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How to plan a trip to Europe's best Christmas Markets this year

Planning a trip to the Christmas Markets in Europe can be an enchanting experience. Here’s an easy and compact guide to help you in the process.


1. Choose your Destination

Start by selecting the European cities with renowned Christmas markets. Some top choices include:

  • Strasbourg, France: Known as the “Capital of Christmas.”
  • Vienna, Austria: Famous for its classical Christmas markets.
  • Cologne, Germany: Offers a variety of festive markets.
  • Prague, Czech Republic: Known for its charming Old Town Square market.
  • Copenhagen, Denmark: Offers a unique Scandinavian twist on Christmas.
Best Christmas Markets around the world Dream holiday

Explore what each market has to offer in terms of food, gifts, and entertainment. You may want to prioritize markets with unique features or themes.

2. Set Your Budget

Determine how much you’re willing to spend on the trip. Consider expenses like flights, accommodation, food, shopping, and activities.  Although entrance to the markets are free, you KNOW you will be wanting to spend when you’re there.  Having a budget guideline that clearly sets out your spending at the markets, is going to help you a lot to enjoy in stead of stressing the whole time.

3. Choose Travel Dates

Christmas markets typically start in late November and run through December. Check the specific dates for your chosen destinations and plan accordingly.  Decide if there are other places you want to visit in the area as well.  For now we are only going to focus on your market-vacation-planning.

4. Book Flights and Accommodation:

Look for deals on flights and accommodations well in advance. Consider staying in the city center for easy access to the markets.  We do recommend spending 2 days at least at each market.  Many hotels offer airport transport and if you book close to the market you’ll be within walking distance.  (Keeping in mind you might pay more when you book closer to the market, so if you want to save a bit, be prepared to walk a block or two.)

TRAVEL TIP:  Early Planning is Key.  Start planning at least 3-6 months in advance, especially if you plan to travel during peak holiday season. This gives you more options for accommodations and better deals on flights.

Compare price:

Christmas German Heartshaped Cookie Recipe

5. Pack Accordingly: Clothes & Shoes

Europe can get cold in winter, so pack warm clothing, including layers, a good coat, and comfortable waterproof walking shoes. 

TRAVEL TIP:  If you’re not used to the winters in Europe, you can invest in buying some “toe-warmers” for your shoes, thermal long underwear and lined waterproof boots.

Travel Tip(s)

Layer up with insulating and waterproof outerwear to stay warm and protected in extreme cold.

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6. Create an Itinerary

Plan your days with a mix of market visits, sightseeing, and free time. Starting with a good breakfast (so you don’t buy everything you see when you get there LOL), and allowing some “me-time”.  Remember most of the markets are at their best late in the evening.  Be flexible, as you may want to spend more time at certain markets.

7. Transport

Research local transportation options, like metro systems or trams, to get around the city. Consider getting a transportation pass if available.  Renting a car gives you more freedom to go where you want to.  It is all up to you.

Christmas Banner 3


How to plan a trip to visit the Christmas Markets in Germany Europe France
  • Experience Local Traditions: Participate in local Christmas traditions like attending concerts, ice skating, or visiting churches for midnight Mass.
  • Weather Check: Keep an eye on the weather forecast to be prepared for any changes in conditions.

  • Capture Memories: Don’t forget your camera or smartphone to capture the magical moments of the markets and the city’s festive decorations.

Hungary Christmas Tradition Tree
  • Flexible Dates: If possible, be flexible with your travel dates. Prices for flights and accommodations can vary significantly from one day to another during the holiday season.

  • Travel Insurance: Invest in comprehensive travel insurance that covers unexpected events like flight cancellations, lost luggage, or medical emergencies. It provides peace of mind during your trip.

  • Consider making life easy for yourself:  Trafalgar Tours (link below) usually have specials for the festive season on their fully inclusive Christmas tours.  You can book, sit back and relax.  They take care of everything, and you’re not alone.
  • Local Currency: Get some local currency before you travel or withdraw cash from ATMs in your destination. Some markets may not accept credit cards, and you’ll want cash for small purchases.

