Holiday shopping at Europe’s Christmas markets starts the season with an adventure

About Innsbruck, Austria

Winter in Europe is a wonderful time to visit the most beautiful Christmas markets.

Forget waiting in line to see Santa at the shopping mall. Your world-traveling clients will get a new shopping adventure while strolling through shops resembling gingerbread houses, where they will be immersed in a tradition that is simply otherworldly. Drinking warm, mulled wine while you shop? Check. Buying handmade crafts you can’t get at Walmart? Check. Being serenaded by live music while you stroll? Check. Surrounded by a fairy-tale setting straight out of your childhood imagination? Check and check.

Most cities have several markets, so there is literally a shop-til-you-drop atmosphere, and plenty to choose from. Here are some cities that you should be recommending, now, to get a jump on the best rates while they are still available: 

Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen: Drink a glass of Glogg (mulled wine) under 500,000 Christmas lights with miniature villages and a lake transformed for ice-skating. 

Innsbruck: There are six markets to choose from in this charming Austrian alpine city. The most traditional is at the Old Town market where you are surrounded by medieval houses and a viewing platform over the hut rooftops to see the “Fairy Tale and Giants’ Alley.” Keep warm with mulled wine and stop for a moment to listen to the holiday trumpeters. 

Switzerland: Modern Zurich is simply transformed at Christmas, juxtaposing the traditional with the new. Their famous singing Christmas Tree is a tree made of singing children, and floating candles glow on the Limmat River. The markets of Basel are only an hour away by train, where you’ll find over 180 shops and indulge in waffles, glühwein, Basel Läckerli (gingerbread) and raclette. 

guide to Christmas markets in 24 cities—from Rome to London to Stockholm.

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