The 15 Coronavirus-Safest Christmas Destinations In Europe, By European Best Destinations


Every year around this time, the European Best Destinations (EBD) organization, which is part of the European Commission’s EDEN Network (“European Destinations of Excellence”) working to promote sustainable tourism on the continent, releases its approved list of beautiful European cities that host the best Christmas markets.

It’s no exaggeration to say that practically every European city and town carries on its own traditional end-of-the-year holiday festivities, many of which have been occurring for centuries.

Although the process and the criteria for the selection this year had to be adjusted to account for Covid-19 measures and circumstances according to each country, EBD has unveiled a carefully-chosen list of destinations where it will be possible to enjoy the magic of Christmas while still following strict health and sanitary rules.

“Find out which are the safest Christmas markets in Europe for Covid-19,” EBD announced. “Since the start of this worldwide “Covid-19” crisis, we have kept you informed of the situation day after day by following the recommendations of the World Health Organization.”

The Safest Christmas Markets/Destinations in Europe were chosen on the basis of the following criteria: number of Covid-19 cases per million inhabitants, number of hospital beds per inhabitant, proximity of airports, establishment of sanitary measures, hygiene charts in hotels, shops, restaurants, public transport and public places, provision of hydroalcoholic gels, masks and, last but not least, circulation routes inside the Christmas markets.

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They’re all located in destinations less affected by the coronavirus, up to 80 times fewer cases of Covid-19 and sometimes even no deaths linked to Covid-19 (such as the Madeira Islands, which tops the 2020 list).

In the safest Christmas Markets in Europe, contactless payment methods are the norm, merchants have protective masks or visors and a signposted route stops visitors from crossing paths.

Among other recommendations, EBD advises travelers to remain vigilant and to remember the gestures, social distancing and mask if possible and necessary and to avoid traveling in case of poor health.

“People over 70, overweight or with respiratory problems should be particularly vigilant,” the organization warns.

Madeira is the safest European destination this winter. With up to 12 times fewer cases of Covid-19 per million inhabitants than other European destinations and no deaths, the Portuguese island has been selected as the best destination for the Christmas holidays.

In addition to the “Safe and Clean” label established by the Portuguese National Tourist Office, Madeira officials have set up very rigorous health charters to welcome travelers in the best safety conditions while guaranteeing holidays for leisure, discovery and relaxation.

They impose no quarantine on arrival for travelers that have taken the Covid-19 test before the trip (maximum 72 hours before departure). Scanning at the airport reinforces these security measures and various devices are in place, including hydroalcoholic gels and masks in crowded streets.

Everything is simply and well explained on the Madeira Safe to Discover site. Masks are compulsory in some places but not on the beaches.

Madeira’s Christmas market has been awarded the title of ‘Best Sunny Christmas Markets in Europe’ for its breathtaking tropical scenery, shiny illuminations, exotic fruits and flowers, local crafts and wines.

On several occasions, the market was previously awarded the title of “Best New Year’s Eve Destination in Europe.”

Christmas market dates:  December 1, 2020 to January 10, 2021. (Market Night is held on December 23.)

Sanitary measures: Passengers flying to the Madeira archipelago must present a negative Covid-19 test taken within 72 hours prior to departure or they can perform it upon arrival. Masks are not required for beaches, sports activities or nature walks. Here is the form to be completed before travel.

Awarded the title of Best Christmas Market in Europe in 2019, Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, is second on the list of favorite destination for winter holidays in Europe, with its family atmosphere, magical illuminations, traditional and artisanal products and delicious local delicacies.

To date, Estonia has recorded 18 times fewer severe cases of Covid-19 per million inhabitants than the most affected European countries. Hospitals have never been overcrowded and the virus has done much less harm than elsewhere in Europe. More quickly than other countries, Estonia was able to resume “normal” life while applying measures of social distancing, protection (masks) and the provision of hydroalcoholic gels in public spaces.

Christmas market dates: November 15, 2020, to January 5, 2021.

Travelling to Estonia: An updated list of countries for which entry to Estonia is subject to limitations is available at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website.

Latest info here.

Vienna, third on the list of safest places to visit for the Christmas holidays, has also been recognized as one of the safest destinations in Europe. By reacting quickly to the pandemia and by taking a series of sanitary measures, Austria was up to 10 times less affected than other European countries. The number of serious cases of Covid-19 has remained far below the capacity of Austrian hospitals.

During the winter, Vienna has a multitude of Christmas market all around the city to suit every taste for family, food lovers, whether sustainable, vegan or terribly romantic.

