City BreaksEurope

Europe’s Top 10 Christmas Markets


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 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 Krakow Christmas Markets will open from 25th November – 26th of December, with some markets continuing to the 2nd of January to celebrate the Epiphany Festival.

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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.

The market in Spandau has over 500 stalls at weekends, with rock concerts every Friday – this usually closes on the 22nd of December, but many of Berlin’s Christmas markets will open from the 21st of November to the 31st December. 


Berlin has a Christmas market to cover all tastes, as well as many other sights to see and great nightlife.

Read my city guide to Berlin here.

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Cologne Christmas Markets

Cologne is renowned as having one of Europe’s best Christmas market breaks. 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. Markets are expected to open from 21st November to 23rd December.

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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 of Budapest’s Christmas markets open froml 19th November to 31st December, but the Christmas Fair at Basilica will open until January 1st – this makes Budapest ideal for a post Christmas market break too.  

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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.

Prague’s Christmas markets are open from the 26th November 2022 to 6th January 2023, including Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day! 

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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. 


Copenhagen’s Christmas markets are open from the 18th November 2022 to 31st December, making them an ideal choice for a pre or post Christmas market break.

Read: My guide to Copenhagen here

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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 19th November until 26th December – see more here.  

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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. 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 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 25th 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 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 25th November to 1st January so Brussels is also a great option for post Christmas break.

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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.




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Family Break in Copenhagen for New Year, 30th December, 3 Nights, €1209


Enjoy a post Christmas market break in Copenhagen. Experience the magic of Tivoli Gardens as it is transformed into a winter wonderland.

Open since 1843, Tivoli Gardens is one of the world’s oldest amusement parks. Over one million people descend on Tivoli at Christmas time, to experience one of Europe’s best Christmas markets. It is lit up with 500,000 fairy lights and has Christmas decorations at every corner. Tivoli Gardens is now open from the 16th of November to the 5th of January, making a Christmas market break in Copenhagen a great choice for all the family, either before or after Christmas. 

christmas market break in Copenhagen by The Travel Expert


There are theme park rides in Tivoli Gardens throughout the year, but at Christmas time there are added light shows, market stalls, and top class concerts. It is no doubt one of the best places to soak up the Christmas atmosphere.


Of course Copenhagen offers so much more than Tivoli Gardens. Enjoy some of the excellent cuisine that Copenhagen is renowned for, or shop along the longest pedestrianised shopping street in Europe.

No visit to Copenhagen would be complete without visiting The Little Mermaid. Personally, I wasn’t overly impressed by her, but the kids should enjoy the story behind it. When in Rome and all that…


Something that does live up to the hype are the pretty streets of Nyhavn. The multicoloured houses are an Instagrammers paradise. I loved pottering in and out of the numerous coffee shops, restaurants and souvenir shops.

Read: My Guide to Wonderful Wonderful Copenhagen


I found a great deal staying in the 4-star Scandic Copenhagen Hotel. Located just eight minutes walk from Tivoli Gardens, this is ideally located for a Christmas market break in Copenhagen. This modern hotel has family rooms available that are similarly priced to standard rooms, and include a free buffet breakfast and free WiFi.

copenhagen christmas market break


Treat the kids to a Christmas market break in Copenhagen this year – what a wonderful way to spend Twixmas and keep the festive spirit alive.

Fly from Dublin to Copenhagen on the 30th of December, and enjoy a three-night stay in the Scandic Copenhagen Hotel with breakfast included for just €1048, based on 2 adults and 2 children sharing.

Search flights here 30th December – 2nd January €159pp

Search flights here Family Room €573


This Christmas market break in Copenhagen contains affiliate links where I receive a small commission if a booking is made, but at no additional cost to you.



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As Seen on TV3’s Sunday Am – 8th Nov 2015


Here are my top picks for pre Christmas breaks as seen on TV3’s Sunday AM.

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Christmas Market Breaks

The winter price war between Aer Lingus and Ryanair means there is still great value in Christmas market breaks. The Irish Travel Agents Association has many advertised in their offers section, with packages to cities such as Prague, Krakow, Berlin for less than €200 with flights and hotel.

