Let’s face it everybody, Christmas is getting closer and closer, either you admit it and give in the holidays spirit or resist it. If you accept it willingly then it has come the time for you to set up your house and decorate it, including Christmas tree, of course. Admitting that what might call for some resistance are presents and dinner arrangements with friends and family, yes it can get stressful… Want some proof? Try asking your friends what they are planning to cook this year. (Let us know how it goes 🙂 ) But then again, if you give in the holidays spirits and start early most of the stress can be avoided and you can truly enjoy the holidays. To this purpose we invite you to a Christmas Markets Tour in Scandinavia for inspiration and full immersion into Jule atmosphere.
Norway: The Christmas city; Drøbak
Norway does not limit itself to Christmas markets, which are spread all over the country and are each of magnificent beauty, it has an entire Christmas city. Yes, only one-hour bus drive from Oslo you find the magical birthplace of Julenissen. The town’s square in fact hosts the Julehuset, visited every year by many children and adults. And all strive to deliver their Christmas wishes and desires to Santa’s Post Office, next door. Julenissen himself, despite the hundreds of years in age, makes himself available at the local Tourist Office and will hear out specific requests and pose for pictures.
Take some time to visit the city as well, it is a pearl set in the narrowest point of the Oslofjord and has a history of its own; the harbour and the church (1776) are majestic viewpoints all year round.
For affordable and cozy accommodation we recommend you to stay at Haraldsheim HI Hostel (Oslo) and once your are there make sure to try the gløgg and pepperkaker you will find at the reception.
Denmark: Copenhagen, capital of Christmas Markets
Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark, could be considered itself as a Christmas markets capital. This year, the city will hold Christmas markets in Christiania, Tivoli, Kongens Nytorv and Nyhavn. Danish people really like this tradition and their stalls have become extremely popular. You can find almost everything related to the Christmas spirit: gifts, Christmas trees, decorations and some typical Nordic treats such as roasted almonds, waffles, pancakes or mulled wine. The Christmas markets in Copenhagen are perfect for those people who are looking for a real family experience: children can enjoy the atmosphere of the city with its streetlights and the music filling all the corners of the city. This is certainly Danish hygge! And, you never know. You might even receive a surprise visit from the man in red! If you choose to spend the night in Copenhagen, check one of the HI Hostels in the city.
Sweden: Charming Gothenburg
If you are visiting Sweden, it is mandatory for you to visit the country’s largest Christmas market at Liseberg Amusement park. The park is divided into a succession of different Christmas areas. You will be able to travel through time and space while you are there. Don’t miss the opportunity of taking a tour to Rabbit Land and discover how the slightly wacky rabbits celebrate Christmas. You can also travel further back, right to the Middle Ages, in the Old-Fashioned Christmas district. One of the main attractions in this huge market are the choirs, performing in some street corners of the park.
In addition, there are many cosy markets in and around the second city of Sweden. For example, the old artillery Kronhuset, the streets of the genuine Haga district or the Röda Sten Art Centre. Most of these Christmas Markets are open all December. You can already book your accommodation in one of the HI Hostels in Gothenburg.
Finland: The Christmas street of Aleksanterinkatu
As many other capitals in Scandinavia, Helsinki also involves locals and visitors during Christmas time creating a special atmosphere trough lights and decorations. The switching-on of the Christmas illuminations along Aleksanterinkatu -the official Christmas street- has become a real tradition for locals since 1949. It is the perfect street for gift seekers, but also for those who just want to have a walk along contemplating the windows’ decoration. Don’t miss the opportunity to try the hot Glögi, a traditional Christmas drink made from spiced wine with a sprinkling almonds and raisins -sometimes a dash of vodka is added too-. For the more daring, you can also try to skate on ice in the Ice Park installed in the Railway Station Square. The park is open daily -weather permitting- and it’s a good opportunity to feel the freedom of cold on your skin after Christmas shopping in the city. And for the end of the day, you can find a cozy shelter in our HI Hostels in Helsinki.
Iceland: Christmas in the Lava
Iceland has its Christmas heart in Hafnarfjörður, “the town in the lava” just outside Reykjavik. The town itself is a unique sight with minute buildings set in spindling pathways on a field of unspoilt lava. You will gather that it is breath-taking all year round but with the holiday season, stalls selling local crafts, gifts and food, it acquires a fairy allure that makes you believe anything is possible: it is here that you meet the 12 jólasveinarnir (yulemen) and Gryla, the ogress, so keep your eyes open. Before you decide to dedicate all your time enjoying hot drinks and delicious food either at the market or the numerous local cafés, let it be said that Hafnarfjörður has also a charming art gallery and museum. For accommodation in Reykjavik, check out the HI Hostel offer in the city.
Article written by Marina Lisnic and Marcos Doespiritusanto
Main picture taken by María de la Cruz