From mid-November to Christmas, Vienna’s prettiest squares are transformed into magical spaces full of the Christmas atmosphere. The markets will be organized to ensure Covid-19 safety to make it possible for guests to enjoy a pleasant visit with enough space for everyone.

Christmas market dates: November 18 to December 26.

Travelling to Austria: Entry from a country with a stable Covid-19 situation is possible without restrictions. The corresponding countries are listed in the Entry Ordinance.

 Sanitary measures: An entry and transit declaration are required.

Off the beaten track, the city of Craiova, Romania’s sixth-largest city and capital of the Dolj Countyin region, offers luminous Christmas markets that are both safe and authentic. If Craiova has experienced significantly fewer cases of Covid-19 than other European destinations, it’s thanks to the preventive measures put in place early by national and local authorities.

“This destination, which brings together internationally-renowned cultural institutions as well as world-renowned artistic events, was able to put its tourist offers on hold in order to be well prepared this winter and welcome you in the best conditions of health and security,” reports EBD.

Romania has more hospital beds per capita than Norway, the United Kingdom and Ireland.

Christmas market dates: November, 28, 2020 to January 1, 2021.

Travelling to Romania: Entry from EU+ countries is allowed without restrictions, with the exception of Luxembourg, Malta and some regions in Spain (Aragon, Catalonia, Navarra, Community of Madrid, Balearic Islands, Basque Country).

Sanitary measures: Travelers coming from countries with an incidence rate of new cases of Covid-19 in the last 14 days less than or equal to that registered in Romania are allowed to enter without restrictions.

Citizens coming from countries with a high incidence of COVID-19 infection should self-isolate at home or quarantine for 14 days.

Latest information here.

Prague, Czech Republic

With 15 times fewer severe cases of Covid-19 per million inhabitants than the most affected countries in Europe, the Czech Republic has made it to the list of the safest destinations for this winter holiday.

Recognized as one of the most beautiful Christmas markets in Europe, the Prague Christmas market will also be one of the safest this year.

Strict health measures have been taken by the organizers to ensure the safety of visitors, such as signposted routes to respect social distancing, dispensers of hydroalcoholic gel, availability of masks and protective gloves for merchants, plexiglass protection and specific protocols for stalls that sell food and drink.

Set in the heart of the city is a traditional Czech marketplace where in dozens of wooden stalls merchants offer typical Christmas goods and items such as traditional Czech blown glass balls, products made of glass pearls or straw, hand-embroidered tablecloths, wooden toys, biscuit cutters and many other traditional Czech products. Both young and adult gourmets can enjoy typical Czech Christmas biscuits, hot roasted chestnuts, gingerbread and typical Czech grilled sausages.

Christmas market dates: November 28, 2020, to January 6, 2021.

Travelling to Czech Republic: Entry from EU+ countries is allowed without restrictions, with the exception of countries defined as “high risk” from an epidemiological point of view.

Sanitary measures: A Passenger Locator Form is mandatory for people traveling from countries that are not on the list of those with a low risk of infection

Latest information here.

With 13 times fewer severe cases of Covid-19 than the most affected European countries, Poland is among the safest countries in Europe.

“As a result of the pandemic, we all want to travel less and make the trips we want unforgettable by discovering exceptional places and a unique atmosphere,” says EBD. “Gdansk is the perfect mix of safety and leisure, relaxation and discovery for this winter holiday.”

Situated in the historical centre of Gdansk, the Christmas Fair is like a fairytale “thank you” to the unique atmosphere and beautiful scenery. Here you will find streets marked out only for this special time of year: Chocolate, Cinnamon, Angel or Christmas Eve Street.

Christmas market dates: November 23, 2020, to January 1, 2021.

Travelling to Poland: Citizens of EU+ countries are allowed to enter Poland without restrictions.

Sanitary measures: A Passenger Locator Form and a Public Health Self Declaration are requested on flights.

Latest information here.

Considered one of the most beautiful and authentic Christmas markets in Germany, the Dresden Christmas market will also number among the safest in Europe this year, with Saxony, at up to 15 times fewer Covid-19 deaths than other European regions, one of the continent’s least affected by the coronavirus.

Given the pandemic, there is a particularly strong focus to make the Striezelmarkt, Germany’s oldest Christmas market, safe for everybody.

With glittering lights, twinkling stars, the scent of gingerbread and Christmas carols, Dresden’s Striezelmarkt will boast a unique character for its 586th year. Regional specialties, such as Ore Mountain wood crafts, Lusatian blue-printed fabrics and Moravian stars, are particularly popular.

Christmas market dates: November 26 to December 24.

