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All aboard for some Christmas cheer: The festive spirit is a joy to behold at these glittering markets, from Bruges to Bath (and they can all be reached by train from London in less than 6 hours)

Charles Dickens was no Scrooge. He once said: ‘Christmas time! That man must be a misanthrope indeed, in whose breast something like a jovial feeling is not roused – in whose mind some pleasant associations are not awakened – by the recurrence of Christmas.’

So he would surely have approved of the Christmas markets across Europe to which thousands flock each year, both to enjoy the jolly atmosphere and pick up unique gifts.

But rather than take to the skies like Santa, here’s our selection of the best markets you can reach by train – no Scrooges allowed.


Here, we round-up Christmas markets that are reachable from London within six hours by train. The list includes Bruges (pictured), which has festive markets in two locations 

Bruges has two fantastic Christmas markets: one on the Markt and the other on Simon Stevin Square. Expect stalls selling waffles, gingerbread houses, spiced gluhwein (hot wine), genever (a juniper-based liquor), local beers, moules frites (mussels with chips), cakes and hot chocolate – perfect for a festive feast. Arts and crafts are offered too.

Bruges makes a beautiful setting with its winding lanes, canals and cobbled streets, especially after a sprinkling of snow.

How to do it: Cost from £150 return with an ‘Any Belgian Station’ ticket ( Runs until January 7 (

Journey time: 3h 25m. 


The Strasbourg Christmas market, pictured, is one of the oldest in Europe, dating back to 1570

Dating back to 1570, the market in Strasbourg is one of the oldest in Europe. It’s set in a charming position within the old town, surrounded by half-timbered medieval houses that seem to lean towards each other.

More than 300 stalls sell bredele (little Christmas biscuits), mulled wine, tarte flambee (little pizzas without the tomato base) and choucroute (sauerkraut and sausage). Each year there’s also a 100ft (30m) decorated Christmas tree, said to be Europe’s biggest.

How to do it: From £290 return via Paris ( The market has already begun and runs until December 24 (

Journey time: 4h 58m.


Rotterdam’s Winter Fair is at Ahoy, pictured, a conference venue with more than 200 stalls

For some serious shopping – homeware, clothing, vintage furnishings, Christmas decorations and more – head to Rotterdam.

Its Winter Fair is staged at Ahoy, a conference venue, with more than 200 stalls. Treat yourself to stroopwafels (sugary waffles) and oliebollen (delicious little doughnuts). Saturday markets are also planned at Oogstmarkt on December 16 and 23.

How to do it: From £160 return ( Runs from December 14-17 (

Journey time: 3h 13m.


Star billing: Lille’s market has a towering Christmas tree and gigantic Ferris wheel

Just 82 minutes from London St Pancras, you’ll find more than 80 festive ‘chalets’ set up around Place Rihour selling gingerbread, decorations and toys.

Carol concerts, workshops for children and readings of Christmas tales are organised.

Visit after dark to see the Grand Place lit up, plus there’s a gigantic Ferris wheel.

How to do it: Cost from £130 return ( The market ends on December 31 (

Journey time: 1h 22m.


Cologne’s Christmas market is set around the city’s magnificent towering cathedral

It’s in perhaps the finest setting of any Christmas market in Europe – bang outside Cologne’s magnificent towering cathedral.

The building was the world’s tallest on its completion in 1880 – an incredible 632 years after construction began.

Expect bustling stalls selling handicrafts and delicacies. There is also plenty of mulled wine and local beer.

How to do it: From £225 return via Brussels ( Runs until December 23 (

Journey time: 4h 11m.


Boasting over 100 stalls, Lyon’s market offers all sorts of trinkets and French culinary delights

Tuck into tartiflette (a delicious concoction of potatoes, cream and bacon), pork and herb sausages, saucisson and delicious cheeses, all washed down with mulled wine.

More than 100 chalets are set up at Place Carnot – surrounded by beautiful 19th Century buildings – offering regional food and arts and crafts gifts.

From December 7-10 a Festival of Lights is also held in Lyon with St John Cathedral, St Paul Station and other prominent sights lit up.

How to do it: Travel from £270 return via Paris ( The market is running from today until Christmas Eve (

Journey time: 5h 25m.

Trains depart from and return to St Pancras, London. Mid-December fares shown. SANTA’S HOME RUN – CHRISTMAS MARKETS IN THE UK


Considered one of the UK’s best Christmas markets, with 70 stalls set up in East Princes Street Gardens. There’s also a helter skelter, ferris wheel and plenty of family fun. The market runs from now until January 6 (


More than 200 stalls selling everything from artisan chocolates to candles, local cheeses and gin. There’s a great skating rink too. The market runs until December 10 (


More than 225 stands and ski chalet-style stalls in Piccadilly Gardens. Runs until December 21 (


Right by the cathedral, offering wooden toys and plenty of mulled wine. Runs until December 21 (


More than 75 Alpine-style stalls in Parliament Street and St Sampson’s Square. Expect carols, twinkling lights and food stalls. Runs until December 22 (


Meet Santa Claus or enjoy a mulled wine at the Reindeer Bar at Canterbury’s fun market. Runs until December 24 (canter-burychristmas

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