If you’re planning a Central European vacation over the holidays, you’re in luck because you’ll get to experience some of the Continent’s most festive and atmospheric holiday markets. Salzburg, Vienna, Dresden and Munich host very popular markets each year, with live music and cultural activities alongside delicious traditional food, seasonal sweets and hot drinks. So enjoy the holidays, and explore Central Europe’s best Christmas markets. We’ve also written separate articles about the Christmas markets in Prague and Budapest, two cities that combine perfectly with any of those listed below. And no European Christmas markets round-up would be complete without mentioning Zagreb, which could also be combined with other Central European capitals, with flight or train connections, or even explore Croatia without the summer crowds with a Christmas markets tour of Zagreb, Split and Dubrovnik. The markets below generally run from late November to late December, although some run into early January, or don’t start until early December, so check the linked websites to see the latest dates.
In a city as beautiful and atmospheric as Salzburg, every day feels like a holiday. But it really comes alive for Christmas. These are the best places to get in touch with the festive spirit.
Salzburg Christmas Market
The Salzburg Christmas Market is a sight to behold. In the stunning Cathedral Square, you’ll find traditional food and crafts as well as performances from some of Salzburg’s most beloved choirs and children’s groups. Brass concerts of Advent music are performed on Residence Square each Saturday at 6:30 pm. On Saturdays between 3:30 pm and 6:30 pm they have “Christkind” processions of angels. Salzburg is gorgeous all year round, but at Christmas it takes on a special charm. Keep your eyes peeled for Krampusses and Perchten, the evil spirits who accompany St. Nicholas, frightening and rewarding children. See the website for more information.
Christmas Market at Mirabell Palace
The market in front of Mirabell Palace rivals the main market in Salzburg for pomp and circumstance. You’ll find tasty holiday treats and mulled wine along with plenty of hand-made ornaments, all just a few minutes’ walk from the train station. There’s a very nice atmosphere that will sweep you up in Christmas cheer. See the website for more information.
Advent Market at Hohensalzburg Fortress
Open from Fridays to Sundays, the Hohensalzburg Fortress’ Advent Market is certainly one of the city’s most atmospheric, as you’ll have all of Salzburg stretched out before you. Take a scenic funicular ride up to enjoy the booths filled with arts and crafts as well as local delicacies. There are activities for children and a rich concert program as well. See the website for more information.
Christmas in Vienna
Vienna is a beautiful place to enjoy Christmas. The city’s many markets are all atmospheric and surrounded by magisterial architecture. Here are our favorite markets in Vienna.
Christmas Market on Rathausplatz
One of the city’s biggest markets, and the one you’ll often see pictured in most Vienna Christmas Markets instagram pics – the beautifully illuminated city hall makes for a dramatic backdrop. this is a place where you’ll find something for everyone, from ice skating to hot wine. See the website for more information.
Holiday Village on Maria-Theresien-Platz
Right in front of one of Vienna’s lovely classical buildings, this market is the perfect combination of architectural beauty and holiday fun. There’s a whole program of live performances to enjoy, and plenty of warm little huts to stop in for a snack. Unlike many other markets, this one is open until New Year’s Eve. See the website for more information.
Christmas Village at Belvedere Palace
The Belvedere Palace is one of Vienna’s finest, so it’s hard not to enjoy yourself here, especially when there’s a dusting of snow on the ground. See the website for more information.
Christmas Village in the Altes AKH
A charming Christmas village on a university campus, this market is immersive and fun. See the website for more information.
Old Viennese Christmas Market
Held each year on Freyung, this is one of Vienna’s oldest and most traditional Christmas markets. You can purchase excellent crafts and decorations here, and hear festive music each day from 4 pm. Nearby there is the Am Hof Advent Market, where you’ll find even more fine Christmas crafts.
Holiday Market at Schonbrunn Palace
If you only go to one Christmas market in Vienna, it should be this one at the stunning Schonbrunn Palace. With palatial hallways and a gorgeous garden, this is the perfect setting for an unforgettably festive atmosphere. It’s open daily through New Year’s Day and beyond, to the 6th of January. See the website for more information.
Art & Crafts on Karlsplatz
As the name suggests, this is a great place to buy arts and crafts and souvenirs with a holiday sparkle. There’s also terrific food and drinks. The market opens each day at noon. See the website for more information.
Christmas Market on Spittelberg
Spittelberg is Vienna’s second-largest pedestrian zone, a great place to stroll and shop at any time of year. Throughout the holidays the market begins at 3 pm on weekdays and noon on weekends. See the website for more information.
Winter Market on Riesenradplatz
This Winter Market includes a ferris wheel and other carnival rides, along with live musical performances on the weekends. See the website for more information.
Christmas Market on Stephansplatz
It’s hard to beat this market for the scenery, since it takes place around St. Stephan’s Cathedral, one of Vienna’s most famous buildings.
Christmas Markets in Munich
Munich hosts many Christmas markets at unique and atmospheric spots all over the city. Here are some of our favorite.
Christmas Market at Marienplatz
One of the oldest Christmas markets in Munich, this one is also conveniently located outside the Marienplatz metro station, so it’s very easy to get to from almost anywhere in the city. Expect a wonderful winter atmosphere with tasty food and drink, live music and fun for the whole family.
Christmas Market at Sendlinger Tor
This is a lovely market set around a beautiful brick gate. Don’t miss the hilarious marionette shows! See the website for more information.
Chinese Tower Christmas Market
Taking place at a popular restaurant and beer garden in the lovely English Garden, this is a great Christmas market complete with an ice skating rink and a pagoda. See the website for more information.
Schwabing Christmas Market
One of the most beautiful Christmas markets in Vienna, the Schwabing Christmas Market is a must-see. The lights, the atmosphere, the hot wine, the live music… it all comes together in one magical event.
Christmas Market at Munich Airport
If you happen to be in the Munich Airport, you should stop by the Christmas Market there, taking place on weekdays from 2 pm to 9 pm, and weekends from 11 am.
Christmas Market of Haidhausen
With a decades-long history, this is a fun local holiday market with great beer and plenty to eat. See the website for more information.
Medieval Christmas Market with Gospel Singing
Taking place on Wittelsbacher Platz, which is close to Odeonsplatz, this market is decked out in medieval style, complete with roasted meat. The festive atmosphere is completed by live gospel singing.
The Mittel Altermarkt
This is another great choice, offering unique gothic stalls, a Celtic arcade, and medieval market architecture. See the website for more information.
Christmas Markets in Dresden
Dresden is famous for its Christmas markets, and for good reason. It has almost a dozen of them in various squares throughout the city, and the one known as Striezelmarkt might just be the oldest Christmas market in Germany, having started in the 15th century. Considering Germany’s role in the development of Christmas mythology, that’s really something special. These markets are gorgeous and charming, perfect for yuletide revellers old and young. Don’t miss the Christmas arch, where you’ll see candles and ornate figurines that represent the decorations on the area’s erstwhile mine entrances on the traditional last day of work before the holiday. Dresden makes for a great 1-2 night stop between Prague and Berlin and with so many markets to explore, you’ll definitely need the time.
Photos of Central Europe’s Best Christmas Markets from:
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