Wandering around an overflowing maze of stalls of Christmas Markets is truly a unique experience. December breathes magic in North America, but in Europe, they take it to the next level with their Christmas Markets.
The atmosphere is mesmerizing; whether you have children with you or you are travelling among adults, the traditional Christmas Markets are for everyone.
Most Christmas Markets in Europe open in mid-November, last until Christmas Eve and can be found all over the continent.
What is the Best Christmas Market in the World?
Determining the “best” Christmas market in the world is a challenging task as it largely depends on individual criteria such as size, available attractions, food and drink quality, and overall ambiance. However, Nuremberg’s Christmas Market in Germany, known as “Christkindlesmarkt,” is often cited as one of the best Christmas markets globally.
This traditional market has a history dating back over 400 years and attracts more than 2 million visitors each year. It is renowned for its artisanal products, including the famous “Lebkuchen” (gingerbread) and wooden toys. The marketplace transforms into a picturesque Christmas village, and the aroma of mulled wine, grilled sausages, and caramelized almonds fills the air. Additionally, the “Christkind” (Christ Child), a young woman dressed in a golden robe and crown, opens the market each year by reciting a traditional prologue.
Where are the Most Beautiful Christmas Markets in Europe in 2023?
The atmosphere and decorations play a crucial role in evaluating a Christmas market. A good market creates a festive ambiance with twinkling lights, meticulous decorations, and seasonal music. The variety of products on offer is also a key factor: the best markets provide a wide range of items, from Christmas decorations to artisanal gifts and local culinary specialties. Additional activities and attractions, such as an ice rink or a Ferris wheel, can also enhance the experience.
Other important criteria include the market’s tradition and authenticity. Markets with a long history of offering traditional products are often highly valued. Location and accessibility are also factors to consider, as are the market’s security and organization. In summary, it’s the overall experience, including the friendliness of the vendors and the quality of the products, that makes one Christmas market considered better than another.
Top 10 Christmas Markets in Europe
- Strasbourg, France: Known as the “Christmas Capital,” Strasbourg’s Christmas market is one of the oldest and largest in Europe. The market sprawls around the Gothic cathedral, and the adjacent streets are adorned with thousands of lights.
- Paris, France: The Tuileries Garden Christmas market in Paris is located right in the heart of the city, near the Louvre. It is known for its festive atmosphere and a wide variety of stalls, ranging from artisanal products to French culinary specialties.
- Vienna, Austria: Viennese markets, particularly the one at Rathausplatz, are famous for their elegant atmosphere. You’ll find a wide variety of artisanal products and delicious Austrian pastries here.
- Prague, Czech Republic: The Christmas markets in Prague‘s Old Town and Wenceslas Square are among the most picturesque in Europe. Wooden huts sell Czech artisanal products, mulled wine, and “Trdelník,” a type of local pastry.
- Budapest, Hungary: The Vörösmarty Square Christmas market is famous for its food stalls selling traditional Hungarian dishes, handmade products, and light shows.
- Copenhagen, Denmark: The Tivoli Gardens Christmas market is renowned for its magical atmosphere. The gardens are decorated with over half a million lights, and stalls sell traditional Danish Christmas items and local food.
- London, England: The Winter Wonderland market in Hyde Park is London’s most beautiful. It offers a variety of attractions, including an ice rink, shows, and concerts.
- Brussels, Belgium: Brussels’ Christmas market, also known as “Winter Wonders,” is primarily located around the Grand Place. It is famous for its festive atmosphere, Ferris wheel, and ice rink, as well as a variety of stalls selling artisanal products and Belgian specialties.
- Cologne, Germany: Located near the cathedral, Cologne’s Christmas market is one of the largest in Germany. It is famous for its festive atmosphere and a wide variety of products, including culinary specialties like mulled wine.
- Frankfurt, Germany: Frankfurt’s Christmas market is one of the oldest in Germany and is held at Römer Square. It is known for its culinary specialties, including mulled wine and “Stollen,” a traditional Christmas cake.
Each of these Christmas markets offers a unique experience, blending local traditions, exceptional craftsmanship, and festive foods. Therefore, the choice of the “most beautiful” market will depend on what you’re looking to experience and the budget, both in terms of points and money, that you have at your disposal.
Here are the Christmas Markets in Europe that are very accessible with points from Canada.
