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The Best European Christmas Market Itinerary by Bus

If you’re anything like me, some of the magic of Christmas has disappeared since you’ve grown up. You don’t get those same excited butterflies that you used to and the commercialism of it all can really weigh down on you. But what if I told you that there’s somewhere you can go where you can feel that magic again? I’ve put together a route for you to visit European Christmas Markets and the best part: you can get to all these places super cheap by traveling by BUS!

when to start visiting Christmas markets

Christmas Markets generally start around the last week in November or the first week of December. However, the dates may change and are different for each Market, so I’ve included a link in each section to the city’s Christmas Market page that includes the dates and times of each Market.

Important Christmas Markets Tip: Make sure to book your accommodation at least 3 months in advance if possible. We waited too long and the prices were higher (and there weren’t any Airbnbs left in Colmar!). The trip is still possible, but you’ll have more options if you book earlier.

how to get from city to city

I cannot rave enough about my favorite way to travel Europe: FLIXBUS. Use this site to travel from city to city while saving tons of money (plus, you get to see incredible views on the way!)

If you’re considering using the trains or Eurail pass, DON’T! Read here to find out why it was our $1000 mistake on our first trip to Europe.

book your flights to europe

If you don’t already use Pomelo Travel to find the best flight deals (like $250 roundtrip to Paris!), check out this blog post. If you already have Pomelo Travel but haven’t received any deals for where you want to go, then follow the steps in this blog post to get the best deal from the US to Europe.

first christmas market stop: vienna, austria

You can either follow this route forwards or backward. I based the first and last stop on how cheap it is to fly in or out of that city, so starting or ending in Paris or Vienna is perfect for saving money on flights.

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Where & When

The absolute best Christmas Market (and my personal favorite) is the Viennese Dream Christmas Market right in front of the city hall:

girl standing in front of christmas market in Vienna

A few others we loved in the area were:

  • Christmas Village Maria-Theresien Platz
  • Art Advent at Karlsplatz

You can use the Austria Info website to find the dates and times of each Christmas Market in Vienna.

Christmas ornaments at a Christmas market in Europe

Christmas Market Tip: Don’t eat dinner before going! Instead, save your appetite for all the delicious holiday snacks. Make sure to try the Kinderpunch (non-alcoholic) or Gluhwein to keep you warm!

man standing in front of Christmas market booth

hallstatt, austria

This stop includes more than just the most photogenic town in all of Europe. This whole area is filled with adorable towns with Christmas Markets to visit.

Where and When

The Christmas Market in Hallstatt itself is only one night per year and the date can change. Check this website to find the date and time.

Hallstatt, Austria

Other Christmas Markets in the area are:

girl in Hallstatt Austria with Christmas lights

salzburg, austria

Although we only visited Salzburg as a day trip, if I were to do it again I would spend more time there!

Where & When

Use this website to find the times and dates for each of the Christmas Markets in Salzburg.

The best Christmas Market is the Salzburg Christmas Market at the foot of Hohensalzburg fortress. We also visited the Hellbrunner Adventzauber but were unimpressed (plus, it costs money to enter). There are a few others in the city that are listed on the website above that you’ll have to discover for yourself! (:

food stand at a Christmas Market in Europe

Munich, Germany

A quick hop over from Austria is one of my favorite European cities. I think it has the most beautiful city center I’ve ever seen (although it was also WAY colder!).

girl drinking kinderpunch in Munich Germany

When & Where

Check out this website for the dates & times of the Christmas Markets in Munich.

The best Christmas Markets in Munich are:

  • Main Christmas Market in Marienplatz
  • The Middle Ages Market (Munich Medieval Christmas Market)
  • Rindermarkt
  • Viktualienmarkt
couple standing in front of Christmas decorations in Munich, Germany

Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany

Although there isn’t a Christmas Market here (that I know of!), if you have the time, this is an awesome trip to take from Munich! The castle looks incredible in the snow and you should definitely visit in the winter!

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You can either take a day trip or stay the night near the castle. Check out this post about how to get to this amazing castle with a guided tour.

Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany

We decided to stay the night at the foot of the castle (we splurged a little, but for only $75 we got to stay SUPER close to the castle!)

Here’s the link through Booking.com to book the same hotel we stayed at.

Hohenschwangau Castle in Germany

nurembErg, germany

This is Jake’s favorite, and I do have to admit that this town really knows what they’re doing.

Instead of having to walk from one market to another, the markets in Nuremberg seem to never stop! You just walk through one and another starts right away!

Christmas Markets in Nuremberg, Germany

When & Where

Use this website for the dates and times of the Christmas Market in Nuremberg. Since the market stretches out over so many different places in the city, I decided to mark places to visit instead of specific markets.

Donuts in Nuremberg, Germany

Here are the places you shouldn’t miss:

carousel at a Christmas Market in Nuremberg, Germany

strasbourg, france

On to the French Christmas Markets! Strasbourg has one of the most famous Christmas Markets in Europe and is known as the “Capital of Christmas.”

Unfortunately, in 2018 there was a shooting during the Christmas Market that killed 5 people. The city bounced back and continued with the Markets (we arrived only a few days after the shootings).

Although there was a more solemn feeling in the air that year, the markets were absolutely beautiful and definitely worth visiting.

Christmas decorations in Strasbourg, France

When & Where

This website will help you plan the dates of your trip. There are markets all throughout the center of the city, so just like Nuremberg, here are the places you shouldn’t miss as you hop from Market to Market:

  • Place du Temple Neuf
  • Place de la Cathedrale
  • Palais Rohan
  • Place Kleber
  • Place Benjamin Zix
  • Barrage Vauban
Christmas lights at night in Strasbourg, France

colmar, france

You can either stay in Colmar itself or take a day trip from Strasbourg (that’s what we did).

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This small town is absolutely adorable, but I do have to admit that I felt a little claustrophobic here. The streets are very small and because of the hype, this city is PACKED during the Christmas Market season.

I suggest going very early in the morning or later at night if you’re traveling from Strasbourg.

Christmas in Colmar, France

When & Where

There are 6 main Christmas Markets in Colmar, which are all interconnected and easy to find since the town is quite small. This website lists all of them and their dates & times.

The main locations and places to see the best Markets are:

  • Place de la Cathedrale
  • Place des Dominicains
  • Place de l’Ancienne Douane
  • La Petite Venise
Christmas decorations in Colmar, France

Paris, france

The last stop on this magical Christmas Market tour is Paris, France. Although Paris is always a good idea, I do have to admit that it was my least favorite city for Christmas Markets. I loved seeing the city during Christmas time, but the markets were much larger and more commercialized than the traditional ones in the other cities.

However, Paris is such a cheap place to fly in and out of, so if you’re there, there’s still plenty to do during the Christmas Market Season!

a couple kissing in front of the eiffel tower in Paris.

When & Where

This is the best website to find the dates and times of each specific market. Unfortunately, the Eiffel Tower Christmas Market (the most beautiful one & the one I really wanted to go to!!) doesn’t open until late in the season (usually December 20th).

The best ones to visit are:

  • Eiffel Tower Christmas Market
  • Saint German des Pres
  • Notre Dame
  • The Magic of Christmas at the Jardin des Tuileries

The last one mentioned was the larger and more commercialized market that I didn’t really enjoy, but some people really like it so it might be worth a try!

Eiffel tower at night

Don’t forget to pin this for your European winter adventure!

best christmas markets in europe
best european christmas market itinerary

Kendal

Monday 23rd of November 2020

I remember reading this post last year and you mentioned an awesome stay at the base of the castle....came back here to figure out which one it is and book it! I'm hoping I get a snowy visit this year!