It’s getting closer to the most magical time of the year, and some of you might be looking to get away for the festive season.
But which cities are the best to visit for a festive break? We’ve ranked cities across the UK and Europe based on seasonal searches, hotel costs, restaurant choices, and social media popularity to provide you with some inspiration for your next festive break.
The best European cities for a festive break
1. Strasbourg, France - 7.43 festive score
The best European city for a festive break is Strasbourg in France, earning a festive score of 7.43. There were 114,000 searches on Google for the term “Strasbourg Christmas” over the past year, showing the city’s popularity over the festive period.
Strasbourg’s Christmas market, Christkindelsmärik, is located on the Grande Île and attracts over 2 million visitors each year. It is the oldest Christmas market in France, dating back to 1570. There are over 300 chalets set up each year, providing visitors with many gifts and treats, such as the traditional Bredele Christmas biscuits.
Visitors can also marvel at the 30-metre-tall Christmas tree, which is the highest-decorated Christmas tree across Europe. Strasbourg’s Christmas market boasts 3.5 million views on TikTok videos and over 31,000 posts on Instagram, making it one of the most popular Christmas markets on social media.
On average, it will cost you around $207 (€194 or £169) per night for a hotel in Strasbourg throughout December.
There are 50 restaurants available per 10,000 people (1,377 in total), meaning that there is plenty of choice. Those who fancy a bit of fine dining as a special festive treat can head to Guillaume Scheer - Les Plaisirs Gourmands. The Michelin-star restaurant offers high-quality French cuisine cooked by Guillaume Scheer himself and receives a score of 5/5 on Tripadvisor.
2. Prague, Czech Republic - 7.36 festive score
In second place is Prague, located in the Czech Republic, receiving a festive score of 7.36. Over the past year, there were almost 44,000 Google searches for the term “Prague December” and over 49,000 searches for the phrase “Prague Christmas.” This shows just how interested people are in visiting the city throughout the final month of the year.
Those who just can’t get enough of the Christmas festivities should head to Prague’s Christmas markets, as they are open from 2 December to 6 January, including on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day! The main locations for these markets include Old Town Square, Wenceslas Square, and the square in front of St. George’s Basilica. As well as offering the likes of candles, glassware, Christmas tree ornaments, and winter clothing, the brightly decorated stalls also provide plenty of traditional Czech food for you to feast on, including barbecued sausages, smoked meat dumplings, chimney cake, and spiced gingerbread. Prague’s Christmas markets boast 2.7 million views on TikTok and over 8,600 posts on Instagram.
On average, it will cost you around $240 (€225 or £196) per night for a hotel in Prague throughout December, meaning it is on the pricier side, but it is certainly worth the money! There are also 49 restaurants available per 10,000 people (over 5,700 in total), including the likes of Blue Wagon and V Zatisi for fine dining and Black Bettie’s Grill and Madame Lyn for cheaper eats.
3. Vienna, Austria - 7.15 festive score
The third best European city for a festive break is Vienna in Austria, earning a festive score of 7.15. There were over 203,000 searches for the phrase “Vienna Christmas” on Google over the past year, making it the most popular European city specifically for breaks over Christmas.
There are various Christmas markets held throughout the city, including the most-visited, Christkindlmarkt, and the elegant Schönbrunn. Christkindlmarkt is located in front of the Rathaus (City Hall) and is estimated to have attracted over 4 million visitors in previous years. There is a heavy focus on sustainability at this particular market, with all food either being organic or carrying the ‘Natürlich gut essen’ mark, meaning that it is either regional or seasonal. The Schönbrunn market is located in front of the Habsburg Palace and has a strong focus on arts and crafts. Visitors are also able to book an arrangement that allows them to enjoy the foods from the market, followed by a Christmas concert in the palace’s orangery. Vienna’s Christmas markets boast 1.9 million views on TikTok and almost 19,000 posts on Instagram.
Similar to Strasbourg, it will also cost you around $207 (€194 or £169) on average per night for a hotel in Vienna throughout December.
If you are a foodie, there are over 27 restaurants available per 10,000 people (4,618 in total), such as popular lunch spots like Wiener Wiaz Haus and Leto and Michelin-starred restaurants such as Veranda and Edvard for fine dining.
4. Brussels, Belgium - 6.94 festive score
In fourth place is Brussels, Belgium, with a festive score of 6.94. There were almost 10,500 searches for the term “Brussels December” and 37,600 searches for the phrase “Brussels Christmas” on Google over the past year. This shows that the Belgian Christmas chocolate really does draw people in!
