Food, mulled wine, and twinkling lights. It’s easy to see why so many people pay a trip to the cities of Europe to experience their stunning Christmas markets that mark the start of the festive period. However with the capitals and other large cities forming the list of top destinations, most of the markets in smaller cities and towns don’t make the cut and are therefore left relatively untouched by tourists. Although I can see the appeal of visiting the Christmas markets in a large city, I think that a lot of ones in the smaller towns and cities are highly underrated, and that heading to one of them instead might be the best thing you’ll do this Christmas. Here’s why.
The markets found in smaller places are much less busy as they attract less tourists. Forget having to push your way through crowds just to queue for 30 minutes to buy a beer or sausage, the smaller markets allow you to take a more leisurely and relaxed approach to your visit and spend more time enjoying your mulled wine rather than waiting for it.
A more authentic experience
As smaller markets are much more off the tourists beaten path you’ll find that most people who visit them either live there or are from nearby surrounding areas. This gives you the chance to actually experience the market like a proper local, you’ll probably be one of the few tourists there! It also means the markets haven’t been overdeveloped for tourism unlike in the big cities, so tend to have kept a more traditional look and vibe rather than being more commercialised.
Food, drink and gifts generally tend to be a bit cheaper in the smaller markets, most likely because stall rental prices will be lower than those in the big cities. You’ll also find that prices tend to the higher at the large markets as there are more tourists there who the stall owners know will pay the price regardless.
The smaller Christmas markets seem to have a more special and magical atmosphere, as their compact nature gives them a quaint look and intimate feeling which adds to their festive charm. Although they may not have the same volume of stalls as the large Christmas markets, a lot of the stalls in the larger cities tend to repeat what they sell giving them a less personal experience than the smaller ones.
So if you’re wanting to go and explore the Christmas markets this year, why not try somewhere a bit different for a truly memorable experience and discover a European Christmas like a true local.