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20 Most Magical Christmas Towns Around the World

Christmas is a magical time of year, and if you’re dreaming of spending it in a picture-postcard-perfect town that looks like it’s right out of the pages of a children’s storybook, these destinations offer the chance for one of the most unforgettable holidays of a lifetime. From remote destinations in Europe to mountain towns in the U.S., we’ve found the most magical Christmas towns in the world.

Vienna, Austria Christmas marketing in front of Vienna Town Hall
Credit: Christmas marketing in front of Vienna Town Hall by © Digitalpress | Dreamstime.com

Vienna, Austria

Vienna offers the chance for a delightful old-fashioned Christmas with the smell of gluhwein in the air, twinkling holiday decorations covering imperial architecture, and three outdoor Christkindlmarkts. Visitors can have their pick of a wide variety of artisan wares and ornaments, as well as tasty finger foods and that wonderful spiced mulled wine. Of course, the Vienna Boys’ Choir concerts are a must during the holidays, too, and it’s a delightful time to explore the city’s other top attractions.

Prague, Czech Republic Prague, Czech Republic - Christmas Market
Credit: Prague, Czech Republic - Christmas Market by © Emicristea | Dreamstime.com

Prague, Czech Republic

Prague is well-known for its magnificent Gothic architecture and unique folkloric traditions, and at Christmas, it’s truly unlike any other city on earth. From its famed Christmas markets with beautifully decorated wooden huts filled with festive treats, including everything from craft gift items and ornaments to fantastic delicacies like spit-roasted hams and trdelnik, a traditional hot sugar-coated pastry. In Old Town Square, you’ll find a stable, complete with goats, donkeys, and sheep, set around a traditional nativity, as well as lots of holiday lights and music.

Strasbourg, France Christmas market in Strasbourg, France
Credit: Christmas market in Strasbourg, France by © Mapics | Dreamstime.com

Strasbourg, France

A top destination in Europe at Christmas, Strasbourg offers a series of themed Christmas villages that transform the city into a fantastic wonderland of holiday sights and gastronomic delights. At the Village of Alsace Farmhouse, visitors can taste prune, apricot, and other holiday-inspired variations of farm-fresh foie gras. While in the nearby Village of Bredle, you’ll find its namesake traditional Christmas biscuits and a practically endless flow of mulled Alsatian wine. The city’s Christmas program is filled with concerts and all types of cultural events.

Rovaniemi - Lapland, Finland Santa Claus Village in Rovaniemi, Finland
Credit: Santa Claus Village in Rovaniemi, Finland by © Erix2005 | Dreamstime.com

Rovaniemi - Lapland, Finland

Rovaniemi in Lapland, Finland, may be the best place on earth to celebrate Christmas. Located just north of the Arctic Circle, Finns argue that it makes a much likelier home for Santa than even the North Pole.  What better place to meet the jolly ol’ fellow than in a frozen winter wonderland of deep snow and pine forests? Here, children can make cookies with Mrs. Claus and even enroll in Elf School. Other highlights during this time of year include husky-dog rides, tobogganing in the deep, pristine snow, and viewing the Northern Lights. If you want an especially frosty experience, stay at the Arctic SnowHotel, constructed entirely of snow and ice, though it does come with hot tubs and saunas to offset the frozen temperatures.

Woodstock, Vermont Woodstock, Vermont
Credit: Woodstock, Vermont by Felix Lipov/shutterstock.com

Woodstock, Vermont

Vermont is one of the best places in the U.S. to celebrate Christmas and one of the most picturesque New England towns, with the ground typically covered with at least a light dusting of snow and the scent of pine needles wafting through the air. In the historic town of Woodstock, the city really does the holiday right with its Wassail Weekend, a pre-Christmas festival with 19th-century Norse culture traditions. It includes a parade featuring over 50 horses and riders donning holiday costumes and period dress, along with wagon and sleigh rides, as well as a 19th-century Christmas celebration at the Billings Farm & Museum. Visitors also enjoy a wassail feast, and all the local shops, with beautiful holiday window displays, stay open late throughout the festival.

Nuremberg, Germany Nuremberg, Germany at Christmas
Credit: Nuremberg, Germany at Christmas by © Photopassjonata | Dreamstime.com

Nuremberg, Germany

One of the best places in Germany to celebrate Christmas, the Nuremberg Christmas market draws over two million visitors each year, with its 200 vendors putting up incredible displays. And, you won’t find any fake, mass-produced plastic decorations and other items – here, the market council is said to be very serious about making sure that only traditional handmade toys and holiday goods are sold. As you wander through, you’ll enjoy the tempting aromas of mulled wine along with gingerbread, sausage, and sweet roasted almonds, all in an unforgettable holiday atmosphere in the Old Town, decorated in all its Christmas glory. Kids and the kids-at-heart will love the Toy Museum as well as the magnificent two-tiered carousel based on old originals – complete with reindeer and Father Christmas sleighs.

