Looking for Zoom games for kids? This guide details the best games for kids to play online which entertain and inform, safely! With so many options, and with some being free, being stuck at home doesn’t have to take its toll on families. Let’s take a look at these educational and fun games to add tons of excitement to daily routines.
If you are a teacher researching games for school students, the ideas below can also be used or adapted depending on the class age and stage.
First up on our list of games to play on Zoom with students and kids is a classic…
Nothing beats an adrenaline-pumping game of charades via video chat with friends and family, even during the holidays.
This is one of the most fun Zoom games for kids while hunkering down and will keep everyone on edge the entire time.
The first step is to create a meeting on Zoom with a date and time and send that link to everyone you want to invite to play.
Zoom is one of the easiest apps to use. As a moderator, you get the top job of picking the teams.
An adult from each team can be assigned a list to print without peeking at what the other groups have. Then all the squares can be cut out and stacked face down.
One of the best ways to play charades on Zoom is by having each member guess the answer during their teammate’s turn. You can also use a timer or stopwatch and keep a score sheet for each card that is guessed correctly.
The squares on a list of your video charades game night can be labeled with pizza, cat, book, bike, money, coat, hat, soccer, elbow, drum, bird, hot, boxing, etc. These are simple terms for both kids and adults to describe during the game.
The second list can have different terms, such as cards, laugh, swim, skip, slide, cow, jump, fishing, etc.
When everybody has their own list with the squares printed, cut, and placed facing down, each participant gets to pick one at random to “act out” the phrase without speaking. Then everybody else on their team must quickly guess the correct answer.
If they are successful in doing so before the timer runs out, the Zoom moderator can give them 1 point. When all the phrases are done, and lists are complete, tally up the scores and announce the winning team at the end of the game.
Charades is one of the best games to play at home with kids because it teaches them how to build team camaraderie using non-verbal communication skills.
They must use hand gestures and body language during the video call to enjoy light-hearted competitiveness while thinking outside the box to collaborate with others.
2. Minute to Win It
Minute to Win It is one of the most popular free games for kids to play, and it works exceptionally well with both small and large groups on Zoom, Google Hangouts, Facebook Messenger, etc.
You can also use this game for kids to play online during birthdays, Thanksgiving, family reunions, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, class parties, and so much more if they need a fun activity while staying safe at home this year.
People of all ages can enjoy coming together for an evening of Minute to Win It. That means grandparents and distant relatives can log in and share a laugh with the children while being on the same team.
All participants should complete exciting challenges within 60 seconds throughout this free game to play on zoom.
The only thing you need is some inexpensive and accessible household items, such as ping pong balls, Oreo cookies, plastic spoons, boxes of Kleenex, cotton balls, and plastic drinking cups.
These items can be bought from any dollar stores or supermarkets, and they can be used for other games as well on a rainy day.
The main ways to score and play this fun game with kids are either Man vs. Clock, Team members vs. each other, or an overall team competition. If you choose Man vs. Clock, every competing player must finish a challenge in under 60 seconds. They can only level-up in the game if they successfully win against the clock.
One player from each team needs to go head-to-head with a single competitor if you want teammates against each other.
The first person to finish the challenge will win and advance to the next round.
Finally, you can create a point system and divide a larger group of people into teams for more energetic battles.
A person from each competing team can be nominated to step up for a challenge.
If they finish it first, they can earn 5 points for their team. Those who come second and third place get 3 and 1 points.
In the end, count all the points and announce the winning team.
An example of a child-friendly challenge is – stack as many Oreos as possible on your forehead in 60 seconds without them toppling.
You can also fill three plastic cups of water and line them up with a ping pong ball in the first one.
Then the player needs to blow the ball from one water-filled cup to the next before the timer runs out or their competitor finishes before them.
If you are looking for one of the best games to play with kids inside, Minute to Win It is the ideal boredom buster to uplift grouchy children to enjoy an afternoon socializing in the living room with your computer ready for some hilarious video chats.
To add these funny memories to your photo albums, you can use the print screen function to capture your loved ones in action throughout the game.
3. Just A Minute – No Planning Virtual Games For Kids
You don’t need any resources for this game just the ability to speak for 60 seconds about a specific topic.
The organizer can choose topics or members can contribute ideas which are selected a random using a free randomizer online or by pulling out ideas from a bag.
Once the topic has been chosen, player one starts to talk about the topic for one minute and is timed against the clock.
If other players feel there are too many ums, ahs and pauses, they can raise their hand and the organizer can make a decision.
Also, if a fact is not true, other players can signal and the organizer can step in.
The player who manages to speak for a minute, with the least amount of pausing and with the most truth wins!
Topics can be really easy things such as countries or if the child is revising a school topic it can focus on that.
When it comes to practicing reading and writing at home, this is one of the greatest online games to play with kids.
Both parents and teachers love playing the alphabet scavenger hunt because it also motivates everyone to move around the house and add some physical activity to stretch those muscles.
You can start with either the advanced version for children who can think and write more creatively or the beginner version for them to simply find things.
If you have a smartphone or tablet, it will be much easier to play this free game on zoom.
The main idea is to have the kids go around the house and find items that start with a different alphabet letter.
You can create and print out a vertical list of all the alphabets in bold, followed by blank lines for your children to name each item they find beginning with that letter.
For example, if the current alphabet is B, then they can write “all” in front of it on the blank space if the item they discover during the scavenger hunt is a Ball.
For the beginner version, you can write the names of items you have around the house for each alphabet and let the children find them while talking into the smartphone like a regular scavenger hunt.
As they find each of the listed items, you can cross them off with a checkmark.
When it comes to games for kids to play online, this is one of the most challenging because it requires a lot of movement.
Even though the virtual alphabet scavenger hunt is fun for both children and adults, some grownups may struggle to pace back and forth or climb the stairs hurriedly to keep up with the kids.
Be careful not to push your physical limitations and keep the house free from clutter to prevent accidents.
5. Name That Tune – Music Online Zoom Games For Kids
Kids love music so why not incorporate it into a Zoom game?
All you need is a music sharing account and a speaker. Select songs that children with recognize and play the intro of each song.
The players have to guess the song title or artists for a point.
6. Heads Up
Heads Up is a free app from Ellen Degeneres which has been a hit with kids of all ages for years.
To play, simply download the free app and choose a theme like celebs.
Hold the cellphone or tablet up to your forehead so the player can see the name or item.
Other players will then start to shout out clues and you have to guess who or what you are
A timer will go off, if you’re right tilt the device down to start again.
It’s a quick game so you have to be ready to guess and move on!
A fun game to help improve math is the traditional game of bingo.
You can purchase bingo cards online here – UK / US or download them from here.
One team player will be the caller and the others score off the numbers on their card when they are called.
The aim of the game is to get a line or full house.
You can make your own bingo cards with words too. Ask players to create a playing card with three boxes up and three along so they have nine in total.
Create a document with more than nine words on the chosen topic and ask players to place on word in each box.
You then provide the description of the text and let the players guess the word then they score it off their card if they have it!
8. Vocab Circle
Vocab circle is super easy starter game which can go on for hours!
Player one says a word, player two choose a word which starts with the last letter then so on.
If you want the game to have a focus choose a topic such as food, a season or an activity.
9. Emoji Quiz
Kids love this easy to create game!
Create a series of emojis that spell out a word and let players guess what it means.
For example, cartoon characters.
Spider and man emoji = Spiderman.
An interesting game for students if you assign it to a topic they are studying, a fun way to consolidate learning!
10. What Came First?
Players answer a number of challenges to work out what came first?
This could be TV shows, decades, historical events, ingredients and inventions.
This game can also be played for items which can be placed in heigh order like tall buildings around the world.
Anything that has some form a of hierarchy would make a good topic.
11. Find the Fib
A great game for trickster, Find the Fib can be set up in seconds.
All you need is for each player to create two truths and one lie.
There are two ways to set this up.
Firstly, leaving the topic open to something personal for ‘getting to know you’ games or secondly, making the challenge about a set topic which is the better option for educational games with a bit of control.
In charge of team building challenges for adults too? We’ve got you covered. Here’s our new guide.
Other Games to Play Online
12. Peppa Pig Games for Kids to Play Online
Now let’s take a look at fun online games for kids that you find via websites.
Peppa Pig games for kids to play online on Nick Jr is a bundle of entertainment to keep preschoolers busy for a long time while teaching them social-emotional skills, such as cooperation, sharing, and friendship.
These are free games for kids to play with interactive videos to guide them through each step to complete a series of quizzes and challenges.
They can complete a colors quiz, solve mysteries, sing to a music quiz, learn about the importance of family and friends, and even take part in a virtual easter egg hunt.
Nick Jr also has exciting Christmas games to play with kids, especially a video quiz called “How Many,” featuring Peppa Pig and Santa Claus going on an adventure together.
During this interactive storytelling game, random photo stills are taken, and your child will have to select how many reindeer or presents there are in those pictures.
You can help them access the website explore several other games, such as Robot Builder to collect different parts and put together an unforgettable character, Stunt Puzzles, and Math Moves to advance their creative thinking abilities and numerical skills.
There is also a Nick Jr. Lemonade Stand that can teach them how to run a small business, and a Cupcake Creator to let their imagination run wild with lots of colorful recipes to create a virtual delicious treat.
These are fun games for little kids to play online, but parents can also sit with them to listen and work through each of the stories and quizzes.
