If you’re a foodie heading to Christmas markets, you’ll be in for a treat. The Christmas markets not only boast amazing local Christmas gifts but tasty local treats too! A great way to get to know and understand a culture is through their food. We love to try everything, so when our Viking River Cruise brought us to 3 countries we had to try all the local eats at the Christmas markets.
Our Viking River Cruise was a special Christmas market cruise, only offered during the month of December. We visited 3 countries: Hungary, Austria, and Germany. Stuffing our faces in 5 different city’s Christmas markets: Budapest, Vienna, Regensburg, Passau, and Nuremberg. Food was a big part of all of the markets, and the following are my favorites and must-try foods at the European Christmas markets!
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We encountered Chimney Cakes in all the Christmas markets we visited. This tasty treat is made from sweet dough that is wrapped around a rolling pin and rolled in sugar. Then typically roasted over charcoal, all while adding some butter to give it that golden brown color.
When finished, it’s topped with cinnamon, vanilla, chocolate, walnuts, etc. Each country they were slightly different, and prices range from country to country. At the Budapest Christmas markets, they were the biggest, cheapest, and offered the most topping options. Oh, and of course, every country had a different name for them. Kürtőskalács in Budapest, Trdelník in Prague, and Baumkuchen in Germany and Austria.
Mulled Wine/ Glühwein
Mulled wine is the beverage of choice in European Christmas markets. When strolling the markets, a nice cup of hot mulled wine will warm you right up. In German-speaking countries, mulled wine is called Glühwein. Traditionally Glühwein is prepared from red wine but can be found with white wine too. The wine is heated and spiced with star aniseed, sugar, citrus, cloves, cinnamon sticks, and sometimes vanilla.
At the Budapest & Vienna Christmas markets, there were several fruity options to choose from. Most vendors had wine flavored with blueberry, strawberry, and the ever-popular orangen punchen (orange punch). In Germany & Austria, it’s a must to have the mulled wine served in a special ceramic mug.
You will pay a deposit of $3-4 for the mug, which will be returned to you when you return the mug, OR you can keep the mug as a cheap souvenir. We kept our mug because it was a cute little boot. At the Budapest Christmas markets, the mulled wine was served in disposable cups.
If you really want to get the party started, sometimes you can have it served with a shot of rum or brandy!
Fried sweet dough, please! Langos was originally a Hungarian specialty that can be found in surrounding countries. Others realized how tasty this treat really is and brought it back to their countries.
When in Budapest, I asked for my Langos to be topped the traditional way, which was: sour cream, garlic, and shredded cheese. Yes, this sounds like an odd combo, but it works. I found myself scarfing it down, sour cream all over my face and hands – that’s when I looked over to see two cute grannies eating it like a taco. They clearly are professional Langos eaters!
There are several topping options for Langos. One of our friends had an entire greek salad on his. In Prague, they typically top it with ketchup and cheese. Naturally, in Germany, they have sauerkraut as an option. I suggest getting one and splitting them, as they are rather large and filling.
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There won’t be a European Christmas market without SEVERAL sausage stands. Sausages are a part of life in this part of the world. Not only are the sausages super tasty, but they are an affordable dinner! Sausages will vary from country to country, but one thing that is common is they are all delicious. Get your sausage on a plate or in a bun, and top it with traditional mustards or good ole ketchup.
If you go to the Nuremberg Christmas market, make sure to try the Nuremberg sausages. This regional meaty treat is typically three small sausages served in a bun, topped with mustard, of course. In Prague, I went straight for the Kolbasa sausage. In Prague, make sure to try the red paprika sausage. Mmm, my mouth is watering thinking about it.
In Germany, you obviously have to get a bratwurst, but depending on the region you are in, you may see currywurst on the menu. Currywurst is my favorite German sausage. It’s a bratwurst that’s steamed and then seasoned with curry powder and ketchup. Trust me, it’s amazing!
It wouldn’t be Christmas without Christmas cookies. Gingerbread cookies are the king of Christmas cookies in Europe, sorry Oreos. The cookies are so beautiful you won’t want to eat them. Gingerbread cookies make beautiful tree decorations as well. The elaborate Gingerbread houses are sold at reasonable prices. The only trick is figuring out how to get one back to the United States without eating it!
*When looking for the best price and biggest selection of hotels, check prices on Booking.com. We’ve found they are the best option and have a great cancelation policy.*
No matter what you eat at the Christmas markets in Europe, I am sure it will be tasty. Just being in Europe at this time of year will make for a magical visit. We’d love to hear your favorite foods to try at the Christmas markets. Leave a comment below.
*Thanks to Viking River Cruises for inviting us as guests to cruise with them this holiday season. As always, opinions are our own*