Every year, cities all over the world are decorated with lights, tinsel and trees bigger than houses. It’s a time of year that brings out smiles, a little silliness and of course, the Christmas markets. With Christmas music filling the air, the aroma of cinnamon and mulled wine and stalls bursting with unique gifts, it is impossible not to be filled with excitement at a Christmas market. No one does a Christmas market quite like the Europeans and with the start of market season upon us, here are the top Christmas markets to visit in Europe paired with a luxury hotel stay. After all, what is Christmas without a little indulgence?
1. Nuremberg, Germany
Nuremberg is one of the biggest Christmas markets in Europe. With mulled wine, rum punch and roasted almonds filling the air (and bellies) this market is delight on the senses. Steeped in history the Nuremberg Christmas market has been going for quite some time and proudly has more than 30 stalls dating all the way back to 1890… talk about traditional. Dates: 30th November – 24th December.
Where to stay: The luxurious Sheraton Carlton Hotel Nuremberg, is located on the edge of Nuremberg’s Old Town. The suites are elegantly furnished, the sauna steamed to perfection, and the views are outstanding. Centrally located, this hotel is the perfect starting point for roaming the romantic alleys of Nuremberg and visiting the famous Christmas market.
2. Strasbourg, France
The capital of Christmas in France is none other than Strasbourg and its festive Christmas market. As one of the first Christmas markets in Europe, beginning 1570, it’s safe to say they have the market experience perfected to a tee. There are over 300 chalets to browse, four concerts, live music and so much more. One area in the market that inspires Christmas magic is La Petite France, with its picturesque buildings, Christmas shops and gingerbread bakery ready to tempt. Dates: 23rd November – 30th December.
Where to stay: Found in the heart of Le Petite France in Strasbourg is Hotel Regent Petite France. Once an ice factory, the hotel, and its surrounding canals, locks and the rushing waters of the River III, is one of the most photographed parts of the medieval Petite France quarter. The hotel Regent Petite France is sophisticated, romantic and a lesson in luxury.
3. Zagreb, Croatia
For three years running Zagreb has been voted for the best Christmas market in the world… if that doesn’t entice you, then nothing will. Every year there are new events and experiences for market-goers to revel in. From live music to the magical ice park, Zagreb knows how to Christmas. When it comes to indulging, be sure to try a Christmas Apple, and while you’re at it you may as well enjoy some mulled wine, decorated gingerbread cookies and visit the rakija bars. Dates: 1st December – 6th January.
Where to stay: What do you get when you perfectly blend Art Deco heritage with a contemporary flair? The Esplanade Zagreb. This iconic hotel dates back to 1925 and was originally designed to be a glamorous layover hotel for passengers travelling on the Orient Express. The hotel has come into its own since its ‘stopover’ days and exudes luxury like no other.
4. Hyde Park, UK
Quite literally a “festive extravaganza”, the Hyde Park Winter Wonderland takes Christmas market to a whole new level with circus performances, ice sculpting and a comedy club. Although having only been around for 10 years, what this market lacks in age it makes up for in, well, Christmas spirit… and roller coaster rides. Dates: 22nd November – 6th January.
Where to stay: Art deco extravagance and a name that won’t leave you guessing, 45 Park Lane Hotel resides at number 45 on one of London’s most prominent streets. A 1930’s ambient feel will wash over you as you walk through the doors of this ultra-luxe hotel. Not a single detail has been overlooked in the design including, having the building’s windows composed of two sheets of 4mm glass to eliminate any noise from the hustle and bustle of London below. It always pays to opt for the Penthouse Suite, and 45 Park Lane is no different. For arguably the best views of Hyde Park in the city, the Penthouse is where you need to be.
5. Brussels, Belgium
A legend in the world of Christmas markets, the market in Brussels truly is a sight to behold. While wandering through the stalls, watching the Christmas parade and marveling at the giant Christmas tree be sure to delight in warm waffles with hot fudge sauce or essentially any chocolate item you can find. Christmas and some of the best chocolate – is there anything better? Dates: 30th November – 6th January.
