Each year we go on a European Christmas market trip with our sisters. Coming home from our fourth annual trip we have put together our top tips on how to prepare for a great festive weekend:
- Think about logistics ahead of time
If you are planning a trip abroad and therefore flying or getting the Eurostar, book early. We cannot stress this enough, the later you leave it, the more expensive it will be. We booked our latest trip to Hamburg in February! You may scoff, but flights and accommodation were £200 all in. Be sure to check your arrival and departure times as this will help maximise your market times and remember on a weekend there will be bigger crowds so you may want to think about heading midweek.
- Map out the markets before you go
Whilst you have time and Wi-Fi at home take note of what Christmas markets the city offers and where they are located. You want to make sure you hit the biggest and best ones in the time you are there. Lucy saved us loads of time by pinning all the markets in Hamburg to her Google maps so it was easy to navigate through the city.
Top tip: some markets are only open select weekends – and during certain hours.
- Dress in layers and stay warm
Make sure to pack comfortable shoes and supportive socks, in most cities the markets are spread out and if possible get waterproof ones! Waterproof shoes are best where possible because we are yet to have a 100% dry weekend! Hats, gloves and scarves are a godsend when you’ve been stood too long drinking mulled wine!
- Keep an eye on the weather
This is both before you go and whilst you are away; try timing indoor activities with predicated spells of bad weather so you aren’t caught out. Our first trip to Berlin we managed to time ducking into a beer hut avoiding a heavy rain fall with lightning.
- Have a light breakfast or go hungry
There are so many good food options at Christmas markets, make sure to leave space as you’ll want to try everything!
- Have a break from Christmas markets
This might seem a little strange but, taking time to warm up and see whats good in the area can be just as rewarding. During our latest trip to Hamburg went out of our way to visit the wonderful Ratsherrn brewery, which hosted homebrewed and local beer with over 20 tipples on draft.
- Go back at night
Whilst evenings can draw a bigger crowd than lunchtimes, the warmth of mulled wine and sparkle of Christmas lights create a more festive atmosphere after dark.
- Try the local delicacies and Christmas specialities
No two markets are the same either in the same city or country so keep an eye out for unique items. Berlin invented the Curry Wurst and Hamburg is famous for Frazbrötchen, similar to a cinnamon roll, and these were things we were glad we didn’t miss out on.
- Pick up a souvenir mug
For every drink, mulled wine or otherwise, you normally have to pay a 2-3 euro refundable deposit. Every market has its own different mug, sometimes even for each year, so why not commemorate the occasion with a cheap souvenir which can be used again and again.
Top Tip: Feeling tired and cold? Most cities in Europe now have a Nespresso store, we’ve used these on our last few trips to have a warm up and a free coffee for an additional pick me up mid-afternoon!
So far, we have been to 4 different European markets (excluding the UK): Berlin, Brussels (where we did a day trip to Brugge), Stuttgart and Hamburg. Berlin has hands down been our favourite city, not just for the markets (there are over 50!) but because the city itself is so rich in culture.
We look forward to planning next year’s trip – where would you recommend? Get in touch through social media.