Looking for the best Christmas markets for families, to immerse yourself and the kids in the magic of Christmas?
We have got you covered!
Today, we have reached out to our community of travel-loving parents and family travel writers to get the inside scoop on the best Christmas markets they ever experienced, and they delivered!
With some traditional and some less than expected suggestions, this is our roundup of the most magical Christmas markets in the world for families.
The best Christmas markets to visit with family – our top choices
by Bron of Smithsholidayroad.com
The capital city of Estonia, Tallinn is the perfect mix of old and new.
It is easily accessible via ferry from Helsinki and worlds away when you enter the old town.
The town is walled with huge towers and cobblestone underfoot. In the old town centre square over the Christmas period there are the markets. Each night as the sun sets around 5pm the fairy lights start to twinkle and the market square comes alive.
Some nights they have concerts with children singing traditional songs while the adults try the variety of gloggi on offer across different little stalls. Meals can be shared right off the hot grill with delights such as sauerkraut, potatoes and sausages.
A little train can take you for a little explore of the town while a small merry go round is great for younger kids.
The kids would love the special sweets stall too full of so many lollies to choose from!
To finish the night the perfect adventure would be to ice skate at the rink just by the market square.
By Thassia of Familyoffduty.com
Helsinki, the capital of Finland, is a fantastic destination to visit during the month of December.
Also known as the Christmas city, Helsinki hosts each year one of the best Christmas markets in Europe.
The market at the Senate Square is famous for its relaxing atmosphere, attracting thousands of visitors each year. The location is very central and the White Cathedral at the back gives the opportunity for many beautiful images.
It is the perfect place for getting into the holiday mood, enjoying delicious food and drinks and spending quality time with your family. Also the kids enjoy the rides on the old-fashioned carousel that is set in the heart of the market area.
The square is organized with over a hundred beautifully lit and decorated wooden huts where vendors sell a variety of products from traditional food items and local produce, to handcrafted gifts, design items and more. In 2019 the market will be open from the 1st to the 22nd of December.
The market is only one of the highlights though. The city has many other attractions that will keep tourists visiting Helsinki during Christmas time busy and entertained.
by Melissa, Thriftyfamilytravels.com
If you’re in Vienna at Christmas time, then you are in for a real treat! The streets are full of beautiful decorations and lights and it seems there is a Christmas Market and Christmas tree on every corner! However if you only have time to see one Christmas Market in Vienna make sure it’s the Vienna Christmas World at Rathausplatz.
The setting alone of the Rathausplatz is stunning. With the lit up Gothic Revival City Hall in the background and the various little stalls in the foreground, with Christmas decorations galore, the scene is just magical!
Throughout the stalls, you will smell delicious aromas from the delightful traditional foods, baked goods and mulled wine that is served. Not to mention the numerous stalls selling gorgeous little handicrafts perfect for souvenirs to take home or for Christmas gifts.
But one of the most unique things about the Rathausplatz is they have a massive ice-skating rink there too. Apparently this is the largest artificial ice skating rink in the world! For the little non skaters there is even a little practice area where they can wizz around safely with the aid of penguins.
The Vienna Christmas World is open from mid November to 26 December and is well recommended for families visiting Vienna.
Budapest Christmas Market – Hungary
by Chelsea of Packmoreintolife.com
Christmas markets in Europe are amazing!
After living in Germany for a few years and exploring dozens of markets in France, Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, I can honestly say that the Christmas markets in Budapest were one of our favorites.
Budapest itself is an incredible place to visit with many family attraction such as Buda Castle, Fisherman’s Bastion, Matthias Church, Central Market Hall, the Thermal Baths and taking a night cruise down the Danube to see Parliament, Liberty Bridge and many other must-see attractions all lit up.
There are two major markets in Budapest.
The oldest and our personal favorite is located at Vorosmarty Square. Here you will find handcrafted items, food stalls and a large area with tables at the center. Don’t miss the dried fruit and spice garland as well as the chimney cakes (kürtőskalács).
