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From Vienna to Berlin: How to plan European Christmas markets trip

From Vienna to Berlin: How to plan European Christmas markets trip Festive locations in Basel, Switzerland (Getty Images)
Author: Maria Kholina

Winter is just around the corner, ushering in the festive Christmas markets in Europe, held in numerous cities every year, with some traditions spanning centuries. Visiting such events has long become a tradition for countless tourists.

Travel expert Maryna Kazakova shares insights with RBC-Ukraine on planning a trip to Europe for winter-themed events.

Nuremberg and Salzburg: Winter markets worth visiting in Europe

Festive New Year and Christmas markets are an ancient tradition in countless European cities. Immersing oneself in a fairytale atmosphere, sipping aromatic mulled wine, and hunting for interesting gifts for friends and family have become the perfect way of spending winter vacations for thousands of travelers heading to Europe.

Here are the top 7 Christmas markets in Europe according to Booking:

  • Valkenburg, Netherlands
  • Nuremberg, Germany
  • Trento, Italy
  • Colmar, France
  • Salzburg, Austria
  • Berlin, Germany
  • Cologne, Germany

Від Відня до Берліна. Як спланувати поїздку на різдвяні ярмарки в Європі

Photo: The fair in Tallinn, Estonia (Getty Images)

At our request, Maryna Kazakova compiled her selection of the most vibrant thematic markets in Europe for RBC-Ukraine:

  • Vienna, Austria: November 11 - December 26
  • Gdansk, Poland: November 24 - December 23
  • Budapest, Hungary: November 24 - December 31
  • Copenhagen, Denmark: November 17 - December 31
  • Cologne, Germany: November 23 - December 23
  • Craiova, Romania: November 17 - January 2
  • Riga, Latvia: December 3 - January 7

Planning a trip to Christmas markets in Europe

When planning a trip to Europe specifically for winter events, it's crucial to always check schedules and market dates well in advance, warns Maryna Kazakova. Typically, this information is available on the official websites of the cities you plan to visit.

"It's essential to check dates, especially if you want to not just glimpse at the market while in the city but plan the trip specifically to experience the winter atmosphere of old Europe. Once, I flew to Nuremberg, hoping to attend the local market, only to find out that it had closed the day after my arrival—shortly after Christmas. To avoid such situations, look for verified information about dates from official sources," advises the expert.

Від Відня до Берліна. Як спланувати поїздку на різдвяні ярмарки в Європі

Photo: It is worth checking the dates of festive events in advance, as they vary from city to city (Getty Images)

While cities may organize thematic events in the days and weeks leading up to the holidays, these dates can vary significantly from city to city.

"Markets in Europe are places where people love to gather, have mulled wine, and eat. People go there for a special mood, a special atmosphere. Is it worth buying something there? Certainly, and if you know the prices in the country, it'd be easy to compare and make a decision for yourself," says Maryna Kazakova.

On the other hand, it often happens that the same boxes of cookies and candies are sold at 20-30% lower prices in the nearest supermarket to those festive locations.

"So, I recommend determining the purpose of your trip before coming to the market. For example, if you come just for the atmosphere, try mulled wine, local sausages, cookies, pastries. Or if you have a goal to buy many interesting things and gifts for your loved ones, then you should plan your trip based on that. Let it bring you joy," says the expert.

While so many people love all the Christmas vibe, winter seaside vacations could be one of the best ways to recharge for some. Read more about where you can go to the beach this winter and how much the vacation would cost you.

Also, with the return of travel after the pandemic, many countries are grappling with excessive tourism. However, there are destinations where foreign guests hardly ever go. Please refer to RBC-Ukraine's article about the 10 least-visited countries in the world in 2023.