The magic of Christmas Markets in Europe and the UK
Tingles, twinkles and sprinkles
There’s something about the twinkling lights,
the scent of cinnamon and the tingle of childhood memories that makes Christmas
Markets feel very special places. Across
Europe - and the UK - traditional festive markets and fairs in November and
December bring the spirit of Christmas to life like nothing else, as wooden
stalls decked out in yuletide colours and garlanded with fairy lights defy the onset
of winter and warm the scene with the smell of mulled wine, spiced gingerbread and
With a nip in the air, and maybe the first
sprinkling of snow, it’s a magical time to simply browse or stock up on hand-crafted
gifts and stocking-fillers for loved ones back home.
Being away from home in the run-up to
Christmas seems to heighten the mood and there are so many ways to enjoy the
season this year, ahead of the big day itself. We’ve put together a selection
of ways to enjoy 2017’s Christmas markets, from convenient coach tours which
don’t involve flying, to short-but-sweet city breaks, to rail trips and cruises
that take in a goody-bag of markets in different countries. The options vary in
cost from just over a hundred to several thousand pounds – but who can put a
price on the best Christmas ever?
Read, watch and hear about the best of the Christmas Markets
But first, find out what’s so special about
the seasonal fairs in this article about the delightful Christmas Markets of
Switzerland. And read about the character
and attractions of particular Christmas Markets across Europe, from
Amsterdam to Budapest, from Vienna to Koblenz, courtesy of Emerald Waterways.
Or hear about the markets’ many attractions in this short radio clip
Marina Schumacher from Switzerland Travel Centre, tempted Jennie from the Silver Travel Radio Show with tales of magical Christmas Markets and the delights of Switzerland in winter.
If the soundplayer does not display properly, please click here to listen.
Seven ways to enjoy Christmas market heaven!
1. Rail tours from the UK to Europe’s Christmas markets
- Escorted tours with professional Tour managers in a sociable environment - perfect for single travellers especially. Great range of Christmas Market tours by rail in Europe and the UK.Sample trip:4 days from £595pp: By rail from London to the ‘Christmas Markets capital’ of Cologne, plus Wuppertal with its nostalgic ‘Kaiserwagen’.
Offers a huge range of rail tours to the Christmas Markets (and some with flights and trains).
9 days from £799pp visiting 4 European capitals by rail – Vienna, Prague, Budapest, Berlin.
- Riviera Travel
High quality escorted tours and river cruises offering unrivalled value for money; awarded ‘Recommended Provider’ status from ‘Which’.
5 days from £549pp: Eurostar to Cologne then sailing the Rhine to Rudesheim, Frankfurt, Koblenz and back to Cologne for Eurostar ride back to UK (or flights at additional cost).
- Tailor Made RailTake yourself by rail to Germany’s finest Christmas markets - Strasbourg, Berlin, Cologne or Nuremberg, or for something delightfully different, try Ghent.Sample trip:3 days from £399pp: By rail to Strasbourg with its half-timbered houses and stunning cathedral, plus one of Europe’s oldest markets.
2. Fly to Europe’s Christmas markets then take a train
- Switzerland Travel
Read about what the special appeal of Switzerland’s Christmas Markets.
3 days from £545pp to Zurich Christmas markets including flights and cogwheel mountain train.
3. Fly to Europe then join a coach tour to the markets
Small group, personal touch tours.
6 days from £774pp, Austria-based stay that visits Munich, Salzburg and the magical Neuschwanstein Castle.
High quality tours to the Christmas Markets in Copenhagen, Tallinn, Stockholm as well as Bruges, Lille, Krakow, Prague.
Join these lovingly-crafted, expertly guided coach tours at the airport.
8 days, 12 cities including UNESCO world heritage sites and German Christmas Markets in their all their fairy-tale glory. From £1,395pp (excluding flights).
4. No-fly coach tours to Europe’s Christmas Markets
- Shearings Coach
This trusted coach specialist offers a huge range of European Christmas Market tours with pick-up points across the UK.
