12 Charming Christmas Markets in the Netherlands
Making time for the people you love, that’s what we do during the holidays. Consciously seeking each other out, eating delicious food, perhaps giving some gifts to each other, and toasting to what life brought us and what it will bring to us all… that’s the holidays!
And what could be better than to visit the best Christmas markets in the Netherlands together? Here are some of my picks for the best ones all around the country to enjoy!
12 Best Christmas Markets in the Netherlands
1. Dordrecht Christmas Market
Starting off this list is one of the most famous Christmas markets in the Netherlands: Dordrecht. Every year there are around 350 stalls scattered throughout the city center of this southern place. Where Christmas markets in Germany last for a month and a half, the one in Dordrecht does not. You can only visit one weekend over 3 days in December, so makes sure to check so you don’t miss it!
Of course, you can find all kinds of classic (and less classic) Christmas products at the stalls. Mulled wine and hot chocolate are well represented and you will also find the musical aspect of Christmas everywhere. All kinds of performances, from sing-a-longs to a live nativity scene and theater performances, add color to the streets.
Because the entire city participates in the Christmas market, the activities are also spread over the various large squares.
Tip: Take the train to Dordrecht. From the station you can easily reach the beating heart of the city and avoid parking problems.
2. Maastricht Christmas Market
All the way in the south of the country you will find one of the nicest major cities in our country. Maastricht is not only a great city in the summer (because there are terraces!), but also in the winter season. When the days get colder and the streets are decorated with lights, you know that Christmas is in the air.
The Vrijthof will be transformed into a holiday paradise during the entire month of December. From the ferris wheel, look out over the many stalls that fill the square, skate on the large ice rink to stay warm, and drink a well-earned hot chocolate afterwards.
Stroll through the streets and admire the beautifully decorated shop windows while doing some Christmas shopping. You can also find special gifts and decorations in the stalls of the Christmas market itself. Enough to see even your most Grinch-like family members turn into Christmas fans.
3. Utrecht Christmas Markets
Utrecht is one of the cities that can really be called atmospheric throughout the year. The beautiful canals, cozy inner city, and various shops are loved both in the middle of summer and in winter.
In the winter months, however, it becomes even more magical because of all the Christmas lights. Shop windows are beautifully decorated and the streets are filled with lights. You don’t even need a Christmas market to get into a festive mood!
Fortunately, they have all kinds of Christmas markets in Utrecht to give that cozy feeling some extra power. They do not do a Christmas market here, such as in Maastricht, which stays on for a whole month, but organize all kinds of smaller markets.
On almost every weekend in December a Christmas market is organized somewhere in the city. The range does change annually, so be sure to check out the Utrecht agenda.
4. Castle de Haar
You will also find a Christmas market outside the center of Utrecht. In Castle de Haar, one of the prettiest castles in the Netherlands, to be exact. The Country & Christmas Fair is organized there every year in the last week of November. More than 220 stands fill the castle grounds. The atmosphere becomes even more cozy thanks to the musical performances, typical Dutch snacks such as poffertjes, and the Christmas classic Glühwein.
5. The Hague
At the Lange Voorhout in the Hague you are welcome annually in the week before Christmas to give that holiday spirity a good kickstart. The Royal Christmas Fair is located in the heart of the city, close to the Binnenhof, shops, public transport, Noordeinde Palace, and various museums. The perfect excuse for a day in the Hague! After all, you are also close to Scheveningen, so getting a breath of fresh air on sunny day is a must even if it’s cold.
The Royal Christmas Fair is a somewhat smaller market with 80 stalls, but no less fun. There is a new cultural programming every year. That official term sounds a bit dull, but don’t be fooled: music, performances and Santa Claus come by. Of course you will also find mulled wine and some typical winter snacks such as roasted chestnuts and oliebollen (never too early for oliebollen!).
Hotel Tip: Would you like to stay a night in The Hague? Then book a room at Staybridges Suites – The Hague – Parliament. Luxury, modern furnished suites near the Lange Voorhout and a free breakfast every day.
Leiden is one of the cities that, whenever in the year, is a great place for a city trip. It is a beautiful city to walk through. You can find all kinds of shops, museums, cinemas and other cultural places and a lot of cozy restaurants and terraces.
One of the reasons that Leiden is so atmospheric is the river Rhine that flows through the city. From those terraces you look out at the water, see the boats sail and in the winter you will find the special floating Christmas market.
