Winter time and particularly Christmas is a fantastic time of the year to visit Europe. Rail networks in most European countries are set up to deal with expected snowfall and a visit to European Christmas markets by train is a romantic and memorable experience for all types of traveller.
Travelling by train for many is just a way to get to the eventual destination, but by booking a tour to a European market being on the rails will be an exciting and essential part of the experience. So what does Europe offer visitors at Christmas?
Bruges Christmas market
Bruges is a wonderful city to visit any time of the year, with its canals and picturesque pointed houses. At Christmas, the town opens up for ice-skating, with venues open throughout Bruges for the type of Christmas you have always imagined.
Walking around the various market areas spread throughout the city you can eat the local sweet produce, warm up on some gluhwein – a Belgian wine prepared warm – and browse the stalls for Christmas goodies or clothes.
There are bars and clubs serving traditional drinks and snacks too.
Lille Christmas market
Ride the rails from November 21 to December 30 and you can enjoy everything that the Lille Christmas market has to offer. For more than a month this market offers visitors the chance to do some last minute shopping and to see Christmas as it is meant to be.
This charming town in northern France has lovely wooden chalets at Christmas that represent the market and it is easily reached by Eurostar. The markets offer festive gifts, locally produced treats as well as arts and crafts.
In the main square is a huge, imposing Christmas tree and a Ferris wheel surrounded by the Lille winter wonderland. There are thousands of shops in the city, with many offering their own take on Christmas.
Valkenburg Christmas market
Between mid-November and Christmas every year, you can ride on the train to the wonderful Christmas market of Valkenburg in the Netherlands. For the kids there is naturally Santa’s grotto; but he is there for the adults too!
Valkebnburg’s Christmas market it unique: it is the largest underground market in Europe and is set in the municipal caves. The caves are decorated as you have never seen before and inside are market stalls and stands selling gifts you would expect – and probably many you wouldn’t!
Aside from browsing the market, there is a twice-weekly parade full of floats and dancers, with Santa himself at the front of the show. There is a host of restaurants to eat in set at the heart of the Valkenburg Christmas market; a fantastic way to enjoy your time.