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Europe’s Top 10 Christmas Markets

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Pottering around wooden market stalls, listening to carol singing and sipping mulled wine in crisp December air – visiting Christmas markets is a great way to kick off the festive season. But which one should you choose?

 
My top tip if you are visiting any of Europe’s Christmas markets is – watch your dates! Although some markets are open earlier, the majority do not not open until the last weekend of November. There is not much point booking Prague for the 22nd of November if the market doesn’t open until the 30th… All of these favourites are chosen with accessibility in mind, so there are direct flights from Ireland to all of the cities below. Check out my list of Europe’s top 10 Christmas markets and get planning…

Krakow | Berlin | Cologne | Budapest | Prague

Copenhagen | Vienna | Rome | Barcelona | Brussels

 

 

 

Krakow 

Krakow has one of Europes top Christmas markets

Home to Europe’s largest market square, Krakow is an an excellent choice for a Christmas market break. The massive square in the centre of the old town comes alive with hundreds of market stalls. Visit Wawel castle, the fascinating Jewish quarter, and if you are feeling up to it you can take a day trip to nearby Auschwitz. The Christmas Market is expeted to open from 26th of November to January 2nd 2022.

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Berlin

Berlin Christmas Markets

Believe it or not, Berlin has over 50 different Christmas markets to choose from. The Winter World at Potsdamer Platz has super activities including ice skating and tobogganing, and is great fun destination. The traditional Christmas Markets at Alexanderplatz and Charlottenburg house wooden stalls and beer houses.

Christmas markets are expected to open from the 22nd of November to the 29th December. And last but not least, the market in Spandau has over 500 stalls at weekends, with rock concerts every Friday – this usually closes on the 22nd of December. See more here.
 

 

 
Suffice to say Berlin has a market to cover all tastes! Of course with so many other sights to see and some great nightlife, Berlin is a great city to visit at anytime.

Read my city guide to Berlin here.

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Cologne

Cologne Christmas Markets

Cologne has been one of the most popular destinations for Christmas markets for many years now. Many choose to visit the large market near the Cathedral which offers live music and an ice skating rink.
 

 

 
However, there are several other Christmas markets in Cologne including a specific LGBT Christmas Avenue market, which has a great party atmosphere and lots of stage events. All markets are expected to open from 23rd November to 23rd December.

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Budapest

Budapest Christmas markets

Like many other cities Budapest offers several Christmas markets – the most popular is in Vörösmarty Square. Gerbeaud House is transformed into a giant Advent Calendar and each day a new window opens at 5pm. There are many street performances and Santa Claus programs, and lots of places to chill out and watch them.
 

 

 
At night time visit the market at St Stephen’s Basilica, the whole area is lit up like something from a Disney movie. Most Christmas markets do not open until 19th November, but they usually many remain open until 2nd January – this makes Budapest ideal for a post Christmas market break too.  See more here.

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Prague

Prague Christmas markets

Prague is the picture postcard of Christmas markets. With the old town square, Charles bridge and its famous castle all magically lit up, it is a stunning sight to see. Both the old town square and Wenceslas Square are transformed with market stalls offering local decorations, traditional hearty food and of course plenty of mulled wine.
 

 

 
You can enjoy the school choirs performing in traditional costumes or better still go to a classical concert. Housed in ancient churches and grand concert halls around the city, it will round off your weekend break in style. Markets are open from 27th November to 6th January, see more here.

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Copenhagen

Copenhagen Christmas markets

 

Copenhagen’s most popular market is at Tivoli Gardens, and it attracts over 1 million people each year. This winter wonderland comes with reindeer rides, rollercoasters and of course the traditional market stalls. The Nyhavn Christmas market is expected to open from 12th November to 22nd December, while Tivoli Gardens from the 19th November to 2nd January.
 

 

 
Copenhagen is also popular for a post Christmas break, where you can enjoy some fantastic entertainment and firework displays. See more here.  

Read: My guide to Copenhagen here

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Vienna

europes best christmas markets

Christmas markets in Vienna have been a tradition since 1298. Would you believe there are over 20 different markets here? There are international choir singers performing free of charge and the Christmas atmosphere is truly magical.
 

 

 
The Viennese Christmas Market  in front of the City Hall is the most popular and even offers a specific children’s area, where they can learn how to make Christmas cookies and decorations. Vienna’s Christmas markets start at various times, but most are expected to run from 17th November until 26th December – see more here.  

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Rome

Rome Christmas Markets

Rome may not offer markets on the same scale as some of it’s European counterparts, but that does not make it any less attractive. The Piazza Navona houses the annual Christmas market with traditional stalls and souvenirs. It is usually open until the 6th January, making it a good choice for a post Christmas break too. Santa makes regular appearances and there is a carousel to complete the festival atmosphere.
 