If you’re not in the house, the player can use the share screen mode on Zoom or Facebook Messanger which allows you to observe what is being played. An adult will need to set up an account for either platform. This is the same advice for the following online games for kids.
13. Spiderman Games to Play Online Free for Kids
Like Nick Jr, Marvel HQ has also introduced exciting Spiderman games to play online free for kids. These are not only for preschoolers, and slightly older children can try them out too, especially if they love Marvel and the Spiderman movies.
Using a tablet or smartphone, you can start with the first game, “Spiderman: Mysterio Rush,” where Mysterio has unleashed a poisonous gas over New York, and Spiderman needs to swing and travel across the streets to capture this villain.
At the starting level, the game provides instructions on how to swing from one location to another, and your children will be rewarded points for beating each other’s top scores.
This is one of the most addictive free games for kids to play, so parents may need to monitor screen-time because there are several levels to complete with different missions and stories.
14. Play Sonic Game for Kids
Sonic the Hedgehog was the most iconic character for those born between 1970 and the early 1990s, but as a parent and nostalgic video game enthusiast, you can share this superstar of fun and speed with your children using Apple Arcade Play.
Team Sonic Racing on Apple Arcade is one of the most thrilling games to play at home with kids to give Super Mario a run for his money.
It feels like Mario Kart but is much faster with 15 tracks split across 5 zones and plenty more rewards and prizes for finishing each race.
You can also compete with rival teams by playing in multiplayer mode with anybody around the world.
Every character has a special ability that makes racing around the laps way more fun.
This is the perfect game for all ages, but parents should always be careful when letting kids use the multiplayer mode to connect with others online.
Make sure to download it on your device and monitor how long they get to play each day.
Apple Arcade has over 100-Ad free games that you can access for $4.99 per month and download on an iPhone or iPad. See Peppa Pig section to find out how to watch via video call. It can also be played on Apple TV
They also offer a generous free 30-day free trial for you to try all the games first to feel confident that it will be a safe and fun experience for your little ones.
15. Train Games for Kids to Play
If you love train games for kids to play online, GamesGames.com has an excellent selection of these for free!
However, only a small number of them work on smartphones and tablets. The children may need to play them on a laptop or desktop computer instead after finishing their homework.
These are very harmful fun games for little kids to play online as they keep them engaged for hours with the continuous level up opportunities to become expert train operators.
For example, in the first game called “Train Snake,” your child will get to tap the screen to drive the train and collect as many passengers as possible while avoiding hurdles to prevent an accident.
This becomes more challenging as they level-up and collect points, making this game so enjoyable.
Alternatively, they can also take a break from a regular locomotive and switch to a Sushi Train as well.
There are also plenty of other mini games to try, such as Subway Surf, Grimm’s Fairy Tale, Railroad Shunting, Mini Train, Midnight Train, Off the Rails, Puzzle Express, Card Match, and Build the Bridge.
Train games with obstacles to overcome are perfect for teaching kids how to be resilient throughout a challenge to get to the finish line.
16. Spy Games for Kids to Play at Home
CBC Kids has a range of free spy games for kids to play at home to combat social distancing woes and canceled holidays.
Most of them work best on laptops and desktop computers, but they have a small selection for mobile devices.
The latest game is SPYnet, where The Tyrannis Corporation is being the ultimate villain, and elite SPYnet operatives Donovan and Darkfire need to stop the evil leader.
After covering 24 levels of sneaky action using spy gadgets and elite hacking skills to unlock epic features, your children can help Donovan and Darkfire find Headhunter to uncover SPYnet’s secret plans.
This is the perfect online adventure for kids over 9 years old.
You can also challenge your kids to a game of “Fly Ghost,” where you need to tap and fly a ghost through all the obstacles.
Or create a monster tower on a field to defend your base against ball invaders by collecting energy points. The more energy you collect by beating the invaders, the stronger your monsters grow.
The CBC Kids has a Halloween Special called “He Likes the Darkness,” where you need to move your chosen character either left or right and jump around to collect all the items.
As you collect more coins, you will get to unlock more characters and portals into seven different worlds with many levels for you to beat.
Alternatively, you can also try Barbie’s Spy Squad Academy on the official Barbie website. This is also a fantastic free online game for kids to join Barbie and her Spy Squad Renee and Teresa to earn their spy license.
On this exhilarating journey, your kids will need to complete several missions and collect gems to help crack several codes while evading enemy robots, oil slicks, and laser traps.
Did you find this useful? Pin to bookmark for later
Playing online does not solely have to be about learning the usual subjects since children can also engage with friends, grandparents, cousins, and all other loved ones to gain social and logical skills. After all, who does not love a stimulating game night with tons of laughter?
With games for kids to play online, you can add fun social gatherings to your child’s daily schedule to boost positivity. Young children develop several skills through the power of play, especially when it comes to uplifting creativity, emotional, language, and social skills.
Parent-approved zoom games for kids can also help you choose appropriate leisure-time, and educators can also use them to supplement classroom teachings. These games help with brain development and allow creative self-expression, structure, and a deeper understanding of the rules to highlight personal interests outside coursework.
After a long day of counting numbers and spelling words, children can use these games to make friends and avoid feeling isolated. Zoom games for kids are a common ground to hang out with loved ones. They also become a regular focus of conversations to share the joys of healthy competition.
The above mentioned games to play at home with kids are inclusive for people of all ages, which means that parents are encouraged to join in for some wholesome family fun. This way, you get to watch your little ones take the lead and feel proud of how fast they are learning with the biggest smile on their faces.
The only problem you might struggle with is convincing your kids to step away from their digital devices when it is finally time for dinner.
There are two certainties in life, my friend tells me. Death and strikes in France! If, like me, you find yourself in Paris during a strike or are due to travel to France, take note of the following advice to help reduce the stress on your trip. This guide looks at tips on how to enjoy your city break during a Paris strike.
Strike in Paris Travel Tips
1. Outbound Travel
If you are due to travel during the dates of the strike, contact your airline or rail company to discuss the best option for your circumstances.
You cannot claim for compensation as strikes are deemed against an airline’s control. It is up to the company to find another option, provide overnight accommodation (if applicable) and food.
It is up to you to check-in, arrive at the airport and keep evidence of any purchases. Offered an alternative type of travel? Get it in writing.
When you arrive, if there is a Paris metro strike like in December 2019, a taxi to your accommodation may be your only option.
Avoid rush hour if possible. This is the same for leaving.
Taxis from the city to Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) can take up to two hours on a normal day and cost around 55 euros.
Note: There is an extra security check before you get to the gate at CDG and security lines for the Eurostar are notoriously long getting out of France so leave with plenty of time.
2. Transport in Paris During a Strike
While metro staff members striking in France is not as common as other types of professions it did happen during the December strike.
When it reopened, some lines were operating but stations were closed so you couldn’t actually access them.
Download the RAPT app for the most up to date advice and use Twitter for specifics.
Bus lines were huge. My best advice is to avoid travelling during rush hour as this is when everyone is trying to work with limited options.
Uber is more expensive than taxis in Paris but I ended up having to pay for a car share as I had a meeting arranged at 08:30 at Jardins du Trocadero.
I was 45 minutes late but luckily the person I was meeting struggled to find transport too.
E-scooters are available in Paris.
They will be harder to find during rush hour but not impossible. You need to download the app and add credit card details before unlocking the scooter. Companies include Lime and Bird by Uber.
Some of the roads in Paris are bumpy and traffic is always a nightmare so consider this before hopping on an e-scooter, especially if this is your first time.
While the public buses are busy, if you can wait until after rush hour an open top hop/off bus is a good idea for harder to reach areas such as The Avenue des Champs-Élysées and Arch de Triumph.
Walk. This is what I did for the majority of my trip during the strike and what I’d do anyway.
Naturally, this adds time to your journey so if you only have a few days, check out my time-saving tips in the Paris travel guides coming soon.
3. Building An Itinerary
Use My Maps and Google Maps to input the things you want to do in Paris and the restaurants you want to visit.
This will help you visualise what Paris attractions are close together and also work out timings on foot.
For example, you can easily visit Sacré-Cœur, streets of Montmartre and the Moulin Rouge together and save the Louvre, Les Deux Plateaux, Shakespeare and Company and Sainte-Chapelle for another day.
Accept that some things will have to be missed and saved for another trip and that you’ll make new discoveries as you wander the streets.
These sell out and you can rarely get them on the day, so purchase as soon as you’ve decided you want to visit.
I got lucky at Sainte-Chapelle and managed to book a line skip when I was in line. I really hate waiting.
5. Stay In The Loop
Keep up to date with progress by watching the news in your accommodation, reading news sites and following Twitter.
Most museums and attractions update their Twitter account with their plans for that day.
For example, the Pompidou Centre closed early on the first day of the strike and publicised this on Twitter. Some exhibitions were closed too. The next day was back to normal.
I walked all the way to D’Orsay to find a note on the door saying that the museum was closed due to the strike. That’s when I decided to check the social media accounts before visiting anywhere.
Speak to locals.
Honestly, everyone was super friendly and helpful.
As soon as I arrived a local walked me halfway to my hotel and pointed the direction for the rest of the journey.
I booked a photo shoot and the photographer emailed to advise me of the strike as soon as it was announced.
Because of this information I made sure I was on a metro train from Disneyland to the city before 9pm as the metro strike was due to begin at 10pm.
Hotel staff helped me work out which metro station would be open for my trip to the airport and we also discussed the closest bus stops for the airport bus. I ended up paying €55 for a taxi just to be safe.
