Poland’s oldest and second largest city, Krakow, is beautiful all year round, but it turns into a fairytale destination during Christmas time. December is one of the best times to visit Krakow, when the city is decorated with Christmas lights and the Christmas market is in full swing.
Jarmark bożonarodzeniowy (the name for Christmas Market in Polish) is one of the most important festivals of the year. It’s a tradition that began in Krakow in the early 20th century and still continues today.
Loved by locals and tourists, the Christmas Market in Krakow is one of the best in Europe, attracting thousands of visitors every year.
When is it?
Christmas markets traditionally start at the end of November and last until the second day of Christmas.
The 2019 edition of the Krakow Christmas Market officially opened on 29th of November and will continue until the 26th of December. The city usually prolongs the market until the Epiphany on 6th of January. The market stalls are open to the public every day from 10am to 10pm.
Did you know that…?
Fairs and parades have been held in Krakow’s main square, Rynek Główny, for centuries. It’s not surprising given that the square measures a whooping 40,000 square metres – one of the largest squares in Europe. Rynek Glowny is the beating heart of Krakow’s city life.
Every December, the Rynek is transformed into a magical wonderland thanks for the Christmas market. Wooden huts covered in fairy lights and merry-go-rounds for the kids surround the vast Cloth Hall (Sukkennice), itself a covered market hall located in the middle of the square.
There are approximately 80 market stalls to browse at Krakow’s Christmas market, selling all manner of seasonal gifts, traditional food and drinks.
Fill up your Christmas stockings
Christmas markets offer the perfect opportunity to find unique and unusual gifts and souvenirs to buy for your family and friends back home. Also don’t miss this chance to stock up on local regional produce, such as Polish cured meats, honey, chocolate and spirits.
In Krakow, you will find a great selection of beautiful Christmas decorations, hand-painted glass baubles, wreaths and garlands. Local traders will be open every day to sell traditional blue and white Bolesławiec pottery, embroidered fabrics, candles, Christmas cards, wooden decorations, handmade arts and crafts, knitwear, toys, and jewellery.
The best place to taste traditional Polish food
What better place than Krakow’s Christmas Market to get a taste of traditional Polish cuisine? The market offers plenty of foodie treats to appeal to any taste.
From kielbasa sausages and golonka ham hock to oscypek, a typical smoked cheese cooked on the grill and served with cranberry sauce; from pierogi dumplings to podpłomyk flat bread. To keep warm, try bigos a meat stew that is considered one of the national dishes of Poland, or zurek and barszcz soups. Without forgetting of course the local specialty of Krakow bagels, obwarzanek Krakowski, which are often sold from small carts on street corners.
For those of you with a sweet tooth, pancakes and waffles, roasted nuts, roasted chestnuts, cakes, chocolates, marzipan are all on sale at Krakow Christmas Market. You will want to taste Polish pączki, sugared doughnuts filled with jams or flavoured creams.
One thing you shouldn’t miss at Krakow’s Christmas Market is pierniczki, traditional Polish cookies made with honey and spices, similar to gingerbread. They come in many different shapes (though the most popular are heart-shaped) and are often used as Christmas tree decorations, making them a beautiful gift to buy for your family and friends.
Prices at Krakow’s Christmas Market are around 10zl-15zl (2.30-3.50€) for alcoholic drinks and 20zl-30zl for hot dishes (4.60-7€). Don’t forget to bring cash!
Keep warm with a glass ofmulled wine
While the market stalls sell lots of different kinds of hot food, sweets and snacks, they don’t actually sell alcohol.
Beers, bottled meads, mulled wine and tea are available from the larger wooden huts usually located at the centre of the market. These huts are one or two storeys high and have elaborate illuminations strung across the balconies and roof, so you can’t miss them.
The most traditional drink at Christmas Markets anywhere is hot mulled wine, an aromatic blend of red wine, sugar, and spices. In Poland, this drink is called grzaniec galicyjski, it is served straight out of wooden barrels and comes in many flavours: blueberry, raspberry, plum, and so on.
Temperatures average 0-3 °C degrees during the day in Krakow in December, but can go below zero in the evenings. So don’t forget to wrap up warm! Start your tour of the market with a glass of mulled wine to keep warm while you wander around the stalls or queue for the food.
Don’t miss the nativity cribs of Krakow
Krakow is renowned for the beautifully decorated crèches or nativity cribs, known in Polish as szopki. Featuring the beautiful Baroque and Gothic churches of the city, these handmade works of art (some reaching 2m in height) can take months to make. They are displayed in the square underneath the Mickiewicz monument on the first Thursday of December. They are voted in a competition and the best ones are then shown in the Historical Museum of Kraków.
A fun day out for kids and adults
While the adults will no doubt enjoy the endless shopping and food options, the little ones will need something different to stay entertained. Don’t worry! The Christmas Market is a dreamy fairground from children with carousels and other amusement rides, as well as choir singing, writing letters to St. Nicholas, and a visit of St. Nicholas.
The Christmas Market in Krakow is accompanied by other events such as Carol Procession, Polish Forefathers’ Rite and folklore performances.
Get inspired to visit Krakow during the holidays!
So come and enjoy yourself in Krakow this Christmas. Krakow has a special atmosphere at this time of the year and you are guaranteed to have an unforgettable holiday!