If you’re looking for the ultimate way to get into the spirit during Christmas time, a tour of European Christmas markets should definitely be on your list. You can stroll the markets while sipping on hot chocolate, mulled red wine (glühwein), or any other hot drink, and take in the sights and shopping experience. But the best thing might be the food. Here are the 21 best European Christmas market foods you must try.
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Whether this is your first Christmas market experience in Europe or you’ve been before, you will find there are so many different flavors to experience. While these markets are often close to larger cities, they can also be found in small towns and villages.
If you’ve never had the opportunity to visit a European Christmas market, know that it’s the perfect way to kick off the Christmas holidays. One of our favorite trips was an AmaWaterways river cruise where we visited dozens of markets.
The great thing, too, is that these markets have something for everyone. Both kids and adults will have plenty to see and taste while enjoying a little bit of festivity during the holiday season. We think the markets are one of the best December vacations for families!
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What to Eat at Swiss Christmas Markets
The Christmas markets in Switzerland are among the best Christmas markets in Europe. From Zurich’s festive market at the train station to Lugano’s Italian-inspired market and Geneva’s, Lucerne’s, and Montreux’s markets with lakes as their backdrop, there’s no shortage of places to take part in the seasonal traditions
Don’t miss out on one of the oldest markets in Switzerland in the city of Basel. Another fabulous spot is the market in the UNESCO Heritage site of Old Town Bern.
Fondue is a decadent Swiss dish that involves melting a mixture of cheeses. It’s typically Gruyère and Emmental mixed with white wine and garlic.
The result is a rich, creamy, irresistible cheese sauce that’s perfect for dipping chunks of bread, vegetables, and fruit. It’s also considered a symbol of togetherness and warmth. What’s better than families and friends gathering around a bubbling pot of cheese to celebrate the holiday season?
Note: We also saw a “fondue dog” in Basel. Highly recommend this treat if you have a chance!
Raclette, another cheese-centric treat, is made by melting a round of Raclette cheese. The dish is often served with onions and pickles.
The cheese turns gooey and slightly crispy on top, creating a mouthwatering combination of textures and flavors. Raclette’s comforting heartiness makes it a perfect fit for the Swiss winter. We think it embodies the coziness and indulgence associated with Christmas gatherings.
Basler Brunsi is a special style of gingerbread cookies from Basel, flavored with spices like cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg. These sweet treats are delightfully crunchy and have an aromatic, slightly sweet taste.
At Christmas markets, Basler Brunsi cookies serve as a sweet reminder of Basel’s unique traditions. They add a touch of local charm and history to the festive atmosphere.
Grittibanz is a festive bread figurine, often shaped like a man or woman and adorned with raisins or chocolate chips. The bread is soft with a hint of sweetness, making it equally good for breakfast or a snack.
Grittibanz adds a playful element to the Christmas market experience. These figurines are often exchanged as gifts or enjoyed as a special holiday breakfast. They are an integral part of seasonal celebrations.
Best German Christmas Market Foods
If you’re planning a trip to the German Christmas markets, there are plenty to choose from to indulge in the country’s best food.
From live performances and unique crafts to an abundance of shopping opportunities, Germany’s Christmas markets are a must when you’re visiting during the holiday season. One of the best experiences of visiting is the opportunity to enjoy classic German Christmas market food.
Kartoffelpuffer are crispy, savory potato pancakes fried to perfection. They can be enjoyed with sweet or savory toppings. There’s everything from apple sauce or fresh fruit to sour cream.
Warm and hearty, these German potato pancakes are perfect for the chilly winter days of the Christmas season. Families and friends gather at Christmas markets to savor the traditional treats.
This gingerbread, with its sweet and spicy flavor, is a beloved symbol of German Christmas traditions. The intricate icing decorations and the aroma of ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and honey evoke a sense of nostalgia and enchantment.
