Here are the Christmas Markets in Italy You Have to Visit

Written by Rem Malloy, since 1995 Rem has been guiding and designing trips to Italy and all of Western Europe and is considered an expert in his field for over 30 years.

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Visiting Italy in winter can be just as fun as the summer. There’s skiing, snowboarding, hot springs for soaking, and beautiful, snowy landscapes. Another reason to visit Italy during Christmas. This country does Christmas right, with festive decorations, hearty meals, church masses, festivals, and best of all, Christmas markets.

These markets can be found all over the country, many of them having been established for years. Most can be found in the region of South Tyrol, which is located near the Austrian border. However, these festive markets can be found scattered around the country. Visiting Italy near the holidays? These are the Christmas markets you just have to visit.

Oh Bej!, Milan

Located in Milan, this Christmas market is one of the best for Italian traditions. It takes place in Piazza Castello from December 7th through the 10th. The name means ‘oh beautiful,’ in local dialect, and the atmosphere is pure, Italian tradition. It’s said that this market dates back to the 1500s when an envoy came to Milan and gave all of the children gifts.

When he saw the city, he couldn’t help but shout ‘Oh Bej’, giving the market its name. This market is great for candy, toys, flowers, knick-knacks, and crafts.  There are a ton of vendors, making this a Christmas market that you can really spend some time at. You’ll find books, prints, wrought iron and copper fixtures, and local honey. Make sure to try the roasted chestnuts, and wash it down with a nice warm drink.

Santa Maria Maggiore, Piedmont

This is the largest Christmas market in Piedmont, and it runs from December 8th through the 10th. It’s located in Piazza Risorgimento, and has more than 200 stalls. While the market is running, local craftsmen open the doors to their shops, allowing the crowds to take a peek at the inner workings of their production.

This market has a whole lot more going on. And, it isn’t just about the shopping. Wander through Santa Maria Maggiore and you’re bound to see bagpipe-playing musicians, chainsaw carvings, people on stilts, and traditional food. It’s one of the best Piedmont events of the year and the crowds will be proof.

Candelera, Le Marche

Located in the small town of Candelera, near Pesaro, this Christmas Market is one of the best for its atmosphere. It runs from December 2nd and 3rd and December 8th through the 10th. Candelera also happens to have the most unique Christmas Market in Italy. The festivities take place primarily to celebrate the town’s candle making past (which is where it got its name.)

Each evening, the street lights are turned off, and thousands of candles illuminate the medieval town. Aside from all of the candles, there’s a fully functioning Christmas market with a living nativity scene and live Santa pipers. If you’re visiting with kids, make sure to get them involved in the candle making activities.

Merano, South Tyrol

This market is one of the best if you want to see Santa (especially if you’re traveling with children.) It runs from November 24th until December 6th, and takes place at the Piazza Terme. Merano’s patron saint is Saint Nicholas, which makes this destination perfect for Santa-loving visitors. In fact, Saint Nicholas makes a traditional appearance here in December. He visits the market dressed in his red Bishop’s hat, and gives gifts to all of the well-behaved children.

Theatrics really come into play when Krampus, demons wearing masks, run around and try to steal presents from the bad children. Expect to see good ole’ St. Nick here on December 6th. The Krampus will be around for two additional days on the 5th and the 8th. When you aren’t enjoying St. Nick and the Krampus, wander the stalls and warm up with some cider or mulled wine. There is also a place for ice skating, and lots of festive music.

Vipiteno, South Tyrol

During Christmas time, this market is a popular meeting spot for locals and tourists. It can be found in the city center, and it’s absolutely alight with Christmas decorations. The famous, Torre delle Dodici Tower looms in the distance, making the entire place feel magical. It’s known as one of the most romantic Christmas markets, for both its setting and the decor.

Booths are spread out around the city, giving you a chance to explore the area on foot. There are tons of options for Christmas presents, and plenty of bakeries and sweets stalls to give you an extra boost. If the weather’s cold, warm up with a mug of hot cider or mulled wine. The best way to experience this market is leisurely, so take your time.

Marché Vert Nöel, Aosta

This market is considered one of the prettiest in Italy. It’s set in a quaint village of a beautiful alpine town, and is open through the 6th of January. Aosta is home to a Roman theater, which serves as a romantic backdrop to the market. The town is lined with wooden chalets, small alleyways, and secluded seating areas to retreat to when you need a break from shopping.

Stalls line the town, and visitors will be able to try local food products, and buy handmade crafts. You’ll also see craftsmen hard at work, as well as music and entertainment throughout the area. And, if you’re into history, make sure to catch the historical presentations that go on throughout the season.

Trento, Trentino Alto Adige

Located in Trento, this famous Christmas market takes place from mid-November until January 6th. It’s so large that it takes place in two locations, Piazza Cesare Battisti square and Piazza Fiera square. During this time of year, wooden huts and stalls line the streets, and Christmas lights illuminate the town. Local products fill the streets, and visitors take their time choosing the best Christmas gifts for their loved ones.

There are all sorts of Christmas-themed events, earning Trento the nickname, ‘Christmas Town.’ This market is also unique because it’s considered ‘green.’ The goal is to have as little impact on the environment as possible, making this market one of the most sustainable in the country. 

Bolzano,  Trentino Alto Adige

Bolzano has been a staple in Italy’s Christmas Market scene for nearly 30 years. It opens up mid-way through November, and has 80 exhibit stalls, 3 gastronomy stalls, 8 partners, and a market dedicated to children. It runs until January 6th, and draws in quite the crowd during the weeks that it’s open. The market focuses on tradition, but still makes sure to offer novel experiences each year. There’s a giant Christmas tree and a real nativity scene on display.

