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Monday 27 March 2023 Dublin: -3°C
Shutterstock The Christmas market in Strasbourg
# festive roadtrips
5 spectacular driving roads to Christmas markets around Europe
Ho ho ho… Let’s go!

EUROPE’S CHRISTMAS MARKETS are the perfect excuse for a fun festive roadtrip (as if you need an excuse to hit the road).

Many of the best Christmas markets are located near great driving roads that will test your skills behind the wheel as well as afford you spectacular views and a holiday filled with festive cheer, and more roasted chestnuts than you can handle.

Whether you bring your own car or rent one when you land, here are some of the best Christmas market road trips around Europe.

1. Strasbourg, France

Shutterstock / Leonid Andronov Shutterstock / Leonid Andronov / Leonid Andronov

The Christmas market in Strasbourg, France dates back to 1570 and is reputed to be the oldest Christmas market in Europe. With 300 stalls spread out over 12 different locations it has plenty of festive attractions to keep the whole family happy, including an ice rink, choirs, live music and cultural events.

When you are finished with the festivities get in the car and drive south and do an Alsace wine road trip, stopping off in Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg, Riquewihr, Kaysersberg and Colmar.

Not only will you tackle some beautiful country roads but you’ll be able to stock up on excellent wine along the way.

2. Tivoli Gardens Christmas Market, Copenhagen, Denmark

Shutterstock / Mikhail Markovskiy Shutterstock / Mikhail Markovskiy / Mikhail Markovskiy

One of the best Christmas markets on the Yuletide scene is the spectacular Tivoli Gardens market in Copenhagen. Forget minimalist Scandinavian design, this market is a Christmas paradise created with over 120,000 twinkly lights.

Copenhagen is the ideal base to start the 3,600km Marguerite Route which takes you past 1,000 of Denmark’s smaller and larger attractions, sights and historic sites. The best thing about this route is that the roads are in great condition and are usually very quite making for a very enjoyable road trip.

3. Cologne, Germany

Shutterstock / Mapics Shutterstock / Mapics / Mapics

The Christmas markets in Germany are world-famous and deservedly so. They are truly traditional and feel very special indeed. There are six Christmas markets in Cologne dotted throughout the city each with its own unique flavour and atmosphere.

From Cologne you can live out your racer fantasies and head towards the legendary Nürburgring which is less than 100km away. Head for the Nordschleife aka ‘The Green Hell’ and tackle the merciless route and 73 turns through the Eifel forests.

The route closes for winter, but if you time it right, you can get to the end of the public race season and the start of the Christmas markets. If the Ring is closed, head to the Volcanic Eifel and follow the 280km German Volcanoes route, running right through the most geologically active area in Germany.

Also, if you take the A1 from Cologne there is a derestricted stretch of Autobahn. Just saying.

4. Vienna and Salzburg, Austria

Shutterstock / Calin Stan Shutterstock / Calin Stan / Calin Stan

Can’t get enough of Christmas markets? Well, why not check out two on your road trip. The Christmas markets in Vienna and Salzburg are very picturesque and romantic. There are ice-rinks, classical music, gallons of Glühwein and plenty of warning comfort food on offer.

When you are finished at one market, get in the car and head to the next. Vienna and Salzburg are about 300km away from each other, but don’t just take the highway – take the 500km scenic route via Kahlenberg, Castle Liechtenstein, Steyr, Gesäuse National Park and Hallstatt.

This route brings you through quaint villages, over mountain passes, into a national park and a UNESCO World Heritage site as well as past some ancient sites and preserved old towns. This is one stunning road trip.

5. Seville, Spain

Shutterstock / LucVi Shutterstock / LucVi / LucVi

Fancy celebrating Christmas in warmer weather? The get thee to the Mercado Navideno Sevilla Central. This market is held under the “giant mushrooms” of the Metropol Parasol, a wooden structure located in the old quarter of Seville. The market is very pretty and the log cabins that serve as stalls for the vendors are uniquely decorated with a special design that is, until the last moment, kept secret.

Whilst in Seville you can visit the “Palace of the Kingdom of Naboo”, from Star Wars, and the “Palace of the Kingdom of Dorne”, from Game of Thrones, aka Plaza de España and the Royal Alcazar of Seville.

From Seville you can then drive the superb roads around the region. A particularly scenic route would be to start in Seville then head to Zahara de la Sierra and on to Ronda then over to Antequera and down to Malaga via the famous A-7000 (old C345) road that cuts through the national park.

READ: 13 tips to help you cope with driving in wet weather >

READ: Here’s everything we know about the new Teslas (and what the experts are saying) >

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