The floating Christmas market in Leiden is the only one of its kind in the Netherlands. You walk on the water past the Christmas chalets where you see beautiful decorations and can eat delicious snacks and drinks. You can also make a boat trip through Leiden from here. See Leiden in its full Christmas glory from a completely different angle.
The Dutch capital can also be included in the list of Christmas markets. A place that is visited by many tourists every year naturally is still quite popular come December.
Just like the Hague, Amsterdam is also a nice place to stay for the night. One day you immerse yourself completely in the Christmas spheres on the market and the next day you do Christmas shopping in the shopping streets. Check my picks for the best budget hotels in Amsterdam to see where to stay.
Amsterdam has all kinds of Christmas markets that sometimes only last one day and sometimes remain in place for less than a month. Almost every year you come across Ice Village on Museumplein, Amsterdam Winter Paradise in the RAI, the Funky Xmas Christmas market at the Westergasfabriek and although it is not just Christmas: the Amsterdam Light Festival lights up December and January.
The south of the Netherlands is a very good place for the Christmas feeling. Earlier I explained why Maastricht should not be missing in the list of nice Christmas markets in the Netherlands and we travel to Valkenburg.
Valkenburg is a very nice place in the Netherlands, but at Christmas everything becomes a little bit more festive. Several markets are organized in the different caves and you can find Santa’s Village in the center.
You will see beautiful lights throughout the city and you will come across fun Christmas trees. In the Municipal Cave and the Velvet Cave there are Christmas markets with stalls full of unique and special products. Also the more traditional stalls (mulled wine, fresh products, unhealthy but tasty snacks such as churros and oliebollen) are not lacking in Valkenburg.
This is a nice city to combine with a visit to Maastricht as they’re only 15 minutes by train and 20 minutes by car.
Deventer is one of the most special Christmas cities in this list. The city does not organize a regular Christmas market, but makes it a journey through time.
Every year Deventer emerges as Dickensstad, or the Dickens Festival where Charles Dickens is central. Almost 1,000 characters from the books of this writer come to life and color the streets of the city. You come across these characters everywhere, not just on the street. It’s as if you’re part of a real life play!
In addition to the Dickens Festival, you will also find a Christmas market in the city. Stroll along the stalls, admire the (sometimes) handmade products, taste the many snacks, and enjoy the atmosphere where the entire city is immersed.
When St. Nick is on his way, Haarlem pulls everything out of the closet to bring the Christmas feeling to its visitors. The weekend after Sinterklaas, the city is transformed into a large Christmas market. Around 300 stalls fill the streets of Haarlem while live Christmas music is played in the background.
The range of shops is also handy in such a larger city as Haarlem. After exploring the Christmas market, you can go into the city where all the shops are. Handy to score a Christmas outfit (every excuse for a fantastic new outfit is valid) or to do some shopping in advance.
Moreover, you really do not have to arrange anything for dinner that day, because with the large selection of food and drinks on the Christmas market, your food for that day is arranged. Healthy? Certainly not. Yummy? Of course!
Also in the north of the Netherlands they know how to create a Christmas feeling. Groningen has a large selection of Christmas markets. They usually last only a few days, but are no less fun. Moreover, the smaller Christmas markets often provide surprises. Various programs are put together, more activities are organized (think of Deventer) or, on the contrary, a very special location has been chosen (Leiden!).
A selection of the Christmas markets in Groningen: WinterWelVaart where all kinds of boats are part of the market; the Swedish Christmas market; the Christmas market in the Martini Church, and the Winter Fair in Martiniplaza. Most Christmas markets take place on the weekends in December, but keep an eye on Groningen’s event agendas for the correct dates for this year.
The “largest Christmas market in the east” is organized annually in the city of Arnhem. The city center of Arnhem is transformed into a Christmas paradise. The shopping streets are supplemented with all kinds of Christmas stalls full of special offers from the surrounding shops and from other local entrepreneurs. Of course the music should not be missing either. While shopping you enjoy background music and on the central square you can relax and enjoy live performances.
All in all there are about 200 stalls to admire, so you’ll have plenty to see. If you want a break from the market, then Arnhem is a very beautiful city to walk through. View the boutique shops in the side streets or enjoy the atmosphere and people from a (heated) terrace.
What do you think are the nicest Christmas markets in the Netherlands?
General Travel Tips
- For accommodation, I always check Airbnb or Booking.com for the best prices.
- If your insurance at home doesn’t cover travel, you may want to look into SafetyWing for an affordable option.
- I always recommend checking Get Your Guide for the best tours in Europe and Tiqets for specific attraction deals.