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Best 13 winter markets in Europe in 2023

Updated on: 
Travel & Exploration

Discover our top choices for the best Winter markets in Europe in 2023 and what makes them so unique. You can choose from magical markets in Cologne, Tallinn, Prague, Salzburg and more. What will be your destination this year?

With the worst of the pandemic behind us, the world is gathering this holiday season once again. Eager to share our holiday cheer, many of us want to not only spend that time with our friends and family, but experience the joy of winter festivities through other cultures.  
 
Across Europe, there’s a rich, storied history of Winter Markets. Known for its heritage of song, hot drinks, (deviously) fattening food, handmade gifts and bright, memorable experiences, these markets feel irresistibly traditional.

But what many people might not realise is that not every city celebrates winter festivities with a traditional-style market. So, we scoured the internet to find the best European cities for Winter Markets 2023. From the traditional German markets we’ve all heard about to the lesser-known but totally hygge Scandi ones and the gooey, cheesy markets in France, there are a ton of different Winter Market experiences to be had this year.  
 
The hardest part about this list might be choosing just one of the best European cities for Winter Markets for 2023. But, who said you had to limit your celebrations this year, anyways?

Cologne, Germany

Best dates: November 23 2023 to December 23, 2024 
What makes it unique: 7 markets across the city

Best known for transforming its cathedral square into a red-roofed holiday village with a giant tree at the centre, Cologne is home to one of the most picturesque Winter markets in all of Europe. But, what many people don’t realise is that the entire city turns into a winter wonderland with seven different themed markets.

A couple of our favorites are Nikolausdorf, or Nicholas Village, near the trendy Belgian quarter to sip hot drinks against the backdrop of the historic backdrop of the medieval Hahnentorburg, and the Markt der Engel, or Angel Market, where you can walk hand in hand under star-shaped lights while sipping hot drinks.

Image rights: Dieter Jacobi

Salzburg, Austria

Best dates: November 21st, 2023 to January 1, 2024 
What makes it unique: Musical celebrations

A short distance away from where the world-famous Christmas song Silent Night was first written and performed (all the way back in 1818), Austria has to be one of the most beautiful and historical places to celebrate the festive season. Come November, the city of Saltzberg already starts embracing Christmas with the song ringing out and 100-stalls popping up across the city’s famous squares like Domplatz and Residenzplatz. 
 
Here, you can stroll the markets and grab all the typical winter market goodies like hot cocoa and mulled wine. But, what sets these Austrian markets apart are their beautiful homemade crafts and their musical performances, from choir groups and gospel singers to folk groups and carol singalongs. With such a magical and unique experience like this, it’s easy to see why Salzburg is one of the best European cities for Winter Markets 2023.

Image rights: nationalgeographic.co.uk

Dublin, Ireland

Best dates: November 10, 2023 to Dec 23, 2024
What makes it unique: Being part of new traditions 
 
You might be surprised to learn that Dublin winter markets haven’t been much of a thing until the past 10 years. The Covid-19 pandemic did derail things for a bit, but now the festivities are back in full swing, with events like the Dublin Castle Christmas Market selling out completely. But, now that the city has gotten a taste for gingerbread cookies, cocoa and all things festive, there are a bunch of other Winter Markets scattered around the city. 
 
The Guinness Storehouse Winterfest is obviously a fan favourite with tons of Guinness-inspired treats and ‘snow topped’ beers alongside gorgeous decorations. This year, they’re even collaborating with New York-based Irish visual artist GRIF that’s created a unique digital Christmas tree and surge film paired with live pop-up entertainment.

Image rights: gettyimages.ie

Berlin, Germany

Best dates:  27, November 2023, to December 26, 2023 

What makes it unique: Alternative markets, of course 
 
Winter markets are one of the most famous and beloved German traditions, so of course, Berlin takes part. But, undoubtably, with its own twist. Across the city you’ll find 80-something different kinds of Winter Markets and there’s something for just about everyone, including all of the traditional things you’d love and expect like sausage and gluhwein.

