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The Gift of Travel to Christmas Markets

Among Europe's main holiday draws are Christmas markets, large outdoor street markets pretty much guaranteed to put even the most determined Grinch in the holiday spirit.

Long associated with Germany and Austria, these days Christmas markets can also be found in England, Estonia, Finland, France, and other countries around Europe.

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Christmas markets are known for their warming holiday food and drink. We're talking gingerbread, hot mulled wine, and the like. I'm hungry just thinking about it. Browse the stalls to find gift items such as ornaments, toys, and other local crafts.

For December travelers to Europe, Christmas markets offer a particularly compelling value equation. Early to mid-December travel (when the markets are in full swing) tends to be cheaper, and Christmas markets offer a unique and free way to soak in a new culture and the energy of the holiday season. That beats the mall any day.

Have you been to a Christmas market? Know of a particularly great one? Share your experiences with other travelers in the comments below!

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