Christmas Markets of Eastern Europe

Snowy Road in Budapest

Starting in mid-November of every year, Christmas Markets start popping up all over Europe. In December of 2010, I took a mini train journey through Hungary, Austria, Slovakia and Czech Republic. The cheery Christmas Markets were definitely one of the highlights of my trip.

Pretzels for Sale in Vienna, Austria – Not sure about ‘Krapfen’

Each city, especially the major capitals is usually home to many different markets ranging in size.  Different markets are usually popular for different reasons – food, crafts, entertainment, decorations. Most major squares will house at least a few Christmas booths which gives the markets quite the dramatic back drop.

Christmas Market in Vienna, Austria

 The main activities of the Christmas Markets are shopping, eating and drinking. Most stalls sell Christmas decorations, toys, souvenirs and crafts.

Christmas Decorations for Sale

By far, my favorite part of every market was the food.  It was a great place to sample some regional food. The Budapest markets sold “tornado cakes” which were giant funnel shaped pastries covered in cinnamon, sugar, nuts or chocolate. Roasted chestnuts, sausages, and potato cakes were also popular.

Roasted Nuts and Other Snacks

“Tornado Cakes” in Budapest

The markets also served a variety of spiked Christmas beverages. I personally loved the ‘mulled wine’ which was heated wine with spices. Since it was approximately freezing every single day it was a great way to warm up while you strolled around the market or sat at a table listening to the christmas carols. Each market had its own signature mug which was included in the price of a drink. When you were done, you could either return the mug for a 2 euro refund or keep the mug as a souvenir.

Menu in Budapest
Market in Bratislava, Slovakia

Dinner at the Christmas Market

Cured Meats for Sale

 Since it snowed the entire time I was in Europe, the Christmas Markets were especially charming with their evergreen decorations covered in fresh powder.

Prague, Czech Republic

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