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European Christmas Markets by train itinerary

Winter is approaching, and European cities are preparing for the most special time of the year. If you want to get into the Christmas mood, Europe is the place. Its Christmas markets just open at the end of November and welcome you with delicious food and drinks, souvenirs, and a magical atmosphere.

I took my time to visit all the Christmas markets I included in this itinerary and traveled on the train routes between the cities. I visited each city and rated the Christmas markets, atmosphere, and food.

Based on my experience, I’ve created this itinerary so you can also experience the best European Christmas markets this winter.

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Overview Of The European Christmas Markets By Train: Full Itinerary

DAY:CHRISTMAS MARKETS – CITY
1. Budapest (Hungary)
2.Train Ride: Budapest ⇒ Prague
3.Prague (Czech Republic)
4.Train Ride: Prague ⇒ Salzburg
5.Salzburg (Austria)
6.Train Ride: Salzburg ⇒ Nuremberg
7.Nuremberg (Germany)
8.Train Ride: Nuremberg ⇒ Brussels
9.Brussels (Belgium)

This itinerary will also take you to the most beautiful European cities. So that it doesn’t get too boring for you in the middle of the way, only seeing Christmas stuff.

I’ve planned one day in each city, which is enough to explore their Christmas markets. On the other day, you’ll travel by train between each destination. The cities are close to each other, but train rides are longer. So plan accordingly.

PRO TIP: Spend the second day exploring each city, and take a train to the other destination in the afternoon/towards the evening. This way, you’ll get the most out of each city on this itinerary.

European Christmas Markets Map

Here is a map of this itinerary. Save it to your phone and follow it once you’re traveling:

Why Are European Christmas Markets Special?

Christmas Markets originally come from Germany, so it’s the epicenter of the most beautiful Christmas Markets in the world.

Imagine cute wooden huts with various smells, from delicious sausages, soups, sweets, hot chocolate, and the famous mulled wine. These are usually in a square in the middle of a city.

Besides, everything is decorated with Christmas ornaments, and music plays in the background, bringing you into the perfect Christmas mood.

That’s why European Christmas Markets are so special; you must experience them at least once in a lifetime.

How To Get Around European Christmas Markets

We’ll use the Interrail/Eurail Pass for this itinerary. For those of you who aren’t familiar with this pass:

Interrail and Eurail Pass is a train pass to travel through Europe. You can choose the number of days you want to travel within a month. It can be on a flexible schedule or consecutive days. With Eurail Pass, you must also select countries you’ll travel to.

DIFFERENCE INTERRAIL PASS & EURAIL PASS

Interrail Pass = for European citizens
Eurail Pass = for non-European citizens 

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European Christmas Markets With Interrail Pass

For our Christmas markets itinerary, we’ll need the 5-day Interrail Pass on flexible days within 1 month. This will cover our train rides from one city to another as we’ll have four travel days out of the 9-day itinerary. 

To use up the 5th travel day, you can travel from Brussels (end destination) to the airport or to 1 more European city you want to see.

Get 5-Day Interrail Pass Here & Learn More

European Christmas Markets With Eurail Pass

The Eurail Pass works slightly differently than the Interrail pass. You’ll have to select the countries you want to travel through. The price depends on the number of countries and distances. So when getting the Eurail Pass, insert each country mentioned in this itinerary:

  • Hungary
  • Czech Republic
  • Austria
  • Germany
  • Belgium

Get 5-Country Eurail Pass Here & Learn More

🚇 NOTE: With both passes, you’ll only have to pay extra for the high-speed and night train seat reservations. All other journeys are included, so you can hop on and off the trains between the destinations on your itinerary. It’ll save you a lot of money and give you much flexibility.

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DAY 0. ARRIVE IN BUPADEST, HUNGARY

Hungary, with its capital city, will ideally put you into the Christmas mood, and you’ll feel ready to explore more.

So firstly, get to Budapest, Hungary, on the first day. Check in to your accommodation and take the first glimpse into the city in the evening.

