This year, the Nuremberg Christmas Markets run from 30 November to 31 December 2018. With direct flights from London Gatwick (LGW) to Nuremberg (NUE), fly to this magical Christmas destination from a choice of four different days. Hop on the metro and arrive to the centre in around 20 minutes.
Day 1: Enjoy the second-largest Bavarian city, brimming with history, red-roof architecture and moreish pretzels. Set in the mesmerising medieval old town square of Hauptmarkt, smell the aroma of ginger bread, see Christmas decorations twinkle and feel the warmth of delicious mulled wine. The Nuremberg Christmas Market is endearing, traditional and Germany’s favourite.
Day 2: Venture to Nuremberg Castle, see the turret and wander through the corridors, up staircases or through the crisp, cold, wintery gardens. In the season of festivity and gift-giving, take a look around the curious Nuremberg Toy Museum. Savour the flavour of a German beer and socialise around the Tiergartnertor Platz in the evening, like a local.
Vienna’s Christmas Markets are easy to find – simply follow the aroma of roasting chestnuts, simmering hot punch and fresh almond cakes
Grab your hot punch from 17 November 2018 to 1 January 2019 and immerse yourself in the Vienna Christmas Markets. Once you’ve touched town in Vienna, the new non-stop City Airport Train will whizz you to the centre in 16 minutes for just €12. Check into The Ritz-Carlton Vienna near Stadtpark, which is a 15-minute stroll from the Christmas Villages at Belvedere Place and Maria-Thersien Platz.
Day 1: Around the city’s grand squares, period boulevards and Danube waterfronts, you’ll discover 20 different traditional romantic markets. They’re easy to find – simply follow the aroma of roasting chestnuts, simmering hot punch and fresh almond cakes. Later, a memorable Viennese evening treat is to dress up for a cultural event in an historic venue, like the Opera House or Burgtheatre.
Day 2: Explore Vienna’s biggest Christmas Market, which spreads our in front of the magical towers and spires of the gorgeously gothic City Hall. Outside, browse fine-craft stalls among illuminated trees; inside, enjoy homely biscuit-making and carols. Take a break in one of Vienna’s world-famous museums and galleries, or relax with a serious pastry creation and a window seat amid the glittering elegance of a classic Viennese coffee house.
Pick out your favourite hand-crafted baubles at the Polish Christmas market from the end of November until 26 December 2018. Once you arrive at Krakow airport, trains leave every 30 minutes, taking less than 20 minutes to reach the city centre. Set in a restored 15th-century building in Krakow’s Jewish Quarter, Eden is the perfect base to explore the festivities – it’s close to the Market Square and Town Hall.
Day 1: One of Europe’s biggest and best medieval squares, Rynek Glowny, is the perfect romantic backdrop to Poland’s most popular Christmas market. Browse quirky, crafty gifts and elaborate homemade cribs, while sampling tasty specialities like grilled ewe’s cheese with cranberries, honeycake and vodka tea.
Alongside is the fabulously ornate Renaissance Cloth Hall – claimed to be the world’s oldest shopping mall. Step inside for a chance to find more unique Christmas gifts.
Day 2: Immerse yourself in the winter wonderland spirit with horse-drawn carriage rides over cobbled streets and glühwein at pavement cafes (heaters and blankets supplied). Or send yourself to the salt mines. It’s just 30 minutes to Wieliczka Salt Mine, a memorably eerie series of hand-carved underground chambers and chapels.
Prague, Czech Republic
Prague’s collection of pretty Christmas markets start popping up from 1 December 2018 until 6 January 2019. A £20 taxi ride is the quickest way into the Old Town from Prague airport at night. Built on the site of a former 14th-century monastery, the elegant Mandarin Oriental Prague has an enviable location on the left bank of the Vltava River, an indulgent spa and mesmerizing views of the city.
Day 1: Enjoy a tour of the magnificent city by wandering between markets. The Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square have the best festive stalls, Christmas trees and carol singing – but there are lively markets in other locations, including Kampa Island, Prague Castle and Republic Square, too.
While browsing, try the hot sugar-coated pastries, washed down with Czech pilsner beers. Then experience East Europe’s liveliest nightlife, with options ranging from cool dance clubs to basement bar jazz.
Day 2: Explore the quiet, atmospheric alleyways between Prague’s turrets, domes and palaces. Discover the big sights minus the summer crowds, like Charles Bridge and St Vitus Cathedral. And look out for men selling live carp from buckets. Families keep them in their baths until Christmas – then serve them fried for traditional dinner.
Berlin’s Christmas markets run from 25 November to 31 December 2018. From Tegel airport, it’s just a 40-minute ride on the TXL bus to Alexanderplatz in the centre. Here, you’ll find the Park Inn Alexanderplatz, aka Berlin’s tallest hotel – drink in the city views from its 39th-floor rooftop bar.
Day 1: While Berlin is usually a chilled-out centre for trendy modern culture, the festive period sees it turn into a fabulously cheesy, tinsel-covered, wonderland of ice-skating rinks, carousels, brass bands and trees groaning under the weight of fairy lights. Best of all, it’s easy to join the Berliners’ non-stop Christmas party. Sip a hot white chocolate drink, nibble some fried apple or a classic Bratwurst sausage and wander round the most ‘Christmassy’ capital in Europe. Incredibly, there are more than 100 Christmas markets across the city.
Day 2: Are you brave enough to tackle the artificial toboggan run on Potsdamer Platz in front of the Brandenburg Gate? Or would you rather tuck into a Christmas feast at the huge ‘Christmas Pyramid’ in Alexanderplatz, illuminated by more than 5,000 festive lights? Round the corner at Marienkirche there’s medieval hot mead served in clay pots and a big wheel offering views across the city. Or head for Charlottenburg Palace, where gourmet restaurants serve bargain food in heated tents surrounded by Berlin’s best Christmas light show.
Discover the festive markets of Budapest which will run from 9 November 2018 to the 1 January 2019. A cab from Budapest airport to the city centre costs around £20. Check in to Hilton Budapest, set in the heart of the Royal Castle District, for sparkling views of the Danube River.
Day 1: Explore more than 100 ultra-Christmassy stalls in the central Vorosmarty Square, surrounded by ancient buildings, lights and decorations. Spot the giant Advent calendar on the façade of the classic coffee house Café Gerbeaud.
Choose from thousands of handmade gifts at the market – and be assured that everything, from the knitted hats to the fur slippers, is pre-checked for quality by Hungarian folk art experts. Later, tuck into Hungarian seasonal fare, including specialities like fried bread, roast chestnuts and homemade strudels. Then wrap up warm for an evening cruise on the Danube.
Say goodbye to the city and take in the terrific panoramic view from the terrace café at the Fisherman’s Bastion fortifications.