A short walk away is another market at St Stephen’s Sq. This market is located right around the Basilica and delights its visitors with a laser light show projected onto the Basilica at intervals throughout the night.
In addition, there are a few other smaller markets with various themes that pop up and are worth a peek.
by Mel, from Travelingmel.com
For a Bavarian-style Christmas market in the United States, Leavenworth, Washington is the place to be.
Leavenworth is on the east side of the Cascade Mountains, Bavarian themed, and an outdoor recreation destination.
The streets are lined with alpine style buildings, the restaurants serve German beer and sausages (and a whole lot more), and the Nutcracker Museum displays hundreds of nutcrackers. It’s one of our favorite stops along Highway 2 in Washington.
Already an adorable village, the town bubbles with Christmas cheer and 500,000 lights during the holidays. The lights shine from Thanksgiving through Valentine’s Day, but the heart of the festivities occurs in December. The Christkindlemarkt kicks off with the lighting festival in early December and includes food, drink, and crafts booths in the town park and a festival hall.
In addition to enjoying the holiday festivities, families will want to take advantage of the great downhill and cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, dog sledding and tubing, and sleigh rides.
You’ll find authentic Bavarian food, handmade arts and crafts, and family-friendly Bavarian-themed entertainment. Kids and adults love the live music and sledding in town. The celebrations continue throughout the winter with the Bavarian Ice Festival and the Timbrr Music Festival in January.
There are a lot of places to stay in Leavenworth, so you’ll find something for every budget.
By Jenny of TraveLynnfamily.com
Have you considered a little sunshine and warmth with your mulled wine and Christmas shopping?
Lisbon is perhaps not an obvious choice for Christmas markets, but the city is in full crimbo swing throughout December.
We visited Lisbon with kids (aged 3 and 5) in the second week of December and there were Christmas markets at seemingly every main square.
Or your can head to Wonderland Lisboa at Parque Eduardo VII (which generally runs from the 1st December to 1st January) to go ice-skating, meet Father Christmas, ride the Ferris Wheel and peruse even more Christmas markets.
Entry is free, but you pay individually for the attractions. Arrive early to avoid the queues.
You will also find the main shopping streets decorated with twinkling lights, and we absolutely loved the conical tree in the main square of Comércio Plaza, which you can sit inside and looks magical when lit up at night.
Editor’s note: if you are heading to Lisbon with kids, check also our handpicked selection of the best hotels in Lisbon for families here!
by Marta, Littlecitytrips.com co-editor
Geneva hasn’t got a strong tradition of Christmas markets. However, when we visited last year in December, we had the lovely surprise of finding a brand new one opened right in Geneva’s city center, and what a delightful surprise it was!
The market is hosted in Parc des bastions, a lovely flat green area right beside the medieval town and it is a great place for a lunchtime walk or an afternoon out with kids.
The market is small but well laid out.
At its entrance, you find a carousel, light displays and Christmas trees and immediately after them you have the Christmas village, a series of wooden chalets selling Christmas crafts and an abundance of expected and less expected food: here you find everything from mulled wine to falafel!
This is a great Christmas market to visit with small kids especially: the location in the park makes is easy to mix time at the stalls with free play and the size of the market makes it pleasant and not overwhelming.
Older kids are sure to like the ice rinks that pop us here too! This is a good place to explore if you find yourself in Geneva in winter.
We hope you enjoyed this selection of family-friendly Christmas markets in Europe and beyond.
We have a great discussion about Christmas Season travel – covering Christmas markets to visiting Finnish Lapland over on the City Travel with Kids Podcast.
We’ve also got you covered with our favourite cities for enjoying the best of winter, and which cities are perfect for catching a family break with some winter sun!
Don’t forget you can join us and chat all things family travel in our City Travel with kids facebook group: it’s free!