Fancy heading to a Christmas market this year? While it may seem as though August is a premature month for discussing the festive season, snagging an apartment that’s worthy of your trip is best done on an ASAP basis.
As a tradition that stems from Medieval Germany (1384 in Prussia, to be exact) Christmas markets have gathered popularity in cities throughout Europe. No matter where you go, you’ll always sense the Prussian undertones in the form of Bratwurst and Stollen.
Although hotels are always an option, choosing to rent an apartment really does convey a multitude of benefits. In addition to seizing the opportunity to live like a local, you’ll cut down on the costs that come with dining out, you can spend romantic evenings sitting on a balcony, and you’ll immerse yourself in a world of quirky decor.
On that note, here are some of the best studio apartments you can rent at Europe’s most festive Christmas markets. All price estimates are based on current rates for Monday the 3rd of December 2018 to Wednesday the 5th of December 2018.
A studio apartment with an ingenious design in Budapest
If you’re ever looking for style inspiration that’ll benefit a compact apartment, check out this self-declared ‘hidden gem’ in Budapest. Providing you’re not against navigating a steep ladder as you climb into bed, it’s a cosy solution for those who want to explore Budapest’s Christmas market.
As one of the latecomers to the European Christmas market game, Budapest’s offering takes place in two locations: Vorosmarty Square and the Basilica. While Vorosmarty Square’s market is an excellent choice for those who enjoy wine tasting, the Basilica features a laser show that projects onto the building itself.
For just £45 a night, you can rent the apartment pictured above. Return flights from the UK can cost as little as £42. Cumulatively, your Budapest Christmas market experience comes with the budget price tag of £87 per person if you head there for two nights. At such a cost-friendly price, you can definitely afford to visit both markets.
Enjoy a Christmas market staycation in Manchester?
Fancy a staycation? You’re not alone! The latest research into this holiday trend reveals that roughly 59-million staycations took place last year. So, if you’re not so keen on the idea of flying off to a European Christmas market, try Manchester instead.
Okay, so you can fly there if you need to. With an impressive three terminals at the main airport and strong city links, it’s one of the most popular domestic travel locations in the UK. Not only did this fantastic city give birth to the likes of Oasis, it’s an all-round-winner on the shopping front.
If you’re ready to fully immerse yourself in a cosy holiday experience while battling the North West’s winds, try the narrowboat pictured above. For £55 a night, you’ll enjoy a cosy living area, inviting double bed, a shower, and cooking facilities. It packs all of the features you expect from an apartment into an incredibly small space. As a result, this one is probably best reserved for those of you who are travelling as a couple.
This year, Manchester’s Christmas Market is running from November 9th to December 23rd. Hosted at Albert Square, Cathedral Gardens, and other city locations, it provides ample space for you to comfortably work your way between the stalls. Key highlights include the 10 chalets serving festive food, the tastiest Dutch mini pancakes this side of Holland, and an environmentally-friendly approach to running the whole thing.
How much will your trip to Manchester’s Christmas market cost? Let’s assume you’ll plan to spend two nights there, much like you would in Budapest. While your narrowboat accommodation will amount to £110, you can fly in from cities such as London and Edinburgh for around £90.
Alternatively, you could use a split ticketing service to snag train tickets for as little as £40.50. As a result, your Christmas market trip will come to a grand total of £75 per person, leaving you with plenty of money to spend on decadent purchases.
Immerse yourself in a fairytale-like setting with Vienna’s Christmas market
Much like Budapest, Vienna’s Christmas market has truly Medieval origins. Today’s bustling festivities began in 1238 when King Albrecht I gave the city’s residents permission to hold a December market. With the City Hall as a backdrop, today’s sellers will try to grab your attention while choirs drown out their noise. Once you’ve exhausted the stalls there, you can head to Belvedere Palace with the aim of filling your suitcase with handcrafted Austrian goods.
If you’re travelling as part of a group, don’t miss the opportunity to rent the garden loft above for £77 per night. It features three bedrooms, a private outdoor modern terrace, and a location that’s ideal for wandering over to the Museum of Natural History.
As a city that eclipses Paris in terms of beauty without matching its extortionate price tag, Vienna is brimming with beauty. You’re only ever a few metres away from a magnificent architectural feat, making it a winner if you love old buildings. After stepping out of the ultra-modern apartment above, you’ll feel as though you’re entering a different world.
Vienna’s Christmas market runs between November 17th to December 26th. If you are travelling as part of a group, this is probably the best city for enjoying a budget Christmas market trip. For arguments sake, let’s say you’re splitting the cost of your accommodation between three of you. Return flights from London cost as little as £38. In total, that would mean a flights and accommodation bill of £89, leaving you with plenty of cash to pay one of the stall owners to teach you how to make Viennese cookies.
Bring a little Irish charm to your festive travels by heading for Dublin
As one of the most expensive cities I’ve had the privilege of visiting, Dublin is a place that sucks away at your time and money in the best way. During my trip there in July 2018 the weather was unusually dry and hot. Ireland was benefiting from the same heatwave as the UK, which meant there were plenty of long walks, lazing around in parks, eating lunch by the canal, and drinking at the edge of Temple Bar’s pubs.
As one of the newer Christmas markets, Dublin’s offering is always evolving. While the city itself commands a formidable price tag, its Christmas market is an excellent place to grab bargains. If you head for the festive flea market that takes place there each year, you’ll find yourself enjoying the vintage Christmas shopping experience that dreams were made of.
To complete said dream, hole yourself up in the Georgian-style flat above. It has plenty of romantic charm, making it ideal when you’re travelling as a couple.
Whether you’re on a tight budget or you’re preparing to splurge, visiting a Christmas market this year is more than feasible. For cheap flights, both Skyscanner and Kayak are winners (nifty trick: Download the Skyscanner app and set up price alerts to see if the cost of your flight is rising or falling.)
If Airbnb isn’t producing the goods on the accommodation front, Booking.com and Hotels.com will see you right. You can earn flying miles through Virgin’s flying club and British Airway’s Avios scheme with both. As a result, that sneaky little shopping trip will contribute towards a future adventure.