8 Stops on a Christmas Market Road Trip through Europe
If you love driving, travel, and the holidays- then a road trip through Europe’s most notable Christmas markets is surely the kind of bucket-list trip you will never forget. Each city celebrates Christmas with their own flair, but what they can all agree on is that it’s a festive time to shop, eat, drink, and be merry. Most Christmas Markets run from the end of November toward the end of December, and you could enjoyably spend anywhere from two-weeks to a full month exploring 8 beautiful European destinations on a holiday-themed road-trip.
Start your journey in Frankfurt, Germany. As the international hub for Lufthansa, the airline offers direct flights from multiple US cities to Frankfurt, daily. Frankfurt’s airport is also home to one of Auto France’s pick-up locations, where you can reserve the delivery of your short-term lease vehicle: a factory-direct Peugeot complete with full warranty, insurance coverage, and more. Drivers who reside outside of the EU can benefit from the convenience and savings from Auto France’s Open Europe Program.
Christmas Markets in Frankfurt, Germany
Your trip begins at one of the largest and oldest (dating back to 1393) Christmas markets in Germany. Located in the heart of the old square, the traditional market transports you back in time and makes it easy to forget there are towering skyscrapers just a few hundred meters away. Don’t miss the Christmas tree lighting in the center of the square each evening.
Christmas Markets in Dresden, Germany
With over a dozen markets across the city, it feels like all of Dresden, Germany transforms into a Christmas town during the holiday season. One of Dresden’s oldest and most traditional markets is Striezelmarkt, and in 2018 will be celebrating its 584thyear.
4 hours, 40 minutes from Frankfurt (467 km)
Christmas Markets in Prague, Czechia
Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square hold the largest Christmas Markets in Prague, Czechia, with several smaller ones scattered across the city. Popular drinks to keep you warm while you shop include honey wine, mulled wine, and grog, which consists of sweetened rum, water, and lemon.
1 hour, 40 minutes from Dresden (149 km)
Christmas Markets in Munich, Germany
The most enchanting Christmas Market in Germany can be found at Marienplatz, which is home year-around to famed toy makers and artisans. Along with the many stalls selling traditional snacks and glühwein (German mulled wine), visitors can shop seemingly endless selections of locally-made crafts that make great souvenirs and gifts. Other notable markets in Munich are Residenz and Wittelsbacherplatz, a medieval market.
4 hours from Prague (382 km)
Christmas Markets in Basel, Switzerland
Located at the intersection of the French, German, and Swiss borders, Basel hosts three notable Christmas Markets within walking distance of each other- the smallest being at Claraplatz on the Rhine, and the larger two at Münsterplatz and Barfüsserplatz in the center of town. While strolling amongst the hundreds of stalls, be sure to stop for raclette, a melted cheese famous in Switzerland.
4 hours, 20 minutes from Munich (426 km)
Christmas Markets in Strasbourg, France
With over 300 chalets, the whole town of Strasbourg, France becomes a Christmas village, complete with caroler concerts, a giant Christmas tree, and ice skating for families, friends, and romantics. Strasbourg and neighboring towns near the border of Germany are famous for their fairy-tale-like architecture, providing the perfect setting for a magical Christmas celebration.
1 hour, 30 minutes from Basel (136 km)
Christmas Markets in Brussels, Belgium
Every holiday season, Brussels, Belgium hosts Winter Wonders, a more modern Christmas Market with 200 stalls, fairground attractions, concerts, light shows, parades, and an ice rink. Though the celebration is less typical than most European markets, Winter Wonders is neighbored by vintage and alternative markets, as well as several traditional Christmas Markets.
4 hours, 20 minutes from Strasbourg (441 km)
Christmas Markets in Cologne, Germany
Of Cologne’s eight total Christmas Markets, four biggest ones are Cologne Cathedral, Rudolfplatz, Alter Markt, and Neumarkt, and are connected by the Christmas Market Express Train. For 10€, the train can take you across town to the four large markets which are about a 15-minute ride apart. Streets in between markets are often crowded, and if you want to take full advantage of the many festive biergartens, the Christmas Market Express Train may be your best option for traveling within the city.
2 hours, 20 minutes from Brussels (224 km)
From Cologne, return to Frankfurt (1 hour, 40 minutes/178 km away). The total trip is approximately 2400-2500 km (about 1500 miles). With Auto France’s Open Europe program, drivers can benefit from unlimited kilometers as well as 24-hour roadside assistance and full comprehensive insurance coverage. End your trip in Frankfurt and conveniently return your car at our drop-off location at the Frankfurt Airport. If you wish to continue to other areas, you can choose one of 27 other locations across Europe- with no additional fees.
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