Mulled wine, traditional Bratwurst, festive wooden chalets – the Christmas Markets are the perfect way to get into the festive mood, right up until the New Year.

Europe's Christmas Markets

With a whole range of pretty markets available a short train or plane ride from the UK, just two or three nights at one of these magical, fairy-lit towns is enough to get even the hardest Grinch into the Christmas spirit!

Here are our top five picks for European Christmas Markets this winter:

Bruges 22 November – 2 January

Chocolate-box prettiness characterises the Bruges Market – beautiful historical architecture and masses of fairy lights. Wrap up warm and brave the ice rink, indulge in Belgian chocolates or just sip on Gluhwein (traditional mulled wine) whilst soaking up the magical atmosphere. Perfect for a romantic winter break – whether before Christmas to get unique gifts for friends and family, or afterwards to recover from a busy festive period!

Edinburgh ~ 22 November – 5 January

A compact Christmas market spread above the Princes Street gardens, with the impressive backdrop of Edinburgh’s castle. Indulge in hot toddies and traditional Scottish fayre. If you have children, head to the smaller market on St Andrew Square for fairground rides, and pop-up theatre shows (as well as local craft beers for the adults!).

Edinburgh is packed with fabulous restaurants and cocktail bars, so we recommend staying on for a great night out after you’ve had your fill of Gluhwein!

Cologne ~ 25 November – 23 December

One of the biggest Christmas markets in Germany – comprising seven different market areas, each with its own feel and atmosphere. From the huge market next to the Cathedral, to the arts-and-craft wooden pavilions of the Stadtgarten market, there is plenty to keep you busy over a long weekend. The range of food is the key attraction here – try Bratwurst (German hot dogs) in a range of flavours, or sample the Reibekuchen (potato pancakes) with apple sauce – sounds like a strange combination, but trust us, it’s delicious.

The city is also home to the Lindt chocolate museum. Well worth a visit, and don’t forget to stop by the café for rich hot chocolate and scrumptious cakes – a chocoholics’ dream!

lille-christmas-market

Lille ~ 20 November – 30 December

Directly connected to the UK by the Eurostar, Lille is perfect for a short weekend break. Immerse yourself in the Christmassy scents of mulled wine, try a crepe with a myriad of delicious toppings or indulge in a hot chocolate topped with whipped cream. With over 80 wooden chalets to browse around the Place Rihour, get all your gift shopping done in one go, leaving plenty of time to relax and enjoy the food and drink on offer.

Aachen ~ 22 November – 23 December

Easily reached by train, the Aachen Christmas market is very popular with UK visitors. Try the tasty “Spekulatius” gingerbread (the dark chocolate-covered variety is amazing!) and browse the pretty hand-carved wooden ornaments – all overlooked by the ancient cathedral and dramatic Town Hall.

So get into the festive spirit and treat yourself to a short break this December!

Going to a Christmas Market? Share your pics with us @tweetjanes


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