Coming from a country that wears thongs and singlets, eats cold seafood and ham, and has temperatures soaring to the late 30s during Christmas, the concept of a cold, snowy white Christmas is a true novelty for us. So when we planned our year-long adventure in Europe, we knew we had to be here for Christmas, even if we didn’t get a snowy white Christmas, as long as we got to experience the Christkindlmarkts. And we are happy to report that we finally made it! For the past week we have travelled to Innsbruck and Vienna in Austria and have experienced our first Christkindlmarkts and have been sampling all the delicious goodies. We have made some additions to this list in 2018, from our experiences in German and Hungarian Christmas Markets. So, as we can’t collect souvenirs in our already overflowing suitcases, we have decided to indulge in foodie treats instead.
And so here is our rundown of the foods, in no particular order, which you MUST try at Christmas Markets in Europe.
Gluhwein, or mulled wine, is the most delicious and warming drink you will ever try during winter. And when sipped under the twinkling Christmas lights and surrounded by a blanket of heartfelt chatter, there is no better feeling in the world. We highly recommend a glass, or two, or three, or four! Plus, in Austria, the decorated ceramic cups they serve all the drinks in can be used over and over and they make for a great souvenir.
Apple Cinnamon Gluhwein
A special mention goes out to the delicious Apple Cinnamon Gluhwein in Dresden. The beautiful gold coloured hot wine tastes delicious and is served up in beautiful frosted glass mugs. We love collecting all of the limited edition mugs at Christmas Markets around Europe and it has become one of our favourite things to do during the winter season in Europe.
Heisse Schokolade, or hot chocolate, is the non-alcoholic heart warmer you need to drink at a Christkindlmarkt. The Christmas market version comes hot, sweet, and topped with whipped cream. Yum!
Nuremberg Gingerbread (Lebkuchen)
My personal favourite Christmas Market food is the Nuremberg Gingerbread. Forget pumpkin spiced flavours, I’m a sucker for all kinds of gingerbread flavoured things. The gingerbread in Nuremberg is unique to the city and is served up en masse at the famous Christmas Market during winter. Unlike the normal gingerbread men, Nurnberg Lebkuchen is dense and chewy on the inside with different fillings like nuts and raisins, and a little crisp or sugar glazed on the outside. It’s like a donut and a gingerbread cookie made a baby. And it is perfect.
Chimney Cake (Kürtőskalács)
If you are in Hungary visiting the Christmas Markets, then you must try Chimney Cakes. These delicious, tube-like donuts are roasted on a spit fire. They are crunchy on the outside and pillowy on the inside with browned sugar coating it on the outside. The traditional kind is hollow on the inside but with the changing times, many stalls have gotten creative and now fill them with delicious treats like chocolate and ice-cream.
Bratwurst and Currywurst
Germany is famous for its delicious sausages and Bratwurst is our favourite. Every Christmas market features them and we recommend eating yours in a crispy bun topped with ketchup and sauerkraut for flavour. For a very traditional German sausage treat, try the currywurst. Currywurst is bratwurst chopped up and topped with a generous amount of ketchup and curry powder. We were super apprehensive to try it at first, but have quickly become addicted to this delicious snack.
Innsbruck Christmas Markets have the most delicious fried donut type pastries topped with lingonberry (preiselbeeren) and sauerkraut, called kiachl. We tried the lingonberry version and it was so good. Apparently you can find them at other Christmas markets by different names so just show this picture to some one and I’m sure they will point you in the right direction.
Spaetzle and Schupfnudel
These dishes are traditional to the Tyrol area so you will probably only find them at the Innsbruck Christmas market, but if you find them in your area we highly recommend them, as they are the perfect hearty meal for winter. Spaetzle are soft egg noodles in a creamy cheese sauce. The spinach version with speck and topped with fried onions is the most delicious version and can be found at the Christmas Markets in Innsbruck. Schupfnudel is a rolled potato noodle, similar to gnocchi, and served fried and topped with grated cheese. Double deliciousness!
Brezeln are pretzel breads that are traditional in Germany. During the Christmas season, brezeln come in jumbo form and in many sweet and savoury flavours such as the traditional Christkindl vanilla custard filled, or apple, chocolate, pizza, and plain. And if brezeln aren’t your thing then there are heaps of stalls with jumbo pastries of all kinds for you to chow on instead!
If you’re in Austria, you just have to eat strudel! And our favourite kind, apple, is in abundance at all Christmas markets. Make sure to try this brandy soaked treat after enjoying a bratwurst and you will be in dessert heaven.
Cookies and chocolate
These sweet stores laden with cookies decorated with colourful icing are everywhere at Christmas markets. Make sure to try the cookies and toothache inducing sweets that line these stalls or take some home to your family as a reminder of your magical time in Austria.
What’s your favourite Christkindlmarkt food? Leave your faves in the comments below xx
Note: This post has been updated in 2018.
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