I was in a fortunate position to have my friend, Mhairi, who used to live in Paris on the other end of the phone. Her parents still live in Paris, their help was invaluable.
If you don’t have a Mhairi I recommend joining travel Facebook groups and asking for support and/or reading updates there.
Contact your hotel and tour companies for advice, it is likely they are locally based.
While I never saw any of the protests, I did see the police three times in Paris during the strike.
The first two times I was close to cité Berryer where there were barriers up at two roads shutting off the path so I decided it was wise to save a visit for another trip.
The third time was on Saturday night close to Rue Montorgueil. About 10 police vans with uniformed officers were parked up getting ready to move. I decided it was time to head back to the hotel and leave the evening to the locals who went about their normal lives.
I was advised by the photographer to avoid Champs-Elysées/Arc de Triomphe and République which I did during the official Black Tuesday strike.
Don’t ignore advice and you’ll have a great time unaware that a strike is happening in Paris!
The festive market phenomena has taken Europe by (snow) storm! Every November to January, stalls, huts, rides and smells blend together to create markets which take over popular cities. Some of these European Xmas markets are older than the USA as we know it! This guide details the best cities for Christmas markets from the traditional twenty in Vienna to Edinburgh’s cosy bothie bars.
Note: A decision about Europe’s Christmas markets and events will be made by each country individually. Please keep us updated if you hear of any decisions. Thank you.
Best Christmas Markets in Europe By City
Vienna Christmas Markets
Plural! There are twenty Christmas markets in Vienna, Austria’s capital.
The biggest, and most touristy, is Vienna Christmas World on Rathausplatz which is usually the first stop for tourists.
Under the curved sign which exclaims ‘Frohe Weihnachten,’ you’ll find hundreds of huts decorated in lights. These stalls sell typical Christmas gifts, some made by locals, others mass-produced. After Christmas, this market becomes a New Year one so you can visit after the 25th.
For more authentic gifts, check out the market at Karlsplatz which has a strict application process so it is guaranteed that all sellers are producing and selling local and genuine products.
Each of the Austrian markets in Vienna sells Glühwein and Punsch. You’ll be familiar with glühwein (mulled wine) as it is is sold at all of the Christmas markets in Europe but punsch is different as it is made with rum!
The markets operate a Christmas mug exchange process where you pay a deposit for a jazzy Christmas cup, drink until feeling warm and fuzzy then return the mug for your deposit back. Alternatively, keep the mug as a Xmas souvenir.
If you are feeling very indulgent you should try the Bailey’s with cream punsch at Schönbrunn Palace. You can also enjoy live music and eat Maroni (roasted chestnuts) or thinly sliced potatoes on a stick here.
Dates: Varies by market. Around about the middle of November until Christmas or New Year’s Day
Just before you turn the corner to Salzburg’s Old Town into Residenzplatz, the smell of candied apples, hot Glühwein, and sizzling sausages will fill the air.
Add that to the explosion of color and beauty in the form of Christmas market stalls selling everything from advent wreaths to tree ornaments, it’s obvious that visiting the Salzburg Christmas market is bound to be a festive time.
At nearly 500 years old, Salzburg hosts one of the oldest European Christmas markets, and it has definitely learned something in all that time!
The market is cheerful and stunning, and near-nightly carolers and events make the market a unique and fun place.
While tourists do love the market, locals do as well, and you’ll almost always find a great mix out and about as the sun sets in Salzburg during winter.
The market is the best mix of food and shopping you could ask for, with plenty of food, drink, craft, and decor stalls to keep you busy regardless of what kind of Christmas market you’re looking for.
While it does get busy, you won’t end up in line for hours here as there are enough stalls that there’s room for everyone to explore.
Insider tip: Hoping to stay on a budget in pricey Salzburg?
Consider eating dinner at the Christmas market. A kasekrainer (cheese-stuffed sausage) and a pretzel chased down with gluhwein is a tasty yet affordable dinner.
Once you finish up stuffing your face and shopping your heart out at the market, be sure to leave time for more of Salzburg’s Christmas festivities such as the birthplace of Mozart, concerts of his music are always popular, for example.
The famous Christmas Carol “Silent Night” was also invented nearby. Consider taking a tour to learn more about the history of the carol when visiting Salzburg!
Salzburg’s Christmas market runs from 22nd November to 26th December, and lodging does tend to get booked up during this time of year, so if you’re planning an epic European Christmas market getaway and want to include Salzburg, be sure to plan ahead!
The Christmas market of Rattenberg is one of a kind in Europe and a local insider tip.
The medieval city of Rattenberg is known as the smallest city in Austria with its 400 inhabitants situated by the river Inn in the breathtakingly beautiful Alpbachtal in the alps.
The city hosts a medieval-themed Christmas market without the conventional stalls and settings as we are used to in Christmas markets across Europe.
This year, the market will be held again in the fortress city center on all four advent weekends (Fridays included), from the 29th November onward up to the 22nd December.
No Christmas lights are used in Rattenberg but instead, candles, torches and open fires will light up the setting and get you into a more quiet and relaxed Christmas mood.
Fire has traditional importance in the region of Tyrol, which makes its appearance in various ways during the Christmas celebrations. Rattenberg is known for its glass art and for hand worked items from the region such as wood items and gourmet delicacies.
You will be able to watch glassblowers create delicate and unique glass pieces in the hot fires at the Christmas market. Chorals, Christmas story reenactments will enthral you while enjoying a hot Glühwein (mulled wine) or a Punch and you won’t be able to resist local food delicacies such as cured meats.
The Rattenberg Christkindlmarkt is your choice if you want a more romantic and authentic Christmas market setting.
Antwerp’s Kerstmarkt covering the area between Groenplaats to Handschoenmarkt and Grote Markt to Steenplein) has a feel-good vibe unlike any other I’ve experienced, and it has to be said I’ve done my fair share of research.
Whether it’s the beautiful setting on the Scheldt river or the vast range of live music and funfairs, you’d struggle not to have a good time.
I love the castle Het Steen lit up as though Disney took inspiration from its perfection.
There’s plenty of opportunities to grab a feast of bitterballen, hot chocolate and some of the local Antwerp hands which is the city’s symbol based on a legendary giant encounter, available in biscuit or chocolate.
Wander around this stunning city among the happy crowd.
Don’t forget that this is a city of diamonds, fashion, chocolate and Belgian beer when it comes to your gift shopping.
There are two best times to visit; during the day for epic river and skyline views from the top of the Ferris wheel, and then in the evening, when the spectacular lights will induce a warm fuzziness and a feeling of goodwill.
As the Kerstmarkt covers most of central Antwerp it manages to retain a buzz without ever seeming uncomfortably busy.
Don’t forget to make like a local and wish while kissing under the mistletoe sculpture.
A whirl around the ice rink afterwards will put even more pink into your cheeks.
→ Top tip: If you’re someone who feels a bit let down when the Christmas and New Year festivities are done, Antwerp is your city.
There’s a traditional burning of the Christmas tree at the end of the Kerstmarkt, making a celebration all of its own.
Dates: Saturday 5 December 2019 – Sunday 5 January 2020.
Against a stunning medieval backdrop, visitors are treated to two separate Christmas markets in Bruges. The first one can be found at the Markt, Bruges’ main square.
A collection of chalet-style stalls with mouth-watering treats and Christmas gifts attract visitors from all over the world. Climb the steps to the top of the Belfry of Bruges for a mesmerizing view over the Christmas village.
The second Christmas market takes place at the Simon Stevinplein and consists of two rows of Christmas stalls back to back in a more intimate and very inviting setting.
The strings of Christmas lights in the trees create a fairytale-like vibe and light up the surrounding historic buildings.
The Christmas markets in Bruges are collectively referred to as Wintermarket (Wintermarkt in Flemish).
The city’s medieval architecture creates a wonderful setting for the Christmas festivities with the twinkling lights adding even more charm to the gorgeous gingerbread houses.
Waffles covered in Belgian chocolate sauce, bûche de Noël, Belgian fries with mayonnaise and bratwurst are the most popular treats.
Wash that down with hot chocolate, glühwein (mulled wine), jenever and Christmas beers such as Bush De Noël and Glühkriek.
The best time to visit is during the week before Christmas, you can watch a folkloric re-enactment of the Christmas story, called the “Christmas Star procession”.
The Bruges Christmas markets are usually pleasantly busy but it never gets too packed.
→ Top tip: Should you be there on Christmas day, then make sure to attend the Christmas singing event at the Basilica of the Holy Blood, one of Bruges’ most renowned monuments.
Or, head to one of the many chocolate shops and admire the sparkling Christmas packaging. Can you resist buying one of these beautifully designed boxes for your friends and family?
Minnewater is the new location for the artificial ice-skating rink this year. It’s one of the most picturesque and romantic places in Bruges and I’m very excited that it’ll be included in this year’s festivities.
Belgium is a tiny country so why not visit another Christmas market while you’re there, such as the one in Brussels?
If you’re wondering what to do in Brussels, you’re in luck, because Belgium’s capital boasts a number of quirky attractions and a Christmas market that gives centuries-old German Christmas markets a run for their money.
In the 17th century Grand Place, locals and visitors surround the Winter Wanders event where you can see huge Christmas tree on display.
You’ll find hundreds of stalls selling anything from Christmas ornaments, jewelry, accessories and warm clothes to toys, crafts, and scrumptious food.
But perhaps the most unique feature is the incredibly cool steampunk themed carousel.
