It was an unforgettable trip.
When it comes to Christmas markets, Europe has the rest of the world beat. If you’re in the region this Christmas, drop by these places for the ultimate holiday experience.
The first even Christmas market is said to have originated in Strasbourg. The market sits among picturesque wooden houses, canals and the local Notre Dame church. Ice skate, listen to carol-singers or just stroll through the markets with a mulled wine (in a boot cup, of course).
The Christmas experience in Vienna is unmatched. Over 20 markets operate in town squares all over the city. The favorite is the markets at the base of the beautifully-decorated Rathuas (pictured) where around 3 million people flock each year to by their little glass ornaments or wooden toys. Because you are in the classical music capital of the world, see one of the many special concerts held in the Rathaus over each weekend of the holiday season.
It is estimated that Germany has around 5,000 Christmas markets – so anywhere you go, you will find something to please you. But the markets in Dresden date back to 1434 and are the oldest in the country – perhaps on the continent. Dresden sits on the picturesque river Elbe, and despite being destroyed during World War II, has been restored to its glorious historic aesthetic.
Prague, Czech Republic
Shop Bohemian crystal, hand-made marionettes and decorations in one of Prague’s adorable Christmas markets. The best is probably in the old town square, surrounded by gothic architecture, and of course, the famous clock tower. Prague is magical any time of year, but the Christmas spirit brings new life to this usually dark and mysterious marvel.
Brussel’s relatively young market spans a two kilometre course through the city’s historic centre. There will be rides for the kids, 18,000 lights, an ice-skating rink, and over 240 stalls for you to browse. Don’t miss out on the local cuisine – mussels, fries, chocolate and waffles!
Image of Brussels via europeanbestdestinations.com
It is surreal to think that just over 60 years ago Germany was split into two countries, but there is no denying that this has dramatically changed over the years.
Not only is the city-life bustling, but dwelling in the countryside is equally as exciting when you think about all the fresh, clean air and quaint homes reminiscent of the pre WWI era. But for the meantime, don’t forget to visit just some of the following attractions while you’re in Germany.
Dresden Royal Palace
Once home to Saxon royalty in the 14th century, Dresden is now a major tourist destination which has been completely preserved after a fired destroyed most of the castle. Visit some of the original rooms which were home to royals, but don’t forget to take a tour of The Hausmann Tower which majestically overlooks the entire castle.
St Thomas Lutheran Church
One of the last burial places of Johann Sebastian Bach, this is the very church where he directed the Boys’ Choir throughout the 16th century. Thomaskirchen as it is known by the locals features gothic architecture of the time, and is definitely one to visit while you’re in Leipzig.
Black Forest (Schwarzwald)
Home of the largest and original cuckoo clock in the world, Black Forest and nearby Triberg have to be seen to be believed. The glorious green woodland is the perfect backdrop for outdoor activity such as bushwalking, bike-riding, paragliding, and even a relaxing picnic.
Weihnachtszauber (Christmas Magic)
Germany knows how to pull off a winter-white Christimas, especially if you’re heading to the markets at Gendarmenmarkt in Berlin. More than 600,000 people visit during the Christmas season, and enjoy German delicacies, homemade trinkets, and even art by the locals.
As one of the most photographed landmarks in all of Germany, Neuschwanstein Castle is a top tourist destination located in the Bavarian Alps. It’s beautiful architecture served as the inspiration for Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty, and features wonderful paintings under the order of Ludwig II of Bavaria who resided there until his death.
Images via Submarines, Flickr, Panoramio, Success Abroad, Rob Faulkner (Flickr)