Shopping at Christmas Markets: Airbnb Hosts’ Tips

Christmas is just around the corner and the countdown to Christmas Markets’ arrival in town has already started.  Europe’s most beautiful squares will soon be decked with decorations, music, lights, delicacies, handcrafted trinkets and mistletoe, creating the magical atmosphere of Christmas. Who better than local Airbnb hosts can suggest where to stay, what to buy and which traditional delicacies taste?

This winter we are selecting some of the most beautiful Christmas Markets in Europe and asking Airbnb hosts to guide us!

Christmas Fair & Winter Festival – Budapest, Hungary (11/10 – 12/31)

In winter, Vörösmarty Square is inhabited by more than 100 tiny chalets selling high quality handcrafted goods and typical Hungarian delicacies.

“ You should try traditional Hungarian foods like Kürtőskalács, also known as chimney cake. It is made from sweet, yeast dough of which a strip is spun and then wrapped around a truncated cone–shaped baking spit, roasted and then filled with chocolate, fruit or ice cream.”

Daniel, Airbnb host in Budapest

Most typical handicraft you can find in Budapest are ceramic or porcelain angels, that here symbolize Christmas. If you want to try a Hungarian food speciality you should order lángos, it is made of water or milk and flour, yeast, sugar and salt and it is eaten fresh and warm, topped with sour cream and grated cheese.– Tibor,  Airbnb  host in Budapest

If I were a foreigner, I would definitely buy some products of young Hungarian craftsman who are very stylish, very modern and a little Hungarian as well.– Ani, Airbnb  host in Budapest

You should try Hungarian culinary specialties, like traditional hornet cake, a bar cake similar to a brownie. The butterscotch chips and walnuts sink into the cake giving it the appearance of a hornet’s nest!” – Katie, Airbnb  host in Budapest

Where to stay in Budapest:

At  Tibor’s:   Elizabeth Deco Suite
At    Ani’s: Vörösmarty Central Home
At    Katie’s: Katie’s Home in centre
At  Gaetano’s: Piazza Vörösmarty Home

Dresden Striezelmarkt – Dresden, Germany (11/29 – 12/24)  

Dresden Striezelmarkt (Striezel’s Market) in Altmarkt Square is the oldest Christmas Market in Germany and got its name from Striezel (better known as Stollen), a traditional German Christmas sweet.

The most typical German sweet is Dresdner Christstollen, a fruit bread containing dried fruit and often covered with powdered sugar or icing sugar. If you are looking for a gift, I would suggest to buy Erzgebirge, typical handmade Christmas wooden figures.” –  Bettina, Airbnb    host in Dresden

In Dresden there are 12 Christmas Markets, I would suggest to take an eTukTuk and visit them all! I really recommend to try the original “white mulled wine” (Glühwein). You can buy mulled wine everywhere at the market, but I would highly recommend the one produced in Schloss Wackerbarth, trust me, its worth to try!” 

Markus, Airbnb host in Dresden

“I really felt in love with Eierpunsch (egg punch) but only the one from the booth in front of the Frauenkirche church. It is like a liquid pudding made with egg yolks, sugar, white wine and vanilla .. so delicious! – Katja,  Airbnb    host in Dresden

Where to stay in Dresden:

At    Bettina’s: Very nice apartment at Dresdner Zwinger
At    Katjia’s: Über den Dächern der Altstadt…
At  Markus’: Frauenkirchenblick und 1A Lage
At  Max’s: Fantastic View in the center

Christmas Markets – Prague, Czech Republic (12/2 – 1/6)

The most popular Christmas Market in Prague is the one in Old Town Square. Besides food and wine products, there you can find many local handcrafts.

The big phenomenon is a pastry called Trdelnik, but it is not traditional and just the tourists buy it. Czechs prefer Christmas pastries like Linecká kolečka (marmalade cookies) or Vosí hnízda (chocolate sweets), or Vanilkové rohlíčky (vanilla cookies).”  – Sarah,  Airbnb host in Prague

We have a very old tradition in glass processing and lace. At Christmas Markets you can find many authentic glass Christmas balls and lace decorations. – Airbnb  host   in Prague

“You should definitely buy Karlsbad natural spa water cosmetics, they are made in a little town in Boemia called Karlsbad, very popular for its thermal waters. 

Stuart,  Airbnb host in Prague

The most typical things you can buy at Christmas Market are wooden puppets. Budapest has a long tradition in puppetry and its Puppet Theatre is worldwide known. If you buy an handmade wooden puppet, you will bring home a bit of Budapest magic!– Yves, Airbnb    host in Prague

Where to stay in Prague:

At    Sarah’s: Unique Place with Secret garden in Old Town
At    Stuart’s: Romantic Luxury in Old Town Prague
At    Yves’: Amazing Location close to Old Town Square

Mercatini Di Natale – Bolzano, Italy (11/23 – 1/6))

Immersed in the stunning landscapes of the Alps, Bolzano is host to one of the most popular Christmas Markets in Northern Italy. Here, in winter, you can smell the scent of cinnamon, mountain wood, spices and home made sweets in the air.

