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One Week in Europe Christmas Market Itinerary (2 Sample Itineraries)

Last Updated on 19th January 2024 by Sophie Nadeau

When it comes to the colder months of the year, which are often grey, cold, and overcast, one of the greatest joys of the season are the European Christmas Markets, which offer bright lights, delicious food, and mulled wine. Here are two samples for how to spend one week in Europe Christmas Market itinerary.

christmas market itinerary

If you have two weeks at the European Christmas Markets, then you can spend one week covering the first part of the initial suggested itinerary by train, before hiring a car in Strasbourg and doing all of the smaller Christmas Markets in the Alsace region.

At the end of the trip, you’ll want to drive back up from Mulhouse to Strasbourg to return your hire car so as to not incur any penalty fees for not leaving the car at the same place where you picked it up. So without further ado, here’s how to spend the ultimate one or two weeks at the Christmas Markets in Europe:

Your Complete Colmar Christmas Market Guide, Alsace, Eastern France

One week Christmas Market itinerary by train

The Christmas Markets in the itinerary below are some of the largest and most important of Belgium, France, and Germany. While there are quite literally hundreds of Christmas Markets in Europe, it’s obviously not feasible to see them all and so this guide attempts to cover the major ones if you’ll only be able to travel by train.

I would also suggest only covering one Christmas market per day so that you can also enjoy the towns and cities themselves. After all, Cologne has many hidden gems to discover, Aachen has a world-famous cathedral to visit and Strasbourg has plenty of cute cafés to cosy up in.

Brussels

Stay: 1 night

Brussels Christmas Market is the largest and most important Christmas event in Belgium. In winter, the Belgian capital is a veritable winter wonderland, with markets spilling out onto the streets, delicious food at every turn, and lights illuminating even the darkest nights and rainiest days.

It’s estimated that around 2.5 million visitors head to the Brussels Christmas Markets on an annual basis! There are several Christmas Markets spread across Brussels city centre, with many just a few minutes walk from one another. For more inspiration, here’s how to spend one day in Brussels.

Aachen

Stay: 1 night

The Aachen Christmas Market is held in the shadow of the illustrious Aachen Cathedral (final resting place of Charlemagne) and is a grand affair that is most definitely worth your time when visiting Europe.

Situated in the West of Germany, Aachen is a historical destination famed for its breathtaking Cathedral and handful of Roman ruins. Come winter, the Aachen Christmas Market draws people from far and wide who wish to experience the magic of Christmas in the city.

Thanks to the fact that it’s fairly small in comparison with many other markets, you can easily enjoy the Christmas Market over the course of an evening. While in town, be sure not to miss out on a visit into the cathedral itself. Although it’s free to visit, you’ll have to pay a nominal sum if you want to take photos!

food and drink aachen christmas market gluhwein mugs

Cologne

Stay: 1 night

Famed for its towering twin Gothic cathedral spires and Kölsch beer, Köln is in the West of Germany, in a region known as the North Rhine Westphalia. Populous and situated somewhere between Bonn and Aachen, the best time to visit Cologne is easily during winter, when there are many festive events and illuminations to be enjoyed.

Cologne Christmas Market (or Kölner Weinachtsmacht as it is known in German) actually comprises of several Christmas Markets scattered across the German city. In 2022, Cologne is hosting seven distinctive Christmas Markets, with further events and special happening across the city.

The ‘best’ Cologne Christmas Market depends entirely on your personal preferences and what you prefer to get out of a Christmas Market. My personal favourite is the Angel Market, where actors are dressed up as angels and the chalets are bathed in a golden glow under a twinkling sea of fairy lights shaped like stars.

Cologne Christmas Market Guide

Strasbourg

Stay: 2 nights

The self-proclaimed capital of Christmas is a popular Christmas Market destination thanks to the wide array of illuminations and market stalls set up across the city (there are over 10 Christmas Markets smattered across Strasbourg).

But this is not all that makes Strasbourg such an iconic Christmas destination. After all, the city claims to be home to the oldest Christmas Market in France and draws crowds of up to two million visitors on an annual basis.

One of the biggest highlights of this Marché de Noël (as it is so-called in French) is the sheer amount of delicious market food on offer. If you get the chance to, be sure to sample the Reibekuchen, which are hash browns served with applesauce. Honestly, it’s not a flavour combination that you will forget in a hurry!

strasbourg christmas market

Colmar

Stay: 1 night

Delightful Colmar is probably my favourite Christmas Market destination of them all as it provides the perfect balance between being oh-so-quaint and postcard perfect and being a truly great Christmas Market in terms of gift and food offerings.

Situated in the Alsace region to the east of France, the Alsatian settlement is best-known for its abundance of timber-framed houses and rich medieval history. As well as a number of Christmas markets across town, there’s ice skating, a Christmas tree market, and several Christmas carol concerts.

For more inspiration, be sure to check out our Colmar Christmas Market guide and our suggestions for spending one day in Colmar.

Place Jeanne d'Arc, Colmar, Alsace, France

Mulhouse

Stay: 1 night

Mulhouse is a veritable Christmas winter wonderland and, while it’s a bit less visited than Colmar or Strasbourg, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t miss this amazing market off your Christmas Market itinerary.

The main Christmas market in Mulhouse is dominated by a gigantic ferris wheel which can be ridden for a fee. Another speciality of the Mulhouse Christmas Market is the Christmas Cloth. This is a unique fabric that is created on an annual basis to decorate the façades of the pedestrian streets and municipal buildings.

mulhouse christmas market

One week Christmas Market itinerary by car

Where to stay

Since you’ll have access to a car, I recommend picking one or two bases when planning this trip. I would personally stay 2 nights in Strasbourg, leaving one day to enjoy the Strasbourg Christmas markets themselves and one day to take a side trip to Obernai using your car.