Brussels’ Winter Wonders Christmas markets stretch over 2km and attract almost 2.5 million visitors each year. There are over 200 chalets available for you to browse, spanning various sites such as Grand Place, Bourse, Place Sainte-Catherine, and Marché aux Poissons.
As well as purchasing last-minute Christmas gifts or stocking fillers, visitors can also indulge in some traditional Belgian food and drink, such as deep-fried sweet dumplings, waffles, and hot wine. There are a whole host of activities available too, from a Ferris wheel and merry-go-rounds to ice rinks and light shows. Brussels’ Christmas markets also have 1.6 million views on TikTok and almost 3,000 posts on Instagram.
On average, it will cost you around $152 (€143 or £124) per night for a hotel in Brussels throughout December. There are also over 42 restaurants available per 10,000 people (4,320 in total), including the likes of La Buvette and Colonel Louise for those who like fine dining and Tonton Garby and Bia Mara for those who prefer cheaper eats.
5. Bruges, Belgium - 6.81 festive score
Following closely behind and making a second appearance for Belgium is Bruges, earning a festive score of 6.81. There were 7,550 searches for the term “Bruges December” and 57,800 searches for the phrase “Bruges Christmas” on Google over the past year. This, combined with the searches for Brussels, shows just how famous Belgium is as a festive city break destination.
Due to being a small city, Bruges’ Winter Glow Christmas markets offer a cozy and intimate festive feel. The primary location is Grote Markt, where there is a variation of stalls offering different handmade gifts and traditional Belgian food and drink, such as delicious chocolate yule logs, cheesy kroketten (croquettes) and cocoa-laced jenever (gin).
Visitors can also skate around the market’s ice rink or marvel at the light experience trail. The beloved Christmas shop, De Witte Pelikaan, is located in Bruges and offers a whole host of different baubles, from novelty decorations to intricate hand-blown ornaments.
On average, it will cost you around $159 (€150 or £130) per night for a hotel in Bruges throughout December.
For food lovers, there are over 107 restaurants available per 10,000 people (1,251 in total), such as At Tattie’s and Cafe de Gilde for cheap eats and the Michelin-starred restaurants Bartholomeus and L’Esperance for fine dining.
The festive European city with the most restaurants
Esslingen, Germany - 198 restaurants per 10,000 people
The European city with the most restaurants per 10,000 people is Esslingen, which is located in Germany. There are 198 restaurants per 10,000 people and over 1,830 restaurants in total.
There are many places to eat in the city that offer traditional German cuisine, including Weinkeller Einhorn, which receives a score of 4.5/5 on Tripadvisor. Visitors can enjoy a whole host of specialties, including breaded pork schnitzel, cheese spaetzle, and maultaschen.
The cheapest European city to stay in for a festive break
Metz, France - $32 / €30 / £26 per night
The cheapest European city for a festive break is Metz, which is located in France. On average, it will cost you just $32 (€30 or £26) per night for a hotel in Metz. Some of the most recommended hotels include the likes of Best Western Metz Centre Gare, ibis Metz Centre Cathédrale, and Hotel De La Cathedrale.
The most-searched-for European city for a festive break
Vienna, Austria - 237,400 Google searches
The most-searched European city for festive breaks is Vienna, with a total of 237,400 searches on Google between October 2022 and September 2023. As mentioned, there were over 203,000 searches for the term “Vienna Christmas” within the specified time period, making it the most-searched city specifically for breaks over Christmas. There were also over 34,000 searches for the phrase “Vienna December”, making it the second most-searched city for festive breaks (behind Prague) throughout the final month of the year.
The most viewed European Christmas market on TikTok
Basel, Switzerland - 3.6 million views on TikTok
The most viewed European Christmas market on TikTok is Basel, racking up over 3.6 million views on the hashtag #baselchristmasmarket. There are many videos using the hashtag to showcase some of the delicious food that is on offer at the market each year, including warm, fluffy pretzels and bread rolls oozing with cheese fondue. Many people also showcase the dazzling festive lights that visitors can marvel at and the intricate handmade gifts that are available to purchase.
