Krakow, Poland is my favorite, totally underrated city and I could honestly spend days just wandering its historic streets. When I was planning a return visit to Krakow in December, I was especially excited to see its Christmas market. Located in the dreamy Rynek Glowny square (my favorite in Europe!), it’s as close to a fairy tale as you could draw up in modern days. There weren’t many Krakow Christmas market reviews online, and we could only find basic information about it, so we kind of went in blind. Lucky for you, you won’t have to!
- 1 Shopping at the Krakow Christmas market
- 2 Krakow Christmas Market food and drink
- 3 Other activities at the Krakow Christmas Market
- 4 Krakow Christmas Market 2018 dates
- 5 Krakow Christmas Market opening times
- 6 Hotels near the Krakow Christmas Markets
- 7 Krakow Christmas Market tips
- 8 How to get to the Krakow Xmas Market
- 9 What to bring to the Krakow Christmas Market
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Shopping at the Krakow Christmas market
Temporary booths and kiosks take over the open spaces in the Rynek Glowny square during the Christmas market here, and browsing their wares is one of the top things to do in Krakow in December. They sell everything from sweets – definitely try some of the candy! – to Christmas tree ornaments to clothing. I got the softest pair of mittens I’ve ever seen at one of the booths and I’m so obsessed with them that I kind of want to wear them indoors too. You can also snag some traditional Polish slippers that will not only keep your feet warm, but also serve as a nice reminder of your visit to Krakow.
Another one of my favorite booths was selling wooden kitchen utensils. I almost bought some before I remembered that my condo has the world’s smallest kitchen and I can’t even fit the stuff I already own in its limited storage space. Amber jewelry is another popular item in Poland, and you can find several options for necklaces, earrings, and more in the booths, in addition to other types of stones.
Krakow Christmas Market food and drink
Let’s face it, food is typically one of the most important aspects of an event for me, and luckily, the food at the Krakow Christmas Market was absolutely amazing. If you’re unsure of how to find it, just follow the smell of grilling delicacies and you’ll be headed in the right direction. Or follow the trails of drool like a bloodhound. Your choice. We got massive plates of grilled meat, sausages, and vegetables for next to nothing and it was one of the best meals of the trip. My mom’s only complaint was that they charged a few cents more for things like ketchup and mustard, but since I don’t like either of those, I had no problems. The hearty meal was the perfect thing to fill my stomach and warm me up in the chilly December weather. We were lucky to snag a standing table near the grills, so we had a place to set our food down and eat. I’m not sure how we would’ve managed with our heavily laden plates.
If you’re more into pierogi than sausages on the grill, there was also a stand serving up some great looking dumplings, though I decided to save my pierogi eating for my favorite restaurant in Europe.
No European Christmas market is complete without some hot, boozy beverages, and the Xmas market in Krakow doesn’t disappoint. There were several little kiosks selling a few different types of hot beverages. You can, of course, get hot wine, which is a must at any Christmas Market. You can also try the hot beer – it sounds weird, but it’s mixed with a sweet flavored syrup and can give you a nice break if you’re tired of mulled wines.
Other activities at the Krakow Christmas Market
Throughout the Christmas market’s run, you’ll find many different Christmas carol performances in the square. The nativity competition is another favorite activity associated with the market. Entrants spend months creating elaborate nativity cribs, replicas of famous cathedrals in the city, and more and present them in a special procession before putting them on display near the market. Horsedrawn carriages are also available for rides through the historic area, though they aren’t necessarily unique to the Christmas market.
Krakow Christmas Market 2018 dates
The 2018 Krakow Christmas market officially runs from November 30th-December 26th. And possibly a little bit longer. Since Christmas in Poland is celebrated through at least the Epiphany in early January (and also kind of until February), the market has been being extended little by little. The market seemed to shrink after Christmas, but there were still some booths available, probably to capitalize on the tourists in the square, for a few days after that. It’s worth checking out if you find yourself in town even after the official end date. At worst, you’ll end up in the always-gorgeous Rynek Glowny and only be able to enjoy the sights. You could do worse.
