For the latest COVID-19 (Coronavirus) updates click here

Winter markets you need to visit in Europe

Markets are a great place to buy everything from food and drink to antiques and trinkets. During the winter months, they take on a whole new character, where the scent of hot chocolate and spicy cinnamon buns fills the air, and things get a little more festive. Thoughts turn to gifts and special presents for loved ones, and alongside the seasonal vegetables and speciality foods you’ll find hand-made crafts, gifts and presents that are perfect for all ages.

We’ve put together a quick guide to some of the top winter markets in Europe so no matter when you travel, you’ll always be able to wander around a flea market or a farmer’s market and pick up a bargain or two.

1. Budapest

 

Budapest is famous for its markets, both indoors and out. If you want to escape the chilly winter weather then head to the warmth of the Great Market Hall, also called the Central Market Hall, where you’ll find three floors of stalls. Look out for speciality foods including the country’s national favourite, Langos, which is a deep-fried bread snack that’s similar to pizza.

Budapest’s most famous winter market lights up Vorosmarty square from November through to January. From speciality craft days through to celebrations of the country’s food and drink, it’s a glamorous affair with plenty of street entertainers, music and dancing. The wooden market stalls are typical of northern European winter markets, and are all brightly coloured and lit. The scent of cinnamon is everywhere, and if you have a sweet tooth don’t miss the chance to try some authentic Kurtoskalacs. The celebrations keep going on into the night, with ‘light painting’ brightening up the entire square and the surrounding buildings. Book now. 

2. Prague

 

Markets in Prague are renowned for their trinkets and antiques, so if you want something unusual and different, or are really into vintage then Prague winter markets are the place to be. The largest is known as the ‘U Elektry Market’ and is the largest flea market in Europe. It’s chaotic, a little disorganised, but great fun!

The most famous of Prague’s winter markets is held in the Old Town Square, and is the largest of its kind in the country. Running from November until the end of December, you can expect traditional wooden stalls, and concerts every day.

Peace Square is one of the oldest winter markets in Prague, and has around 60 stalls. It’s smaller and more intimate than Old Town or Wenceslas Square, but has a friendly, welcoming atmosphere and is the most popular with the locals. Keep a lookout for the home-made gingerbread stalls. Book now. 

3. Munich

 

During the winter, markets in Munich take on a distinctly festive feel. The largest of the city’s winter fairs is held in Marienplatz (St. Mary’s Square) from the end of November and right through the festive season. This fair dates back to the 14th century, and you’ll find hand-carved lanterns, and hordes of scary creatures stampeding through the market dressed as ‘Krampus’ at the start of December.

If you want a more international feel to your winter market in Munich, head to the Tollwood Winter Festival, which is packed with artisan treasures from around the world, and culinary delights that range from Thai street-food to traditional German hot snacks. Book now.

4. Vienna

 

Vienna comes alive during the winter, with skating rinks and carriage rides through the city’s squares and parks. It’s packed with winter fairs too, from the market at Schönbrunn Palace, which is home to over 60 exhibitors and craftspeople, to the Viennese Dream winter fair in front of the City Hall. The entire city seems to be filled with the spicy scent of warm stollen – a fruity bread that’s traditionally eaten at this time of the year all over northern Europe.

Music and events are plentiful, and for some of the best performances head to the winter fair in Maria-Theresien Platz, near to the Museum of Natural History for some choral singing. Book now

5. Helsinki

 

Helsinki is home to the most famous market in Finland. The main market in Market Square sells everything from fresh fish, produce, and souvenirs. But during the winter it plays second fiddle to the winter festive market in Senate Square. This is right in the heart of historic Helsinki, so you’re surrounded by stunning buildings and twinkling lights, as well as the White Cathedral. You’ll find over 100 stalls selling everything from locally-grown foods to handicraft and artisan gifts. In the heart is a brightly lit merry-go-round, so this is definitely one for the whole family to enjoy.

Keep an eye out for special events as well, especially the crowning of St Lucia – a young woman dressed in white who is crowned on the 13th December on the Cathedral steps. Book now