Christmas markets have been a tradition across Central and Northern Europe since the Middle Ages, when traders and farmers would set up stalls in the town squares at the start of Advent to sell the townsfolk supplies for the coming winter.
Over time, the markets became a way to mark the start of the Christmas season, offering handicrafts, food, and drinks, plus a nice festive atmosphere that brings the whole town together.
Nowadays these markets have become major events for both tourists and city residents, and they offer a great way to kick off the holidays and stock up on creative presents for friends and family.
Scandinavia is no exception to this festive tradition, and each year dozens of great Christmas markets take place throughout Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Norway.
Some are major tourist attractions in the central cities, while others are small, traditional country markets at local farmsteads. Below we’ve listed some of our favourite Christmas markets here at Routes North – they’re divided by country and include free and paid-for options. Give them a visit if you’re in the area!
Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen
16th November–5th January
Christmas at Tivoli in Copenhagen is without doubt one of the most magical festive markets that Scandinavia has to offer.
Each year the entire theme park is expertly decorated with thousands upon thousands of lights, completely transforming the already beautiful park into a twinkling wonderland of color.
Various themed areas, such as a Nordic Christmas region and Russian Christmas region, allow you to see holiday traditions from across Europe.
At the centre of the park is a market offering classic Danish Christmas dishes and handicrafts, as well as special performances for the kids.
And the Christmas festivities spread over New Year too, with impressive firework displays on Christmas Day, Boxing day and 27th December, culminating in the most spectacular show of all on New Year’s Eve.
If you’re not already in Copenhagen this festive season, consider making a special trip just to experience Christmas at Tivoli – believe us, it’s worth it. This guide to visiting Copenhagen in winter has more.
Hans Christian Andersen Christmas Market, Odense
29th Nov–1st Dec and 6th–8th Dec
Step back in time at the Hans Christian Andersen market, centred around the family home of Denmark’s most famous storyteller, right in the heart of Odense’s old city centre.
Actors and vendors dressed in period costumes will help you experience Christmas just as Hans would have back in the 19th century.
Wander among the beautifully decorated wooden buildings, browse the stalls for great Christmas gifts, and sample a delightful mix of local produce and candied apples.
There are performances of Andersen’s fairytales for the kids, along with a carousel and carriage rides. The market takes place on the last weekend of November and the first weekend in December.
Christmas Market, Aalborg
15th November–23rd December
Aalborg offers a classic Christmas market with crafts, food, and warm drinks at Gammeltorv, as well as fun games and activities for the kids at the nearby City Hall.
Be sure to sample the classic Danish drink called gløgg, a delicious spiced wine that’s sure to keep you warm on a chilly winter’s night.
The market is open from mid-November until late December, but try to make it for the official tree-lighting ceremony on November 16th at Nytorv.
This is when the holiday magic will really come alive with the help of Santa Claus himself, who will arrive by boat direct from Greenland just in time for Christmas.
Stortorgets Julmarknad, Stockholm
19th November–23rd December
Stockholm’s Old Town, or Gamla Stan, is the perfect setting for a traditional Christmas market. The cobblestoned central square by the Nobel Museum is packed with wooden stalls selling Christmas crafts and Swedish delicacies, such as smoked reindeer and elk meat.
This is Sweden’s oldest Christmas market, dating back to the 1830s, and retains the feel of the winter marketplaces of old. It’s the most popular market in Sweden and is totally free to explore, so be ready to jostle your way through the crowds if you visit on the weekend.
Rather not go it alone? You can visit this market as part of a special Christmas tour of Stockholm.
Skansen Christmas Market, Stockholm
30th November to 1st December, 7th–8th, 14th–15th & 21st–22nd December
Pic: Holger Ellgaard (CC)
Stockholm’s beautiful open-air museum helps you get in the Christmas spirit with a wide variety of food, gifts and events on offer throughout December.
Every weekend, the museum’s central square hosts a bustling Christmas market that has been running for well over 100 years, and features Swedish handicrafts for sale, along with traditional Christmas foods and warm drinks.
Bonfires will be lit around the museum to give warm and light in the dark winter nights, and full Christmas dinners will be prepared at several of the historical buildings for visitors to sample.
Children can make their own Christmas decorations at the craft-making workshop, listening to readings of Swedish fairytales, dance around the Christmas tree in Bollnäs Square, and even watch a traditional Lucia procession through the museum grounds.
Entry is 140 SEK for adults; 120 SEK for students and seniors; kids aged 4–15 can visit for 60 SEK.