 

 
However, it is the magical crib displays and nativity scenes in numerous churches, that make Rome very special at Christmas time. What better time to visit the Vatican and the beauty of Rome.  

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Barcelona

Barcelona Christmas markets

Another market that dates back many years is Barcelona’s Fira de Santa Llucia market. Dating from 1786 this once traditional market now has over 300 stalls selling everything from Christmas trees to Spanish tapas.
 

 

 
From the 27th November to 23rd December you can buy handcrafted Christmas decorations and enjoy plenty of festive cheer. There are elaborate crib displays and plenty of live entertainment for the whole family. Barcelona is also a great city for high street shopping too, you could easily do all your Christmas shopping in one weekend.

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Brussels

Brussels Christmas Markets

Brussels is becoming increasingly popular with visitors at Christmas time. The city is transformed into a winter wonderland with over 240 market stalls. It also offers tobogganing, ice skating and a massive Ferris wheel, covered in lights. The Christmas market is expected to open from 26th November to 3rd January, so Brussels is also a great option for post Christmas break.

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Munich

Munich Christmas market

Germany’s Christmas markets are renowned all over the world, and Bavaria’s capital has some of the best. Christmas Markets in Munich are expected to open from 22nd November through to 24th December 2021, and there are over 20 markets to choose from.  Check out my travel guide on the best Christmas markets in Munich.

 
Please note that all dates are correct at time of issue, but may change. Some of the links in this post contain affiliate links, where I receive a small commission if a booking is makde, but at no additional charge to you.

 

Like this post? You might like my best alternative Christmas market breaks.

 

 

Sarah

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Best Travel Deals

Halloween Break at Port Aventura World & Ferrari Land, 3 Nights, 2ad & 2ch, Flights, 4* Hotel & Park Passes, €1019!

PortAventura, Spain

Spend the Halloween break at Port Aventura and Ferrari Land this year. Treat the kids to a weekend away with this super deal, which includes flights, hotel and park tickets!

 

Port Aventura World is a great place to go during the Halloween break. The park is decked out with lots of spooky decorations and there are enough frightening characters and scary creatures to satisfy kids of all ages. Younger kids will also enjoy the Sesame Street characters that sing and dance in Halloween costumes. Make sure you catch the amazing Halloween show on the gloomy lake and stay till closing time to catch the spooky fun parade.

Halloween Break at Port Aventura World and Ferrari Land

What I love about this Halloween break at Port Aventura and Ferrari Land is that the kids can still enjoy Halloween night at home. I’m not sure about you but my kids always want to be at home to go trick or treating! You will be flying from Dublin to Barcelona Reus ( closest airport to Salou ) on Wednesday the 1st of November and return on Saturday the 4th and staying at the 4* Sol Costa Daurada hotel in Salou, which is located only 2 km from the Park. Hopefully the weather will be good enough to spend a day at the beach but if you are unlucky the hotel also has an indoor pool as well as a host of activities for all the family to enjoy. 🙂

Halloween Break at Port Aventura World and Ferrari Land

The price includes a two day park ticket to Port Aventura and Ferrari Land, which you can buy in advance with Attraction Tickets Direct. Read my top ten reasons to visit Port Aventura World and my blog on Ferrari Land to see all the amazing attractions available.

Click here to book flights  Dublin – Reus €239pp

Click here to book hotel: €216

Click here to book theme park tickets:  €59 per adult, €51 per child.

 
Prices are correct at time of issue but are subject to change. Note that some links above are affiliate links where I receive a small commission if a booking is made.

 

Sarah

 

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5 Cities, 4 Stars, 3 Nights, ALL €199 Or Less!

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Thinking of city break but not sure where? I’ve got you covered! Take your pick from Prague, Rome, Berlin, Budapest or Barcelona. Thats 5 cities, 4 stars, 3 nights, ALL €199 or less!

Prague – €199

Prague

One of Ireland’s most popular city break destinations and once you visit, you will understand why. Not only is it visually beautiful but it combines medieval with contemporary in the best possible way. Wenceslas Square, Charles Bridge, Prague Castle, every where you turn there is an architectural masterpiece. One of its gems is that it is so compact, so you should get to see most of the city in your three day break. Once you have seen the sights make sure you check out Prague’s fantastic night life and of course their world famous beers!

Fly from Dublin to Prague on the 19th of December and enjoy a three night stay at the Atos Hotel for only €199!

Click here for more details.

