Places such as Budapest, Zagreb, Vienna and Cologne may be more famous for their traditional Christmas markets than sunny Spanish cities, however Spain can definitely hold its own when it comes to quaint markets and festive fun. Here’s our pick of the top 12 magical Christmas markets in Spain.
Barcelona’s best Christmas market is the Fira de Santa Llúcia, located on the large square right in front of the Cathedral. Comprising traditional wooden chalet-like stalls, it sells many different types of Christmas decorations, nativity scene figurines and local sweets. Look out for the Tió de Nadal or Caga Tió, like the ones below – Catalan children beat them with sticks on Christmas Eve, and sing a song asking them to poop out sweets. The Christmas market runs from November 24th to December 23rd.
One of Barcelona’s other Christmas markets is set around Gaudí’s magnificent Sagrada Familia church, making for a truly spectacular location. Dating back to the 1960s, this is a popular market with both tourists and locals, and sells everything from food to handicraft gifts and Christmas decorations. It runs from November 26th to December 23rd.
Madrid’s main Christmas market fills the grand Plaza Mayor with twinkly lights, Christmas music and wonderful smells. One of the biggest in Spain, it has 104 booths, selling everything from figurines for the Nativity scenes (Beléns) to handmade toys and small joke items – perfect for stocking fillers. The market runs from November 24th until December 31st.
Taking place in Madrid’s Plaza de España, this artisan Christmas market focuses on handmade gifts and products, and features work from around 178 different workshops and craft guilds across the city. It’s the perfect place to shop for Christmas presents, selling a range of items from ceramics and jewellery to handbags, scarves and toys. The market will run from December 9th until January 5th.
Valencia goes one step further than Madrid and Barcelona, adding a funfair to its Christmas market. Taking place between Calle Ingeniero Manuel Soto and Avda. De Francia, it features all the usual stalls, as well as lots of festive music, lights and candy floss. There are, of course, plenty of rides to enjoy, from ferris wheels to bumper cars and ride-on trains for kids. The fair runs from November 25th to January 22nd.
Seville offers visitors a different kind of Christmas market, specialising only in figurines and sets for Nativity scenes, known as Beléns in Spanish. Extremely delicate and intricate, you can buy anything from Mary, Joseph and The Three Kings to mini market places, shepherds, and even moving water wheels. Located in the historic centre, near the Cathedral, it runs from November 18th to December 23rd.
Seville’s other Christmas market is a more traditional Christmas market affair, yet focusing on handicrafts and handmade gifts. Taking place on Plaza Nueva, it features an array of modern-style booths, where you can stock up on a variety of gifts. It’s particularly good for ceramics, for which the city is famous. The market runs from December 15th to January 5th.
The city of Zaragoza may not be as well known to visitors as the others on our list, but that doesn’t mean it should be overlooked. Zaragoza in fact offers a fantastic Christmas market on the Plaza del Pilar, complete with 40 different stalls, an ice skating rink, a sledging ramp, and stages for musical and dance performances. There’s also a giant Belén with over 100 figurines. Most booths will stay open until New Year’s Eve.
A new addition to the Christmas market scene in Malaga takes place in the Botanical Gardens of La Concepción. Now in its second year, it is back by popular demand. Set against the magical 19th-century palace, it features a myriad of stalls selling things such as local arts and crafts to antiques and fashion items. There is also a special area with activities for kids and a number of food trucks. It takes place on Sunday December 10th.
Granada may be quite small, but it goes all out for Christmas, with lots of lights, decorations and an excellent Christmas Market. Taking place on the central Plaza Bib-Rambla, it features a variety of different stalls selling handicrafts, traditional sweets and toys. You can also find many fragrant Moroccan tea and spice stalls dotted around the city, which can also make excellent Christmas gifts. The market runs from December 2nd to January 6th.
Córdoba’s iconic Plaza Tendillas plays host to a delightful Christmas market, full of stalls, lights and trees. It features everything you’d expect from a festive market from food and sweet stalls to toys and handicrafts. There are also fun theatrical and magic performances to entertain the kids. It runs from November 10th to December 22nd.
It may not exactly be a Christmas market, but Bilbao’s Santo Tomás Fair takes place around the Christmas season, and focuses on food, so it may as well be. Get your hands on an array of traditional Basque products here, from cider and cheese to local txakoli (Basque white wine), rosquillas (a type of doughnut), honey and chorizo. There are also several stalls selling handicrafts, as well as Basque entertainment. The fair takes place on December 21st and 22nd.
For more Christmas travel inspiration in Spain, read our article on 8 Spanish Christmas Traditions You Need to Know.