We went to Europe for a month, mostly so we could visit as many Christmas markets as possible. Our route took us from Brussels to Budapest, then back to Brussels to fly home for Christmas.
The Christmas markets hadn't started in Brussels or Brugge, but began with our time in Luxembourg. We rated each city on it's food, shopping and atmosphere throughout the Christmas markets, since there were multiple in every city we visited.
Luxembourg had just started their Christmas market season when we arrived. It was nice to walk around the few markets we went to, but there weren't a lot of options for different things to eat or buy. The lights were nice though!
Trier was not on our list when we first started, but someone suggested we check it out and I'm so glad she did! Trier is a small town in Germany on the border Luxembourg, but has a beautiful old town feel. It felt like a storybook Christmas town while we walked around the first night and we even went back the next day to see the cathedral and walk through more of the market! If I had to suggest one market to go to, this one would be high on my list.
Metz wasn't quite as storybook as Trier, but still had some great markets! There were several to see as we walked around and they had a lot of variety for food stalls. One of my favorite things we ate at the Christmas markets came from Metz-the potato and cheese bowl Brennan is holding below! The ferris wheel beside the cathedral was also very special here. It was very unique to be that close to the roof of the cathedral and look down on the market happening below.
Strasbourg was a great city for buying souvenirs and Christmas presents to take home! We made our way through several of the markets and each of them felt very festive. The lights were pretty all over the city and there were even projections on a building near one of the markets that coordinated with music that was playing. Strasbourg has been part of both Germany and France (it's in France now) and that was obvious from the architecture near the water. While we were there, the weather was terrible (lots of rain and cold air!), but we still enjoyed visiting. I would recommend this city's markets!
I'm still thinking about these desserts! They were sold all over the city-they tasted like chocolate covered flavored marshmallows. This one was mint flavored, so it tasted like a Junior Mint or Peppermint Patty, but all the flavors we tried were delicious! I thought they would be everywhere across Europe, but we didn't see them again after this market.
Nuremberg is classic Christmas and this market wins for the atmosphere. While there isn't a lot of variety here, they do their thing really well. We enjoyed the Nuremberger sausage sandwiches with the best mustard I've ever tasted, looking at all the things for sale in the wooden stalls, and people watching. It was still very cold while we were in Nuremberg, so we drank lots of gluhwein and even tried eggnog (we didn't like it!). This market was really easy to navigate because it was all in one area on the main square, with a smaller children's market behind the cathedral. Nuremberg is famous for the christkindlesmarkt and I see why-it's worth your time to see it for yourself!
We were cold from the market, so we decided to go inside and eat at a restaurant for dinner one night. The food was incredible! We don't usually order dessert, but the apfelstrudel (apple strudel) was absolutely worth it.
The Nuremberg Castle at the top of the hill was an interesting place to visit! It was one of the castles of the Holy Roman Empire and we learned a lot of history while visiting, along with getting some beautiful views of the city!
We visited Munich a few months ago and loved it, so I was excited to go back for the markets! Before we got to the Christmas markets, we visited a beer hall and had some of the best German food I've ever experienced. I'm telling you, warm apfelstrudel will change your life.
We have both talked about wanting to visit Neuschwanstein Castle for years and decided to go for it as a day trip from Munich. We took the train and bus (it was easy!) and saw the amazing castle covered in snow. It was completely magical.
Munich had several markets-some great, others weren't right for us. We visited on a Saturday, which meant crowds were huge. The first one we visited was near our hotel, had a great atmosphere, and delicious food. The main market in Marienplatz was so busy, we couldn't really do much other than walk from one side to the other. We did find some art at a smaller market and talked to the artist for awhile, but it was so cold we went back to our hotel to warm up. We did visit Hofbrauhaus, which is the historic, famous beer hall downtown. I'm glad we visited and saw it, but I think there are many other places to get excellent food in town.
