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Where are the best Christmas markets in Europe?

This guide will introduce you to some of the most beautiful Christmas markets in Europe, ready for you to explore.

You can’t help but get festive at a Christmas market, and Europe holds some of the best. Eurotunnel gets you from Folkestone to Calais in 35 minutes and from there you can take in some Yuletide shopping at any of the destinations below.

Top European Christmas Market destinations

Discover some of the most-loved and popular markets in Europe. As well as stalls you’ll find activities such as ice skating and fairgrounds at most of these markets, giving you plenty to see and do.

Colourful old buildings on cobbled street covered in Christmas lights with cathedral in background

France

The top two Christmas markets in France are Strasbourg and Metz.

Strasbourg’s Christmas market is around a 5-hour 30-minute drive from Calais and has a vintage feel. The city’s historic centre is decorated for the season. A stroll through when the sun is setting and the fairy lights come on is an experience not to be missed.

Metz’s market is approximately 6 hours and 30 minutes from Calais. This market is set up across five different locations, so you’re sure to find the best traditional and handcrafted gifts for everyone on your list.

For a full list of all the fabulous Christmas markets in France, see our guide here.

Belgium

If Belgium is your destination, Brussels and Bruges are the two markets that often top the lists of ‘best’ and ‘most popular’. Brussels lies 2 hours and 30 minutes from Calais with hundreds of stalls selling gifts and food to explore, while Bruges is only an hour and 20 minutes away. Bruges’ market is overlooked by the iconic Belfry of Bruges and features a magical open air ice skating rink.

Be sure to read our full guide to the best Christmas markets in Belgium.

Germany

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) in Brandenberg, Berlin for a fun and festive experience. It’s around a 10-hour drive from Calais.

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.

There’s also the festive village of Monschau, just under 4 hours from Calais. Read all about the charming Christmas market that pops up here in Driving Dad’s guide.

Berlin city skyline with lit up Christmas tree and market stalls at night

Holland

The Christmas market in Dordrecht is a must-visit — even if it only runs for a single weekend each year. The small city is home to a well-preserved medieval quarter and a massive 13th century Grote Kerk, acting as a beautiful Gothic centrepiece.

Valkenburg aan de Geul in the Netherlands is home to one of the most charming Christmas markets in Europe that takes place in the Velvet Cave, an underground passageway connected to the town’s castle ruins.

Heading to Holland this Christmas? Try our driving guide to help you get there with ease.

Czech Republic

Prague’s Christmas markets are a popular choice, and you can reach the city from Calais in around 10 hours and 30 minutes via the A3. The main markets are held at the Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square (5 minutes’ walk from each other). Smaller markets can be found at Republic Square, Havel's Market, on Kampa Island, and on the square in front of St. George's Basilica at Prague Castle.

Stunning lit up town with Christmas market surrounded by picturesque architecture

Largest Christmas markets in Europe

Strasbourg in France is one of the largest in Europe. However, Germany’s Dresden Striezelmarkt break records almost every single year, with a huge array of events, stalls and festive activities taking place throughout the Christmas period. One of these sees local bakers prepare a giant stollen (traditional German fruitcake) which they parade through the streets to the market, before ceremoniously serving slices to visitors. You can drive to Dresden from Calais in around 9 hours and 10 minutes.

The oldest Christmas markets in Europe

Germany’s Dresden Striezelmarkt is also Germany’s oldest market, having run for over 580 years in the heart of the baroque city. And if baroque architecture interests you, St Gallen is a Swiss Christmas market that takes place in a beautiful city that lights up its cathedral and boasts the largest Christmas tree in all of Switzerland.

The squares and streets of St Gallen are also lit with 700 sparkling stars covering the historic facades of the UNESCO World Heritage sites. Each of the 2-metre tall stars consist of 14 rays which stand for each of the city districts of St Gallen.

two women in coats and hats looking at beautiful Christmas decorations hanging from market stall

Book your Christmas trip from the UK with Eurotunnel Le Shuttle

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More fantastic European Christmas markets