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Five of the best Christmas Markets in the World

The closest most Aussies have come to a white Christmas is buying ice for the Esky. That’s why the thought of a twinkly, snow-covered Christmas is like something from a fairytale. The good news is that many of the world’s best Christmas markets are included in November and December touring itineraries making them super easy to access.

Here are five the of the best Christmas markets in the world:

1. Nuremberg, Germany
Aldi shoppers will have probably noticed that Germans are big into Christmas. No other nation has quite so many kinds of Christmas biscuit.

Nuremberg – the second largest city in Bavaria – is home to two Christmas markets that run alongside each other in the medieval old town (Aldstadt). They are the Christmas market of the baby Jesus and the Christmas market of the child that features lots of rides and photo opportunities with Santa. This market is also the home of pyrography (the art of decorating wood with markings from a hot poker) and bricolage (a form of mixed media craft).

2. Salzburg, Austria
If you read lots of Northern European fiction as a child, you have probably wondered what a hot roasted chestnut smells likes. Now you can find out at one of the many Christmas markets held around Salzburg. Shop for toys, Christmas decorations and knitwear, enjoy the smell of baked apples, hot punch and roasted almonds and chestnuts, and listen the bells of the Cathedral or carollers on the church steps.

3. Prague, Czech Republic – Old Town
The Czech Republic does a lot of things well – namely Pilsner beers – but the locals also excel at Christmas fare. And let’s face it – wandering around in the snow is a lot more fun with a mulled wine, honey wine, hot chocolate or ‘grog’ – a mixture of rum, water, lemon and sugar – in your mittens. Popular food on offer includes large hams roasted on spits (Pražská Šunka), sausages (klobása), Hungarian flatbread topped with garlic, cheese and ketchup (langoš), pancakes (pala
inky), and a variety of sweets and cakes, such as spicy gingerbread and ‘Trdelník’, a hot sugar coated pastry.

4. Strasbourg, France
The Christmas markets in Strasbourg – arguably the Christmas capital of France – date back to the 16th Century. The centrepiece of this famous market is a whopping great tree that is a tourist attraction in itself. Why? Because it’s one of the few real Christmas trees of its size. A forestry representative starts searching for this special tree in March every year. Come December, the 30 metre tree is craned into position and wrapped in seven kilometres of Christmas lights.

5. Helsinki, Finland
Everyone who thinks Santa lives at the North Pole are wrong – he lives in Finland. The Finnish capital of Helsinki puts on a great show for its annual Christmas markets and also hosts a number of wacky celebrations such as Tiernapojat, a uniquely Finnish ritual where boys dress up as soldiers and kings and run around the streets singing. The good news? If you get really cold outside, you can always head back to your sauna to defrost.

If you’d love to experience a white Christmas in Europe Gate 1 Travel can take you there. Click here to find out more about our Christmas Markets escorted tours or learn more about our Christmas Markets River Cruise here.

Click here to find out how you can save up to $700 per person on our 2019 Christmas Tours & Cruises!

Vietnna Townhall Christmas Decorations

Always Wanted to See Europe’s Christmas Markets?

We might be longing for the arrival of Spring right now, but soon Christmas will be here in the blink of an eye. So this is the ideal time for Gate 1 travellers to book your visits to Europe’s festive and colourful Christkindlmarkts!

It’s been said that the off-season for tourists is the on-season for some of Europe’s most intimate and delightful cultural festivals. Christmas markets are just one example of this adage, as Central Europe’s old squares come alive with local traditions that conjure Christmases past. Each year, the cities of Germany and Austria offer a feast for the senses. Aromas of cinnamon, gingerbread, baked apples and roasting chestnuts waft through Old Town squares. Gaily decorated stalls brim with handmade ornaments, toys and endless ideas for Christmas gift-giving. Artisans are often on hand to demonstrate their crafts, carollers roam about the snowy squares and stalls are decorated with the finest trimmings. It’s hard to find a more perfect place to ring in the festive season than in Central Europe.

Christmas Markets Steeped in German Tradition

Two of Gate 1’s Christmas Market itineraries feature time to experience the city in which the market tradition began: Nuremberg, Germany. Blanketing the squares of the old walled city, this market dates back to the 1600s. Here, almost 200 stalls illuminated by candlelight cluster in the Haupmarkt competing for the “Plum Person,” a prize for the most breathtaking display. And everywhere, you’ll marvel at the gingerbread houses and Zwetschgenmannle, or dried plum statuettes, for which Nuremberg is known.

The spirit of Nuremberg echoes in cities throughout Germany. Munich’s Marienplatz in the Old Town hosts one of the world’s largest Christmas markets. Its twinkling lights and draperies of garlands vie for your attention amidst a sea of ornament-filled stalls. Under a canopy of festive lights in Berlin, you may discover the perfect hand-blown glass ornament, meticulously painted wooden nutcracker, or an intricately designed Weihnachtspyramide keepsake, a captivating multi-level carousel powered by the rising heat of candles; these precious treasures were first carved in Germany’s Ore Mountains. Dresden, too, boasts its own Striezelmarkt, named for the beloved Stollen Christmas cake. And in neighbouring Leipzig, more than 250 stalls offer a profusion of seasonal delights in the shadow of St. Nicholas Church, final resting place of Johann Sebastian Bach. If you listen closely, you might hear echoes of his celebrated Christmas cantata floating from within.

Smaller German cities also take part in the holiday cheer. In Heidelberg, delight in the treats of the city’s elegant market square in the Old Quarter, including lebkuchen, a tasty cookie. The millennium-old Cathedral of St. Martin in Mainz adds a hallowed air to the brightly decorated stands brimming with wooden toys, straw stars, colourful ceramics and more.

The Magic of Austria

Vienna is one of Europe’s grandest capitals any time of year. But during the Christmas season, it is illuminated and festooned unlike anywhere else. The city’s markets date back to 1298, when Albrecht I allowed his people to hold a Krippenmarkt in December. Today, 20 markets spread out across this elegant city, from the platz in front of City Hall, where international choirs sing carols, to the makeshift village at Belvedere Palace. As you browse, you’ll want to have a delicious vanillekipferl in hand, a crescent-shaped biscuit dusted with sugar.

In Salzburg, city of The Sound of Music set amidst Austria’s stunning alpine landscapes, the brass sounds of a turmblasen band echo among richly adorned stalls. As you peruse the countless crafts in beautiful Cathedral Square, you just might spot wandering among the stalls the fabled Christkind, dreamy figures in white and gold robes donning feathered wings. And you’ll no doubt want to avoid the Krampus, mythical creatures who accompany St. Nicholas in case the children behave badly.

Deck the halls with Gate 1 Travel this year during one of our three festive itineraries that bring the joy and fun of the Christmas season to vivid life in November and December. Don’t miss out! Just select from one of the trips below!

8 Day Christmas Markets of Germany & Austria

9 Day Alpine Christmas Markets

10 Day Christmas Markets of Germany