Salzburg was a bonus stop! We took a train from Munich to Vienna and stopped along the way to see the markets in Salzburg. We walked to 2 markets from the train station and found nice things at both! It was a Sunday, so the markets were busier than I assume they would be during the week, but we still enjoyed walking around and seeing the vendors. We also bought a few Christmas presents at this market and there was a good variety of vendors. I'd like to go back to Salzburg in the summer and see the Sound of Music sites, but I'm so glad we were able to see the Christmas Markets here for a few hours!
Vienna was my favorite city we went to on this trip. In addition to lots of amazing markets, it had excellent museums and lots of unique things to see. We could have spent a lot more time in Vienna and plan to go back!
There were several markets we visited. The largest one was in front of city hall and had so many decorations, vendors, and lights! We spent awhile walking around here and there was something for everyone. The smaller markets were nice too-they all had food that was delicious and varieties of hot drinks to keep you warm. I really enjoyed the variety of markets and how each one had it's own feel.
We visited a Time Travel museum, which told the story of Vienna and the Hapsburg Empire through an immersive experience. It was very well done and we really enjoyed it! We visited the partner museum, called "Sisi's Great Adventure" which had a VR boat ride, and it made me so motion sick. I didn't know anything about the Hapsburgs before going to Vienna, so I learned a lot!
This was the only thing in our tour of Christmas Markets that we went back to get a second time. It is a pizza langos with garlic, so Hungarian fried bread, with cheese and meat inside, brushed with a garlicy sauce. My mouth is watering just writing about it!
Vienna was full of surprises and another one was their museums! We visited both the art and history museums and they were both beautiful! The buildings themselves were ornate and had interesting architecture, while the things they were displaying were interesting and shown in a beautiful way. There are so many different museums in Vienna, we will definitely check out more when we go back!
Prague's Christmas markets had a lot of variety of food, but not much shopping. The main market in the central square was beautiful, but also very crowded because we were there on a weekend. Spending time in this city was extra special because we were able to see my cousin Blair and his wife Jamie! We hadn't planned to see each other, but happened to both be in Prague during the same days and enjoyed getting dinner and drinks with them.
Chimney cakes were at all of the markets and are a delicious treat! The huge grills they make them at are also great for helping warm your hands from the freezing air!
Budapest was our last stop before we headed back west. While the Christmas markets weren't our favorite because they all felt very commercial, Budapest itself was a great city! Our hotel, Parisi Udvar, was a definite highlight. It's a restored shopping area and probably the most beautiful hotel we've ever stayed at. We also visited the thermal baths, an old train station that is a market, and a Jewish synagogue. There was definitely more to see, but we fit in as much as we could around the city in our short time being there!
We flew back to Brussels on RyanAir. For as many horror stories as I've heard about this low cost European carrier, we had a great flight! It wasn't fancy in any way, but I started the flight with an exit row to myself!
We spent a morning at a coffee shop working before heading out in the evening to the Christmas Markets.
We got a call in the afternoon that our flight back to New York had been cancelled for the next day. Brennan sprang into action and figured out a way for us to get on a different flight. It really stressed me out, but he is great at remaining calm and making a plan in situations like this!
Seeing all the buildings and tree lit up in the evening was beautiful. The markets were pretty small and mostly quiet because of the soccer game that evening. The night we were there was when France played Morocco in the quarterfinals of the World Cup. Because there had been some violence in Brussels after a previous game when France beat Belgium, we saw so many police officers and police vans.We never saw any violence, but heard fireworks out in the street once we were back at our hotel.
We left early the next morning to fly home. We flew from Brussels to Frankfurt, Frankfurt to New York, and New York to Nashville. It was nearly 24 hours of flying and every flight we were on was delayed, but it all worked and we made it back to the US safely for Christmas.
Seeing so many Christmas markets and getting to visit several new cities was a wonderful way to enjoy the holiday season!
We're Brennan & Megan
Since June 2022, we have been traveling to learn more about ourselves and the world around us.