Creative Content Writer & former Tour Guide at HAGGiS Adventures. Scottish travel blogger and adventure lover. Kay enjoys travelling Scotland solo, and has visited 42 Scottish Islands. She loves to live up to stereotypes by dying her hair ginger, and regularly consuming haggis and whisky. A Scottish history geek and all-around chatterbox, she can literally talk for Scotland.
Authentic Christmas Experiences in Europe
Christmas markets are more or less a global phenomenon nowadays. You'll find them everywhere from New York to Shanghai. But you know what? They're not always the real deal.
If you want to experience the world of Christmas as it was meant to be, you simply have to head to Europe. It's where it all began, after all. And there's nowhere you'll get a more complete experience; from roasted Maroni (chestnuts!) to barrels of Gluhwein and metres of freshly powdered snow. Take a look at some of the pictures below and you could be forgiven for thinking they'd fallen right out of a fairytale.
So read on and discover our round-up of Europe's best Christmas markets. It's never too early in the year to start planning a magical winter break for you and your travel buddies.
The Scottish Highlands
Imagine spending Christmas surrounded by rugged, snow-capped mountains, the serene waters of beautiful lochs and soaking in the merry atmosphere of a traditional Scottish Ceilidh surrounded by friends and those closest to you. Throw in a dram - or three - of warming Scottish whiskey no better recipe for a perfect Christmas.
It's hard to imagine a more authentic Christmas experience. Although we call Christmas markets 'German Markets', like much of German culture, they actually originated in Austria. The first recorded Christmas market was Vienna's 'December Market', which later took off in Germany as Christkindlmarkt.
Aside from the markets, Salzberg puts on one of the most stunning light displays across Europe. Plus, whether you eat in at a market or a restaurant, the food is a sensation. Don't forget to chow down on the warming Austrian winter dish, käsespätzle.
Whilst Salzberg attracts a lot of attention, you can head on over to Switzerland for Christmas in a more idyllic setting. Lauterbrunnen is only a small town nestled in a rocky valley in the middle of the Swiss Alps.
It's peaceful, picturesque and perfect if you want a foodie Christmas. Chäsbrätel - or swiss raclette - is an extremely popular dish made with potatoes, onions and lots of locally made cheese. Once fortified, you can head out into the nearby hills for a winter walk with unsurpassed views.
Prague, Czech Republic
Did you know that Good King Wenceslas was actually the King of Bohemia? That's the Medieval name of what we call the modern-day Czech Republic. Then, as now, Prague was the capital of the region and the place to be at Christmas time. Visit the market in Wenceslas Square for a massive range of hand-crafted gifts. You'll also find some unique Bohemian Christmas foods like Langoš - a type of garlic and cheese flatbread.
As Prague looks to the future, it's Christmas celebrations have become increasingly eco-friendly whilst maintaining a great reputation amongst shoppers. It’s definitely the one to hit if you’re hoping to get your Christmas shopping in.
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The beautiful Charles Bridge is one of the most visited sites in Prague and functions as the city's visual centrepiece. In the late 17th century with the rise of Baroque culture, 30 intricate statues and plaques were added to the bridge, some of which are now seen to bring good luck to those who touch them ✨ The bridge holds many interesting stories and legends, giving it a great sense of mystery and intrigue to all those who visit. 🇨🇿 . . . . #prague #czechia #travel #traveladdict
If it's a white Christmas you're after, we can pretty much guarantee it in Krakow. This vibrant, modern city is perfect for travellers who want to combine their Christmas break with a bit of a shindig. Fill up on food at the stalls (open till 10!) before hitting the city's great nightlife spots.
The awesome local vodkas will keep you warm in the minus 5 temperatures and if it gets a little too much, stop off for some heartwarming pierogi at any time of the night.
If we've already convinced you to spend your next Christmas break in the Scot's capital, make sure you take a look at our Christmas and Hogmanay tour adventures. It'll be a holiday season you'll never forget.