The most Instagrammable European Christmas market
Strasbourg, France - 31,043 posts on Instagram
The most Instagrammable European Christmas market is Strasbourg, with over 31,000 posts using the hashtag #strasbourgchristmasmarket. The hashtag is complete with people posing outside the beautifully decorated buildings, adorned with garlands, baubles, and lights. There are also many reels featured on the hashtag of visitors walking around the streets and the market itself, showcasing what is on offer.
The best UK cities for a festive break
1. Manchester, England - 7.86 festive score
The best UK city for a festive break is Manchester, earning a festive score of 7.86. There were over 14,000 searches for the term “Manchester Christmas” and almost 2,200 searches for the phrase “Manchester December” on Google over the past year.
This year marks 25 years since the Manchester Christmas Markets first took place, with Piccadilly Gardens once again becoming the main site. 225 stalls will be spread across 9 areas, including locations such as Market Street, Cathedral Gardens, St Ann’s Square, and The Corn Exchange. There is plenty of time to enjoy the festivities in Manchester, as the markets are open from 10 November to 21 December. As well as the beloved Scandi-style tipi, equipped with festive lights and traditional log fires, there will also be an abundance of food and drink stalls available, offering up items such as warm churros, Korean corndogs, fresh gyros, and plenty of winter tipples.
On average, it will cost you around $153 (£126 or €145) per night for a hotel in Manchester throughout December.
For foodies, there are over 1,160 restaurants available per 100,000 people (almost 4,600 in total), including the likes of Dakota Bar & Grill and Peter Street Kitchen for those who like fine dining, and Northern Soul Grilled Cheese and Pieminster for those who prefer cheaper eats.
2. Edinburgh, Scotland - 7.50 festive score
In second place is Edinburgh, which is located in Scotland and receives a festive score of 7.50. There were 20,530 searches for the term “Edinburgh December” and 114,400 searches for the phrase “Edinburgh Christmas” on Google over the past year, making it the third most-searched city in the UK for festive breaks.
Edinburgh’s Christmas Markets offer a whole host of festive fun for all the family, running for 7 weeks from 17 November to 6 January, closing only on Christmas Day. The stalls and attractions will be spread out across 4 different sites: East Princes Street Gardens, West Princes Street Gardens, George Street, and St Andrew Square. There will be countless stalls and chalets offering traditional festive food and drinks, including churros, mulled wine, and hot chocolates. For any adrenaline junkies, the iconic Ferris wheel and helter-skelter will again be making their annual appearance alongside other kid-friendly funfair rides. There is also the option to meet Santa himself and receive a gift at Santa’s Stories.
On average, it will cost you around $214 (£176 or €202) per night for a hotel in Edinburgh throughout December.
There are over 430 restaurants available per 100,000 people (over 2,000 in total), such as Tani Modi and @Pizza for cheap eats and the Michelin-starred restaurants Dean Banks at The Pompadour and The Kitchin for fine dining.
3. Bath, England - 6.91 festive score
The third best UK city for a festive break is Bath, earning a festive score of 6.91. There were almost 393,000 searches for the term “Bath Christmas” on Google over the past year, making it the most-searched UK city specifically for breaks over Christmas.
Bath’s Christmas market is an ideal choice for those who want to get the festivities in early, as it will only be running from 23 November to 10 December. There will be countless stalls available for visitors to browse, from pottery and printmakers to cheese and candles. Those wanting to devour some delicious food while visiting the market can visit the likes of the Butcher’s Block, Fontmell Smokehouse, and Plant.Eat.Licious. Or, for those with a sweet tooth be sure to try The Pudding Wagon, Chatley Farm Brownies, and Meg’s Cottage Fudge. Various other attractions will also be available to visit, including Father Christmas’ Grotto, an ice rink, street theatre, and musical performances.
On average, it will cost you around $259 (£213 or €245) per night for a hotel in Bath throughout December, making it the second most expensive UK destination (after Leeds). There are also 998 restaurants available, including the likes of Michelin-starred restaurants Menu Gordon Jones and The Olive Tree for fine dining and JC’s Kitchen and Chaiwalla for cheaper eats.
4. Glasgow, Scotland - 6.43 festive score
In fourth place is Glasgow, Scotland, with a festive score of 6.43. There were 2,760 searches for the term “Glasgow December” and 19,870 searches for the phrase “Glasgow Christmas” on Google over the past year.
