Towards the end of November, Christmas markets pop up all over Europe and celebrate the festive season with music, beautiful decorations and lights, and delicious food. Small and large towns in the Alps are no exception and join in the festivities. Here are seven of the most beautiful Christmas markets among the Alpine villages.
Garmisch-Partenkirchen is known for stunning views of Germany’s highest peak, Zugspitze, the annual ski championship, and as a gateway to alpine winter sports. In the weeks leading up to Christmas, the town centre transform into a magical winter wonderland. Snow-decked houses, fairy lights and festively decorated Christmas market huts make for the perfect setting to shop for handcrafted souvenirs and gifts and sample some of the local sweet and savoury specialities.
The quaint town of Berchtesgaden is wedged into the most southeastern corner of Germany, right at the border of Austria. During the summer months, hikers flock to the area to explore the alpine trails, and in winter ski and snowboard aficionados take on the slopes. The annual Christmas market is another highlight. The town square is being decorated with evergreen garlands, trees and wood-carved figures when exhibitors move into their market stalls to sell traditional handicrafts.
The small Austrian town stands for glitzy, glamorous winter holidays. The streets of the medieval town centre are lined with high-end boutiques and restaurants. In the weeks leading up to Christmas, Kitzbuhel casts a spell over its visitors with a couple of Christmas markets that lure with Tyrolese culinary specialities, an enchanting atmosphere and stunning views of the Alps.
Innsbruck celebrates the pre-Christmas season with not only one but six unique Christmas markets that are scattered across the city. A total of 200 vendors set up shop and bring the best of Austrian culinary treats and handmade crafts together. Fairytale forests, music and a puppet theatre make for a well-rounded entertainment programme for visitors of all ages. But for many, sipping on a mug of Glühwein and enjoying the panoramic views of the city and the mountains in the background are enough to enjoy the festivities.
South Tyrol’s oldest town stuns with a historic town centre, winding Old Town alleys and an impressive Alpine backdrop. Towards the end of November and all the way through to January the following year, the town is decorated with fir trees and twinkling lights. The magical Christmas market puts the focus on sustainable, regional and organic products and celebrates traditional craftsmanship. The market stalls offer a vast array of unique and handmade trinkets and gifts, as well as to-die-for Austrian food and drinks.
In the Advent season, the scent of freshly roasted chestnuts, waffles and mulled wine wraps around the South Tyrol mountain village. Like its counterpart in Brixen, the Bolzano Christmas market has been certified as a ‘green’ event. Some 80 exhibitors showcase sustainable products in their red and white roofed huts, while choirs and bands sound their songs over the market square.
Year-round, this Italian village, which is situated 180 kilometres north of Verona, is a known spa town that had already fascinated Empress Sisi in the late 19th century. If picturesque views of the surrounding mountains, wellness retreats and winter sports are not enough of a reason for you to visit, the Christmas market might convince you. Often praised as the most beautiful in the Alps, the Meran Christkindlmarkt is a fairytale dream of festive classical music, handmade art and décor and the best of Southern Tyrolese cuisine.