‘Tis the season …

And for me, that means it’s a good time to reflect on some of my favorite Christmas markets around Europe.

Because I live in Rome, people often think the city is decked out for the holidays. Sadly, especially in recent years, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

To enjoy the holidays lights and sparkle, we generally have to travel further afield, so I decided to provide a round-up of my favorite European Christmas markets, linking to my earlier posts. Here we go!

Vienna, Austria

Vienna Christkindlmarkt, Austria/ © WienTourismus

Call me biased, but this is my favorite. I spent a year living in Vienna, many, many years ago and I’ve travelled back countless times to visit this Christmas market. It never fails to put a smile on my face. Although the market outside of Rathaus/ Town Hall is the most famous, there are plenty of others scattered around the city.

This is my perfect city for visiting during the Christmas season, when a wander around this elegantly decorated city and a visit (or two, or three, or many more) to its wonderful Christkindlmarkts always gets me into the holiday spirit. You can see my earlier post here.

Berlin, Germany

Berlin, Germany / Kimberly Sullivan

Berlin is another city all decked out for the Christmas season. There’s a great tree at Brandenberg Gate, and plenty of Christmas markets scattered around the city. Since we did lots of walking during our cold December visit, it was perfect to stop off and warm off at the many well-situated markets. We went to the ones at Potzdamerplatz, Gendarmenmarkt, and near our hotel at Alexanderplatz. See my earlier post here.

Gdansk, Poland

Gdansk, Poland Christmas Market / Kimberly Sullivan

This is my most recent discovery, as we were up here for the first time earlier this month. And those cold Baltic Sea gusts meant that we were frequent visitors to the bustling Christmas market. Mulled wine, cooked cheese, warm kielbasa were all on our agenda for warming up when we stopped by this lively market during our wanderings.

Toulouse, France

Toulouse, France/ Kimberly Sullivan

This was a nice find. Admittedly, we weren’t expecting to discover this tradition when we were in Toulouse some years ago. This became a popular stop-off point as we discovered this pretty city on a late November visit. No matter what time we were there – during the day, at night – it was packed with people. But we loved our visits at night with the lights and the mulled wine. See my earlier post here.

Nice, France

Nice, France/ Kimberly Sullivan

This was another surprise Christmas market. I certainly wasn’t expecting a lively Christmas market among the palm trees and the Mediterranean shores, but Nice hosts quite a lively holiday market – complete with food stalls, lovely mulled wine and ice skating. See my post on the Nice Christmas market here.

Madrid, Spain

Madrid, Spain/ Kimberly Sullivan

I was in Madrid last December, and surprised to discover the beautiful Plaza Mayor had been turned into a Christmas market. The stalls mostly sold merchandise, and (not great) mulled wine could be found a few squares away. This definitely isn’t like the northern Christmas markets, but I did love Madrid’s great Christmas lights, and decorations that set off Spain’s elegant capital city beautifully. You can see more about Madrid decorated for Christmas at my earlier post.

Vigo, Spain

Vigo, Spain/ Kimberly Sullivan

This was another welcome surprise. When I was in Vigo for work last month, they were setting up the city’s lights. Apparently, the Mayor recently declared that Vigo would have enough Christmas lights to be seen all the way to New York. The Christmas market itself is a little less exciting, but all the lights and decorations are worth a visit. See my earlier post on Vigo’s Christmas spirit.

There are plenty of other destinations, but here’s a starting point if you need an excuse to travel during the holiday season. Enjoy your Christmas market tourism.

After all, any excuse to travel is always a good one…