The Most Beautiful Christmas Markets in Germany
Germany is the cradle of Christmas Markets; they started in the Middle Age and German cities still come out on top today with numerous Christmas Markets all over the country.
Christmas sweets, arts, crafts, unique ornaments, mulled wine, Lebkuchen (traditional German gingerbread), etc. you can find the full experience in Germany.
The most well-known and favourite Christmas Market in the country seems to be in Nuremberg.
Striezelmarkt Christmas Market in Dresden is one of the oldest and dates back to 1434. It currently takes place in the oldest square in town in the Altmark. There are over 200 stalls, and you can smell the scent of sweets everywhere; sweets are typical of this festive time in Germany.
Cologne has many impressive Christmas Markets and the largest one is located in the centre of the city beneath the spectacular gothic cathedral. Here, you can wander under hundreds of lights hanging over your head like stars. Of course, all the traditional Christmas decorations can easily be found as well.
In Berlin, the Christmas Markets are more modern and the best looking one is Weichnachtszauber in Gendarmenmarkt Square where there are plenty of arts and crafts stalls.
Munich’s most famous Christmas Market takes place in Marienplatz, the city’s main square and the liveliest spot, especially during this time of the year. Christkindlmarkt Marienplatz has the impressive Town Hall as a backdrop and a huge Christmas tree that creates a winter wonderland ambiance.
Also, if Munich is your point of entry in Europe, you’ll be stunned that the airport has its own Christmas Market!
Because of its hub status, Frankfurt’s Christmas Markets, one of the oldest and largest in Germany, attracts millions of visitors every year. With an extensive amount of meeting spaces, it’s the perfect place to gather with friends, family or colleagues and enjoy a near-endless number of snacks variety or drinks.
How to Travel to Germany with Points
To cross the pond with Aeroplan, you should expect to pay about 35,000 to 40,000 points for a one-way flight to Germany. Business fares begin at 60,000 points.
As for accommodation, consider the Aloft Munich or the Courtyard Munich City Center; they are both located in the vicinity of Marienzplatz in Munich and you can redeem your Marriott Bonvoy free night’s award and top it off with a bit of points.
Likewise, the Moxy Frankfurt City Center and the Residence Inn City Center are excellent uses of certificates and points when visiting Christmas Markets.
The Most Beautiful Christmas Markets in Austria
When December arrives, the city of Vienna is glowing with fairy lights. The festive atmosphere can be felt everywhere in town from the narrow streets to the big squares. Stalls are seen left and right and traditional wooden toys and artisanal handicrafts are really popular.
The main Christmas Market, Christkindlmarkt am Rathausplatz, is located in front of City Hall.
Then comes Salzburg, Mozart’s birthplace, which is better known for its Christmas carols. The vendors offer high-quality crafts in a traditional, musical and magical setting. This year, Salzburg Christmas Markets will run until early January; it’s one of the rare ones that will be after Christmas!
How to Travel to Austria with Points
Again, with Marriott Bonvoy, there are many options available in Vienna. For example, the Renaissance Wien Hotel is walking distance to Schloss Schönbrunn, one of Vienna’s main attractions, and very well connected to Vienna’s Christmas Markets by public transportation. Rates start at €150 or 30,000 points.
The Most Beautiful Christmas Markets in Brussels
While German and Austrian Christmas Markets are usually on people’s bucket list, you will have to visit Brussels for a gourmet Christmas experience. Brussels will offer the same kind of vibes with the mulled wine, its skating rinks, its endless lines of stalls and huge Christmas tree but the standouts will be toasty fresh waffles, chocolate and beers.
The magic is spread out across Brussels’s Grand-Place, Place Sainte-Catherine and Marché aux Poisson.
How to travel to Brussels with Points
Planning a Christmas Markets getaway in Brussels is easy from Montreal on Air Canada. Direct flights from Toronto will also occur, but they will begin next summer.
Since flying on Air Canada metal means that you have to deal with dynamic pricing, the best strategy would be to either book as soon as possible or be flexible with your dates.
In addition, if you desire to go to a Christmas Market but don’t mind which one, you can do a quick search, compare pricing and assess what is the best option for your dates. Dynamic pricing can also work in your favour; as we can see here, a little fairy tale getaway cost fewer points to Brussels than flying to Germany or Austria during the same period.
