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!
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.
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.
Travel With: 19 Degree Aluminium Suitcase, £945, Tumi
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.
Travel With: Bellagio Four-Wheel Large Suitcase, £495, Brics
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!
Travel With: Torq Four-Wheel Medium Suitcase, £459, Briggs & Riley
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.
Travel With: Flux Spinner Expandable, £195, Samsonite
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!
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.
Travel With: Topas Titanium Multiwheel IATA Cabin Case, £849, Rimowa
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!