5 capital Christmas markets in Europe
In a long dark winter season the European Christmas markets light up and invite to a different kind of travel experience. Not at least in Europe’s proud capital cities, that always seem to put on a big show for its residents and visitors. Hereby 5 European Christmas markets in capital cities, that I can personally recommend.
True, the Swedish capital can be expensive (like the rest of Scandinavia), but if you want to experience the magic of Scandinavian Christmas atmosphere, it doesn’t get much better than this. Stockholm is stunningly beautiful all year around and I am in love with the cobblestoned streets of the historic ‘Gamla Stan’ neighbourhood, which also proves to be the perfect setting for a Christmas market. Not at least at the square of ‘Stortorget’ which is surrounded by some lovely architecture and dotted with market stalls, that offers irresistible bites of joy and cups of warm ‘glögg’. Don’t miss the city’s towering Christmas tree on the harbourfront or the entertaining window displays of the iconic deparment store ‘Nordiska Kompaniet’.
SEE ALSO: Stockholm Christmas with a cold
There is a reason why shopping-giants like Harrods in London spends big money on extravagant window displays for the holiday season. The British tourist-magnet is an extremely popular Christmas-gift-list-check-off-destination, and the options to make your credit card melt down are varied and plentyfull. But put down the shopping-bags for a day and head to Hyde Park, which hides a “time machine” back to a bit of childlike Christmas-magic. London’s Winter Wonderland offers so many funfair rides, marketstalls and entertainment that you can easily spend an entire day here – while you ice skate, scream in rollercoasters, listen to live music or just sample all the sweet treats. There are plenty of other Christmas-events going on in Big Ben’s hometown, and you shouldn’t leave without a visit to the popular Covent Garden Market.
The Welsh capital might not be as famous as the rest of the cities on this list, but when it comes to showing Christmas spirit it seems “bigger than its body”. Quality market stalls can found in downtown near the magnificent Cardiff Castle, offering delicatessen and treats, as well as local arts and craft for unique gift ideas. If that ain’t enough, Cardiff is known as one of the best shopping-cities in the UK, and proudly presents a contrasting mix of modern shopping centers and beautiful Victorian arcades – perfect for when the weather doesn’t play along. Be sure to visit the Castle Arcade which is especially wonderful, and if you’re struggling to find a gift for “a man who’s got everything” (or your furry four-legged friend), Princes & Paupers might be the perfect solution. Last but not least, strap on your skates and conquer the ice of the atmospheric Winter Wonderland, with the city’s townhall acting as a lush backdrop.
No European list without Paris right? It’s simply hard to overlook. Not at least during December, when market stalls brimful of tasty treats are lined up along the Christmas-glittering Champs-Elysés – and at many ofther locations around the city. This is a perfect excuse for another trip to the French capital, which seems to unwrap new atmospheres all year around. Don’t forget to head to the business district of La Défense too, where another market focused on food is found beneath the mighty skycrapers. If you travel for gift-shopping (and even if you’re not), you shouldn’t miss the wonders of the domed department store Galeries Lafayette on Boulevard Haussmann. Personally though, I would head to the legendary bookshop of Shakespeare & Co. for books in English, or to the unique Bercy Village for an “out of this town shopping-experience”.
You will surely have a ‘Feliz Navidad’ with a Christmas-trip to the Spanish capital – but don’t forget to pack your gloves, as it can be surprisingly cold down south during the winter. The city’s Christmas magic might be enough to keep you warm though. So swing by Plaza Mayor for the city’s oldest and most popular Christmas market, where the focus is on toys and nativity scene figurines. Walk through the giant Christmas “tree” at the big-city-buzzing Puerta del Sol, and join the locals for a shopping spree down Calle Preciados. Madrid is beautifully decorated during the holiday season and the lights can be fully enjoyed from the open-top Christmas bus known as ‘Navibus’. Make sure to sample plenty of the traditional Spanish nougat Turrón, and don’t forget to sing along to the ever-popular ‘Cortylandia’ facade of the shopping-giant El Corte Inglés.
WHERE IS YOUR FAVOURITE CHRISTMAS MARKET IN EUROPE?
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