The best places to visit in Europe for Christmas
The holiday season brings a dazzling array of lights and decorations to European cities. Streets and parks are decorated with millions of twinkling lights, creating a magical atmosphere perfect for evening strolls. Find out more about the best Christmas destinations in Europe
In December, cities across Europe transform into a winter wonderland with pleasant coolness, tall Christmas trees, the aroma of mulled wine and gingerbread, lights and decorations, carols and numerous fairs. And although the tradition of celebrating Christmas is spread throughout the continent, there are some cities that are a true symbol of Christ's birthday, which is why they attract the largest number of tourists.
Where do you most often go to celebrate Christmas in Europe? Top 7 places further.
French Strasbourg is the capital of Christmas
Every year, about two million visitors come to the capital of Alsace in France to experience the magical Christmas atmosphere, because it is incredible here. The streets of Strasbourg are decorated with exquisite decorations, shop windows sparkle with numerous lights, the aroma of cinnamon and spices evokes childhood memories, and Christmas carols are heard from every church.
In general, throughout December, Strasbourg is one of the most illuminated cities in Europe. Streets, houses, windows and balconies sparkle with Christmas decorations, which become more and more original every year.
The highlight of the celebration is the Christmas market, founded in 1570, which is the oldest in France and one of the oldest in Europe. The fair is spread across more than ten sites, all located in the Grand-Île district.
The main symbol of the "Christmas capital" is the thirty-meter Christmas tree installed on Kleber Square - the tallest decorated Christmas tree in Europe.
Celebrations are held all over the city, admission is free.
Tallinn is the birthplace of the Christmas tree
It is said that Tallinn became the first city in Europe to display a Christmas tree. It happened back in 1441, but almost 600 years later, the capital of Estonia remains the most desired Christmas destination. And although the nights here are a little longer in winter, this fact adds a certain charm to the festive city.
The main attraction of Tallinn is the world-famous Christmas market, which takes place on the Town Hall Square. Tallinn Christmas Market was named the best in Europe in 2019 and is still among the top Christmas markets in Europe to visit in 2023. This year, the market is open from December 1, 2023 to January 7, 2024.
About 500,000 visitors come to Tallinn every year for Christmas.
Vienna is a royal Christmas
Vienna is known for its imperial palaces, which sparkle with elegance during Christmas. The city's Christmas markets, such as the Rathaus Christkindlmarkt, offer a glimpse into Austria's rich cultural traditions. Here you can enjoy Viennese pastries, buy handmade goods and admire the amazing festive lights that decorate the Ringstrasse and the Vienna State Opera.
Most museums, palaces and other attractions remain open during the Christmas period, and there are also additional seasonal attractions - holiday exhibitions and concerts.
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Rovaniemi is the village of Santa Claus
What could be more fabulous than to celebrate Christmas in the homeland of Santa Claus? Such a trip will give both adults and children fantastic memories. The village, which is located in Finland right on the Arctic Circle, is recognized as the best place for a family vacation.
At Christmas, snow-covered Rovaniemi shines with holiday lights like in a dream, and soothing Christmas carols are heard from every street. Here you can meet Santa Claus every day, take a walk through the Elf's farm, pet Santa's reindeer, enjoy Finnish desserts and much more.
Rovaniemi has plenty of attractions for those who love snow and all things Christmas. The most striking attraction of the village is the central square, dotted with nice shops and cafes. The village also houses Santa's main post office, from where you can send a letter to your loved one with a unique Arctic Circle stamp. Rovaniemi is also home to the Roosevelt Cottage, which was built in 1950. It was the first landmark of the picturesque village.
Prague is the center of Christmas markets in Europe
Prague is a city that impresses with its charm all year round, but it is especially beautiful at Christmas. Prague Christmas markets are known throughout the Czech Republic and Europe as one of the best. Also, the most historic and beautiful churches of Prague create a special atmosphere for Christmas music concerts.
The traditional tall Prague Christmas tree welcomes everyone to the Christmas market on the Old Town Square, and its ceremonial switch-on marks the opening of the festive entertainment. Every hour after dinner, the Christmas tree is the backdrop for a light and music show - so come here to get in the holiday spirit.
Be sure to try vánočka, a braided Czech Christmas bread with raisins and almonds that symbolizes the Christ Child wrapped in swaddling clothes.
Cologne - historical markets and advent calendar
Cologne is recognized as one of the best places to celebrate Christmas, as four large markets open here every year. The largest is the Christmas market in front of the entrance to Cologne Cathedral, which dates back to the 13th century. During the festival, more than 100 stage performances and Christmas music are played here.
If you like active recreation, put on your skates and go to the outdoor skating rink at the Heumarkt.
Germany not only has many traditional dishes, gifts and decorations, but also some special Christmas traditions. The Advent calendar is especially important for Germans. Its origins date back to the mid-19th century, when German families painted 24 stripes on a wall or door, erasing one each day until Christmas.
Budapest is a golden Christmas
Budapest, the famous capital of Hungary, is located on the Danube River and is a treasure trove of history, culture and natural beauty. Budapest is known for its magnificent architecture, relaxing thermal baths and delicious cuisine. The city never ceases to amaze visitors from all over the world, especially at Christmas.
On the eve of the holiday, the capital of Hungary shines with numerous golden lights. You should definitely come here for Christmas for romance, traditions and gifts.
There are two main locations for the Christmas market in Budapest: Veresmarty Square and the market near St. Stephen's Basilica.
Be sure to try local juicy goulash and fragrant mulled wine.
A special gift can be purchased at one of the oldest and most famous coffee shops in Europe - Gerbeaud, which has been operating on Veresmarty Square since 1885. Special sweets are prepared here for Christmas.
In the afternoon, especially on weekends, numerous performances by musicians are organized in the squares of Budapest.
So grab a glass of mulled wine and immerse yourself in the twinkling lights of a European Christmas. Find the best Christmas markets in Europe by following the link. More about popular destinations for the Christmas holidays in our material.
We wish you a Merry Christmas!
Daria Rogova, Head of Insurance at Visit World
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