Traveling to Germany: According to the Federal Ministry of Health’s Testing Obligation Ordinance, anyone having spent time in a risk area up to 14 days before their entry into Germany must either provide proof of having tested negative or get tested within 14 days of their entry into Germany. A country or an area is defined as “high-risk” when there are more than 50 new infections per 100,000 people over the last period of seven days.

Sanitary measures: No special documentation is required.

Latest information here.

With 13 times fewer Covid-19 deaths per million inhabitants than other European countries, Croatia appears as a safe destination for the winter holidays.

Beyond the early sanitary measures put in place by the authorities, Croatia has a rich offer of tourist apartments, private villas, boutique hotels and small accommodations.

One of Croatia’s secrets was that her capital city Zagreb has one of the best Advent scenes in Europe. The secret is out now: Against strong competition, Zagreb was voted “Best Christmas Market in Europe” by European Best Destinations online polls for three consecutive years.

Known worldwide as one of the best Christmas markets in Europe, along with Vienna, Budapest and Strasbourg, Zagreb will welcome travelers this year with special sanitary standards adapted to the situation — dispensers of hydroalcoholic gel throughout the markets, disinfection of rides and ice skates, masks for vendors and protective plastic for those offering food. “The market is very large throughout the city and you will find the atmosphere that suits you for a safe and relaxed holiday,” according to EBD.

Christmas market dates: November 27, 2020, to January 3, 2021.

Sanitary measures: Masks required on public transport, taxis, shops and other commercial premises. There are currently no requirements for travelers to produce a negative Covid test or self-isolate on arrival in Croatia. Screening on arrival.

 Travelling to Croatia: Citizens of EU+ countries are allowed to enter Croatia without restrictions. Before entering the country, all travelers must complete the Enter Croatia form.

Latest information here.

With a population equivalent to Belgium but five times fewer deaths linked to Covid- 19, the Baden-Württemberg region is one of the safest destinations for winter holidays.

Renowned as one of the best Christmas markets in Germany, the Baden-Baden Christmas market is implementing a series of health measures this year to combine safety and leisure.

Situated at the entrance of Baden-Baden’s splendid parks and gardens at the “Lichtentaler Allee,” the Christmas Market draws visitors into a romantic winter fairy tale with entertaining live-music programs and small streets of festive huts, where thousands of shimmering Christmas lights create a festive atmosphere.

“We are currently working into transforming our Christmas Market 2020 into a Corona-compatible market concept,” the organizers said.

Christmas market dates:  November 26, 2020, to January 6, 2021.

Travelling to Germany: According to the Federal Ministry of Health’s Testing Obligation Ordinance, anyone having spent time in a risk area up to 14 days before their entry into Germany, if requested by the designated health office or other authority, must either provide proof of having tested negative or get tested within 14 days of entry into Germany. A country or an area is defined as “high-risk” when there are more than 50 new infections per 100,000 people over the last period of seven days.

Sanitary measures: No special documentation is required.

Latest information here.

Slovakia, along with Hungary, Austria, Poland and the Czech Republic, are destinations seen as safe, with far fewer cases of Covid-19 than elsewhere in Europe. Slovakia has so far recorded 75 times fewer deaths linked to Covid-19 per million inhabitants than the most-affected European countries.

Thanks to these figures and stringent sanitary measures, Slovakia is seen as a safe destination for this winter.

Christmas time in Bratislava, the Capital of Slovakia on the Danube river and uniquely situated on the border of three countries, is connected with glowing streets, Christmas trees and stands full of goodies and craft products.

The Bratislava Christmas Market is located at the Main Square and Hviezdoslav Square in the city centre until December 23. In recent years, the Christmas Market has migrated to other locations of the city center as well, such as Bratislava castle.

Christmas market dates: November 23 to December 23.

Traveling to Slovakia: Entry from EU+ countries is allowed without restrictions from countries classified as “low risk” from the epidemiological point of view.

Sanitary measures: No mandatory Travel Documentation

Latest information here.

Not only is Düsseldorf’s one of the most beautiful Christmas markets in Germany, but one of the safest this year. The capital of the North Rhine-Westphalia region and the second largest city in this region after Cologne has had 10 times fewer severe cases of Covid-19 per million inhabitants than other European regions.

The city offers different Christmas markets to suit families, lovers and foodies.

Christmas market dates: November 23 to December 30.

Traveling to Germany: According to the Federal Ministry of Health’s Testing Obligation Ordinance, anyone having spent time in a risk area up to 14 days before their entry into Germany, if requested by the designated health office or official, must either provide proof of having tested negative for Covid-19 or get tested within 14 days of their entry into Germany. A country or an area is defined as “high-risk” when there are more than 50 new infections per 100,000 people over the last period of seven days.

