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European Christmas markets 2013

Quick and easy city breaks, direct from Heathrow

Christmas market in Berlin

Wander among the twinkling lights and wooden stalls to pick up gifts, decorations and traditional street food, then raise a glass of Glühwein and soak up the festive atmosphere.

Now’s the time to book your trip to Europe’s Christmas markets. Can’t decide where to go? Here are five of the best, all a short hop from London Heathrow.

Berlin

Why go?

Gendarmenmarkt, Berlin

There’s a modern twist to Berlin’s Christmas market scene, with fairground rides, an ice rink and even a ski slope to be found alongside the traditional stalls. All this, and one of Europe’s great capital cities too.

Top markets

Gendarmenmarkt for the grand setting; Potzdamer Platz with its lively ‘Winterworld’; Alexanderplatz for children’s fairground rides.

Other attractions

TV tower at Alexanderplatz; Reichstag and Brandenburg Gate; Berlin Wall museum at Checkpoint Charlie.

Who flies there?

British Airways and Lufthansa.

Cologne

Why go?

Cologne Cathedral

Seven Christmas markets, including a giant one right outside the famous cathedral. Cologne has a reputation as a fun-loving city and it’s only a short flight from Heathrow.

Top markets

Dom (cathedral) for the setting; Altstadt's 'Home of the Elves'; Brothers Grimm theme at Rudolfplatz.

Other attractions

Cathedral; Chocolate Museum; drinking Kölsch beer from tiny glasses in an authentic brewhouse.

Who flies there?

Germanwings

Prague

Why go?

Old Town Square market, Prague

The ‘City of 1,000 spires’ is one of Europe’s most stunning. Its Christmas market tradition is said to stretch back 1,000 years.

Top markets

The 12th Century Old Town Square is a fabulous setting; the other main market, in historic Wenceslas Square, is five minutes' walk.

Other attractions

Strolling the cobbled streets of the Medieval city; colourful Charles Bridge; Prague Castle.

Who flies there?

British Airways

Vienna

Why go?

Rathausplatz market, Vienna

Elegant and atmospheric, Vienna makes a great city break at any time of year. At Christmas pretty much everything you can see is lit up and tinsel-decked, yet the city's fabulous architecture and cultural life keep everything just the right side of kitsch.

Top markets

Rathausplatz, where the grand Gothic city hall itself becomes a giant decoration amid the stalls and lights (there's a programme of children's events, too); Maria-Theresienplatz, where the market sits among magnificent museums and statues.

Other attractions

The giant wheel (Riesenrad), as seen in The Third Man; coffee and cake in a fin-de-siècle café; St Stephen's Cathedral.

Who flies there?

Austrian Airlines and British Airways

Copenhagen

Why go?

Big wheel, Tivoli, Copenhagen

If you think Denmark's capital is all about trendy minimalism, a trip to the sparkly Christmas market provides a fun antidote.

Top markets

Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen's famous pleasure park, turns into a winter wonderland where thousands of Christmas lights frame the romantic lakeside vistas. Visit Santa, stop off in 'Pixieville', then warm up with gløgg and roast almonds.

Other attractions

Boho chic in Christianshavn; picturesque Nyhavn Canal, the 'longest bar in Scandinavia'; join the crowds at the Little Mermaid statue in Lengelinie Harbour.

Who flies there?

British Airways and SAS

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