12 European Christmas Market Images To Get You Into The Holiday Spirit

For many, the holidays just seem to kind of sneak up on us. It’s not that we don’t know they’re coming, or that we’re not feverishly planning with them in mind, but it seems that we rarely get into the Christmas spirit until we’re well and truly in the midst of it. Many European countries enhance the lead up to December 25th with the appearance of Christmas Markets in many cities and towns, which celebrate the season and get everyone into the holiday spirit. The Christmas Market is a long standing European tradition, with roots dating back as far as 1294. To help you get into the holiday spirit a little earlier this year, here are 12 great images from Christmas Markets around the world:

12. Strasbourg, France

Founded in 1570, Strasbourg’s Christmas Market is the oldest and most famous in all of France. The city is known as “the Capital of Christmas” and proudly displays the deep rooted history and traditions of Alsatian Christmas.

Strasbourg France Christmas market

11. London, England

There’s no shortage of beautiful Christmas Markets to explore and enjoy in the city of London. The Southbank Centre Winter Festival, Hyde Park Winter Wonderland and the Christmas Market at Tate Modern are all excellent choices for shopping and general holiday merriment!

Christmas market london UK

10. South Tyrol, Italy

In the South Tyrol region of Italy, each little town has it’s own unique Christmas Market with plenty of holiday cheer. The market in Bolzano is known as Italy’s largest Christmas Market and draws visitors from far and wide to the beautifully decorated Piazza Walther.

christmas market Tyrol Italy

9. Dresden, Germany

Also known as the Striezelmarkt, the Christmas Market in Dresden is one of the oldest documented markets in Germany. The market which runs through the Advent season up until Christmas Eve, celebrated its 580th anniversary in 2014.

Christmas market Dresden Germany

8. Trento, Italy

Each year at the end of November, the little wooden stalls are set up against the historic walls of Castle of Buonconsiglio for Trento’s annual Christmas Market. One of the market highlights is “I sapori del mercatino”, which means “The flavor of the Christmas Market”, in which visitors can sample delicious sweets, schnapps, wine and sausage products.

Orietta Gaspari / Shutterstock.com
Orietta Gaspari / Shutterstock.com

7. Berlin, Germany

Germany knows how to do Christmas Markets extremely well, and visiting them is a popular tradition for many in December. The city of Berlin has over 60 individual Christmas Markets to be explored and while it would be a shame to visit just one, a favorite is Weihnachtszauber at the Gendarmenmarkt.

Christmas market Berlin Germany

6. Basel, Switzerland

The Christmas Market at Barfüsserplatz and Münsterplatz in Basel is considered by many to be one of the prettiest and largest in Switzerland. Over 180 sellers and artisans sell gifts, decorations, food and more from the market’s traditional wooden chalets.

ornaments christmas market basel switzerland

5. Vienna, Austria

Christmas Markets are a celebrated and well-established tradition throughout all of Austria. In the capital city of Vienna there are over 25 different markets to explore, shop, eat and get into the Christmas spirit!

Christmas Market Vienna Austria

4. Hannover, Germany

The Hannover Christmas Market takes place in the city’s historic Old Town center and features a wide array of vendors for your shopping enjoyment. Over 150 artisans sell their wares including hand carved decorations and locally produced food products.

sweets at Christmas market Germany

3. Vilnius, Lithuania

The Vilnius Christmas Market in Lithuania takes place in the city’s historic Cathedral Square each year in the 4 weeks leading up to Christmas. One of the most recognizable features of this market is the 25 meter high Christmas tree decorated with thousands of twinkling lights.

Christmas market vilnius lithuiania

2. Vipiteno, Italy

This town of South Tyrol Italy features it’s Christmas Market high up in the snowy mountains. Vipiteno is located at 1000 meters above sea level and the tiny town’s market offers visitors a beautiful small-town Christmas atmosphere.

Christmas Market Vipiteno, Italy

1. Frankfurt, Germany

The Frankfurt Christmas Market is widely known as one of the most beautiful in all of Germany. Each December, the town square is transformed with lights and decorated, traditional wooden stalls while visitors enjoy the festive atmosphere of the season.

christmas market frankfurt germany

7 Best European Cities to Cycle

Cycling throughout a new destination elicits a perspective entirely different than taking local transit or driving in a car. There’s a chance to get a closer look at what’s around you and the ability to stop at any point you see something that piques your interest. Cruising the avenues and streets at any pace you like, you might spy an intriguing café or restaurant, spot a must-have souvenir in a shopfront, or notice a scene perfect to capture in a photograph. Generally inexpensive, cycling in these 7 cities beats any other mode of transportation.

