“Christmas markets, which are a celebration of Christmas spirit during the four weeks of Advent, originated in Europe and trace their history back to the late Middle Ages,” says Marcela Lauková, CTP, managing director, Discover Slovakia Tours and Explore Eastern Europe. “A very important part of our Christmas markets is showing our traditional hospitality through singing, dancing, drinking, and eating.”
The tour operator features its native Slovakia and major cities in bordering countries on its holiday-themed packages. Travelers get to visit Prague, Vienna, and Budapest, as well as Bratislava, the Slovak capital. Depending on the schedule, Krakow, Poland, is a possible add-on.
“But, for the really local flavor, we also include some smaller towns with markets, where far fewer international visitors go,” Lauková says. “Those stops, with local culture and foods, make the memories even stronger.”
She says that seasonal drinks include Slovak meads; hot ciders; punch featuring local rums; and Gluhwine, a typical Austrian and German drink. A number of special holiday dishes are also featured, ranging from Austrian lebkuchen (gingerbread) and Hungarian lángos (deep-fried dough) to Polish Christmas poppy seed cake and Slovak lokša (potato-flour pancakes filled with sweet jams).
In addition to sampling the food and drink and enjoying the festive atmosphere, travelers get to see live Nativity scenes and towering trees with thousands of lights.
Top photo: Vienna Christmas Market
Photo by Discover Slovakia Tours