With the festive season right around the corner, what better way to celebrate than head to one of Europe’s best Christmas markets? That’s right, Poland’s second-largest city, Krakow, hosts one of the most popular pop-up extravaganzas!
Think wooden chalet-style market stalls, endless twinkling lights and plenty of mouth-watering local food and drink to try. If you’re looking to get into the festive spirit before the big day, then experiencing a Krakow Christmas will certainly do the trick.
Not sure what to expect? Here’s just a quick rundown of the things you’ve got to look forward to at Krakow’s Christmas market…
Where and when is the market?
Krakow’s Christmas market takes place on Rynek Główny, the city’s huge central square. It’s so big in fact, it’s actually the largest public square in Europe! Striking landmarks around the edge of the square include the 14th-century Cloth Hall and the Town Hall Tower which unusually stands at a slight angle. Since the Middle Ages, the square has been the hub of city life, so it’s even more popular when Krakow’s Christmas market come to town.
Traditionally, the market runs from the end of November to until the last week of December. This year the markets will bring joy to Krakow from 24 November until 1 January.
What is there to do?
At a market, what’s the first thing that springs to mind? Shopping, of course! And there’s plenty of it to be done at Krakow Christmas market. Lots of wooden stalls draped in glittering lights fill Rynek Główny. Whatever’s on your festive shopping list, you’re bound to find it here.
From hand-knitted mittens and scarves to thick woollen slippers that you’d find in any Polish home, there’s a great selection of clothing and accessories. When it comes to homeware and decorations, you can expect fresh mistletoe and handmade wreaths, hand-decorated wooden tree ornaments and renowned Bolesławiec pottery. These delicate ceramics feature traditional Polish designs and are a great addition to your Christmas decorations collection.
If you want to take a little piece of Krakow’s Christmas market home with you, pick up a sparkling szoki nativity scene. These traditional ornaments are covered with glitter and shimmering paper and date back to the 19th century.
There’s also a stage where regular performances are held, where you can listen to local choirs singing jolly Christmas tunes and see traditional nativity displays.
What about the food and drink?
The indulgent fare available at a festive market is world renowned and Krakow’s Christmas market is definitely no different. For starters, you can sample a whole world of local delights. You’ll love the mouth-watering smells of grilled oscypek cheese and giant pork knuckles simmering in a beer-based sauce. Paired with bigos, a Polish stew, these market dishes are a great way of getting to know Krakow’s cuisine.
Sweet treats include intricately designed chocolate shapes which come in all kinds of forms, from chocolate teapots to chocolate nuts and bolts. Next, move onto market favourites such as chocolate smothered waffles and churros, before sampling filled pierogi – a traditional Polish dumpling.
Piernik gingerbread is also sold in all shapes and sizes, with cheerful messages iced on in Polish. If you’ve over-indulged at the other stalls and can’t squeeze another thing in, why not pick up a few to take home for friends and relatives or to hang on your Christmas tree as decorations?
Drinks fit for the festive season
Mulled wine is pretty much a staple at any Christmas market, but in Krakow, there’s much more to try. While many stalls do sell mulled wine, a lot of them also serve hot beer and cider. Is there anything nicer than wandering the market in the cold and crisp night air with a mug of something delicious to keep your hands warm?
When in Poland, it would be rude not to try one of the country’s most popular exports – vodka! It’s not only plain vodka to try either, you can expect a rainbow of coloured vodkas in all sorts of speciality flavours.
Feeling festive and want to check out this fascinating city?
Posted: 18th Oct 2019. Updated: 13th Sept 2023.