Thursday, 20 September 2012 4:04 PM
Christmas is synonymous with shopping and some of the best places to spend your cash in the festive season are at a few Yuletide markets. Here are our pick of the top Christmas markets you can visit this year to get you in the mood for the wintry period.
Germany is the most famous location for Christmas markets, with these quaint outdoor bazaars having originated in the country. If you want to walk between corridors of small log cabins selling cute knick knacks and sugary sweets, this is the place to head to.
You'll be guaranteed to find everything you associate with traditional Christmas markets here, including stalls selling bratwurst (sausage), pretzels and goulash. So, there'll be plenty to warm you up or keep your energy supplies high as you meander through the labyrinth of vendors.
There are several locations in Germany that you can choose to visit for Christmas markets. Cologne is a popular destination at this time of the year, as the markets take over the city centre. The bazaar is split into different areas, including the maritime, fairytale and angels markets. With the district bursting with traditional wooden cabins offering a variety of handicrafts, foods, sweets and gifts, you will enjoy the quintessential Christmas market experience here.
You don't need to go to Germany to have this special festive break, as plenty of other locations throughout Europe have their own versions, including France. There are many options for you when it comes to picking Christmas markets here, as you could fly into a city such as Paris or you could head somewhere smaller to have a quieter, more authentic experience.
For instance, you might wish to visit Cherbourg on the northern cost of France. This old city offers much in the way of historical sights, but for the purpose of this trip, you'll also find an array of gift stalls and festive attractions.
The Christmas market is held in the square and you can enjoy the delicious tastes of French cuisine here, as well as German snacks. Expect to find the likes of baguettes, stews and pastries throughout the area, while you may wish to keep yourself warm with some mulled wine.
It is easy to reach Cherbourg, and you can get there by hopping on a Christmas cruise to France, which will also go on to explore the medieval city of Rouen.
Another location you could consider heading to if you want to expand your Christmas shopping experience is Prague in the Czech Republic. This winter wonderland takes up most of the city centre, being transformed throughout December for tourists to indulge in rich food and lots of shopping opportunities.
If you happen to be in Prague over the festive season, you can even visit the markets on Christmas Day and New Year's Day. So, if you're worried about not getting into the spirit this year, this Yuletide event will certainly get you feeling merry.
In addition to traditional German ornaments and foods, you can also expect to see Czech handicrafts, cold local beers and cups of svarene vino - or hot wine - during your trip.
This will be unlike any other Christmas market you've ever been to, as there is also a stables set up in the Old Town Square, re-enacting the scenes from Bethlehem. Next to this, there is also an indoor workshop for children where they can watch puppet shows and learn how to make Christmas decorations, perfect to adorn your tree next year.