Glasgow’s Winterfest Christmas market will be split between George Square (25 November to 7 January) and St Enoch Square (10 November to 30 December). There will be a festive bar at each location, serving up seasonal drinks in a cozy and intimate atmosphere. The community hub will be showcasing plenty of local talent, including dancers, singers, and musicians. There will also be plenty of attractions for all the family, such as an ice rink, fairground rides, and even a silent disco. Of course, there will also be plenty of food, drink, and gift stalls for you to browse through.
On average, it will cost you around $118 (£97 or €111) per night for a hotel in Glasgow throughout December. There are also 396 restaurants available per 100,000 people (over 2,300 in total), including the likes of MacTassos and Fanny Trollopes for lunchtime eats and the Michelin-starred restaurants The Gannet and Bilson Eleven for fine dining.
5. York, England - 6.31 festive score
The fifth best UK city for a festive break is York, receiving a festive score of 6.31. There were 46,170 searches for the phrase “York Christmas” on Google over the past year, making it the fourth most-searched UK city specifically for breaks over Christmas.
York’s Christmas market will be celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, and it has a new addition to mark the occasion. The Winter Hütte is a traditional Swiss chalet and will be located on Parliament Street, featuring a terrace overlooking the market. The hut will be offering up a Swiss dining experience with a twist brought by one of the best-known chefs throughout Yorkshire, the Michelin-starred Andrew Pern. Visitors can also take part in the family-friendly Nutcracker Trail, seeking out 10 nutcrackers across the city center, with the potential of winning a £500 York BID gift card. York is, of course, known for its ghostly connections, and there are plenty of opportunities for visitors to take part in a festive ghost tour throughout the Christmas season.
On average, it will cost you around $172 (£141 or €162) per night for a hotel in York throughout December.
There are 498 restaurants available per 100,000 people (766 in total), such as the Michelin-starred restaurants Melton’s and Roots York for fine dining and Cresci Pizzeria and Wheldrakes for lunchtime eats.
The festive UK city with the most restaurants
Manchester, England - 116 restaurants per 10,000 people
The UK city with the most restaurants is Manchester, with 116 restaurants available per 10,000 people and almost 4,600 in total. Some of the most popular places to eat in the city include the likes of Dishoom, which serves traditional Irani cuisine, Yard & Coop, a budget-friendly option where you can get some of the most amazing fried chicken around, and Tattu, which serves delicious Asian dishes.
The cheapest UK city to stay in for a festive break
Newcastle, England - $105 / €99 / £86 per night
The cheapest UK city to stay in for a festive break is Newcastle. On average, it will cost you around $105 (€99 or £86) per night for a hotel in the city. Some of the most recommended hotels include the likes of Maldron Hotel Newcastle, Crowne Plaza Newcastle - Stephenson Quarter, and INNSiDE By Meliá Newcastle.
The most-searched-for UK city for a festive break
Bath, England - 394,760 Google searches
The most-searched UK city for festive breaks is Bath, with a total of 394,760 searches on Google between October 2022 and September 2023. As mentioned previously, the city has the highest number of searches for breaks specifically over Christmas, racking up a whopping 392,900 searches for the phrase “Bath Christmas”. Despite this, there were only 1,860 searches for the term “Bath December”.
The most viewed UK Christmas market on TikTok
Manchester, England - 13.3 million views on TikTok
The most viewed UK Christmas market on TikTok is Manchester, racking up a huge 13.3 million views. There are multiple videos using the hashtag of people enjoying warm hot chocolates (topped with cream and marshmallows, of course) in the iconic Manchester Christmas market mugs. As expected, the famous Porky Pig Yorkshire pudding wraps also appear in many of the videos, as well as battered pigs in blankets, mini Dutch pancakes, and traditional German hot dogs.
The most Instagrammable UK Christmas market
Manchester, England - 59,628 posts on Instagram
Manchester also tops the list for the most Instagrammable UK Christmas market, with just under 60,000 posts. Again, there are plenty of posts showcasing all of the delicious foods on offer at the markets, including the well-loved Korean hot dogs.
We gathered the total number of restaurants available in each city from Tripadvisor. We then calculated how many restaurants were available per 10,000 people in each city by taking the total number of available restaurants and dividing it by its population (sourced from World Population Review) before multiplying the figure by 10,000.
We sourced the average nightly cost of a 3-star hotel throughout December from Kayak. All currency conversions were completed on 24 October 2023.
We gathered the total number of searches between October 2022 and September 2023 for the terms “CITY December” and “CITY Christmas” from Google Keyword Planner.
Each city was then given a normalized score out of ten for each factor before an average of these scores was taken.