There are few things on this earth quite as satisfying as a sip of warm mulled wine on a cold winter’s evening. Christmas Markets offer a truly unique experience full of colourful stalls, intoxicating aromas and an unforgettable ambiance. I have compiled a list of some of the best alternative Christmas markets in 2018 to help you get your festive juices flowing.
You have probably already seen my post on Europe’s Top 10 Christmas Markets, well with this article I wanted to cast the net a bit wider. There are many other fantastic destinations across Europe that deserve our love and attention. So why not give yourself yourself a festive treat this year after taking a peek at my best alternative Christmas markets for 2018.
This Swiss city is the perfect Christmas market destination for both adults and children alike. Zurich transforms into a winter wonderland in the run up to Christmas. There are multiple Christmas markets to choose from, with the most famous being at the Zurich Opera House, Zurich Old Town and Zurich Main Station also. A particular highlight for me is at the Zurich Main Station where every year a Christmas tree glistens with 7,000 Swarkovski diamonds. The dates for these markets vary, with the earliest starting on the 23rd of November. Most will run right up to the 23rd or 24th of December.
Hamburg is one of my favourite cities, regardless of the time of year. There is however, something a little bit extra special about the Hamburg Christmas Markets. Taking a stroll along the river Elbe at this time of year is nothing short of enchanting. The Germans know how to do a Christmas market the right way. A mug of Glühwein is nearly a rite of passage for anyone looking to have an authentic Christmas market experience. The City Hall Christmas market takes place from the 26th of November until the 23rd of December. Again though, there are other festive options all across the city.
Riga’s reputation as a top city break destination grows rapidly with each passing year. The European Capital of Culture from 2014 has now become one of Europe’s most fashionable cities. Riga’s Christmas Markets don’t break the mould and there is even evidence that shows the first ever Christmas tree was erected here in 1510. The scent of Gingerbread and cinnamon dominates the air and the quaint buildings will fill you up with festive joy. Sample the splendour of one of the best Christmas markets of the last few years from the 1st of December until the 6th of January.
The enchanting chiming of bells will leave you smiling from ear to ear. Salzburg’s beauty comes to life during the winter season. The hilly landscapes will give you a chance to enjoy a romantic panoramic. In the city itself, the Salzburg Christmas market has something for all the family. The market stalls selling ornaments, traditional festive food and toys are a joy to walk around. The likelihood of seeing some snow is also quite high, which only adds to the magic of the experience. This year the market runs from the 22nd of November to the 26th of December.
What French Christmas is complete without sampling some raclette and fondue. Dishes which are synonymous with French culture will leave you feeling warm and fuzzy inside. They also set you up perfectly for an evening of ambling in and out of Christmas market stalls. There’s nothing more relaxing than an evening enjoying music and wine with a loved one in the stunning city of Strasbourg. The Strasbourg Christmas market runs from the 23rd of November until the 30th of December, giving you plenty of chance to visit “The Capital of Christmas” in 2018
There is no shortage of wonderful, winter experiences to be had across Europe. Whether it’s a romantic break with your partner or a family getaway to remember, I hope this list of what I think are the best alternative Christmas markets for 2018 will help inspire you to sample the magic for yourself.
By Martin McKenna – The Travel Expert Team