Private jet charter Christmas market tours
Across Europe wine is mulling, cookies are baking and lamps are glowing. As winter comes, Europeans flock to cities like Strasbourg and Prague to shop, eat spiced cookies and wander parks and palaces glowing with lights. Why not make this year extra special and take a tour of Europe’s most enchanting Christmas markets?
With many European cities less than an hour apart by private jet charter, you can savour local delicacies and festive treats in a number of breathtaking cities over just one weekend. Air Charter Service (ACS) suggests three magical weekend tours to fill your spirit with festive cheer this Christmas.
Prague, Vienna and Budapest
Central Europe – known for its pretty town squares, cinnamon cookies and snowy winters – is renowned for its amazing Christmas markets. Take a private jet tour of the region’s best festive offerings, easily combining the opulent cities of Prague, Vienna and Budapest thanks to the shorter flight times that private travel allows.
Start your trip in Prague, a glorious tangle of winding streets and gothic churches, and the capital of the Czech Republic. The city’s largest Christmas markets are located in the Old Town Square, home to a medieval astronomical clock, and the more commercial Wenceslas Square located a 10-minute walk away. Czech specialities on offer include trdelník (flame-baked cinnamon cakes), klobasa (sausages) and medovina (honey liquor). The Christmas market with the finest view is located up on Hradčanské Square next to Prague Castle, where a handful of rustic stalls boast views over the breathtaking Little Quarter that world-famous composers Mozart and Beethoven once called home.
Just 180km (291 miles) away is Vienna, which hosts more than 20 Christmas markets and was featured in our 2016 Christmas article. Two of the Austrian capital’s grandest markets take place at City Hall Square, which is transformed into a glowing fairytale landscape by a thousand lights, and Schönbrunn Palace, which lends imperial splendour to Christmas shopping. Walk around the Ring – a broad boulevard encircling the old city, surrounded by fairy-lit parks and gardens – warming yourself with punsch or glühwein (mulled wine) and a handful of roast chestnuts or spiced cookies.
Next, take a short flight to Budapest, where traditional food, handmade ornaments and live bands are packed into the cottage-like stalls of Vörösmarty Square from mid-November on. Based at the heart of the Hungarian capital’s eastern Pest region, this charming market has around 150 stalls and holds puppet and dance shows in the run-up to Christmas. All this and not a plastic matryoshka (nesting doll) in sight; products sold here are guaranteed as traditionally handmade by a craft jury that oversees the market. If you’re feeling chilly after hours spent browsing in the cold night air, warm up in one of Budapest’s famous luxury spas or treat yourself to apple strudel and coffee in an ornate art nouveau cafe – favourites include Muvesz Kavehaz or Szamos Gourmet Haz.
Jersey, Colmar and Strasbourg
France has been celebrating Yuletide with feasting, wine and outdoor shopping since the Renaissance. On this tour of French-speaking cities, you can take in ancient St Helier’s moonlit parades, Colmar’s winding medieval streets and Strasbourg’s delightful blend of French elegance and German warmth.
Founded by the Romans and once governed by Sir Walter Ralegh, Jersey capital St Helier is an atmospheric and historical seaside town where you’ll find La Fête dé Noué, an activity-packed Christmas festival. Opening at the start of December, the event is crammed with things to do – history tours, ghost walks, Dickensian storytelling, caroling, festive crafts, art festivals and moonlight parades – all centred around wooden market stalls under a glimmering canopy of lights. And don’t forget that Jersey also offers low duty, VAT-free Christmas shopping.
Next is Strasbourg, a stunning Alsacian town on the banks of the Rhine, which sits in the long-disputed hinterland between Germany and France. By commercial airline the journey from St Helier to Strasbourg lasts six and a half hours with two changes, however by private jet charter the 550-mile trip takes a fraction of the time. Strasbourg is home to France’s oldest Christmas market, Christkindelsmärik (“Market of the Baby Jesus”), which was founded in 1570. Today, 300 chalets and stalls sprawl over a dozen markets, giving some veracity to Strasbourg’s claim to be the “capital of Christmas”. The Christmas markets are so large they take over the city, with the scent of mulled wine filling whole districts, however focal points include Place Kléber (where you can admire a 30-foot Christmas tree), Place Broglie, Place du Marché-aux-ochons-de-ait and the area around the cathedral.
A 50-minute drive from Strasbourg is the idyllic medieval town of Colmar, which turns into a glimmering Christmas wonderland every November. Colmar hosts five festive markets lined with stalls selling mulled wine, gingerbread houses and hand-painted baubles. The Koïfhuis (customs building) is devoted to artisans selling ceramics, woodwork, glass, hats, ornaments and jewelry. And for gourmets, just behind the market on the Place de l’Ancienne Douane is a food-lover’s paradise of local charcuterie, wines and spiced cakes.
Bolzano, Venice and Zagreb
Further off the beaten path are the Christmas markets of Italy and Croatia. Smaller and more intimate than those of Central Europe or Germany, Bolzano, Venice and Zagreb markets are perfect for a romantic getaway or a family mini-break with young children.
Set against a stunning Alpine backdrop, Bolzano in South Tyrol hosts Italy’s largest Christmas market. Small wooden cabins filled with traditional toy gifts are laden with garlands, candles and lamps, lighting up the narrow streets of this atmospheric medieval town. As well as browsing for gifts and festive decorations, travelers can taste regional culinary treats like smoked pork, zelten di Bolzano (a Christmas loaf filled with candied fruit and nuts), spiced wine and apple schnapps.
Venice, known as the “Queen of the Adriatic”, is just 166 miles and a short private jet charter southeast of Bolzano. The Venetian Christmas market is a great place to shop for Christmas gifts, from the region’s famous Murano glass jewelry to painted masks to marbled stationery. A whole section of the market is dedicated to Italian foods: soft, almond-studded nougat; tiny, aromatic sausages; fruit-stuffed Veronese panettone; and white truffles from Alba... all in the glorious setting of Campo San Stefano, a three-minute walk from the Grand Canal.
Just across the Adriatic is Zagreb, Croatia’s capital city. Voted the best Christmas market in Europe for two years running by travellers on the portal European Best Destinations, Zagreb’s huge but laid-back advent bazaar is dotted across a dozen city locations. The regal Ban Jelačić square is populated by live bands, mulled wine vendors and Santa Claus’ elves, while the leafy park of Zrinjevac transforms into a glimmering Christmas wonderland. On Tomislav Square you’ll find an outdoor ice rink surrounded by restaurants and bars, and the streets Gajeva, Bogovićeva, Petrićeva and Varšavska are filled with stalls selling every kind of festive knick-knack, as well as honey cookies and hot chocolate.
To start planning your private jet Christmas market tour or discuss your private jet charter needs, simply contact our dedicated account managers to arrange your private jet charter.