In preparation for the coming holiday season, dozens of Christmas markets have begun opening in major cities around Europe. These have long served the people of the areas in their holiday shopping, but they have also become a destination for travelers to explore the wonders of other countries.
While Christmas markets originally began in and around Germany and Alsace in the 1400s, the popularity of these markets as a destination has meant that more and more European cities are opening traditional marketplaces for the holiday season. Most of these markets now have ongoing events and activities throughout the months leading up to the holiday season, making them a great opportunity to get to intimately know each location.
Germany Christmas Markets
For those searching for the most authentic Christmas market experience, Germany has long been dedicated to going all out for this tradition. There are an incredible number of markets all around the country, and nearly every town and city has a unique take on the tradition. Some markets specialize more in baked goods, while others have unique hand-made regional objects for sale.
Some of the larger German markets even offer activities like ice-skating or attractions like a living Nativity scene. Trier, the oldest city in Germany, hosts a Christmas market amidst its ancient landscape, which is an incredible step back in time for travelers who love the Christmas spirit and history. Similarly, Dresden houses Germany's oldest Christmas market, which dates to the 1400s.
Vienna Christmas Markets
These markets are also huge traditions in Vienna, and have been around since the Middle Ages. Today there are over 20 different markets in Vienna alone, which not only offer plenty of holiday treats and gifts, but also have live caroling, baking lessons, and a number of other activities suitable for kids and adults.
These Christmas markets can be found at all of the major attractions and points of interest throughout Vienna, although the Viennese Christmas Market at city hall is one of the most visited.
Other Austrian Christmas Markets
While Vienna may be many people's main attraction for Christmas market shopping, there are a number of towns throughout Austria that continue this tradition. Popular markets can be found in Linz (how about a real Linzer torte?), Innsbruck, Salzburg, and Graz. Each locale has specialized offerings unique to the region.
Paris Christmas Markets
In the last twenty or so years, Paris Christmas markets have become more and more visible around the city during the holiday season. Now they can be found near all major attractions, and typically consist of small wooden chalet-type structures that sell everything from fruits to Christmas tree ornaments.
The market at the Champs Elysees is one of the largest, and is a great compliment to the numerous shopping destinations available in the area.
German Christmas Markets are a pinnacle of the holidays. Find out about the best Christmas Markets in Germany here!
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Check out these Christmas Market webcams to get a live glimpse of what's going on at the biggest European Christmas Markets!