I would like to visit Christmas markets in Europe this year - but I will only have time for one or two! So, I would like help to know:
Where is best to go?
When is the best time to go?
I have an EHIC, does this cover me for travel insurance?
ALSO - I am already thinking Germany (Cologne), is this good?
Any recommendations, personal experiences and stories are welcome and I would love to hear them! I am open to Switzerland, Austria, Germany, France... Anywhere really!
If there is anyone out there - I am still very much looking for help!!
You're right in choosing Cologne as it is hailed as hosting some of the best Christmas markets in Europe. There's many to choose from in this city and I highly recommend the one next to the cathedral as you have a wonderful backdrop to your experience. I believe it's the biggest one in Europe and it had a MASSIVE Christmas Tree when I was there which was really nice. Depending on the amount of time you're planning there, I'd maybe recommend Berlin. Cologne is nice for a few days but I felt like I started to run out of activities - you don't have this problem in Berlin and the markets there are also nice.
I've also heard good things about the markets in Strasbourg, Prague, Nuremberg and Vienna at Christmas time.
As for the time to go, the markets generally open on the last week of November, with festivals running at different dates. I believe the most interesting week was the second week of December, when I went to Cologne. Also a worthwhile piece of info - avoid the 5th Sunday before Christmas as this is Remembrance Day in Germany where most things close.
As for EHIC cards, you should get travel insurance as well to cover yourself. These cards are good but don't cover serious injury and in some places won't cover transport. They're good if something small needs treating but you can't use them just on their own if you want full coverage. I usually use GoWalkAbout as they're cheap and covers all your basic needs.
[ Edit: Edited on 15-Sep-2015, at 07:05 by MarcoPolo89 ]
Cologne is a great one! And since you'll be in Germany, maybe try Dresden, or Berlin or Munich!
The best time is probably sometime around the middle of December.
Last year I went to the Christmas markets in Hanover and Leipzig, and would highly recommend the ones in Hanover - they were fantastic. The Leipzig ones were great too though and I think anywhere in Germany would be pretty good. I found the prices were reasonable too unlike the UK ones which are over-priced these days.
An EHIC basically lets you use the local equivalent of the NHS, but that varies from country to country - there could be fees, and it isn't the same as travel insurance in that it wouldn't get you brought home. It also doesn't insure anything like belongings or flight cancellations.
Verona has a beautiful Christmas market, not as big as some of the German ones though.