The Dominican, Brussels, a Member of Design Hotels™ is an affordable Marriott Bonvoy hotel minutes away from Brussels’s Grand-Place.
Prices start at 30,000 points while the nightly cash rates can go above €275; as per our valuation, you would get a great value out of your points at this hotel.
As a couple, you could each sign-up for a Marriott Bonvoy co-branded card and earn enough points for your Christmas Market weekend getaway in Brussels.
The Most Beautiful Christmas Markets in France
Our Milesopedia team member Marie-Ève had the chance to stumble upon this market on her very last day in Paris, where she went for the scary attraction; Europe’s tallest ride with incredible views on the Eiffel Tower. This isn’t for the faint-hearted but it sure is a lot of fun.
In Paris, a Christmas market isn’t just meant to be for food and gift shopping. Get ready for a thrilling day at Tuileries Garden Christmas Market in the City of Light. You’ll find the traditional food stalls offering mulled wine, crepe, raclette as well as an Artisan Village to find meaningful gifts and crafts. But it doesn’t stop there; it also turns into a small Christmas themed park with attractions such as a Ferris Wheel. It even has an ice skating rink and so many other attractions that both kids and grown-ups will love.
Located near the German border, Strasbourg is known as France’s Christmas capital. The hand-painted wooden decorations makes it look like a real-life nativity scene as you walk through the hundreds of traditional Christmas Market stalls.
You’ll definitely gain some weight here, as it’s pretty hard to say no to all of those French delicacies! Maybe spend some time skating on the ice rink and try to burn off some calories!
How to Travel to Strasbourg and Paris with Points
Same as for Brussels, you will have to deal with Air Canada dynamic pricing to fly to Paris’s Christmas Markets. But as you can see here, prices aren’t that bad whether you are looking at economy class or business class.
The other great thing about flying with Air Canada is that you can use eUpgrades credits and travel in comfort for fewer points. You can search for R Space on ExpertFlyer or filter your results to see if eUpgrades are available for your route.
As always, compare the number of points + eUpgrades credits you need with the cost of booking directly in business class.
There are no direct flights from Canada to Strasbourg, but you can turn to the Aeroplan stopover feature. Indeed, according to Flight Connections, Brussels Airlines and Lufthansa fly to Strasbourg from Brussels and Frankfurt, respectively. If you take this route, you’ll be able to hit two beautiful Christmas Markets in Europe for only 5000 additional points. You can even book everything online!
A nice hotel to consider is the Aloft Strasbourg which walking distance to the city’s main Christmas Market; points rates start around 20,000 points while cash prices are about €100 per night.
Do your math as, depending on the exchange rate, you may be better off paying in cash and earn more points with your stay. Especially if you use a card such as the Marriott Bonvoy® American Express®* Card which earns 5X points per dollar at their properties!
The Most Beautiful Christmas Markets in Prague
Prague is postcard-perfect regardless of the season, but turns into a fairy tale winter wonderland from late November to early January. The Old Town’s clock tower overlooks the magnificent tree and Christmas Market; for children, you’ll find some goats and sheep wandering around Old Town Square!
Then, there’s Wenceslas Square Christmas Market barely 10-minute walk away so there is plenty to do and see in Prague at this time of the year.
How to travel to Prague with Points
Air Canada Rouge used to fly to Prague but, unfortunately, that route has not resumed yet. Thankfully, as with Strasbourg, Prague is well connected to other Star Alliance hubs in Europe so it is still very easy to get to.
If you are planning a trip that centres around Christmas Markets in Europe, the best way would be to book two one-way fares in order to have two stopovers. That’s right; why limit yourself at one stopover when you can have two!
For example, this itinerary allows you to visit Christmas Markets in Prague, Munich, Vienna and Brussels for only 83,200 points; you would need to purchase another ticket (plane, train or bus) between your two open-jaw cities but that shouldn’t be a concern as Europe is very well connected.
The Prague Marriott Hotel is only 10-minute walk away from the Christmas Markets and room rates are around $450 or 60,000 points per night.
The Most Beautiful Christmas Markets in Budapest
The Budapest Christmas market, primarily located at Vörösmarty Square, is a true celebration of the festive season. Open from mid-November until early January, this market offers a variety of artisanal products, Hungarian culinary specialties like “Kürtőskalács” and “Lángos,” as well as light shows and activities for children. Offering a less crowded experience compared to other European markets, while maintaining a warm and traditional atmosphere, the Budapest Christmas market is a must-visit for anyone travelling to the Hungarian capital during the holidays.
