Discovering the delights of Europe’s Christmas Markets

by Jules on August 10, 2013

I am sitting in my garden, it is 8pm and very warm as I sip a glass of wine I think to myself as I search the web using my iPad. OK what are you doing searching for Christmas Markets coach tours? After all it is August and very hot.

Well the truth of the matter is, a few years ago for the first time myself and my wife decided to try a Christmas Markets escorted tour by coach. Which one we thought? There are so very many to choose from.

Well as first timers we plumped for one of the most popular, Cologne in Germany. Yes I know what you are thinking, it is very popular and attracts large crowds.  And yes you would be correct, it does. But, even taking into account the crowds, it was still a great experience. So many stalls and the friendliness of the people was a real eye opener. There are a total of seven Christmas Markets in the city centre and moving from one to another is lots of fun, especially if you are sampling a glass or two of Mulled Wine (Glühwein) along the way. Of course no trip to Cologne at Christmas time would be complete without a visit to the cities magnificent Cathedral and the Christmas Market at the Cologne Cathedral is the most impressive one in Cologne, due to the huge backdrop of the Cathedral itself.

Well we were hooked, and for the last few years at Christmas time we have looked forwards to our yearly coach trip to one of the many famous Christmas Markets in the major cities of Europe.

After Cologne there are two Christmas Markets that really stand out for us. Prague and Vienna, two of the most historic and iconic European cities.

The Prague Christmas market takes place at the Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square and is titled ‘Winter Wonderland’.

Offering many stalls of hearty food (specialities include sausages, corn on the cob, pastries and local specialities) to Czech beers and spiced wine. All accompanied by Christmas Carols singers. The market consists of brightly decorated traditional wooden huts selling handcrafted products made throughout the centuries such as intricate glassware and decorative jewellery, exquisitely embroidered lace, traditional wooden toys, metal-ware, beautiful ceramic plates and mugs, deliciously perfumed candles, beautifully dressed puppets and dolls, Christmas tree ornaments, and a wide variety of hats, gloves and scarves. The most impressive sight is the tree which is erected in the Old Town Square. It’s adorned in lights and decorations and looks stunning against the dark night sky.

Vienna is a must visit city at any time of year. But at Christmas time the city comes alive with around 25 markets ranging from the large to the small. The ‘December Market’ in Vienna dating back to 1294 is regarded by some as the forerunner to the Christmas Market.  Many people choose to visit the city around late November and December time to visit the museums and view the impressive architecture, not to mention savour the culture that Vienna has to offer. They then attend the various Christmas Markets for their shopping at venues such as Schloss Schönbrunn which is a famous visitor attraction in its own right.

Kevin Scott is the MD of Travel 55, offering discount coach tours and holidays throughout the UK and Europe.

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