Experience the Magic: Best European Christmas Markets to Visit in 2023
The festive season in Europe is synonymous with twinkling lights, the sweet scent of mulled wine, and the joyful laughter of families and friends. European Christmas markets offer a unique and enchanting experience that draws travellers from around the world. If you’re planning a winter getaway, here are some of the best European Christmas markets to visit in 2023, complete with opening dates and average temperatures to help make up your mind. Keep eye for flight sales
- Opening Date: November 25, 2023, to December 31, 2023
- Average Temperature: 2°C to 7°C (36°F to 45°F)
- Best Airport: Strasbourg Airport (SXB)
- Strasbourg’s Christkindelsmärik is one of the oldest and most charming Christmas markets in Europe. Explore the historic district of La Petite France and delight in traditional Alsatian treats and exquisite handcrafted ornaments.
- Opening Date: November 18, 2023, to December 26, 2023
- Average Temperature: -1°C to 4°C (30°F to 39°F)
- Best Airport: Vienna International Airport (VIE)
- The Vienna Christmas Market at Rathausplatz is a fairy tale come to life. Sip on aromatic glühwein, shop for unique gifts, and enjoy the melodious sounds of choirs and musicians.
- Opening Date: November 18, 2023, to December 31, 2023
- Average Temperature: 2°C to 6°C (36°F to 43°F)
- Best Airport: Copenhagen Airport (CPH)
- Tivoli Gardens transforms into a winter wonderland during Christmas. With its dazzling lights and thrilling rides, it’s a great family-friendly destination.
Pic Credit: Pixabay
Prague, Czech Republic
- Opening Date: December 2, 2023, to January 6, 2024
- Average Temperature: -2°C to 2°C (28°F to 36°F)
- Best Airport: Václav Havel Airport Prague (PRG
- The Prague Christmas Market in the Old Town Square is a visual feast. Sample Trdelník (a sweet pastry), shop for handmade crafts, and admire the illuminated Gothic architecture.
- Opening Date: November 25, 2023, to December 24, 2023
- Average Temperature: -1°C to 4°C (30°F to 39°F)
- Best Airport: Nuremberg Airport (NUE)
- The Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt is famed for its gingerbread cookies and intricate wooden toys. Immerse yourself in the heart of Bavarian Christmas traditions.
Chasing the Northern Lights: Where to Witness the Aurora Borealis
The Northern Lights, also known as the Aurora Borealis, are one of Mother Nature’s most awe-inspiring spectacles. These dancing lights in the night sky are caused by charged particles from the sun colliding with gases in the Earth’s atmosphere. There has been a lot in the media here in Ireland with the Northern Lights seen as far away as Dublin and even Dingle in Kerry! That is a very rate occurrence. I have always been so interested in seeing the Northern Lights ever since I was a kid they fascinated me. I caught my fist glimpse of this amazing natural occurrence in Iceland in 2018 and have been hooked ever since, we were extremely fortunate in being able to see them for 4 out of our 5 nights in Tromso in 2021. If you’re eager to witness this breath-taking phenomenon, here are some of the best places to see the Northern Lights.
1. Tromsø, Norway: The Arctic Gateway
Tromsø, often called the “Gateway to the Arctic,” is one of the prime locations to witness the Northern Lights. Situated in the Arctic Circle, Tromsø offers not only a high likelihood of aurora sightings but also a charming Arctic ambiance. Explore the city by day and embark on guided Northern Lights tours by night for the best chances of catching this natural light show.
What a show…seeing the Northern Lights on our first night in Tromso
2. Abisko, Sweden: A Stargazer’s Paradise
Located in Swedish Lapland, Abisko National Park is renowned for its clear skies and minimal light pollution. The combination of these factors makes it an excellent place to observe the Northern Lights. The Abisko Sky Station offers a unique viewing experience atop Mount Nuolja, with chairlift access and expert guides.
