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Christmas Holidays on a Budget
Christmas is just around the corner, but sometimes staying at home just won't cut it.
Even if you don't feel like going away for the big day, there's nothing more magical than taking a vacation during the festive season.
Christmas Markets in Europe
Looking for cheap christmas holidays? Then why not visit one of the many Christmas Markets in Europe? A trip to market is a great way to add some festive spice to your Christmas Shopping this year.
Originating in Germany and Austria, this unique tradition has been going since the Middle Ages. Markets have been springing up everywhere from Bath to Brussels in recent years, and they usually run for the last four weeks before December.
There's nothing more Christmassy than wandering through brightly lit stalls selling hand-made decorations, with the warm smell of mulled wine and mince pies in the air!
A Bargain Break
A short city break is by far the cheapest option at Christmas. Take a Eurostar train to London, Belgium, France or Holland, or book a cheap flight online in advance.
There are hostels available in all the major European Market towns, and some even throw Christmas themed parties to get you in the mood.
Where to Stay:
Feeling Festive? Here's a guide to where to go this Christmas:
There are 2,500 German Christmas Markets up and down the country, and Berlin alone is hosting 60 this year. The markets here are the biggest and the best in Europe - expect hundreds of stalls selling mouthwatering snacks like hot chestnuts and baked apples, and traditional gifts ranging from carved decorations and toys to biscuits and lambskin shoes.
The main ones are at Gedächtniskirche (November 24-December 28), Unter den Linden (November 24-December 28) and Alexanderplatz. Once you've finished shopping, Berlin's legendary nightlife is the perfect pre-Christmas warm up.
The best hostel in Berlin for Christmas is The Generator. They offer guests a Christmas dinner, Christmas party and show festive films around the festive period. But we also have lots of cheap Berlin hotels too.
On the border with Germany, it's no wonder Strasbourg has the best Christmas Market in France. Locals have been holding the market since 1570, and it runs from the 28th November right up to the 31st December.
The medieval cathedral is surrounded by 300 market chalets, some selling excellent wine and food (try the 'Bredle': a little cake made speically for advent). There's also a massive tree, skating rink and performances of Christmas music.
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Thanks to 'Good King Wenceslas', Prague has long been connected to Christmas, and the Czech capital's medieval streets and gothic Castle are thoroughly festive.
Throughout December, the city hosts four markets every day - head to the Old Town for the most spectacular, with a huge Christmas Tree shipped from the Czech mountains, choir groups serenading shoppers, and a petting zoo and huge Nativity Scene for the kids.
Choose a Prague youth hostel like Sir Toby's Hostel for a fun atmosphere at Christmas. They offer all guests a free Christmas Dinner on the big day.
The romantic city of Vienna has been hosting its Christmas Market for over 700 years, and the most famous is in the Rathausplatz square.
Enjoy a glass of warm mulled wine, buy some delicious glazed fruits and wooden stocking fillers, and then head to the Rathauspark for trees adorned with candles, before enjoying an advent choir concert in the Festival Hall.
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Don't let the winter chill put you off - Krakow is packed with cultural sights and breathtaking architecture, and feels slightly less touristy, but just as traditional as other Christmas destinations.
It's also much cheaper to visit than other European cities! The city's main market in Rynek Square is worth a visit just for it's warming Polish grub - the mulled wine, hot sausages and fried cheese are guaranteed to put colour in your cheeks!
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London's Christmas Markets may be smaller, and less established than the rest of Europe, but it's ideal for some quirky Christmas Shopping. There are also plenty of other Christmassy events in the Capital.
Once you've checked out the Christmas Lights on Oxford Street, head to Hyde Park for it's 'Winter Wonderland' makeover, complete with ice skating rink and fairground rides. Traditionalists can head to the Cologne German Market or indulge at the Christmas Chocolate Festival at the Southbank Center.
The most festive London hostel in December is the Journeys Kings Cross - they host a lively Christmas Party complete with carol singing!