The Travel Expert offers a Copenhagen Christmas market break

I particularly like the Copenhagen Christmas market, it offers something different to the eastern European markets. Tivoli Gardens is one of the world’s oldest amusement parks and is situated right in the heart of the city. It is filled with over 500,000 fairy lights and decorated to look like a winter wonderland. There are light shows, concerts, fantastic restaurants and over 60 market stalls. You can take a spin on a rollercoaster or sip some mulled wine, while catching a top class concert. The market itself is the destination. Its also a great place to bring children, with lots of amusement rides for all ages and you can even combine it with a visit to Santa, who is on site! Note that the Tivoli Gardens market is open until the 2nd of January (most of the others are closed by Christmas Eve), so it is a ideal place for a post Christmas break too. ClickandGo are offering a great deal to Copenhagen in December, with Aer Lingus flights and two nights in a 4* Hotel for only €219. For more details click here.


Christmas Shopping Breaks To New York

Another holiday that has made a huge come back this year is the Christmas shopping break in New York. Despite the exchange rate there are still plenty of bargains to be found.

A Christmas shopping weekend in New York by The Travel Expert

 Century 21 department store (an American version of TK Maxx) is open from 730am so its an ideal place to start. Inevitably with the time difference you will find you are wide awake at 6 am the day after you arrive. Its also easier to find bargains when the store is neat and tidy – don’t try to go in the evening time, its like a jumble sale! Most of us love Macys and Bloomingdales and there are plenty of bargains to be found coming up to Christmas. My personal favourite is the Woodbury Common Premium Outlets. They have all the top designer clothes for a fraction of the price you would pay at home. It is also a really nice place to shop, like a massive Kildare village. Of course if you don’t want to venture outside of Manhattan you can always pick up the latest designer bag or jewellery on Canal Street for $20! For more details on shopping in New York, read my blog here.  The Christmas tree at Rockefeller centre is illuminated on the 2nd of December so I chose a package on the 4th of December. The price for flights and hotel for three nights is €695 per person, click here for more details.



I went on a two night trip last year with my husband and two children and loved it. It was by far the best family holiday I have had, and one that I will never forget. It is not just about meeting the ‘real’ Santa, the whole experience is magical. The excitement starts from the minute you arrive at the airport to check in, the sign reads The North Pole, the excitement never goes away. There is entertainment on the short three hour flight and when you arrive at your log cabin in the snow, its like a winter wonderland. The trip included snowmobiling, husky & reindeer rides and a visit Santa’s post office and village. I would say to anyone to beg, borrow or steal to go, the memories will last a lifetime for you, and your children. For more information on my trip, read my blog here.

Sarah Slattery, The Travel Expert offers an over night trip to Lapland

Sunway have the largest number of flights with 8 operating between Dublin and Cork. The two night trips are full and there is very limited availability on the 1 night trips. Likewise Cantebury Travel’s two and three night trips are also full. The good news is that Falcon Holidays still have availability left on their day trips. Prices are from €639 for adults and €579 for children and there is availability on the 5th, 12th and 18th of December. I would recommend anyone who is planning for next year to book well in advance. Use it as a savings club perhaps, pay a small deposit and pay in monthly instalments.

Like what you see, click here to see my best travel deals:


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Copenhagen Christmas Markets, 26th Dec, Flights & 4 Star Hotel, €299!


Open since 1843, Tivoli Gardens is one of the world’s oldest amusement parks. In December it is like walking into a Christmas winter wonderland. Try a Copenhagen Christmas markets break this year and experience the magic!


Over one million people descend on Tivoli at Christmas time, to experience one of Europe’s best Christmas markets. It is lit up with 500,000 fairy lights and has Christmas decorations at every corner.  It is now open from mid November to the 3rd of January, just to cope with demand. It stays open later than other Christmas markets too, making it the perfect choice for a post Christmas break. There are, as always in Tivoli, numerous theme park rides, but at Christmas time there are added light shows, market stalls, and top class concerts. It is no doubt one of the best places to soak up the Christmas atmosphere.

Copenhagen Christmas markets by The Travel Expert

Of course Copenhagen offers so much more than Tivoli Gardens. Explore the trendy streets of Nyhavn where the multicoloured houses will offer you iconic photographs. Enjoy some of the excellent cuisine that Copenhagen is renowned for and shop along the longest pedestrianised shopping street in Europe. For more information on Copenhagen, read my blog here.

Copenhagen one of the best places to visit after Christmas by The Travel Expert

I chose the 4* Grand Hotel in Copenhagen. It receives great reviews on tripadvisor, is situated in the heart of the city and also offers complimentary breakfast! Fly with Aer Lingus on the 26th of December and spend two nights here for only €299 per person.