Budapest has some of the best flight deals in Europe. Click here for great flights.

🏠 Where To Stay In Budapest

These are my top hotel recommendations in Budapest:

The Three Corners Downtown Edition Hotelbudget-friendlybook here
Hotel Moments Budapestmid-range hotelbook here
Budapest Marriott Hotelluxury hotelbook here

European christmas markets by train Budapest
Budapest
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DAY 1. BUDAPEST, HUNGARY

Budapest Christmas markets are undoubtedly one of the most beautiful in entire Europe. No wonder the city itself creates a very special atmosphere with the impressive buildings and lights reflected in the Danube River.

You’ll get to try local specialties such as chimney cake (Kürtőskalács), apple strudel, langos (fried dough with toppings), potato pancakes, fried sausages with local bread, stuffed cabbage rolls, delicious goose with red cabbage, or cured meat. Then, drink local mulled wine and tea.

You can also buy chocolate, handmade toys (local grandmas create beautiful stuff), and Christmas ornaments.

🍭 SPECIALTIES TO TRY: Chimney Cake (Kürtőskalács), Langos, Potato Pancakes, Gulash
📍 LOCATION: Vörösmarty Square & Szent István Bazilika
BUDAPEST CHRISTMAS MARKETS DATES: 17th of November until the 31st of December 2023

Magical European christmas markets by train Budapets
My brothers and I at Budapest Christmas Markets

DAY 2. TRAVEL BY TRAIN BUDAPEST PRAGUE

You can take some time to explore Budapest in the morning. Then, around lunchtime, take a train directly to Prague. That way, you’ll reach Prague in the evening, ready to check in to your hotel.

TOP EXPERIENCES IN BUDAPEST:
City Highlights Evening Cruise With Drink
Full Day Spa With Palinka

How To Get From Budapest To Prague By Train

I recommend taking either EC Train or Regiojet.

Regiojet is a Czech company providing trains and buses around Europe. Their trains are very comfortable. And you’ll get a coffee or tea free of charge, so go for it. All train rides covered by Regiojet are included in your Interrail and Eurail Pass, which is amazing.

Use your Interrail/Eurail website to check the timetables of the trains. Some are direct connections from Budapest to Prague. With others, you might have to change trains in Vienna.

Train ride from Budapest to Prague takes approx. 7hours & 30minutes.

🏠 Where To Stay In Prague

Here are my top hotel picks for Prague:

U Medvidku Brevery Hotelbudget-friendly hotelbook here
Questenberg Hotel Praguemid-range hotelbook here
Pytloun Boutique Hotel Pragueluxury hotelbook here

European Christmas markets by train itinerary Prague
Prague

DAY 3. PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC

The capital city of the Czech Republic has equally stunning Christmas Markets as Budapest. However, Prague has an even more unique atmosphere. You have to see for yourself.

Don’t worry if you haven’t had enough of the Chimney Cake or are missing any other specialty from Budapest, don’t worry. You can catch up in Prague.

Enjoy more food, such as homemade gingerbread, traditional fish soup, sweet dumplings filled with jam, and pancakes. Then, finish with a big jar of Czech beer, the most delicious and cheapest in Europe.

Central European countries have beautiful handicrafts that local grandmas prepare. Prague is not an exception. So it might be the place to buy some decorations for your Christmas Eve back home.

🍭 SPECIALTIES TO TRY: Chimney Cake (Trdelnik), Sausage, Sweet Dumplings
📍 LOCATION: Old Town Square & Wenceslas Square
PRAGUE CHRISTMAS MARKETS DATES: 2nd of December 2023, lasting until the 6th of January 2024

Prague European Christmas Markets by train
Me at the Prague Christmas Markets

👉 READ ALSO: Is Prague Worth Visiting? 19 Reasons To Visit & Best Things To Do

DAY 4. TRAVEL BY TRAIN PRAGUE SALZBURG

Traveling from Prague to Salzburg, you’ll have to change trains in Vienna. First, take some time in the morning to explore Prague. Or eat more delicious things on its Christmas markets (maybe more Chimney cake?).

