Seasonal ideas

The best Christmas markets in Europe

Here I look at my three favourite Christmas Markets from across Europe, exploring the food and crafts you can enjoy at each one.

If you're anything like me, you'll be counting down the days until the first Christmas markets open their stalls for the festive season. With the smell of spiced cakes, mulled wine and freshly grilled bratwurst hovering in the air, it's probably no surprise that so many of us love a chance to celebrate Christmas at these amazing stalls. To get you in the mood for this merry season, I've put together a list of my favourite Christmas markets across Europe, looking at everything you could ever want to know, from decoration stands to children's rides. So, all you have to do now is jump into your car and start singing along to your favourite Christmas tunes on your way to one of these festive markets.

Kaiser Wilhelm Christmas Market, Berlin

Where in Germany: Berlin, Brandenberg

Drive from Calais: 925.5 km / 9h 51m

If you're heading to Germany this winter, then be sure to pay a visit to the Christmas market just outside the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church (Gedächtniskirche) for a fun and festive experience. Open from late November until early January, this market is home to over 170 stalls, selling everything from crafts to food. And, as you stroll through the market, you'll notice the scent of roasted nuts, mulled wine and bratwurst as it travels through the stalls, making it completely irresistible.

Kids can have a blast on the fairground rides while you dig into plates of grilled sausage, glasses of glühwein and a handful of schokokuss, a type of flavoured marshmallow that is coated in chocolate. And, once you've collected all the ornaments you can carry, and eaten all the food you have room for, be sure to take a look inside the New Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, which was designed by Egon Eiermann. Although it looks fairly plain on the outside, you'll be astounded by the pockets of blue light and giant golden icon of Jesus Christ as you wander in.

Kaiser Wilhelm Christmas Market, Berlin
Kaiser Wilhelm Christmas Market, Berlin

Fira de Santa Llúcia, Barcelona

Where in Spain: Barcelona, Catalonia

Drive from Calais: 1,320.9 km / 12h 50m

Located just outside Avinguda de la Catedral, otherwise known as Barcelona Cathedral, the Christmas market of Fire de Santa Llúcia is well loved amongst the residents of the city, and has been ever since it first set up its stalls in 1786. In the 19th Century, stall owners began creating and selling figurines which were used by locals to re-create their own nativity scenes at home. Since then, the parts and accessories for the nativity scenes are the key items sold at the market.

Nowadays there are plenty of other items for sale, from jewellery to nutcrackers, mistletoe and even instruments - the decorated wooden logs are my favourite. Once you've explored the market, make sure you stop by the Barcelona Cathedral and enjoy a walk around the awe-inspiring, gothic interiors.

Buy a log from Barcelona's Christmas markets
Buy a log from Barcelona's Christmas markets

Basel Christmas Market, Basel

Where in Switzerland: Basel, Basel-Stadt

Drive from Calais: 753.2 / 7h 13m

Surrounded by stunning architecture, this wonderful Swiss Christmas market is open throughout the festive season, playing host to over 190 stalls. Selling everything from hand-crafted baubles to porcelain figurines of angels and saints, the Basel Christmas market is perfect if you're looking to grab some original pieces for your home, such as ornaments decorated by the "Couturier of Christmas trees", Johann Wanner.

The food stalls are also fantastic, with plenty of Swiss raclette, waffles, sausages and glühwein, which are each perfect for warming you up in the winter chill. Another popular food choice is Basel läckerli, a delicious type of biscuit that is made from honey, hazelnuts, almonds, candied fruit peel and kirsch, topped with a smothering of sugar glaze. Once you've filled your boots with plenty of treats, head over to one of the city's many ice-rinks for an afternoon of winter fun.

Items for sale in Basel's Christmas Market
Items for sale in Basel's Christmas Market

If this post has got you feeling festive, then be sure to check-out Eurotunnel Le Shuttle for a speedy ticket across the Channel. Plus, with no baggage limitations, you can bring back as many Christmas goodies as you wish!