7. London

London’s new public bike loan plan has transformed skepticism into safe cycling reality. Called Boris Bikes after Mayor Boris Johnson, anyone can rent one out at anytime, 365 days a year and 24/7. With 700 docking stations and more than 10,000 bikes available, picking up your ride is as easy as touching a screen and following the instructions using your bank card–and the first half an hour is free. From Canary Wharf to Shepherd’s Bush and Camden to Wandsworth, getting around London by bike is a great experience. Once you’re done your ride, you can return the bike to any of the docking stations across the city hassle-free. The first 24-hours is less than $5–anything over costs more but is still quite inexpensive. Cycle to the Saturday markets, quirky areas, squares, parks and gardens, and become immersed in a captivating capital.

Cycling London

6. Antwerp

The city of Antwerp in Belgium is significantly influenced by bike culture across The Netherlands and has, in more recent years, been characterized as the best big city in Belgium for bicycling. Another successful European bike-share system is in place in Antwerp as is firmly set cycling infrastructure that has seen major improvements in bicycle parking at train stations, car-friendly parking facilities, and other spots around the city. As a visitor, one of the best available bike tours is the Antwerp castles tour, a trip beginning in Antwerp’s Grote Markt and winding in and around the best historic attractions, following an easy route with plenty of stops ideal for refueling or having a rest. Plan any cycling route by connecting a string of numbered junctions (comprehensive signs posted showing the best car-free routes) and cycle within Antwerp or venture out farther to explore some Europe’s best bike routes.

Cycling Antwerp

5. Strasbourg

Take a bicycle around the city of Strasbourg, revel in one of the most pleasant transportation options, and enjoy one of the most interesting experiences available as a tourist. Cycling is the quickest point A to point B scenario in most cases, especially with almost 540 kilometers of cycling routes and a bike-share program ensuring bike-less people can still access a set of wheels. If you plan to use the bike-share program, you can pick up a bike at one of the many docking stations around the city or plan out a long-term bike share–not to worry if you have kids: many bicycles are customized with baskets and child seats. Cycle the mostly car-free historic city center, tour the Franco-German forts trail bicycle course and enjoy nature mixed with French heritage, or hop on the EuroVélo 5, a 570-kilometer bicycle route crossing Strasbourg and connecting London to Italy.

Solodovnikova Elena / Shutterstock.com
Solodovnikova Elena / Shutterstock.com

4. Berlin

Berlin is an inherently excellent city to explore by bicycle and with the lack of an strenuously steep hills, it’s a rather leisurely place to discover by pedaling, and one with plenty of Radewege (bike lanes or paths). One of six cities in Germany providing the Call-a-Bike option, Berlin’s system operates easily by cell phone where the rider calls a listed number and receives a code to unlock bike at one fo the city’s stations. There’s also a planner available for marking out your bike route to travel between the city’s sites-how convenient! As with most bike-friendly cities there are plenty of options when it comes to guided ours, which is about the best of both worlds. Cyclists can tour the Berlin Wall, enjoy a cycle under city lights at night, bike the Gatow Route the more remote West End, or take a thorough tour of Berlin’s east end.

Boris-B / Shutterstock.com
Boris-B / Shutterstock.com

3. Amsterdam

Cycling Amsterdam is pretty much a no-brainer–the bike-friendly city has enjoyed a positive cycling reputation for years and is recognized as a classic cycling destination. It seems as if the entire city cycles, with bike lanes planned into most roadways and it’s obvious most people take advantage of the modern mobility method. Just as in London, anyone can rent a bike and tour through town alongside gleaming canals, through peaceful greenspace, and from one attraction to the next. The types of bikes available to rent are pretty mind-blowing–there are all kinds to choose from! Tandem bikes, family bikes with front-end trailers for kid to sit in (bakfiets), classically styled Dutch bikes, and more. As a first-time Amsterdam cyclist, avoiding the main roads is a good bet until you get your bearings so stick to places like Vondelpark and Westerpark, the multicultural beat of Nieuwmarkt, and along the scenic waterfront.

Cycling Amsterdam, Netherlands

2. Malmo

Malmo is Sweden’s third biggest city set in the region of Skane, the country’s most peddle-friendly destination. Southwest of Stockholm and a canal-hop from Copenhagen (there’s talk of connecting super bike-friendly Copenhagen with Malmo via bike lanes over the highway), Malmo isn’t only ideal for cycling, it’s also quite safe, with officials endlessly promoting the use of bike helmets and demoting unnecessary car trips” “No ridiculous car trips in Malmo.” is their motto. Almost 500 kilometers of cycling paths–more than any other city in Sweden–connects different districts of Malmo and cycling is still getting more popular. Today, around a quarter of Malmo’s transportation usage is by bicycle. Bicycle rental counters, tire pumps, and baskets are available along Malmo’s bike paths, offering plenty of convenience. Ride through beautiful Kungsparken, across Oresund Bridge, and through Little Square or book a guide and forgo scouring a map to see the best attractions.

