Steer clear of the big-city lights to experience a truly magical holiday season in some of Europe’s underground markets. Featuring locations in the ruins of a castle, inside a beautiful cave, or under a viaduct in a forest, take some time to rediscover your holiday passion, relax, and don’t forget to pick out a gift for yourself.
Rekindle Your Christmas Spirit at These 6 European Markets
Mulhouse Christmas Market, France
Mulhouse is famous for its fabrics: From the traditional prints to the high-quality materials, the town’s culture and Christmas market are defined by the specific fabric they design for each winter. Therefore, the Mulhouse Christmas Market features a wide range of fabric shops (with gift ideas for the whole family) alongside other boutiques with local delicacies such as the foie gras and gingerbread, handmade gifts, and a special area with elves, created specifically for children. The market is located on the main square of Mulhouse (Place de la Réunion), and besides the wooden boutiques and special lights, you will also see the market covered and decorated with the signature fabric designed for the occasion.
November 24th–December 27th
Peonia at Home Hotel – 6-minute drive away from the market and the Musée des Beaux Arts
Valkenburg Velvet Cave Market and Christmas Parade, The Netherlands
Simply because of the magical location of the market, this is an ideal, hidden location if you would like to enjoy the Christmas Spirit without the crowd and rush. The Velvet Cave Christmas Market is located in Valkenburg, the Netherlands, and as one of the oldest underground markets, it offers a lifetime experience with one-of-a-kind decoration and setting. Although it is located in a cave, the market features spacious galleries and various handmade vendors’ boutiques, where you can shop for presents such as luxurious candles, gingerbread, and Christmas tree decorations and accessories. Besides the cave, you can also experience a market in the town of Valkenburg and enjoy the beautiful architecture, including the 18th century chapel with unique Christmas lighting.
November 17th–December 23rd
Thermae 2000, where you can also enjoy spa facilities after a long day outside
Merano Christmas Market, Italy
Over 70 different stands, beautiful decoration, and a true Christmas spirit…although Merano is a quiet small town with a population of only 40,000, it definitely becomes a Christmas capitol during the winter. The market is located at the main square, Piazza Terme, and besides the regular boutiques and handmade gift ideas, there are also different programs, such as concerts, pop-up exhibitions, and an ice skating rink. This Christmas market also has very special décor, with lanterns and slightly asymmetric stands and boutiques, and you can also enjoy the absolutely breathtaking landscape and Passer river of Merano while shopping and looking around. Most of the vendors and stands feature the traditional South Tyrolean culture with their products, whether it’s the material, design, or taste. Unlike many Christmas markets, this one will be open until early January, so you can also visit during the New Year for a less crowded winter wonderland experience.
November 24th–January 6th
Hotel Terme, located right on the main square, with spa facilities and a view of the Christmas market and river Passer
There is definitely something magical about the Goslar Christmas Market
Goslar Christmas Market, Germany
Maybe it’s the romantic and medieval vibe of the town, maybe it’s the architectural design and the smaller, lit-up stalls, but there is definitely something magical about the Goslar Christmas Market. Besides the regular market (located on the historical market square, which is shaped like a star), there is also another attraction, the Christmas Forest on Schuhhof, with almost 40 illuminated Christmas trees—the perfect Christmas maze for children and a beautiful detail to add to the town’s winter spirit. Alongside the stands (selling mulled wine, gingerbread, and handmade present concepts), there will also be classical music playing, all close to the snowy Hartz Mountains.
November 29th–December 30th
Hotel am Kranichsee, with a stunning, snowy landscape during winter
Ravenna Gorge Black Forest Christmas Market, Germany
Located right under the railway viaduct of the Devil’s Valley, this Christmas market will give you an experience like no other. Away from towns and cities, under a beautiful, tall viaduct, there is a variety of 40 wooden stands and beautiful Christmas lights in the middle of the forest. From the food and wine selection (with their signature mulled wine and wine punch, of course), the music and the traditional gift ideas, the Ravenna Gorge Christmas market is one of the most magical ones in Europe for those who like spontaneous forest walks and mysterious locations.
December 3rd–December 24th
Hotel Hofgut Sternen, only a 15–20 minute walk away from the Black Forest
Leeds Hidden Christmas Market, UK
The Christmas market in Leeds is based on German traditions instead of English ones: The food, the decoration, and the greenery all channel a classic, German-Christmas-market vibe, and although it is located in the busy center of Leeds, this market still has a magical feeling to it. The Christmas Market is based in the Millennium Square with 40 wooden stalls (with handcrafted toys, jewelry, candied fruits and gingerbread, festive decorations, and Christmas cards), but for those who want more adventure, there is also a lesser known, hidden Christmas market option. Based in the ruins of Kirkstall Abbey, you can enjoy a very exclusive Christmas shopping experience in the heart of a medieval castle.
November 10th–December 24th
The Met Hotel, with a beautiful architectural design and a 15-minute drive from Kirkstall Abbey