There’s the Dog Christmas Market (yes, really) as well as one on Potsdamer Platz that features all kinds of winter sports like tobogganing and curling. Spandau is the biggest and has cool features like daily shows and a medieval arts and crafts market, but there’s also Weihnachtszaubet on Gendarmenmarkt square that’s just absolutely glittering (and Instagram worthy) and the market on Alexanderplatz that feels like a Winter Market meets fun fair. When all the fun is done, ride your sleigh back to The Social Hub Berlin for a nightcap and to relish in the magic of the day.

Prague, Czech Republic

Best dates: December 2, 2023 to January 1, 2024 
What makes it unique: The picturesque scene and food 
 
Just when you thought Prague couldn’t get any prettier, they usher in Christmas and the festive season with traditional Winter Markets. Make your way to the famous square between the 14th-century twin spires of Our Lady Before Tyn and the city’s famous 15th-century astronomical clock to find garland, lights and a slew of stalls.

There are crafts and Winter-themed souvenirs, of course, but what this market is most famous for is its Czech food. Be sure to grab some fatty sausages and cheesy, garlic flatbread fresh off the grill, or go sweet and get a stack of hot, fresh pancakes. But whatever you get, be sure to wash it down with the Czech version of mulled wine called svarak, which is a more citrusy, local take on the famous spiced wine.

Strasbourg, France

Best dates: November 21 2023 to January, 2024 
What makes it unique: Christmas with a French twist  
 
Also known as France’s ‘Capital of Christmas,’ Strasbourg has been hosting these festive events since 1570, and it shows. With centuries to perfect the art of celebrating the holiday season, everything looks perfect, from the 300 wooden, traditional Winter stalls to the giant, sparkling chandeliers and the white, crystal tree.   
 
Across the city’s squares you’ll find incredible treats from local Alsace producers like sausage and traditional bredele butter biscuits alongside to glass-blown candle sticks and colourful baubles. Everything is totally festive and exquisitely French. Could you really need more?

Image rights: europebestdestinations.com

Vienna, Austria

Best dates: November 10 2023 to January 7, 2024
What makes it unique: Viennese food

A Viennese Winter Market, also known as Weihnachtsmarkt, isn’t to be missed. If you’re lucky, chilly and snowy weather will blanket the city at the same time the décor comes out, creating a cool, wintry scene that looks straight out of a Wes Anderson film.

Instead of popping in and out of the city’s famous cafes with steaming coffee, take this visit to Vienna to walk the Habsburg-lined streets and explore the magical markets. You can’t miss the opportunity to stuff your face with some Austrian food, too, like baked potatoes, fresh bread, strudel, hot pretzels and candied nuts. The smell is totally magical and unique — possibly the only time these storied streets smell of all these treats at once. After you’ve gotten your fill, you can head back to The Social Hub Vienna to warm up and get ready for more.

Tallinn, Estonia

Best dates: December 1, 2023 to January 7, 2024 
What makes it unique: It’s quaint size

With one of the oldest Christmas Tree traditions in Europe, Tallinn’s Winter Market celebration is both grand and quaint. Every year since 1441, the citizens of Tallinn have put up a Christmas tree in the Town Hall Square. Today, that tradition is further celebrated with a small market — only 30 or so stalls — that host all the typical fairs with the epic backdrop of a small, medieval old town.  
 
Like so many of the places on this list, the Winter Market is the perfect opportunity to hop around and try different local dishes like mouth-puckering sour cabbage and rich black pudding alongside hot, rum-based Vana Tallinn liqueur and sweet, sweet gingerbread treats. And since this is Estonia, you know it’s bound to be cold this time of year. Be sure to shop the stalls for some warm, festive holiday wears like wool hats or plush jackets.

Brussels, Belgium

Best dates: November 24, 2023 to 31st December, 2024
What makes it unique: Grand markets and celebrations 
 
The cosmopolitan Brussels Winter Markets are just as grand as you’d expect, spread out across the city’s famous spots like the Grand-Place, Bourse, Place Sainte-Catherine and Marché aux Poissons with everything from frosty skating rinks and gigantic Christmas trees to charming wooden vendor stalls.  
 
