It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas markets

It’s that time of year again. Yup, I completely ignored the fact that I haven’t written in 2 million years but let’s just all stop bringing that up.

Wintertime in Europe is idyllic. Yes, the weather is sub-par in most countries, but the December days bring Christmas markets. Some are well-known ones like Cologne, Germany- others I didn’t even know existed until I booked them. Either way, the beautiful thing about Christmas markets in Europe is that if they aren’t great, chances are the town they are in is fantastic.

Lille, France

Place

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Christmas Market

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Lille goes all out for the holiday season. The market was decent, but not great. Around town, they had a Ferris wheel set up and small rides for children. It is a lovely little French town. One of our favourite meals of our life was at Pan Cook (reserve a table). The pastry dough was made by the 2nd place winner of the best baguette in France. HOW you even differentiate baguettes is beyond me since I see it and I eat it but thinking about that meal from 6 years ago still makes my mouth water.

Essen, Germany

Place

Rating: 1 out of 5.

Christmas Market

Rating: 5 out of 5.

When we stepped off the bus we were mildly hesitant about our choice since we were in the industrial/ residential area. The dreary weather didn’t help. As we made our way past the train station our doubts vanished and we knew we made another stellar choice. Classic German wooden huts in even rows selling everything from sausages to wooden ornaments came into view. And it continued, we walked along and suddenly a Ferris wheel! More stalls of leather goods and gluhwein, even a fire pit with some merry Germans signing! Huddled inside with our warm beverage listening to live, soothing German music was bliss. The town itself on any other non-Christmas market day would not be worth the trek out there, but my goodness was that a fine market!

Lisbon, Portugal

Place

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Christmas Market

Rating: 1 out of 5.

I don’t think the Christmas market here can actually be considered a Christmas Market since it occupied a small courtyard and only had a few stalls that weren’t very Christmassy but Lisbon makes a perfect 3-day extravaganza! I’d be so bold to say that Lisbon should be on everyone’s first-time-Europe itinerary.

Aachen, Germany

Place

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Christmas Market

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Solid Christmas market and some other sites to see as well. Such as the largest cathedral in Europe, where Charlemagne (not champagne) is said to be buried. Aachen is a good half day/ day trip on its own but the Christmas market here is fab.

Cordoba, Spain

Place

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Christmas Market

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Cordoba is just the best. If you’re in Spain, go there. The Christmas Market was reasonable, with a lot of food and wooden toys but it is small since the town is small.

Valkenburg, Netherlands

Place

Rating: 1 out of 5.

Christmas Market

Rating: 2 out of 5.

A Christmas market in caves, sounds cool right? It is, literally, so bring an extra jacket because it gets a bit damp inside. I bought this double pass (a cheaper ticket if you go into both separate caves turned Christmas market) but after the first one, I had seen enough and decided to give my ticket to someone on the street. FINE I sold my ticket to someone about to wait in line.

Cologne, Germany

Place

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Christmas Market

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Cologne is classic Germany. This market was probably the busiest of all the markets I have been to, which makes sense because it is rated numero uno on most lists. There are no fewer than 6 different market locations! Bring cash because most ATMs charge you even if you use a European debit card. Also, hold your gluhwein tight because the crowds here (especially in front of the iconic church) get loco.

Hamburg, Germany

Place

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Christmas Market

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Hamburg has a sick (in a good way- not in a Covid way) lake/ water feature near the downtown core with the markets lined up on one side of it. It wasn’t my favourite of the German towns I’ve visited but I went here for work so maybe that’s why. The Christmas market was spaced out over 4/5 areas and it was divine.

Dusseldorf, Germany

Place

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Christmas Market

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Three in a row makes a pattern, right? I do appreciate a good German city but their Christmas markets SHINE. Dusseldorf had7 distinct areas where there are markets. Solid.

Birmingham, England

City

Rating: 1 out of 5.

Christmas Market

Rating: 2 out of 5.

In all fairness, I went to this market during Covid 2021 and it was apparently much smaller than normal. I got a sausage but in general, there were only a few clusters of huts/foods and that was about it. The variety wasn’t there and it was pricy. I’m so snooty. Also, Birmingham is a bit… rough.

Basel, Switzerland

Place

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Market

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Drum roll please, this was my first proper Christmas market since that darn pandemic (I say darn because I push down my negative feelings good and proper). There are two main areas/plazas with markets in Basel. Quite small, slightly underwhelming- 20 stalls maybe across both market areas. You have your classics (gluhwein, bratwurst) – but not in abundance as I had expected. Not that it mattered because I lost my appetite once I saw those outrageous prices in Swiss Francs no less! 5 CHf for gluhwein, which is basically  €5.50! Exclamation mark!

Colmar, France

Place

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Christmas Market

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Colmar has been on my radar since the time I existed (dramatic much?). I flew into Basel in order to go to this gem. It didn’t disappoint. Perfection. The town. The Christmas markets. Pure bliss.

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