  • Skip the Weekends: Christmas markets tend to be less crowded during weekdays, allowing for a more relaxed shopping and dining experience.

  • Public Transportation Cards: Many cities offer tourist cards that provide unlimited access to public transportation. These can save you money and make it easier to explore.

  • Plan for Rest: Don’t overpack your itinerary. Allocate time for breaks, relaxation, and spontaneous discoveries.

  • Local Events Calendar: Check if there are any special events or performances happening during your visit. Some cities have parades, concerts, or theatrical performances during the holiday season.

  • Try Street Food: Don’t limit yourself to sit-down restaurants. Street food stalls at the markets often serve delicious local specialties.

  • Travel Adapters: Ensure you have the right power adapters for your devices. European countries may have different plug types.

  • Language Apps: Download language apps or carry a phrasebook to help with communication, especially if you’re traveling to non-English speaking countries.

  • Pack Light: Keep your luggage manageable. You might end up with lots of gifts and souvenirs, so leave room for them in your suitcase.

  • Local Tours: You can consider guided tours or walking tours of the markets. Guides often provide insights into the history and culture of the market.
  • But there are still more… tips to make life easier and enjoy your experience…(Keep reading)
  • Local Etiquette: Learn some basic etiquette for the country you’re visiting. For example, in Germany, it’s customary to greet shopkeepers with “Guten Tag” (Good day) when entering a store.

  • Stay Hydrated: In the cold weather, it’s easy to forget to drink water. Stay hydrated, especially if you’re enjoying mulled wine or hot chocolate.

  • Airport Transfers: Arrange airport transfers in advance to avoid the stress of finding transportation upon arrival.

  • Download Offline Maps: Use apps like Google Maps to download offline maps of your destination. This is helpful for navigating without using mobile data.

  • Check Visa Requirements: Ensure you have the necessary visas for your trip. Requirements vary depending on your nationality and the countries you plan to visit.

  • Local Souvenirs: Look for unique local souvenirs that capture the essence of each market. These make great gifts for loved ones back home.  However, keeping in mind your luggage restrictions if you’re flying back…

  • Travel Light on the First Day: Pack essentials like a change of clothes and toiletries in your carry-on in case your checked luggage is delayed.

Travel Tip(s)

Maximize luggage space and stay organized by using packing cubes to separate and easily find your belongings while traveling.

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Strasbourg Christmas Market
  • Enjoy the Atmosphere: Lastly, embrace the festive spirit! Christmas markets are not just about shopping; they’re about creating joyful memories.

With these tips, your trip to Europe’s Christmas Markets will be well-prepared and even more enjoyable. Remember to embrace the holiday spirit and savor every moment of this magical experience.

The best and Top Tips on what to pack for your Christmas market adventure:

  • Coin purse with euro coins for toilets
  • Portable phone charger/battery pack for cellphone
  • Packable tote bag, duffel bag, or lightweight reusable grocery bag (a crossbody bag is also a good idea)
  • Ziplock bags if you have extra treats you want to take home
  • Waterproof / or warm boots (already broken in and flat as you’re going to do a lot of walking)
  • Warms socks, coat, scarf, earmuffs, etc. (as it can be windy)
  • Toe warmers are an excellent idea.
  • Fingerless gloves with a flap can work wonders when you love to take photos.
  • Rechargeable hand warmers are a nifty idea… (Hand Warmers Rechargeable, 2 Pack 20Hrs Long Heating Pocket Size Electric Handwarmers, Portable USB Hand Warmer Heater Therapy Great Gift for Christmas.)
  • Bubblewrap for your precious stuff (like crystal items)
  • Pack the minimum for your flight, you’ll have a lot to take home with you…

Safe travels and Happy Travels!

PS:  Below is a link to trips you can do. Suggested itinerary.  Christmas in the Alsace Region – See their beautiful markets, which includes Strasbourg on the eastern border of France with Germany.