Christmas is a magical time wherever you are. With its glorious Christmas markets, the Netherlands is no exception.
One of the best things about living in the Netherlands is easy access to some of Europe’s most famous Christmas markets. While you’re spoilt for choice with Dutch Christmas markets, you can also hop over the border and visit some of the most magical ones in Belgium and Germany. Read on to discover some of the most festive markets to visit over the Christmas period:
Christmas markets in Amsterdam
There’s plenty of opportunity to get festive in Amsterdam. While the days get darker in December, Amsterdam gets lighter – first with the Amsterdam Light Festival, and later with Christmas markets. Why not start your Christmas season with a tour of the capital’s prettiest events?
From mid-December until just after Christmas, Ice Village Amsterdam fills Museumplein with merriment. With a combination of ice skating and shopping, it really doesn’t get more Christmassy. There’s also plenty of refreshment for tired skaters!
Funky Xmas Market
The ever-popular Funky Xmas Market is a one-day Christmas market in the trendy Westergasfabriek venue. Expect local foodies, homemade crafts, music, and art. In recent years, it’s become an institution and is adored by locals and those from farther afield. If you’re looking to escape the tourists and generic markets, this one’s for you.
Winter Village Amstelveen
Get out of the city center and visit Winter Village Amstelveen. This Christmas market takes place in the suburb of Amstelveen, just south of Amsterdam. Despite being further out of the big city, it’s still an exciting occasion. Try out ice-skating, grab a glühwein, and enjoy the atmosphere. Make sure to check their web page for special Christmas events during the market.
Christmas markets in other Dutch cities
If you’re living in another city, or want to explore the Netherlands over the festive period, there are lots of Christmas markets to choose from.
Royal Christmas Fair The Hague
Royal Christmas Fair The Hague is one of the Netherlands’ most magical Christmas markets. It’s located in the tree-lined Lange Voorhout, a perfect place for a winter wonderland. It has over a hundred Christmas stalls to buy decorations and gifts, a bar, and even a stage where you can be entertained by talented performers and carollers.
The fair is free to all, and only a short walk from Centraal Station. Once you’ve visited the market, there’s plenty nearby to see and do – why not do some Christmas shopping on the fancy Noordeinde? After a long day of bargain-hunting, wind down in a cosy bar close by.
Located on the Vrijthof, Maastricht’s charming Christmas market features lots of stalls, an ice rink and carousel. With glühwein and oliebollen galore, you’ll have a great time here. Reaching Maastricht by train takes about two and a half hours from Amsterdam.
Valkenburg is a charming town in South Limburg that offers a unique Christmas experience – markets in caves! Visit the Velvet Cave and Municipal Cave for all the festive happenings while the Wilhelmina Caves are home to the sand sculpture nativity scene.
Valkenburg is a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Amsterdam, and takes around three hours by train.
German Christmas markets
Although most towns in the Netherlands have Christmas markets in one form or another, they’re not as famous as those in neighboring Germany. It’s really easy to get to Germany from the Netherlands – the border is only a couple of hours’ drive from Amsterdam. So hop over and discover these amazing Christmas markets. And if you’re going away for longer, make sure to check out the best Christmas markets in Germany.
Perhaps the most popular of Germany’s Christmas markets, Cologne offers several different markets spread throughout the city from the beautiful Old Market in front of the Town Hall to the Market of Fairytales on the Rudolfplatz. Cologne attracts thousands of visitors to its markets, so it’s best to visit during the week when it is less busy.
Cologne is around three hours away with the ICE train, a high-speed rail service from Deutsche Bahn.
Aachen, right on the border with the southern Netherlands, offers a more intimate affair around the Marktplatz and Katschhof. Enjoy mulled wine, ginger bread, and spekulatius (spiced biscuits) as you peruse the many craft and food stalls.
Aachen is a 2.5-hour drive from Amsterdam. Alternatively, it can be reached by train in 3.5 hours, with two changes. Check the NS website for more details.
Children can meet Santa Klaus every day at 16:00 at the Osnabrück market. Try Osnabrück’s own Käsegriller sausage and tuck into Dutch poffertjes as you wander the market. It is set around the town hall, Marienkirche and the Cathedral.
You can reach Osnabrück in 2.5 hours by car or in 3.5 hours by IC train.