Christmas is almost upon us, and it’s no surprise that some of us are already dreaming of the sweet winter aromas of mulled wine, gingerbread, cinnamon spice—and of course, Christmas markets. From the medieval streets of Salzburg to Yule celebrations in Sapporo, we asked travel experts to point us in the direction of the best Christmas markets to soak up the festive spirit in style

1 / 10

New York City, USA

Recommended by: Alicia Espinal, Travel Advisor/Sales & Marketing, Charlotte Travel

When: Now until January 2, 2019

New York is magical during the holidays and the festive cheer is infectious at the city's two major Christmas markets: the ever famous Bryant Park Winter Village and Union Square Holiday Market. Head to midtown to see the famed park transformed into a winter wonderland, complete with free ice skating, food stalls, carolling, Santa, music, shops and special events for children.

Continue the holiday fun downtown at Union Square, a must visit for unique gifts created by local craftsmen, live music, and more nibbles. Imbibe on mulled wine, apple cider or creamy hot chocolate to keep warm as you take in the bustling energy of New York City.

Where to stay: The Plaza

2 / 10

Sapporo, Japan

Recommended by: Riki Ueda, Travel Designer, Jacada Travel

When: November 22-December 25, 2018

Sapporo has been hosting its annual Christmas market at Odori Park since 2002 where, for one month only, visitors are transported to Sapporo’s sister city—Munich. The German Christmas Market boasts stunning stalls, festive décor, outdoor concerts, indoor workshops and of course, booths packed with food and drinks that will warm you from the inside out.

On December 24, the Sapporo White Illumination—a winter tradition in Japan originated in 1981—will light up Odori Park with around 520,000 light bulbs and awe-inspiring artistry.

Where to stay: JR Tower Hotel Nikko Sapporo

3 / 10

Nuremberg, Germany

Recommended by: Belinda, Travel Designer, Lightfoot Travel

When: Now until December 24, 2018

Once the undeclared capital of the Holy Roman Empire, Nuremberg is home to one of the world’s best-known Christmas markets, Christkindlesmarkt, where you can buy handmade decorations and try Nuremberg specialties such as lebkuchen (traditional gingerbread), speculoo biscuit and bratwurst sausage.

While in one of the most historical cities in Germany, you’re treated to a sweet Christmas at Lebkuchen Schmidt, a local gingerbread bakery where delicious honey gingerbread is baked with ancient recipes and served warm.  

Where to stay: Le Méridien Grand Hotel Nuremberg

4 / 10

Barcelona, Spain

Recommended by: Riki Ueda, Travel Designer, Jacada Travel

When: November 30-December 23, 2018

Sagrada Familia Christmas Market in Barcelona is set around Gaudí’s magnificent Sagrada Familia church, a prime location for exploring not just Christmas goodness but also the city itself. This traditional market dates back to the 1960s and boasts never-ending rows of food, artisanal gifts and handcrafted decorations, making it a local favourite.

If time permits, extend your stay to January 6 for the colourful Feast of Epiphany parade, where the city of Barcelona will come alive up with floats, groups of artists and dancers.

Where to stay: Hotel Bagués

5 / 10


Recommended by: Renee Yu, Travel Advisor, Charlotte Travel

When: November 30-December 26, 2018

Explore Christmas Wonderland, an annual Christmas fair held at Gardens by the Bay on our very own shores. The festival includes carnival games and performances as well as shopping and dining experiences. The highlight is a festive market setting in wooden huts, where visitors can shop for crafty products created by local designers.

Where to stay: Marina Bay Sands

6 / 10

Cape Town, South Africa

Recommended by: Ewan Burger, Head Of Africa, Charlotte Travel

A warm Christmas in South Africa might not be what you expect coming from the Northern Hemisphere, but the upscale Christmas markets in Cape Town are a truly unique experience. Not to mention they're always set in jaw-dropping exclusive locales such as the V&A Waterfront or nestled between lush vineyards within the world famous Cape winelands. These markets are renowned for warm evenings spent with gourmet food offerings and universally acclaimed wines. 

Where to stay: The Silo Hotel

(Related: 7 Underrated Ski Destinations To Hit The Slopes This Winter)

7 / 10

Ljubljana, Slovenia

Recommended by: Katie Holmes, Travel Designer, Jacada Travel

When: November 30, 2018-January 2, 2019

Ljubljana, the charming capital of Slovenia, is nothing short of a fairytale. Home to green expanses, castles and rivers, it is only fitting that the Ljubljana Christmas Market—also known as the Ljubljana Festive Fair—provides a magical experience for all.

As you stroll along the banks of the Ljubljanica River, stalls are adorned with dazzling ornaments, the crisp air is filled with aromas of fresh pastries, roasted chestnuts and mulled wine, and angels dotting the river banks pass out little bags of sugar cookies. Towards the city centre, you’ll find choirs performing classic carols while a band livens up the crowds. There is also an ice rink in Congress Square, making it a romantic yet lively atmosphere for both couples and families. 

Where to stay: InterContinental Ljubljana

8 / 10

Prague, Czech Republic

Recommended by: Rain, Travel Designer, Lightfoot Travel

When: December 1, 2018-January 6, 2019

Prague is inarguably a wonderful year-round destination but Christmas is the time when the Czech capital comes to life. Prague’s two main markets of Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square are only a 10-minute walk apart, which means you'll save much time sampling all the Czech delicacies on offer.

Try the meaty Pražská Šunka (roasted ham) and juicy klobása (grilled sausage)— which go great with a bit of svařák, the local’s citrusy take on mulled wine, or medovina, a festive honey wine which is just as hearty.

Where to stay: Mandarin Oriental, Prague

9 / 10

Cusco, Peru

Recommended by: Gwen Leung, Travel Advisor, Charlotte Travel

When: December 24, 2018

Santuranticuy, which means "saints for sale", is fitting given that it is a Christmas market in Cusco for sculptors and craftsmen to sell diverse figurines as holiday displays. As one of the oldest traditional Christmas fairs in the world, it features handicrafts made by the indigenous people of Cusco, including nativity scenes, textiles, incense, candles and ceramics.

The market is only held on December 24 in the Plaza de Armas and attracts artists from the neighbourhood of San Blas and the South of Peru.

Where to stay: Belmond Hotel Monasterio 

10 / 10

Salzburg, Austria

Recommended by: Rain, Travel Designer, Lightfoot Travel

When: November 22-December 26, 2018

One of the world’s most ancient Advent markets, Salzburg Christmas Market dates back the late 15th century and is held at the foot of the Hohensalzburg fortress on Cathedral and Residenz Square. Every year, there are around 100 wooden huts dotting the historical centre of Salzburg, where you can find festive decorations, traditional crafts and Austrian treats under the snow-capped roofs.

Forget about mulled wine and warm up your body like a local with jägertee with Stroh, a hot spiced rum that goes incredibly well with Mozartkugeln, also known as Mozart balls, which are chocolate balls filled with pistachio marzipan and nougat.

Where to stay: Hotel Sacher Salzburg

(Related: Tatler Itinerary: A Quintessential British Experience In London)