Christmas in Europe is an enchanting time of year. The historic streets are dusted with snow, the Gothic churches feature angelic-voiced choirs and the charming medieval squares are bustling with colourful, traditional Christmas markets.
Here are 8 cities in Europe where the magic of Christmas is celebrated, giving you and your family an unforgettable holiday experience.
- Vienna, Austria
There’s not many other places in the world that celebrate Christmas with the elegance and grace of Vienna. This city is sophisticated and beautiful throughout the year, but the Christmas season is when it really gets decked out.
Treat yourself to glühwein (traditional mulled wine) and fresh pastries at the Christkindlmarkt – the main Christmas market. You can also attend one of the famous Christmas concerts of the Vienna Boys’ Choir held within Vienna’s beautiful churches.
2. Zagreb, Croatia
In 2015 Zagreb was voted the Best European Christmas Market by travelers – and it’s easy to see why. The magical atmosphere in the city begins on November 26th when the lights are switched on and the magic continues to spread from there all around the city.
In the main square you will find a small “forest” covered in snow and the Manduševac Fountain encircled with a wreath. Here you can soak up the wonderful atmosphere while enjoying warm drinks and delicious sausages.
3. Strasbourg, France
Strasbourg is known as the “Capital of Christmas” and it set up the first edition of it’s Christmas Market in 1570 – making it one of the oldest in France. The market in Strasbourg offers visitors a wonderful array of delicious treats, handmade art and gifts, traditional products and decorations for the tree. With 300 different stalls spread over 11 sites, there’s a lot to explore!
During the Christmas season your family will be able to enjoy many events and activities, including boat rides, concerts and children’s entertainment.
4. Berlin, Germany
Berlin is one of the most popular travel destinations in Europe, known for its rich culture and artistic vibe. While the city really shines in the summer, it also has an irresistible charm in the winter.
There are many fantastic Christmas markets to choose from in Berlin, including the Alexanderplatz to the Gendarmenmarkt. The amount of mouthwatering food on offer at the markets is superb – from enormous Wursts to deep fried potato pancakes to lavish crepes and much more. Plus, all of Berlin’s superb cultural attractions on Museum Island, such as the Neues Museum and the Pergamonmuseum will be open throughout the winter.
5. London, England
The capital of England is a delightful place to spend Christmas with your family. The city comes to life with spectacular window displays, street illuminations and lovely public skating rinks.
Be sure to check out the charming Christmas Market at Tate Modern, where you will find lovely decorations, handmade wooden toys and delicious gingerbread. You can enjoy the festive atmosphere at Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park or take a walk through the beautifully illuminated trail through the Kew Botanical Gardens.
6. Prague, Czech Republic
Prague is known for its beautiful Gothic architecture and at Christmas time it’s one of the most beautiful cities in the world. At the Christmas market you will find adorable wooden huts decorated with sparkling lights and filled with festive treats, including everything from gift items and ornaments to delicacies such as hot sugar coated pastries and spit-roasted.
Wander through the Old Town Square with your family and you will see the traditional nativity display, set up with donkeys, sheep, goats and much more.
7. Lapland, Finland
Bundle up the kids in their warm clothes and tell them that you are going to visit the snowy land where Santa lives. It will be a Christmas that they will never forget.
There are many exciting winter activities to enjoy in Lapland, including fly-fishing, sleeping in an igloo hotel, snowshoeing or going on a husky safari. If you want a truly immersive Christmas experience, you can stay at the Arctic Snow Hotel which is built entirely of snow and ice (although it comes with a sauna and hot tub to keep you cosy).
8. Bruges, Belgium
Medieval Bruges is a pretty spot anyway, but when it is bedecked with twinkling lights in the winter it’s truly a sight to behold. The center of the city comes to life with a wonderfully festival Christmas parade and a large ice rink.
The city also hosts the Snow and Ice Sculpture Festival, where 40 different artists make fantastic creations out of 300 tons of ice. Plus, Belgium is where some of the best chocolate in the world is made – so after exploring in the cold you could warm up with a delicious mug of cocoa.