Though the festive season is fast upon us, there’s still plenty of time to book and visit these European Christmas markets – with Eurotunnel’s great prices giving you a chance to get away for less.
Mulled wine, festive food and artisan presents – there’s something quite magical about winter markets. And whilst there’s plenty of fabulous Christmas markets in the UK to explore, some of us prefer something overseas and stretched across a weekend. Being a great excuse to squeeze in a well earnt getaway during the December downtime.
A chance to take in new Christmas traditions, and discover a charming new city aglow with twinkly lights and a sprinkling of seasonal merriment, these European Christmas markets tick all the boxes for a festive break. And within a reasonable driving distance via the Eurotunnel, you’d be mad not to book your ticket today.
Best European Christmas markets in 2021:
1. Boulogne-Sur-Mer Christmas Market
Dates: 10 – 12 December 2021 | Book your Eurotunnel Le Shuttle tickets now
Boulogne-Sur-Mer is just a half hour drive away from the Eurotunnel Le Shuttle Calais port (35 km). And this quaint, cobbled town is the perfect setting for a market, with its natural charm and character serving up some special Christmas cheer. Steeped in history, Boulogne has paid host to both Julius Caesar and King Henry VIII during past interventions. Though today the port is more known for its fishing than fighting, with some fresh seafood sampling recommended at one of the eateries along the Rue de Lille. Come December, this central street is filled with artisan stalls boasting handmade gifts and decorations. Plus mulled wine and of course some incredible cheese – you’d be silly not to take back with you on the short tunnel hop home.
“Warm up with a glass of wine and nibble on some exceptional small plate offerings at La Cave de Monsieur Guy, situated just off the main square,” says our features writer. “I’m still savouring the taste of their signature egg yolk, parmesan and truffle fries. Which goes wonderfully with a bottle of Beaujolais. And if you’re lucky enough to visit when owner Dennis is present – be sure to tap him up for his wine knowledge and all the local intel.”
“As for accommodation – you can’t go wrong with the Najeti Hotel du Parc based in Hardelot, a short twenty minute drive away from Boulogne’s centre. It boasts huge family rooms and a lovely breakfast spread – think croissants, cereal, eggs, ham and cheese. Plus it’s only a 5 minute drive from Hardelot’s sandy beach – perfect for a brisk stretch of the legs before the journey home.”
2. Lille Christmas Market
Dates: 19 November – 30 December 2021 | Book your Eurotunnel Le Shuttle tickets now
Another one of the best European Christmas markets can be found just across the channel in Lille. The popular tourist town is luminous with bright lights and festive spirit from mid November onwards. Boasting an unmissable Ferris Wheel in the middle of Place Rihour. It’s here where you’ll also find 90 wooden chalets overflowing with ornate gifts, festive figurines and of course some warming and wintery refreshments. Open every day from 11:00-20:30pm until the end of December. You could easily do it in a day – with Lille just an hour and a half drive from Calais.
If you’re looking to turn it into an overnight trip, then be sure to book Hotel du Croise – a 3 star hotel with free parking that boasts rave reviews on Tripadvisor. “We found the hotel excellent for our stay in Lille, it is situated in a quiet street, a few minutes from the tram, which whisks you into the centre of Lille in about 10 minutes,” wrote Chris from Swindon. The hotel was very clean and comfortable, and the hosts very friendly. The breakfast was served in our room every day and consisted of rolls, croissant, jam, honey, yoghurt and small pancakes.”
As for food, bistro Chez Max along Rue de Solferino has been hailed as a ‘Gem of Lille’ and received a Traveller’s Choice Badge for 2021. “The Foie gras with fig mousse was amazing,” wrote Monick. “We ordered a combo of white and red meat and the owner recommended an amazing wine. Highlight of the evening was the very personable owner, Max, who’s passion for the enjoyment of food shines through.”
3. Bruges Christmas market
Dates: 26 November – 9 January 2022 | Book your Eurotunnel Le Shuttle tickets now
Looking like a setting straight out of a fairytale, medieval city Bruges promises a European Christmas market with plenty of charm. And it’s just a 1hr 30 min drive (117km) from the port of Calais. Festive stalls and sparkly lights line the streets of Markt and Simon Stevinplein in the city centre. Giving you a chance to pick up artisan presents for friends and delicate homemade tree decorations for yourself. Just make sure you save some time for a hearty hot chocolate or warm Belgian waffle, after all your market mooching of course.