3. Fairbanks, Alaska: Northern Lights in the Last Frontier
Alaska’s Fairbanks is another top destination for Aurora enthusiasts. Its northern location and dry climate create ideal conditions for Northern Lights sightings. Head to spots like Murphy Dome or Chena Hot Springs for a front-row seat to the spectacle.
4. Reykjavik, Iceland: Aurora Over the Land of Fire and Ice
Iceland’s capital, Reykjavik, serves as a convenient base for Northern Lights adventures. Venture into the countryside to escape light pollution, and keep an eye on the aurora forecast. The Thingvellir National Park and Vik’s black sand beaches are popular spots for aurora hunting.
How Do the Northern Lights Occur?
Smooth Sailing Adventures: 7 Irresistible Reasons to Cruise with Kids
Pic Credit: Pixabay
Are you ready to embark on a family holiday that combines relaxation, adventure, and entertainment? Look no further than a cruise tailored to families with kids! While cruising may conjure images of romantic getaways and tropical sunsets, or a holiday more suited to retirees, do not be fooled it’s also an excellent option for families seeking a fun-filled, hassle-free getaway. Buckle up (or should we say, anchor down?) as we explore the seven irresistible reasons why going on a cruise with kids should be on your family’s travel radar for your next getaway.
A Floating Playground: Cruise ships are like floating cities designed with kids in mind. From water parks and rock-climbing walls to mini-golf and sports courts, your little adventurers will be spoiled for choice when it comes to activities. Let them expend their boundless energy while you relax knowing they’re in a safe environment.
Pic Credit: Pixabay
Kid-Friendly Entertainment: Say goodbye to “I’m bored” complaints! On a cruise, boredom is banished thanks to the endless entertainment options. From Broadway-style shows and movie theaters to themed parties and interactive game zones, your kids will be enchanted throughout the voyage.
Adventure for All Ages: Whether you’re sailing the Caribbean or exploring the Mediterranean, cruises offer a range of age-appropriate shore excursions. Snorkeling in vibrant coral reefs, exploring ancient ruins, or zip-lining through lush rainforests – the opportunities for family adventure are endless.
Educational Fun: Who says vacations can’t be educational? Many cruise lines offer kids’ clubs with educational programs that blend learning and play. From science experiments to cooking classes and workshops on marine life, your kids will expand their horizons without even realizing it.
Top 10 reasons for traveling with kids
Pic Credit: The Mamma Fairy Blog Trip: Tromso
Traveling with kids can be an enriching and rewarding experience that not only creates lasting memories but also offers numerous developmental and educational benefits. While it might seem daunting at first, the advantages of embarking on adventures with your little ones far outweigh any challenges. So far my 8 and 11 year old have been to 33 countries and counting, they really do love to travel like their parents!
From fostering family bonding to promoting cultural awareness, here’s why traveling with kids is such a great idea.
- Quality Family Time: In today’s fast-paced world, spending quality time together can be a challenge. Traveling provides a unique opportunity to bond as a family away from the distractions of daily life. Sharing new experiences, navigating unfamiliar surroundings, and overcoming challenges as a unit can strengthen family ties and create lasting connections.
- Educational Opportunities: Travel exposes children to new cultures, languages, histories, and environments. It’s a hands-on learning experience that goes beyond what they can learn from books or screens. Whether it’s exploring a museum, tasting local cuisine, or immersing in a different way of life, kids gain valuable insights that can’t be replicated in a classroom.
Pic Credit: The Mamma Fairy Blog Trip: Jordan
- Cultural Awareness: Exposing children to diverse cultures from a young age fosters open-mindedness, empathy, and an appreciation for differences. Interacting with people from different backgrounds encourages kids to develop a broader perspective on the world and helps break down stereotypes.
- Adaptability and Problem-Solving Skills: Traveling often involves navigating unexpected situations. From flight delays to language barriers, kids learn to adapt to changing circumstances and develop problem-solving skills. These experiences teach them flexibility, patience, and how to stay composed in the face of challenges.
