7 of the Best Festive Foods to Try at European Christmas Markets
If there’s one thing you can be sure of when visiting traditional European Christmas Markets, it’s that it will be cold. Rugging up is one way to keep Jack Frost from nipping at fingers and toes, but so is indulging in rich and delicious food and drink.
Keep the cold out by trying one of these seven European winter warmers while wandering through the street stalls. And remember: ‘tis the season for giving, so allow your tastebuds that extra festive treat. Happy holidays!
1. Roasted Chestnuts (open fire optional)
Popular across Europe during the festive season, it’s thought that chestnuts were originally roasted during winter months because grain was in short supply. Today they’re often sold by street-vendors as a tasty snack. Never tried one? Expect a sweet, earthy taste.
2. Gluhwein or Kinder Punch
If you could bottle Christmas, it would taste like Gluhwein. This warm syrupy drink is a Bavarian Christmas Market staple and boasts all the festive flavours that this season has to offer: cinnamon, oranges, cloves, and a good glug of red wine (unless you’re opting for the alcohol-free version, known as Kinder Punch). Gently heated, Gluhwein will keep your fingers warm after a ‘tough’ day of shopping at the European Christmas Markets.
Try gluhwein on our German Fairytale Christmas Tour.
Pronounced panet-ton-e, this sweet Italian fruit loaf is served and eaten at New Year, as well as Christmas. Like fruit cake, panettone is packed with dried fruits and has a warming zesty orange taste. The thicker, bread-like consistency is a winter treat for chilly Italian days. Try a slice with fresh coffee.
Enjoy panettone on our French and Italian Christmas Markets Tour.
4. Swiss Hot Chocolate
The Swiss have a long-standing relationship with chocolate, so expect some of the richest, most delicious hot chocolate in Europe. You better sample several, just to make sure we’re telling the truth! Whether you’re skiing in the Swiss Alps or browsing the markets, shrug off the cold with a mug of gooey, warm hot chocolate. Extra marshmallows are a must, obviously.
Experience the best kind of chocolate overload during a Swiss Christmas in Zermatt.
Bratwurst is the ultimate German street food. This large sausage comes in an array of flavours and is often served with sauerkraut. Visit any of the German Christmas Markets and you can easily pick up a Bratwurst and continue admiring the traditional Bavarian Christmas decorations.
Try a bratwurst or two (or more!) on our German & Austrian Christmas Markets Tour.
6. Vánoční Cukroví – Christmas Sweets
The proper name’s a mouthful (pronounced vah-nawtch-nee tsoo-kraw-vee), so let’s just call them Czech Christmas cookies. Baking buttery biscuits or tarts is a Czech Republic Christmas tradition. Families will have their own preference on how they cut, fill and decorate their cookies. These treats are often made in large batches and given as gifts, so pick up a box from one of the many Prague Christmas Markets.
Enjoy Prague at Christmas time on our Bohemian Christmas Markets Tour.
7. Pretzels (or Bretzel)
Europeans love their bread. So when visiting one of the many European Christmas Markets, expect to see rows and rows of pretzels on wooden stands. Warmed and fresh out the oven, the doughy criss-crossed bread is a filling savoury snack. Got more time? Then for extra cosiness, pull up a seat and dip your pretzel into broth.
When it comes to Christmas, Europe does nothing in half measures. The food and drink of the traditional markets is no exception – this will certainly be a highlight of your festive European tour.