Europe’s Christmas Markets

Tuesday, 23 November 2021

Hamburg Christmas Market

Looking to make the most of the festive season this year? Why not take it up a level and visit some of the best Christmas markets in Europe on a Christmas markets' cruise?

What European Christmas markets do Ambassador visit?

For those who are keen to visit some of the best European Christmas markets, you can do so on our mini cruises which depart from ports around the UK including Tilbury, Belfast and Bristol. Discover the Christmas markets you can visit on an Ambassador Cruise below.

Antwerp Christmas Market at night


A stunning port city towards the mouth of the River Scheldt, Antwerp in Belgium offers one of the best Christmas markets in Europe in an even more fantastic setting. Spread across a variety of historic squares in the city centre, the stalls feel as though they are never-ending as you walk around this stunning city. The official market covers: Grote Markt, Suikerrui, Handschoenmarkt, Groenplaats and Steenplein, which is on the river front and overlooked by Antwerp Steen Castle.

As you can tell, it’s not a small affair in Antwerp and you’ll be able to enjoy a wonderful variety of stalls whilst also taking in the city – a win-win in our eyes. You have to remember as well, even out of the festive season Belgium is well known for its food offerings, especially its chocolate, so those with a sweet tooth are in for a treat.

Entranceway to Hamburg Christmas Market


It’s not just Belgium who loves to ring in the festive season with a market, but Germany too, and we don’t think there is a better one to visit here than Hamburg. Around the city there is a range of Christmas markets to see and enjoy, however, it’s the Town Hall Square market, Rathausmarkt, that’s usually the most popular – Santa Claus even makes an appearance! Craftspeople will come from all over the world to sell their creations here and so you’ll be sure to want to pick up a souvenir or two!

A Germany cruise is a must for any Christmas lover as the Christmas market tradition originated here. Although it’s thought that there were markets before dedicated to Christmas, the first true Christmas market is always credited to Germany and Dresden, first held in 1434. Since then, the tradition hasn’t just grown in Germany but worldwide, however, we think it’s always best to experience something in its home country if you can.

Traditional Gingerbread hanging at a German Christmas Market

What to buy at a European Christmas market?

So, now we know where you’ll be visiting on a Christmas markets cruise, what should you actually buy when you are there?


A way to warm your bones and get into the festive spirit is with a glass (or often mug) of glühwein – you’ll know it as mulled wine. Warm and fragrant, wrap your hands around a mug of traditional glühwein as you browse the stores to get the full experience of any market. What’s more, in most cases the mugs are another souvenir you can take home and enjoy as well, as you put down a deposit for the mug so you can reuse it and if you decide you want to keep it you can. They will usually have the location and date of the market as well and can be great collectors’ items.


It’s not just great drinks you can find at Christmas markets but great food too and gingerbread is a must. Known as lebkuchen, these cookies are just as tasty as they are beautiful and are made to be gifted to others. You’ll see them hanging from stalls with various decorations and messages and they are a great buy for those who want to get a loved one back home a small gift. Alternatively, get one for yourself to open up once you get home to help cure the post-cruise blues!


A traditional site at Christmas is the nutcracker, and this is something you’ll find plenty of when browsing festive stalls. These brightly coloured wooden figures are probably just as good to look at as they are to use cracking nuts. For those who want a lasting memento of their time at a market, it can be a great buy. Top tip from us: When looking for a nutcracker be sure to check the product over for ‘Made in…’ stickers as, unfortunately, some stalls will buy imported items rather than display handmade German crafts.  

Hats, Scarves and Gloves

The festive season always calls for some good knitwear or winterwear and spending time travelling Europe can mean you get to enjoy their great options. Whether you get a bit cold whilst browsing the stalls or want a signature hat to bring home, investing in a hat, scarf or a pair of gloves can be a great idea. You’re bound to find a range of options that won’t only keep you toasty but make a fashion statement as well.

Christmas Ornaments

One of the best mementoes you can buy at a Christmas market is an ornament. Whether something to hang on the tree at home or a snow globe, you’re sure to find a range of stunning festive ornaments at any Christmas market. These can be great and meaningful gifts but are also great souvenirs for yourself, as you can collect items from various markets to add to your Christmas decoration selection and enjoy every year.

As you can see, there is a lot to enjoy about a European Christmas market holiday – from delicious glühwein to historic market squares, so why not try one this year?

For more tips, guides, and advice, make sure to visit our blog page.