 

Berlin – €199

Brandenburg Gate, Berlin by The Travel Expert

One of Europe’s culture capitals, Berlin’s modern history is evident on every corner.  Take a stroll along the Berlin Wall and marvel at the murals, see the soldiers at Checkpoint Charlie and catch the sunset at the Brandenburg gate. There are a staggering 175 museums to choose from and Berlin is home to some of the best nightlife in Europe! For more tips and advice on discovering this fantastic city, check out my blog here.

Fly from Dublin to Berlin on the 13th of December and spend three nights in the 4* California am Kurfuerstendamm for only €199.

Click here for more details:

 

Budapest – €199

Budapest Christmas market

The romantic Danube splits Budapest into two cities, Buda on one side and Pest on the other – so technically you get two cities for the price of one!  The Banks of the Danube, the Buda Castle Quarter and Andrássy Avenue are all UNESCO world heritage sites so you will be spoilt for choice when it comes to sightseeing. The famous Christmas market at Vorosmarty Square is open from the 11th of November so you can enjoy the Christmas atmosphere with mulled wine and local crafts. Prices are very reasonable in Budapest too. Not only is this deal amazing value, but you should find that you won’t need too much spending money while you are there!

Fly from Dublin to Budpest on the 13th of December and enjoy three nights in the 4* Kings Hotel from only €199!

Click here for more details

 

Rome – €199

The Travel Experts top picks for Easter breaks

The Vatican, the Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps, the Pantheon, need I go on?  You don’t have to be a history buff to appreciate the stunning architecture that is all over. Rome is visually stunning and will blow you away no matter how many times you visit.  In between ancient buildings and UNESCO world heritage sites you will find designer shops and trendy restaurants. Rome is magical – go see it!

Fly from Dublin to Rome on the 30th of November and spend three nights in the 4* Delle Province hotel form only  €199 per person.

Click here for more details

 

Barcelona – €164

Sarah Slattery, The Travel Expert reviews Barcelona

Full of famous landmarks like the Sagrada Familia and Park Guell, but Barcelona is as much about the simple things as the world famous sights. Strolling along the Ramblas, watching the street artists and stopping off for some tapas and a glass of Rioja is pretty special too. Barcelona is buzzing. There is great shopping, great nightlife and of course great food! You can also spend a day at the beach, take a trip to Port Aventura, Europe’s largest theme park, or visit one of the world’s biggest football clubs. It’s safe to say, there is something for everyone in Barcelona.

Fly from Dublin to Barcelona on the 13th of December and enjoy a three night stay in the 4* Zenit Borrell hotel for only €188.

Click here for more details

 

So there you have it, 5 cities, 4 stars, 3 nights, all €169 or less! The only decision to make is which one to choose?  Please note that if the above dates don’t suit, check DEALFINDER to find the best possible prices for the dates you want to go.

 

Prices are correct at the time of issue but are subject to change. This post was sponsored by ClickandGo.com but all views, as always, are my own 🙂

Sarah

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In The Media

As Seen On TV3 – 10th January 2016

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Planning a holiday in 2016? As seen on TV3 SundayAM , check out my best reasons to book early, top tips to get the best deals and where I think the hot spots will be this year.

 

Best Reasons To Book Early:

Generally speaking it pays to book early, particularly if you are looking for something specific or if travelling during school holidays. If you have a large family and need a two or three bedroom apartment or have to take particular holidays in work you should book now.  Most airlines including Aer Lingus and Ryanair have Summer sales and prices normally increase closer to departure. Many hotel websites are offering early booking savings of up to 20% if booked before the 31st of January. Tour Operators Falcon Holidays and Sunway are offering great early booking deals, including free child places and low booking deposits.

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Booking early makes budgeting a little easier too. Most travel agents will let you pay a deposit now and pay your holiday in instalments. It also gives you something nice to look forward to as you look out through your office window at the rain! If you over indulged over Christmas, ClickandGo.com are offering €1 deposits on all European holidays booked ten weeks in advance.

Lanzarote Family holiday by The Travel Expert

 

Tips To Find The Best Deals:

Rather than spending hours searching hundreds of different websites, there are a few sites that are worth checking out. The Irish Travel Agents Association and Worldchoice combine special offers from Ireland’s leading travel agents on their websites.  I also combine a list of the best travel deals from around the web every Tuesday and publish it here.

 

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When comparing package holidays with holidays you design yourself make sure you include baggage charges, airport transfers and local taxes. Most tour operator’s packages will have no hidden extras so make sure the ‘deal’ you think you have is really as good as it seems. Comparison websites such as Trivago or Tripadvisor  will search numerous websites for the same property and you may find significant savings. Check the distance from the airport too. Particularly in places like Barcelona, which according to Ryanair, has three airports! But Girona and Reus are miles from Barcelona. You may think you are getting a great deal and find out you have to pay hundreds of euro for an airport transfer.

