7 Hidden Gem Christmas Markets To Visit In 2017
In the market for a Christmas experience like no other? We know just the places to go.
Come December, Europe’s cities transform into treasure troves of twinkling lights, delicious smells and beautiful crafts, and exploring Christmas markets is one of our favourite ways to celebrate the festive season. But after you’ve explored the famous markets of Manchester, Berlin and Strasbourg, what then?
You explore further. There are so many hidden gems out there, and they happen to be some of the best Christmas markets in the world; they’re just not as well-known.
So take advantage of their relative obscurity and visit these seven unusual Christmas markets in 2017 before the rest of the world catches on:
Dubrovnik Christmas Market – Dubrovnik, Croatia
6th December 2017 – 6th January 2018
Wend your way through the streets of Dubrovnik’s Old Town to Sponza Palace and you’ll find yourself in this characterful Christmas market and festival. Packed with colour and beautiful lights, there’s so much to see and do at this market, and so many Croatian traditions to discover. From adorable handicrafts, exquisite glassware and decorations to delectable Croatian culinary treats and drinks, this is one of the best Christmas markets for new experiences. Make sure you try the local delicacies, including the candied almonds and traditional Croatian chocolate cake.
Floating Christmas Market – Vilshofen, Germany
1st – 15th December 2017
If you’re looking for something delightfully different, then this next market will certainly tick that box. Yes, it’s a Christmas market that floats on the sparkling waters of the river Danube. This market is such a treat for the eyes and ears, with its enormous Christmas tree, full programme of concerts, Christmas readings and the famous Nativity play which is performed around the world’s biggest wooden crib. And, of course, all of this merriment can be enjoyed alongside the traditional offerings of market stalls packed with handmade gifts and delicious festive treats, while gazing at the beautiful lights reflected in the shimmering river.
Mount Pilatus Christmas Markets – Switzerland
17th – 19th November 2017
From rivers to mountains now, and our next off-the-beaten-track Christmas market. The Mt Pilatus Christmas markets perches atop this stunning alpine mountain overlooking Lake Lucerne and, at 2132 metres high, is the highest market in Europe. To reach it requires an exciting ride on the world’s steepest cogwheel railway (so this market is not for the faint-hearted) and at the top awaits a wonderland of festive music, Swiss crafts, delicious gingerbread and stocking fillers galore. And, if you’re feeling extra adventurous, you can dash back down the mountain slopes on sleds, air boards and snow bikes. How’s that for something different? Be quick though, this market is only open for two days in November.
17th November 2017 – 6th January 2018
Here the destination itself is the just as unusual as the market, with Estonia being one of the least thought-of places to visit at Christmas. Set among the quaint cobbled streets and ornate buildings, this small but mighty Christmas market is a festive feast for all. It has everything you could ever need to get you in the Christmas spirit, including an outdoor ice skating rink, live music, festive film screenings, glittering snow sculptures and, of course, the many traditional stalls selling everything from crafted gifts and toys to hearty Estonian food like blood sausage and sauerkraut. All this, and none of the usual market crowds found in the more well-known destinations.
Velvet Caves – Valkenburg, Netherlands
17th – 23rd December 2017
We’ve seen the highest Christmas markets in Europe, but now we head deep underground to the largest and oldest markets of Europe. The Velvet Caves in Valkenburg are home to winding galleries of over 50 market stalls, twinkling lights, grottos, ancient trades and a very cosy cafe, which you will find tucked away in the 18th century chapel. It doesn’t get much more Christmassy than this, and with so much to discover, it’s a true day out. Indulge in sweet treats like the traditional Danish pastries and steaming mugs of hot chocolate while you explore the various crafts, gifts and delicacies of these truly unique Christmas markets.
Zurcher Christkindlimarkt – Zurich, Switzerland
23rd November – 24th December 2017
Not a fan of the wintry cold? We’ve found the perfect solution with this lesser known, unusual Christmas market set within Zurich’s main train station. With around 150 market stalls, this is one of the largest indoor markets in Europe, and there’s plenty to see and do while you’re there. The 50ft tall Christmas tree with its 6,000 crystal ornaments is truly a sight to behold, while the market stalls hold all kinds of treasures. From spices and cheeses to accessories and toys, it is truly the home of very special stocking fillers. And once you’ve had your fill of shopping, you can simply hop on a train and head back to the hotel. Convenient, no?
Royal Christmas Market at Hohenzollern Castle – Stuttgart, Germany
1st – 3rd and 8th – 10th December 2017
From caves and train stations to castles now, with our final unique Christmas market suggestion. The Royal Christmas Market arrives at the majestic Hohenzollern castle for just two weekends every year, and is regarded as one of the most beautiful markets in Germany. Set in the grounds of this historic hilltop castle, this market is home to stalls of stunning handmade wooden ornaments and toys, traditionally made clothing and all the Christmas treats you could ever eat and drink. You can even take a tour of the castle itself while you’re there, and admire the twinkling lights of the valley far below. If you’re looking for a picture perfect day out, this is it.
These are some of the best Christmas markets you could ever visit in 2017, tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the main tourist destinations. So grab your warmest hats, winter coats and gloves and get ready to do some serious shopping (and eating).