Tupungato / Shutterstock.com
Tupungato / Shutterstock.com

1. Copenhagen

Copenhagen, like Amsterdam, enjoys a worldwide reputation for their popular bike culture. The bike loan plan in Copenhagen is a non-profit organization running since the mid 1990s–the plan includes loans to visitors for as long as they need with the only restriction being bicycles can only be used during daytime hours. Besides all that, cycling is indeed the very best way to explore Copenhagen–it must be true since about half of Copenhagen’s residents ride bikes daily. It’s difficult to turn a corner and not see a bike lane; they’re implemented all over the city. From one company called CPH, bike rental profits go to villages in Africa where used bikes are recycled into bikes for school, bikes for hauling water, and bikes for medical emergencies. Despite the consistent success of Copenhagens’s bike lanes, the city pushes forward, continuously modernizing cycling infrastructure with plans like cycling bridges of major roads.

Copenhagen Cycling

Must-See Cities on Your Trip to France

When it comes to the 10 must see cities in France for vacationers, Paris and the many famous cities and towns throughout the country are credited with being highly popular and satisfying for both new and regular visitors to this colorful country in Europe.

1. Paris

According to leading travel and tourism guide books for journeying to France, the most visited place in Paris is the Eiffel Tower and Disneyland Paris. At the same time, the famed cathedral of Notre Dame is popular with both new and veteran visitors to this City of Lights. Thus, Paris is often viewed by visitors as the top city to visit.

Paris 2

2. The town of Mont Saint-Michel

If you want to be fully engrossed in the natural beauty of France, then a must see place is the famed city that is the Mont Saint-Michel Abbey in the Normandy region. There are plenty of great restaurants, stores and places to climb and enjoy dynamic views of the landscape and ocean that surround Mont Saint-Michel.

Mont Saint-MichaelFrance

3. Versailles

The French people call the Palace of Versailles “Chateau de Versailles,” while visitors simply call it a stunningly beautiful location with a local city that’s also breathtaking. The city is an easy 40-minute train ride from downtown Paris.

Versailles France

4. Cities on the French Riviera

The Riviera includes lovely cities and local villages that offer both high end and economically lodging. For example, there are many visitors who say they enjoy Cannes, St. Tropez, La Turbie, Antibes and Nice on the Riviera.

French Riveria

5. Fontainebleau

Longtime visitors to Paris say they enjoy taking an hour’s drive out of town to the popular family attractions in the Fontainebleau Forest. The main attraction for visitors in this forest region includes a visit to the nearby city at Fontainebleau; while bird watching, hill climbing and hiking are very popular.

Fountainbleau France

6. Lourdes

The spirited Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes is located in the busy city of Lourdes. This city has expanded into a religious pilgrimage destination during the spring, summer and autumn months. Lourdes draws people worldwide for the “healing” waters that have made Lourdes an enthusiastic place for believers and tourists alike.

Lourdes France

7. Chambord

The Chateau de Chambord is located in the calm and wondrous Loire Valley near the city of Chambord that features lots of shopping, dining and lodging offerings. The main attraction is the huge Chambord Palace with more than 400 rooms and classic views of the French countryside. Visitors to France say Chambord Royal Palace is not to be missed.

Chambord France

8. Lyon

This Rhone Valley city is one of the largest in France with local cuisine drawing food and vacation fans worldwide. A visit to the City of Lyon is not to be missed for great fashion, shopping and unbelievable restaurants that serve amazing delicacies.

Lyon France

9. Aix-en-Provence

According to leading travel guides, the “Aix” main street is one of the most stunningly beautiful in all of Europe and perhaps the world. This city features lots of top museums, shops, churches and engrossing places to enjoy a walk about while simply enjoying the sheer beauty and relaxation of France.

Aix-en-Provence

10. Strasbourg

This cosmopolitan city is located right between Germany and France with a real international feel since Strasbourg also serves as the headquarters for the European Parliament. The city is an easy two-hour train ride from downtown Paris.

Overall, the 10 must see cities in France for vacationers are easy to find because they offer some of the top natural and man-made attractions in the country. Also, the recommendations are based on both visitor and top guide book advice that makes any visit to this beautiful and diverse country fun and serene.

Strasbourg France