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Accessible Christmas markets

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Which is your favourite Christmas market to see during the festive period? Our marketing manager Claire D’All will be soon be sharing her experience of visiting the Edinburgh Christmas market.

Let us know what your favourite market is and why? How accessible is the market you like to go to?

Disabledholidays.com have shared a selection of European markets that you might have been to or want to consider in future. Check out some of the amazing Christmas markets across Europe highlighted in their article below and let us know if you’ve been to any of them!?

Do your Christmas shopping in style, with an accessible trip to some of Europe’s most magical winter markets

Stuck for Christmas gift ideas this year? Bored with trailing round the same old shops? Why not try something different – and give yourself a well-earned treat in the process – with a European Christmas market break…

A Christmas market break is the perfect way to stock up on unique gifts for friends and family, as well as sample delicious regional delicacies – all while enjoying a traditional festive atmosphere. What’s more, once your shopping’s done, you can explore your destination’s most impressive cultural sights and experience exciting seasonal activities.

Many of Europe’s top Christmas market cities are easily reached via Eurostar, making them perfect for a quick and convenient holiday.

Here’s our guide to some of the best accessible Christmas markets in Europe.

Brussels

Christmastime sees Brussels transformed into a literal winter wonderland, courtesy of the Winter Wonders (Plaisirs d’hiver) festival – a huge event centred on the Grand Place and spanning several city squares.

Here you can peruse 240 chalets from all over Europe, full to the brim with glühwein (mulled wine), fluffy waffles, spicy speculoosshortbread, hot chocolate and jenever gin – not to mention loads of homemade arts and crafts, seasonal stocking-fillers and Christmas decorations.

In addition, there’s a spectacular illuminated Ferris wheel, a 200-foot ice rink, traditional choirs and a nightly light and laser show to keep you entertained.

(If you’d rather sample multiple city markets in a single trip, why not try our Belgian Christmas market coach holiday? This five-day tour (24–28 November 2018 and 8–12 December 2018) visits Christmas markets across the country – at Brussels, Bruges and Antwerp – and lets you explore each city at your leisure.)

Christmas market stall in Belgium

When you’ve finished shopping…

The Grand Place is home to an elegant array of Baroque gildehuizen (guild houses), including the 15th-century Town Hall, and the City Museum, which is dedicated to the rich history of Brussels. Elsewhere there’s the Belgian Museum of Fine Arts, the magnificent Royal Palace and the beautiful Basilica of the Sacred Heart.

Accessibility

Winter Wonders attempts to make its event as accessible as possible for disabled guests. There are designated tables suitable for wheelchair users; a wheelchair-friendly capsule on the Ferris wheel; disabled toilets; and ramps placed around the site for access, including to the ice rink.

Brussels itself can be easily reached from the UK via Eurostar, from London St Pancras International, Ebbsfleet and Ashford International.

See all our accessible accommodation in Brussels

Cologne

It’s not surprising some of the biggest Christmas markets are located in Germany – after all, it’s where they were invented, way back in the 1300s.

Some of the best can be found in Cologne, which boasts eight markets dotted around its old town. The most popular is held at the foot of the city’s splendid Gothic cathedral and contains over 150 festively decorated wooden pavilions, arranged around the Rhineland’s tallest Christmas tree.

Here you can indulge in scores of local treats, like heart-shaped vanilla waffles with cream, glazed apples, roasted almonds, and filling bratwurst hot dogs – all washed down with refillable mugs of glühwein.

There’s no shortage of gift ideas, either. You can buy woodcarvings, Christmas decs, ornamental candles, woollen hats, soaps, chocolate boxes and loads more.

When you’ve seen everything at the Cathedral market, there are plenty more to discover. There’s the scenic Old Market, with its ice rink and fairytale atmosphere; the Harbour Market, overlooking the Rhine; and Angel’s Market, conveniently situated in the main shopping district.

Gingerbread hearts at a German Christmas market

When you’ve finished shopping…

The Old Market is next door to some of Cologne’s most impressive sights: the Romano-Germanic Museum, the Ludwig modern art gallery and, of course, the cathedral – Germany’s most visited landmark. Other interesting places worth a look include the Fragrance Museum and the Chocolate Museum.

Accessibility

Cologne has a compact city centre, meaning many of its top sights are within easy reach of one another. There’s also an accessible tram and bus system, with wheelchair spaces and priority seating for the disabled. All the major markets have level access for wheelchair users.