Unfortunately, the carousel is only for the little ones, though I can’t say I didn’t see an adult or two (including myself) looking at it with envy.
While most Christmas markets are organized around the main town square, the one in Brussels is 2km long, going all the way from the Grand Place to Marché aux Poissons.
You’ll find an amazing variety of local products, from cheese, waffles, and chocolate to fries, mulled wine, and fondue. Arrive on an empty stomach because there’s a lot of delicious food to try.
→ Top tip: Make sure you don’t miss the amazing light show organized in the Grand Place every night, the 3D video mapping on the facade of Sainte Catherine Church and the Christmas carol concerts organized inside churches around the city.
Prague Christmas Markets have some of the most enchanted settings in Europe.
There are six different markets held across the city between November and January.
The most popular of these is in the magical Old Town Square. The Christmas tree and stalls are surrounded by the fairytale Gothic spires of Our Lady before Tyn Church, medieval houses and the Old Town Hall.
The other main Christmas market in the centre of Prague is a five-minute walk away, in the less inspiring, modern setting of Wenceslas Square.
The most attractive of the other Prague Christmas markets are in St George’s Square on Castle Hill (Hradcany).
The Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square markets run from 30th November 2019 to 6th January 2020. The St George’s Square market runs from 23rd November to 6th January.
What’s different about them? The Prague Christmas Markets bear some similarities with others around Europe but come with a Czech twist.
The biggest difference you see is in the food and drink at the stalls, which include popular Czech food, snacks and, of course, beer.
Food and drink? The most common food stalls are the trdelnik ones, selling fresh spit-roast cake common in the Czech Republic and throughout Central Europe.
Best time to visit? The markets get busiest in the evenings, but this is the most atmospheric time when the stalls and surrounding buildings are lit up. It’s quieter earlier in the day, or towards the end of the evening.
→ Local tip: The busiest spot is the belfry of the Old Townhall, where crowds come for the bird’s eye view of the Market and Square. It’s not somewhere to venture if you struggle with claustrophobia, vertigo or a combination of both.
Wait for the crowds to thin out before venturing up.
While most people just visit the many markets of Prague, Brno, the second-largest city in the country, is a great destination that is significantly less touristy and where the Christmas markets will give you much more of a local feel.
The markets in Brno officially start on 29th November until 1st January. They are a fantastic place to look for souvenirs, buy Christmas presents and to enjoy Christmas decorations.
It’s the best way to get an idea of what Christmas culture is all about in the Czech Republic.
The atmosphere at Brno Christmas markets is very festive: there are Christmas carols, street performances, musicians, nativity scenes and beautifully decorated trees.
The nicest market is the one close to the City Council, that’s where you are bound to find the biggest selection of food stalls to try all the local Christmas specialities and drinks.
For drinks, make sure to try mulled wine, which in fact will be a great way to keep warm in the cold winter weather, mead, a drink made of honey and water.
For food, enjoy trdelnik which is a sweet pastry topped with sugar, cinnamon and almonds. It is occasionally filled with cream and other sweet goodness. This is a popular Czech snack found throughout the year but tourists love it at Xmas.*
→ Insider tip: For a fantastic view of the market, make sure to walk up the tower of the City Hall.
Copenhagen’s Tivoli Christmas market has to be one of the most Christmassy places on earth. Thousands of fairy lights twinkle around the theme park, which inspired Walt Disney to create Disneyland.
Pick up a gift at one of the high-quality stalls and pop-up shops, sip on some Gløgg, enjoy the traditional funfair games and ride the rollercoasters.
There’s no other Christmas market like Tivoli. Set in the Tivoli theme park in the centre of Copenhagen, the Tivoli Christmas market lets you eat, drink and shop – and then scream your head off on one of the many rides.
The theme park restaurants are all open for the Christmas period, so there are plenty of options, from fast food to a sit-down meal. Traditional Danish gløgg (mulled wine) is sold at stands around the park.
Visit after dark to make the most of the thousands of fairy lights and beautiful illuminated displays. If you can, try to catch one of the parades.
The Christmas market lasts into early January and is even open on New Year’s Eve, for a particularly magical experience.
I went on a weeknight and didn’t find it to be too busy, I can imagine that weekends close to Christmas do get busy though.
→ Top tip: Tivoli is Copenhagen’s main Christmas market but there are smaller ones held across the city centre. You can even get a taste of a Swedish Christmas on your trip to Copenhagen by crossing the Øresund Bridge to Malmö
Away from the cute cobbled streets and Gothic architecture, York, a city with vast Viking history and Roman roots sure knows how to compete in the competition for Europe’s best Christmas market!
Home to Kathe Wohlfahrt, the UK’s only year-round Christmas shop, York’s Christmas Market is a festive highlight and a firm favourite with tourists in the UK and beyond.
The award-winning St Nicholas Fair boasts over 100 alpine chalets, which is the place to head to purchase a unique range of Christmas gifts and if you’re feeling adventurous, brave the funfair rides.
Celebrating the best of local retailers and independents, The Made in Yorkshire Food Market is a festive foodie phenomenon with an array of Christmas favourites such as cheese, spiced mulled wine and roasted chestnuts.
Not to mention, locally made arts and crafts showcasing and supporting York’s local businesses.
The York Christmas Market not only includes a visit from Father Christmas, festive attractions such as an ice skating rink, carol singers and a pantomime; it also enables visitors to appreciate this medieval city under the glow of the twinkling Christmas fairy lights.
A must visit, The York Christmas Market will be held between the 14th November – 22nd December 2019 and is within walking distance of York Train Station.
The Birmingham Christmas German Market is one of the main highlights of the city during the festive season.
Hailed as the biggest German Christmas Market outside Germany! People from around the world enjoy the festive cheer in town.
The market is filled with the festive log cabins shops that serve German beer, Bratwurst, German Gingerbread cookies, crepe (with fruits and Nutella), Mulled wine, hot chocolate, Nutcracker, sweets and up to various bric-a-brac. They also have some festive fairground rides for the kids.
The Birmingham Christmas German Market will be open from 7th November to 23rd December 2019. The market is open from 10 am until 9 pm every day.
Guaranteed to have plenty of time to have fun and be merry with friends and family. The Christmas market is typically busy on the weekends and every happy hour around 5 pm onwards.
You can enjoy your visit to the Birmingham Christmas market by starting your stroll from the Bullring shopping centre and make your way down to the Birmingham City Hall.
→ Top tip: During this festive season, Birmingham also arranges various lantern display in front of the Birmingham Library!
Set against the stunning backdrop of the city’s Gothic cathedral and Norman castle, the Christmas market in Lincoln is one of the oldest and most popular in the UK.
It first took place in 1982 and now attracts around 250,000 visitors a year.
There are over 250 outside stalls selling everything Christmassy, from traditional snow globes to personalised Santa sacks.
A German food market dominates Castle Square, whilst the castle grounds are filled with prettily-lit wooden huts offering endless gift ideas.
More than fifty local artisans also sell their handmade creations inside the hall of the Westgate Academy behind the castle.
Due to the size of the market, a pedestrianised circular route has been put in place which funnels visitors from the cathedral, across the square, through the castle to the funfair behind and back again.
Families drink steaming cups of spicy mulled wine and eat hotdogs and toffee apples as they meander through the stalls.
Aromas of roasting chestnuts and candy floss fill the air. Oompah bands, carol-singing choirs, rock groups and folk singers entertain the crowds.
The festive atmosphere is all-embracing; I defy anyone not to be infected with the Christmas spirit by a visit to the market!
In recent years, Lincoln Christmas market has spread from the cathedral quarter at the top of the city, down Steep Hill, to the High Street at the bottom.
Every business in the town gets involved and mini street markets have popped up all over the place.
For fewest crowds, the best day to visit is Thursday when the market is open from 12 noon to 9.30 pm. Friday (open 10 am to 9.30 pm) is ‘coach day’ when busloads of visitors arrive from all over the country! The busiest days are Saturday (open 10 am to 9.30 pm) and Sunday (open 10 am to 7 pm) when you’ll experience the longest queues for the food stalls and fairground rides.
If you’re after a bargain, you should go on Sunday, though – stallholders tend to reduce their prices a couple of hours before the market closes!
Whenever you visit Lincoln Christmas market (and I hope you will!), don’t attempt to drive into the city. Police close the roads all around the centre and make all of the residential streets no parking for anyone except those with a resident’s permit.
→ Top tip: Lincoln City Council runs a very well-organised ‘park and ride’ scheme for visitors.
You park on the Lincolnshire Showground (well signposted from all routes into Lincoln) and then transfer to the market by bus.
Whilst you are in the city, don’t miss the opportunity to visit Lincoln Cathedral.
It is always beautifully decorated and illuminated for Christmas and carol concerts take place every day.
Two indoor venues, The Apex and The Atheneum, house small craft stalls. Here you can buy beautiful handcrafted pottery, textiles, works of art, jewellery and so much more.
The town centre is pedestrianised for the weekend to fit more stalls in the market place down some smaller streets.
The main event takes place in the historical centre of the town. Angel Hill and the Abbey Gardens are transformed into a World Market with crafts and food from around the globe. Meanwhile, the Cathedral gardens host a food market with plenty of free samples to keep you going.
Food is central to all the best markets, and this one is no different.
I always make sure to carefully choose the Christmas cheese from the locally produced selection on offer. Many of the local cafes set up tables outside to take advantage of the passing trade. This makes it easy to pick up mince pies and hot chocolate.
