While we are not fans of the commercial aspect of the Christmas Markets, last year during our trip back from Norway to Romania, we passed at Christmas time through some European capitals, and we were able to experience some genuine Christmas Spirit. We are not pretending to say what are the best Christmas Markets in Europe, but we can give you a quite good overview of the places we were able to visit.
From the German Christmas Markets to the less known local fairs, we were actually never looking for them, but they inevitably ended up in our route, being often placed on the main squares. We didn't buy anything, but we filled up our spirit with warm Christmas scenes.
Christmas Market in Prague
Let's begin with our favourite: the Christmas Market in the Old Town Square in Prague. Not because it was having anything exceptional compared with the other fairs; it is actually composed of a very few stands, and a stage where to listen to some local performance. But the reason why we put it on top of our list, is because of the amazing memories we are carrying from that experience. We climbed up the tower in the main square of the old town, and enjoyed the view while the snow was falling down, a breathtaking sight, difficult to forget.
More Christmas Markets are found around the city, particularly known the one in Wenceslas Square.
Charlottenburg Christmas Market in Berlin
German Christmas Markets are famous all over the world, and since we were stopping in Berlin, we didn't miss the chance to visit the most appealing one in the German Capital: Charlottenburg Christmas Market. It was actually the only one that we decided to go and visit on purpose, rather than randomly stumbling upon it.
The setting was quite impressive, with the Charlottenburg Palace on the background, and light games changing in its facade. The market itself is a quite simple series or stands organised in rows, packed with people going there to fill with beer, sweets and souvenirs. In one corner, it's also possible to admire one of the famous wooden structures built for the occasion.
Many more Christmas Markets can be found around Berlin, we personally liked the atmosphere and the decorations of the Sony Center in Potsdamer Plats, while we were disappointed with the Christmas Market in Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtnis-Kirche. We didn't have a chance to visit this time the other not to be missed Christmas events in Germany, like the Christmas Market in Nuremberg.
Christmas Market in Copenhagen
The Christmas Market in Copenhagen was probably the less impressive we visited, so we wouldn't suggest you to add it to your list if that's your only goal. If instead you are looking for some nice Christmas scenes, then you'll find plenty visiting Tivoli Garden that is beautifully decorated for the occasion.
Christmas Market in Bratislava
While compared to the others it is less touristic and not impressive, the Christmas Market in Bratislava looked like the most cosy and genuine, where you can go to meet your friend and drink a Glühwein, rather than shopping on Chinese Christmas statues. A nice warm feeling if you are passing by.
Christmas Market in Bozen (Bolzano) and Italy
Christmas Markets in Italy are not that popular, and Italian Christmas freaks tend to pack on organized tours and to go abroad in Germany and Austria to satisfy their cravings. Despite this, it is still possible to find some also in Italy: the most known traditional market is held in Bozen (Bolzano) probably because of its German-Austrian origins. On the main square (Walter Square) are found the usual stands selling gifts, decorations and serving Glühwein to local students. More interesting is the Crafts market not far away from Walter Square, where it's possible to go through an open air exhibition of local artists, some giving demonstrations on the spot.
The most famous Christmas Market in Italy is actually in Rome in Piazza Navona, but it is actually more connected with the celebration of the Epiphany in January rather than the Christmas itself.
Christmas Markets in Austria
I've still not had the possibility to visit the famous Christmas Market in Vienna, so my Austrian experience rely only on my visit to Innsbruck. Here the Christmas market is comparable in type to that one of the Italian "twin" city Bozen, but much bigger. If you are planning a tailored tour to see only Christmas Markets, then you better add Vienna to your list. But if you are passing by, it's a good idea to stop by and warm up with some Glühwein!