Weekend Trips: Christmas Markets
Tired of the overcrowded Christmas markets here, on every corner of Prague? Why not hop in the car or book a train ride to one of the cities close by. During this time of the year, many of them are transformed into winter wonderlands, with the smell of gingerbreads and mulled wine adding to the christmassy spirit. Although most probably also filled with both locals and tourists eagerly indulging into the festive atmosphere, we have picked out for you five lovely Christmas markets whose history dates way back and, thus, are well-worth putting up with the crowdedness for. What is more, if you get tired of the boisterous atmosphere, you can take a stroll around one of the selected cities as they are especially lovely these cold days.
Okay, we are kicking off the list easy – Viennese christmas markets are very well-known and eagerly visited. There are over twenty of them scattered throughout the city, the most famous one being perhaps one located in front of the City Hall. Christmas markets in front of the Belvedere Palace, on the Maria-Theresien Platz, or ones at the Schönnbrun Palace are nice too, however, so you may want to drop by a few of them. The markets in Vienna are very old, their tradition dating back to as late as the thirteenth century, when the king Albrecht I allowed Austrian citizens to organize a so-called “Kippenmarkt”. Walking around the beautiful city of Vienna and experiencing its Christmas markets situated in various historical parts of the city, you are guaranteed to feel Vienna’s old spirit. And if, for whatever reason, you get tired of this, we have got one extra tip for you – the modern Christmas markets at the MuseumsQuartier. This spot is really unique and offers a more contemporary and artsy atmosphere, with DJs blasting fun music amidst eccentric-looking market stalls.
Still sticking to the basics, Dresden is also one of the more popular destinations for enjoying christmas markets. The Strizelmarkt is, nonetheless, not to be missed as it is the oldest christmas market in Germany, dating back to the fifteenth century. Situated in the very centre of the city, at the Altmarkt square, this market embraces the Festive spirit with full force. An interesting fact about this market is that its name derives from a special German cake now called “Dresdner Christstolle”. This delicious pastry is, of course, still sold here as well as in various other places in the city during the Christmas time. So, if you decide to head to Dresden on the weekend, be sure to taste some of this sweet holiday treat in its most authentic form. Flush it down with some mulled wine or Glühwein and you are sure to instantly feel less cold and more christmassy.
Passau is a beautiful small city in Germany, just a few hours away from Prague. Here, three rivers Danube, Inn and Ilz meet, creating a unique vibe in the town. Passau becomes magical during the Christmas time as the Old Town, made predominantly in Baroque style, gets completely transformed by fairy lights and festive smells. Vivacious Christmas markets are set up in the very centre of the city, In front of the St. Stephan Cathedral. Against this beautiful backdrop, one can enjoy the Christmas spirit – have a delicious snack, some hot punch, or perhaps pick out some goods and crafts that are sold here. Moreover, there are regular concerts and choir performances that take place on a stage set up among the stalls adding to the overall festive atmosphere. This little town is perfect if you are looking for both a wintery getaway and some touristy exploring!
Located in the heart of the city on the Wroclaw Market Square, the merry and colorful Christmas markets in Wroclaw are very hard to miss. They are considered to be one of the largest and most popular in Poland, and rightfully so as they are a fun version of the traditional type of markets and one can find here a number of amusement rides and other exciting attractions for both children and adults. Thus, alongside tasting some festive Polish food such as their potato pancakes and many cheeses, the visitors are able to spice up their experience by immersing themselves in a variety of entertaining activities. However, do not get too caught up in the joyful experience of the Christmas markets and be sure to look around as Wroclaw is one of Poland’s most beautiful cities. This historical town boasts charming architecture and is well-worth walking around. You are guaranteed to be delighted!
Last on our list are Advent markets in an Austrian city Salzburg, otherwise known as the city of Mozart. Located right on the border of Germany, this city offers breathtaking views over the Alps as well as splendid surrounding nature. The setting of these Christmas markets is truly special – you can find them at the Hohensalzburg Fortress which is situated on top of a small hill, thus overlooking the city and mountains. The experience of visiting the Fortress that is in itself impressive, is therefore enriched by the festive spirit and is arguably way more alluring during this time of the year. So, Salzburg's "Christkindlmarkt" is a great choice for those of you who would like to see more of nature than just one Christmas tree. Maybe you could stop nearby for a quick wintery walk on one of the many trails around Salzburg, kepping christmassy and healthy this year.