As some of you may know, I spent most of December criss-crossing along the former Iron Curtain between Istanbul and Berlin as part of a project I called the #IronRoute. You can read the first few posts about it over here and the rest are still in the pipeline.
Travel by train through Europe in December also carries with it another special treat – a chance to thoroughly inspect the Christmas Markets of central and eastern Europe. After only a few photos on Flickr and updates on Facebook, that rascal Andy of 501Places dubbed the trip the gluhwein way.
So, to celebrate gingerbread, gluhwein and twinkling bright lights, I bring you this post: the Best Christmas Markets in the World. (Only, it’s not really the whole world. Just the countries between Turkey and Germany. But let’s face it, that wouldn’t make such a good title…)
To spice up the Season of Goodwill even more, I’ve designed specific categories for each Christmas Market so that everyone’s a winner. So, grab a glass of gluhwein yourself and make yourself comfortable. Drumroll please….
The Best Christmas Markets in the World – More or Less
The Most Organised Christmas Market
The Gendarmenmarkt in Berlin wins this prize outright by being the only Christmas Market I found that had an organised ticket booth with queues and formal entrance procedures. The market itself dazzled, set between floodlit buildings and accompanied by accomplished – and organised – musicians.
The Sparsest Christmas Market
Trieste, in northern Italy, really excelled itself with Christmas minimalism this year. Take one vast, imposing, floodlit square, insert one Christmas tree and…Er, that’s about it. Compare and contrast with…
The Most Extravagant Christmas Market
Why let something stay in darkness when you can throw Christmas lights all over it? I love the approach that Slovenia took with their Christmas lights in Ljubljana…the more, the merrier I say!
The Most Christmassy Christmas Market
Prague wins easily by placing its Christmas Market on the aptly named Wenceslas Square. It also throws in a mention of the nativity, snugly hid among the gingerbread and wine…
The Chic-est Christmas Market
Vienna did so well here I’m going to push the boat out and upload another photo. Glimmering away in the shadows of the Rathaus, this Christmas Market was one of the largest and most popular I saw. The weather was biting at the time as well, with sleet, high winds and the kind of low temperatures that make Spaniards shiver at the thought of them. And STILL it was popular. Impressive.
The Cutest Christmas Market
With these dough couples plus embroidered hearts, lace-trimmed blouses and scented sachets, Budapest’s Christmas Market wins the cutest prize…It also scoops up…
The Best Food at a Christmas Market
From stir fry to sauerkraut, cinnamon cabbage to cinnamon cookies, mulled wine to roasted Romanian pastries, this Christmas Market in Budapest had the most on offer by far…
What’s the best Christmas Market you’ve ever seen?
UPDATE! The lovely Yvonne from Just Travelous tells me that the sweet-looking hearts at the top of the post actually have words that may make your grandmother blush…Oops! Ah well, they look sweet enough…;)