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Krakow Christmas Market – All You Need To Know

Last updated on February 29th, 2024 at 11:16 am

Yes, it’s time to start thinking about Christmas and in particular, Christmas markets. I love Christmas – the build up, lights, decorations, presents (of course!) and the European Christmas markets. I visited Poland for the Krakow Christmas market 2022 and had an amazing time!

Poland is blessed with many Christmas markets – Warsaw Christmas market, Gdansk Christmas market, Wroclaw Christmas market to name a few – but the Krakow Christmas market, with its collection of wooden stalls and delicious array of food, is probably the most well known and a popular destination for those looking for tradition and hoping for snow!

If you’re considering Krakow Christmas market this year, then here’s my guide on all aspects, from whether the Krakow Christmas market is worth visiting to how to get there, what to see and what to eat!

Image of a large Christmas tree at the Krakow Christmas market

Is Krakow Christmas Market Worth Visiting?

Yes! Definitely. Krakow’s cobbled streets, beautiful architecture, large medieval market square and castle are amazing in their own right but when you add in traditional stalls, lights, decorations, seasonal foods/treats and holiday weather Krakow really is a magical destination.

The Christmas market Krakow 2022 was excellent and I have no doubt that Christmas in Krakow 2023 will be just as wonderful. Read on and I’ll tell you why!

Getting To Krakow Christmas Market

There are direct flights to Krakow from most major airports in the UK making getting there fairly straightforward. Flight time from London is about 2.5 hours. Flights from destinations outside of Europe may need to connect through Warsaw. Check Kiwi.com and Expedia.co.uk for flight options and prices.

Poland is a member of the European Union but has not adopted the Euro. Instead, it retains its own currency, the Polish Złoty, referred to in this post as PLN.

On arrival at Krakow airport (John Paul II International Airport – KRK) you will need to get transport to Krakow’s main station (Kraków Główny). Taxis are available but it is easy and cheaper to catch the train.

Follow the signs in the arrivals hall to the train platform (you’ll be taken up an escalator from arrivals and through a covered walkway to the station) where you will find machines to purchase tickets. Note too that you can buy tickets on the train. A single trip into the main station will cost PLN 17 and the trip will take about 20 minutes.

On arrival at Kraków Główny follow the signs for the Old Town (Stare Miasto). Although it may feel as though you have taken a wrong turn, you haven’t…..you will be led through a large, modern shopping centre, Galeria Krakowska! My advice at this point is to resist, try not to stop and spend all you money here but factor in some time to shop on the way back!

The bus into Krakow is also an option and tickets can be bought from the machine in the arrivals hall. A single fare is cheaper than the train (starting at around PLN 4) but the trip is longer, upwards of 45 minutes. Personally, I caught the train without any issues.

Check the airport website for up to date travel information.

Image of the main train station at Krakow

Where To Stay In Krakow

Krakow has a wide range of accommodation options available depending on your budget. In terms of location, you cannot go past the Old Town. However, with location often comes a higher price. 

My visit to the Christmas markets Krakow 2022 included 3 nights at the Maksymilian Hotel which is located about a 10 minute walk outside of the Old Town. I had an excellent stay at this hotel – a spacious room, helpful staff and close proximity to public transport for when I wanted to explore other areas of the city.

When choosing where to stay, do keep in mind that it will be cold and there may be snow so if you/your party have mobility issues, the Old Town may be the best place to stay in Krakow for Christmas markets.

For hotels, location and prices, I use booking.com and hotels.com as a starting point. Other, all inclusive, options can be researched using Expedia, Kayak, Skyscanner and Opodo or directly with the airlines.

Krakow Weather In December 

Winter in Krakow Poland…..think cold! With average monthly highs of 3°/4°C (37°/39°F) and lows of -3°C (26°F), Krakow in winter means you will need the following:

  • a warm jacket
  • layers of clothing (including thermals and warm socks)
  • scarf
  • gloves
  • hat
  • waterproof, comfortable shoes
  • an umbrella

Whilst snow isn’t guaranteed, I was lucky and it did snow when I was there. The snow certainly adds a touch of magic to the Christmas markets in Krakow, but it can create some challenging underfoot conditions so make sure your shoes have traction! 

Krakow Christmas Market 2023 – Location, Dates and Times

Once again, the Krakow Christmas market will be located in Rynek Główny, the main market square. This is a huge, historically very significant space, the largest town square in Europe in fact, and you will find plenty to see and do there in addition to visiting the market stalls – read my post 13 of the Best Things to do in Krakow for suggestions of what you can get up to when you’ve exhausted the markets!

The markets are located next to the magnificent Cloth Hall which dominates the main market square. In here you will find many more vendors selling a variety of souvenirs and other goods.

The Krakow Christmas market dates are now confirmed – the market will open on 24 November 2023 and close on 26 December 2023, although some stalls may remain open into the New Year.

The official hours for the market stalls themselves are 10am to 8pm. 

Image of the wooden market stalls at the Krakow Christmas market

What Can You Buy At The Krakow Christmas Markets?