Krakow Christmas Market opening times
The market also doesn’t have precisely defined opening times. One site reports the 2018 hours as 10am-8pm, with the food stands staying open until 10pm, but it’s hard to say for sure because the event doesn’t appear to have an official site. When we were there, it seemed like booths were closing at random whenever the sellers decided to go home, but that was also late in the Christmas Market’s run, so people may not be in such a hurry to pack up and go home earlier in the season. We were there until at least 10pm and there were still several booths open both nights. I wouldn’t plan on shopping until midnight, but it’s a perfect place for a relaxing evening or a date night on the road.
Hotels near the Krakow Christmas Markets
We stayed at the Venetian House Market Square Aparthotel right on the Rynek Glowny square and couldn’t have asked for a better location. You can reserve rooms with or without breakfast included, but if you opt out of breakfast, there’s a bakery with awesome pastries and heartier food just a few doors down. Here are a few other options in the area:
- The Bonerowski Palace is a great luxury option near the Rynek Glowny.
- The Hotel Wentzel is another luxurious, though slightly more affordable option.
- The Hotel Imperial is a good mid-range option.
- The Heynow Hostel is very affordable and close to the main square.
Krakow Christmas Market tips
- Come hungry! The food at the market is delicious and it would be a shame to miss out on that because you showed up with a full stomach.
- Bring cash. You’ll want plenty of zloty (the Polish currency) to do your shopping. It would be pretty disappointing to stumble across a sweet snack you want to try or the perfect gift for someone on your list and not be able to buy it because you ran out of cash.
- Dress warmly. See below for a list of some warm items you should bring. Always dress in layers to keep as warm as possible.
- Visit at night to soak up the full atmosphere with the twinkling Christmas lights.
- Beware of pickpockets. Anywhere that has crowds and lots of cash transactions is a potential pickpocket zone. Make sure you safeguard your money and take care to avoid flashing a lot of cash. I’ve been traveling with a Travelon purse for the last few years, and I love how many security features it has.
How to get to the Krakow Xmas Market
Krakow has a pretty extensive network of buses and trams, and while they don’t enter the narrow streets of pedestrian-friendly Old Town, many of the lines will get you within a couple of blocks of Rynek Glowny. There’s a tram stop right by the Barbican that will be very convenient. If you’re on a bus route, look for options that will get you to the roads encircling the Old Town (Stare Miastro in Polish) area. You’ll still have a 10-15 minute walk. Otherwise, a cab will be your best bet.
The Krakow Glowny train station is only about a 20 minute walk. There are bus routes available from the train station, but you may find it faster to just walk since any route will drop you off at a spot requiring a 10-15 minute walk anyway. Unless you’re hauling a lot of luggage or have difficulty walking, you’ll probably find it faster to just head over on foot.
The nearest major airport is about a 20-minute drive from the square, so factor that in if you’re planning on flying to Krakow and heading straight to the Christmas market. There are express buses that run to the central train station from the airport, but they don’t run very frequently. Regular routes 208 and 252 service the airport as well, but they will take you longer because they make several stops.
What to bring to the Krakow Christmas Market
- If you plan on doing a lot of shopping, bring a canvas tote to carry your purchases. You’ll be extra festive with one with a Christmas design like this one.
- A warm coat. No matter how much mulled wine or hot beer you drink, you’ll still need one of these to stay warm. Krakow weather in December is going to be pretty cold, and there’s a decent chance of snow. I prefer a packable down jacket because it’s the perfect winter travel accessory. (Men’s style here.)
- Hat and gloves. Same reason as above. Make sure your gloves have touchscreen capabilities so you can use your electronics.
- Warm walking shoes. There aren’t a lot of spots to sit down and take a break at the Krakow Christmas market, so plan on being on your feet the whole time you’re there. Even better if your shoes are waterproof in case there’s snow.
If you’re doing a Christmas market tour, don’t miss the one in Vienna, or check out these other great things to do in the Krakow area!
- Itinerary for 3 days in Krakow
- Exploring the Wieliczka Salt Mine
- Wawel Castle in Krakow, Poland
- The Best Pierogi in Krakow: Pierozki U Vincenta