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10 Best Christmas Markets in Europe

10 Best Christmas Markets in Europe


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It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas in Europe, as Christmas markets in cities large and small are in full swing. For centuries these mostly outdoor markets have been gathering points for locals to prepare for and usher in the holiday season. Decked out in twinkling lights, vendors at wooden stalls sell a variety of handicrafts, delicate Christmas baubles, and of course, delicious wintertime drinks and treats.

See 10 Best Christmas Markets in Europe Slideshow

The best European Christmas markets not only sell iconic whimsical ornaments and have ornate Christmas villages, but they also serve tempting traditional treats that evoke memories of yesteryear, like the Christmas Market at Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen, Denmark which serves gløgg, a potent variant of mulled red wine spiced with raisins, almonds, cinnamon sticks, and cloves steeped in pure aquavit (schnapps), and æbleskivers, a treat similar to a donut that is dusted with icing, sugar, and a dollop of blackcurrant jam.

It just wouldn’t be Christmas for most families in Europe without a traditional trip to the Christmas market. Locals in Barcelona head to the Fira de Santa Llúcia to stock up on Catalan Christmas essentials like Christmas trees, decorations, and caganer (a squatting, pooping Nativity scene figurine) and the Tió de Nadal (a festive log that "poops out" children’s presents on Christmas Eve).

If your travels take you to Europe this holiday season, you’re bound to run into one of dozens of Christmas markets in city centers, plazas, market squares, and cathedrals in cities across the continent. Here are 10 of the best Christmas markets in Europe for not only picking up essential holiday trinkets but also for sipping and sampling the most delicious seasonal treats.

Lauren Mack is the Travel Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @lmack.


Traditional German Christmas Food

It&rsquos said , &ldquo The first taste of Christmas arrives when Lebkuchen (gingerbread) and Spekulatius (gingery biscuits) suddenly appear on the supermarket shelves at the beginning of September.&rdquo

If you would love to add German Christmas elements to your holidays, w e&rsquove gathered no only some deliciously authentic German recipes to add to your Christmas celebrations, but given you a flavor of German Christmas traditions.


What to Drink at the Christmas Market

Glühwein

As a bonafide Christmas Market freak, as soon as the first market opens my first stop is Glühwein. The best part about Christmas is that it's truly 5 o'Clock somewhere, all day long. Drinking the hot, mulled wine is the perfect way to get into the spirit. The word “Glühwein” can be translated into English as glow wine which derived from the red hot irons used to heat up the wine as they did in Medieval times, dating back to 1420.

Now, you'll find a variety of Glühwein sold throughout the markets. Traditionally, the drink is a mix of red wine combined with spices like cinnamon, star anise, vanilla, and sugar. You can find a many different versions Glühwein, and each market, and even stall, has their own take. You'll find Glühwein available in a few different flavors like cherry, apple, or blueberry, and even a white Glühwein. Of course, if you want to take it up a notch, you can add an extra shot to your Glühwein.

Don't forget to try the famous Feuerzangenbowle – hard to say, delicious to try! This is where they pour the steaming rum over sugar that then melts into the wine and fuses the flavors together. It's fantastic!

There is also kinderpusch which is non-alcoholic Glühwein.

When you buy a drink it comes with a “pfand”, you pay extra so that you bring the cup back. OR, you can always keep it as a souvenir from the market! Each cup is produced with a different motif and often has the city name and the date. We have cups from markets all across the continent and it's a great memento.

Glühwein Price – typically3 –5 + €3-4 for the pfand

Eierpunsch

Similar to eggnog, this warm drink is made of egg yolks and cream and alcohol. This isn't my drink of choice, but it's worth it to give it a try, espeically if you're a fan of eggnog.

Price – typically3 –5 €3-4 for the pfand

Heiße Schokolade – Hot Chocolate

The great thing about German Christmas markets? You can make almost any drink alcoholic. Add in a shot of rum or baileys and you're in for a treat.

Schnapps

This very strong drink is often served like a shot and is fruit flavored. You could add this on top of your Glüwein or just shoot it straight! Peach schnapps is one of my favorites.

Price – typically €1 – €2

Note: all drinks are *typically* served in the souvenir cups so they all have a pfand.

Price – typically3 –5 €3-4 for the pfand


Prime Rib Au Jus

Prime rib is a wonderful main dish to serve at Christmas dinner as it is not only delicious and impressive but quite easy to make. And when served with a traditional au jus, it will feel truly French. Once the beef has finished cooking, set aside, reserving the juices. Brown some aromatics, add the stock and the prime rib's cooking liquid, and simmer until reduced. Strain the gravy and serve alongside slices of the meat.


