Christmas in Europe 2018: Festive Treks, Markets and Festivals

01 December 2023
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Winter transforms Europe into a wonderland filled with epic ski and snowboarding parties, cozy log fires and glühwein stalls at every turn, but with so much on the go, it’s hard to know which destinations to consider for your travel plans.

To help you get started this year, here are a few of our favourite picks from our top-selling guided winter trips:

Christmas and New Years in Prague

Open from 1 December 2018 to 6 January 2019, including on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, the main Christmas markets in Prague are held at the Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square, just 5 minutes’ walk from each other.

Discover street stalls selling all kinds of delights like Prague ham, thick hot chocolate and cinnamon rolls called trdelník. Explore those gorgeous city sights like Charles Bridge. Prague is also a great place to view the festive New Year’s fireworks as the final stop of Busabout’s 11-day Eastern Festive Trek.

Budapest Christmas Fair

Like Prague, Budapest has quickly become one of the top European cities to visit at Christmas when Vörösmarty Square is transformed into the Budapest Christmas Fair, with stands selling Christmas-themed gifts and traditional Hungarian fare as well as activities like live music and folk dancing.

The Christmas Market at St. Stephen’s Basilica, known as Advent by the Basilica, boasts an ice rink and impressive light shows. Be sure to sample chimney cake (kürtőskalács) – dough wrapped around a pole, baked, coated in sugar and cinnamon.

Rise Ski Festival in France

This unique winter festival merges live music on mountain slope stages, with snow sports and exquisite mountain views at Les Deux Alpes, a resort in France set between Lyon and Chamonix.

We’ll help you depart on 14 December with Busabout (your festival pass included) to spend 9 days exploring both France, and England, with 6 nights’ accommodation in a multi-share apartment, and 2 nights on a luxury coach. Take some time to recover and replenish during Rise with the outdoor yoga sessions on the top of the mountain, or at the alpine spas.

Germany’s Christmas markets

Connect with the festive season spirit and Gemütlichkeit of the locals, at the iconic Christmas Markets of Berlin, Munich and Dresden – where the Striezelmarkt has been a fixture since 1434. German comfort foods, being anything that that melts or steams will win you over, from out-of-the-oven bread, lebkuchen (spiced gingerbread) bratwurst, and of course, glühwein.

If you live for Christmas markets, many of our carefully selected trips with Contiki offer not just the best of Germany, but Austria, Belgium, Czechia (Czech Republic), France, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Slovakia, and Switzerland.

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