Laura Sutherland highlights the best Christmas markets in Europe, including where to go, what to buy and where to stay
Berlin Christmas market
Like timekeeping and pretzels, celebrating the festive season is something Germany excels at. So where better to go for seasonal feel-good vibes than the capital’s famous Christmas market?
From the end of November, the air’s thick with the scent of mulled wine and fresh waffles, and honeymooners will be spoilt for choice when it comes to Christkindlmarkt.
Other attractions: Culture vultures can do worse than strolling the Berlin Wall’s iconic East Side Gallery, before sampling experimental cocktails at ORA, a café bar inside a repurposed apothecary.
Where to stay: Just a stone’s throw from the major sights, the Regent Berlin has the added bonus of overlooking the legendary Weihnachtszauber market.
And with jaw-dropping chandeliers and oil paintings throughout, the hotel has an appropriately romantic feel. From £177 per night.
Ghent Christmas market
This increasingly Instagram-worthy Belgian hotspot comes into its own in December with a winter-wonderland makeover.
The Stadshal plays host to an impressive ice-skating rink, while retail therapy’s on offer at the BoterMarkt’s wooden huts. By night, ride the ferris wheel in front of St Bavo’s Cathedral for twinkling views of the city.
Other attractions: From Graslei’s prettily painted guildhalls to the Castle of the Counts, affordable canal tours offer a serene journey back through time.
Where to stay: Located in the top floors of the city’s historic post office building, 1898 The Post offers guests the best views of Ghent. Newlyweds should book the octagonal Tower Suite high in the medieval turret. From £160 per night.
Zurich Christmas market
As November closes, Zurich comes alive with the sounds, lights and smells of Christmas markets. There are many to choose from in this Swiss city, including the train station’s festive fair – the largest in Europe.
For something a bit different, try Wienachtsdorf, with its upcycled gifts and ice rink, or Wiehnachtsmart, which is home to a ‘singing’ Christmas tree.
Other attractions: How about a delicious chocolate-tasting tour? Once sweet teeth are sated, marvel at the prices on Bahnhofstrasse, the world’s most expensive shopping street.
Where to stay: Renowned for its grand charm, Baur au Lac is an ideal base for exploring Zurich, as well as a handy stopover if you also plan to spend time on the slopes. Treat yourselves to Michelin-starred dining at its Pavillon restaurant. From £672 per night.
Helsinki Christmas market
Much like its Scandinavian counterparts, the Finnish capital is at its loveliest in winter; adorned in fairylights and perfumed with glögi, a spiced wine with almonds, raisins and an (optional) dash of vodka.
Soak up the atmosphere at the city’s 120-stall market and traditional Lucia Day processions; all olde-worlde touches that add to this destination’s romance.
Other attractions: Ideal for fashion-led travellers and history-nerds alike, Helsinki’s home to cutting-edge boutiques, art galleries and The National Museum of Finland. Get a city card for access to an exhaustive selection of sights.
Where to stay: Continue the past-times theme with a stay at Katajanokka, a characterful converted prison with modern guest rooms that bely its former use.
From £465 per person, based on a three-night stay, including return flights from London Heathrow and city card.
Bath Christmas market
With its swoonsome Georgian architecture, this closer-to-home city is even more winsome come wintertime, when the quaint streets between the Bath Abbey and Roman Baths are transformed into a festive fantasy.
Get your skates on at Bath on Ice, before indulging in cocoa – or something a little stronger – at Abbey Hotel’s Après-Ski Bar or The Bird’s Winter Wonderland.
Other attractions: Keen shoppers will enjoy the city’s independent stores, while honeymooners more in touch with their inner child can take in a traditional panto at the iconic Theatre Royal Bath.
Where to stay: Tucked away in the old town, Eight is a boutique hotel with eight bedrooms and eight (there’s a running theme here) seasonal dishes. From £110 per night.