When the festive season arrives, Krakow becomes a beautiful sight as its historic streets and houses become draped in snow for visitors to enjoy.
You can only imagine how beautiful Krakow Christmas Market becomes in that kind of scenery. Located on the Main Market Square and the Old Town’s center, the wooden stalls of the Christmas market offer a variety of gifts, treats, and beverages that are best enjoyed out in the cold air, while exploring all the best that Krakow has to offer.
According to the Irish Times, Krakow Christmas Market is one of the top ten Christmas markets in Europe. If you’re planning a special December holiday, consider Krakow as a potential destination – naturally, it has much more to offer than the Christmas market, but the festive event takes the city’s unique atmosphere to the next level.
Here’ some practical info:
Krakow Christmas Market usually starts towards the end of November and lasts until December 26, although it is often extended to early January. You can expect it to be bustling with life throughout the entire Christmas season. The market is usually open from the early morning until late at night and often features performances from local schoolchildren or churches.
Looking for a Christmas adventure? Visit Krakow and its fantastic Christmas Market to get a first-hand experience of Polish Christmas traditions.
Here are 7 good reasons why you should make a trip to the Krakow Christmas Market this year.
Table of Contents
1. Beautiful location
The Christmas Market is located right in the middle of Krakow’s Old Town, next to the majestic Renaissance Cloth Hall and the towering St. Mary’s Basilica. The Market Square dates back to the 13th-century and provides a perfect backdrop to the rows of wooden stalls that occupy the space throughout December.
The Christmas Market is a traditional affair, and it blends in perfectly with the maze of medieval streets that make up Krakow’s old town. It’s worth to make it to Krakow during Christmas because the city center is just made for walking and looks quite magical when covered in snow.
And if you get cold while exploring Krakow streets, you can always hide in one of the cozy cafés and restaurants scattered all over the Old Town – or head over the Christmas Market for some delicious spicy mulled wine.
2. Unforgettable atmosphere
Krakow Christmas Market is firmly rooted in the city’s tradition and history. In the past, local traders would set up their Christmas stalls to sell Christmas trees, decorations, and ingredients for traditional Polish dishes that are served on the Christmas Eve. And mind you, we’re talking about 12 different dishes!
Today, the Christmas market in Krakow provides a huge variety of goods to buyers that extend way beyond Christmas decorations. Each year, the beautifully laid out wooden structure of Christmas stalls occupies the center of the Main Market Square to bring to all its visitors, be it, adults or children.
The market is a favorite among the locals, just as it is among tourists. And there’s one good reason for it: the stalls are carefully selected by the organizers and their number is limited to around 80. That’s why you can be sure to get the highest quality of drinks and treats together with gifts and souvenirs.
And the atmosphere in the midst of the stalls is simply unforgettable.
Visitors get to discover the beautiful Polish Christmas traditions like Christmas carols sung by performers on the market. Another interesting local tradition you get to witness if you visit Krakow during Christmas is the famous Krakow Christmas Crib Contest held annually in the city at the beginning of December since the 19th century.
The decorated nativity cribs are shown to passersby during a unique procession, and then they are put on display under one of Krakow’s most famous monuments nearby the market stalls. These handmade recreations of Krakow’s baroque churches and Gothic cathedrals are just incredible.
Some of them reach 2 m in height! They are made by everyone interested in competing – from schoolkids to pensioners who all spend months working on them. The winners are shown in Krakow’s Historical Museum. You will also find wooden and ceramic nativities available at the Christmas market to take home as souvenirs.
3. Mouthwatering treats
Every Christmas market should cater to the tastes of its visitors, and Krakow’s Christmas Market is no exception. You won’t be disappointed with the wide choice of delicious treats available all over the market. Visitors can try Polish dumplings, special sausages carefully selected smoked hams and local varieties of cheese such as oscypek made from sheep milk.
The smell of grilled meat envelops the markets so you can be sure to develop quite an appetite as you stroll around the stalls and admire local produce. Next, to the meats, you will find a typical Polish appetizer called smalec – a traditional spread made of lard mixed with various spices. You can find it in the market stalls where it is sold on top of hot slices of fresh bread and topped with anything ranging from sausage and bacon to fried onions and the delicious Polish pickled cucumbers.
Don’t forget to try oscypek, the smoked cheese made from sheep milk by the inhabitants of the Tatra mountains located in the south of Poland. You will find this cheese among vendors huddled over tiny grills who sell small pieces of hot cheese with cranberry jelly. You might even find the cheese wrapped in bacon or combined with a plum! All these versions are delicious, so be sure to try this salty treat.