Around lunchtime, hop on a train again to Salzburg.

TOP EXPERIENCES IN PRAGUE:
50-Minute Sightseeing Evening Cruise
Beer Spa Prague

How To Get From Prague To Salzburg By Train

To get from Prague to Salzburg, you can again take Regiojet or use the Austrian railway train network called ÖBB.

If you travel with ÖBB, watch out for the Railjet train. Railjet is a beautiful, spacious train. I love traveling with Railjet. But, who is going to beat Regiojet with its free coffee?… well, you answer that.

Train ride from Prague to Salzburg takes approx. 8hours.

🏠 Where To Stay In Salzburg

I recommend booking one of these hotels in Salzburg for your stay:

Villa Flöckner Bed & Breakfastbudget-friendly apartmentbook here
Hotel Am Mirabelplatzmid-range hotelbook here
Hotel Sacher Salzburgluxury hotelbook here

christmas in austria salzburg markets
Me visiting Christmas markets in Salzburg

DAY 5. SALZBURG, AUSTRIA

Salzburg is the most charming city on this list, so it must be on our Christmas Market tour through Europe. It’s a small town in Austria, close to the border with Germany.

And I’d say it’s more worth visiting than Vienna, the Austrian capital. So, if you are hesitant about which one of these cities to visit, you can make a choice now.

Go to the Residence Square, which hosts one of the oldest markets in Europe. Then, walk across the Salzach River to Linzergasse Street until you reach the Mirabell Gardens. Get the best views of the Salzburg Fortress from the gardens and enjoy the Christmas atmosphere.

Sip hot Glühwine (mulled wine), enjoy local sausages, and finish with delicious Mozartkügel (Mozart chocolate pralines) for dessert.

🍭 SPECIALTIES TO TRY: Brezel (Big Pretzel – sweet or sauer), Kaiserschmarrn (traditional shredded pancakes), Mulled Wine, Hot Chocolate
📍 LOCATION: Residence Square & In Front Of The Mirabell Palace
SALZBURG CHRISTMAS MARKETS DATES: 23rd of November 2023 and finish on the 6th of January 2024

christmas in austria salzburg
My friend and I enjoying the Salzburg Christmas markets

Experience Austrian Tradition Krampus

If you are in the region on the 6th of December, you’ll also experience a unique Christmas tradition in Austria – Krampus. It’s a parade of creatures called ‘Krampus.’ These are hand-carved wooden scary masks. Locals dress up and go to the streets and scare everybody.

It’s actually very creepy yet interesting to experience. The purpose of this tradition is to scare away all the bad energy from the places and people before Christmas and prepare for the arrival of Jesus Christ.

👉 READ ALSO: Salzburg Itinerary 3 Days: Self-Guided Tour

DAY 6. TRAVEL BY TRAIN SALZBURG NUREMBERG

Salzburg has a lot to see, so take some time today in the morning to appreciate Classical music in Mozart’s birthplace, go up to Salzburg’s Fortress, and chill in the Mirabel Gardens before you take the train.

TOP EXPERIENCES IN SALZBURG:
Mozart Fortress Concert With Dinner
Original Sound Of Music Tour

How To Get From Salzburg To Nuremberg By Train

Finally, a shorter train ride awaits us today, crossing the border to Germany. We’ll get to explore another stunning medieval city, Nuremberg. In the evening, get to Nuremberg and have a good rest. Tomorrow, we’ll explore the city with its markets.

You’ll have to change in Munich to get from Salzburg to Nuremberg. You can take a regional train from Salzburg to Munich (blue-yellow train) and then change to an Intercity train. Or take 2x Intercity trains operated by DB (Deutsche Bahn – German Railways).

Train ride from Salzburg to Nuremberg takes approx. 3hours.