Tallinn, Estonia Christmas Market in Tallinn Old Town
Credit: Christmas Market in Tallinn Old Town by © Ints Vikmanis | Dreamstime.com

Tallinn, Estonia

The Estonian capital is known for its wonderful Christmas spirit, with its medieval old town dusted in snow and lanterns lit after dark, providing a glow to the cobblestone streets. The world’s first Christmas tree was erected here in 1441 – and today, Tallin’s holiday traditions still include the legendary tree on Town Hall Square. The famous tree is surrounded by little huts selling their wares, and you’ll also find a number of handicraft specialists hard at work, along with snow sculptures, Estonian food and drink, and a mini-zoo. An international Christmas market, an outdoor ice rink, and the Estonian Open Air Museum‘s elaborate Christmas Village are all mainstays of the holiday season, too.

Bruges, Belgium Bruges, Belgium
Credit: Bruges, Belgium by © Nejron | Dreamstime.com

Bruges, Belgium

Medieval Bruges is stunning all year round, but it truly comes alive in winter with Winter Glow. From the end of November until the beginning of January, the city transforms into a winter wonderland with cozy Christmas villages taking over three of the city’s squares, a light trail, an ice-skating rink, and decorations throughout the city. Plus, for 16 days during Winter Glow, the city limits traffic on the main shopping streets and offers free public transportation.

Cologne, Germany Cologne, Germany Christmas Market
Credit: Cologne, Germany Christmas Market by © Fokke Baarssen | Dreamstime.com

Cologne, Germany

Cologne has an especially irresistible Christmas vibe with its magnificent buildings, decorations, and town center holiday markets. In fact, you’ll find eight different Christmas markets on both sides of the Rhine, including the largest, which can be found on the plaza in front of Cologne’s iconic cathedral, the Kolner Dam. Visitors can enjoy a cup of hot gluhwein, a spiced mulled wine that is sure to warm even the deepest chill, as well as stroll the markets, with each offering something a bit different along with a wide array of gifts, holiday decorations and foods.

Breckenridge, Colorado Breckenridge, Colorado in Winter
Credit: Breckenridge, Colorado in Winter by © Sean Pavone | Dreamstime.com

Breckenridge, Colorado

Breckenridge is a renowned ski town that is transformed into a beautiful Victorian-style Christmas town during the holidays. It kicks off with the Lighting of Breckenridge on the first weekend of December, and throughout the holidays, visitors can enjoy carriage rides, lots of shopping opportunities, and the chance to feel as if they’ve stepped into an old-fashioned holiday painting.

North Pole, Alaska Santa Claus House in North Pole, Alaska
Credit: Santa Claus House in North Pole, Alaska by Victoria Ditkovsky | Dreamstime.com

North Pole, Alaska

As you can imagine, the North Pole is the most exciting Christmas town in the United States. Here in this community of 2,200 residents, it’s always Christmas, with holiday decorations up 365 days of the year. You can drive down streets like Kris Kringle Drive, Mistletoe Lane or Santa Claus Lane and even stay the night at Santaland RV Park. It’s all about Santa here. In December, the North Pole really comes alive with its annual North Pole Christmas In Ice Contest, attracting ice sculptors from across the globe. National newscasts are frequently broadcast live from the Santa Claus house as well. Of course, this is also the place where you’ll have the chance to mail your postcards from Santa’s official zip code so that friends and family receive mail postmarked from the North Pole, Alaska.

Colmar, France Colmar, France at Christmas
Credit: Colmar, France at Christmas by © Emicristea | Dreamstime.com

Colmar, France

Colmar is a well-preserved 13th-century village, often referred to as “Little Venice” for its waterways that wind through medieval streets. Here, the magic of Christmas can be experienced in its purest form. Illuminations linking the city’s multiple Christmas markets will light your way through the labyrinth of narrow streets lined with century-old half-timbered houses. Nestled in the town squares, each with its own distinct architectural features, the markets within are like mini villages, where you’ll find a multitude of passionate and enthusiastic craftsmen chosen for the quality and the uniqueness of their products. There are also guided tours, wine tastings, traditional toy exhibitions, and a host of concerts and other performances.

Leavenworth, Washington Leavenworth, Washington in winter

Leavenworth, Washington

Leavenworth, set on the eastern edge of Washington State’s Cascade Mountains, is a Bavarian village that is transformed into a virtual snow globe of Christmas magic during the holidays. The Christmas Lighting Festival features plenty of old-fashioned caroling, Christmas characters, and practically an endless amount of dazzling lights. On Fridays, St. Nikolas himself welcomes children with songs and fruit. The A&E Network even crowned Leavenworth the “Ultimate Holiday Town USA.”