Then, I would transfer to Colmar for 3 nights where you can take day trips to Eguishem, Kaysersberg-Vignoble, Riquewhir, and spend a day exploring Colmar.

Since Christmas markets can be so busy and you want to actually enjoy each of the towns you’re visiting, I recommend heading to only one Christmas market per day. Check here for car rental comparison prices.

Strasbourg

Stay: 2 nights

Where better to start a self-guided tour of Christmas Markets than at the Capital of Christmas itself? While you can cram all there is to see at the Strasbourg Christmas Markets over the course of an evening, if you want to better pace yourself then you can give yourself a full day and an evening.

strasbourg christmas market

Obernai

Visit as a day trip from Strasbourg

Home to a handful of churches and all of the history, the best time to visit Obernai is towards the end of the year, when festive events are held across the city. Located around a half-hour drive away from the world-famous political city of Strasbourg, Obernai is a sleepy town filled with timber-framed houses and centred around a central market square.

Home to under twelve-thousand residents, the city of Obernai is the birthplace of Sainte Odile, the patron saint of Alsace. There are several Christmas Markets in town, though the one most worth visiting is that of Place Nehrer. Highlights of this festive event include artisanal candles, hats and handmade accessories, wooden decorations and carvings, and vin chaud.

obernai at night

Colmar

Stay: 4 nights

Located in the Alsace region of France, Colmar is just as beautiful as its much more famous neighbour, Strasbourg and is just as worth visiting during any time of the year. The city also has a number of cosy cafés and restaurants, making for a great base from which to explore the wider area.

Hands down, one of our favourite finds in Colmar was that of a quaint café which goes by the name ‘Au Croissant Doré’ (which is literally translated into English as ‘the Golden Croissant’). Once inside, you’ll find plenty of winter warmer drinks, as well as a number of tasty treats on the menu.

As I outlined above, Colmar is a beautiful town to visit, and not just because of the handful of Christmas Markets which take place across town. Instead, there are also a variety of hidden gems to discover, and historical buildings to visit.

Your Complete Colmar Christmas Market Guide, Alsace, Eastern France

Eguishem

Visit as a day trip from Colmar

For those who are seeking to venture a little off the beaten tourist track when it comes to the classic ‘Marchés de Noël’ and festive events in the Alsace region, there is perhaps no better place to head to than the delightful town of Eguisheim.

Particularly unusual in that the entirety of the town is constructed in concentric circles around a central Château, the Christmas Market of Eguisheim is quite small, meaning that it can be enjoyed over the course of a few hours.

If you want to do something that is not at all Christmas-related, then you can drive to the three castles of Eguisheim. There is parking close by, and a hike to the castles themselves will ensure the chance to explore some fascinating ruins set against the backdrop of a beautiful view onto the vineyards of the Aslace.

Saint Leon Square, Eguisheim, Alsace, France

Kaysersberg-Vignoble

Visit as a day trip from Colmar

Although not as famed as Eguisheim or Riquewihr, the Christmas Market of Kaysersberg Vignoble turned out to be one of my favourites of all the Alsace Christmas Markets thanks to its charm and uniqueness.

The town itself is classic Alsace at its best; a medley of cobbled lanes are lined with rows of timber-framed houses which are painted pastel shades. The Christmas Market is held at various spots across town and is one of the best in the region for shopping local produce such as honey and cheese.

kaysersberg christmas market

Riquewihr

Visit as a day trip from Colmar

Riquewihr is a fairytale town complete with well-preserved ramparts (a double fortification wall to be more precise) and a central street which dates back to the Middle Ages and looks like it’s been plucked straight out of a scene from Beauty and the Beast.

As a result, the town hosts one of the most popular Christmas Markets in the Alsace and so you should be sure to head here as early in the day as possible to ensure that you are able to park and see the market with fewer crowds.

The actual Christmas market in Riquewihr itself is picturesque, while the timber-framed houses are adorned with fairy lights which are hung to resemble sparkling tinsel. Also of note in the town is the Dolder, a leaning tower which is constructed from pink sandstone that was quarried in the nearby Vosges.

riquewihr illuminations

Mulhouse

Stay: 1 night

End your stay the right way by heading even further down the Alsace and to Mulhouse. At the end of your stay in Mulhouse, you can drive the two hours or so back to Strasbourg to return your car rental to the original place you rented it and avoid expensive charges that are often incurred if you deposit your rental car in a different place from where you picked it up.

Mulhouse itself is home to a number of Christmas Markets, though the main one is centred around Place de la Réunion, in front of Saint-Etienne church. As most of the Christmas sites are situated close together, Mulhouse Christmas Market can easily be enjoyed over the course of an evening.

mulhouse Christmas Market

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One Week in Europe Christmas Market Itinerary (2 Sample Itineraries)

Sophie Nadeau loves dogs, books, travel, pizza, and history. A Francophile at heart, she runs solosophie.com when she’s not chasing after the next sunset shot or consuming something sweet. She splits her time between Paris and London and travels as much as she can! Subscribe to Sophie’s YouTube Channel.

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miha

Thursday 4th of May 2023

for itinerary by train: is it can be wise to skip on night in cologne by spent a day light in cologne(where keep luggage?) ,as it pretty close to Brussels, and take a night train to Strasburg?

Sophie Nadeau

Monday 15th of May 2023

There are storage lockers at Cologne train station- I used them to do this trip the last time I went to the Christmas markets!

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