🏠 Where To Stay In Nuremberg

Here are my top hotel picks for your stay in Nuremberg:

Leonardo Royal Hotel Nurembergbudget-friendly hotelbook here
Astoria Apartmentsmid-range apartmentbook here
Hotel Pomader Nurembergluxury hotelbook here

european christmas markets by train itinerary nuremberg
Me exploring the Christmas Markets in Nuremberg

DAY 7. NUREMBERG, GERMANY

Nuremberg is a beautiful medieval city and, without a doubt, one of the best Christmas markets in Germany. Stepping into the town, you’ll immediately feel the Christmas atmosphere and tradition. These markets have been around since the 16th century.

This is where you finally have to try mulled wine (glühwein), local Nuremberg sausages, delicious gingerbread, or Schaumkuss cake. Walk around the stunning medieval walks and enjoy unique Christmas atmosphere.

🍭 SPECIALTIES TO TRY: Nürnberger Rostbratwurst, Schaumkuss, Dampknodel With Vanilla Sauce, Nuremberg Gingerbread, Mulled Wine
📍 LOCATION: Hauptmarkt (Main Square) & Rathausplatz & Next To St. Sebaldus Church
NUREMBERG CHRISTMAS MARKETS DATES: 1st of December, and end on the 24th of December 2023

european christmas markets by train itinerary nuremberg
Christmas Markets in Nuremberg

DAY 8. TRAVEL BY TRAIN NUREMBERG BRUSSELS

Besides its charming Christmas markets, Nuremberg has a lot more to see. You have to visit its castle, walk through the historical walls around the city, admire its beautiful architecture, and learn more about the Nazi regime in the Nazi Party Center.

TOP EXPERIENCES IN NUREMBERG:
City Tour With Bimmelbahn Train
Nuremberg Old Town Guided Tour

How To Get From Nuremberg To Brussels By Train

Our last train ride on this European Christmas markets itinerary will take us to the home of European institutionsdelicious chocolate with waffles, and more craft beer. So towards the evening, take a train from Nuremberg to Brussels.

There is no direct train from Nuremberg to Brussels. You’ll most often have to change in Frankfurt. You can take trains from DBGerman Railways. They’ll get you to your final destination.

Getting from Nuremberg to Brussels by train takes approx. 6hours.

🏠 Where To Stay In Brussels

I recommend staying in the following hotels in Brussels:

Marivaux Hotelbudget-friendly hotelbook here
DoubleTree By Hilton Brussels Citymid-range hotelbook here
OPO Hotel – luxury hotel – book here

DAY 9. BRUSSELS, BELGIUM

The Sound & Light show at the Grand-Place (main square) makes the Christmas markets in Brussels a special place. The square is super charming, with impressive buildings such as the Town Hall.

All the buildings turn into a different world during the show, and you standing in the middle of it will also be taken away. The show starts at 5 pm and is repeated every hour until about 10 pm daily.

Apart from the light show, you can enjoy a big ice skating ring and Ferris wheel and sometimes see animals in stalls such as sheep or goats.

Hands down to the local specialties you have to try. Brussels Christmas markets will amaze you with delicious Belgian waffles, some of the best chocolate, glühwein, and local craft beer. Don’t forget also to get Belgian french fries, which are said to be the best in Europe (I agree, they are delicious).

🍭 SPECIALTIES TO TRY: Tartiflette, Belgian Waffles & Fries, Oysters, Genever, Hot Chocolate, Craft Beer
📍 LOCATION: Grand-Place & Rue de la Bourse & Place Sainte-Catherine
BRUSSELS CHRISTMAS MARKETS DATES: 25th of November 2023 until the 1st of January 2024.

Budget For European Christmas Markets

The budget for this 9-day European Christmas Market itinerary per person (mid-range traveler) is $1460.

This is a very realistic budget for mid-range travelers who want to stay in nice hotels, try various local specialties at the markets, buy Christmas souvenirs, and do some of the recommended activities in each city.

