5 days Christmas market hopping in Berlin, Prague & Vienna

With Christmas Eve upon us, the festive season and holidays are in full swing and for most of the northern hemisphere winter is here! Growing up in Sydney, my Christmas’ were spent in singlets and thongs enjoying warm sunny days and feasting on fresh mangos and prawns- not quite the typical Christmas scene that comes to mind. Last December, we travelled to Europe for 5 days to visit family and experience my first almost-white Christmas. I was beyond stoked, as I imagined myself parading through endless markets in a themed sweater, and eating my fill of roasted chestnuts and mulled wine! We visited Berlin, Prague and Vienna and squeezed in as many markets as we could visit during our time there. Even if you don’t celebrate Christmas and you’re planning a trip to any of these cities during the holidays, make sure to stop by some of the markets to witness the elaborate light displays and experience the spirit and cheer that comes along with the season.

 

Weihnachtszauber Gendarmenmarkt, Berlin 

 

Entrance fee: 1 Euro for adults, children under 12 are free.
Opening hours for 2017: 27 November – 31 December 2017 | Open daily 11:00 am – 10:00 pm
Christmas Eve 24 December | 11:00 am – 6:00 pm
New Year’s Eve 31 December | 11:00 – 1:00 am

A map with the closest metro stations and other useful information can be found on the official Berlin website.

 

Dozens of white starlit topped tents, flanked by the grand Konzerthaus, the Deutscher Dom and Franzosischer Dom, the Gendarmenmarkt makes for a picturesque setting and the perfect place to soak up the Yuletide atmosphere. A large stage in the middle of the square plays host to musicians and carolers who helped set the festive mood, and as a reminder that you’re in Berlin, playful Buddy bears decorated in festive colours were scattered around the markets.

WeihnachtsZauber Gendarmenmarkt, Berlin

There’s a lot of food options at pop up restaurants with tables and chairs if you’re seeking refuge from the chill. We tucked into the classics – warm chestnuts, bratwurst, schnitzels and roast potatoes, however there non traditional fare like raclette and pizza also available. You’ll be spoilt for choice with beverages to keep you (and your spirit!) warm with stalls selling beers and gluhwein (mulled wine) which are served in a souvenir mug that you can keep -you can return the mug if you don’t want it and you’ll receive your deposit back. 

WeihnachtsZauber Gendarmenmarkt, Berlin

Freshly roasted chestnuts at the WeihnachtsZauber Gendarmenmarkt, Berlin

Lebkuchen at the WeihnachtsZauber Gendarmenmarkt, Berlin

 

Old Town Square, Prague

 

Entrance: Free
Opening hours: Open daily from 02 December 2017 – 06 January 2018
Food stalls are open between 10:00 am – midnight
Handicrafts and other product stalls are open between 10:00 am – 10:00 pm

Schedules of the Christmas tree lighting, light animations and other information on the markets can be found on the official Prague website.

 

Consistently ranked as one of the most beautiful Christmas markets in the world, this market certainly stood up to its reputation. A giant Christmas tree with hundreds of lights and decorations in the middle of the Old Square, surrounded by several stalls amongst the beautiful historic buildings of Prague makes this market next level. The festive atmosphere also extends into the connecting tree lined streets decked out in fairy lights.

 

Giant Christmas tree at the Old Town Square, Prague markets

 

The popular street dessert trdlnik was plentiful, but if you’ve had your fill of the chimney donut, there’s a lot of other delights to indulge in like candied nuts and giant donut balls to satisfy your sweet tooth. If you’re more into savoury comfort food, there’s stalls selling blood sausages, roast ham fresh from the rotisserie served with bread and perfect downed with some hot mead. 

 

For the kids, there was a pen filled with live farm animals which looked like it was part of a nativity scene, sans Jesus. There’s also a viewing platform which gave visitors another view of the markets.

Old Town Square, Prague

Giant donuts at the Old Town Square, Prague

Old Town Square, Prague

The views from the adjacent clock tower were epic in the daytime, and I’d imagine even more so during the night when the tree is lit up and the square is ablaze with fairy lights.

The view from the clock tower overlooking the Old Town Square, Prague

 

Wenceslas Square, Prague

 

Entrance: Free
Opening Hours: Open daily from 02 December 2017 – 06 January 2018
Food stalls are open between 10:00 am – midnight
Handicrafts and other product stalls are open between 10:00 am – 10:00 pm

Further information can be found on the official Prague website.

 

Just a short stroll from the Old Town Square, the Wenceslas Square markets are a smaller version of the Old Town markets, but nonetheless charming. Although the view of the Czech National Museum was covered by scaffolding when we went, pretty square made up for it by the twinkling lights covering the wooden stalls and trees. 

 

The market next to Charles Bridge, Prague

 

Entrance: Free

 

If you’re strolling over the famous Charles Bridge, there is a Christmas Market just next to it (if anyone knows the name of the market please let me know in the comments! 🙂 ) The market was quaint, and the least commercial out of all the ones we visited. There weren’t as many food options compared to the other two we visited, but plenty of handicraft and handmade items perfect for souvenirs like wooden decorations, tree toppers and glass baubles galore.

 

A crowd gathering to hear carolers near the Charles Bridge

Markets next to the Charles Bridge

Markets next to the Charles Bridge

 

Rathausplatz, Vienna 

 

Entrance: Free
Opening hours: 17 November – 30 December 2017
Christmas market (market booths) only until 26 December 2017
Sunday to Thursdays | 10:00 am – 9:30 pm
Fridays & Saturdays | 10:00 am – 10:00 pm
24 December | 10:00 am – 6:00 pm
25 & 26 December | 11:00 am – 9:30 pm

 

Other useful information about the Rathausplatz Christmas markets can be found here and other markets around Vienna can be found on this website.

 

With the backdrop of the monumental City Hall and dozens of stalls adorned in fairy lights, the Rathausplatz markets had a beautiful setting and drew in the crowds. Surprisingly, this was the only one where we saw Santa making an appearance during our visit. Similar to the other big markets, theres a whole spectrum of stalls offering gluhwein, lebkuchen, pretzels, jams, decorative Christmas crafts and gifts.

A large ice rink was set up on one side of the markets in the park, however it was closed when we were there.

Rathausplatz, Vienna

Lebkuchen and other sweet treats at Rathausplatz, Vienna

Rathausplatz, Vienna

Rathausplatz, Vienna

 

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