One of the biggest highlights is over at the Grand-Place, aka the Grote Markt, where they host the epic 360-Degree Sound & Light Show that is newly designed every year. But, what you absolutely can’t miss are the Belgian treats that are waiting to be devoured like toasty yet fluffy Belgian waffles with melted sugar alongside piping mulled wine, Belgian beers and chocolates.

Basel, Switzerland

Best dates: November 23 2023 to December 23, 2024 
What makes it unique: Grand markets and celebrations 
 
Everything in Switzerland seemingly lends itself to the winter wonderland theme, right? From quaint houses to snow-capped mountains, this country is the perfect backdrop to holiday festivities. But, the Winter Markets in Basel are widely considered the biggest and most beautiful you can find anywhere in this picturesque landscape.  
 
One of our favourite things to do is climb up the St. Martin’s tower and look out over the 160 meticulously decorated stalls that have popped up across Barfuserplatz and Munsterplatz, or the famous Christmas pyramid that’s lit up with 13-meters of lights. From up there you can practically smell the steaming fondue and authentic Basel Lackerli, which is a local twist on gingerbread. Thanks to all the calories you’ll burn on the climb, you can totally indulge in raclette, boozy hot punch and then maybe some local handmade fares.

Image rights: basel.com

Manchester, United Kingdom

Best dates: November 10 2023 to December 21, 2023 
What makes it unique: Affordable celebrations 

You don’t have to go to the craziness of London for some festivities this holiday season. In fact, if you’re looking for an affordable Winter Market in the UK, Manchester is the best option in the country. But, don’t worry, there’s no lack of bright lights, warm drinks and holiday cheer.  
 
The events in this city are pretty new, only 24 years old, but Manchester has dedicated itself to building beautiful traditions like the Manchester Christmas lights trail which illuminates the city centre with its walk-through giant baubles and a Manchester bee. There are a bunch of different markets to explore, too, many with a German infusion like wooden, Bavarian-style market stalls or the newest Nordic-themed tipi bar featuring cosy fake furs and a fire pit.

Copenhagen, Denmark

Best dates: November 3, 2023 to January 1, 2024 
What makes it unique: Christmas hygge 
 
If you’re looking to enjoy a chic, cosy and Scandi-Winter wrapped up in perfectly chunky sweaters, look no further than Copenhagen. Here, there are a few Winter Markets to explore, but the events at Tivoli Gardens are by far the biggest and brightest. 
 
This year for the first time ever, Tivoli will light up a Christmas Tree in the lake. But, that’s not nearly all the décor on display, with the team counting some half a million twinkling lights, 70,000 Christmas baubles and 1,000 Christmas trees across the event. For the best views, be sure to ride the Ferris wheel to admire the twinkling lights and the 60 Scandinavian-style wooden huts. And if you’re hungry, be sure to grab a local treat of caramelised almonds and cinnamon infused glogg, which is the Dane’s take on mulled wine.

Bruges, Belgium

Best dates: November 24, 2023 to January 7, 2024 
What makes it unique: Its romantic feel 
 
With a fairytale-like charm year round, come winter, Bruges has a romantic glow that you just can’t deny. Whether you come here with your lover or want to roam the snowy streets and flirt with locals, Bruges and its charming Winter Markets will find a way to spellbind you. 
 
In town, there are two annual markets, one in the main Markt square and the other in Simon Stevinplein. Across them, you’ll find couples ice skating hand in hand and the Vorst winter bar overflowing with warm drinks and high spirits. If you’re up for a walk, be sure to explore this quaint city via the glittering Light Experience Trail which turns these storied streets festively colourful.

Celebrate the holidays with The Social Hub!

Explore the best European cities for Winter 2023 and stay with The Social Hub! With hotels in both Vienna and Berlin, you can use our hubs as a jumping off point to exploring these cities and their beautiful, festive Winter Markets. Plus, be sure to check out what wintry activities we have going on at our hubs! You can always stay in the loop by signing up to our newsletter via the box below.

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