location allows you to stumble home in under 4-minutes after one too many gluhweins.

Standard Room from £123 per night, Palais Suite from £632 per night, Hotel Taschenbergpalais Kempinski. Flights from £125 with Lufthansa.

Travel With: 19 Degree Aluminium Suitcase, £945, Tumi

Tumi 19 degree silver rippled suitcase
Nail an icy cool style with the 19 Degree Suitcase. Flaunting a futuristic metallic gleam and rippling aluminium shell, the Tumi case is deliciously light, allowing you to load it up with souvenirs and gifts without compromising its light-as-a-feather weight.

 

Christmas Fair in Strasbourg
Image credit: Michal Osmenda

Strasbourg Christmas Market, France

As Christmas descends on Strasbourg, tourists from around the world flock to admire the dazzling lights and magnificent Christmas decorations that festoon Strasbourg. Quaint half-timbered houses, winding cobbled streets and glistening canals provide the most picturesque setting for the 300 wooden chalets that pop up and sprawl throughout the historical centre.

It’s not just Strasbourg’s chocolate-box backdrop that lures visitors from afar, the local Alsatian culture and culinary delights have enticed tourists to this particular area for hundreds of years. Guests can immerse themselves in this fascinating culture by heading to the “Christmas Food Market” to sample specialities from the region. Think orange and cinnamon biscuits, spiced “bredeles” and sugary breads washed down with a fruity Christmas beer from Les Brasseries Artisanales d’Alsace – heaven!  

It’s this fusion of fairy-tale scenery, 400-year-old traditions and sweet treats that make Strasbourg one of most loved European Christmas markets by thousands of people worldwide. They don’t call Strasbourg the “Capital of Christmas” for no reason!

Stay: Hôtel Régent Petite France & Spa

For a luxurious European Christmas market break, stay at the Hôtel Régent Petite France & Spa. Its "Le Pont Tournant" restaurant has a gorgeous terrace on the banks of the River Ill and is a magical way to end a long day gift shopping and sightseeing. Only a 6-minute walk to the Grand Ile Quarter.

Classic room from £184.63, Presidential Suite from £497, Hôtel Régent Petite France & Spa. Travel by Eurostar, from £258, Standard Premier.

Travel With: Bellagio Four-Wheel Large Suitcase, £495, Brics

Bric's Bellagio Suitcase
Channel an old-world glamour with the luxurious Bellagio. Its rich olive hue and Tuscan tan leather detailing gracefully complement the rustic elegance of Strasbourg and its charming markets.

 

Brussels Christmas Market

Image credit: Gary Bembridge

Winter Wonders, Brussels, Belgium

Chocolate, waffles and beer. Do you need any more reasons to visit Belgium? Well yes, actually, the Winter Wonders Christmas market. Measuring over 2km long, this enchanting event is one of the biggest European Christmas markets and meanders its way throughout the cobbled streets and historical squares of the city, stretching from the Grand Palace to the Place Sainte Catherine.

Home to a 200-foot sparkling ice-rink, mesmerising fairy-light Ferris wheel, gigantic fir Christmas tree and over 200 snow-dusted market chalets, the Winter Wonders is a magnet for festive revellers across the globe every year. And with Belgium chocolates and gluhwein basically being the local diet, who can blame them?

But it’s the stunning light shows and atmospheric musical performances that really make this Christmas market stand out from the crowd. From the Sound and Light show at the Grand Place UNESCO World Heritage site to the hypnotic Light Parades, the city explodes with illuminations and music come December. Essential for those seeking an unforgettable Christmas experience!

Stay: Warwick Brussels

Slipped into a food coma after one too many chocolate waffles? You probably won’t feel like traipsing across the city to reach your bed then. Don’t fret, just a 3-minute walk from the markets lays the hotel of your dreams. Make a beeline to the Warwick, situated just off the Grand Place, and grab a glass of mulled wine in their famous “Chutney’s Restaurant”. If you can stomach any more food, do try to eat here – it’s rumoured to be one of the best restaurants in Brussels!

Classic Room from £116 per night, Royal Suite from £1962 per night, Warwick Brussels. Fly economy from £139 Brussels Airlines, or business class from £256 British Airways.

Travel With: Torq Four-Wheel Medium Suitcase, £459, Briggs & Riley

Torq four wheel medium suitcase briggs + riley
Light as a snowflake and sprightly on its feet, this ruby red suitcase is good enough to be Santa’s new sleigh. 360 degree, smooth-rolling wheels allow you to navigate the Christmas crowds like a pro, whilst the weightless construction is a breeze to handle. Who needs reindeers?

 

Vienna Rathaus Christmas Market

Image credit: Marek Ślusarczyk

Vienna Christmas Market, Austria

Who can resist the splendid backdrop of Vienna whilst indulging on roasted chestnuts and hot punch? Not many people it seems, as Vienna’s “Krippenmarkt” has been one of the most loved European Christmas markets for over 700 years.

