With the festive season almost upon us, what better way to get into the seasonal spirit than visiting one of Europe’s best Christmas markets? There are so many spectacular locations just a short distance away, so the travel experts at Rentalcars.com have rounded up some of Europe's best Christmas markets!

Fancy a last minute Christmas market break?

Fancy a last minute Christmas market break?

Vienna, Austria

The traditional Christmas markets in Vienna date back to the Middle Ages and run from mid-November to the end of December every year. With several market locations across the city, it’s the ideal place for Christmas market lovers.

Hotspots include the ‘Viennese Dream’ Christmas Market in front of the grand City Hall, where you can learn how to make cookies or candles; the Christmas Village at Belvedere Palace, which is known for its traditional handicrafts; and the Museum Quarter market, which attracts a younger crowd thanks to its live music, DJ sets and contemporary art on sale.

Getting there: You can fly directly to Vienna from UK airports including London Luton, Gatwick and Stanstead for around £200*. When you get to Vienna airport, why not rent a car to get into the city? With a car you can take a day trip to the stunning Melk Abbey, a ruin that sits on the cliffs over the Wachau Valley with unrivalled views of the River Danube. Melk Abbey is just an hour’s drive to the west of Vienna and a rental car from Vienna airport costs around £55 for three nights*.

Krakow, Poland

Krakow is one of the best Christmas markets to do on a shoestring. On average a pint of beer in the popular market square is just €1.70!

The markets run from the last week of November until the 26th of December, making Krakow the ideal place for a pre-Christmas shopping trip on a smaller budget.

Krakow’s annual Christmas market is held in the city’s central square, Rynek Glonwy, in the old town district. Stalls sell a range of gifts from cards and toys, to Christmas decorations. There are also plenty of food and drink huts offering seasonal treats like mulled wine, spiced nuts and gingerbread.

Getting there: You can fly direct to Krakow from all major UK airports, including London Stanstead, Bristol, Birmingham and Manchester. Once at Krakow airport, the journey to the city centre is just twenty minutes by train or car. By renting a car, you can also visit the impressive Tatra Mountains, which have a 4.5-star rating on TripAdvisor, as part of your visit –they’re just a few hour’s drive from Krakow.

Birmingham, England

For an option closer to home, Birmingham’s Frankfurt Christmas Market is the largest German market outside of Germany and Austria.

Visitors can choose to enjoy dinner, lunch or breakfast from the many food stands, with most offering tasty authentic festive snacks like traditional German Bratwurst and freshly made crêpes.

The Frankfurt market is a festive setting for drinks, with mulled wine and German beer for sale, accompanied by performances from local musicians.

Getting there: Birmingham’s Frankfurt market is based in the city centre starting at the Town Hall and down the surrounding streets. To get there, take the train to Birmingham New Street. Or, if there’s a group of you coming from further afield, why not rent a car? A medium-sized car from London Stanstead costs £43 for three nights with Rentalcars.com. If you’re driving, it’s worth taking the short trip to nearby Stratford upon Avon, where you can visit Shakespeare’s birthplace and its own Victorian Christmas market.

Cologne, Germany

For a full-on authentic German Christmas market experience, Cologne is the place to go. This popular tradition attracts people from across the world.

The city hosts ten different festive markets, so there’s something for everyone. The Cathedral market has the impressive back-drop of Cologne Cathedral. ‘Heavenue Cologne’ at Rudolfplatz, is the city’s gay Christmas market with pop-art style booths, artisan food and live performances from German artists.

Cologne also wins for the quirkiest market stall location, with vendors on a boat overlooking the River Rhine.

Getting there: You can fly to Cologne direct from London, Manchester and Bristol in around 1 hour 20 minutes. To get into the city centre from the airport you can take a train, bus or hire a car. A medium-sized car costs around £46 for three days*. If you’re driving, take a detour to the impressive Schloss Drachenburg castle, an 1882 fairy tale-like castle just an hour from Cologne.

*Detailed pricing is correct as of November 24, 2018

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