The 5 best Christmas markets in Europe

Christmas market / pixabay.com/es/users/ShenXin-3010244/
Christmas market / pixabay.com/es/users/ShenXin-3010244/
10 December 2019, Redaction

Going to street markets is one of the best ways to get to know a city, and during this festive period there’s no lack of Christmas markets all over Europe which are perfect for buying unique presents.

If you like curious objects and enjoy finding vintage treasures, then a visit to these Christmas markets is a must. Let yourself be wrapped up by the nostalgia and the hustle and bustle and discover the best Xmas markets that we have selected for you:

Mercat Central, Valencia

Valencia's main square at Christmas / flickr.com/photos/jmiguelsala
Valencia's main square at Christmas / flickr.com/photos/jmiguelsala

In the surroundings of the Central Market in Valencia at Christmastime, there are always several stands where you can buy toys for the little ones, decorations for your Christmas tree and unique, handmade items of true craftsmanship.

Right up until 6th January, from 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., you can also taste the culinary delights offered by some of the market stalls, ranging from delicious ‘turrón’ nougat typical of the area, roasted chestnuts, gingerbread and Christmas sweets.

Feira da Ladra, Lisbon

Feira da Ladra / Wikimedia commons
Feira da Ladra / Wikimedia commons

The Feira da Ladra, the Market of the Thief-Girl, is one of the most popular flea markets in Lisbon. Its name has a curious origin, as some historians maintain that this was the place where stolen objects were sold. Other scholars assert that the Feira da Ribeira could be the predecessor of the market, so the expression Ladra would derive from the ancient Portuguese term "lada", which meant the bank of a river. Yet another theory points out that the etymology comes from an insect known as "ladro", which could be found among the antiquities on sale.

The fair has been held since the Middle Ages, making it the oldest market in Lisbon. It is put up in the Campo de Santa Clara square and its surroundings, in the Alfama district of Lisbon, on Tuesdays and Saturdays from 09:00 a.m. until late afternoon (depending on the weather).

On your way through Alfama, we recommend that you visit the National Pantheon, the Santa Lucía Viewpoint, San Jorge Castle, Sé Cathedral and the Casa dos Bicos.

Marche aux Puces de Saint-Ouen, Paris

Marche Dauphine in Paris's Flea Market / Wikimedia commons
Marche Dauphine in Paris's Flea Market / Wikimedia commons

The Marché de Saint-Ouen is one of the most charming flea markets in France. The variety on offer is immense: clothes, furniture, toys, records, instruments, books..., and it is made up of several different markets. A visit to the St-Ouen is a must for lovers of vintage, retro and antiques. You will find great shopping opportunities and unique objects in this bohemian atmosphere.

Its curious name, which literally means ‘Flea Market’, was given in a derogatory manner by the Parisian bourgeoisie of the time due to rumours that the goods sold there were infested with these and other parasites. Eventually, the name was co-opted by everyone and is now used to refer to any second-hand goods market.

It can be visited on Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Sundays from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and Mondays from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Els Encants, Barcelona

Els Encants / Wikimedia commons
Els Encants / Wikimedia commons

Els Encants in Barcelona is one of the oldest markets in Europe, as its origins date back to the twelfth century. Its spectacular golden roof cover is full of mirrors that reflect all the daily activity of the market, bringing even greater beauty to the simple act of taking a stroll among its different stalls.

Els Encants Vells is Barcelona’s best free market. Some 500 traders and other professionals offer a wide range of unusual products, old and new, and those difficult to find at a good price elsewhere. One of the main hallmarks of this market is the public auction held on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings from 7:00 to 9:00. It’s also the only one in Europe where this way of selling is still common.

It is located in the Eixample district, between Meridiana Avenue, Caspe Street and Castillejos Street, in the old Bosquet Dels Encants. You can also enjoy the hustle and bustle of the local bars and enjoy the authentic flavour of Barcelona. The market is open on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

Mercato Nuovo, Florence 

Loggia del Mercato Nuovo / Wikimedia commons
Loggia del Mercato Nuovo / Wikimedia commons

The Mercato Nuovo is great for discovering typical Florentine products. There are market stalls where you can find local handicrafts in the form of leather work, basket weaving and textiles, as well as the most typical souvenirs. The market is presided over by the emblematic sculpture of the wild boar, which, according to the legend, you have to touch on the snout to make sure you visit Florence again.

The "pietra dello scandalo” (stone of shame) can still be found on the floor, the place where the insolvent debtors of Renaissance Florence were punished. The building where the market is located, a local landmark, has a quadrangular layout raised on pillars and open to the elements (and shoppers!) by means of very high semi-circular arches of spectacular beauty.

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