What symbolizes a magical Christmas more than freshly fallen snow, twinkling festive lights, Christmas market stalls, mulled wine and roasted chestnuts? Not much, we reckon!
In this second post in our festive series, Tep has put together a list of the most Christmassy places to visit around the northern hemisphere that could give you your dose of magic.
From real snow and reindeer rides to hot mulled wine, roasted chestnuts and dazzling Christmas markets, we’ve got you covered!
Here’s our list of the top 5 places to visit:
5. Nuremberg, Germany
German Christmas markets are known worldwide for their famous mulled wines, gingerbreads, glittering decorations and picturesque wooden chalets. Perhaps the most charming aspect of a German market is that it brings the holiday spirit to town with its aromas, sights and sounds. Yet, none of the imitations you can find across the globe come close to the original treats you will try at the original Christkindlesmarkt in Nuremberg.
The annual Christmas market, which dates as far back as 1628, descends yearly upon the center of Nuremberg and brings with it a wonderful festive atmosphere that is very contagious, joyful and family friendly.
Some of our favorite picks from the Christkindlesmarkt that just can’t be replicated include; the iconic stagecoach tour, a steaming hot mug of glühwein (mulled wine in German), the famous prune men, delicious Nuremberg lebkuchen (sweet gingerbread) and of course bratwurst. If you are looking for the real deal there is no better German Christmas market than this one!
For a short break in Nuremberg we recommend staying at Hotel Victoria that is perfectly placed to enjoy all the market has to offer!
4. Quebec City, Canada
Quebec City has been consistently named one of the world’s top destinations to visit during Christmas and for good reason. A metamorphosis takes place in the Old city during the holiday season as it transforms “into a Christmas village straight out of a story by Charles Dickens” (CNN, 2015).
There is an undeniable old world charm to this small Canadian town that lures tourists from all over the world to enjoy its Christmas markets, concerts and decorations. Visit the German Christmas Market for your mulled wine, gingerbread and bratwurst fix without having to step outside North America.
For a more quintessential French market head over to the Old Port Market or try the Gourmet Food Tour to get the best of both worlds. If you’re planning to stay inside the Old City, we can’t recommend the historic Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac enough. It’s a tourist attraction in itself (and is one of the most photographed hotels in the world) so even if you don’t get the chance to stay in one of its impressive rooms make sure you take a snap before you leave.
3. Vienna, Austria
The musical capital of Europe completely transforms during the run up to Christmas and is a great place to get your festive groove on. As you walk through the many markets the city has to offer, you will be greeted by the inviting aromas of Christmas punch, roasted chestnuts and the sound of trumpets playing advent songs.
If you want all your senses tickled by Christmas fever you should definitely start with the Vienna Magic of Advent Market (a.k.a. Wien Christkindlesmarkt) at Rathausplatz. The square in front of the city’s impressive Town Hall is transformed into a glittering fairy-tale world with Christmas stalls, glittering lights, pony rides and its very own ‘Christkindl Express’ train. Ice skating at Vienna City Hall is also one not to miss out on, with the gigantic 8,000 square meter ‘Ice World’ rink featuring as one of the most beautiful ice rinks in the world this year.
For classical music lovers Bach’s Christmas Oratorio and Advent Concert at St Stephansdom are the best way to get submersed in the authentic sound of Christmas. If you want to stay true to the opulent classical Viennese style, check in to Palais Coburg Residence Hotel that is within walking distance from all of the main attractions.
2. Lapland, Finland
The official home of Santa Claus in the Arctic Circle was sure to be on our top list of Christmassy places to visit. With guaranteed snow, stunning scenery, views of the Northern Lights and plenty of outdoor activities, Lapland will definitely bring out your inner child-like awe – even if you don’t bring the kids.
If you do want to take the little ones to visit Father Christmas we suggest booking the Santa Claus Village in Rovaniemi. The highlights include elf workshops, sleigh rides, a Christmas carousel, Mrs. Claus’ famous kitchen and of course getting to meet the elusive Santa himself.
If you want to stay clear of Santa mania, why not take a day tour of Lapland’s picturesque scenery by going on a husky or reindeer excursion through the magical woodlands?
At night, the skyline over Lapland is transformed by one of the most spectacular natural light shows on earth, the northern lights. We recommend viewing the lights from the comfort of your own glass igloo or ‘kota’ at Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort.
For the more adventurous and thick-skinned individuals, the Snow Village with ice bar and rooms is a once in a lifetime experience. Every year a new village is built out of 350,000 kilos of ice which will completely melt away come spring – enjoy its beauty whilst you can as it really is never the same twice.
Unlike the other Christmassy destinations we’ve focused on, Lapland has its own unique culinary delights that you won’t find anywhere else. Reindeer, bear, wild fowl and willow grouse are amongst some of the Lappish specialties – just be warned that Santa does not approve of eating Rudolf’s relatives for dinner!
1. Strasbourg, France
Strasbourg is known as the capital of Christmas for good reason, it’s home to some exceptional decoration displays, caroling choirs, stalls, festive delicacies and one of the largest Christmas markets in Europe. In the heart of the Alsace region, you will find the wonders of Strasbourg’s famed Christkindelsmärik, one of the oldest Christmas markets in France.
A dazzling Christmas tree sits in the center of the market, at Place Kléber, and marks the perfect starting point to begin your journey through the 300 stalls on offer. The must tries at the market include, hot mulled wine served in boot shaped mugs, bredeles, kugelhopf, Alsatian Christmas beer and foie gras.
For the best Christmas gingerbread you may ever taste head over to Mireille Oster’s Pain d’Epices in La Petite France (their recipe has been passed down through 3 generations and is the reason people flock there year round). The ice skating rink located on Place du Château is the perfect way to have some fun away from the market’s bustling stalls and take in the city’s gorgeous architecture.
We highly recommend the Hotel Cour du Corbeau for a charming and historic stay within walking distance to all the Christmas attractions. Be sure to book ahead of time, as Strasbourg is extremely popular during the festive season!
We hope our list left you feeling warm and Christmassy all over. If you are yearning for a magical trip abroad and plan on staying connected on your travels make sure you read up on the costs of using your mobile phone abroad.
Tep offers unbeatable value for unlimited portable wifi in over 72 countries for just $9.95 a day and that includes up to 5 separate devices.
For more information on how to avoid getting ripped off for using your mobile phone check out our post on how to avoid data roaming charges here.
Tep wishes you Very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!