Click here for more details:

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



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Top Five Places To Holiday After Christmas


When the turkey is eaten and presents are opened, it’s great to have a holiday to look forward to! Check out my guide of the top five places to holiday after Christmas. 

Whether it’s colder or warmer climates that you’re after, there are many places to holiday after Christmas. Skiing the slopes or topping up the tan could be a nice change from a dull Irish January – don’t you think? Hopefully one of my top picks will kick off your new year in style.






Canary Islands

Fuerteventura, one of the best places to holiday after Christmas by The Travel Expert

If you are looking for some sun, it is hard to beat the Canary Islands. There are plenty of direct flights to Fuerteventura, Lanzarote, Gran Canaria and Tenerife from Ireland. Choose a short five to seven day break for New Year, or stay longer for even better value. With kids back in school in January, you may find that it is cheaper to go away for two weeks rather than one at this time.

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Dubai, one of the best places to holiday after Christmas by The Travel Expert

Dubai is another great place to visit if you want sunshine, but it is also packed with things to do. You can try a desert safari, go to the top of the world’s tallest building, ski in the worlds largest indoor ski slope, or simply relax on one of its stunning beaches. We visited Dubai last year and loved it, check out my top things to do in Dubai here:

Top ten things to do in Dubai

The best family activities in Dubai

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Copenhagen one of the best places to holiday after Christmas by The Travel Expert

Copenhagen’s Tivoli Gardens is one of the few Christmas markets that stays open after Christmas. If you want to prolong the festive mood, it is one of the best cities to choose for a holiday after Christmas. The gardens come alive with over 500,000 Christmas lights and there are plenty of activities to keep all the family happy.



Copenhagen is also one of Europe’s top ‘foodie’ destinations, so why not indulge in some tasty meals before the New Year resolutions kick in! For more information, check out my blog on Copenhagen.

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Edinburgh's Hogmanay, one of the best places to holiday after Christmas by The Travel Expert

If you are looking for a holiday after Christmas with a party atmosphere, then look no further than Hogmanay in Edinburgh. With celebrations that start on the 30th of December and last for three days, New Year is celebrated more than Christmas in Edinburgh. Top bands provide fantastic entertainment and the fireworks displays are some of the best you are likely to see.

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Skiing, one of the best holidays to take after Christmas by The Travel Expert

With snowy mountains and pretty villages, skiing would be my choice for a holiday after Christmas! Austria, France and Italy are the firm favourites but airfares can be high at that time. Watch out for cheap flights to Munich where the transfer times to Austria are similar to that of Salzburg. There are also direct flights from Ireland to Memmingen which has plenty of ski resorts close by.

Read: Skiing in Soll, all you need to know and why you should go

Read: My top tips for family ski holidays

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City BreaksDestinationsEuropeFeatured

Wonderful, Wonderful, Copenhagen


A modern, safe city, that’s on the cutting edge of design and dining. How could you not love Copenhagen?

First Impressions of Copenhagen

As soon as you arrive in the airport, the Scandinavian efficiency is evident. The airport is modern and spotless, pretty much like the rest of the city. The efficient train system means you can be in the centre of Copenhagen in ten minutes. Unlike most major European cities, Copenhagen has a cosy feel. Although full of architectural masterpieces it doesn’t feel like a big city. With a growing population which now stands at 1.2 million, I felt it was the kind of city I could easily live in.

Last year Copenhagen was voted the ‘Best city for cyclists’ and the ‘World’s most liveable city’. With over 390 kilometres of bike lanes, I decided to take the ‘when in Rome’ approach, and booked a cycling tour of the city. This is a great way to see Copenhagen and it will bring you to places you may not get to on foot.

Sarah Slattery, The Travel Expert, takes a cycling tour of Copenhagen

Our guide showed us some of the reasons why the Danes are so forward thinking. Along the river we were shown a seriously cool self serving hotel boat – you get your key code when you book online! We also saw kayak football, yes you read that right. Kayaking is big in Copenhagen too, you can even choose a kayak tour of the city if cycling isn’t your thing. If all of this is too energetic for you, you can always choose the hop on hop off canal boat tours. These go regularly from various ports around the city.

Sarah Slattery, The Travel Expert visits Copenhagen

Where to stay in Copenhagen:

I stayed at the Tivoli Hotel. A modern 4-star hotel, about 15 minutes walk to the centre, complete with swimming pool and a rooftop bar. It is part of the Arp Hansen chain, a local chain offering 12 unique hotels in great locations around the city.

