Get into the Christmas spirit with a trip to one of Europe’s Christmas Markets. Choose from glühwein in Berlin, a quick waltz around Salzburg or a guaranteed blanket of snow in pretty, medieval Tallinn. Or for a stay that’s closer to home, why not plan a festive break to one of the UK’s Christmas markets? Take a look at our top picks.
You can’t help but stumble upon a Christmas market in Salzburg in December. If you feel the need to gorge on gingerbread and glühwein, there are a host of centrally-located markets to choose from, such as at Mirabellplatz or the Cathedral Square, but we like the Hellbrunner Adventzauber market at Hellbrunn Palace for a magical, romantic atmosphere, replete with reindeer-drawn sleigh rides and twinkling lights among the fir trees, fountains and grottos.
There’s no getting away from Mozart in Salzburg, as it was the composer's home town, as the many souvenir stands and classical concerts of varying quality will testify. But for us, the hills of Salzburg are only ever alive with the sound of Julie Andrews, and although the film locations are at their best in spring and summer, you can still spot many of the Sound Of Music’s filming locations on the tourist trail. If it’s not too cold, we recommend taking Fräulein Maria´s Bicycle Tour.
They don’t do Christmas markets by halves in Berlin; there are over 60 to choose from. Along with the better-advertised ones on the main squares and boulevards, be sure to check out what’s on offer in museums and the smaller independent markets in side streets.
For the big hitters, try Spandau Christmas market - it's Berlin's largest Christmas market, situated in the old town of Spandau. For a hint of Scandinavia, head to the Lucia Market in Kulturbrauerei, with its pretty backdrop of picturesque old buildings. For a more contemporary craft experience, pay a visit to TrendMafia where you can browse the wares of upcoming designers, artists and crafty types at their indoor Christmas market.
Although it’s only been running since 1991, you’d never guess, as this pretty chocolate-box Christmas Market in the Town Hall Square of medieval Tallinn has all the charm of a gingerbread village and Harry Potter’s Hogsmeade, rolled in to one. The Estonian capital’s market regularly features among the best Christmas Markets in Europe, thanks to its almost guaranteed blanket of snow.
Although not as big as other markets, there’s a wide range of traditional Estonian crafts on offer – the best buys for Christmas presents are the Estonian hand-knitted jumpers, socks and bobble hats, knitted in natural coloured wool. When you’ve had your fill of snow and shopping, head to one of the bars and restaurants nearby to warm up. We think it’s the best pick for a romantic weekend break.
Get all of your Christmas shopping done right here in the UK, with a weekend break in the historic city of Bath.
Bath’s Christmas market makes good use of its beautiful backdrop of Bath Abbey, which is a World Heritage Site. Start crossing off that Christmas list among over 140 traditional wooden market huts, and enjoy an impromptu carol singing session as well as a mince pie or two.
When you're out and about in Bath, you can take a glide around the open air ice rink, or visit The Makery – where children and adults alike can join in craft workshops and come home the proud owners of a new bauble, cushion or Christmas stocking.
For serious shoppers, Bath’s a great destination for luxury brands and high street names – visit Milsom Street to get your fill of designer clobber. To wind down after all that shopping, pamper yourself with a spa session – Bath was founded on its spa waters back in Roman times. The therapeutic waters are still available to all at Thermae Bath Spa, where you can relax in natural thermal waters. Bliss.