Sanitary measures: No special documentation is required.

Latest information here.

With 12 times fewer severe cases of Covid-19 per million inhabitants than the most affected countries in Europe, Slovenia is positioned as one of the safest destinations this winter. Perfect for a break, far from stress in the middle of nature, Slovenia is the European destination most awarded by the European Commission for its commitment to sustainable tourism.

“Treat yourself to unforgettable memories in Slovenia,” EBD recommends. “You can rent a car and discover other places in the country such as Bohinj, voted best hidden gem in Europe or Soca Valley, Radolca, awarded by the European Commission.

 You can also treat yourself to a moment of pure relaxation and wonder as you walk through the illuminated streets of Ljubljana.”

This romantic destination, is one of the smallest European capitals and home to a Christmas market considered to be one of the most beautiful in Europe.

Christmas market dates: November 29, 2020, to January 5, 2021.

Travelling to Slovenia: Entry from EU+ countries is generally allowed without restrictions. Depending on their epidemiological situation, Slovenia divides countries in three categories (green, yellow and red). For each category, a different set of entry rules applies.

Sanitary measures: Face masks are required in indoor public spaces and public transport vehicles. Travelers from the red and yellow list must quarantine. No quarantine is required for travelers from the green list. No additional documentation is required.

Latest information here.

Poland is one of the European countries least affected by the coronavirus, along with Portugal and Greece. There are up to 13 times less deaths linked to Covid-19 per million inhabitants in Poland than in the most affected countries of Western Europe. No hospital has ever been overloaded and Poland has more hospital beds per inhabitant than the Netherlands or Switzerland.

Warsaw, the capital, with a historic center that has been declared a Unesco World Heritage, impresses with its resilience, respect for history and contemporary style. Its history is that of a people capable of facing any situation, of recovering and moving forward.

Facing Coronavirus, the Polish capital’s message has been: “Warsaw survived two world wars. We will get through this one too. See you very soon!”

Warsaw will have two main, safe Christmas markets thanks to measures taken by local officials such as dispensed hydroalcoholic gel, signposted routes to ensure social distancing in the market and contactless payments.

Christmas market dates: November 29 to December 24.

Travelling to Poland: Citizens of EU+ countries are allowed to enter Poland without restrictions.

Sanitary measures: A Passenger Locator Form and a Public Health Self Declaration are requested on flights.

Latest information here.

With nearly five times fewer severe cases of Covid-19 per million inhabitants than in other parts of Europe, Bavaria is among the safest destinations in Europe.

“Rothenburg ob der Tauber is probably the most magical destination at Christmas,” EBD writes. “The city appears to have been built to serve as the backdrop for one of Germany’s finest Christmas markets.”

With preventive measures but also many well-equipped hospitals, Germany has not experienced a critical situation during the pandemic. While measures are still in place for now, Germany is more open to travelers than many other European countries. Social distancing and wearing a mask are mandatory but not the Covid-19 test (except for travelers from countries at risk).

Christmas market dates: November 23 to December 23.

Traveling to Germany: According to the Federal Ministry of Health’s Testing Obligation Ordinance, anyone having spent time in a risk area up to 14 days before their entry into Germany, if requested by the designated health office or official, must either provide proof of having tested negative for Covid-19 or get tested within 14 days of their entry into Germany. A country or an area is defined as “high-risk” when there are more than 50 new infections per 100,000 people over the last period of seven days.

Sanitary measures: No special documentation is required.

Latest information here.

Graz, Austria

Austria has remained a safe destination throughout the pandemic thanks to preventive and health measures taken early by the authorities. With up to 10 times fewer deaths per million inhabitants than the most other countries, Austria appears among the safest destination for the winter holidays in Europe.

Austria is welcoming travelers this winter with “the highest health and safety standards while doing everything to guarantee you wonderful moments for the winter holidays,” according to EBD.

 Graz, the capital of Styria and Austria’s second city, is a renaissance gem with a safe and unforgettable Christmas season. Numerous Christmas markets are located within walking distance, the oldest taking place around the Franciscan church. Close by is the Christmas market in front of City Hall with a giant Christmas tree and an old-fashioned merry-go-round for children.

The Eiserne Tor market is run exclusively by local charity organizations and the proceeds go to charity projects.

Christmas market dates: November 20 to December 24.

Travelling to Austria: Entry from a country with a stable Covid-19 situation is possible without restrictions. The corresponding countries are listed in the Entry Ordinance.

Sanitary measures: An entry and transit declaration is required.

Latest information here.



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