Christmas Market in the centre of Cologne during festive season

 Zoonar GmbH/Alamy Stock Photo

1. Cologne, Germany

Cologne's towering Gothic cathedral took 632 years to complete, which – as it turns out – was plenty enough time to fine-tune one of the world's biggest wintertime markets. Beyond the cathedral square's crowds and enormous Christmas tree, you'll find Christmas Avenue – a pink and purple row of chalets that celebrates the city's huge LGBT community.

When to visit: 27 November-23 December

Where to stay: Hotel im Wasserturm. From £142. hotel-im-wasserturm.de

Getting there: Ryanair offers flights to Cologne from £9 one-way. ryanair.com

 

2. Innsbruck, Austria

If you want guaranteed White Christmas feels, head to Innsbruck, because in the Tyrolean capital the snow is measured by the bucketload. As well as shopping and all-out family fun, you'll soak up pastel-painted architecture and epic alpine views, which make this ski city the perfect place for a split trip of festivities and on-piste action.

When to visit: 25 November-23 December

Where to stay: aDLERS Hotel. From £125. adlers-innsbruck.com

Getting there: Easyjet flies to Innsbruck from £31 one-way. easyjet.com

 

3. Bath, UK

If any British city's spires were likely to give the continent a run for its money in the battle for Christmas-time charm, that city would probably be Bath. With more than 200 chalets – 80% of which are local traders – it just shows we've got Christmas craic, too.

When to visit: 23 November-10 December

Where to stay: No 15 Great Pulteney. From £116. no15greatpulteney.co.uk

Getting there: GWR offers trains to Bath Spa from £14.50 one-way. gwr.com

 

Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen during festive season

Jacob Surland/Alamy Stock Photo

4. Copenhagen, Denmark

Whether you spend your time mooching around the traditional market in the centrally located Tivoli Gardens or take a stroll through the stalls along the canal at Nyhavn to the intoxicating scent of sugar-roasted almonds, it's hard to argue that advent-done-Scandi isn't a festive paradise. Still don't believe us? Swing by the Hotel D'Angleterre, which decks its exterior with a classy kitsch Grand Budapest Hotel-meets-Elf vibe every winter.

When to visit: 18 November – 31 December

Where to stay: Nobis Hotel Copenhagen. From £283. designhotels.com

Getting there: Ryanair offers flights from Stansted to Copenhagen from £9 one-way. ryanair.com

 

Christmas Market in the centre of Strasbourg during festive season

Leonid Andronov/Alamy Stock Photo

5) Strasbourg, France

Claimant of the title Capital of Christmas, Strasbourg's festive traditions can be traced back to 1570, when the punchily named Market of the Infant Jesus first occupied its medieval streets. Nowadays, it's much the same – aside from neon candy canes and gingerbread men that bedeck the streets. There's also the OFF Market, which focuses on responsible consumerism and Fairtrade goods, giving local artisans the chance to exhibit their sustainable crafts

When to visit: 24 November – 24 December

Where to stay: Hotel Les Haras. From £115. les-haras-hotel.com

Getting there: Ryanair offers flights from Stansted to nearby Baden-Baden from £9 one-way. ryanair.com