Bucket List Worthy
With winter’s frosty chill and the holiday season right around the corner, many of you will start dreaming of warmer climates and white sandy beaches. Though I fully support and enjoy the tropical beach scene, I’d like to propose an alternative family friendly winter vacation – Christmas in Europe.
I know what you’re thinking; Europe is freezing cold in the winter and it’s highly unlikely you’ll get to work on your tan.
You’re not wrong, but if you’re looking for a festive atmosphere sprinkled with stunning architecture and time honoured traditions, then Christmas in Europe might be just the adventure you’re looking for.
Up until a few years ago, we had never experienced a European Christmas Market. Heck, we hadn’t even heard of a Christmas Market. But when we found ourselves backpacking Europe during the months of November and December, we stumbled upon our first Christmas Market in Prague, Czech Republic.
Like most first time visitors to Prague, we began our day by crossing the iconic Charles Bridge and wandering our way up to Prague Castle and St Vitus Cathedral.
While exploring the castle grounds, we found a lookout point that served up spectacular city views. Amongst a sea of red roofs, our curious eyes were drawn to the Gothic twin towers of the ‘Church of Our Lady before Týn’ and the sparkling lights that surrounded the Old Town Square.
Intrigued, we wandered the city streets and made our way to the market square, using the dominant cathedral towers as our compass.
As we approached the square, our noses were greeted with smells of roasting pork, freshly baked pastries and sweet mulled wine. Live music echoed across the buildings, competing with the sounds of laughter and boisterous merchants. It was a fantastically festive discovery!
We foolishly thought this entertaining Christmas Market was one of a kind, unique to the city and people of Prague. Fortunately, we couldn’t have been more wrong.
Our travels continued to Berlin, where we discovered several more Christmas Markets, many with large skating rinks, extravagant carousels and amusement park rides. It didn’t take long to realize that Europeans embrace tradition and take the holiday season quite seriously. Every city and town we visited had a Christmas Market, many had two or three.
We had so much fun at the Christmas Markets that we made it our mission to seek out a new market at each city we visited during our time in Europe.
Here are a few of our favourites…
Prague, Czech Republic
Under the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France
Bernkastel-Kues in the Mosel Valley, Germany
La Grand-Place in Brussels, Belgium
At the base of the Kolner Dom in Cologne, Germany
Sipping warm gluhwein from a boot mug in Frankfurt, Germany
So, if you’re looking for a less tropical vacation this holiday season, why not travel to Europe and check out a few Christmas Markets. And when you’ve had your fill of grilled sausages, decadent pastries and warm gluhwien, head to the Alps for some epic skiing and snowboarding.
Have you visited a European Christmas Market? What did you think?