HomeTravelHow to visit Europe’s most magical Christmas markets by train

How to visit Europe’s most magical Christmas markets by train

From London to Cologne and Prague, here’s how to embark on a multi-country Christmas market train trip this year.

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With Christmas just around the corner, city squares across Europe are crystallising into their sparkliest forms.

Few things can get you in the festive mood faster than a turn around a Christmas market, clutching a mulled wine or hot chocolate as you stock up on gifts.

But the lovely, local feel of these spaces can be undercut by the carbon emissions spent flying to them.

Luckily, market fans can reach numerous locations by train, thanks to sustainable travel company Byway.

The UK-based specialists have built up an impressive record, whisking tourists away to the splendours of Bruges, Cologne, Strasbourg and other cities.

This year, they’ve put together three new shiny itineraries to help you see festivities in multiple countries without leaving the ground.

Drift away to Prague Christmas markets

This sleeper train adventure will take you on a magical tour of Prague, Berlin and Cologne.

It starts in London with a quick dip across the Channel on the Eurostar. From Paris, you’ll catch the sleeper train to Zurich, then on to the Czech Republic’s handsome capital of Prague – where visitors are spoilt for choice on Christmas markets.

Larger ones at the atmospheric Old Town Square, Wenceslas Square and Prague Castle offer regional cuisine and traditional Yuletide goods, such as glass baubles and wooden toys.

For something a bit smaller, Byway recommends a visit to the market at Namesti Republiky (Republic Square) to pick up some mistletoe.

They’ve planned a charming, circular trip back through Germany, taking in the sights of Berlin and Cologne.

A renowned Christmas market destination, Cologne has the Weihnachtsmarkt am Kölner Dom under its grand cathedral; the Harbour Christmas market with a maritime theme – featuring tents reminiscent of sails; and the twinkly Market of Angels in Neumarkt.

In total, the trip takes six days, and Byway recommends going between 2 to 26 December.

Sweep through Central European Christmas markets

If you’ve got more time to spare and an endless appetite for Christmas markets, this is the holiday for you.

The pinnacle of this 12 day trip is a two-night stay in Budapest – where the city’s Christmas market has been voted the best in Europe three times in a row.

It also encompasses Cologne, Munich, Prague, Krakow and Brussels. So be sure to pack an extra bag for all the Christmas trinkets you’ll pick up (another perk of train travel).

There’s a fun sleeper leg between Munich and the Hungarian capital, as well as lots of gorgeous hotels to stay in. Byway’s customisation means you can set your budget level for these stays – and maximise your spending power at the market huts.

The sustainable travel specialists recommend embarking on this memorable train trip between 2 and 23 December.

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Pack in three North European Christmas markets in just five days

For those with less time to get their burst of Christmas magic, Byway have planned this five day jolly in Northern Europe.

Starting in London, it takes you by Eurostar to Brussels, where you can get straight into the festive spirit at Winter Wonders – otherwise known as Plaisirs d’Hiver or Winterpret.

Here there are 200 chalets with treats and gifts, alongside impressive sound and light shows at the Grand-Place, a life-sized manger and an ice-skating rink.

Next you’ll be whisked away to Berlin. Tuck into some street market currywurst and delicious doughnuts, or enjoy a spot of high-end dining at the capital’s many plant-based restaurants.

You’ll return via Amsterdam and its glittering ICE village in the Museumplein. The best time for this festive round trip is 13 to 26 December.

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