Pack your chunkiest scarf, favourite bobble hat and prepare to see your own dragon-puffy breath in the misty winter’s air. If you need one reason to brave the bone-chills and take a December holiday, it’s the sheer amount of mystical markets Europeans seem to do so well. From glittering carousels to thick, dark hot chocolates crowned with cream, these Christmas markets in Europe will fill even the mightiest Grinches with pure festive charm:
1. Vienna, Austria
Where to stay: The oldest hotel in the city is a chestnut’s throw away from all the best Christmas markets in Vienna. But location isn’t the only reason you’ll love staying here: Hotel Stefanie is a charming, authentic retreat from the chilling winter cold – wrapping you up in old-world guest rooms, lip-smacking wiener schnitzels and lashings of Viennese ‘Schmäh’.
2. Florence, Italy
Where to stay: Florence may not usually land in lists of the best Christmas markets in Europe – but it really is Italy’s best-kept secret. You’ll feel like you’ve dived straight into the Middle Ages hearing monks singing mass – and you can keep the time travel theme going with a stay in the Renaissance-fuelled Villa Campestri. An hour’s drive from the city centre, you’ll be escaping to the ancient Mugello Valley in Italy’s first olive oil resort. Give yourself an early Christmas treat by booking in for an reviving olive oil massage.
3. Strasbourg, France
Where to stay: The Bouclier D’Or is just the place to unwind after a day of shopping at the market in Strasbourg. A bourgeois house from the 16th century in the historic part of Strasbourg called La Petite France, it has 22 charming rooms. Admire the historic frescoes over a relaxing drink or sink into the hotel’s onsite SPA.
4. Basel, Switzerland
Where to stay: Basel has its fair share of stunning views – that’s standard. But there are some that will leave you speechless. The River Rhine, Old Town and Cathedral, seen from Hotel Krafft, are such sights. The historic rooms have been gently renovated, blending new and old to create a chic, cosy atmosphere.