- Building Confidence: Traveling encourages kids to step out of their comfort zones. Whether it’s trying new foods or engaging with locals, each successful encounter boosts their self-confidence. Overcoming obstacles during travel empowers children to believe in their abilities.
- Creating Lasting Memories: Memories of shared adventures have the power to strengthen family bonds for a lifetime. Children cherish the moments spent exploring new places with their parents and siblings. These memories often become stories that are passed down through generations. One such trip for us was definitely Tromso, it captured our hearts in a way we never expected.
- Expanding Horizons: Exposure to different landscapes, architecture, and lifestyles broadens a child’s perspective. It ignites a curiosity about the world, inspiring them to ask questions and seek knowledge about unfamiliar places.
Tips for visiting Malaga with kids
Malaga is a city we visited many times before we had kids however shamefully we have not been back since. This summer we aim to remedy that. Malaga is the perfect place to base yourself in Southern Spain. It is a really family friendly location with lots to see and do as well as good food, good wines and really friendly people. It is also very close to another vibrant Spanish city – Marbella. Spain is one of those holiday designation that keeps drawing you back in, from its temperate climate to its food to its warm and welcoming local people, you really cannot go wrong with a family holiday in Spain.
When to visit Malaga
Pic Credit: Pixabay
Malaga can be visited year round which also very much adds to its appeal. The warmest months are July and August with temperatures creeping up over 30. They are also the busiest months with tourists. Pre kids and having to work out holidays around school terms we loved September, it was quieter in terms of tourist numbers and temps in the mid 20s were ideal for us. We travelled so much pre kids and now with kids one thing we are prepared to spend on is our accommodation. There is nothing nicer than after a long day of sightseeing to come back to accommodation to relax or maybe have a drink around the pool, you will be spoilt for choice with all the beautiful fincas in Malaga that are available.
Getting around Malaga
The first consideration when we land to a new destination is how to get from the airport to your accommodation. Malaga airport is a busy airport being the gateway to a lot of the Costa del Sol however there are a multitude of options when leaving the airport and at a very reasonable price. The train runs every 20ish minutes until almost 1am. There is also a bus service which runs until midnight again the frequency is around every 20 minutes. Like most airports you also have the usual transport app’s like Uber, there are also dedicated taxis outside or if like us with kids after a long flight we often book a private transfer just so we know and we aren’t trying to find bus/ train etc with tired and grumpy kids.
5 Tips for Tallinn with kids
I was so excited to visit Tallinn, I was fascinated by the Medieval architecture and the fairy tale like streets. However I hadn’t seen many posts on tips for Tallinn with kids so I vowed to do this post when I get back to help other families visit this stunning city. Below are my top tips for getting the most out of your trip to Tallinn with kids.
1 – Get the Tallinn Card
We have used city attraction type cards in many countries around the world. The Tallinn Card is available on-line or in person over in Tallinn and can be purchased for different durations such as 24, 48 or 72 hours. The card itself covers free or discounted entrance into over 50 attractions. Tallinn isn’t a big city and very walkable, so we could plan our attractions easily. I asked the kids if they had a favourite attraction and between them listed their top 3 – Kiek in de Kök (I totally agree, spectacular) , Seaplane Museum and Proto Invention Factory (very cool …. so much so we went twice!) all of which had free entry with the Tallinn Card. Another huge plus of the Tallinn Card is that it grants you unlimited free public transport on Tallinn’s buses, Trams and Trolleys. To give you an idea of the price a 48 hour card is €51 for an adult and €26 for a child. This is definitely one of our top tips for Tallinn with kids.
2 – Get lost in the medieval streets
The first thing you will notice in Tallinn is how stunningly beautiful the streets are, its impossible not to be awed. The first morning we just wandered meandering around the quaint streets. The town hall square is really lovely as it the area around St Catherine Passage. I honestly felt like I was in an old movie, so beautiful and captivating.
