So it’s Christmas. And while beach parties have their own unique vibe, there’s nothing quite as magical as a white Christmas. In the north, bells are jingling and cities are decked out with markets and contemporary Christmas clichés. Leaving Paris and London to Dickens, I’ve searched through my travel journals and atlas to bring you a selection of great places to spend Christmas in Europe.
A white Christmas in Amsterdam could mean anything, but right now the city’s red light district is even more colourful. From the Christmas tree in Dam Square, a stroll along any illuminated canal path could end at one of 26 neighbourhood markets, including the main craft market at Museumplein and an ice rink among the stalls at Leidsplein. Alongside the Christmas Palace, the floating Bloemenmarkt (flower market) is ready to sell travellers a pine or two; or for something less traditional, the Pink Christmas celebration at Zeedijk could float a few different boats.
The City of Lights could turn Scrooge into a Christmas convert. The echoes of the Vienna Boys’ Choir ring through Hofburg Quarter and the cobblestone lanes of the ol’ city, which is lit up all-year-round. Seasonally, red hearts and hot-air balloons decorate trees in Christkindlmarkts speckled around the city. At the city’s gothic town hall, the Rathaus, I like to sample sausages topped with horseradish, while taking in the brass band. And I can almost taste that Chrissie brekkie of hot chocolate and gingerbread.
I know European cities like to outdo each other with their Christmas trees, but Zurich’s singing tree at Werdmuhleplatz must take the cake, with children’s choirs performing from stands hidden behind the giant tree’s artificial branches. From there, a stroll along Bahnhoffstrasse, stopping at the stalls that pepper the route, will bring you to the main markets in the train station lobby. Surrounded by the Swiss Alps and cosied up in a lakeside restaurant, I could happily tuck into a Chrissie dinner of Zurcher Geschnetzeltes: sliced veal with sliced mushrooms in a cream sauce.
The uptown girls and guys are as pretty as the Christmas lights in the city of islands and the market in the main square of Stortorget is just as delightful, with all kinds of quality goodies to blow Santa’s budget. The real Christmas festivities begin on Lucia Day (December 13), and for the dozen days following I’d be sure to look out for banquets serving up reindeer meat and traditional Swedish candy. I’d also recommend a Stromma dinner cruise through the archipelago – you can listen to the sounds of church Chrissie concerts while working on your seasonal waistline.
That gateway to Europe too often ignored by travellers, Brussels, has gathered some attention due to its burgeoning Christmas market, which now covers a two-kilometre long stretch from the Grand Place to Place St Catherine with around 240 chalet-style stalls selling gastronomies and gifts. Punctuate your shopping spree with a turn on the indoor ice rink or big wheel, not to mention a few winter warmers at the bar – it’s open for a Christmas tipple until January 5.
Spend Christmas with relatives or grab a group of friends and enjoy an authentic white Christmas in one of these magical destinations in Europe. If you need help booking airfares or accommodation Student Flights can help with student rates or under 26 deals.
Author: Student Flights consultants have spent the Christmas holidays in a variety of locations around the world, so can provide you with some top tips for your trip.