Calling all fans of Race Across The World! Fancy your own version of travelling by land from London through Europe, with the addition of your phone and Christmas markets, and without the stress of competing against others? Eurostar has collated a suggested itinerary, which will see you visit six Christmas markets in Europe in just six days. Are you up for the challenge?
Six countries in six days
I’ve been known to hop on the Eurostar for a day trip: Paris or Brussels have been my city of choice in the past. Well, Eurostar’s suggested itinerary takes that to the next level.
If you’ve got some extra money in your pocket, and remaining annual leave days free for an adventure, read on. The schedule will take you from London’s Winter Wonderland to Cologne’s live performances, Brussels’ boulevard of market stalls to Amsterdam’s Winter Paradise, all without the faff of travelling by plane.
Eurostar recently combined with train service Thalys, making travel between European countries even easier. While the suggested dates are December 12–17 to enjoy all the open markets in the cities listed below, you can amend the itinerary, picking and choosing cities and dates to suit you.
The suggested itinerary
Day 1: London, England
Starting here, in the Big Smoke. We have a plethora of Christmas markets ready for your perusal. After an early lunch, take a stroll around the likes of Leicester Square Christmas Market, Christmas By The Bankside, or Borough Market – or go big with a couple of hours at Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland.
After enjoying rides and treats, hop on the tube to Kings Cross St Pancras, and catch an evening Eurostar to Paris. You’ll arrive late evening, and check into your hotel for a good night’s sleep.
Leicester Square Christmas Market is open now until January 8.
Christmas By The River is open now until January 1.
Borough Market Christmas edition is open now until January 9.
Winter Wonderland is open now until January 1.
Day 2: Paris, France
Wake up to all the festivities the French have to offer in Paris. Whether you go all in, and visit Parisian Christmas markets from breakfast ’til dinner, it’s up to you – though you can check out our friends at Paris Secret for some other local recommendations.
Paris offers over 15 different key Christmas markets each winter. Head to Square René Viviani, just across the Seine from Notre Dame, St Germain des Pres, or Tuileries Gardens, where you can indulge in the likes of vin chaud, sausages, cheese, and chocolate. After a full day, bed down again in Paris, ready to move cities early next morning.
Square René Viviani Christmas market is open between December 8–25.
St Germain des Pres Christmas market is open between November 25–December 31.
Tuileries Gardens Christmas market is open from mid-November until early January.
Day 3: Cologne, Germany
Head to Gare du Nord station for a mid-morning train from Paris to Cologne, arriving early afternoon. Make your way to Weihnachtsmarkt am Kölner Dom, the Christmas market at Cologne Cathedral. Backed by the dramatic building, and with a marvellous glowing Christmas tree and its centre, this market is a spectacle, with curios and culinary delights on sale side by side. There is also a stage programme of over 100 free events for visitors to enjoy over the Christmas period.
Sleep in Cologne, before waking for a midday train to your next market – and country.
Weihnachtsmarkt am Kölner Dom is open November 23 – December 23.
Day 4: Brussels, Belgium
Day four will see you hop on a train from Cologne to Brussels around midday. Once you arrive, make your way to Winter Wonders, voted one of the best Christmas markets in the world. Stretching two kilometres – spanning the Grand-Place, Place de la Bourse, Place Sainte-Catherine, and Marché aux Poissons – the market comprises snow-dusted chalets, bars, and pop-up restaurants.
Once you’ve had your fill of food and festivities, instead of bedding down in Belgium, hop on a late Eurostar to Rotterdam, arriving a little before midnight.
Winter Wonders is open November 24 – December 31.
Day 5: Rotterdam, Netherlands
Wake up in Rotterdam, and visit one of the more modern Christmas markets in Europe. Winter Fair at Ahoy is set indoors, and boasts a range of shopping stalls and entertainment; Weeldes Winter Warenmarkt is renowned for its blend of festive treats, and musical entertainment in a vibrant atmosphere.
When you’re ready to move on, hop on the train to Amsterdam; it’s only a 40-minute journey.
Winter Fair at Ahoy is open December 14–17.
Weeldes Winter Warenmarkt is open December 4–9.
Day 6: Amsterdam, Netherlands
For your final day of your Europe Christmas market tour, the laid-back city of Amsterdam awaits. Between the cafes and canals, be sure to head to the annual Amsterdam Winter Paradise, hosted at RAI Amsterdam. There is so much to see and do here: ice rinks, skiing, après-ski, and a selection of Christmas market stalls. The paradise has live music playing daily. If you have time, you can check out some other local recommendations from our friends at Secret Amsterdam.
After the whirlwind six days, it’s time to head home. Hop on the evening Eurostar back to Kings Cross St Pancras, and back to your bed in London…
Amsterdam Winter Paradise is open December 14–30.
Shop Eurostar tickets here; you can book hotel stays via Eurostar or separately.