30.11.2023 | 5 minutes estimated reading time | Print this article

Dreaming of a Green Christmas: no-fly and alternative Christmas markets getaways for every budget

For many, a visit to a Christmas market is an integral part of the festive season. Picture it now: the warmth of a mug of mulled wine in your gloved hands, the aroma of roasted chestnuts and the joyful sound of carolers. So, if you’re planning a December getaway (either a staycation or somewhere further afield) here are the best budget-friendly European Christmas markets reachable from London, Birmingham and Manchester that will keep your green credentials in check. (Prices based on two people travelling and sharing a 3* hotel).

UK Christmas staycations

If you’re bored of your local town or city’s year-in, year-out Christmas offering, consider a weekend exploring the markets in another part of the UK. 


As you’d expect, there are more Christmas markets in London than you can shake a stick at. If you’re looking for alternatives, the Satanic Flea Market ‘Anti Christmas Fayre’ on December 10 promises an antidote to the traditional festivities with tarot cards, taxidermy and spell books on offer. Those with Scandi fever may also enjoy the Finnish Church’s Christmas market in Rotherhithe – pick up some salmiakki (salted liquorice) if you’re feeling brave.

Hotel per night*: £130 – £350
Train from Manchester**:  2hr 20 (£240)
Train from Birmingham: 1hr 30 (£80)


Cornwall’s Montol Festival (Penzance) is a six-day arts and community festival, culminating in the Winter Solstice on 21 December and offering a festive market with a range of stalls and entertainment, while Truro (use as your base to visit nearby towns), Padstow and Fowey all offer more traditional markets for your Christmas shopping needs. 

Hotel per night: £85 – £250
Train from Manchester: 7hr 5 (£155)
Train from Birmingham: 5hr 45 (£135)
Train from London: 5hr 10 (£145)


A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987, Blenheim Palace is well-worth a stroll all year round. Visit in December though, and you’ll find the Great Court transformed into a Christmas market plus an illuminated Christmas trail through the park. Elsewhere in Oxfordshire, the alternative ‘WasteLess Wonderland’ at Westgate Oxford keeps sustainability in mind, with ‘good-for-the-planet’ gifts available to buy. 

Hotel per night: £160 – £300
Train from Manchester: 3hr 40 (£90)
Train from Birmingham: 2hr 15 (£50)
Train from London: 1hr 30 (£50)

Europe by train

If you fancy travelling further afield, but would rather not fly, it’s still possible to visit some of Europe’s best markets. You’ll find magical Christmas offerings in Antwerp, Strasbourg and Bruges, and the train journey may be shorter than a flight, when you take into account security queues, passport control and the seemingly-endless hours waiting around in departure lounges.

Bruges, Belgium

Bruges’ two Christmas markets are back for December, with two distinctly different vibes. On the Markt square you’ll find everything you’d expect from a traditional Christmas market, while on Simon Stevinplein square, the emphasis is on craft products. Also look forward to a light trail, ice rink and decorations throughout the city.

Hotel per night: £90 – £250
Train from Manchester: 5hr 15 (£330)
Train from Birmingham: 4hr (£255)
Train from London: 3hr 10 (£205)

Antwerp, Belgium

Fellow Belgium city, Antwerp, is also budget-friendly on the accommodation front, at between £120 – £235 a night, while the picturesque Christmas market is spread out across the city, including at the foot of Antwerp Steen Castle.  

Hotel per night: £120 – 235
Train from Manchester: 5hr 25 (£315)
Train from Birmingham: 5hr 30 (£240)
Train from London: 3hr 20 (£190)

Strasbourg, France

France’s oldest Christmas market, the iconic Christkindelsmärik in Strasbourg has been enjoyed for more than four centuries. Over 300 wooden chalets spread around different squares in the city give you plenty to discover in a fairy-tale atmosphere. 

Hotel per night: £270 – £600
Train from Manchester: 6hr 45 (£480)
Train from Birmingham: 6hr 50 (£330)
Train from London: 4hr 40 (£395)

Budget-friendly alternative Christmas markets by plane

If you’d rather fly than rely on the railways, we’ve still got you covered for alternative festive getaways that won’t break the bank. 

Marrakech, Morocco 

Although most Moroccans don’t celebrate Christmas, Marrakech embraces the spirit in its own unique way. The city’s bustling souks come alive with festive decorations, so you can explore the labyrinthine streets of the Medina and purchase handmade ornaments and textiles.

Hotel per night: £55 – £175
Fly from Manchester: 3hr 15 (£460) 
Fly from Birmingham: 3hr 30 (£280)
Fly from London: 3hr 35 (£264)

Tallin, Estonia

Tallinn transforms its medieval Old Town into a winter wonderland during December. The Christmas Market, held in the historic Town Hall Square, is renowned for its unique blend of Baltic and Nordic influences. Wrap up warm and meander through charming stalls adorned with handmade crafts, traditional Estonian wool items, and intricate woodwork. 

Hotel per night: £80 – £185
Fly from Manchester: 4hr 45 (£600)
Fly from Birmingham: 6hr 20 (£602)
Fly from London: 2hr 45 (£400)

Turku, Finland

Nestled along the banks of the Aura River, the Turku Christmas Market takes place in the heart of the city, featuring over 180 stalls offering a wide array of Finnish handicrafts, design items, and mouth-watering treats.

Hotel per night: £95 – £190
Fly from London: 4hr 15 (£660)

Prices correct as of 30/11/2023 and based on two people travelling together and sharing a 3* hotel.