2. Dresden, Germany
The beautifully restored city of Dresden, famous for its Meissen porcelain collection, its opera house and links with some of the world's most famous composers, is also home to Europe's original and oldest Christkindlmarkt or Christmas market. Dating back to 1435, the market is surrounded by some of Europe's finest 18th century buildings and just a short stroll from the River Elbe, where revelers can take a traditional steam-driven shuffle boat cruise and admire the stately homes that lie along the mighty river. If you prefer lots of snow to mulled wine and sugared almonds, head to Munich in Bavaria, where the Marienplatz market and Tollwood Winter Festival should furnish you with enough Glühwein and Lebkuchen (mulled wine and gingerbread) to keep you going until New Year's Day.