Planning a trip to the Christmas Markets in Europe? Lucky you! The European Christmas markets are some of the prettiest (and most fun!) events in the world.
Full of stalls, lights, food, warm wine and happy people, going to one of these markets always makes me feel Christmassy!
If you’re still trying to pick a Christmas Market to visit, why not try one of these biggest Christmas Markets in Europe!
Christmas Markets Europe- essential tips
In this post, I’m going to share some essential tips we’ve learnt while visiting the best European Christmas Markets. Each market has its own style and atmosphere, but there are some generic rules which apply to all.
So grab a mug of gluhwein (that’s warm, spiced wine famous in Christmas Markets), grab a pad and start taking notes!
What do you wear to a Christmas Market in Europe?
European Christmas markets happen in the weeks before Christmas… in December. Which means, for most of Europe, it’s COLD and probably snowy.
And you want that. Warm Christmas markets are just not the same! But you need to dress appropriately.
Basic Christmas Market Europe attire is:
- Warm coat
- Thick/ poloneck jumper
- Snuggly warm scarf
- Hats and gloves are a must!
- Comfortable shoes/ boots- see below
- Bag- ideally a small rucksack or large tote for safely storing your purchases. Something with a secure zip is good- sadly, these places are full of pickpockets or opportunists.
It’s totally possible to look cute and warm… but go for warm first!
What shoes do you wear to a Christmas Market Europe?
No heels. Not now, not ever. NO-ONE is wearing them, I promise. If you have to wear them, at least make them wedged boots, but be careful not to slip in the snow.
I suggest flat boots or even walking shoes if you’re going super casual. Just make sure they’re waterproof (slush and melting snow gets in EVERYWHERE!)
Make sure the shoes are comfy– you’ll be spending several hours walking, standing up while you eat, drink and possibly dance!
How long does a Christmas Market in Europe last?
European Christmas markets generally run from the last week in November until 23rd/24th December. Some markets can run until 6th January, but they are rare.
Most Christmas markets in Europe are free to visit (although of course you’ll need to buy food/ drink/ gifts when you’re there), but some, like Tivoli Gardens market & amusement park in Copenhagen or Winter Wonderland in London, charges an entrance fee just to get in. And you still have to buy food/ drink inside.
Make sure you research your chosen Christmas Market carefully to see if you need tickets, as they can sell out quickly, especially on weekends.
Can you buy food & drink at Christmas Markets Europe?
Absolutely! Honestly, the locals often use the markets more than the tourists, especially after work and ESPECIALLY in Germany.
Most European Christmas Markets will have:
- many (many!) stalls selling beer (usually local brew)
- gluhwein (warm wine with spices)
- a non-alcoholic warm drink (often warm apple juice or hot chocolate)
- They will also provide water (you may have to pay)
- street food such as hotdogs (bratwurst with various sauces/ fillings)
- crepes (thin pancakes with sweet or savoury fillings)
- Nuts- roasted nuts, salted nuts, caramelised and warm chestnuts!
- sweets / pick & mix
There will often be a covered seating area or two, but these get full VERY quickly, so expect to stand whilst you eat and drink. Alternatively, don’t be scared to share tables. This is very common and a great way to meet people.
TOP TIP– The gluhwein often comes in collectable mugs in various shapes/ designs. There’s often a different design each year, and each market has their own style, so they make a lovely stocking filler/ gift/ memento.
Christmas markets are generally held in large towns and cities across Europe, so you will have a selection of restaurants, cafes, bars, beer halls and other eating places to enjoy as you wish.
What can you buy at European Christmas markets?
So. Many. Things.
That’s one of the things I love most about Christmas markets- they are all so different. However, all seem to have some form of:
- Christmas decorations, often wooden
- Christmas/ advent calendars
- Candles/ lights
- Personalised signs/ plaques/ toys- make wonderful gifts for children
- Delicious smelling strands of dried oranges, cinnamon, nutmeg and other spices. I LOVE these! Whether we’re living in the motorhome or the boat, they make everything smell amazing.
Each country has slightly different tastes and designs- that’s what makes it all so fun. Yes, the goods are expensive, but you don’t need to buy anything if you really don’t want to- just go and enjoy the atmosphere.
However, I defy anyone to not buy ANYTHING- there is just too much temptation!
Best Christmas Market Europe Tips- Cash is King
Some stalls will accept cards, but not always. Get a supply of the local European currency in cash (small notes/ coins are useful).
NO- not all European countries use the Euro– here’s a list of those that don’t.
Do they speak English at European Christmas Markets?
You need to remember that you are visiting a foreign country, where they speak a different language. Learning simple terms such as ‘please’, ‘thank you’ and ‘how much’ will go a long way to increase friendliness.
Don’t forget- they’re dealing with rude tourists day in, day out for 6 weeks straight!!
Having said that, most vendors will speak English, and even if they don’t, you will not be the first English speaker they have had to deal with.
Many signs are in picture form or English (especially on food stalls), so you can just point and say please, or try to pronounce it in an appalling accent and accept that they will laugh at you (kindly!)
Christmas Market Europe Tips: Find the main attractions in advance and book tickets if you need to
Most European Christmas Markets will have some attractions; a Ferris wheel, ice skating rink, tourist train- you get the idea. These can sell out VERY quickly, so if you can, book your tickets in advance online.
Alternatively, head there first thing in the morning and book your tickets for later in the day, or ride while it’s quiet!
Some Christmas Markets in Europe put on musical concerts. These can be free or paid, so again, try to find out in advance and book tickets if you need to.
Where is the Biggest Christmas Market in Europe?
So there you go- 9 essential tips to help you get the most of of your European Christmas Market experience. I hope you have a wonderful trip.
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