5 Christmas Markets You Can Visit This Festive Season

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Johannesburg, 23 November 2021 As the Northern Hemisphere enters the colder months, Christmas markets will be popping up all across Europe as the world reignites its festive spirit. Last year, as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, most markets were shut as governments across the world tried to flatten the curve. Now, after a successful global vaccine rollout, travel has officially opened up again – and the markets are back in full swing.

Christmas markets have become a tradition that not only helps boost small businesses, but also serve as the perfect way to celebrate the festive season. If you fancy a winter getaway in the run up to Christmas, these markets make for an extra special way to experience the holiday. From sipping on warm Glühwein to browsing handmade gifts and enjoying delicious food, these markets are full of magic and wonder.

Vaccinated tourists are now able to visit some countries in Europe without spending time in quarantine and if you’re planning a winter wonderland vacation, Air France shines a light on some of the best Christmas markets you can visit in Europe these holidays.

Strasbourg, France

The Christmas market in the French city of Strasbourg is one of the oldest markets in Europe and remains extremely popular with tourists from all over the globe flocking to the city during the festive period. The streets around the market are decorated with twinkling lights and festive garlands while the market itself is home to over 300 wooden stalls selling festive treats, foods, gifts and more. The market is known for its delicious confectionaries including the popular Pain d’epices – a firmer version of ginger cake which is a hit with locals during this period. The market is centred around the Cathedral square and Place Broglie and is nestled amongst some of the city’s most beautiful buildings – adding an extra layer of charisma to the experience. Vaccinated travellers need to complete a sworn statement to enter France and apply for a Pass Sanitaire.

Prague, Czech Republic

Prague has always been a city full of charm and this is certainly something the city hopes to inject into the city’s main Christmas market held in the popular Old Town square every year. The market is set in the very heart of the city where dozens of wooden stalls are set up and offer a variety of items such as traditional Czech blown glass balls, products made of glass pearls or straw, hand-embroidered tablecloths, wooden toys and so much more. Of course, food is also sold at the market with Czech grilled sausages and skewered foods being favourites. Chimney cakes and roasted chestnuts also prove to be extremely popular. Surrounded by attractions like the Astronomical Clock, this market is certainly a must add to your travel bucket list. Fully-vaccinated travellers can enter Czech Republic without needing to be isolated or taking a PCR test.

Rovaniemi, Finland

If you’re looking to experience something a little different than the traditional Christmas markets, visiting the Santa Claus Village in Rovaniemi, Finland is a must. Rovaniemi is the official home town of Santa Claus and it doesn’t get more festive than this snow-covered, charming city. With reindeer and husky rides, snowmobile tours, excursions to the Forest of the Elves and an Elf School teaching vital lessons on magical culture, Rovaniemi certainly brings the Christmas spirit to travellers visiting the magical city. Visitors are also encouraged to visit the post office which receives Santa’s letters from believers worldwide and also visiting one of the city’s popular glass-topped igloos where visitors can get a glimpse of the Northern Lights. Fully vaccinated travellers are able to visit Finland without quarantining while unvaccinated travellers are still unable to visit. Air France will operate twice weekly flights from Paris-Charles de Gaulle direct to Rovaniemi during the European Winter.

Berlin, Germany

Germany boasts some of the most popular Christmas markets in the world. In fact, Dresden’s Striezelmarkt was first held in 1434 and is widely considered the world’s first Christmas market in existence so the concept is incredibly popular around the country. Berlin’s popular markets are considered some of the best in the world. There are several festive markets to choose from at this popular destination, with the most popular being the market at Charlottenburg Palace. With an orchestra belting out Christmas tunes, carnival rides, heated food tents and over 250 stalls selling gifts and traditional treats, this market is a must-visit. Foodies flock to markets around Berlin where they can enjoy some of the best German cuisine including Bratwurst smothered in mustard and the popular lightly-spiced Lebkuchen. Double-Vaccinated travellers can enter Germany without needing to quarantine. All travellers entering Germany will need to complete pre-departure digital registration.

Edinburgh, Scotland

The quirky Scottish capital hosts an exciting Christmas market held every year at the East Princes Street Gardens from mid-November to early January. The venue is one of the city’s most beautiful city parks and it transforms into the ultimate winter wonderland every festive season. The park is home to one of Europe’s largest outdoor skating rinks and the popular 33-metre-high ferris wheel, dubbed the Edinburgh Eye. The market is home to an array of vendors who sell some of the best local crafts, food and drink that Scotland has to offer. Glass baubles, Harry-Potter themed gifts and haggis sausage rolls are just some of the most popular items on sale at this market while Santa’s Grotto, where children can meet and listen to Santa himself tell a magical story, is a main attraction every year. The market also hosts a variety of special events and musical performances throughout the season adding even more festive spirit to this already charismatic market. Vaccinated travellers do not need to quarantine.

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