In partnership with more than 350 European tourist offices and the Eden network created by the European Commission to promote sustainable tourism, European Best Destinations (EBD) has released its list of the Best European Christmas markets 2021-2022.
The list of the 20 destinations with the contintent’s best Christmas markets was based on the votes of thousands of travellers who placed more than 100 markets at the top of their ranking.
This year, 173,620 travellers from 163 countries participated in the online voting process, with 61% of votes coming from Europe and 39% from abroad, mainly the U.S., Canada, Australia and Russia.
The 20 Christmas Markets selected are not only alleys of chalets but cultural and artistic events with concerts, creative workshops, Christmas lights, fireworks, shows and ice rinks and are committed to sustainability, offering local food and artisanal products.
And they’re all respecting strict and unprecedented health standards.
Last year, Europe canceled all Christmas markets due to the Covid pandemic. This year, nearly 90% of them are open thanks to security measures, traffic corridors and precise health requirements that include vaccination passports, provision of hydro-alcoholic gels and wearing of masks.
From this 20-best-Christmas-markets list, Prague is the only one to cancel its Christmas market while Vienna closed temporarily and is planning to reopen on December 13.
The following interesting data comes from the analysis of the votes:
- The favorite Christmas market of American travelers is Budapest, followed by Madeira and Craiova.
- The # 1 Christmas market this year had already been crowned in 2019.
- The favorite Christmas market of British travelers is Budapest, followed by Basel and Metz.
- The favorite Christmas market of Italians is Asti, followed by Basel and Budapest.
- Slovenians and Croatians also placed the Asti Christmas market as their favorite in Europe.
- Craiova is the highest-ranked Romanian Christmas destination. It’s among the Christmas markets with the greatest amount of lighting (1 million leds) and also with the most impressive cultural programming.
- Basel, Budapest, Metz, Montéliard and Vienna are the most-voted Christmas markets throughout the past decade.
- Zagreb and Strasbourg (both thrice-awarded) are out of competition but still among the favorite Christmas destinations for travelers. Zagreb is the only destination awarded the title of Best Christmas Market in Europe three consecutive times.
- Craiova and Madeira, both new in the list have established themselves among the top 10 favorites.
- Trier won the title of Best Christmas Market in Germany while Edinburgh won in the United Kingdom, followed by Manchester and Nottingham.
Like the recent new restrictive measures taken by the U.S. government to prevent the spread of the new Covid-19 Omicron variant, many European countries are requiring a negative COVID-19 test taken within one day of departure of all arrivals, regardless of their vaccination status or if recovered from the virus.
1. Budapest, Hungary: Best European Christmas Market 2022
With this slogan, the Advent Feast at the Basilica, Budapest’s Christmas market has been selected as the best in Europe for the second time.
More than 100 artisan and food vendors offer their products in the spectacularly-decorated atmosphere of the most beautiful market in Europe that every day is enhanced by an impressive light-show projected on the facade of the Basilica.
2. Basel, Switzerland
Basel’s authentic Christmas Market with its unique atmosphere has a deep-rooted tradition as Switzerland’s most beautiful and largest holiday site. Not only is the well-preserved Old Town radiant in the warm Christmas lights but the shops and facades of many buildings glitter with original decorations.
Roughly 100 tall pine trees border the streets leading to the market, which is being held in the heart of the festively-bedecked Old Town. The Christmas Market is located on Barfüsserplatz and on Münsterplatz – one of the most beautiful squares in Basel.
A magnificent Christmas tree, classified among the most beautiful Christmas trees in Europe, stands on Münsterplatz with ornaments by well-known decorator Johann Wanner.
3. Metz, France
Metz’s Christmas market has been listed for the past 10 years among the best in Europe and is considered to be one the most beautiful Christmas markets in France.
Unique activities such as the “lantern trail,” a ferris wheel and many chalets offering local products only to be seen in Metz at Christmas make this destination attractive not only to travellers looking for the most beautiful Christmas markets in Europe but also to creators, designers, innovative concept hotels, start-ups, artists and trendy businesses.
The Christmas markets are spread around the city’s main squares. Find hand-crafted gifts in the Christmas pyramid, sample the finest gingerbread on offer, skate along the ice road and then warm up around a mulled wine or hot chocolate before walking through the magical “Sentiers des Lanternes.” Let the lights chase away the dark winter days.
