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  • Writer's pictureKatie


Yuletide shopping has changed a lot over the centuries since the first Christmas celebrations in the Holy Roman Empire. Still, Christmas markets in Europe have never really changed at all. They always set up shop in city centers and sell one of a kind, crafted goods, and foods significant to their culture. No two markets are alike, but that's what attracts travelers from all over the world. Wouldn't you want to buy your Christmas presents in an atmospheric market somewhere in Europe instead of a packed mall? Whether you're traveling by land or river cruise, here are the markets you definitely need to experience.

Visit The Oldest Christmas Market In The World

German Christmas markets are probably the most renowned in the world. However, Dresden's Striezelmarkt is the oldest Christmas market still happening to this day, having had its first in 1434. Striezelmarkt gets its name from the giant fruitcake, or striezel, that travels through the Old Towne before reaching the market.

There are tons of attractions in this one little market. There is what Dresden calls the world's tallest Christmas pyramid- stacks of platforms decorated in typical Christmas motifs. Oh, and there are about 240 stands to satisfy all your shopping needs. Carved wooden objects, especially Nutcrackers, are among the most popular things sold in the market. Grab a nice big piece of fruitcake and look at all the wooden ornaments, or räuchermann. Don't forget the mulled wine!

Strasbourg Has France's Oldest Christmas Market

If you have a thing for ancient Christmas markets with tons of history, then Strasbourg's market is the place for you. Founded in 1570, it's actually eleven markets all in one. There's the most traditional market, called Christkindelsmärik, filled with more than 100 stands, the Children's Village, and the Village of Sharing, which gives all of its proceeds to charity. The market might be located on the border of France and Germany, but it is very much a French market. You're likely to find gifts decorated with storks, a symbol of the region. Pair that with bredles, which are little cakes and cookies shaped as storks, and you're all set.

You Can Hit A Couple Markets All In One Vacation

If you decide you can't get enough of Christmas markets and want to visit more than one, taking a river cruise to bang them all out might be beneficial. You can take a river cruise along the Danube River, starting from Nuremberg to Budapest, and experience city centers like Salzburg and Vienna, which have excellent Christmas markets. The great thing about taking a river cruise is that you only have to unpack once to see all the great markets. It's virtually effortless, plus it's enjoyable to compare them.

One thing is clear, once you step into any of these markets, or any other market all over the world, the atmosphere will ignite your senses. It might look overbearing but experiencing these markets is an old-as-time tradition. You just have to decide which one to explore first. We have your back on all the rest.


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