Well, you’re in Europe, you can’t just sit on your couch! So instead, experience a traditional Christmas market in one of Europe’s coolest cities. The air is crisp, lights are sparkling and there are sugary treats that look like cinnamon rolls on steroids. I assure you a European Christmas market beats that ugly sweater party at home.
- Vienna Christmas Markets: November 11 – December 26
This is the mecca of all Christmas markets. Where it all started. If Santa had a vacation home from the North Pole, it would most definitely be Vienna. These markets date back to the Middle Ages and are some of the best in the world. The smell of fresh schnitzels, roasted chestnuts and that mesmerizing candied walnut smell fill the air. You can grab a glass of hot mulled wine or dabble in chocolate covered strawberries. You will feel like you’re in a fairy tale. There are Christmas trees draped in Christmas lights, horse drawn carriages, and over 200 small wooden market stalls lining the streets selling handcrafted christmas goodies. Now tell me that doesn’t beat sitting on Santa’s lap outside an Macy’s in an American mall.
- Prague: November 26 – January 11
So you’re probably wondering where you can snack on sausages, enjoy a Czech beer and pet a donkey all at the same time? Right there with you. The Prague markets make you feel like you are stepping into a fairy tale. They ship a giant Christmas tree from the Krykonose Mountains in the Northern Czech region, and it radiates in the middle of Old Town Square. You can find glassware, unique jewelry, embroidered lace, wooden toys, metalware, ceramic, scented candles, ornaments, scarves, puppets…the list goes on!More of an eater than a shopper? I don’t blame you. Traditional Czech foods are made at the market vendors and there are samples galore! It ain’t a market without some free samples. Try a piece of ham roasted on spits, barbecued sausages and flaky pastries prepared right in front of you. Wash it all down with a famous Pilsner, Urquell, Staroprament or Budvar beer. To cap it all off, there’s an animal stable where you can play with some goats, sheep and donkeys.
- Budapest: November 13-January 6th
The smell of spiced mulled wine and chimney cakes baking will get you into the holiday spirit like nothing else can. Stock up on trinkets for everyone back home. Taste the local cuisine, check out nativity scenes and folk dances and even join in with the caroling.