Where to stay: Nestled amongst the traditional Belgian architecture, lies the Pillows Grand Hotel Place Rouppe. This neoclassical building has 43 guest rooms and suites, designed with elegance and modern flair. Named ‘Pillows Grand’ after the luxuriously soft beds, you are sure to have a divine sleep after enjoying the markets.
6. Vienna, Austria
One of the most traditional Christmas markets in Europe can be found out the front of City Hall in Vienna. With the first market held in 1298, the Viennese Christmas Market has everything you could want for; from boozy stalls to reindeer. Be sure to fight of the cold with a spin around the huge outdoor ice rink. Dates: 17th November – 26th December.
Where to stay: Vienna has its fair share of luxury accommodations with the likes of Park Hyatt and Ritz-Carlton amongst the finest, the only hotel to out-do them is the Palais Coburg Residenz. Opulent in design, this former palace offers every ounce of luxury to its guests from residence suites to culinary experiences.
7. Prague, Czech Republic
There are no shortcuts or half jobs when in comes to Christmas in Prague. Market goers will be blown away by fairy lights quite literally lighting up the city, a gigantic Christmas tree, brightly decorated wooden huts and not one, but two markets to get lost in – just remember, getting lost is always more fun with a cup of mulled wine in hand. The Prague Christmas markets are the definition of Winter Wonderland. Dates: 1st December – 6th January.
Where to stay: If you love music then the Aria Hotel will have you singing from the roof tops, the hills and anywhere else you feel like unleashing your voice. The design of boutique hotel has each room individually inspired by artists, composers or musical genres. And its not only the interior design that has earnt this hotel its five stars, but also the staff, including having a musicologist on hand for any music queries or requests.
8. Cortina d’Ampezzo, Veneto
For a chic Christmas market experience head to the quaint ski town of Cortina d’Ampezzo. Here you will be immersed in the beauty and vibrant colour of the markets, in one of the most picturesque locations, the Dolomites. Browse the array of artisanal products, wooden handicrafts, toys and candles all while enjoying roasted chestnuts and traditional sweets. When you’ve found the perfect market gifts, why not hit the slopes? December – January (official dates to be released).
Where to stay: Since opening in 1897, Grand Hotel Savoia has seen some of the most titled European families and celebrities walk through its doors. Experts in hospitality, Grand Hotel Savoia offers every luxury, including the 5-star SPA. After a day at the Christmas Markets, the SPA Secret Beach is where you want to be. With Jacuzzi relaxation, multi-sensory shower and chromo therapy, king sized water beds and oil massages on hand, the word stress will no longer exist in your vocabulary.
9. Copenhagen, Denmark
Did someone say fairground rides? The Danish go all out for their Tivoli Gardens Christmas Market. You won’t just find Christmas handicrafts and delicious food and drinks here, with three light shows, fireworks and a fairground this market screams fun. On December 13th, the annual Lucia procession takes place with 100 girls passing through the gardens, candles in hand. They sing to mark St Lucia’s Day. Whether you are religious or not, there is no denying the beauty of the procession. Dates: 17th November – 31st December.
Where to stay: Being founded in 1755, Hotel d’Angleterre combines its historic design with contemporary comforts. The hotel has a special place in Copenhagen’s history, with major events hosted in its ballroom including Amundsen’s return from the South Pole in 1912. Christmas is the best time of year to reside in the hotel, even those who don’t reside here will flock to marvel at the hotels Christmas light display and watch it being turned on.
10. Berlin, Germany
Berlin is bursting with choice when it comes to Christmas markets. But it is the Gendarmenmarkt that shines above all others in the city. The market is located amongst the imposing, yet remarkable architecture of the Deutscher Dom and Französischer Dom. The unique setting adds to the magic of the market. With a cup of gluhwein in hand, explore the handicrafts from paintings to wooden carvings to Christmas decor. And at night, the market comes alive with live music. Dates: 26th November – 31st December.
Where to stay: Notably one of Berlin’s most glamorous hotels, Hotel Adlon Kempinski Berlin has hosted royals, intellectuals and pop icons throughout history, including the Queen of England, Einstein and the king of pop Michael Jackson. The service is impeccable, the spa is divine and the setting, unparalleled.
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