Övedskloster Christmas Market, Skåne
Originally a medieval monastery, Övedskloster in Sweden’s southwest Skåne province is a large farm estate with vast fields and a stately manor house dating from the 18th century.
The annual Christmas market, held on just one weekend every December, is the best way to experience this cultural pearl and to find the best food and crafts the Swedish countryside has to offer.
This year, more than 100 exhibitors will be on hand selling delicious Christmas treats, fresh produce, smoked meats, and seasonal drinks, all with a focus on regionally-sourced products from local producers and even the estate’s own grounds.
Entry is SEK 100 per person, and kids aged 16 and under go free.
Jokkmokk Winter Market
Well, it may not actually be at Christmas but it’s certainly one of Scandinavia’s oldest and most authentic winter markets.
Almost every year since 1605, the tiny town of Jokkmokk (population 3000) has welcomed 30-40,000 visitors who come to eat, drink and make merry with the local Sámi, many of whom are dressed in full, traditional colourful costume.
Originally an annual gathering of Sámi from all over the region, the market has now become a celebration of Sámi culture, with stalls selling local Sámi arts, crafts and jewellery, plus traditional dishes such as reindeer, elk and smoked capercaillie.
Visitors can watch displays of traditional dancing and Sámi joik concerts, go dog-sledging and have reindeer rides, but the highlight of the market is the daily reindeer races, which Sámi come from all over the region to watch, and take part in.
The market is always held on the first Thursday to the first Saturday of February: for more on this amazing winter gathering see our Events guide.
Helsinki Christmas market
6th–22nd December (closed on Mondays)
Held in Helsinki’s main Senate Square, with the city’s impressive cathedral as a backdrop, Helsinki’s Christmas market is the oldest in Finland.
With stalls selling local arts, crafts, jewellery and gifts plus Finnish fare (most of it plant-based and all served on biodegradable plates, of course), the market attracts around 300,00 visitors a year.
But they’re not all just here to do their Christmas shopping. There’s a variety of festive activities on offer too, from carol-singing to Christmas karaoke, a tree decoration workshop to vegan ham bingo (well, this is Finland!).
And, of course, Santa Claus is here at the weekends and there’s a free traditional carousel in the square to keep the kids amused.
A picturesque mining town famed for its well-preserved 17th- and 18th-century wooden buildings, Røros (around 400km north of Oslo, near the Swedish border) is the perfect place to experience an authentic old-time Christmas market.
Locally produced food is the highlight here, particularly their regional variety of smoked sausages.
If you get tired after trudging through the snow-covered streets, then just borrow a traditional kick-sled or hitch a ride on a horse-drawn sleigh for a brisk tour through the town.
Norsk Folkemuseums Julemarked, Oslo
30th November–1st December & 7th–8th December
The Norwegian Folk Museum in Oslo hosts a special Christmas market the first two weeks in December. The historic buildings are exquisitely decorated in styles matching their respective region and eras, and costumed reenactors showcase Norwegian craftworks and prepare samples of traditional Christmas dishes.
Wooden stalls line the street selling all sorts of delights, including the Norwegian Christmas favourite, marzipan.
Santa’s workshop will also be in full swing, and you’ll even have a chance to meet some nisse, the small elf-like creatures who are said to live in Norwegian barns and help care for the family livestock throughout the year – so long as you remember to leave them a bowl of porridge at Christmas.
You can listen to some Christmas jazz, watch Norwegian folk-dancing with Father Christmas and tuck into some free porridge daily at 3.30pm!
Admission is 160 NOK for adults; 120 SEK for students and seniors; and 40 NOK for kids (aged 6–15).
Voted the ‘Christmas City of Norway’ in a national poll, the quaint coastal settlement of Egersund –around 75km south of Stavanger – transforms into a Christmas wonderland each December.
A massive Christmas tree stands in the main square, surrounded by dozens of small wooden huts offering the classic Christmas market treats of warm drinks, good food, and local crafts.
There are plenty of activities for kids here as well, including the chance to meet Santa and take ride around town in his sleigh.
Bonus: Tregaarden’s Julehus, Drøbak
This isn’t really a Christmas market but if you just can’t wait to get into the festive spirit, then head on over to Tregaarden’s Christmas House, an incredible cornucopia of Christmas décor that’s open year-round. Yep, even in summer.
Located in the city of Drøbak, just 40 minutes south of Oslo, this wondrous and massive collection of everything Christmas is spread over two storeys in a beautifully-preserved wooden house in the centre of town.
Step inside and you’re greeted by thousands of smiling Santas and nissar, along with all the lights, garlands, and holiday tunes you need to get you in that Christmas spirit any time of year.