We love the Christmas Markets; it always marks the start of our festive celebrations. We usually go late November or early December depending on when they open. We aren’t experts but we have visited at least 16 markets so think that gives us a bit of experience to comment on which ones are worth a visit! And where the good #weestops are!
We have been to at least 1 market per year since we met back in 2005! So romantic!
So far we have visited the following:
Bruges – 2006 and we’ll be going again in 2019
It’s a lovely place to visit and has several markets. Easiest way to get to Bruges is either drive via Eurotunnel https://www.eurotunnel.com/uk/ or Eurostar https://www.eurostar.com/uk-en/ (change in Brussels). We have been to Bruges with and without Christmas markets. There’s lots to see Bell Tower (watch the film ‘In Bruges’), lovely architecture, chocolate museum, brewery and lots of bars and nice restaurants. We are heading there again in December 2019 with a group of 10 of us. Brewery tour and Christmas markets are on the agenda. #weestop at the brewery – https://www.halvemaan.be/ Watch out for the blog about our trip in mid-December!
Baden-Baden and Strasbourg – 2018
We did this last year, a 2 stop trip with our good and fun friends (Sam and Chris Brown – featured in some photos below). Baden Baden is quite small and only a few markets but nice to visit. Make sure you check out the Casino when you visit – https://www.casino-baden-baden.de/de/. Lovely churches and nice to walk about. Recommend booking table at Lowenbrau restaurant (https://loewenbraeu-baden-baden.de/) for typical German food. We then got the train (about 30 mins) to Strasbourg. Markets were much bigger here and really busy.
London Bridge – 2018
This was just an after work stop off before dinner. There are a good selection of stall so worth dropping by if you are nearby. https://www.christmasmarkets.com/christmas-markets/christmas-by-the-river-at-london-bridge-city/
Vienna – 2017
Really pretty markets and lots of other stuff to do as well. Lovely architecture and great shopping too. The boat ride was overrated but the tram was good fun. Watch Rick Stein’s show about long weekends – https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b078dj4l. We went to the sandwich place he recommended. Had some really good meals as well. Stayed in lovely apartment on the road that was pedestrianised for the markets.
Berlin – 2016
Berlin is not pretty but it is kind of ‘handsome’. It’s a big city too and well worth visiting at any time of the year. Christmas in particular is good though. Lots of markets and very spread out. Obviously good beer, it’s Germany! And good Christmas market restaurants in marquees – make sure you book though! It was pretty chilly at Christmas so recommend the ‘Fun bus’ to warm up and learn the history.
Leeds Castle – 2015
We’d had a big trip to South Africa only a few weeks before so it was going to have to be a cheap Christmas Market this year. It was good though, cost about £25 each but that gives you access to Leeds Castle for a year. Castle is nice to visit and they have a maze. https://www.leeds-castle.com/
Winchester – 2014
Very busy markets so good atmosphere and lots to see. Be prepared to go with the flow as you will be pushed through the markets with the crowds. We stayed at The King Alfred Pub, we were on our way back from Marlow, having dined at The Hand and Flowers (Tom Kerridges restaurant – https://www.thehandandflowers.co.uk/) – yum that was amazing!
Birmingham – 2013
Not your first choice of ‘Christmas Market’ places but it is definitely worth a visit! Lots of markets and food stalls in the centre and also the good shopping centres. Usual restaurants and a few gourmet/Michelin ones too! Worth a visit! We had a lovely Indian meal at Kohi-noor and also 2nd night went to Cafe Rouge (https://www.caferouge.com/), we were tired from wandering all day.
Bath – 2012 (then Tetbury and Westonbirt)
It’s a lovely City to visit anytime of the year but the markets are lovely. Lots of markets both indoors and outdoors. Also lovely architecture to just wander about. Good bars and food. Accommodation can be a bit pricey but load of guest houses that are reasonable. Spa town so good to visit these too. We had a really good thai meal at Pan Asian.
We coincided this trip with a visit to friends in Tetbury and then did the evening visit to see the lights in the trees at Westonbirt (a tree museum or otherwise know as arboretum). Lovely experience and nice mulled wine!! https://www.forestryengland.uk/westonbirt-the-national-arboretum
Budapest – 2011
A beautiful city with the 2 sides of the river – Buda and Pest. Lovely to wander and climb up to the state buildings. Spa town again so easy to relax here – wasn’t my cup of tea as was a giant pool with everyone sat at the edge staring at each other. Lots of reasonably priced restaurants but beware of the ones that try to rip off tourists. Markets are good, quite a few dotted about.
Amiens – 2010
We went here back in 2010 and stayed at the Hotel St Louis, great location for the centre and the markets. We met with my father in law and his wife – Ken et Annie! Good markets, lots happening. Nice restaurants including a fondue/mountain style one – very yum and warming. Also had lunch in a ‘scabby’ bar, e.g. betting shop. We’d popped in for a drink #weestop but the owner convinced us that if we didn’t think his cassoulet was the best ever then he would give us €50 … we took the challenge and it was very good!
Hyde Park (London) – 2009
You have to visit here at least once. It’s massive and has lots of activities but is pretty expensive and always busy. https://hydeparkwinterwonderland.com/
Lille – 2008
So easy to reach on the Eurostar from London. We ate at a nice place called Restaurant 86, usual tasty French cuisine! https://www.eurostar.com/uk-en/
Cologne – 2007
Christmas markets on a big scale! Lots of markets around the city and also on the river on boats! Pretty buildings too. This was where the ‘I have run out of beer’ signal was first introduced – #weestop! After an ‘interesting afternoon and evening on the markets sampling the beer and gluwein we ended up at Subway – https://www.subway.com/! Not ideal but probably sobered us up!
Bruges – 2006 (see above)
In 2006 we ate in some lovely local restaurants including De Carre and De Koetse – well worth visiting for Flemish Stew and frites! https://www.eurostar.com/uk-en/
Brussels – 2005 (first one!!)
Not as pretty as Bruges but much bigger scale markets. There is still lots to see and interesting for a break at Christmas or other times. So easy to reach on the Eurostar from London (you need to change here to get to Bruges). On the opening night of the markets there is a big procession that we managed to arrive in time for and they are giving out free flashing pendants and stuff. Great atmosphere. https://www.eurostar.com/uk-en/
Top tip: book early for accommodation and restaurants!
Lots of good wee stops for beer and mulled wine #weestop! My favourite is the Austrian variety in Vienna!