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It may not be ideal weather for a city break now the cold has come, but if there’s one thing Europe does well in winter, it’s Christmas markets – particularly Eastern Europe and the Germanic countries. Whether you’re after something old school, or a year-round market with Christmas add-ons, so to get in the mood for this year's CheapOair 12 Days of Travel contest, here are some of the best places to go.

Prague, Czech Republic


You never need an excuse to visit Prague, of course, but a Christmas market in the surroundings of one of the prettiest towns in Europe is definitely a usable excuse. The market is a perfect mix of old-world charm, traditional stalls and Czech food such as fish soup and special Christmas cookies.

Vienna, Austria

Vienna seems so perfect for Christmas that it’s hard to imagine it without a dusting of snow. There are markets throughout the city, but for special gifts, try the Altwiener Christkindlmarkt which specializes in hand-made presents.

Nuremberg, Germany

Nuremberg’s market is going strong after 400 years, which probably explains the crowds. Taking place in the pretty main square of the Old Town, it houses 200 stalls shifting everything from roasted chestnuts to hand-crafted soap, with a carousel and train ride to keep the children occupied.

Paris, France

The German-speaking countries are the ones traditionally associated with Christmas markets, but that doesn’t mean the French can’t give them a run for their money. Paris has several markets that look like the real deal, with wooden chalets serving mulled wine and gingerbread. The largest is on the Champs-Elysées, between the metro stop and the Place de la Concorde, but for the prettiest setting, try the one at Saint Germain des Prés.

Innsbruck, Austria

The Innsbruck market is smaller than others, but then again, Innsbruck’s a small town and the cosy atmosphere will win you over – as will the fact that you can take a quick wander round town afterwards. Indulge in some mulled wine – you’ll need it for take off on your flight back, as planes have to navigate a steep climb and a sharp bank to emerge above the Alps.

Copenhagen, Denmark

Thanks to its calm atmosphere and bicycling nature, Copenhagen is one of the calmest cities in Europe, so a Christmas market there is a joy. Get your mulled wine and roasted almonds in the Tivoli Gardens (one of the oldest amusement parks in the world) or on the Nyhavn quays,

London, England

With plenty of raw ingredients and locally made food in a historic setting, the lovely Borough Market is one of the best in London year round, but come Christmas it takes on an extra special character. For Christmas this year there will be live performances throughout December as well as special food on offer, from festive ingredients to Christmas puddings.

Salzburg, Austria


One of Austria’s prettiest towns and the birthplace of Mozart, Salzburg makes a great weekend break, and when it’s in the throes of Christmas market season, it’s better still. Sip mulled wine while you listen to carolers and bands – it’s the perfect introduction to the Christmas season.

Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona, really? Yes – the Christmas market here is over 200 years old and houses 300 stalls of handmade objects, as well as live music and tones of Christmas lights (30 miles worth, to be precise).

Budapest, Hungary


Like Prague, Budapest combines an architecturally stunning Eastern European city with a gorgeous feel come Christmas. The market on Vörösmarty Square sells food, drink and artisan-made products to a soundtrack of folk music and dancing.
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