4. Vienna, Austria
Partly canceled in 2021, Vienna Christmas Market re-starts in mid-December 2021 when Vienna’s prettiest squares transform into magical Christmas atmosphere with the aromas of Christmas baked goods and hot punch.
One of the best-known markets is the traditional “Vienna Magic of Advent,” which transforms the City Hall Square into a shining fairytale land with the trees of the surrounding City Hall Park festively decorated and radiating a sea of lights — a Viennese experience not to be missed.
Another hot spot is the Christmas market in front of Schönbrunn Palace that offers sheer romance. Behind it, an imperial backdrop is converted into a New Year’s market after Christmas. The atmospheric market offers traditional handicrafts, handmade Christmas decorations, Christmas concerts and an extensive children’s program, including a Christmas workshop.
5. Montbéliard, France
World famous for the beauty of its lighting, Montbéliard’s Christmas market is one the most beautiful in France, world-famous for the beauty of its lighting. Located in Franche-Comté (Eastern France), the town of Montbéliard – well known for its hospitality — becomes still more enchanting a few weeks before Christmas.
During the period of Advent, Montbéliard revives the tradition of Württemberg and organizes a Christmas market like no other, its 140 lovely stalls full of authentic art and crafts and local gastronomic products spread out along the luminous streets and accompanied by the music of choral songs.
6. Craiova, Romania
Appearing for the first time in the Best European Christmas Markets competition, Craiova is the highest-ranked Romanian Christmas Market.
To respect social distancing measures, Craiova officials have scattered the various Christmas events — markets, concerts, creative workshops and food stands — in different sections of the city. Linked together by magical illuminations (more than one million led bulbs) the Craiova fair is not only one of the best Christmas markets in Europe but also the best Christmas Lights Destination in Romania.
Mihai Viteazul Square opposite the Craiova Town Hall has become an ice rink under a magnificent Christmas tree. Romanian culinary specialties on Shakespeare Square mix together with Christmas Street food trucks surrounded by rides and games for children.
7. Trier, Germany
Now in its 43rd year and set on the medieval main plaza in front of the imposing backdrop of Trier Cathedral, 95 attractively-decorated booths offer a fitting framework for this time of the year.
The program for the entire family changes almost daily – from an historical puppet theater to star tenor and songsmiths.
The Trier Christmas Market is often described by travel organizers as “romantic with wonderful ambience.” Germany’s only Mulled Wine Queen “is looking forward to the international guests in Trier.”
A large selection of delicious specialties such as the “Original Moselle Vintner Mulled Wine” attracts visitors from around the world.
8. Madeira, Portugal
Portugal’s Madeira and Porto Santo, celebrated islands during the year for visitors from around the world, become magical for the end-of-year celebrations when they are adorned with a thousand lights to celebrate Christmas and New Year.
A great variety of products are on display, including exotic flowers, traditional souvenirs and typical delicacies and drinks that add to the merriment in a welcoming ambience along with Christmas carols and performances by folk groups.
Madeira and Porto Santo are now connected directly to New York’s JFK Airport, among other American airports.
Autonomous regions listed among the safest Covid-19 destinations during the pandemic, the islands require vaccination passport for entry but so far no additional tests.
The end-of-year celebration includes a firework show recorded in the Guiness Book of Records as the World’s greatest show.
9. Brussels, Belgium
‘Winter Wonders’ is the most famous Christmas market in Belgium, followed by Ghent, Antwerpen, Bruges and Liege. With 2.5 million visitors, Winter Wonders is a big event in Brussels as the city ‘dresses up’ in its best festive finery.
Among the great classics are unsurpassed sound-and-light shows at the Grand Place, a majestic tree, a life-sized manger, a skating rink and many exhibitions around Christmas markets bursting with treasures.
10. Govone & Asti, Italy
Govone is considered one of the most beautiful Christmas markets in Italy.
“Magico Paese di Natale” is held in the small village of Govone on the hills of Langhe-Roero, the wine region in Piedmont and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In winter, the entire village of Govone turns into the magic kingdom of Santa Claus, with multiple cultural and gastronomic attractions.
The Christmas market brings artisans selected from all over Italy offering arts and crafts, street food area and regional wines. The main treat is a musical Santa Claus show hosted every day in Govone’s scenic Savoy royal castle.
11. Edinburgh, Scotland
Edinburgh’s world-renowned Christmas celebrations spread festive cheer across the Scottish capital between November 20, 2021 and January 4, 2022.
