5 places to visit during the Christmas season {+Christmas markets }

Whilst cosy on the sofa and debating if I should put something warmer on for the school run, I can’t help but look back at the colder trips we’ve had and the ones we want to pursue in the next few years. I am all for summer sunshine – give me a cold drink, a sunny walk along the sea front and you’ll find me particularly content. But on the other side of the spectrum, I absolutely love a winter city break. I’m picturing snow, hot chocolate, wooly hats and mulled wine. Wandering around Christmas markets and finding shelter in cosy cafes when it gets too cold. Not to mention that during the winter months a lot of the larger cities aren’t as busy due to it not being peak season anymore. Here are five places I’ve been to / have a desire to go to in order to catch a little winter wonderland magic.

Prague, Czech Republic

The month we went to Prague was a little ironic. We had heavy snowfall in England and couldn’t wait to escape it – two days after arriving in Prague and we woke up to snow! We couldn’t complain though – visiting Charles Bridge during a heavy snow storm was something I’ll never forget. It was absolutely beautiful. We’d love to visit again one year during the Christmas period so that we could get a little taste of their traditional Christmas market. The city has two main Christmas markets, in Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square – these are only a five minute walk apart so can easily be explored in the same day. They have the amazing traditional wooden huts found in most european christmas markets and visitors can grab a klobása (Czech sausage) then linger until it gets dark for the main tree to be lit up on Old Town Square.

Tallinn, Estonia

What can I say about Tallinn? The more I dream about our trip, the more I love it. It’s one of the most beautiful places I’ve been to and there’s absolutely no doubt in us that we’ll be going back. We’d like to go back during  Christmas as temperatures can drop to -19! I’m thinking lots of snow, hot chocolate and winter markets. It was already a beautiful and historic town without the added beauty of christmas, so I can only imagine what it’s like when it hits peak festive period! Tallinn goes all out during the Christmas period – traditional huts, Estonian cuisine, handmade gifts and a winter grotto alongside lots of performances from different choirs. The tree is a huge attraction as it’s been set up in the Town Hall square since 1441 and was one of the first to be displayed in Europe. There’s also an ice skating rink which is worth looking out for if you’re into that sort of thing! (I definitely enjoy the idea of ice skating more than actually attempting it!).

Krakow, Poland

If you’re look for snow then Krakow is the one. The city’s Christmas market, which is held in Rynek Glowny, (the cities main square) typically gets a heavy dusting of snow during December, making a visit here even more magical than some of the big name markets in western Europe. The popular specialities in Krakow’s Christmas market are the hand painted baubles, spiced nuts and boiled sweets. There is so much on offer so it’s worth pondering about and sourcing out some beautiful and unique gifts to give as presents.

 

Vienna, Austria

The Austrian capital’s first Christmas Market was held in 1298 and today the city has more than 20 events to choose from. So if you’re looking at staying a little longer for your Christmas city break then Vienna could be the ideal city for you. The market that is highly recommended (particularly if it’s your first time in Vienna) is the Viennese Christmas Market which takes place in front of the city hall. It’s one not to miss if you do find yourself visiting Vienna during the December. With around 151 stalls serving everything from Austrian sausages and festive drinks, you’ll find yourself lost amongst the christmas spirit. This is also a great market if you’re taking little ones as you’ll find a huge ice rink, reindeer rides and nativity scenes.

Berlin, Germany

Berlin, as like many popular european cities, can get a little crowded during the festive period as it’s such a sought after destination. The city has really upped it’s seasonal game since a sudden terror attack at the Breitscheidplatz market in 2016 led to the temporary closure of markets in the capital. There are so many to pick from and keep you busy whilst in Berlin, but if it you had to narrow it down to just one then Gendarmenmarkt is highly recommended. There’s lots of mulled wine, german sausages, craft tents and so many little stalls with unique and beautiful presents. Visiting Berlin in December will really put you in the festive spirit!

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