Christmas Markets by train

This week we are taking a look at a small selection of the wonderful markets worth visiting around Europe this December to stock up on Christmas presents and festive food and drink! All of these cities can be easily reached by train on major routes from all over Europe.

  1. Vienna, Austria.

This beautiful and atmospheric city is perfect for a Christmas visit. Christkindlmärkte is the name for the many markets that pop up all over the city in the cobbled streets adorned with hundreds of fairy lights. Rathauspark in front of City Hall is the largest market with its giant tree, ice rink and fairground rides. You can also listen to international choirs singing carols to get you in the spirit.

  1. Brussels, Belgium

At the largest Christmas market in Belgium, Winter Wonders’ 240 stalls sell a wide variety of Christmas items, from traditional gifts to delicious Belgian delicacies against the backdrop of a giant Ferris wheel. When the sun goes down, make your way to the Grand-Place for a dazzling sound and lights show.

  1. Berlin, Germany

The German capital boasts 60 Christmas markets, so there’s something for everyone! You can expect everything from elaborate illuminations to live entertainment such as a nativity with real animals, crafting demonstrations, magical attractions for children or even medieval processions.

  1. Strasbourg, France

France’s oldest Christmas market sells a variety of traditional items, sweets and mulled wine from around 300 wooden chalets dotted around different areas of the picturesque Alsatian town. The markets each have an individual feel and showcase different products or themes including one from a guest country, with a different one invited every year to display its Christmas wares.

  1. Stockholm, Sweden

For a guaranteed snowy Christmas, head north to Stockholm’s Skansen’s Market which has been held annually since 1903. Pretty red huts sell traditional sausages, cheeses, spices and other homemade delights. The markets also sell an array of Swedish crafts alongside traditional Christmas ornaments and hand-dipped candles.

Route No. 22: Four capitals in a day

As a continuing feature we will be highlighting a selected route from our guidebook ‘Europe by Rail’ written by Nicky Gardner & Susanne Kries, every week.  Below is an extract from the book. To find out more, the guidebook can be purchased through our website for £15.99.

This week we are looking at: Route No. 22: Four capitals in a day, which runs from Hamburg through Berlin, Bratislava and ends in Budapest.

The rail journey from Hamburg to Budapest can be completed in a long day. The sole direct service between the two cities takes just under 14 hours for a journey of about 1,300 km. It really does take in four capital cities in a day. Travel all the way through if you will, but the great majority of travellers will stop off en route, usually at one or more of the following cities: Berlin, Dresden, Prague or Bratislava.

Budapest
The grey-green Danube splits the city into Buda, on the west bank, and Pest on the east. Buda is the photogenic, hilly Old Town, with its pastel coloured baroque residences, gas-lit cobblestone streets and hilltop palace, while Pest is the thriving, mostly 19th-century commercial centre, with the imposing riverside State Parliament building, its wide boulevards and Vörösmarty tér, the busy main square.

Take the Budavári Sikló (Buda Castle Funicular) up to the Halászbástya (Fishermen’s Bastion). The bird’s-eye view over Pest from Castle Hill is stunning, and so is the neo-Romanesque structure that you mount to enjoy it.

BUDAPEST PANORAMA

PHOTO: By mikkamakkax (Indafotó) CC BY-SA 2.5 hu (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5/hu/deed.en), via Wikimedia Commons.