“You’ll be hard pressed not to be bowled over by the beauty of Bruges,” says our features writer. “Especially during the festive season. For a truly unforgettable stay, I’d recommend a room in the Hotel Bourgoensch Hof – tucked away a few metres from the main city square. The rooms are spacious, clean and boast bags of medieval character. And then there’s the views overlooking the canal on the corner of Rozenhoedkaai and Braambergstraat – one of the most Instagrammed spots in the city.”
“As for dinner, be sure to make a reservation in advance at ‘t Zwart Huis (‘The Black House’). The bistro-come-jazz club serves a mean steak dinner. And fans of the 2008 film ‘In Bruges’ will recognise the place as the bar where Ray and Ken grab their first Belgian beer.”
4. Amiens Christmas Market
Dates: 26 November – 31 December 2021 | Book your Eurotunnel Le Shuttle tickets now
One of the biggest European Christmas markets situated in Northern France. Amiens turns into another festive hub in late November, with food and gift stalls sprawling over 2km of this picturesque city. There’s the skate rink and a festive fairground for kids old and young to enjoy. Plus delicious treats like chocolate waffles and roasted chestnuts to warm you up whilst browsing. And of course no trip would be complete without a glimpse of Amiens’s gorgeously gothic Notre-Dame cathedral. The UNESCO World Heritage site is even more enchanting in December, when the illuminating Chroma sound and light show is in full swing.
Right next to the cathedral is Hotel Le Prieuré – a charming, independent run hotel housed inside a beautiful baroque building. “I wished I had decided to spend more time here at this hotel and in Amiens. The hotel is on a side street literally 100m from the soaring cathedral,” wrote one Tripadvisor reviewer, adding that guests are close enough to hear the morning bells. It’s ranked the second best hotel in the city, with rooms available from £80 per night.
Those seeking some delicious grub outside the tourist zones should hit up family run Restaurant Osmoz. The local eatery is popular amongst locals, so make sure you book ahead. “We had the ficelle Picarde and ravioli stuffed with truffle and wild mushroom,” wrote Tripadvisor reviewer Beverly from England. “Then Entrecote with Epoisse sauce (great idea, lovely flavour) and a lamb shank with a great variety of vegetables. Cheeseboard was excellent.”
5. Antwerp Christmas Market
Dates: 4 December – 9 January 2022 | Book your Eurotunnel Le Shuttle tickets now
Antwerp is the place to be in December. With this Belgium hotspot boasting an ice rink, fun fair with Ferris wheel and an enchanting winter forest complete with moss, magical lights and ornate tree sculptures. It’s a 2 hour and 20 minute drive from the Calais Le Shuttle arrival port, so can be done in a day or split into a weekend away. Stalls along the river Scheldt offer plenty of festive gift giving ideas. Just make sure you save time for scoffing the famous spekpatatjes (a Belgian speciality of fried potatoes and bacon).
For all out luxury, book a room at the “absolutely magnificent” Hotel de Witte Lelie. The 4-star hotel ranks 2nd in the best hotels in Antwerp on Tripadvisor. And it’s location is second to none off Grote Markt – right in the heart of the festivities. “I can’t remember the last time I felt so welcome, at home and well taken care of as I did at De Witte Lelie. Spoilt really,” wrote one reviewer. “Zany & theatrical, but not at the expense of comfort & practicality as is sometimes the case with design led hotels. The bed & linens were super lux, wardrobe space plentiful & sockets ample & thoughtfully positioned,” wrote another guest from York, England. “Thanks to all for a magical stay.”
Meanwhile Michelin starred Het Gerecht is the place to head for an unbeatable dining experience. The five-star reviewed restaurant has a 4 or 5 course menu to choose between. Serving up everything from tender cooked lamb and scallops on truffled salsify. “We had the 5 dishes menu and they were all excellent. Each one of the dishes was a different experience, the chef was there to serve and explain. The wine pairing also successful and the service very good,” wrote one satisfied Tripadvisor reviewer. Five courses will set you back €68 with the wine pairing an additional €32 per person.
Why book with Eurotunnel Le Shuttle?
- Taking the car, it gives you room to pack up the boot with all your Christmas market purchases. Ready to take home and enjoy.
- You can take your furry four legged friend along for the ride. Pets cost just £22 each way.
- The Flexiplus ticket is a great purchase for those who don’t want their trip dictated by timings. You can simply show up at any time and board the next available train. Plus you’ll receive access to the club lounge where there’s a chance to pick up a free coffee and snacks for the journey. (£249 per vehicle, up to 9 passengers)
- A one way standard ticket is under £100, setting you back just £91 per vehicle (up to 9 passengers).
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