It’s the most wonderful time of the year..! It’s Christmas time. For the past week, my head is filled with quotes from famous Christmas songs. I already bought my Christmas tree and I’m getting in the holiday mood quickly! (aka I don’t wont to change out of my Christmas pants!) But nothing will get you in the Christmas mood faster, than to plan your Christmas market trip. Dark evenings, the smell of mulled wine and bratwurst, the twinkling stars of all the Christmas ornaments and the cheerful sentiment that surrounds people.
How to plan your Christmas Market Trip?
I love it. Not per se to shop for handmade Christmas ornaments or other Christmas related nick knacks, but just the atmosphere and the joy of the Christmas lights. But how to plan your Christmas market trip?
Where to go?
Of course, you need to know where you want to go! Are you looking for the best Christmas market to spend a few bucks?
Are you looking for a Christmas market that’s fun for children? Or you want a food lover experience at the Christmas market.
All markets are wonderful but here’s a list of Christmas markets to get some ideas.
7 ways to have the best ever Christmas in New York, by Ashlea from aglobewelltravelled.com. Because it’s always a good idea to visit New York. You can go ice skating in front of the Rockefeller Centre and you can shop till you drop.
5 of the best Christmas Markets in London, by Emily Luxton. Because London really decks out on the Christmas decoration and this city will appeal to everyone. This is the city for Christmas Carollers.
Christmas Markets in Germany by Europediaries. When you say Christmas markets, you say Germany. In every town and city in Germany, there is some sort of Christmas market. Famous are the ones in Berlin, Köln, Dusseldorf, Nuremburg and many more. You cannot visit a Christmas Market in Germany without a taste of mulled wine, bratwurst and some pretzels.
3 Christmas markets in Belgium worth visiting, by Alison and Andrew from cheeseweb.eu. This couple travels slow and lists a few blog posts about Christmas markets in Belgium. Brussel and Bruge’s Christmas Markets are renowned for their delicious foods, snacks and treats. Enjoy!
A guide to the best Christmas Markets in Europe, written by Becky and Gray from globalgrasshopper.com. They write about different Christmas markets like the one in Vienna, Prague and Barcelona.
And the list goes on and on. Christmas markets in Toronto, Canada? Why not? Visit Colmar or Paris in France? Budapest or Dublin? They all dress up for Christmas and look magical during Christmas.
I myself have been to the ones in Köln, Dusseldorf and have visited Berlin and Budapest during Christmas. Where have you been this year? Looking for the best place to spend Christmas? Check the Christmas traditions around the globe.
How to get there
The most important thing about how to plan your Christmas market trip is to plan how to get there. Depending on where you wish to go and how far it’s from your home town, you need to arrange the right sort of transportation.
I recommend you to take the train or join a budget bus tour. Yes, that’s when you join all the old people who love these sorts of things. But the fare for the bus is cheap and once you arrive, you can wonder off on your own.
Taking the train or bus, allows you to drink as much mulled wine as you’d like. You do not have to drive home after having walked all day and you’re feet are killing you. And, last but not least you do not have to worry about high parking fees or traffic driving into the city.
For us, we have decided to go a little bit further and as we go to Dublin in December. Ryanair, Easyjet and Wizzair, are low budget airlines in Europe. They have a wide variety of destinations, perfectly suited for a visit to one of the Christmas Markets.
Be aware to check the distance from the airport to the city though. Especially airports around London can have high travel times towards the city. If you’re on a short break, you might want to consider to fly to an airport with less transfer time.
Also you need to have a backup plan. It’s December after all and the weather can turn for the worst. You need snow tires on your car to drive in Germany. The trains can be delayed due to severe snow. Or the flight gets cancelled due to fog. It can all happen. Be flexible and plan generously.
How long to stay for
This of course depends on the time you have and your budget. Christmas market can get really busy during the last 2 weekends before Christmas, but you can also visit during the week or at the end of November. They don’t pack up and leave right after Christmas either, so you might want to consider visiting after Christmas. This way, you’ll have plenty of room to move around and some shop holders might throw in some discounts.
I recommend staying at least one night, if you’re travelling further away. This way, you can have a drink at night and explore the city during the evenings. The lights are all lit and there is plenty of opportunity to wine and dine. You do not want to miss this, because you have to head home early.
Stay in a comfortable hotel or hostel. Make sure to read the reviews if the room is warm enough in winter. Consider to spend a few extra euros to stay in a place in the centre of the city. Because you do not want to walk home in the freezing cold in a snow blizzard when you’re tipsy from the mulled wine. Trust me on that.
Other things to consider
Take cash and enough change. Some shop holders on the markets do not offer the opportunity to pay with credit card and only accept cash. You do not want to miss out on your amazing Christmas ornament because you do not have enough cash on you. Haven’t found the right Christmas gift yet? Consider to give a holiday as a Christmas present instead!
Wear warm clothes. Duh! It’s December. Although it might be nice during the day, once the night falls, temperatures plummet. Wear an extra pair of panties or thermo-pants under your jeans. Wear a hat because you’ll lose heat from your head.
Research the best opportunities to move around. Some cities are big and Christmas markets can be too far a part to walk. Explore the local transport or consider to rent a carriage and let the horses show you around town.
And last but not least: have fun! It’s only Christmas once a year, so start to plan your Christmas market trip and go!
Have you already been to a Christmas market this year? Or are you planning on visiting one? Please share your best Christmas market experiences below in the comment section.