As the summer begins to draw to a close, many travel enthusiasts will be starting to think about the ideal trip to enjoy around Christmas time, with the cities of Prague and Budapest becoming very popular destinations in recent years.
Prague is a great city to visit all year round, with its stunning architecture and rich history; highlighted by many of the grand castles and bridges dotted around the city, some of which date back as far as the 14th century. It's during the festive season, however, when the city center comes alive with the annual Christmas Markets lighting up the city streets.
Running daily through December, Prague's Christmas markets take place at the Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square, with smaller ones operating at Havelske Trziste & Namesti Republiky, all within ten minutes walk of each other. As if being surrounded by amazing historical attractions such as Charles Bridge and St. Petersburg. Vitus Cathedral was not enough, Christmas time in Prague offers a myriad of sights and sounds to take in. The markets consist of brightly decorated wooden huts, selling Czech handicrafts, hot food, hats, scarves and Christmas tree ornaments.
Most impressive of all however, is the Christmas tree which stands in the center of the Town Square. Shipped from the Sumava Mountains in the south of Czech Republic, the huge tree is draped in beautiful lights that when set against the dark, Gothic background of Prague's town center, forms a spectacular sight.
Budapest, Hungary, has also become a popular destination for those wishing to enjoy a unique yuletide trip. Much like Prague, Budapest also celebrates the festive period with a Christmas fair, featuring over 100 wooden stands offering local specialties, crafts and paintings, as well as exhibitions and music programs. Open air ice-skating is also a popular past time in the Hungarian capital during the winter months. Of course, spending Christmas in a city such as Budapest means you'll enjoy some of the finest sights in Europe including the Szechenyi Chain Bridge, the Parliament Building and the promenade where visitors can enjoy a stroll along the banks of the River Danube before tucking into some traditional Hungarian festive fare.
Central Europe exudes music so it will come as no surprise that Christmas in Budapest features many concerts and performances of classic pieces from the great composers of the 18th and 19th century, often in avenues that offer astounding examples of Baroque architecture.
Those enjoying a Christmas European city break to Prague or Budapest have the opportunity for a truly unique experience, not to mention the chance to pick up some great gifts for friends and family back home, without having to use the expensive Euro.
Although those wishing to get away from it all at Christmas without going too far from home can find any number of great festive trips in cities such as Berlin or Vienna, which offer just as many cultural and historic attractions as Prague or Budapest and can be just as memorable.