Twinkling lights. Wooden stalls. Christmas trees. A myriad of smells. A European Christkindlmarkt (Christmas market) is a feast for the senses.
Your feet will crunch along the ground, sometimes treading footprints in a fresh dusting of snow if you’re lucky. You’ll hear the voices of stall owners chatting away to each other and prospective customers. The enticing smells of sweet and savoury will waft through the air, while your eyes will be drawn from stall to stall. With so much on offer, we’ve broken down what to buy at a European Christmas market into some handy categories for you.
We don’t blame you for wanting to buy a Christmas decoration at each market you step foot in! Each city has their own unique decorations made from wood, paper, ceramic, glass or metal. A Christmas tree ornament or Nativity scene make the perfect souvenir to take home thanks to their (small) size.
Highlights: Salzburg is known for their rustic wooden lanterns; Prague for their delicate glass ornaments; and Nuremberg for their räuchermann, a wooden man that ‘smokes’ (thanks to the use of incense), created in the 19th century.
We recommend going hungry to a European Christmas market! No matter if you are a sweet or savoury person, you are guaranteed many delicious treats. For those with a sweet tooth, keep an eye out for candied nuts, locally made honey and jam, and a variety of Christmas-esque cookies. For those who prefer a savoury snack, wrap your taste buds around cheeses, sausages (especially in Germany!), and potato fries.
Highlights: Passau is known for a ½ metre-long bratwurst; France for their caviar; Krakow for dumplings; Stockholm for smoked deer meat; and Amsterdam for oliebollen (Dutch doughnuts).
There is no better way to warm up from the inside out than with a hot drink. Most Christmas markets offer a return-or-keep mug system where you pay a small deposit for a classic festive mug to be filled as many times as you wish with as many drinks as you like! Once you’re finished, you can decide to return the mug to get your deposit back or keep it as a fun souvenir.
Highlights: Frankfurt serves apfelwein, a locally brewed hot apple cider; while not hot, France has champagne; and many cities offer the iconic glühwein, red wine boiled with cinnamon, cloves, raisins and oranges.
Locally handmade crafts
Rounding out your European Christmas market adventure is the wide variety of locally handmade crafts. From the classic wooden nutcracker to gorgeous jewellery to festively decorated linen, it’s very easy to buy gifts for, not just your friends and family, but yourself too!
Highlights: Venice is renowned for their glass items; Budapest for their leather gloves; Stockholm for their straw weavers; and the Amalfi Coast for hand-painted ceramics.
The only problem with a European Christmas market is fitting all your purchases in your suitcase! The Globus family of brands offer many winter holidays for you to choose from to indulge in: an Escapes by Globus tour, a festive time Avalon Waterways river cruise, and November/December tours with Cosmos.