Tallinn Viru Gate
Tallinn main square
Tallinn St Catherines Passage
Tallinn – Kiek in de Kök
Tallinn view from Fat Margaret
3 – Sample a Medieval feast
Dotted around the main square are little quaint medieval pubs like III Draakon and Olde Hansa. Its a really cool experience, the staff are in traditional outfits and act our their roles really well. The food is served by candlelight making it really atmospheric.
Tips for Jordan with kids
If travelling to Jordan with kids is on your agenda we have compiled tips and advice based on our recent trip to Jordan. I have lots of queries via our Instagram on our trip and it has taken me way longer to write this article but life has been busy with work and my kids play and compete in a lot of sport so time just run away on me!
Jordan with kids Pic Credit: The Mamma Fairy Blog
I had read a lot and I mean a lot while planning and researching this trip and the Jordan Pass was a no brainer it covers entry into over 40 of the key sites including Jerash, Wadi Rum Petra and also by purchasing the pass the 40Jd visa fee is waived. Kids under 12 go free anyway to the tourist sites in Jordan so you don’t have to buy a pass for kids however you do need to pay the 40jd visa fee. It’s comes via email which you can store on your phone, however we printed them out as I heard reviews of people have difficulty when scanning on the phone and also saves you having to hand over your phone every time. In theory you are meant to also show your passport or a copy of it but we were never asked in any site but did have it copied and printed again just to save having to hand it over every time we wanted to enter one of the attractions.
Jordan with kids – Amman Citadel Pic Credit: The Mamma Fairy Blog
I find when travelling with young kids you need to be flexible and I feel anyway take it at a slower pace. Jordan has 2 airports one in Amman, its capital and the other in Aqaba in the south of the country. Its certainly worth considering your key attractions and factoring the airport around that for example, Aqaba is closer to Petra and Wadi Rum where as Amman is closer to the Dead Sea, Jerash, Baptism Site, Madaba. The distance from Amman to Petra is over 4 hours each way.
Another thing to note is do be prepared to queue at visa desks, it took us quite a while to get through so I was glad I had snacks for the kids. Also be sure to fill in the tourist form before you arrive to get your QR code. Its all online and quick to fill in.
Visas took so long that when we landed to the belt they had moved our luggage over to a holding/ storage area which nobody had told us. We have an old suitcase with a distinctive colour which one of the kids spotted quickly. In addition we did have a tile in it so we knew at the very least it had made it to Amman.
Tips for skiing with kids
Getting your kids ready for their first lesson on the slopes is exciting but you might be thinking about getting a thousand things or doing a thousand things that you probably don’t need to or you might be forgetting something important. We love winter holiday with our kid having been to Tromso and Lapland in recent years. Here’s our concise, handy guide on tips for skiing with kids with thanks to Maison Sport.
Keep in mind your kids will probably fall quite a few times before getting the hang of it, so it’s important to make sure their attire is appropriate so as to avoid snow getting inside their clothes. Here are our tips for clothing:
- One-piece ski suit is better than a two-piece outfit. We’ve all experienced it, even as adults, it can happen that when you fall your jacket can ride up and some snow gets inside. Especially for young kids, 6 and under it’s better for them to wear a one-piece suit rather than a two-piece suit.
- Mittens are better than gloves. Especially for younger boys and girls, mittens tend to be better not only because they keep their hands warmer, but also it’s easier to grip the ski poles. As a plus, the wrist straps will make sure they won’t lose their mittens even if they take them off.
Tips for skiing with kids
- Ski masks under the helmet. A ski mask protects head, ears, neck and face if needed. Again it’s practical because it doesn’t leave many gaps for snow or cold to get through.
- Layer Up. Layers will make sure your kids stay warm during their lessons. Typically you’ll want at least three layers – thermal layer, a fleece layer, and a waterproof insulating layer.
- Don’t buy too many things. Keep in mind that next year your kids will have probably outgrown all their clothes so don’t go crazy buying too many things, especially if you only ski once or twice a year. Better yet, if you have other friends with kids, you can always borrow a few things!
