The magic of Christmas Markets in Europe and the UK

Date published: 22 Sep 17

Tingles, twinkles and sprinkles

Christmas MarketsThere’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 roasting chestnuts.

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 SwitzerlandAnd read about the character and attractions of particular Christmas Markets across Europe, from Amsterdam to Budapest, from Vienna to Koblenz, courtesy of Emerald Waterways.

Watch this short, atmospheric video from Viking Cruises


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!

Prague - courtesy Railbookers

1. Rail tours from the UK to Europe’s Christmas markets

2. Fly to Europe’s Christmas markets then take a train Zurich

3. Fly to Europe then join a coach tour to the markets

  • Collette
    Small group, personal touch tours.

    Sample trip:

    6 days from £774pp, Austria-based stay that visits Munich, Salzburg and the magical  Neuschwanstein Castle.
  • Kirker
    High quality tours to the Christmas Markets in Copenhagen, Tallinn, Stockholm as well as Bruges, Lille, Krakow, Prague. 
  • Trafalgar
    Trafalgar Christmas MarketsJoin these lovingly-crafted, expertly guided coach tours at the airport.
    Sample trip:

    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

5. River Cruises to Europe’s Christmas Markets

  • Avalon Waterways
    Forchheim, Bavaria, GermanyElegant, modern and exceptionally comfortable ships offering 5-16 day sailings to the Christmas Markets of Europe with chauffeur pick-ups from home.

    Sample cruise:

    8 days from £1,968pp, Frankfurt to Prague with guided sightseeing in Würzburg, Bamberg, Nuremberg and Prague, in the Czech Republic. 
  • CroisiEurope
    Choose from a selection of Christmas Market sailings aboard stylish ships with an international mix of passengers.

    Sample trip:

    4 days from £339pp, overnighting on board in Strasbourg and touring Alsace, from its Wine Route to Colmar Christmas Market.
  • Jules Verne
    Basel Barfuesserplatz © Dominik Pluess - courtsey Switzerland Travel CentreA UK tour manager will escort a small group on board this music-themed Danube sailing.

    Sample cruise:

    5 days from £1,195pp on the Danube aboard the MS Vivaldi to Vienna, Budapest and Bratislava with a special music and sightseeing programme.
  • Scenic
    Hand-crafted itineraries are offered aboard this fleet of contemporary, luxury ‘Space-Ships’.

    Sample cruise:

    8 days from £1,695pp along the Danube from Nuremberg to Vienna and Budapest in December 2018.
  • Viking Cruises
    Viking offers a fantastic range of Christmas Market sailings across Europe for those looking for 2018 departures.
    Sample cruise:
    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

7. UK Christmas Markets by coach

Please note that prices are based on two adults sharing and are correct at time of posting but are subject to change.

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