See all our accessible accommodation in Cologne

Prague

Routinely chosen as one of the world’s top Christmas market destinations, Prague is home to several enchanting markets selling all kinds of authentic Czech specialties.

The largest are held in the historic Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square, just five minutes’ walk from each other in the city centre, while smaller, less-crowded affairs can be found at Republic Square, Peace Square and the permanent Havel’s Market.

Wherever you go, you’re sure to find a wide selection of traditional food and drink on sale, such as trdelnik,sweet Czech pastries topped with sugar and walnuts; klobása grilled sausages; hot wine; and plenty of local beer.

There are loads of local craft wares that make excellent gifts, too, such as hand-carved wooden toys, scented candles, jewellery, embroidered lace, ceramics, and a Czech Christmas potpourri called purpura.

Prague Christmas market

When you’ve finished shopping…

You won’t have to travel far from the markets to see some of Prague’s top sights. Old Town Square is home to the towering Tyn Church, and Old Town Hall, with its famous astronomical clock, while Wenceslas Square boasts the National Museum as well as many of the city’s best shops, bars and restaurants.

Nearby you’ll also find the iconic, statue-lined Charles Bridge, which leads across the Vltava river to Prague Castle and St Vitus Cathedral.

Accessibility

Both Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square are level areas with easy wheelchair access. Prague has a partially accessible transport system with a number of low-floor trams and buses operating in the city; the type of the bus is always noted in timetables.

See all our accessible accommodation in Prague

Paris

Paris becomes even more romantic and magical in winter, when millions of twinkling lights decorate its tree-lined boulevards, and a wide range of Christmas markets entice with the scents of fresh waffles, roasted chestnuts and vin chaud.

Unsurprisingly for such a large city, Paris has many Christmas markets to choose from, with lots of variety in both scope and theme.

There’s the Notre Dame market, set next to the famous cathedral; Champs de Mars, where you can ice skate underneath the Eiffel Tower; the 30,000-sq-ft Esplanade de La Défense; and Gare de l’Est, which specialises in Alsatian delicacies like bretzels (pretzels), pains d’épices (spiced bread), sauerkraut, mountain cheeses, white wines and gingerbread.

If you’re in the mood for something a little different, you’ll find several specialty markets dotted around the city, including those dedicated to all things vegan, retro, Italian, Nordic and Japanese.

French Christmas market stall

When you’ve finished shopping…

Paris is home to no end of excellent accessible attractions, many of which are located directly next to, or nearby, its Christmas markets, such as the Louvre, Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, the Musée d’Orsay and the Champs-Élysées – to name but a few. In addition, December is the only time of year the Parisian department stores are open on a Sunday, just in case you didn’t buy enough already!

Accessibility

Paris’s top sights and markets are served by a wheelchair-accessible bus system, as well as some accessible metro and tram lines. Adapted taxis can be hired for anywhere not on a bus route. Paris itself can be easily reached from the UK via Eurostar, from London St Pancras International, Ebbsfleet and Ashford International.

See all our accessible accommodation in Paris

Amsterdam

There’s loads to do in Amsterdam at Christmas, with a host of top markets – both quirky and traditional – a city light festival, and the extravagant Winter Parade celebration.

The main markets are held in the city centre, on Dam Square, with its towering 65-foot Christmas tree; and on Rembrandt Square and Museum Square, both featuring brightly coloured ice rinks. Each market has dozens of stalls selling all manner of seasonal Dutch treats, including oliebollen, delicious fried doughnuts peppered with raisins; hot glühweinpepernoten cookies; and spiced speculaas shortbread – not to mention countless varieties of cheeses, beer and waffles.

Amsterdam also features several alternative markets, including the Funky Xmas Market, selling decorations, crafts and gifts created by Dutch artists; the Midnight Market, which operates throughout the night and includes live music performances; and the Winter Parade, with its fairground, beer village and wellness centre.

To make the whole experience even more magical, the city’s streets and canals are illuminated by the spectacular Amsterdam Light Festival from December to late January, adding an extra touch of winter wonder everywhere you go.

Iced apples at a Christmas market

When you’ve finished shopping…

Some of Amsterdam’s most popular and accessible attractions are located right on the doorsteps of its Christmas markets. Museum Square is home to the world-renowned Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum, while Dam Square has the magnificent Royal Palace – all of which are wheelchair-friendly.

Accessibility

Amsterdam has a flat city centre, with many accessible attractions, restaurants and walkways, all linked by accessible tram and bus systems. You can also take a wheelchair-accessible canal tour – a great way to experience the wonder of the Light Festival.

See all our accessible accommodation in Amsterdam

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