Amongst the decorations and lights are stalls filled with Christmas confectionaries, decorative candles, stationery, handmade crafts, and Christmas ornaments. There’s even a dedicated space where craftsmen let onlookers see them at work. If you’re hungry, the Bolzano market is a great place to be. Treat yourself to some apple fritters, mulled wine, Strudel, and sweets. And, if you happen to be traveling with children, make sure to show them the miniature train. There’s also a merry-go-round, puppet theater, and horse-drawn carriages that will keep the kids intrigued all evening. You can find out more here.

Pordenone, Friuli-Venezia Giulia

This giant Christmas festival is characterized by its giant Christmas tree and wooden hut stalls. It exudes tradition and has everything you would expect from an Italian, Christmas market. There’s a life-sized nativity scene, music, entertainment, and hand-carved wooden statues. The area borders Austria, which is part of the reason its market is so elaborate (they take Christmas pretty seriously over there.) This also means that the culture of the Christmas market is a blend of Italian and Austrian, which can make it extra interesting for travelers. While shopping, expect to find local handicrafts, spices, mulled wine, clothing, and wooden decor.

Nuremberg Christmas Market, Verona

Verona hosts this market each year in the city’s central square. It’s German style, so it packs in the culture. Traditional, wooden huts line the market square, and colorful, Christmas lights illuminate them for shoppers. Visitors will find handicrafts, locally made food, and Christmas tree decorations. Guests should visit on an empty stomach because the food choices here are incredible.

Try some bratwurst, lebkuchen biscuits, stollen fruit cake, and mulled wine. Take a stagecoach tour around the area, and stop into the Market of Sister Cities, which sells international gifts like Czech wooden angels and Scottish kilts. If you want the best view of the market, climb the stairs at Church of Our Lady. If you’re traveling with kids, take them to the Children’s Christmas Market, an area with a merry-go-round, Santa Claus house, and bakery.

Cortina d’Ampezzo, Veneto

This traditional market sits in the shadow of the stunning Tofane mountains. The festive atmosphere is characterized by lights, wooden huts, tons of colorful, and Christmas decorations. Grab a mug of mulled wine and a sleeve of roasted chestnuts while you wander around the scenic market.

The wooden stalls have all sorts of local handicrafts for sale. Pick up sheepskin mittens and slippers, handmade soap, or scented dried citrus. If you’re looking for a Christmas market with a truly scenic background, this is the place.

East Market, Milan

This is one of the newer and more unique Christmas Markets in the country. It was inspired by the East Market in London, and focuses more on handicrafts than the Christmas Spirit. If you’re serious about doing some shopping, this is a great place to go. For the first time, this market allows anyone to set up a stand and sell the things they’ve created.

Visitors will find furniture, clothing, antiques, and decorations. This spot exudes youth culture too, with happy hours, concerts, and festivals. The market is here most of the year, but during Christmas time, they make things a little extra festive. In addition to the usual stalls, there will be Christmas decorations, oddities, and vintage collectibles. Need to a get your friend who has everything a gift? This market is a great place to start. The best way to familiarise yourself with Milan is to take a tour, have a look at the tour options here.

Villaggio delle Meraviglie, Milan  

The name of this market means, ‘Wonderland Village,’ and that’s exactly what you’ll find here. This market is especially good for children, as Santa Claus can usually be wandering the stalls. The village is situated in Indro Montanelli Parks, giving it a beautiful backdrop that adds to the festive feeling. When the market is in full swing, it feels more like a place in the North Pole than it does Italy.

Let the kids run wild on the roller coasters, and carousels. They can sit on Santa’s lap and even write their own Christmas letters. Kids can visit Befana, the Christmas character who leaves sweets for children and coal for naughty kids. And, you can stop by the elves sleigh to pick up candy canes and other treats. While this place is a paradise for kids, adults will have fun too. Grab a mug of mulled wine, go ice skating, or do all of your Christmas shopping in one place.

Mercato Tedesco di Natale, Florence

Inspiration for this market comes from the Heidelberg market in Germany. It exudes European tradition and is a festive way to gather Christmas gifts for your friends. There are 55 wooden huts selling decorations, local food, and handicrafts. The market is located in Piazza Santa Croce, which serves as a gorgeous setting for the holiday festivities. Vendors from all over Italy come to share their handicrafts and food, so you’ll get a well-rounded experience as you make your way through the market.

Weihnachtsmarkt German Market, Florence

From the end of November to the middle of December, the Santa Croce piazza turns into a German market. The market comes from Heidelberg, Germany and is so authentic that you might feel like you’ve left Italy. The square is lined with traditional, wooden stalls, filled with both German and Italian gifts. This cultural mesh is great for people who love to eat. The food options are endless, and you’ll get both German and Italian tastes. Try the panforte, a spiced fruit cake, and the bratwurst too.

The Italian Christmas markets are a tradition and one that’s worth exploring. If you’re visiting during the holidays, make sure to visit at least one, especially if you love Christmas. Get in touch with us today and let us help you plan the perfect winter vacation to Italy. 

About the Author

Rem Malloy started Italy4real back in 1995 with his mother, Deborah de Maio.

He specialises in Italian tours as well as customised tours to France, England, Ireland, Germany, Switzerland, Greece and Spain. He was also featured in the Travel Channel show Mysteries at The Museum in 2016.

Rem has family in Italy and his mothers home town is Cava di Terrani, near the Amalfi Coast. The family has a street named after them in Sorrento, Via Luigi de Maio; a relative who was mayor of Sorrento.

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