Christmas markets are a great winter tradition that can be found across Europe through the month of December. Our top picks offer you tradition, picturesque settings and delicious glühwein, as well as something to get your children excited about the upcoming holiday. Don’t forget to drink a toast to Santa Claus!
Nestled into the mountains that cluster at the foot of Lake Zurich, Einsiedeln has a lovely Christmas market. An inviting cosy atmosphere awaits you amidst the traditional wooden stalls, where a variety of exhibitors offer fantastic Christmas gifts and delicacies. Only 45mins from Zurich, Einsiedeln is the perfect destination for a family day trip: take the small mountain train, which ascends at an alarming angle and you will shortly find yourself high up in the hills surrounded by snow and the sound of bells from the cathedral.
The charming old town of Bremgarten is within easy reach of Zürich, and is a great destination for discovering the best of Switzerland at Christmas. Small but perfectly formed, the Christmas market combines a lovely festive atmosphere with beautiful decorations. In addition to an array of over 300 high quality stalls selling local produce and gifts, the Christchindlimärt features a programme of musical performances and Christmas attractions. A white horse-drawn carriage, carol singing and an enormous Christmas trees will really get you in the mood for the forthcoming festivities.
Framed by Lake Geneva and the Alps, the Christmas market of Montreux is an exceptional delight and will appeal to visitors of all ages. Children will enjoy visiting Santa, the reindeer park, a giant nativity scene, the elf village and Santa’s post office as well as an authentic Christmas village in the mountains in Caux. Meanwhile, grownups are certain to be charmed by a stroll through a medieval market and the historic romance of the legendary Château de Chillon. A warm, friendly atmosphere and an array of beautiful artisan gifts and crafts will make this a festive visit to remember.
2. Stein am RheinThe picturesque town of Stein am Rhein sits at the point where Lake Constance meets the Rhine River. Famous for its well-preserved Old Town featuring painted facades and half-timbered houses, Stein am Rhein is a lively and very charming small town that is well-worth a visit at Christmas time. Hohenklingen Castle towers over the town, bringing to life the colourful history of this ancient town, which gives the festivities a real sense of tradition with a mediaeval flair. Just an hour from Zürich, it’s a delightful destination for a pre-Christmas pick-me-up.
Basel is a beautiful city whose history, architecture and culture have been influenced by its location at the meeting point of Switzerland, Germany and France. Since the city is usually already snow-clad by early December, it’s a great place to soak up some Christmas cheer by browsing the extensive array of Christmas market stalls around Barfüsserplatz and Munsterplatz. Warm your cockles with mulled wine while your children enjoy craft workshops and candle making, or use the opportunity to stock up on gifts, toys and Christmas decorations from the excellent selection of exhibits.