Tips and Inspiration for your European holiday

The weeks leading up to Christmas are a really special time to be in Europe. From the end of November traditional markets set up in many towns and cities, shops and streets are decorated with twinkling lights and the festive season really starts to come to life. The smells of cinnamon, ginger and roasting chestnuts permeate the air and glühwein (a spicy red wine served hot) becomes the drink of choice.

The lead up to Christmas can be one of the best times to travel to Europe, not only to visit the amazing Christmas Markets that are held each year but also to sample the delicious food that plays a big part in the festivities.

Many Australians, and those from the southern hemisphere, dream of one day experiencing a white Christmas and there's no better place to do so than in Europe.  As well as its famous Christmas markets, the snowy scenes and festive atmosphere make a European Christmas something really special.

With long-practised traditions and traditional festive foods to enjoy, Christmas in Europe is very different to Christmas in Australia and many other continents around the world.

Many Australians dream of experiencing a white Christmas or a winter holiday in Europe but don’t know where to start when looking for options, particularly those who prefer to travel independently.  That’s where I can help.

Marissa Maslen of Albatross Travel shares her experiences of a White Christmas in Europe.

**This article has been modified and updated.  You can read the new, more comprehensive article by clicking this link.

Christmas is a special time in Europe with Christmas markets taking pride of place in many cities, towns and villages. The first ever Christmas market, Dresden's 'Striezelmarkt' in Germany, was recorded as far back as 1434. In those days, Christmas markets lasted no more than a day or two and tended to confine themselves to the area around the main church. Nowadays, Christmas markets usually start before the first weekend of Advent (around the end of November) and go on until Christmas Eve or thereabouts. Many run until Epiphany on 6 January.

Any time is a good time to visit Paris but at Christmas time, when the city is dressed in her Christmas finery, it is extra special.

Does the thought of driving in Europe during winter make you nervous?  In this guide I cover all you need to know about preparing your vehicle and yourself for a European winter driving holiday.

There are plenty of enticing reasons to spend Christmas in Austria.  Festive markets, concerts and Christmas-themed activities are just of the things you can experience when you visit Austria at Christmas time.  But if you're not entirely sure which of Austria's cities or towns you should head to, this article will help.