Beginning in late November, towns and cities across Switzerland don a decidedly jolly look in preparation of the year end festivities. Squares and streets are lit up, Christmas trees are decorated and heart-warming melodies and carols ring aloud to beat the nip in the air. In the midst of quaint old towns, under twinkling lights and atop white carpets of fresh snow, the christmas markets that spring up across the country are a profusion of colours, tastes and aromas.
Providing a delightful experience of exploring, feasting and shopping that stretches over many weeks, the markets are held in locations as varied as the grounds of historic cathedrals, by the banks of lakes or high up in the Alps.
For those who prefer the buzz of a city, Zurich hosts one of Europe’s largest indoor Christmas market at its train station with artisanal stores from across the country that retail products as varied as wooden figurines and glittery tree-ornaments to hand woven scarves and aromatic candles.
The capital city of Bern hosts two markets within the UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site of its Old Town. One of them is dedicated to arts and crafts such as glass ware, ceramics and leather goods while the other has more traditional Christmas market-fare and local culinary treats such as spiced biscuits and freshly baked gingerbread.
A walk through the Old Town reveals picturesque cobblestone streets decked up with fairy lights and miniature Christmas-trees that adorn the windows. To keep the body warm and the spirits high, be sure to sip on many cups of gluhwein – a popular Christmas beverage made by heating red wine and fortifying it with cinnamon, citrus, cloves and other spices.
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