However, I prefer to head for the stall that specialises in mulled cider, selling it by the bottle as gifts or by the cup to help warm your fingers.
For children, there is a whole host of entertainment including a funfair, Santa’s Grotto, reindeer and more.
There’s even a nativity scene with real farm animals and alpacas dressed up as the three wise men. The charity stalls are also keen to put on a show, especially the ever-popular Doctor Who themed tent.
The Christmas Fayre does get busy, and because it’s only for a limited time, it pays to plan your visit.
The Fayre opens Thursday afternoon, and this is the best time to go as the crowds have not built up. If you can only go on Saturday then be prepared to get your elbows out.
The indoor venues, in particular, become so busy that it can be challenging to browse.
It is almost impossible to park in the town during this weekend unless you know a local willing to lend you their driveway then head to the park and ride.
By far the cosiest Christmas market we have ever visited was the one in the Old Town Square in Tallinn, Estonia.
It was the highlight of our winter trip to Tallinn. We visited the market every night throughout our stay because the ambience was so welcoming and relaxed.
It is a small Christmas market which makes it super cosy but not over-crowded, perfect for families, couples or anyone wanting to enjoy the Christmas spirit.
The location of the market is just amazing.
Not only it is central but the charming Town Hall Square, surrounded by century-old buildings, makes you feel like you are in a fairy tale story.
You can enjoy the market for several weeks, even after the Christmas season has passed. This year the market will be opened from 17th November 2019 to 6th January 2020.
In the market, you will see many local artists displaying their beautifully handcrafted products and there is a variety of food and drink stalls offering local Christmas delicacies and the local Glogg (or Glühwein), with a variable amount of alcohol, from zero to 21%.
There is also entertainment for the little ones with a few fair stalls with games, a small carrousel and the Christmas road train which will take you around the town.
Tallinn is a lovely place to visit around the holidays.
Tuomaan Markkinat, in English known simply as Helsinki Christmas Market, is the largest and oldest holiday market in the Finnish capital.
In 2018, Tuomaan Markkinat was listed among the best Christmas markets in Europe by Condé Nast Traveller and The Guardian.
With Scandinavian design items, traditional crafts, regional Christmas delicacies, glögi (Finnish version of mulled wine), and its own pop-in sauna, Tuomaan Markkinat is a distinctively Finnish holiday market.
Grab a seat in the heated café and taste Finnish Christmas brews while gazing at the cheerfully lit, old-fashioned carousel and the white cathedral overlooking the market. There are more than 100 booths selling food, gifts, and crafts.
Helsinki Christmas Market is open from the 6th December until the 22nd and although open from Tuesday to Sunday 11am until 8pm, the magical setting is best enjoyed after dark.
The market rarely feels too busy, except during special events, such as Finnish Independence Day on the 6th of December, and the last weekend before Christmas.
If you come with kids, make sure to arrive during the daily visits of Santa Claus. Did you know that Santa is originally from Finnish Lapland?
Helsinki Christmas Market is located in Senate Square, in the middle of the historic area of Helsinki. Be sure to stroll there through Aleksanterinkatu, the official Christmas Street of Helsinki, to admire the festive lights. Get to know all Christmas markets in Helsinki.
Photographer: Jussi Hellsten/Helsinki Christmas Market (Lehikoinen’s credit)
Paris Christmas Market
If the smell of French cheese or hot roasted chestnuts doesn’t get you in the Christmas mood, not much else will.
Christmas is a real festive time in Paris with the city’s squares and streets all lit up and adorned with Christmas trees, lights, and garlands.
There’s no better way to join in the festivities than a visit to one of the Christmas markets scattered across the city.
The biggest, Jardin Des Tuileries Christmas Market, can be found at The Tuileries Garden.
Here you will find festive gifts, souvenirs, and decorations by artisans from across France. There’s an ice rink for kids too.
In addition to the French cheese and roasted chestnuts, keep an eye out for other delicious treats the likes of Nutella-filled crepes, macarons, and spice bread. Find out more at Two Scots Abroad’s guide to Paris in December.
→ Top tip: The market does tend to get busy immediately after dinner, so it’s best to visit during the day or early evening by taking the Metro to Trocadero to avoid the crowds.
The historic town of Colmar in France becomes a total winter wonderland each November, with six Christmas markets popping up around the city squares.
Names of Markets
Place de la Cathédrale – Gourmet Market
Place des Dominicains
Place de l’Ancienne Douane
Place Jeanne d’Arc
The Petite Venise – Children’s Christmas Market
The Koïfhus – Indoor Craft Market
Each of the festive mini-villages has its architectural style, magical winter charm and a range of individual vendors selling their unique Christmas wares.
This sprawling market complex makes Colmar one of the best European destinations for a winter city break, allowing you to enjoy the colours, lights, cuisine and crafts on sale throughout the Christmas market.
The Christmas markets are even open on Christmas Day (2pm-7pm) allowing you to enjoy some festival family cheer after you’ve eaten your delicious Christmas Day lunch!
They differ to other European Christmas markets in that there are six different sections each offering their unique charm and creativity.
Rather than one line of market stalls, Colmar Christmas Market is split into six sections allowing you to roam for hours on end. The picture-perfect buildings in between the market stalls are also part of the attraction with advent images and lights creating an all-encompassing Christmas atmosphere.
Place de la Cathédrale is the place to go to try some local Christmas food and drink specialities.
This gourmet section of the market is bursting with festive food, divine drinks and some traditional Alsatian treats that will make you glad you came!
This foodie haven serves up starters, mains, desserts, drinks and snacks so there is always something to tickle your tastebuds.
Crepes, oysters, foie gras and cheese are, of course, French favourites, and local Christmas classics here include mannele (man-shaped brioche), vin chaud, pain d’epices (spiced bread) and bredele cookies.
As part of the winter festivities, the town also runs Christmas Cellar events which allow you to try the local wine, join in workshops and enjoy gastronomic food and wine pairings by local connoisseurs.
It’s a good idea to try and see the market both during the day and at night so you can get a glimpse of the different lights and events on offer. The first week of the event is probably the quietest, with more and more people visiting the market in the lead up to Christmas Day. The week before Christmas is likely to be the most popular.
Even though the Colmar Christmas market is consistently voted one of the best Christmas markets in Europe is it not as busy as the nearby Strasbourg Christmas Market, probably due to the six different
→ Top tip: Unless you want to stay in the hustle and bustle of Colmar during the Christmas markets, it might be a good idea to base yourself in the nearby town of Obernai.
This allows you to enjoy a quieter stay while being within reaching distance. Obernai also has a festive market throughout late November and December.
Visitors to Colmar may also want to explore the Unterlinden Museum, see a Christmas concert at Saint Matthieu’s Church or go wine tasting in the Alsatian vineyards surrounding Colmar.
Nearby Kaysersberg, Riquewihr and Turckheim are all picturesque towns that look like they’ve jumped out of Beauty and the Beast and each offers Christmas charm during the festive season.
For more than a decade, we’ve traveled extensively in Europe in winter. One of the reasons we love traveling during the colder season is Christmas Markets.
We love everything about them; the hot Glühwein, the spectacular displays, and mostly the overall feeling of joy and merriment that abound. Over the years, we’ve tried valiantly to become Christmas Market experts.
And after visiting many markets in different cities and countries, we can confidently say that the best city to visit for Christmas Markets in Europe is Cologne, Germany.
They each have a different theme so they look and feel very distinctive. The most eye-catching market is the one directly under the Cologne Dom, one of the tallest cathedrals in the world.
The cathedral makes for a most majestic backdrop. It’s worth going inside to see the beautiful vaulted ceilings and stained glass, and if you’re fit enough, climbing up to the top of the tower to see the gorgeous views of the city.
Our favorite is the Christmas Market at Alter Markt. It’s the largest in the city, and is nestled among the atmospheric Old Town buildings.
It has a super fun ice skating rink and alpine huts where you can sip your Glühwein if it gets too cold outside. We found one of our favorite treats at this particular market.
At most Christmas Markets you can get Schupfnudeln (flour or potato dumplings) with sauerkraut and speck.
But here, they serve some more gourmet options, including a truly delicious and decadent version with spinach, sun-dried tomatoes and crème fraîche.
Another fun and unique market is the one at the harbor. It’s appropriately nautical-themed, with huts shaped like ships and a good deal of seafood on offer.
It’s also near the Chocolate Museum, which is great fun for pretty much everyone. You can also see some nice views of the city and the Rhine River from its roof (which is free). Read more about the seven Cologne Christmas Markets.
With so many markets in one city, you don’t have to worry about one particular market getting too busy or waiting in lines. If there are too many people, you can just move onto the next one.
Cologne’s center is relatively compact and easy to get around on foot or by public transport. You can definitely hit all the markets during one visit.
There’s also a special trolley bus called the Christmas Market Express that takes visitors to see the four biggest markets (the above three plus the Angel’s Market).
This is especially great for people with mobility issues and kids.
Top tip: a can’t-miss thing to do in Cologne is walking across the Hohenzollern Bridge. It’s great any time of year but is especially scenic during Christmas Market season with all the lights.
The view of the Dom and the Old Town from the other side of the Rhine River can’t be beaten.
With records dating back to 1530, Nuremberg’s Christkindlesmarkt is one of Germany’s oldest holiday festivals.
The 2019 Nuremberg Christmas Market opens on 29th November and runs continuously until 24 December, featuring more than 150 vendors offering gifts, souvenirs and local food specialities.
