‘Tis the season for Christmas markets galore, and when it comes to this holiday pastime, few places do it better than Eastern Europe. Holiday markets throughout the region have an authentic cultural charm not found in cities in other parts of the world, offering visitors the opportunity to shop for handmade gifts and sip mugs of mulled wine against a backdrop of snow-dusted Gothic architecture. Here are a few of our favorites.
Vörösmarty Square, Romania
Budapest’s most famous Christmas market features a unique blend of local tradition and festive charm. With dozens of stalls featuring handmade crafts, cuisine, and a children’s theater, there’s something for visitors of all ages to enjoy. Those looking to learn more about the market and surrounding area can also sign up for guided tours—with stops for mulled wine and cake, of course.
Tallinn Christmas Market, Estonia
Every December, a dusting of snow and a few decorations transform the heart of Tallinn’s medieval Old Town into a winter wonderland. Estonians take Christmas very seriously and are often credited as one of the first groups of people to bring the tradition of displaying trees for the holiday to Europe. In addition to several Christmas trees, the Tallinn market also features crafts, local cuisine, and even a merry-go-round.
Old Town Market Square, Poland
Warsaw is home to several holiday markets, with the annual Old Town market being the largest and most famous. The city’s historic center is a sight to see decorated with lights and an 80-foot Christmas tree, which add an air of celebration to the otherwise quaint and cozy area. Stay warm with a hot cup of spiced wine as you shop for Polish crafts, or grab your skates and hit the rink outside the Palace of Culture.