We hope you’re in the giving spirit, because the holidays are fast approaching! To celebrate the season, we’ve rounded up 15 of our favorite Christmas markets and, better yet, what to buy at each. Let the shopping begin!
Czech Glass Baubles from Prague
Czech is one of the best places to pick up decorative glassware, and we can’t think of a more perfect occasion than Christmas. The Prague Christmas markets are held at both the Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square, so take your pick. Czech glassware, also called Bohemian crystal, is world-renowned and by picking up items at the markets, you’ll avoid hefty shipping fees.
Wooden incense holders from Dresden
You might not have an everyday use for wooden incense holders but they sure are a great souvenir. You can pick up these kits at several markets throughout Europe, including Dresden. If you’ve never been to Dresden, you’re in for a real treat. As for the markets, they date back to 1434, making it Germany’s oldest and therefore, longest-running Christmas market.
Beeswax Candles from Mt. Pilatus
If you’ve never heard of Mt. Pilatus, you’re not alone; it’s one of Switzerland’s best kept secrets. During Christmas, the city transforms into a winter wonderland, complete with snowy Alpine views. Handmade beeswax candles are among the most popular items to pick up here. They make great stocking stuffers for friends and family back home and are fairly easy to pack.
Carved wooden toys/decorations from Freiburg
Freiburg, a German city in the Black Forest, often doesn’t get the credit it deserves. Every year, the city hosts their Christmas market in the old historical quarter, surrounded by charming buildings and traditional restaurants. While you’re likely to scout carved wooden toys and holiday decorations at other markets throughout Europe, Freiburg has some of the finest creations.
Gingerbread from Nuremberg
We hope you’re hungry because Germany has a surplus of gingerbread treats come December. Nuremberg in particular sells many gingerbread desserts, from hand-shaped cookies for decorative cakes. Since sweet treats won’t stay fresh forever, plan your market visit a few hours before heading to the airport. They’re pretty tasty though so don’t be surprised if you eat them before even boarding your flight!
Handmade jewelry from Birmingham
If you’re on the hunt for handmade jewelry this holiday season, head straight to Birmingham for some serious Christmas market shopping. It’s considered to be the most authentic German market outside of Germany and Austria, which is no easy feat. Sift through dozens of stalls dedicated to handmade accessories, from statement necklaces to stud earrings.
Wooden Christmas eggs from Vienna
Easter isn’t the only time you’ll see decorated eggs; many artisans sell hand-painted wooden eggs during the Christmas season, too. Painting eggs for Christmas is a long-standing holiday tradition throughout Austria, with designs often featuring bold colors along with accents of silver and gold paint. Similar to Easter eggs, these souvenirs are rather fragile, so pack with care.
Votive candle holders from Hamburg
Up your candle game with a set of sleek votive holders from Hamburg. Even though the use of candles has changed over the years—it used to serve as light and heat before the days of electricity, whereas now it’s all about the scents—it’s a clever way to keep the tradition alive. Votive candle holders come as simple and stylish as you want, with designs ranging from clear to gold-flecked.
Hungarian ceramics from Budapest
Settling down anytime soon? Treat yourself to a set of hand-painted Hungarian ceramics straight from Budapest. Pottery comes in every shape and color, and it’s easy to mix and match. You’ll find artisans selling Christmas-themed, red and white sets while others feature all-colors-of-the-rainbow ceramics. Best of all, you can sip hot chocolate from these mugs all season long!
Belgium chocolate from Brussels
Famous for both chocolate and beer, Brussels is a foodie’s dream destination. Every winter, the city transforms into a chocolate winter wonderland of sorts, with a large number of stalls selling freshly made bars and cookies. You can even drizzle chocolate syrup on a Belgium waffle and munch as you go. Pack your treats carefully to maintain freshness throughout your flight.
Knitwear from Bath
Sure you can order knitwear from just about any major retailer but why not go the local route by supporting a local artisan? Bath is one of England’s most charming cities and a frequent weekend getaway for Londoners. Come Christmas, the small-town vibe is magical oasis worthy of any Jane Austen book. Stock up on handmade sweaters or save suitcase space with a pair of gloves and a hat.
Caga Tió ornaments from Barcelona
It’s almost time for Caga Tió! According to Catalan tradition, “Poo Log” comes out on December 8th and stays until Christmas Eve. Kids look after Caga Tió and cover him with a blanket to keep him warm. Of course, you don’t have to be from Barcelona to join in the celebration. Little Caga Tió figurines are sold at many of the Christmas market stalls.
Holiday-themed macarons from Paris
There’s never a wrong time to indulge in a macaron feast, and Christmas is no exception. In addition to the famous macarons from Maison Ladurée sold in Paris, you’ll see plenty at the Christmas markets. Some are even Christmas-themed, with alternating red and green macarons sold in every box. Buy one or splurge on a handful for friends and family back home.
Hand-carved nativity/Christmas figures from Munich
If it’s your first time in Munich, you’ve picked the best time to visit. The city goes into full Christmas mode every year, and it’s impossible to ignore the holiday spirit floating around. Dating back to the 14th century and held in the heart of the city, Munich has become a go-to spot for hand-carved nativity and Christmas figures. These decorations might be small, but they’re packed with careful details.
Wooden musical boxes from Seiffen
This small-town in Czech truly comes alive during Christmas. This small-town in Czech truly comes alive during Christmas. Surrounded by forested hills, it’s about an hour train ride from Dresden, should you visit both. Seiffen is considered Germany’s Christmas craft capital and for good reason. The array of wooden music boxes and toys will make you feel like you’re a kid again!
Did you know we are donating gifts to children in need this Christmas? Here’s howYOU can help!