Shoppers out there won’t be disappointed with the array of goods on sale. Aside from the usual amazing Christmas decorations, ornaments etc. the following items will likely be in plentiful supply:

  • Gingerbread – lots of varieties to choose from including those with icing and those without
  • Sweets/Candy/Lollies (the latter being a New Zealand term!)
  • Chocolate
  • Children’s toys
  • Woollen/knitted items – gloves, socks, hats, jumpers etc. were all available (I bought a hat!)
  • Lace
  • Wooden kitchen utensils 
  • Wooden toys
  • Vodka
  • Pottery
  • Szopki – these are the nativity scenes that Krakow is famous for (see below)

There are also many lovely shops in the streets surrounding the main market square and don’t forget Galeria Krakowska, the large shopping centre you will need to walk through if you are catching the train back to the airport!

Krakow Christmas Market Food – What to Eat and Drink 

Food glorious food! There’s a lot of it. I made a point of wanting to try Polish food during my visit and ended up eating my main meal at the Krakow Xmas market 2022 on each of the 3 days I was there. With plenty of options to choose from, here’s what I ate:

Oscypek (Grilled Cheese)

I hadn’t expected to see this but was intrigued so gave it a go. A smoked cheese, in my case topped with cranberry, it had a strong flavour but one that I enjoyed.

Bigos (Hunters Stew)

This was sold on stalls that offered a variety of traditional soups including Barszcz czerwiny solo (beetroot soup), Zurek (sour rye soup) and Czosnkowa (garlic soup) amongst others. I decided to try the Hunters Stew which contains a variety of meats, sauerkraut and vegetables. It had a smoky taste to it but was very rich and filling.

Pierogi (Dumplings)

This is a very traditional Polish dish. I chose half with a potato filling and half with a meat filling. You can select from various toppings but I decided to have them without. Again, a very filling meal.

Pork Knuckle

The sounds and smells of sausages frying and knuckles roasting filled the air and I could not resist! I decided to try the knuckle with sauerkraut. The knuckle had been cooked over a fire and then simmered in a sauce. The meat was so tender it fell off the bone. I was eating this beneath the freezing cold, falling snow and it was the perfect accompaniment.

Placki Ziemniaczane (Potato Pancakes)

When I saw these being cooked at one of the stalls I knew I had to taste them. Crispy, tasty, warm and very filling, these hit the spot after a long day of sightseeing.

Zapiekanki (Polish Pizza)

I have to be honest here, I did not buy my Zapiekanki from the market. Instead, I bought this ‘highlander’ version with cheese, mushrooms, sausage, bacon, smoked mountain cheese and cranberry from the famous Bar Oko located in Plac Nowy in the Kazimierz area of Krakow. Again, it was delicious.

Drinks

Mulled wine, both with alcohol and without, is available, although I didn’t find the decorated ceramic mugs that can be found at other, mainly German, markets.

I did stumble upon a gorgeous, thick hot chocolate too and that was me pretty much set for the duration!

Alternative Options

If market food isn’t your thing, then the main square and surrounding streets are home to a large number of restaurants, bars and cafes. I also noticed that many places offered vegan alternatives – I am not vegan and didn’t eat at these places so cannot comment on range or quality.

What Else Is There To Do At The Krakow Christmas Markets?

A lot! There are so many things to do in Krakow at Christmas including these Christmassy activities:

Looking at the nativity scenes (Szopki)

Krakow has a long tradition of constructing nativity scenes and around the Old Town you can see some very impressive efforts. Since 1937 there has been a competition to build them (with a break of 6 years for WWII) organised by the Museum of Krakow.

Enjoy the Christmas decorations

Christmas trees can be found around the city and although the decorations are not over the top or everywhere, you will see them above the shopping streets and in the various town squares.

Listen to Christmas Music

Music and singing from performers on a stage in the main market square further add to the festive atmosphere at Krakow’s Christmas market (especially when it snows and you have a mulled wine in your hands!).

Visit St Mary’s Basilica

A magnificent site from outside, the Basilica is even more impressive inside. A must see when at the markets.

Take a Carriage Ride

There is something very Christmassy about seeing and hearing the horse’s hooves clip-clopping over the cobbled roads in the Old Town, especially when it is snowing. The carriages depart from the main square not far from St Mary’s Basilica.

Go Ice Skating

Krakow has a few ice skating rinks available, but one that is most accessible is located outside the Galeria Krakowska and therefore only a short walk from the main market square. There was a small market located next to it when I visited the 2022 Krakow xmas markets.

What Else Is There To Do In Krakow?

If you want to take a break from Christmas shopping (and of course, eating and drinking!), then beyond the xmas market you will find that there is so much to see and do in Krakow. Museums, churches, a castle and Jewish Ghetto, to name but a few, all await discovery. Read my posts 13 of the Best Things to do in Krakow and How to Make an Unforgettable Visit to Auschwitz for further information on how to get the most out of your Krakow holidays. 

Have I tempted you to visit and enjoy Christmas market Krakow 2023?

Image of a collection of iced gingerbread hearts

Disclaimer – Visitor information was correct at the time of writing but do check before visiting.

Disclosure – This post may contain affiliate links. That means that if you book something using them, I will earn a small commission but you will not pay anything extra. Thank you for supporting my blog.

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