The end of November and the beginning of December are rather not typical dates for trips around Europe, there is no denying that even in southern countries the weather is not encouraging.
Christmas markets and festive atmosphere, however, are changing this perspective, and ’market tourism’ is becoming increasingly popular.
Speaking of markets, we probably mean immediately German cities, Vienna, maybe Prague. There they are indeed the largest, most traditional and of course beautiful. However, I encourage you to think about other places too!
A short overview of less typical market places is recommended for hot chocolate (or mulled wine).
The best market in Europe
European Best Destinations is an organization (based in Brussels) that promotes culture and tourism in Europe. Every year they organize a plebiscite for the Best Christmas Market. Visitors vote.
Best Christmas Market for 2019 year plebiscite was won…by Tallinn. I was in this city in the summer, but its old town is probably indeed the perfect place to create a festive and magical atmosphere.
You can follow this organisation and competition to get ideas for less obvious Christmas markets trips? More description about this plebiscite and winners in this article.
Here. For example, Vilnius, Bratislava, Budapest, Brussels. Easy to get to!
Unfortunately, Poznań did not manage to win, but it is a excellent direction if we want to stay/ go to Poland. The market is located in the Old Market Square and Plac Wolności. Quite big, nice, with a special, a dedicated mug.
In addition, an ice sculpture competition takes place every year in the city. In 2019 it was the 13th edition.
You can watch live how the artists create sculptures, and later their exhibition, best in dark with lights.
Or maybe Scotland?
At first, it may seem a bit strange, but really UK is a good market direction and / or in search of a festive atmosphere. The atmosphere (and the fairs themselves also) begins this early in mid-November. For many it may be a little early, but on the other hand it can make travel easier, more dates, more options.
UK has cool markets in many cities (a few of them are also on this year’s competition list), but also, and maybe mainly beautiful decorations. Not only streets, but also shops, shopping centers, pubs, restaurants. Of course, the most classic example is London. There is so much to see that I will describe in a separate article.
From other cities, I heartily recommend Edinburgh.
The city at any time has an amazing atmosphere, but this period is almost magical. I would say that this is one of the few places to which late autumn grays add charm!
But it is also thanks to the mentioned decorations.
The market is located right in the center, in Princes Street Gardens, overlooking the old town and castle. The fair is compact, but still quite large, with attractions for children such as carousels, trains, but most of all with numerous handicraft, food and drink stands. It’s nice that you can buy dishes from different countries, e.g. French, Greek, Hungarian.
In addition, a Johnnie Walker bar is built, called and resembling ‘bothy’ – a traditional Scottish hut in the mountains.
The location of this fair is just spectacular and that is why it is worth considering such a visit. Flights to Edinburgh at this time are not expensive.
Italy is rather associated with the sun and good ice cream. But the markets and Christmas atmosphere are surprisingly good there! Mostly in the northern part of the country. Markets are in Rome, Florence and Milan. As the most beautiful are spoken of in a little less known cities: Arco, Bolzano, Merano, Trento, but also in Verona.
I visited the one in Verona this year. It’s quite small, but it’s really beautiful. It is located on Piazza dei Signori (a place that I liked the most in Verona, probably). Christmas trees make a great impression against the background of burgundy colored monuments (e.g. Torre dei Lamberti). The offer with food was not very wide, but of course it’s possible to find something there. Stands with traditional Italian cheese and meats were interesting.
Almost every town on Lake Garda offers holiday attractions, in many there is a market or an ice rink. In the town of Garda on the lake banks, which looks very interesting. ‘Christmas among olive trees’ are also organized there.
There is also a fair, but in a slightly different style, with many traditional products to buy.
On the way from Garda to Verona, there is the town of Bussolengo, in which the ‘largest Christmas village in Europe’ (Flover Christmas Village) is open.
It is primarily a huge store area with stands with baubles and other beautiful Christmas decorations (arranged in stands according to style or color), a place to eat, ice rink, Santa’s hut. Sightseeing begins with passing through a snowy cave with … dancing snowmen, and more.
It’s actually hard to describe this place, so just have a look:
Entrance is free during the week, it costs around 2 Euro during the weekend.
I can say that if you travel with children or have it along the way, you can come by. But I’m not very sure if it’s worth it to go especially.
I was also during markets time in Vienna. Indeed, there are a lot of them in the city, they are nice organized, all have their own cup. There, for the first time I drank mulled wine prepared from white wine! However, there are also crowds, considerable prices. Maybe you should think about something a little less standard. There are a lot of such places, and those in the article are just examples. Although I have checked by myself and recommend it sincerely.