Sarah Slattery, The Travel Expert reviews cruising

 

When booking a flight make sure you check both one way and return airfares. With Aer Lingus and Ryanair for instance, you may find it is cheaper to fly out with one airline and home with another. This can also be useful for good flight times, one airline may have better times on the outward journey and another on the return. The lowcostholidays website will combine all airlines so you can automatically find the best airfares and quite often the lowest priced journey will be with two different carriers. If travelling with kids, Ryanair allow you to select half price bags even if adults are only taking hand luggage. With Aer Lingus you need to book an adult bag in order to get a child’s case for half price.

The Travel Expert's Top Ten Travel Hacks

 

Top Holiday destinations In 2016.

Easter will be big this year. Children have almost three weeks off school with Easter and Patricks day falling together, so get in early before prices rocket! I checked various options and prices are already quite high. The best family option I found is a week in Salou for €925 based on 2 adults and 2 children in the 4* Sanguli Resort. For more details read by blog here.

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I think campsites in Salou and Lake Garda will be particularly popular this year. Many will change from France because of the European championships and the Paris attacks. The ISIS effect also means that people will tend to stick to Spain, Portugal & Italy rather than North African destinations. This will be a European trend so the likelihood is that accommodation in these countries will be priced higher and more scarce than in previous years. This will be particularly problematic if looking for a last minute deal.

The Travel Expert on TV3 10th January 2016

 

There are direct flights to Mexico and Jamaica from June so they should be particularly popular with couples. With prices starting at €1589 for a 4* hotel on an all inclusive basis, including flights, transfers and baggage for two weeks, they are good value for long haul holidays direct from Dublin. You can pay a small booking deposit too, which is always appreciated! Check out Falconholidays.ie for more details.

Fuerteventura by The Travel Expert

 

Ryanair and Aegean airlines have introduced flights to Athens so this could be the big city break destination for 2016 . There are also onward connections with Aegean airlines to Santorini and Mykonos, which are bucket list destinations for many people.

Sarah Slattery, The Travel Expert offers a travel deal to Santorini in 2016

 

For families looking for a relaxing family holiday Menorca could be the destination of choice this year. This is an ideal family destination. There are direct flights and package deals from Dublin with Sunway and new for 2016 is a direct flight from Cork with Stein Travel.

Menorca, one of the top ten holiday destinations for 2016 by The Travel Expert

 

Cruising is getting more and more popular and prices seem to be getting better each year. MSC Cruises are offering Mediterranean cruise package deals from €1095 in the summer months, including flights and free drinks pacakges. Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises are offering buy one get one half price plus free drinks packages. The all inclusive package holiday concept seems to have transferred to cruises now!

 

Wherever you decide to go in 2016 – book now, sit back, relax and just wait for the sunshine ☀

 

Prices are correct at time of issue but are subject to change.

 

Sarah

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Barcelona, Easter Weekend, Flights & 3 Nights, 4* Hotel €395

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Barcelona is one of those cities where you can almost taste the atmosphere…

 

The mixture of amazing architecture, mouthwatering cuisine, buzzing nightlife and excellent shopping will leave you wanting to come back for more. And of course, lets not forget its location – situated on the Mediterranean Sea, you can even enjoy a day at the beach, how many major cities can offer all of this? In fact although Barcelona is typically a city break destination, you could easily find yourself spending a week here, and still find you haven’t seen everything.

Sarah Slattery, The Travel Expert reviews BarcelonaTake a stroll along the famous Ramblas and watch the street artists perform before stopping at a tapas bar for lunch.  Take a tour of the famous Sagrada Familia Cathedral (Spain’s most visited monument) and walk through the narrow streets in the Gothic Quarter. Explore the Park Guell and see some of Gaudi’s spectacular architecture. Shop at some of Spain’s top high street stores such as Zara, Desigual and Custo at much lower prices than at home.

Of course Barcelona is home to one of the biggest football teams in the world. and for any football fans a trip to Camp Nou will be high on the priority list. You may even be lucky enough to take in a game? Alternatively a trip to Port Aventura, Spain’s largest theme park is just over an hour by train. Now can you see why I said you could easily spend a week here?

I found a great deal in the 4* Abba Rambla Hotel. This hotel is situated in the heart of Barcelona, close to the Ramblas and receives great reviews on tripadvisor. Fly from Dublin on Good Friday, the 25th of March and enjoy three nights at Easter for €395 per person including flights.

  

 

All prices are correct at time of issue but are subject to availability. To ensure you receive my weekly best travel deals please click here to sign up to my newsletter.

 

Sarah

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