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Christmas time in Central Europe is a special time. All the streets are lit up and decorated. People flock to the markets to shop and socialize while drinking hot wine and eating foods you only get during the holidays.” Follow Hannah and Adam of travel blog, Getting Stamped as they take over our Instagram account and visit Christmas markets in Budapest and Vienna.  

RELATED: Experience the holidays in Europe with one of these Christmas river cruises

In 2013, Hannah and Adam kicked their corporate jobs to the curb to see the world. “Since we left home over two and a half years ago, we have visited 55 countries, taken over 500,000 photos, and made countless memories. We started our blog in preparation for our big trip in 2012 and it wasn’t until we were on the road that we started taking our photography to the next level. Taking photos became an important reason why we traveled; we wanted to inspire others to get out into the world.”

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Kürtőskalács in Budapest

“In Budapest, it’s all about the food. The Christmas markets are filled with vendors selling foods like Kürtőskalács, or chimney cakes as we call them in English. The cakes are dough wrapped around a wooden roll and toasted over a fire and then sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon. Other vendors sell traditional sausages and handmade cheeses. Hot wine warms the market goers; it’s seasoned with spices, fruit and honey. Our favorite market in Budapest is the one located in front of the St. Stephen’s Basilica. Small wooden huts form a circle around the blue trimmed Christmas tree in the center of the market. The church makes for an incredibly photogenic market.”

364 steps later

“Saint Stephen’s Basilica is one of the city’s most iconic buildings and a favorite of many locals. For a small fee (500 HUF ~ $1.60) you can make your way to the top of the basilica, but it’s a long way up—364 steps to be exact. We took this shot after the very last step and a bit dizzy after climbing around and around the spiral stairs. I love this shot for the interesting perspective and the seemingly never ending spirals. The view outside was just as impressive; looking out you can see the entire city.”


Getting the tilt

“The tilt-shift style is one of my favorite types of photos. I love the feel it gives to this shot of the market. Using this styleit can make things look tiny or miniaturized. Tilt shift to me feels very whimsical, and that’s also how the Christmas markets felt to me. The basic idea is to get just a very small part of the photo in focus and the rest pretty far out of focus. Tilt-shift works great on buildings and larger objects when you are not right on top of them. It doesn’t look as good when people are in the picture or when you are very close to something.”

To stay warm while visiting Vienna's Christmas markets, sip some hot spiced wine, served in little ceramic boots. Then raise a glass to celebrate the season!

To stay warm while visiting Vienna’s Christmas markets, sip some hot spiced wine, served in little ceramic boots. Then raise a glass to celebrate the season!

Glühwein in Vienna

Vienna‘s markets are just as beautiful as Budapest and surrounded by impressive buildings, as well. In Vienna, they have some stunning ornaments and some very talented craftsmen. Many local artists have stands filled with beautiful blown glass ornaments. Some of my favorites were at the market in front of the city hall with intricate designs incorporated into an ornament the size of a volleyball. Aside from the extra arts and crafts of Vienna, they also love to eat and drink. The hot spiced wine takes on a different name here, Glühwein; it’s served from small ceramic boots which are a good way to keep warm whileyou shop. The market in front of city hall is also one of the most gorgeous we have come across. It’s beautifully lit with signs and Christmas lights with the striking city hall behind the stalls. ”

Day vs. night

“Shop during the day and take photos at night. The markets tend to be less busy during the day when the local people are working, making it a good time to just explore. At night is when they really get beautiful and lively. Budapest does a great job of illuminating its buildings and then the lights of the Christmas markets fill the atmosphere with holiday cheer.”

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Tagged: Christmas Travel Ideas, Europe

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Monica Pedraja

Monica Pedraja

Monica is a Chicago-based photo editor and photographer. She studied photojournalism in London and has worked with Piece & Co., the Art Institute of Chicago, and many adorably in-love couples. She’s a big fan of Bananagrams, Leon Bridges, and macarons.

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