There’s nowhere quite like Europe during the Christmas holidays. Amongst the snow, markets and celebratory atmosphere, December makes for a wonderful time to explore the Christmas spirit in Europe.
If you have a trip booked to Europe this Christmas, or are starting to plan a trip for next year, here are a couple of lesser known destinations that could make your trip that little bit more magical.
Remember, our personal travel managers are available to tailor an authentic Christmas trip to your individual needs.
Often voted as one of the most livable cities in the world, Vienna comes alive at Christmas thanks to Christkindlmarkt, Austria’s biggest Christmas market.
Dated back to the 18th century, Christkindlmarkt is located at the medieval square of Rathausplatz in the city hall and is home to more than 150 stalls hosting confectionary, food, drink, gifts, crafts and decorations.
Although open during the day, the Christkindlmarkt really comes alive at night with the cheery bustling of people and lights of the city, which flank trees and imperial architecture. Tempt your taste buds with a range of traditional cuisine including roasted chestnuts, pretzels, specialty hams and sausages. You’ll also find plenty of places to enjoy a mug of Christmas punch (or two!).
As well as indulging in food, we recommend saving some of your shopping budget for the Christmas decorations on offer. Often made of blown glass or handcrafted wood, stalls at Christkindlmarkt show off the handiwork of artisans from Austria and surrounding countries.
Another Christmas market worth checking out is the Leipzig Christmas Market in Germany, which is located in the beautiful market square in front of the Old Town Hall.
Dating back to 1458, the markets host 250 stalls selling a range of tasty traditional German Christmas foods such as gingerbread, reindeer sausage and pretzels. Take in a Christmas concert and marvel at the fairytale forest and model railway display.
Once you’ve finished browsing the handmade decorations and toys, you can indulge in a mulled wine or a coffee in one of Europe’s oldest coffee houses, Coffe Baum.
As well as being home to a wonderful Christmas market, Leipzig is a city with stunning architecture (including St. Nicholas Church), and with attractions such as the Leipzig Zoo and the Grassi Museum, it’s a great holiday destination for kids too!
Abisko is almost as far north as you can get in Europe by train, making this part of Swedish Lapland a great destination for serious winter lovers. The sun doesn’t rise for several weeks in December and January, making it one of the best places to experience the Northern Lights at the Aurora Sky Station (the best time being between November and March).
At Abisko National Park visitors can embrace the snow and try Nordic skiing, cross-country skiing or dogsledding with Huskies. For a true local experience you can try reindeer meat, drink round the fire and camp with the indigenous Sami people.
For ski lovers, Slovakia is a hidden gem when it comes to European ski-resorts. Jasná, which is one of the best Slovakian resorts, offers high-quality skiing at affordable prices, particularly as December can be a costly time in Europe.
What we like most about this resort is that it is suitable for beginners and families with children. It’s set in the rugged Tatras Mountains, between the valleys of Váh and Hron in the national park of Nanpat, where you’ll find long descents flanked by snow-laden trees as well as snow capped mountains as far as the eye can see.
Have you been to Europe at Christmas time before? Share your favourite destination with us in the comments.
Talk to your local, personal travel manager to find the dream holiday destination you may not have heard of before http://www.travelmanagers.com.au/ptm-search/