As we enter December it is a reminder that Christmas is a hectic time for most people, but if you want to get away from it all for a few days, and are struggling for inspiration on where to go, read our guide to the top 10 European destinations to visit this Christmas.
One of the best-known and most popular Christmas markets in Europe is located in Vienna’s Rathausplatz, the large square in front of the Town Hall. Here, 140 wooden stalls sell a variety of handcrafts and foods from mid-November until New Year’s Eve.
While the market remains open, the nearby park is transformed into a wonderland with themed lights hanging from trees and the air is filled with the spicy scent of mulled wine, all helping to bring Christmas alive.
With a Christmas market that dates back to the 16th century and features up to 300 stalls, Strasbourg is one of the most popular festive destinations in France. No visit is complete without a taste of Bredle, the small spicy cakes that are traditionally eaten at this time of year.
As you would expect from the home of Good King Wenceslas, Prague is a city that absolutely loves to celebrate Christmas. A series of markets, stalls and stages surround a massive, beautifully decorated tree in the main square, while spectacular nativity scenes and beautiful choirs add to a festive atmosphere that will continue to delight and surprise you throughout your stay. There are often great deals on city breaks to Prague, so keep an eye out for some bargains on flights and hotels.
Located in the far north of Scandinavia, Lapland delivers a truly magical and unique Christmas experience in stunning picture-postcard setting.
With acres of pristine snow, herds of reindeer, teams of eager huskies, sleigh bells and, of course, Saint Nicholas himself, Lapland is a delight for children of all ages. Though temperatures are likely to be below freezing, you can be sure of a warm welcome, along with a hot mug of cider.
Transformed by the addition of half a million lights and more than a thousand Christmas trees, Copenhagen’s Tivoli Gardens, the oldest amusement park in Europe, is the stunning centrepiece of the city’s annual festivities.
Dozens of stalls, selling everything from hot apple dumplings to hand painted porcelain dolls, surround the main lake, which is transformed into a vast skating rink.
A stunningly beautiful medieval city at any time of year, Bruges becomes even more idyllic at Christmas with craft markets, fairground rides and a huge ice rink in its main square.
When it comes to Christmas markets, Germans are spoiled for choice, with literally dozens to choose from in every major city across the country. In addition to being home to one of the oldest markets in the Europe, a visit to Dresden also affords the opportunity to take part in a unique celebration.
In early December, a four-tonne version of the traditional Christmas cake, known as a stollen, is paraded through the city streets and into the market before being cut up and distributed among the crowd.
As the city where the tradition of celebrating Christmas was born, a visit to Rome at this time of year is always an enchanting experience.
The spectacular Piazza Navona plays host to a large market while the Piazza del Popolo is home to an exhibit featuring 100 beautifully crafted Nativity scenes. For many, the highlight of any trip is attending midnight mass at St Peter’s Square in Vatican City on Christmas Eve, a truly unforgettable experience.
With colourful illuminations, bustling markets, ice skating rinks and a spectacular circus, as well as museums, galleries and exhibitions that remain open, there is plenty going on throughout the whole of the holiday season to ensure you have a Christmas to remember.
One of the smallest yet most historic Christmas markets in Europe takes place in the Austrian city of Salzburg. With just 85 beautiful stalls, you can enjoy a feeling of intimacy that is missing from many larger locations.
Wherever you happen to be in Europe there is a Christmas market in a nearby city to explore and enjoy.