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Best Christmas markets in Europe – and where to stay

Best Christmas markets in Europe – and where to stay

The sound of carols on the air, scent of mulling spices and spectacle of hundreds upon hundreds of lights and decorations make Christmas markets one of the highlights of the festive season around the world.

Most cities want to muscle in on the magic that these markets can bring, but it takes more than a few fairy lights and overpriced trinkets to make one truly special.

You need the right combination of fantastic food stalls, a few places to buy presents beyond the usual wooden toys on offer, and an atmosphere that will get even the grumpiest Grinches in a festive mood.

Numerous European destinations have all this and more, pulling out all the stops for their markets. From the ‘Capital of Christmas’ in France to the traditional markets littered throughout Germany, Austria and Belgium, these are the places to visit whether you’re looking for great gifts, glasses of cinnamon-spiked wine or simply to get into the festive spirit ahead of 25 December.

Read more on Christmas travel:

Budapest, Hungary

Budapest’s markets take place from mid-November

(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

They like to kick off the Christmas season early in Budapest, where food and gift stalls pop up in Vorosmarty Square from mid-November. The square in front of St Stephen’s Basilica also joins in the fun, with ice-skating and more luscious Hungarian food and trinket stalls, along with smaller markets in Deak Square and Fovam Square. Just follow the scent of cinnamon-heavy chimney cake mingled with mulled wine.

Opening dates

While nothing has been confirmed yet, the usual opening dates are from 17 November to 1 January.

Where to stay

D8 Hotel is a simple but trendy three-star. It is very close to both Vorosmarty Square and St Stephen’s Basilica, and is less than 1km from Buda Castle and the Opera House.