From mulled Irn Bru to vegan pigs-in-blanket and from Harry Potter-themed gifts to local handmade products, the Christmas market in East Princess Street Gardens has treats for all. Santa Land offers rides for people of all ages to Santa’s Grotto residence on Castle Street.
12. Cologne, Germany
With selected gifts, artisan handicrafts and culinary specialities, the Christmas markets in Cologne attract millions of visitors from all over the world every year.
13. Tallinn, Estonia
Awarded the title of the “most beautiful Christmas market in Europe” three years ago, Tallinn has become a must-visit destination at Christmas.
Every year, the Tallinn Christmas Market delights more than 500,000 visitors with its coziness, historic location, centuries-old buildings and long traditions.
Children love the carousels and Santa Claus distributing candy at his little house as adults enjoy high-quality handicrafts, practical winter accessories, the gingerbread and hearty Christmas roasts.
14. Praga, Czech Republic
Unfortunately, while this famous Christmas market has been canceled for 2021, plans are underway for Christmas next year.
The Christmas markets in Old Town Square in the center of Prague are the biggest in the Czech Republic. Set in the very heart of the city with dozens of wooden stalls offering typical Christmas goods such as traditional Czech blown-glass balls, products made of glass pearls or straw, hand-embroidered tablecloths, wooden toys and biscuit cutters.
Grown-ups enjoy the typical mulled wine and gourmets young and old can enjoy Czech Christmas biscuits, hot roasted chestnuts, gingerbread biscuits or typical Czech grilled sausages and other skewered foods.
15. Manchester, England
It’s one of the U.K.’s largest and most beautiful Christmas markets — and arguably the most original and best Christmas markets in the continent.
The Manchester Christmas markets started in 1999 and have been growing every year, now attracting more than a staggering nine million visitors. Some 300 beautifully-crafted stalls scattered across the city and spread across 10 sites – each with its own distinctive character — offer international food, drinks and finely-crafted Yuletide gifts.
16. Bruges, Belgium
The romantic city of Bruges has been selected as having one of the most beautiful Christmas markets in Europe for years.
With history infusing every street, road and building, the cosy city center becomes transformed into a Christmas postcard decorated everywhere and with its markets offering traditional gifts, arts and crafts and food for everyone. Sample hot chocolate, ice-cold jenever, spiced glühwein, Belgian beers, cheeses and hearty dishes.
17. Moscow, Russia
The city has become increasingly trendy for the holiday season with its New Year’s Eve festivities attracting travelers from around the world.
The Christmas market appeals to families and friends chasing the Christmas magic with the St. Basil’s Cathedral as a backdrop and the mythical Red Square decorated with a thousand garlands.
Open from the end of November until mid-February.
18. Leipzig, Germany
History abounds at the Leipzig Christmas market, which dates back to 1458.
Divided in six areas with more than 250 twinkling stalls embedded harmoniously in the historic city center, the Leipzig Christmas market is not only one of the oldest but also one of the largest Christmas markets in Germany.
Visitors can indulge in numerous culinary delights or explore the city’s traditional medieval market. The center of the Christmas market is Marktplatz, where a 20-meter-high Saxon spruce Christmas tree presides over the festivities and a variety of live performances. At Augustusplatz Square, a 38-meter-high ferris wheel offers seasonal views from its lofty height.
19. Nottingham, England
Christmas has returned to Nottingham with the largest event in the East Midlands.
Over 70 traditional, Bavarian-style stalls display gifts, homemade and artisan cheeses, chutneys and chocolates. This year’s Christmas market has been expanded to include plants, mead, jewelery, scents, fashion, retro style, Eco art, Lego art, Fairtrade, continental food, local homemade stew and home accessories.
The ‘Nottingham Winter Wonderland’ features many rides (and its free).
20. Dusseldorf, Germany
This year, the Christmas markets in Düsseldorf, all located in the Old Town area (Altstadt), run until December 30, offering visitors, especially families with children, the experience of Christmas magic.
During this festive season, Düsseldorf offers atmospheric new features, including a 1,700-square-meter ice rink on Corneliusplatz and a children’s-activity tent on Jan-Wellem-Platz, with shows every day.
Advent in Zagreb
Zagreb is the only destination consecutively awarded the title of Best Christmas Market in Europe three times starting in 2016.