Lately, I’ve been seeing so many wonderful photos of stunning and infamous Christmas Markets around Europe.  I can picture it now – a dust of snow gently covering the individual artisanal stalls; smells of delicious garlic soup and pretzels; glorious gluhwein warming up the soul on a chilly winter evening; Christmas music ringing outside department stores.  Mmmmm, doesn’t it sound nice?

Where are most of these picturesque Christmas markets, you may ask? If you guessed Western Europe, you’re correct. Christmas markets originated in Bautzen, Germany in 1384 and continue to make their dominant presence throughout the country. Currently, the major Christmas markets reside in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and France.

Like many of us who are on a budget, how do we enjoy amazing Christmas markets without completely depleting our wallets? Simple travel hack – Eastern and Central Europe have absolutely incredible Christmas markets for a quarter of the price.

Here is an itinerary and budget of a mixture of Christmas Markets to visit!


Destination 1 – Budapest, Hungary

Do you want delicious Christmas Market food for under $3 USD? Budapest, Hungary is the place for you. You can have a full Christmas Market meal, sit at a Christmas Market table, drink $2 USD mulled wine, listen to amazing live singers, and admire the incredible 8 markets throughout Budapest.  Warm up in a traditional Ruin bar drinking delicious craft brew in a homelike setting (approx. $3 a beer).

Transportation: Fly to Budapest! Approx. $80 to $250.

Accommodation: approx. $13 to $50 a night

Food: approx. $5 to $20 a day

Alcohol: approx. $5 to $30 a day


Destination 2 – Bratislava, Slovakia

Do you want delicious Christmas Market food for under $1? Bratislava is the place for you! You can get a.m.a.z.i.n.g potato anything for 50 cents to $2. Bratislava has a ton of history and great walking tours to take during the day and a fun and cheap party life at night. Grab a gluhwein for 1 Euro, walk the Christmas market a bit, then head to a bar for 1 euro 50 cent liter beers.

Transportation: Train it from Budapest to Bratislava. Direct trains run every 2 hours and tickets can be bought at the train station (travel hint: give yourself at least an hour to get your ticket in Budapest!). The train takes approx 3 hours and costs 15 Euro.

Accommodation: approx. $5 to $20 a night

Food: approx. $5 to $10 a day

Alcohol: approx. $5 to $10 a day


Destination 3 – Vienna, Austria

Vienna, Austria…one of the best Christmas Markets you will ever see in your life. An extraordinarily famous Christmas Market city. Please be warned, this will increase the price simply due to the increase in tourism and caliber of Christmas-y things throughout this gorgeous city.  Check out one of the oldest Christmas Markets in Europe and explore the decked out Christmas city. Pop in to an off-the-beaten-path bar to warm up! Eat as many kesakrainers as possible (cheese bratwurst).

Transportation: Catch a 1 hour train day of for 15 euro to Vienna, Austria.

Accommodation: approx. $25 to $65 a night

Food: approx. $15 to $30 a day

Alcohol: approx. $10 to $30 a day


Destination 4 – Salsburg, Austria 

SPLURGE – it is worth it! You’ve just saved a bunch budget traveling through Hungary and Slovakia, Salsburg is definitely worth a one night stay.

Transportation: Buy train tickets at least 30 days in advance for a discounted rate. Look for student prices, under 26 year old, or early bird specials. Train Ride is about 2 hours and costs approximately $45 USD.

Accommodation: approx. $35 to $65 a night

Food: approx. $20 to $35 a day

Alcohol: approx. $20 to $35 a day


Destination 5 – Munich, Germany

Want a good time? Germany is always a good time! Visit some of the oldest Christmas Market traditions around this city. Be warned, these Christmas Markets are always packed. Give yourself plenty of breaks while making your way through the markets. That being said, they are unbeatable and worth the effort!

Transportation: Buy Train tickets at least 30 days in advance. Train ride is about 2 hours and costs around $45 USD in advance.

Accommodation: approx. $25 to $65 a night

Food: approx. $15 to $30 a day

Alcohol: approx. $20 to $30 a day


If you want to keep going or prefer a cheaper route, head on up to Prague, Czech Republic, or perhaps visit some smaller towns across Slovakia and Hungary. Christmas Markets are everywhere and totally worth it!

Happy Christmas-ing!


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Published by Wanderlust Advocate