I enjoyed staying in a Scandinavian owned family hotel, the staff were extremely friendly staff and the whole experience was very personable. The Phoenix is one of the hotels within the group and is an excellent choice if you want a luxury hotel in the heart of the city.

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What to see in Copenhagen:

Climb to the top of the Church of the Saviour where you will see unparalleled views of the city. What makes this particularly interesting is that there is an external staircase at the top – this is not for the faint hearted!

See the changing of the guard at Amalienborg Place.

Visit the popular Tivoli Gardens. This park dates back to 1843 and now houses lots of amusement rides, out door concerts and lots of top class dining experiences. Tivoli closes at certain times during the year to prepare for Halloween and Christmas festivals, so check the timetable before planning your trip.

You may also be interested in Christiania, a separate commune in the heart of the city which is regulated by it’s own laws. I found this really bizarre in the heart of the modern city. The pedestrianised area has a Boho / hippie feel to it, and don’t be surprised if you see lots of people lazing around smoking cannabis. It is a tourist attraction now and not at all intimidating – it’s definitely worth a look if you are the curious type!

Sarah Slattery, The Travel Expert visits Christiania in Copenhagen

There are lots of great shops in Copenhagen too, the main shopping street is 2km long and is pedestrianised. You will find everything from H&M to Louis Vuitton, in typical clean crisp Scandinavian style.

Bear in mind that shops don’t open on Sundays. The Danes still feel we should rest on Sundays – if only the rest of the world thought that way!

Of course no trip to Copenhagen would be complete without a trip to see the Little Mermaid. Although honestly it’s not worth it, it was a box ticking exercise for me. Attracting over 1 million visitors every year, its definitely proves how you can market anything…

Sarah Slattery, The Travel Expert visits the Little Mermaid, Copenhagen

Where to drink in Copenhagen:

Have a pre-dinner drink in Nyhavn. One of Copenhagen’s most photographed neighbourhoods, it is lined by colourful 17th & 18th century town houses.  It can get very busy at night time, so my advice is to go early evening before dinner, or else pop down for a coffee in the morning.

There are some great restaurants and bars here too, but it is typically the tourist trap so expect to pay high prices. If you want to live like a Dane then head for the Meatpacking District at night. Crammed between butchers shops and warehouses are some of Copenhagen’s trendiest bars and clubs. Expect craft beers and tight jeans, if you want something prettier and more touristy – stay in Nyhavn.

Sarah Slattery, The Travel Expert visits Copenhagen

Where to eat in Copenhagen:

One of the highlights of Copenhagen for me was the food. I knew it had Noma (the best restaurant in the world) along with 14 other Michelin starred restaurants. What I didn’t expect was a food revolution. Every meal was a dining experience.

Work in progress is a novel concept where the chef wants his customers to dictate what his future menus will be. The tasting menu with paired wines was superb. We were asked for our opinions after each course, which were relayed back to the chef. A meal with 4 courses and 4 glasses of wine is 450kr / €60 – not bad for such a fantastic experience.

We also tried the highly acclaimed Manfreds. Famous for its steak tartare, it didn’t disappoint. Go for the seven course tasting meal if you can. It’s not cheap but trust me, it is a gastronomic feast. They also have stock a great Organic beer called Kolster – try it. Copenhagen is full of original ideas, craft beers are everywhere, organic food is the norm and you get the feeling that everything you are eating is honest good food.

We tried Copenhagen Street Food, another fantastic idea. An old warehouse is kitted out with food trucks selling everything from Italian antipasti to Korean street food. Everything is cooked to order with the finest fresh ingredients. It is the perfect combination of a cultural experience serving great comfort food, at low prices.

Sarah Slattery, The Travel Expert visits Copenhagen Street Food

How to get there:

SAS, Ryanair, Aer Lingus and Norwegian all fly to Copenhagen from Ireland. I few with SAS and thought the service was excellent. Get your weekend off to a good start and opt for SAS plus. For circa €65 you get a changeable ticket, 2 free checked bags, free fast pass through security, access to the airport lounge with complimentary drinks and snacks, AND – complimentary food and drinks on the flight! This is a no brainer for me – totally worth it.

Overall I think Copenhagen is a great choice for a city break. Ok so it’s not cheap but I didn’t find it overly expensive either. It’s not the place for a mad weekend. It’s all about modern culture in stylish surroundings with delicious food.

Go see for yourself.


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