5 days from £284pp: the German Christmas Markets of Heidelburg, Speyer and Koblenz.
5. River Cruises to Europe’s Christmas Markets
- Ama Waterways
Indulgent, all-inclusive top-end cruising to Christmas markets on the Rhine and Danube.
8 days from £1478pp sailing from Amsterdam to Basel through France, Germany, The Netherlands and Switzerland.
- Avalon Waterways
Elegant, modern and exceptionally comfortable ships offering 5-16 day sailings to the Christmas Markets of Europe with chauffeur pick-ups from home.
8 days from £1,968pp, Frankfurt to Prague with guided sightseeing in Würzburg, Bamberg, Nuremberg and Prague, in the Czech Republic.
Choose from a selection of Christmas Market sailings aboard stylish ships with an international mix of passengers.
4 days from £339pp, overnighting on board in Strasbourg and touring Alsace, from its Wine Route to Colmar Christmas Market.
- Emerald Waterways
Cutting-edge ‘Star-ships’, built to impress and delight, with drinks at mealtimes included. Read an overview about the Christmas markets of Europe’s big cities and their individual attractions.
8 days sailing from Nuremberg to Amsterdam via some of Germany’s most iconic Christkindlmarkts, from £2,345pp.
- Jules Verne
A UK tour manager will escort a small group on board this music-themed Danube sailing.
5 days from £1,195pp on the Danube aboard the MS Vivaldi to Vienna, Budapest and Bratislava with a special music and sightseeing programme.
Hand-crafted itineraries are offered aboard this fleet of contemporary, luxury ‘Space-Ships’.
8 days from £1,695pp along the Danube from Nuremberg to Vienna and Budapest in December 2018.
- Uniworld Boutique
Enjoy the height of river cruising luxury in Old World style.
8 days sailing from Nuremberg to Frankfurt, enjoying the quintessential magic of Germany’s ‘Christmas country’.
- Viking Cruises
Viking offers a fantastic range of Christmas Market sailings across Europe for those looking for 2018 departures.
8 days from £895, waltzing along the Danube from Budapest to Passau, in the run-up to Christmas 2018.
6. Ocean Cruises to Europe’s Christmas Markets
- Cruise & Maritime
No-fly, traditional British-style cruises to the Christmas Markets of coastal France, the Netherlands and Germany with great deals on offer.
4 days from £369pp sailing from Tilbury for the Christmas Markets of Amsterdam and Bruges.
- Fred. Olsen Cruise
No-fly, small friendly ships – great for solo cruisers – sailing to north European Christmas markets with special discounts for Silver Travel members.
7 days from £449pp, Christmas Markets & the rivers of Germany sailing to Hamburg and Bremen aboard Black Watch.
- Saga Cruises
No-fly small ship sailings from the over 50s travel expert.
6 days from £899pp aboard Saga Sapphire and savouring the spirit of Christmas in Bremen, Amsterdam and Bruges.
7. UK Christmas Markets by coach
- Grand UK Holidays
Take your choice of a huge choice of UK coach tours to enjoy the thrill of the UK’s finest Christmas markets without needing to think about currency exchange rates!
5 days from £249pp - Bournemouth Turkey and Tinsel trip visiting Salisbury and Winchester’s atmospheric Christmas markets.
- Just Go! Holidays
Super range of value-for-money British coach breaks for top UK Christmas Markets, from Salisbury to Skipton, with local pick-up points.
3 Days from £119pp with all meals and hotel stay for Exeter’s Christmas Market, with the cathedral as its stunning backdrop.
- Shearings Coach
Award-winning coach tours with a spectrum of Christmas Market city breaks across the UK, from Bath and Bournemouth to Whitby and Windermere.
5 days from £177pp for Llandudno’s Christmas Fayre with its traditional Welsh handicrafts and festive goodies.
Please note that prices are based on two
adults sharing and are correct at time of posting but are subject to change.
You may also find interesting:
- A Feast of Christmas Markets by Stuart Render