Christmas markets across Europe
In our 'Walking in a winter wonderland' piece we discussed the excellent Weihnachtszauber am Gendarmenmarkt in Berlin. However, as great as it is, there are other options out there if one is looking to enjoy a lovely Christmas market. Here are just a few of the best from across Europe.
Much of Austria shares an affinity with its neighbour Germany, and as such it is possible to find Christmas markets that are very similar to one you would find in Germany. Vienna is no different. It's also considered one of the most livable cities in the world, and the cherry on the top of this magnificent metropolis is of course its yuletide celebrations.
For ambiance and atmosphere, be sure to head to the market near Schönbrunn Palace as its enchanting setting is sure to dazzle visitors. The market itself consists of traditional crafts and Christmas decorations - perfect for taking home with you and festooning your house with.
Christmas market in Vienna
The charming city of Brussels doesn't need much to give off a Christmassy feel, with its charming Romanesque medieval architecture that can be found in the city's centre.
Lining these buildings during the winter solstice are over 200 stalls, a ferris wheel and a gigantic ice rink, it's the sort of market where one can spend hours. Furthermore, every day there is an exciting sound and light show near the Grand Place.
Brussels 'Winter Wonders' market
Striezelmarkt, the official name of Dresden's Christmas market, is considered to be the oldest Christmas in Germany, being over 580 years old. The market takes its name from a type of German fruit cake (which is still popular today) and is located in the romantic charming Square.
As well as the cake (which is referred to as stollen), there are many other attractions, such as a 14 metre nutcracker and the largest Christmas pyramid in the world.
Whilst many might equate sunny Spain with the Germanic tradition of Christmas markets, Catalonia has celebrated 'Fira de Santa Llúcia' since 1786, and has gone from strength to strength ever since.
Located outside Barcelona Cathedral, upon arrival you will be greeted with chalets of many crafts like jewellery and garments (which make excellent presents) and many decorative items like Nativity scenes, lights, baubles and many others. What's more, it looks magical at night with the awe-inspiring cathedral and lit up market stalls.
Christmas lights on a Barcelona street
Wild card option: Hamburg, Germany
For one reason or another, in Hamburg, the idea of adjoining the Christian, family-friendly theme of Christmas with erotica seemed like something that needed to happen. As a result, the city's Santa Pauli market is an amalgamation of those two concepts.
However, it's important to note that the tourist board insists that it is not a market with a 'vulgar erotic mood'. Mulled wine and such is still available, but there are also sex-toys, erotic shows and topless waitresses. So, if you're looking for something a little bit different this Christmas, be sure to head to Hamburg.
Hamburg City Hall at Christmas