Stuttgarter Weihnachtsmarkt

Why we love it: Considered by many Germans to be one of the most traditional markets in the country thanks to its sparkling trees, local artisans, and long history (its first documented mention was in 1692), the Stuttgarter Weihnachtsmarkt's setting is appropriately historical as well: Its nearly 300 stalls are set against the backdrop of the Old Castle, which dates back to the 10th century. Sip on the usual mulled wine, sure, but don't miss the chance to sample some maultaschen. The large, ravioli-like noodles are a speciality of the region.

When: November 27 to December 23


1. Madeira

Our teams have travelled all over Europe, from North to South, West to East but we have yet to see any place more beautiful than Madeira. Madeira has a perfect climate, never too hot, never too cold. Madeira is a perfect destination for leisure activities, sports activities, rest or rejuvenation in hotels immersed in nature or luxury hotels everything you dream of is in Madeira.

Come trekking, watch the dolphins or rest on the beaches of Porto Santo. Madeira is the perfect destination to discover all year long with family, lovers, and friends. The temperature is almost the same throughout the day, neither too hot nor too cold do not expect a white Christmas in Madeira but you will enjoy a stroll in the beautiful Christmas market dressed simply in a t-shirt that will be good enough to face 18 degrees/ 64 Fahrenheit, average at this time of the year. Welcome to Paradise!

For nature lovers we advise you to book your room at the hotel Quinta do Furao and for lovers of the most beautiful hotels in the world, we recommend the hotel Belmond Reid's Palace, a sublime 5-star hotel where Churchill and Lady Churchill resided.


Go ice-skating

Unlike skiing, ice-skating is a winter sport that practically everyone can enjoy. There are numerous ice rinks set up across the city between November and January, including in the gardens of the Wilhelminenberg Palace and in front of the Rathaus to host the annual Ice Dream event. Over the Christmas period, a 6,000 square metre ice rink is set up between the Vienna Konzerthaus and the Inter-Continental Hotel and is extremely popular with both tourists and locals alike you can hire ice-skates for a few euros or opt to take part in a lesson. And if the city is experiencing an exceedingly frosty year, the river Danube may well freeze over, inviting throngs of skaters to glide onto the temporary natural ice rink.


Mulled Wine (Glühwein)

On a cold day, nothing will warm you up faster than a mug of steaming hot Glühwein. This quintessential Christmas beverage consists of hot mulled red wine, with an optional shot of brandy (Glühwein mit Schuss). Most major cities in Germany serve Glühwein in ceramic mugs designed specifically for the local Christmas markets. Similar to the practice in Bavarian beer gardens, when purchasing Glühwein, you pay a deposit in addition to the price of the beverage. You can then either return the mug once finished to get your deposit back or keep it as a nice souvenir. While the designs vary, the mugs usually depict either the respective historic city centers or the Christmas market. To make Glühwein at home, follow our Glühwein recipe. You can purchase spices for Glühwein here! However, if you prefer, you can purchase the ready-made beverage in a gourmet food store near you.


1. Turrón

This delicious candy bar of Moorish origin has been popular for centuries. There are many different kinds of turrón that occupy entire walls in any Spanish supermarket in the weeks leading up to Christmas Day.

Don’t miss out on the Jijona (Xixona) or Alicante varieties. Hard Alicante (or turrón duro) is a thick, brittle mass of eggs, honey, sugar and almonds, that miraculously come together to create a crunchy almond nougat candy.

Jijona (or turrón blando) is a ground almond paste. The addition of olive oil softens it so it has a smooth consistency similar to taffy. Other varieties include chocolate, raisins with rum, whiskey, truffles, coffee, fruits, etc. Turrón really is one of the essential Spanish Christmas sweets.

Where to buy: Casa Mira (San Jerónimo, 30)


Our Stollen recipe creates a rich and dense, pound cake-like bread. It is sweet and eggy, with hints of rum and a nice citrus flavor. The bursts of sweetness from the raisins and the occasional crunch of almond nuttiness give a fun mix of textures as you eat a slice and make it perfect for serving with a warm cup of coffee or spiced wine.

You could use store bought candied orange and lemon peel in the bread, but we find that sometimes these can be hard to track down. And, when we do, they are inevitably highly dyed, pumped with artificial flavoring, and full of high fructose corn syrup.

It is so easy to make your own candied citrus peel at home, and there&rsquos really no comparison to the flavor of real citrus. If you&rsquod like to make your own, you can check our our Candied Lemon and Orange Peel Recipe. We suggest making your peel the day before you start the bread to give it a chance to dry out and cool properly.