How to travel to Budapest with Points
Currently, there are no direct flights between Montreal and Budapest according to the Flight Connections tool. However, much like Prague and Strasbourg, Budapest is well connected with major Star Alliance hubs, allowing you to take advantage of the same Aeroplan stopover strategy at 5,000 points to visit multiple Christmas markets on the same trip such as the one in Vienna or Munich since you’re likely going to fly through there.
Alternatively, the best way to get there directly is to find the cheapest flight to Europe as your gateway, and then use a low-cost airline for the final leg.
For accommodation, the Courtyard Budapest City Center is not too far from Vörösmarty Square. This hotel is neither too expensive in terms of money nor points, providing an opportunity to use your free night certificate. Don’t forget to do some research with the Awayz tool to quickly find the best way to optimize your booking during the high season!
The Most Beautiful Christmas Markets in Copenhagen
The Christmas market in Copenhagen is a winter season must-visit, offering a magical experience to visitors. The famous Tivoli amusement park transforms into a twinkling Christmas village, complete with ice rinks and gift shops. The old port of Nyhavn also hosts a picturesque market where local crafts and traditional music create a festive atmosphere. Additionally, the Nytorv market offers a wide variety of activities and stalls for all ages. Between the outdoor ice rinks and illuminated streets, Copenhagen is a top destination to celebrate the magic of Christmas.
How to travel to Copenhagen with Points
As of June 2023, Copenhagen is served by Air Canada from Montreal and Toronto, which is really convenient for those looking for a short getaway to visit the city and its Christmas market. The cost is around 90,000 Aeroplan points per person for the direct flight. However, you can score a much cheaper ticket (from 60,000 points) if you’re open to having one connection on each leg of your journey.
The cost of living is high in Copenhagen, but the Moxy Copenhagen Sydhavnen remains an affordable lodging option.
The Most Beautiful Christmas Markets in London
The most popular Christmas market in London is Winter Wonderland, located in Hyde Park. This market goes beyond traditional stalls; it’s a full-fledged winter amusement park. It offers a wide variety of activities, including an ice rink, rides, shows, and concerts, in addition to stalls selling artisanal products and culinary specialties.
Winter Wonderland is particularly appreciated for its festive atmosphere and numerous attractions, making it a must-visit destination during the holiday season in London.
How to travel to London with Points
To get to London using loyalty points, several options are available. You can use Aeroplan points, where the standard cost of a flight from Montreal to London is 35,000 points for a one-way trip. Another option is to use British Airways Avios points, where a round-trip to London can cost 50,000 Avios and $200 in taxes. Flying Blue is also an interesting option, with a base fare from Montreal starting at 15,000 Miles. Monthly promotions can halve this cost.
It is also possible to cover your accommodation expenses in London with points. Establishments like Marriott Bonvoy and Hilton Honors allow you to use points for free nights, although these options can be costly in terms of points. More economical options include Airbnb and independent hotels, for which you can use travel points to get a credit on your statement.
For more information, you can visit this page dedicated to travelling to London using points:
Which is the most beautiful Christmas Market in Europe - Bottom Line
As you can see, there are many Christmas Markets in Europe; there can even be a dozen of them in the same city!
While it would still be a lot of points to spend on a little weekend, points offer a nice compromise for a wonderful experience during this festive time. Indeed, Aeroplan points are very easily accumulated in Canada either with your organic spending on a card such as the American Express Cobalt Card or with the help of a signup bonus such as with the TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite Privilege* Credit Card.
With the TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite Privilege* Credit Card, you can earn up to 100,000 Aeroplan points and many great travel benefits!
- Earn a welcome bonus of 20,000 Aeroplan points when you make your first purchase with your new card†
- Earn an additional 50,000 Aeroplan points when you spend $7,500 within 180 days of Account opening†
- Plus, earn an anniversary bonus of 30,000 Aeroplan points when you spend $12,000 within 12 months of Account opening†
As the offer requirements are cumulative, spending a total of $12,000 will allow you to unlock the full bonus.
You can find all the best current Aeroplan offers on this page.