Best Christmas Markets of 2018


It’s no secret I love Christmas Markets, I’ve been visiting them since I was a child. Christmas time has a special place in my heart and I love spending it with my family and loved ones. If I find some spare time during holidays, I try to visit at least a few markets near my hometown, so this year we’ve decided to visit Christmas markets in Ljubljana, Zagreb, Budapest, Klagenfurt, Velden am Wörther See and Bled. I’ve ranked them based on my experience and personal preference.

#1 – Zagreb

City streets are decorated with lights and many cute ornaments, all of which make a stroll around a special experience. The whole market is well designed – vendors sell beverages and Christmas delicacies (at a reasonable price) at Ban Jelačić Square and homemade souvenirs at Park Zrinjevac, where events also take place. Couple of public trams are decorated with lights and you won’t believe it, but Santa’s driving them!

Positive:

  • city streets and squares are beautifully decorated,
  • wide variety of delicacies and beverages at affordable prices,
  • everything is well connected together,
  • lots of events happening every day.

Negative:

  • very crowded.

#2 – Velden am Wörther See

During Christmas time a town situated at the western shore of the Wörthersee is transformed into a Christmas fairyland. A huge Advent wreath floats by the shore, where the vendors, a small stage and a cantilevered wheel are also situated. Couple of metal containers are places around the town where people can make campfires, enjoy mulled wine and homemade delicacies.

Positive:

  • very pleasantly decorated with nice details,
  • wide variety of delicacies, beverages and homemade souvenirs.

Negative:

  • no events,
  • markets around the town are not well planned (not connected).

#3 – Budapest

Budapest is an amazing city. I’ve visited it before, but never in December. Their Christmas markets are gaining popularity, so I’ve decided to see for myself what the fuss is all about. The main market is situated at Vörösmarty square. Floor in the middle section are slightly raised, with tables and vendors in the centre, who offer variety of traditional dishes and beverages (but beware, they don’t display a price list and prices are very high!). The very popular (and probably also most instagrammable) Christmas light tree is situated at the St. Stephen’s Square, with an ice ring in the middle and food/beverage vendors around. Other smaller markets around the city mostly consist of vendors who sell mulled wine, Chimney Cakes (Kürtőskalács) and souvenirs.

Positive:

  • vendors mostly sell traditional hungarian delicacies,
  • every (even smaller) market has its own Christmas tree and Advent wreath,
  • prices outside the main market are quite reasonable.

Negative:

  • the city is decorated without any taste,
  • weird opening hours (different every day),
  • prices vary a lot from vendor to vendor,
  • markets are located far apart.

#4 – Klagenfurt

The main Christmas market (Christkindlmarkt) in Klagenfurt am Wörthersee is located at Neuer Platz. The city is not over-decorated with flashing lights and Christmas trees, but is decorated with taste. Placement of wooden houses with vendors is a bit confusing, but a wide variety of homemade Christmas delicacies and souvenirs can be bought there, as well as figurines for Christmas cribs (bigger wooden ones are being made at the market). Neuer Platz is quite small and wooden houses take up a lot of space, so it can get quite crowded, but you can always find a table to enjoy a cup mulled wine.

Positive:

  • the city is not over-decorated,
  • really tasty homemade delicacies,
  • small, but pleasant.

Negative:

  • when crowded, very hard to move around,
  • wooden houses placed without any order,
  • hard to find a parking space (if with a car).

#5 – Ljubljana

People seem to enjoy Christmas decorations in my hometown, but I don’t. Streets and squares are decorated without any taste, by principle more is better. Sometimes more is not better and that’s the case in Ljubljana. The sky is illuminated by thousands of lights in different color, which do not connect dislocated markets with the main one. Prešeren Square is packed with vendors and a huge Christmas tree, while the nearby Congress Square looks almost deserted. Pogačar Square, which is also packed with vendors and a smaller stage, can get really crowded during live musical performances. Vendors around the city mostly sell imported souvenirs, cheap mulled wine (made from powder) and low quality food. Most events take place between Christmas (25.12.) and New Year’s Eve (31.12.).

Positive:

  • many vendors around the city center with long opening hours,
  • Slovenska Street is nicely decorated,
  • a lot of things happening between Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

Negative:

  • decorated without any taste,
  • markets are scattered around the city and not connected with Christmas decorations,
  • low quality items being sold by the vendors,
  • some squares are packed with vendors, other look almost deserted.

#6 – Bled

The popular tourist destination is poorly decorated, with a small Christmas market located on a closed street by the lake. Vendors selling homemade delicacies occupy one side of the street and the other is occupied by chairs and tables. A small stage is located in the middle. The market is too small for such a popular destination and can get really crowded.

Positive:

  • homemade delicacies being sold by the vendors.

Negative:

  • poorly planned,
  • can get really crowded.

How to Make Potica


Traditional slovenian pastry Potica (Walnut cake) is usually made during Easter and Christmas holidays. Since it’s holiday time I though I’ll share an old family recipe for our traditional pastry. I usually don’t weigh the ingredients so I won’t write the quantity of each ingredient.

Ingredients for dough

Plain white flour, yeast, milk, sugar, butter, egg yolks, vanilla sugar.

Ingredients for walnut filling

Walnuts, milk, sweet cream, sugar, chocolate powder, rum, egg whites.

Preparation

Crush the yeast into a medium size bowl, add some milk, sugar and flour. Cover the bowl with a cloth and leave it in a warm place for about 20 minutes.

Sift the flower into a big bowl, add white and vanilla sugar, melted butter, whipped egg yolks, yeast and milk. Mix the dough well and leave it in a warm place for about 30 minutes.

Grind the walnuts and put them in a big bowl. Add sugar and chocolate powder. Make a mix of milk and sweet cream, heat it up and pour it over the walnuts. Add rum and egg whites, then gently paste the mixture.

Prepare a mixture of raisins, rum and milk. Let it sit down for couple of minutes.

Roll the dough (about 5mm thick), grease it with melted butter and walnut filling. Drain the raisins and sprinkle them on top. Grease the baking dish with butter, roll the dough, gently put it into the dish and grease it with a mixture of butter and egg white. Heat the oven to 180°C (356°F) and bake it for aprox. 80 minutes until medium brown. And that’s it, your Potica is done. Enjoy!