Must-tries include the famous Nuremberg sausages (served as a set of three in a bun, Drei im Weggla, best topped with plenty of mustard!), and Lebkuchen, Nuremberg’s traditional gingerbread.
Be sure to try Elisenlebkuchen, which is made with almonds and spices for a flourless version of the baked treat and is considered the most premium of gingerbread.
And, of course, don’t miss the Glühwein, or hot mulled wine, perfect for warming up on a chilly winter evening.
A highlight of the Nuremberg Christmas Market is a special area for Sister Cities.
After World War II, Nuremberg wanted to boost international relations and help drive human rights activities, and the Markt der Partnerstädtequickly became a beloved element of the season’s festivities.
Enjoy browsing the booths from cities like Atlanta (USA), Nice (France), San Carlos (Nicaragua), and Shenzhen (China), among many more.
Given its long history, the Nuremberg Christmas Market draws visitors from all around the world and can be quite crowded. Saturdays tend to be especially packed with tourists and locals alike, sipping Glühwein and wandering among the many vendors.
Weekday afternoons are often much quieter and still very cozy. Do be sure to have cash on hand as very few booths will accept credit cards, though prices for food and drink are quite reasonable.
Expect to pay 3-4€ for mulled wine, with an additional 3€ deposit (Pfand) on the mug itself, and about the same cost for sausages and other snacks. As the wares on offer around the market are usually handmade or specially sourced for the event, prices will, of course, vary.
→ Top tip: Local oddities like Zwetschgenmännle, or Prune Men, small figurines made of dried prunes and walnuts, can be had for just a few euros and make excellent souvenirs or fun gifts.
While in town for Christmas festivities, do make the trek uphill to visit Nuremberg’s imperial castle, where you can overlook the city from its historic heart.
If you’re looking for a low-key Christmas Market with traditional charm, the display in the small town of Celle in northern Germany will check all your boxes.
Celle’s historic town square is known for its iconic half-timber houses, and paired with twinkling lights and smells of gingerbread and glühwein, this is a fairytale setting for a Christmas Market.
Each of the 80 huts clustered in the center must be of the traditional wooden design, making market-goers feel as if they’ve stepped back in time.
This Christmas market is intimate and charming, especially if you’re lucky enough to visit after a fresh dusting of snow.
Unlike the more commercialized Christmas Markets in Germany’s big cities like Berlin and Munich, the small town of Celle puts together a market that retains a traditional atmosphere.
There are a variety of traditional foods for sale like sausages and kraut, creamy mushrooms, and pretzels.
Try sweets like glazed almonds or the traditional treat schmalzgeback, which are fried pastry puffs served in a cone and topped with powdered sugar. Oh, and don’t forget to get a hot mug (or two!) of glühwein!
Weekday evenings will be the least crowded, but if you want a truly festive feel, the weekends can be quite fun as well.
Since Celle is a small town, you’ll find this Christmas lacks the crowds of the big cities. Weekends tend to be busier, as with all Christmas Markets, but it is still quite manageable.
→ Top tip: Don’t miss the traditional crafts section of the market. Located near the Stadtkirche church, this area has a makeshift forest of thoughtfully-arranged Christmas trees, between which wooden booths house artists making items like blown glass, candles, and silver. Some of the artisans even allow visitors to join in.
Pop into cute boutiques for some Christmas shopping and to view the living Advent Calendar inside some of the town’s shops. During the holiday season, you can attend Christmas concerts and tour the Baroque-style Celle Castle, which is decked out in holiday spirit.
The market’s official name, Weihnachsmarkt am See, translates to “Christmas market on the lake”.
As the name suggests, the unique feature of this market is that it takes place right on Lake Constance. In addition to the 170 stalls that line the streets of the city center all the way down to the shore, the festivities continue onboard the “Christmas Ship” that are moored in the harbor.
On the ship, you’ll find even more craft and food stalls, along with a 360° panoramic ice bar.
One of the most common dishes served at the market is Käsespätzle, a southern German dish made with a special type of fresh pasta mixed with cheese.
Vegans should also be able to find plant-based options at some of the stalls, particularly the ones serving international cuisines like Moroccan or Indian.
The market is open every day of the week, but it’s best to go on a weekday if possible to avoid the crowds. People do come from neighboring countries Switzerland and Austria as well as from other parts of Germany to visit the Konstanz market.
That being said, I visited on a weekend, and the lines weren’t overly long.
→ Local tip: If you happen to be coming from Switzerland, keep an eye out for special deals from SBB, the Swiss railway company. Every year, they offer discounted train tickets to cities in and around Switzerland with great Christmas markets. I managed to score a half-price ticket to Konstanz from Geneva and a free bottle of gluhwein!
Lake Constance is primarily thought of as a summer destination, but nearby villages like Arbon and Stein am Rhein are also beautiful in the winter.
And while you’re in Konstanz, be sure to check out the Imperia Statue, a controversial work of art that features a naked Pope Martin V and Emperor Sigismund.
The South of Germany is famous worldwide for its cute little towns, snowy mountains, and stunning Christmas markets.
Little do many travelers know that the North of Germany is full of gorgeous fairytale-like Christmas markets. The best example might be the Goslar Christmas Market.
Goslar is a little town, near the Harz mountains full of narrow streets and old half-timbered houses.
Its Christmas Market perfectly fits the medieval charm of this little sleepy town. It is located right in the city centre on the market square surrounded by historic and impressive buildings.
In its center, you can find the arguably most popular sight of the city: a beautiful fountain with a golden eagle on top of it.
The Christmas market is full of little stables offering all kinds of food, handicrafts, souvenirs and more. What makes this market so special is not its size (it’s much smaller than other popular Christmas markets in the area) but its medieval small-town vibe.
After enjoying some freshly baked hot bread prepared in the small medieval bakery stable, you can sip some mulled-wine in the so-called Goslar Christmas Forest.
This is an artificial forest built out of real pines that you can find every year on the little square right next to the market as an extension to the annual Christmas market.
But my favorite treat on the market is definitely still the boozy hot chocolates.
Since this little Christmas market usually is voted as one of the most beautiful in Germany, it can get pretty crowded on the little market square.
So, you might want to avoid visiting on the weekends if possible. Also, if you come in the morning or early afternoon, you will find much fewer people. On the other hand, the market looks even more beautiful with all of its Christmas lights illuminating the little stables.
Dresden’s Christmas market is the oldest in Germany, starting in 1434, which means it has been an ongoing tradition for 585
years in 2019.
There are actually several smaller Christmas markets in Dresden, but the main one is known as The Dresden Striezelmarkt.
It’s open every year from 27th November to 24th December, from 10am to 9pm.
It’s located at the Dresden Altmarkt square (old town center).
At the market you can find all the traditional things in a German christmas market, such as freshly grilled sausages and other types of local food as well as Glühwein, artisan shops and of course an endless amount of Christmas decorations.
The Striezelmarkt is definitely one of the best places to go in Europe if you like Christmas. What’s even better is that not only tourists from all over the world come here, but also the locals themselves, which means it still holds that genuine Christmas market feeling.
If you want to avoid the most crowded times I suggest to come on weekdays at the beginning of December. Every shop seller will also be enthusiastic because the market hasn’t been open for long.
→ Top tip: Don’t forget to get your own Striezelmarkt mug for hot beverages. When you order a hot beverage you will get a ceramic mug and pay a small deposit. If you don’t want the mug, you will get the money back when you return it. Otherwise, the mug is yours, which makes a great souvenir, and the Striezelmarkt mugs are quite famous.
The other Christmas markets in Dresden are also nice, but has a more local neighboorhod feeling to them.
The Stuttgart Christmas Market is a renowned and well-known market in Baden-Wurttemberg.
Known as the Stuttgarter Weighnachtsmarkt, it is over 300 years old and is still going strong. Here you can shop at nearly 300 stalls from soap makers, ornament makers, toys, household goods to many food and beverage stalls and a lot more.
As one of the largest Christmas markets in the region, Stuttgarter Weighnachtsmarkt has a lot to offer visitors.
It stretches across several squares in downtown Stuttgart and has an ice rink, a train display, kids rides and a host of decorative stalls.
Many of Germany’s typical foods are available at the market, but due to its size, you will also find Italian, Greek and American food within the many food stalls.
The market is very large and attracts many visitors, and it is best to visit the market during the daytime. The market can get very crowded late into the evening and particularly on the weekends. The closer to the holiday, the busier it gets.
→ Local tip: Pop into the City Hall building for a few minutes to warm up on cold days.
If staying in the Stuttgart area, be sure to visit places including Hohenzollern Castle or Ludwigsburg Palace, both great day trips from Stuttgart.
There are also plenty of other Christmas markets nearby to enjoy including the Esslingen Christmas market as well as the Nuremberg Christmas Market.
Located at the crossroads of both the Romantic Road and Castle Road, Rothenburg ob der Tauber is one of Germany’s prettiest towns and its annual Christmas market attracts visitors from all over the world.
Held around the Old Town’s market place, the market, known as the Reiterlesmarkt, has been running since the 15th century.
Wooden chalets are erected in front of the town’s fairytale-like Medieval buildings, a giant Christmas tree is installed and with snowflakes dusting the rooftops, it’s a real-life Christmas card scene.
Traditional German Christmas specialities like mulled wine, roasted chestnuts, gingerbread, sausages and pastries are just some of the delights to tempt your tastebuds, whilst other stalls sell handcrafts and Christmas decorations which make perfect souvenirs of your visit.
