Go Back  Fodor's Forum > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page > Best Christmas Markets for Crafts and Handmade items

Best Christmas Markets for Crafts and Handmade items


Sep 4th, 2013, 07:42 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Sep 2013
Posts: 2
Best Christmas Markets for Crafts and Handmade items

I've researched quite a bit on Christmas markets, but I can't find much information on which Christmas markets have the best hand made crafts and interesting goods. I have a blog where I photograph and review all the great souvenirs I find when I travel and I plan to do a section focused on xmas markets that I'll be traveling to this December.

I'll skip Germany this time around, but will likely do Vienna again with a friend who hasn't been.
We plan to fly to maybe two more cities. Budapest? Krakow? I think Alsace is going to have to be on the backburner-- no direct flights to Vienna. My friend wants to go to Prague but my research tells me the craft quality is poor. Although I love out of the way markets, on this trip I need to stick to cities with airports (or easily accessible via train from Vienna)

To give you an idea where I've been recently and my ratings:

Vienna- Schonbrunn Palace-- this was my favorite market for crafts. Gorgeous, interesting ornamants; beautiful handmade hats, lots of tempting (and unique) goods. Atmosphere can't be beat.

Augsburg- loved it, 2nd best for crafts- (wooden toys, home made jams). Best prices.

Vienna- Spittelberg. I'd read this was a great place for hand made stuff-- but it was not-- unless you count handmade in Nepal. But it wasn't commerical junk either, just not much of interest to buy. Great neighborhood atmosphere though.

Vienna- Rathaus- our concierge warned we'd only find "plastic" stuff here. Skipped.

Vienna- walked through several random markets while sightseeing no idea what they officially were called. So so.

Salzburg-- ok, much the same stuff.

Munich- Marienplatz-- some original decorations, but much of the same stuff over and over. Busy.

Munich-Medieval-- really fun market, technically there were original crafts here (many related to the Medieval theme), but the kind you look at and think oh that's interesting--but don't buy.

Munich- forgot name, but central and in a courtyard, pretty small but fun with lots of locals coming by after work. Unmemorable crafts.

Basel, Switzerland-- adorable but very small market, some craft stuff but wouldn't go out of my way. I was here for work and a short stroll through the stalls was plenty.

London- by the eye and the winter market. Obviously did not go to London for xmas markets but in case you were wondering there is nothing worth buying here.

Anyone care to comment? Want to know which you think have tat too so I can cross them off my list! Thanks!
SouvenirFinder is offline  
Reply With Quote
Sep 4th, 2013, 09:45 PM
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 3,016
Regensburg, especially the artisans' market named "Lucreziamarkt" near the old town hall.

For traditional woodcarvings, just about everywhere around Dresden and the Ore Mountains.
quokka is offline  
Reply With Quote
Sep 4th, 2013, 10:02 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,464
I also noticed that you haven't been around Dresden and the Ore Mountains. That's the best area for handmade Christmas items. Direct train from Vienna, too.
Ingo is offline  
Reply With Quote
Sep 4th, 2013, 10:27 PM
Join Date: Apr 2013
Posts: 7,718
They all have handmade crafts to one extent or another. In Bamberg of all places I saw some truly breathtaking wood sculptures.
sparkchaser is offline  
Reply With Quote
Sep 4th, 2013, 11:52 PM
Join Date: Apr 2013
Posts: 3,105
I have to disagree with your view that Basel's Christmas market is "very small" -- it's at least as big as many that we've been to in Germany. And it has some very good crafts on sale, many made locally. We particularly like the Christmas ornaments (both the large, traditional round ornaments painted with winter scenes and the quirky blown glass fish ornaments). There are also several stands carrying goods from the Dresden region, including carved wooden decorations from the Ore mountains and Moravian stars from Herrnhut.

I found the Dresden market beautiful and I loved the live music playing every day. I also liked the market in Muenster because it was well off the tourist market. And Baden-Baden, very little tat and if you can't find something in the market itself, the whole town is geared for shopping.

Since you're based in NYC, you really should consider a trip to Bethlehem, PA, in December. http://www.downtownbethlehemassociat...s-city-village
also visit the shops along historic Main Street, particularly the Moravian Book Shop, the oldest continuously open book seller in the world http://shop.moravianbookshop.com/page.htm?pg=ABOUT
Historic Bethlehem still reflects the legacy of the original Moravian settlers from Herrnhut (near Dresden). It has a unique German ambience in the U.S.very different from the more well known "Pennsylvania Dutch" area. http://www.historicbethlehem.org/
WeisserTee is offline  
Reply With Quote
Sep 4th, 2013, 11:58 PM
Join Date: Apr 2013
Posts: 3,105
I also hope that when you were in Basel, you spent some time sleuthing around the various brockis. They are THE best place to find amazing handmade Swiss and German craft items, particularly ceramics and glassware. You can find great bargains on items from the mid and early 20th century, sometimes the 19th century. I love the large 19th century Thun ceramic piggy bank, beautifully painted with alpine flowers, that I found at a Basel brocki.
WeisserTee is offline  
Reply With Quote
Sep 5th, 2013, 12:04 AM
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 1,226
Too bad you are dropping Germany.

The best hand-made items I have found from all the Christmas Markets I have visited, have been at the Seligenstadt Christmas Market in the Abbey, held 2 weekends during Advent. Truly unique and you can watch the artisans at work, as well as speak to them. You won't find any Asian imports here.

Esslingen has the largest medieval Christmas Market and I thought they had lots of hand made gift items that I wanted to buy.
Mainhattengirl is offline  
Reply With Quote
Sep 5th, 2013, 12:09 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Sep 2013
Posts: 2
@WeisserTee- I was in Basel for work (my real job, not my blog which is just a hobby right now), so I may have missed parts of the market. This was pre-blog too so I just poked around some shops between work meetings, but I did not scope things out in advance. Thanks for the tips though, I will make note of them in case I come upon Basel in future travels (great little city).
I've also been to the Bethleham xmas market before-- I agree it's the closest thing I've seen in the US to an xmas market.

Re: Germany. I've been to Germany so many times in the last 10 years-- my brother and his family were stationed in Bavaria so I've spent a lot of time there already. There is no doubt I will eventually head back and see more of the markets there (I do love Germany) but just not this year. Thanks for all the tips though, I am noting them for future reference. I'd wanted to make it to some of those towns on my last trip but ran out of time-- Bamberg, Regensburg. Noting Baden Baden-- hadn't come across my radar.

Also it sounds like many of you have wonderful market experiences-- if anyone has pics of markets (and specifically the things you can buy) I would love to feature them.

We've also been considering Stockholm-- very cheap flights there, then maybe take a hopper to Vienna. Seems like it might be a nice contrast?

Love hearing everyone's great suggestions!
SouvenirFinder is offline  
Reply With Quote

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 06:44 PM.