Often given as gifts, Lebkuchen is not just a cookie. It’s a piece of edible art (usually shaped as gingerbread hearts) that adds to the festive spirit.
This rich and buttery German fruitcake holds deep cultural significance that dates back to the 14th century. The bread was originally used to pay homage to royalty and dignitaries in the church.
It’s a dense, moist confection filled with candied fruits, nuts, and spices before being coated with powdered sugar. The act of slicing and sharing Stollen is a cherished tradition. It symbolizes the spirit of sharing blessings during the holiday season.
This well-known, flavorful German sausage is a staple at Christmas markets and one of the most delicious German foods.
Grilled to perfection and served on a roll (often with spicy mustard), it exudes a savory, slightly smoky aroma.
This hearty snack not only represents Germany’s culinary heritage but also satisfies hungry bellies while wandering through a market’s festive atmosphere.
These sugar-coated roasted almonds are crunchy and have a sweet, caramelized flavor. Their sweet, nutty aroma fills the air at Christmas markets, evoking childhood memories and spreading holiday cheer.
These almonds aren’t just a snack — they’re a sensory reminder of the joy and warmth of the season.
Must-Eat Foods at the French Christmas Markets
It could only be expected that Christmas markets in France would have absolutely irresistible food.
Known as “Marchés de Noël,” these traditional markets were started as early as the late 1500s. Some of them offer magnificent light displays, opportunities for ice skating, plenty of crafts and entertainment, and, of course, a plethora of opportunities to try the country’s most beloved cuisine.
Tarte Flambée is an Alsatian dish that captures the essence of French comfort food. This crispy, thin flatbread pizza is topped with crème fraîche, onions, bacon or lardons, and sometimes cheese. The result is a combination of creamy, smoky, and slightly sweet flavors with a satisfying crunch.
It’s not only a tasty, savory treat — it’s also an emblem of Alsatian culinary heritage. At Christmas markets, Tarte Flambée provides warmth and a taste of France to visitors at markets, making it an essential part of the festive experience.
This spiced gingerbread is a warm, fragrant, and nostalgic treat. Made with honey and a blend of spices like ginger, cinnamon, and cloves, it offers a subtly sweet and gently spicy flavor.
Sometimes adorned with almonds for extra texture, Pain d’Épices is an iconic symbol of French Christmas traditions. It evokes fond memories of holiday celebrations and represents the sweetness of the season.
At Christmas markets, you can find artisanal versions of this classic. Each one has its own twist, adding to the magic of the festivities.
Also known as “Saint Nicholas” bread, mannele are sweet, brioche-like rolls whimsically shaped like little figures. Flavored with hints of orange blossom water and often decorated with chocolate chips or raisins, they offer a tender texture and a subtly sweet, citrus-infused flavor.
However, mannele are more than just a sweet treat — they embody the spirit of giving and sharing during the holidays.
Crêpes are a versatile sweet or savory dish. These thin, delicate pancakes made from a simple batter can be filled with a variety of ingredients. There’s everything from Nutella and jam to sugar and cheese. These are some of our favorite Christmas market foods.
The beauty of crêpes lies in their adaptability and universal appeal. They are an indulgent dessert or savory snack that undoubtedly enhances the festive atmosphere and offers a taste of France to market-goers.
What to Eat at the Dutch Christmas Markets
These markets, known as known as “Kerstmarkten” or “Kerstmarkten in Nederland,” are held in cities and towns throughout the country. They have a festive atmosphere that combines Dutch traditions with the universal spirit of Christmas.
Oliebollen, which translates to “oil balls,” are deep-fried doughnuts dusted with powdered sugar.
They have a crispy exterior and a soft, doughy interior. These are often flavored with raisins and sometimes apples. Each bite bursts with sweet fruitiness. These iconic Dutch Christmas treats symbolize the joy and indulgence of the holiday season, and are a satisfying snack for visitors of all ages.
Pannenkoeken are Dutch pancakes that are thin and similar to crepes.