Krakow Christmas Market is the perfect place to try all the best specialties of the region. Take gingerbread as an example. Sure, you can find gingerbread cookies all over Germany, but Poland is famous for its special kind of gingerbread that comes in various shapes and sizes. Just walk around the stalls, and you will see that sometimes gingerbread comes in the shape of cake, and other times it is sold as harder cookies. It doesn’t matter which type of gingerbread you opt for; you surely won’t be disappointed.
If you’re visiting the Christmas market with children, be prepared to see plenty of mouthwatering candy stalls that offer local sweet treats such as the cream fudge, homemade Polish cookies, various Christmas-themed candies, typical Polish donuts, chocolate-covered fruit, jars of marmalade and jams, or locally made chocolate. Be sure to look for a stall that sells chocolate shaped like various unlikely items such as cotton reels or hacksaws – they will make an amazing gift for both adults and children. And you can bet that the chocolate is the delicious.
Needless to say, Krakow Christmas Market is a perfect place if you’re suffering from a serious case of sweet tooth.
4. Drinks are to die for
Walking around the market surrounded by December chill, you will need nourishment in the form of a hot drink. Some of the most popular features of the market are the giant wooden barrels. Inside, you will find small shops where you can buy a delicious local mulled wine called Grzaniec Galicyjski. Sip on the spicy wine and listen to Christmas carols performed on the market – that’s probably the best way to enjoy the festive season.
While hot wine is the most popular beverage available on the market, you might be able to find another interesting and very Polish drink – hot beer. It’s is usually a regular beer combined with a sweet syrup that comes in various tastes such as raspberry, cranberry, or ginger. It might come as a surprise, but hot beer can be really good!
Finally, you should take a look at the market in search of bottled meads. Poland is famous for its strong alcoholic beverages, and the meads are going to make an amazing gift for your friends and family back home.
5. It’s the best place to shop for unique gifts
While walking around the beautiful stalls of the Krakow Christmas Market, you’re simply bound to find amazing gifts and souvenirs for all your friends and family back home. You can be sure that items sold at the market are of high quality and are all produced locally.
Did you know that every Polish home is equipped with special slippers that to be worn inside the house? You will find such slippers made of wool at the market together with furry hats and rugs. Pick up a pair to keep your feet warm during cold winter nights.
The market is full of handmade items that will make for a perfect souvenir. You can pick up handmade plates, Christmas decorations, and ornaments, beautiful pillowcases, ceramic figurines, or serving dishes. Look around, and you will spot an entire stand dedicated to wooden items like spoons, forks, plates, and serving dishes. These wooden utensils will add a cozy, rustic feel to every kitchen.
You’ve probably heard of the beautiful and famous Bolesławiec Pottery. It usually comes in blue and white, decorated in traditional Polish designs. You can be sure to find some cute ceramic Christmas trees or decorations to bring home. They aren’t cheap, but they are well worth their price.
Since we’re talking about souvenirs, don’t forget to have a look at the artisan stalls inside the arcade of the majestic Cloth Hall. Navigating this crowded place isn’t easy, but with some luck, you will find fantastic jewelry made of gold, silver, but also amber.
6. Amazing Christmas decorations
If you come from a Western country, you’re probably no stranger to mistletoe. Well, if you would like to mistletoe to decorate your house, the Krakow Christmas Market is the right place for you.
You will find many vendors standing under yellow tents selling fresh bundles of mistletoe. You can pick some of that to put on your door frame to encourage people to kiss or simply for good luck.
Vendors in these yellow tents also sell beautiful handmade wreaths made of fresh pine. If you’re headed to a Christmas party, you can easily bring that is a gift. You can also use it to decorate your own Christmas table – after all, that’s how Christmas is supposed to smell like.
Krakow Christmas Market is a perfect place if you’re looking for unique Christmas decorations that will transform your home to reflect the real spirit of Christmas. You will find not only floral Christmas tree decorations, but also other items like candles decorated with winter or religious motives, illumination structures or enormous socks you can hang at your mantelpiece to store gifts.
You will also find a great selection of Christmas baubles that are often hand-painted and make for unique decorations for your Christmas tree.
7. Krakow Christmas Market is the place to be
Visiting Krakow during winter is a smart move.
You can also try some tours during your stay.
Christmas time is really special in Poland because it is still more about tradition and history rather than blind consumerism. And the Krakow Christmas Market reflects the idea perfectly. Continuing the tradition started centuries ago, the wooden stalls that appear on the Main Market Square in December embody everything we love about Christmas – friendly warmth, delicious food and drinks, the beauty of gifting, and the pleasure of sharing these beautiful moments with countless other visitors who are happy to celebrate Christmas.
Krakow Christmas Market might be a big affair, but once you arrive, you will discover that its welcoming atmosphere makes everyone feel like at home.