By Jennifer Leavy
It’s the most wonderful time of the year, so why not spend it in three great European cities: Budapest, Vienna, and Salzburg? From late November until December 25th, Christmas markets will pop up in towns and cities all across Europe, selling everything from handmade dolls, sculpted candles, and tasty traditional treats.
The crown jewels of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire—Budapest, Vienna, and Salzburg—host some of the more famous Christmas markets in Europe. They provide plenty of opportunities for shopping for last minute gifts, as well as a unique cultural experience and an unforgettable weekend abroad. Here’s why you shouldn’t miss out on visiting the Christmas markets in Budapest, Vienna, and Salzburg before you fly back home for the holidays.
Hungary’s capital city hosts many Christmas markets, but its most spectacular one is by St. Stephen’s Basilica in St. Stephen’s Square. Rows upon rows of festive stalls sell beautifully handcrafted goods, like painted dolls or woolen blankets, as well as hot drinks and traditional Hungarian delicacies. Stroll through the marketplace and watch a dazzling light show on the basilica’s façade, or listen to traditional Christmas music as you cozy up by a bonfire with a delicious Chimney Cake or a piping hot plate of goulash.
The elegant baroque buildings of Austria’s capital create the perfect backdrop to the seasonal stalls, holly-decked shops, and lit-up trees. You can attend the Viennese Dream Christmas Market in front of the glowing and gorgeous City Hall, where you can listen to Christmas carols as you chow down on Vienna’s famous “sacher torte”. There is also the Christmas Village in front of the Belvedere Palace, beloved for its traditional handcrafted goods and roasted chestnuts.
The hills are alive with the sound of Christmas carols. Three hours away from Vienna, and the filming location of the classic The Sound of Music, Salzburg is another can’t-miss destination for Christmas markets. There’s nothing quite like a backdrop of snow-capped mountains, a town full of churches and palaces, and boxes of rich Mozart chocolates with mugs of hot cocoa to get you in the Christmas spirit.
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