They can be filled with various sweet or savory toppings. Favorites include powdered sugar, syrup, Nutella, cheese, or ham.
Pannenkoeken are an absolute crowd-pleaser for anyone in your group of travelers. They are a beloved comfort food in the Netherlands.
Croquette on Bread
A croquette is a breaded and deep-fried roll or cylinder filled with a creamy mixture of meat, ragout, or other ingredients.
When served on bread, it creates a satisfying contrast of both textures and savory flavors.
Croquettes are a Dutch snack enjoyed year-round, and they make a special appearance at Christmas markets. They are perfect to eat while browsing the festive market stalls.
Tornado potatoes are spiral-cut and deep-fried potatoes skewered on a stick. They become crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. The combination of textures is what makes this an irresistible snack.
Tornado potatoes add a playful twist to Dutch Christmas markets. Not only are they a delicious treat but also a visual spectacle that captures the fun and whimsy of Christmas market foods.
Christmas Market Foods in Budapest
Budapest Christmas markets, nestled within the heart of Hungary’s capital, are a winter wonderland with tons of festive charm and rich traditions.
Set against the backdrop of stunning historical architecture and the glistening Danube River, these markets offer an enchanting experience with plenty of amazing food to indulge in.
Locally known as Kürtőskalács, this beloved Hungarian pastry is both visually appealing and delectable.
A chimney cake is made by wrapping sweet dough around a cylindrical spit. Next, it’s cooked over an open flame until it turns golden brown. This results in a crispy, caramelized outer layer with a soft and doughy interior.
Often coated in a variety of toppings like cinnamon, sugar, chopped nuts, or cocoa, these delicious treats are a true star of Budapest Christmas markets.
Its alluring aroma and intricate preparation draw in any visitor with a sweet tooth, while its sweet, warm, and slightly smoky flavor provides a comforting and nostalgic experience. This is a must-try treat that embodies the essence of Hungarian holiday traditions.
Goulash Soup in a Bread Bowl
Goulash is a hearty Hungarian soup. The dish is made with beef or pork, paprika, and an assortment of vegetables.
This traditional dish is simmered to perfection. The result is a rich and flavorful broth. Served in a crusty bread bowl, it offers a satisfying combination of textures and tastes, making it a comforting winter dish.
Goulash Soup in a Bread Bowl is a cherished Hungarian comfort food. At Budapest Christmas markets, it not only warms the body but also warms the heart. This dish symbolizes the generosity and hospitality of Hungarian culture during the holiday season.
Prague Christmas Market Foods
The Prague Christmas markets are a captivating tapestry of tradition and holiday magic. Full of twinkling lights, intricately decorated wooden stalls, and towering Christmas trees, these markets are a treasure trove of handcrafted gifts, local delicacies, and seasonal treats.
The scent of mulled wine and the melodies of carolers fill the air, creating a warm and inviting atmosphere while you partake in the deliciousness that the food stalls have to offer.
And don’t forget to grab your Christmas mug. You pay a deposit for a drink, and then you either keep or return the mug for your money back.
This incredible Czech street food (borrowed from the Hungarians) consists of deep-fried dough disks that are crispy on the outside and pillowy soft on the inside.
Often generously topped with ingredients like garlic, cheese, ketchup, or even Nutella, they have the perfect blend of textures and flavors.
Langoš is not just a culinary delight; it’s an integral part of the market experience, symbolizing the joy of indulgence and togetherness during the holiday season.
Pražská Šunka, or Prague Ham, is a star attraction at Prague Christmas markets, and its importance goes beyond its mouthwatering taste.
Slow-roasted on open spits, the ham develops a succulent, smoky flavor and a crispy, caramelized outer layer. Served in generous portions, it’s a hearty and comforting treat that warms both body and soul during the chilly winter evenings.
If you take a visit to any of these markets, check back in and let us know your favorite Christmas market foods!