Riga, Latvia Riga, Latvia at Christmas time
Credit: Riga, Latvia at Christmas time by © Alfredo Ragazzoni | Dreamstime.com

Riga, Latvia

The Old Riga Christmas Market awaits visitors in a unique architectural setting, the lovely Town Hall Square. There are a number of special children’s focused events, like the popular carousel of wooden figures, riding ponies, and a horse-drawn carriage, as well as an animal corner with sheep and rabbits. The cat house features live felines from the local animal shelter. Visitors of all ages can enjoy tasty glazed gingerbread as well as locally crafted items like warm, handmade socks, wooden candlesticks, Latvian honey, and patterned mittens. You can even learn about various Latvian traditions like log dragging, stitchcraft, and traditional holiday cooking.

Valkenburg, Netherlands Christmas market stalls in Valkenburg, Netherlands
Credit: Christmas market stalls in Valkenburg, Netherlands by © Olivauw | Dreamstime.com

Valkenburg, Netherlands

If you’d like to do a little Christmas shopping and pick up some one-of-a-kind gifts like traditional Polish handicrafts, Marlstone products, and more, there is no better place than the Valkenburg Christmas market. It’s the oldest and largest subterranean Christmas market in Europe, set up in a labyrinth of passages of caves that are underneath the town. The cavern houses sculptures and an 18th-century chapel, as well as preserved mural drawings dating back to Roman times. The market opens in mid-November and runs until just before Christmas, with the entire town transformed into a glistening winter wonderland. Children will be especially happy to find that the caves even include Santa himself, along with his sleigh and reindeer.

Reykjavik, Iceland Reykjavik, Iceland
Credit: Reykjavik, Iceland by aiden patrissi via Unsplash.com

Reykjavik, Iceland

While it may be a bit chilly, doesn’t that make it even more Christmas-like? The capital of Iceland offers a spectacular Yule Town Christmas and all sorts of rather unique holiday traditions, like the 13 “Yuletide Lads,” or scruffy Santas, that bring gifts to kids who’ve been good for the 13 nights leading up to the big day. The Yule Town Christmas market is filled with rows of small, picturesque huts where locals and visitors can pick up some great gifts, holiday decorations and treats. Every day, you’ll find something different as some of the craft-makers and artisans set up their stalls just for one day. Of course, the highlight of a winter excursion to Reykjavik is the chance to see the brilliant Northern Lights flash across the night sky with the city covered in snow and dazzling Christmas lights.

Amsterdam, Netherlands Amsterdam, Netherlands during Christmastime
Credit: Amsterdam, Netherlands during Christmastime by © Fokke Baarssen | Dreamstime.com

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Amsterdam does it right with its legend of Sinterklaas going strong, including 16th- and 17th-century houses strung with lights in early December. This Dutch capital doesn’t have just one Christmas market – visitors can browse or buy at over 25 different markets. Many feature additional attractions, such as Leidseplein with its ice skating rink. You can also try delectable olibollen, or Dutch doughnuts. Not only are they especially tasty, but Dutch tradition also says they help to ward off evil spirits.

Malmo, Sweden Old town center in the Christmas season - Malmö, Sweden
Credit: Old town center in the Christmas season - Malmö, Sweden by © Marinv | Dreamstime.com

Malmo, Sweden

Malmo is an old-meets-new Swedish town that dishes up an incredible smorgasbord of Christmas markets, holiday concerts, and twinkling trees. Here, you can shop for Modernist designs or handmade decorations at Sodertull while stopping to warm up over a nice mug of glogg – Swedish mulled wine, that is. Head to Katrinetorp Manor for poinsettias, festive food, and antiques or Good Jul for fair trade vintage and recycled gifts. To top off a day of holiday cheer, slip on some skates and take a whirl around the open-air ice rinks at Folkets Park or Raoul Wallenberg.

Mackinac Island, Michigan Mackinac Island main street
Credit: Mackinac Island main street by Mackinac Island Tourism Bureau

Mackinac Island, Michigan

A short ferry ride will bring you to this picturesque island town with just 500 residents, where everyone celebrates the holidays just like they did 100 years ago. Here, people travel by walking, biking, or taking a horse carriage as motorized vehicles have been banned for the past century. At Christmas, Santa actually visits every child to their Christmas wishes, and they also feature an annual island Christmas bazaar where unique crafts and decorates are filled with green, red, and lots of lilacs – a favorite local color.

Grindelwald, Switzerland Grindelwald
Credit: Grindelwald by bigstock.com

Grindelwald, Switzerland

The village of Grindelwald sits at the foot of two dramatic peaks of the Swiss Alps – it’s so picturesque that it’s been used as the setting of a number of films, including “The Golden Compass.” This notable winter resort destination stands apart from the rest due to its especially charming atmosphere during the holidays – so much so that it just might make you believe in Santa Claus again. You’ll find beautiful decorations lining the streets and massive Christmas trees around every corner, along with mulled wine and plenty of goods to purchase at the Grindelwald market stands.

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