Here’s a few markets and what to look for:
Strasbourg, France: Look way, way up at the huge Christmas fir tree in Place Kleber, a custom of this market for near four centuries and purchase the bredele, an edible biscuit sold as a Christmas tree ornament. This city may boast up to a dozen different markets so there’s something for everyone.
Cologne, Germany: This city has over a half dozen different markets selling everything from hand-made lace to stollen cakes. Check out the store fronts too for magical displays of animated toy bears and fantasy scenes to delight children and the child in you.
Heidelberg, Germany: Did you know this town boasts Europe’s longest pedestrian street? Now imagine that decorated and dotted with wooden huts in the squares with vendors selling mulled wine, roasted chestnuts, gingerbread and traditional hand crafted ornaments! An enjoyable feature of the festivities is the ice skating in Karlsplatz just below the Castle where skaters skim the ice to the sounds of Christmas music. Again there are multiple markets scattered across the town.
Freiburg,Germany: Here you will probably find wooden toys made in the Black Forest region amongst other regional crafts.
Koblenz, Germany: Savour the baked goods, and take a ride in a horse-drawn carriage. Music concerts are a big attraction.
Rüdesheim am Rhine: Rüdesheimer coffee should be the first purchase on your list! It’s made of coffee (of course) laced with Asbach Uralt brandy ( a local product), and topped with whipped cream. You can buy both the brandy and the unique Rüdesheim coffee sets too ! Look for the nativity scene in the town square, reportedly the largest in Europe.
Prague, Czech Republic: This is your stop for woven straw Christmas ornaments, Bohemian crystal and carved wooden toys.
Vienna, Austria: marvel at the decorations lighting the squares, streets and buildings. In the markets, you may find hand-crafted Christmas ornaments and local delicacies.