Since its birth, way back in the 13th century, these markets have blossomed throughout the city, with pretty wooden chalets popping up at Vienna’s most glorious landmarks. The “Viennese Market” has perhaps the dreamiest setting, where 154 decorated huts and hundreds of technicolour glowing trees are overlooked by the stately City Hall.

If an illuminated town hall isn’t grand enough for you, then Vienna’s TWO palaces are guaranteed to impress. Browse traditional handcrafted goods and special culinary delights beneath baroque finery at the elaborate Belvedere Palace, or head to the famous Schönbrunn Palace to buy the most gorgeous handmade Christmas decorations and nativity sets in the majestic Parade Court.

Most travellers are looking for the best European Christmas markets with snow and Vienna almost guarantees a white Christmas. Don’t be disheartened if the snowflakes don’t fall however; the “Little Ice Dream” promises to fulfil your winter wonderland fantasies. Pull on your ice skates and glide across the winding ice routes through the romantic Rathauspark for the most delightful end to your Christmas market break.

Stay: Hotel Grand Ferdinand Vienna

If you thought Vienna’s “Krippenmarkts” were captivating, wait until you see the Grand Ferdinand. A stone’s throw from the Viennese Market, this hotel is one of the most extravagant and beautifully decorated hotels in Vienna. Escape the cold by retreating to the exotic tropical gardens, or if you can brave a little more chill, head to the bar and restaurant at the “Grande Etage” for stunning views across the rooftops of Vienna.

Standard Room from £127 per night, Grande Suite from £1271 per night, Hotel Grand Ferdinand Vienna. Fly economy from £180, or business class £367, Austrian Airlines

Travel With: Flux Spinner Expandable, £195, Samsonite

samsonite white flux suitcase

In a snowy white shade, the Flux is the most stylish companion to explore the Viennese landscape with. Luxurious and light, the polypropylene design is one of the few hard-side cases that offer expandability, allowing you to fit in a few extra Austrian souvenirs and handcrafted Christmas gifts to return home with!

 

Munich Marienplatz Christkindlesmarkt

Image credit: Bbb

Munich Christmas Market, Germany

Age-old Christmas customs, snow-topped lodges and sizzling sausages - is it any wonder one of the most popular European Christmas markets resides in Germany?

The combination of an authentic festive experience and a world-class city destination makes Munich a magnet for merrymakers as the year comes to an end. Slap bang in the middle of the city, on the Marienplatz, the market offers an assortment of weird and wonderful wares, from hand-painted glass baubles and sheepskin jackets to edible “snowballs” and herb liquors.

It’s not just the hearty food, unique handicrafts and amazing architecture that helps Munich pull visitors from all four corners of the globe each year, but the hundreds of quirky events designed to surprise locals and tourists alike. The “Krampus Run”, for example, has to be the most thrilling and scary Christmas tradition there is and involves 300 masked “monsters” race through the streets of Munich looking for naughty children. Alternatively, visitors seeking a more refined type of spine-tingling experience will be blown over by the brass bands, singers and choirs who perform from the splendour of the town hall’s balcony.

 

Stay: Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten Kempinski

Stylish restaurants and bars, a luxury day spa, peaceful swimming pool and jaw-dropping views over the rooftops of Munich – these are just the cherries on top of the Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten Kempinski’s cake. Although the hotel is only a 7-minute walk to the Marienplatz, why walk when the concierge can sort you out with a limo? Want to test drive the Mercedes-AMG GT S? You can do that here too.

Superior Room from £256 per night, Royal Ludwig Suite: £14,271 per night, Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten Kempinski. Fly economy from £140 Eurowings, or business class from £344 Lufthansa

Travel With: Topas Titanium Multiwheel IATA Cabin Case, £849, Rimowa

Topas Titanium Multiwheel suitcase
Sleek, shimmery and high-tech, Rimowa’s Topas was made for a glamorous, winter city break. Fitted with an integrated garment bag, the contemporary cabin case keeps suits or dresses secure and wrinkle-free, leaving you ample room to slot in that extra bottle of gluhwein…

 

Which European Christmas market is tugging at your heart? Wherever you decide to celebrate the Christmas season this year, make sure you take a dazzling and practical suitcase along for the ride. From sparkling metallics to glimmering jewel-tones, we have plenty of festive and fabulous designs to suit all kinds of tastes.

So get packing, and jet over to your European Christmas market of choice, just don't forget to pack that emergency holdall in case you get 'over-excited' with the Christmas shopping....

And don't forget to share these beautiful locations with your friends with our handy European Christmas Markets infographic. Share our gorgeous visual on your social channels, and get all your loved ones involved this holiday season!