Spending time at a Christmas market has been an annual tradition in Europe for centuries. Mixing iconic sights and seasonal delights in central Europe, this encounter features festive vendors selling their crafts and treats on the street in front of illuminated landmarks. The markets are perfect for Christmas shopping because most of the gifts and decorations are handmade, affordable and you can’t find anywhere else.

Dress Warm

Christmas Markets

December in Europe usually has beautiful, crisp winter weather. Since the markets are outside, be sure to layer all your winter outerwear essentials like a hat, gloves, earmuffs and a scarf. Also, don’t forget comfortable shoes or boots that you don’t mind walking around in at the Christmas market.

Eat!

Christmas Markets

Skip the sit down meals at restaurants and snack on all the delicious treats the markets have to offer. You should try and taste every aromatic morsel that drifts your way in the town square. Munch on delicious gingerbread, fancy chocolate and warming glühwein (hot mulled wine with sweet Christmas spices) from traditional decorated wooden stalls. A lot of the times, included in the price of glühwein is the mug. They make great souvenirs from each of the unique market you’ll visit.

Budget Properly

Christmas Markets

Don’t hold out until the very last day to buy your gifts and keepsakes. You will want souvenirs that give a well-rounded representation of everywhere you visited. Keep in mind that bartering is not common during a Christmas market. If you think it’s a fair price compared with what you could get at home, then go for it. Bring some cash in small bills along because some of the markets only accept the local tender instead of credit cards.

Entertainment

Christmas Markets

The beautiful local decorations are the perfect backdrop for the market’s live, traditional performances. Choirs, puppet shows and Christmas plays are a few performances that will really put you in the Christmas spirit. There are also demonstrations where you can watch the artists create their handmade gifts. Some bigger cities like Berlin with have carnival rides and slides so the whole family can have fun.

The atmosphere of the Christmas markets is truly electrifying. While Christmas markets are open during the day, they are most beautiful at dusk and in the evening. Strings of lights and street lamps enhance the already festive atmosphere, giving the market a magical feel. Around every corner, there are explosions of colors from handmade gifts and decorations that will catch the eyes of visitors. Visiting a Christmas market is a must-see for Europe travelers in December!

[Updated 1/30/17]

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