I would definitely recommend to buy local products like handmade slippers, candles and vases. Bolzano Christmas Market is also popular for high quality local food & drink products like speck, wines and grappa.”

Manuela,  Airbnb host in Bolzano

“You should try local delicacies like vin brulè, strudel and brezel!– Matteo, Airbnb host in Bolzano

Where to stay in    Bolzano:

At  Manuela’s: Bilocale nel centro di Bolzano
At Matteo’s: Zur Sonnenuhr

Christkindelsmarik – Strasbourg, France (11/25 – 12/31)

Its name sounds strange (more German than French actually) because it comes from an ancient German dialect spoken in Alsace in 1500, but today Christkindelsmärik (Marché de Noël) is probably the most popular Christmas Market in France and one of the oldest in Europe as well.

If you like sweets as I do, try local cookies called Springerle and Bredele. I would also add that Christkindelsmärik compared to other Christmas Markets around Europe, is pretty cheap, so you can go crazy trying every single local delicacy the stalls can offer!” – Diane, Airbnb   host in Strasbourg

“If you are looking for high quality authentic Christmas decorations, buy glass Christmas ornaments produced in Meisenthal, a small village few kilometers far from Saint-Louis worldwide known for glass processing.”

Sylvie, Airbnb host in Strasbourg

Where to stay in Strasbourg:

At  Diane’s: Appartement dépaysant de 120 m²
At Sylvie’s: Au coeur du carré d’or

Plaisirs d’Hiver  – Brussels, Belgium  (11/24 – 12/31)

Every year Winter Wonders Fair turns Brussels’ Grand Place into a magical location thanks to Christmas lights, a Ferris Wheel, ice skating rink, a huge Christmas tree and hundreds of Christmas stalls.

In my opinion you should try Belgium typical food products like sausages, waffles and cuberdons (“neuzen” in Flemish; literally “small noses”), small and sweet purple cones made of Arabic gum filled of raspberry syrup. Another delicacy to try is “peket”, a local liquor you can drink before enjoying a panoramic ride on the Ferris Wheel!” – Frederic,  Airbnb   host in Brussels

“If you have children you should skate on the ice rink or enjoy a ride on the Ferris Wheel. Even if it might seem strange ordering oysters and champagne at Christmas stalls, you should definitely try! They are delicious! 

Anne, Airbnb host in Brussels

Where to stay in Brussels:

At Fredric’s: A 18th century loft in the heart of Brussels
At    Anne’s: Design Loft near Grand Place

Rathausplatz – Vienna, Austria (11/17 – 12/26)

Every winter Vienna’s Town Hall square hosts Wiener Christkindlmarkt, the city’s largest Christmas Market. Founded in 1700, Christkindlmarkt attracts more than 3 million visitors every year.

“You should definitely try Austrian typical sweets, like Lebkuchen (a sort of gingerbread) and our cookies…I would suggest Weihnachtskekse or Spekulatius but there are many more different types. Stalls serve a very good punch too. You can order punch in one of the stalls that serve it in real mug and keep it! Of course you will be asked to leave a little deposit but you will get a really eccentric souvenir! ”Christina,  Airbnb  host in Vienna

“Vienna in winter can be very cold! I would suggest to warm up with a glass of mulled wine, a beverage usually made with red wine along with various mulling spices and sometimes raisins.

Anna & Vladan, Airbnb hosts in Vienna

Where to stay in Vienna:

At  Anna & Vladan’s: Fabulous city center studio apartment

The best delicacies to taste at Christmas Markets suggested by Airbnb hosts 

Hornet’s Nest Cake
A cake similar to a brownie with butterscotch chips and walnuts – Hungary

Sweet bread containing dried fruit and covered with powdered sugar  – Germany

Shortcrust pastry roll filled with apples, raisin, pine nuts and cinnamon – Italy

Small and sweet purple cones made of Arabic gum filled with raspberry syrup – Belgium

Linecká kolečka
Marmalade filled cookies – Czech Republic

Vosí Hnízda
Cone shaped chocolate sweets   – Czech Republic

Biscuits made with flour, marzipan, dried fruit and spices  – Austria

Shortcrust pastry biscuits with cinnamon, cardamom and cloves – Austria

Dry biscuits with an embossed design made by pressing a mold onto rolled dough and allowing the impression to dry before baking   – France/Germany

Shortcrust pastry biscuits. Many varieites can be found, from coconut, to almond, to cinnamon – France