Christmas is right around the corner and that means the arrival of the traditional Christmas market in many European cities.
From amusement parks to medieval squares, Europe’s Christmas markets pop up in a variety of places, but all of them are guaranteed to fill you with festive spirit — not to mention a delicious array of seasonal tasty treats.
Here are five of the best Christmas markets in Europe.
Gothenburg’s Liseberg hosts the largest Christmas market in Sweden. The grounds of the park are decorated with over five million lights and 80 stalls offer visitors an amazing range of handmade wares.
Browse the stalls with a glass of glogg (the Scandinavian version of mulled wine) in hand. Make sure you sample a fläskkorv (a delicious Swedish sausage). If you have a sweet tooth, try risgrynsgröt — a rice pudding served with cinnamon, or chokladbollar — a traditional treat made with oatmeal, sugar and cocoa.
The Fiera Di Natale Christmas market in the Italian city of Bologna takes place in front of the medieval San Pietro Cathedral, and is most famous for ornamental nativity scenes (presepi) and food. Bolognese presepi feature several quirky figures, including la Meraviglia — a woman raising her arms in sign of awe, il Dormiglione — a boy sleeping in the background, and la Curiosa — who watches the scene with curiosity from a distance.
Make sure you enjoy a bowl of traditional Christmas tortellini served with broth. If you like a salty snack, indulge in specialty prosciuttos like Culatello di Zibello and Coppa di Parma. Try the mouth-watering array of local cheeses, including burrata, gorgonzola and parmigiano. Leave room for a slice of certosino — Bolognese Christmas cake made with dark chocolate, nuts and candied fruits.
The German village of Vilshofen an der Donau offers a unique twist with their Christmas market — it’s set up on a boat on the Danube! Keep warm with a glass of glühwein as you shop for hand-painted glass baubles, artisanal wooden toys or perhaps a traditional nutcracker. If you work up an appetite, try some sengzelten (flat bread served with sour cream and chives) or schäufele (local cured ham). Sweet tooths will love the traditional lebkuchen gingerbread.
Marvel at the star of the market — a 20-metre-high nativity scene.
Step back in time in beautiful Bruges in Belgium. Set right in the heart of the city in the historic Grote Markt, the city’s Christmas market has a distinctly medieval feel. You’ll find goodies galore in the many market stalls, including handknitted scarves and gloves, and artisanal Christmas decorations made of lace. Fill your cup with jenever (the Belgian version of gin) and try kroketten — traditional croquettes filled with shrimp or cheese, and covered with bechamel sauce.
If you have a craving for sweets there is no better place to be than Bruges. It’s known as the city of chocolate and you’ll find producers from all over the country at the Christmas market who are willing to give you a sample.
Every year the capital of the Normandy region in northern France takes on a truly festive feel. Rouen’s Christmas market is held on the square in front of the gothic Rouen Cathedral. Lights twinkle and the smell of vin chaud (French mulled wine) fills the air. Enjoy traditional pastries such as croustillons and beignets, and take home a box of calissons — traditional French candies topped with royal icing.
Do you have any suggestions to add to this list of the best Christmas markets in Europe? We would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below.
Additional images: Bigstock
Brittnay Sharman is an Aussie travel blogger. Brittnay has spent the last few years living in London and Dublin, where she’s managed to squeeze in 21 trips to Europe and Africa, along with lots of wine and cheese. Her travel adventures are captured on The Travelling House Sitters.