A unique feature of the Reiterlesmarkt is the appearance of the Rothenburger Reiterle (horseman), for whom the market is named.
Legend has it that he was a messenger from another world who carried the souls of the dead across the skies in winter, but these days he’s not a feared mythical character but someone whose arrival is eagerly awaited. The Rothenburg Christmas Market is officially opened each year by the Reiterle.
To add to the festive atmosphere, there are daily concerts and Santa Claus makes an appearance each afternoon.
As well as attracting visitors from near and far, the market is also popular with locals who come to shop and catch up with friends after work over a glass of mulled wine.
Whilst you are in Rothenburg, be sure to visit the magical Kathe Wohlfahrt Christmas Village on Herrngasse.
Filled to the brim with Christmas decorations and ornaments, the shop is open year-round but with the festive spirit in the air, there’s no better time to visit than in the lead up to Christmas.
Adjoining the Christmas Village is the German Christmas Museum where you can learn about the history of Christmas in Germany across the centuries.
Budapest has two notable markets, Vörösmarty Square Christmas Market and Basilica Christmas Market.
While the oldest and most popular is at Vörösmarty, the biggest sits in front of the famous St. Stephen’s Basilica.
Both markets sell typical Christmas gifts and souvenirs which you will be accustomed to elsewhere but what makes these markets stand out is the local food.
Try the Instagram-worthy Chimney cakes or poppy strudel, washed down with Gluhwein or Hungarian palinka, if you are feeling brave.
After hours at the busy markets, what better way to relax than in one of Budapest’s baths? Culturally the baths mean a lot to Hungarians as they not only provide medicinal benefits but also play a big part in their social lives.
Christmas Markets in Italy are just as popular with both locals and visitors from around the world.
The markets, known in Italian as Mercatino di Natale, are not as numerous or on the same grand scale as the Christmas markets in Germany but they are quaint and festive nevertheless.
Verona Christmas Market
Verona, which is the backdrop to the story of Romeo and Juliet, will be dressed in lights and colors of Christmas during November and December.
The Christmas Market in Verona is held at Piazza dei Signori, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has been a meeting point for culture and traditions over centuries.
The entrance to the city is illuminated by hundreds of lights, all over the streets of the historic center and onto beautiful Piazza Bra. They also run along the Roman Arena which is decorated with a huge Christmas tree on the square.
The Italian stallholders at the Christmas Market will have mouth-watering displays of local food and drinks plus the usual array of locally manufactured seasonal gift items including truffles.
Yes, you read that right – it is truffle season in November around these parts. We loved stopping at the different stalls tasting the freshly baked potato pizzas, truffle laced bites, homemade chocolates and mulled wine.
Although these are called caves, the Netherlands doesn’t have any caves that naturally exist and these are old quarries that have been mined since Roman times.
Within two of the many “caves” in Valkenburg, you’ll find two Christmas markets.
The largest and the most famous market in Valkenburg is the Gemeentegrot Kerstmarkt while the smaller market is the Kerstmarkt Flueweelengrot, which takes place in the historic Velvet cave near the Valkenburg castle.
Within the quarries, you can admire carvings from medieval times, see an old chapel within the caves, and see where people lived during World War II.
Within the markets, you’ll find standard Christmas market fare, but it’s more about the location that truly makes this Dutch Christmas market stand out from the rest.
Within the market, you’ll find typical Dutch snacks along with gluhwein, a warm mulled wine made with spices.
The best time to visit is first thing in the morning although you’re best off visiting on a rainy day.
The Valkenburg market is well-known in the Netherlands, so expect significant lines.
The is a limit on how many people are allowed in the caves, however, it’s possible to skip the line by buying tickets in advance.
If you’re considering visiting Valkenburg during the Christmas season, book your hotel early as Valkenburg and Maastricht are popular December weekend trip favorites with Dutchies, Germans, and Belgians.
It’s much easier to visit by train to avoid pricey parking although those on a budget might prefer one of the cozy accommodation options, which include castles, in the beautiful Limburg countryside.
The entire city of Valkenburg turns into the Christmas City of Valkenburg during this period, so if you check the schedule, you can enjoy parades, fresh food stands, and other cute Christmas themed attractions.
The most famous attraction of Valkenburg is the Valkenburg castle ruins, which can be toured during this time on a combination ticket with the Christmas markets. Maastricht is also nearby.
The Krakow Christmas Market runs from November 29th 2019 until 26th December and then reappears as the New Year Market on 27th December until 7th January 2020. The market is open from 10:00-20:00.
Held in the Rynek, Krakow’s main market square this marketing has been running since the 1930s.
It did stop for a while during the countries communist regime, but is well and truly up and running now.
Enclosed by the glorious St Mary’s Basilica and the stunning Cloth Hall, while encircled by beautiful horse-drawn carriage rides, and usually blanketed with at least a photogenic cover of snow, this is a feast for all the senses, but wrap up warm it can get bitterly cold here!
There are wooden stalls with wooden children’s toys, sweets, knitwear and jewellery as well as art and pottery.
The food here is what you’ll come for though. Grzaniec or hot mulled wine is served from massive wooden barrels, or a cold beer is also available.
The absolute must-have food is Smalec, a traditional Polish spread of spices and lard, topping thick slices of fresh bread and itself topped with sausage and fried onions. It is surprisingly delicious.
The best time to visit depends on the weather, try and come when it’s not bitterly cold, otherwise, you’ll be cutting your visit short!
Late afternoon and early evening make for the most atmosphere time to visit.
→Top tip: You’ll be able to warm up in one of the Pijalnia Wódki I Piwa bars – a hangover from communist Poland, where the beer is cheap, the vodka is cheaper and the budget snacks will fill you up for pennies. They’re usually open until 06:00.
The Bucharest Christmas Market has a more recent tradition – as it was launched just a few years ago. But, since it launch, it became a huge success, both among locals and tourists. Hosted in front of the heaviest building in the world – the Palace of Parliament in Bucharest, the capital of Romania – in Constitution Square, this Christmas market is open from December 1st (Romania’s National Day) until December 26th.
While there are a few more Christmas fairs in Bucharest – at University Square, in big parks and malls – this is the biggest one and one to visit on your Bucharest trip. There are many things to do in Bucharest in December.
There are almost 130 small cottages where you can find numerous Christmas-related and traditional products. From Christmas food from all over the country to traditional costumes, Christmas decorations (including hand-made ones), to jewelry, paintings, pottery and more, everything is here. There’s also a food court.
Another great thing: concerts! Each weekend, from Friday to Sunday, in the evening (starting at 6 PM) you have concerts. Each evening has a theme and you’ll be able to listen to Romanian singers of all ages. During the concerts, there are bigger crowds, so consider that when visiting.
Children have Santa’s House – and they can meet Santa from December 17th to December 24th. There are also train rides for them and a carousel. You’ll also find here an ice skating ring for people of all ages. All the activities are free.
I visit the Bucharest Christmas Market each year – it’s a family tradition. We go and admire the city lights as well – Bucharest is decorated each year with new wonderful holiday lights and it’s a pleasure to see them all. I hope you’ll enjoy this market too!
Edinburgh plays host to the world’s biggest Hogmanay party, which means New Year’s Eve to non-Scots, and although this event brings in the 1st with a bang, the month run-up is filled with festivities in Scotland’s capital.
The Christmas market at Princes Stree Gardens is similar to other markets in Europe in that it sells Gluhwein in rented mugs, bratwurst in rolls and there is an ice rink but what makes it differ, slightly, is the Scottish twist.
You can expect haggis dogs sold alongside German sausage and a bothie bar selling whisky cocktails!
A bothie is a small hut or very small cottage which is used by hikers in Scotlands. Edinburgh’s Christmas has put a festive spin on the bothie and here you can get the best views on the market from this pub.
Warning: the market is super busy during the weekend so much so we gave up trying to enter one Saturday in December.
→ Top tip: If you are a fan of heights, ride the Star Flyer which soars at 60 metres above the market!
Edinburgh’s Market doesn’t just stop at Princes Street Gardens. George Street and St Andrews Square also play host to festive events.
If you like tapas with your tinsel then consider a warm Christmas trip to Barcelona. Nights are balmy but dark does fall on and the Catalan city makes a huge effort with Christmas lights in every area and shopping street.
Passeig de Gràcia is the most popular with its hanging lights.
There a handful of Christmas dotted around the city with the most notable being Fira de Santa Llúcia Christmas Market which sits underneath Barcelona Cathedral.
Stalls sell Catalan traditional toys (?) such as the Christmas poo, Caga Tió and The Caganer pooing ornament.
In addition to the Christmas market staples of roasted chestnuts, freshly-made churros, and mulled wine, the Montreux Christmas Market also has over half a dozen restaurants.
The vast majority of these restaurants serve Swiss or Vaud (the canton or state) specialities, such as raclette and rosti.
→ Top tip: Before heading to the market, check the website to see the opening hours for the individual vendors or sections. Certain sections open at different times of day than others.
In my opinion, the best time to go is around 5 p.m., just after the sun has set. You’ll be able to see the market and its view of Lake Geneva and the French Alps with the beautiful orange sunset glow.
Besides, the vast majority of the vendors will just be opening up, so the lines won’t be as long, the market won’t be as packed, and you’ll be able to enjoy the Swiss Christmas spirit.
If you’re looking for other festive activities to do in Montreux, head over to Chateau de Chillon – the castle that The Little Mermaid castle was based on – for some Christmas-themed workshops, stories, and shows!