Here is a breakdown of this itinerary budget for each travel category:

Accommodation: $60 per night p.p. in a nice mid-range hotel = $540 per person
Interrail/Eurrail Pass: $310 for a 5-day Rail Pass = $400 per person
Food & Drinks: $40 per day p.p. = $360 per person
Activities & Attractions: approx. $160 p.p. for 9 days = $160 per person

So the total budget for a 9-day European Christmas Itinerary by train, without restricting yourself too much and enjoying everything the cities offer, is $1460 per person.

NOTE: The budget will vary based on your preferences. You can significantly lower the cost of this itinerary if you stay in budget-friendly hotels and avoid buying a lot of stuff.

Eurostar Christmas Markets: Itinerary

If your goal is to visit Christmas Markets by Eurostar train, it’s possible. Let me give you an itinerary that you can travel by Eurostar and visit some of the most beautiful markets.

Eurostar operates within the following cities:

London
Paris
Amsterdam
Rotterdam
Brussels
Cologne

All of these cities host incredible Christmas Markets that you can enjoy. This is how I would plan a Christmas journey by Eurostar.

Here is a 7-day Eurostar Christmas Market Itinerary:

DAY:DESTINATION
0.Arrive In London
1.Enjoy London Christmas Markets
2.Travel By Eurostar: London Amsterdam
3.Enjoy Amsterdam Christmas Markets
4.Travel By Eurostar: Amsterdam Brussels
5.Enjoy Brussels Christmas Markets
6.Travel By Eurostar: Brussels Paris
7.Enjoy Paris Christmas Markets

👉 READ ALSO: Christmas In Spain: Complete Guide With Traditions & Best Places

FAQs

To help you plan your visit to the Christmas markets even more, I’ve also answered some of the most frequently asked questions. So check them out.

Do Trains Run On Christmas Day In Europe?

Yes, trains also run on Christmas Day in Europe. But they’re often fully booked way in advance as everyone travels to meet their families. Therefore, I recommend booking your train tickets at least 2 to 3 months in advance if you need to travel on Christmas Day to secure your spot.

Which European City Has The Biggest Christmas Market?

Vienna in Austria hosts the biggest Christmas market in Europe. Altogether, it has 12 markets. The biggest one is on Rathaus Square. Vienna truly has some of the most magical Christmas markets, so you should plan a visit one day.

What Is The Best Christmas Market To Visit?

The best Christmas market to visit is Salzburg. With its stunning architecture, this charming city is the perfect setup for Christmas Markets. You’ll walk through its streets hearing Christmas music, and the local markets are lovely, offering some of the best delicacies and delicious mulled wine with hot chocolate.

The atmosphere is just perfect. It’s a small city, which makes it more cozy.

Where Is The Oldest Christmas Market In The World?

Dresden has the oldest Christmas markets in the world, dating back to 1434. It’s officially called Dresdner Striezelmarkt, and you can look forward to over 200 Christmas stalls offering delicious food and drinks and some of the most beautiful Christmas ornaments to bring home with you.

Why Are All Christmas Markets German?

Because Germany invented Christmas Markets. This tradition comes from German cities, and that’s why they’re the most famous and often some of the most beautiful in Europe. The first ever Christmas Market was organized in 1434 in Dresden, the eastern part of Germany, close to the Czech Republic.

WRAP-UP: European Christmas Markets By Train

This is my itinerary to see the most magical Christmas markets with the best European cities. Follow it and make the most out of your stay in Europe. I’m sure it’ll bring you into the proper Christmas mood.

If you have any questions or need further travel tips, you can always contact me at info(at)voicesoftravel.com. I’ll be happy to help you. Also, I can design a customized travel itinerary based on your travel needs and interests, so let me know if you’d like one.

Happy Christmas Travels!

voices of travel about me photo

About the author: Nicoletta is a travel enthusiast and passionate language learner. While traveling, she loves to connect with locals using her language skills to learn about new cultures. Look for her skiing, hiking in the mountains, or exploring new destinations as she designs travel itineraries for her clients.

TRAVEL ITINERARIES: Interested in more travel itineraries?
Check out my Travel Itineraries Page.

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