- Ski Socks. It’s worth investing in a couple of sets of ski socks, much better than using normal or sport socks. They’ll only need to wear one set, don’t send them out in two layers of socks.
How cute is it seeing all the little kids with their little skis on or on their mini boards? Making sure they feel comfortable in their equipment is key for them to have a good time during their lesson.
- Get them used to it. As soon as you have your equipment, make sure they are comfortable in it, especially the boots. Have them walk around, bend their knees, make a couple of movements they would do during their lesson in order to make sure everything feels good to them and nothing is too tight or hurts them.
- Rent. As with clothes, what fits right this year, will probably be too small next year. Especially when it comes to equipment which is definitely more expensive than clothes, it’s always better to rent it.
- Goggles. It is important your kids have goggles to protect their eyes from the glare and keep them warmer. A tip with goggles, try and keep the foam and inside of the goggles dry as the goggle can steam up if they get wet.
Tips for visiting New York with kids
Pic Credit: Pixabay
New York is one of those cities I will never tire of visiting, I am lucky to have visited over 10 times and even more lucky to have spent time living and working there. However despite many requests from the kids who are 10 and 7 now we have never taken them. 2023 will be the year we change that. We are considering combining it with a return trip to Canada.
With that in mind, I have spent the last few weeks doing some research on tips for visiting New York with kids so I thought I would share the learnings as it might help other families thinking of doing the same trip.
1- Attraction Passes
I don’t think this even needs telling but there is a myriad of things to do in New York from thrill seeking type attractions, to walking tours, to dizzying heights type tours to leisurely strolls around art galleries. New York really is the city that never sleeps. We always left wanting more there is simply so much to do and with that the cost does creep up and especially if travelling as a family. My top tip here is to consider getting the New York City Tourist Pass it covers over 90 attractions and you can get a pass from 1 to up to 10 days. Another good option is the New York Explorer Pass which is a smart card that you can purchase in order to gain discounted cash-free entry into 3, 5, 7, or 10 of New York’s top attractions. In many ways a “make your own NYC tourist pass” option, the New York Explorer pass is a flexible way to see some of New York’s greatest sights over a long or short period of time at a discounted price. You actually don’t need to determine the exact sights that you plan to visit ahead of time, you need only decide upon how many you want to see.
Sometimes it can be tough to pick gifts for the woman in your life, so I thought why not compile a list of honest recommendations of what women really want, from the practical to the luxurious we have compiled some recommendations below.
Pic Credit: Identitylingerie.com
I know you are thinking this is a high risk option!! Trust me on this, I found found the perfect offering with sizing that makes the decision a whole lot easier. I bring you Identity Lingerie. These are a small family run company making beautiful yet practical nightwear and underwear. The products are ethically made and environmentally friendly another mega plus in my book. In terms of sizing the products come in size s – xxl, by way of example 32A, 32B, 32C, 32D, 34AA, 34A, 34B represents a small so a lot easier to choose sizes.
I love good nightwear, it really is my treat to myself and I was lucky enough to be sent some of the nightwear product so I can hand on heart attest to the quality of the fabric and workmanship. They are super comfy. I have the Japanese Silk in Navy and I adore them. The fit is excellent as is the quality and they have been washed multiple times are still perfect. I see they are 40% off at the moment making them £59.90 which in my mind is excellent value for what you get. Pic opposite from the webpage as im pretty sure nobody wants to see me in my pjs!
I really think its hard to go wrong with some good quality nightwear. Its a splurge item many of us put to the bottom of our list but something that’s luxurious that we would all really appreciate. I think anyway. Do check out Identity Lingerie, speaking from experience and being fortunate enough to have some of their beautiful products you wont be disappointed.
If buying lingerie or PJ’s isn’t your thing what about a beautiful robe from Irish brand Zzzana the robes are super luxurious and made from eco friendly organic bamboo.