Tips on Visiting a Christmas Market in Europe

With December approaching peoples thoughts are starting to turn towards the 25th and Christmas Day. For a lot of people, over the last few years, a big part of the build up is a visit to a Christmas market. Originally starting as a German and Austrian tradition, in the UK markets have sprung up in Birmingham, York, Bath and Manchester amongst others but, in our opinion, to get a true flavour you can’t beat a road trip to the continent in one of our fully winterised motorhomes!

Hamburg Markets


The obvious destinations for some authentic market shopping would be Germany or Austria. In December it seems nearly every empty space in any large town or city is taken up with the iconic wooden stalls. For example, Hamburg alone has 15 markets offering everything from decorations to slippers! If you’re touring Germany we’d say you need at least 10 days to give yourself enough time. Travelling from Calais to Hamburg is about 7/8 hours in a motorhome, a good few days touring. If combined with a run down to Munich and Bavaria you’d be looking at around 25hrs driving to get to and from the Eurotunnel at Calais. Depending how far in advance tickets are purchased the Channel Tunnel is usually around £150-£200 for a return campervan ticket if you opt for fixed times. We’d always say it’s worth considering paying the little extra for a flexi-ticket. This means you can simply turn up and catch the next train rather than worrying about traffic and delays to get to a specific train.

Bruges, Belgium

For those wanting a shorter hire, a great location is Bruge. The Belgian city looks great at any time of year and is an easy drive from both Calais and Dunkirk ferry ports. The cobbled streets, medieval squares and horse drawn carriages give the impression of stepping back in time. In the evening the markets become festive with lights, trumpeters playing carols and ice skating. When combined with the local beers or “Glühwein” (mulled wine) you’re sure to have a great visit. The city hosts two markets, one in the main square and the second around the ice rink known as the Simon Stevinplein. Belgium is famous for its chocolate and frites (chips), both of which are readily available around the markets. In fact, Belgians are very proud of their fries and they’re a must try! Being closer to the crossing points it’s possible to have a great stay in Bruges with a 4 day hire. If staying longer we’d recommend visiting Ypres and the World War I battlefields, about an hour’s drive away, with plenty of motorhome friendly parking. The Last Post being played each evening at the Menin Gate is something everyone should hear at least once. As for where to park up for your stay, a lot of towns in France and Belgium have “aires”, municipal motorhome stopover points that are free or low cost with showers, toilets, chemical toilet stations and large pitches to ensure a comfy stay. Bruge’s aire is close to the rail station and an easy walk into the town centre once you’re settled, aim to arrive before 4pm to get the best chance of finding a pitch.

Want to see for yourself?

Fancy experiencing the Christmas Markets for yourself? We’ve got the motorhome for you! Don’t forget for hires of one week or more we can even deliver the vehicle to your door, see our rates here.

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