Most markets open around the mid to end November and close for Christmas or New Year’s Eve.
Pin for future planning
The best cities for Christmas markets have to be found in Europe since this is where the concept originated from! Sip Glühwein like locals, dine on cuisine unique to specific markets and support local makers while you Christmas shop to get you in the Christmas spirit.
After all the hype, the hit Netflix film Outlaw King finally hit the screens in the UK and the response was epic. The two-hour film starring Chris Pine as King Robert the Bruce and BAFTA nominee Florence Pugh as his new wife Elizabeth shares the ‘untold true story’ of the Outlaw King of Scotland. After the first screening, the Scottish born director, David Mackenzie, wasn’t happy with it (he cut it by twenty minutes). Let’s see what fans have to say about the final cut and play ‘guess the Outlaw filming locations’ game!
What Scots Are Saying
It’s no surprise that the hashtag #OutlawKing is trending. Here’s what the Twitterati has to say about the show.
Kudos on not butchering the accent!
Just watched Outlaw King and thought it was absolutely brilliant. And @ChrisPine, your accent was first class!
One slip up in the above tweet by the Outlaw King team – ‘honor’ is the American English spelling, honour is the UK English. This week a couple of bloggers said they would click off an article that was written in UK English because they would assume that the spelling was wrong. As you can imagine, I tore them a new…
Even celebs are tweeting, cheers Gezza!
Check out my boy @TonyCurran69 in The #OutlawKing. We’ve been friends since we were two lanky 15 year olds at The Scottish Youth Theater. Proud that he got to kick English arse in the story of one of Scotland’s most epic heroes Robert the Bruce. Can’t wait to see it. @Netflixpic.twitter.com/ppEw9Urmhv
Then there was plenty of chat about Pine’s fuzzy Pen15 during his loony dook.
Outlaw King Filming Locations
Although you won’t spot Chris Pine (from previous Wonder Woman and Star Trek fame), you will visit epic Scottish landmarks during your Outlaw King filming locations tour! Some locations were actually filmed in present day Northumbria, our Northern English neighbours.
Linlithgow Palace, home to the monarchs of the 15th and 16th century, stars as Bruce’s castle and chapel. Bruce is crowned the King of Scots in front of Linlithgow Palace (38 minutes), surrounded by supporters and small fires which light up the palace walls beautifully.
Scone Palace is actually where Bruce was crowned, a palace open to visitors today.
What else is Linlithgow Palace known for?
Linlithgow Palace, although now a ruin, was the birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots. During the summer months, the fountain flows for visitors to see. There is a nice walk around Linlithgow Loch and a couple of cafes in the town centre so you can grab a sandwich or ice cream for the stroll.
Address: Kirkgate, Linlithgow EH49 7AL
Blackness Castle appears as Yorkshire Castle where Elizabeth (Pugh) is imprisoned. You’ll see her dangling in a birdcage-like cell over the Firth of Forth waters (1 hour 27 minutes). This 15th-century fortress resembles a boat hence the nickname ‘the ship that never sailed’. Apt considering its location.
What else is it known for?
Blackness Castle was built by the powerful Crichton family. Visitors can test their knowledge with the fact-finding quiz and also climb the towers and curtain wall. Great views of the Forth Bridges await!
Craigmillar Castle becomes Bruce’s home and village. You’ll spot the archway during the scene where Elizabeth meets Bruce, Marjory and Jessie the dog for the first time (12 minutes). Many of the castles and palaces used were transformed in some way for effect. For example, a gate was added to the outer courtyard at Craigmillar Castle.
What else is it known for?
This medieval castle is where Mary Queen of Scots hid in 1566. There you will find the remains of an unusual fishpond which is shaped in the form of P for Preston, the owner, Sir Simon Preston. Check out the views of Edinburgh from the tower.
The active medieval cathedral was used as Greyfriars Cathedral and the Lord’s Hall. You can see the Cathedral with its instantly recognisable green roof at 30 minutes.
What else is it known for?
Glasgow Cathedral was dedicated to the patron saint of the city, St Mungo. Although built in the 1100s it is still visited by tourists every day.
Behind the Cathedral is the Necropolis which offers great views of the city and across the road from Glasgow Cathedral is Provand’s Lordship, the oldest house in Glasgow.
Address: Castle St, Glasgow G4 0QZ
According to a Chris Pine fan Instagram account, Outlaw King uses the University’s Harry Potter-esque cloisters for a banquet feast. It certainly looks like it during the ‘let’s ‘ave ’em’ celebration (39 minutes).
Confirmed by Tony Pollard, Professor at the University of Glasgow and historical advisors to the film (thanks Tony), the cloisters are the filming location where Bruce ‘discusses’ a rebellion with John Comyn (27 minutes) and Edward I is advised that another castle has been recaptured (Doune Castle this time) at 1 hour 20 minutes.
What else is it known for?
Glasgow University is the fourth oldest university in the English speaking world. It is situated in the West End of the city close to Byres Road, Ashton Lane and Kelvingrove Park/Museum. Outlander also filmed at the university. I studied Social Policy there many moons ago!
Mugdock Castle was transformed into a medieval village with six huts and lots of hay. Something you’ll just have to close your eyes to imagine if visiting. It was also the bloody scene of the final battle.
Address: Milngavie, Mugdock, Glasgow G62 8EL
Doune Castle is not shy when it comes to being on screen and this time it is transformed into Outlaw King’s Douglas Castle. Black Douglas (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) convinces Bruce to let him take it back which he does successfully. The scene where James Douglas and soldiers walk with Doune Castle ablaze in the background is striking.
What else is there to see?
Doune Castle is a popular choice for filmmakers (Monty Python and the Holy Grail and Outlander were both filmed here) and the Doune Castle team have really embraced this. Visitors can take a one-hour audio tour narrated by Monty Python actor Terry Jones.
Situated five minutes from where we live, ‘The Abbey’ is close to our hearts. Dunfermline was the obvious choice for the filming of Outlaw King as the tomb of Robert the Bruce lies in Dunfermline Abbey Church. Like the monarchs of his time, his organs were buried separately from his body with his heart buried in Melrose Abbey, Roxburghshire. In the show, Dunfermline Abbey plays Westminster. You can see King Edward I slapping his son over the face here before he sends him out to battle (37 mins).
What else is it known for?
You can’t miss Dunfermline Abbey when visiting the old historic capital of Scotland. The words King Bruce are emblazoned in stone and sit proudly above the Abbey grounds. Excellent views of the Abbey can be seen from Dunfermline Library.
Forty minutes into Outlaw King, the English ride by horseback over Berwick’s Old Bridge/Outlaw King’s London Bridge with the red dragon flags waving.
Outlaw King is a great addition to the ever-growing list of filming locations in Scotland. Naturally one of the main reasons to visit Scotland is to walk where kings have walked before and now with our guide to Outlaw King filming locations you can walk where the celebrities playing the kings have walked too. Not to forget a mention to the beautiful countryside, isles, songs, and cracking haircuts that also feature throughout the film.
In 2014, Craig and I, Gemma, you can read more about us here, started planning an 18-month career break to travel the Americas and Europe. My friend, Andy, suggested I started my own travel blog to share the adventure which was laughable because I am not the most tech-savvy.
For example, I was still using floppy discs at uni when everyone was on to pen drives!
Nonetheless, I started to study other websites and thought, why not? Thus Two Scots Abroad was introduced to the world.
In August 2016, I went back to full-time high school teaching for one year, then I reduced my hours to three days to work on this travel blog and now?
I’ve quit teaching! I’m my own boss, it is make it or break it time.
The first question people ask about blogging?
How to do bloggers make money? Watch this video to find out ↓
So How Do You Make Money From Blogging?
One word – mindset.
Anyone that is self-employed will know that you have to think business for a plan to work; that and multiple income streams!
My income is made up of a variety of sources such as:
Adverts on Two Scots Abroad.
Affiliate links – a small amount of commission on the products and services we recommend.
Press trips – we don’t do campaigns often because they can be exhausting and entail a lot of active work. I know the thought of travelling the world for free sounds exciting but it doesn’t pay the bills!
Conferences and workshops – I’ve not fully quit teaching, I’ve just switched my audience. I also co-own a company called Make Traffic Happen which helps bloggers gain more traffic to their websites through ebooks and courses. My business partner, Laura Lynch, and I have hosted our SEO Bootcamp workshop in London and Edinburgh. We’ve also presented at TBEX, Traverse, Edinburgh Blogger Conference and Borderless Live. Bloggers and niche site owners, join our free Facebook group here.
Looking for a speaker with just under ten years of teaching experience to discuss digital content creation, working with bloggers, as I did at the Fife Tourism Conference, anything travel or search engine optimisation related?
Email me at gemma[at]twoscotsabroad[dot]com.
You can read more about our why I don’t work for free here which explains my workflow.
How Can You help?
Usually, the second question after ‘how do you make money’ is, ‘how can we help you’ and I really appreciate that. Obviously continuing to read our articles [with ads] and booking services/buying products we recommend helps but you could also…
» share our stuff «
If you found a travel guide useful, a product review informative or a personal story intriguing share it with your friends and social media followers.
Same goes for our Facebook posts and Tweets. If you like them, help spread the word. This not only gets more eyes on Two Scots Abroad but also tackles the annoying algorithms.
I’m really excited about this change. It is a risk and I would not be able to do it without the support of Craig and you.
So… you can expect an increase in travel inspiration from me!