Poland's Fantastic Christmas Markets
Posted on 12/19/2017
While December may be more known for nights spent inside by the fire, it’s the perfect time in Poland to head outside and frolic under the holiday lights.
That’s because the country comes to life each year with enough festive cheer to warm you up. Much of this fun takes place in its collection of cozy Christmas markets that fill the Polish air with the scent of spiced wine and roasting chestnuts.
From the Baltic Sea in the north to the shadow of the Tatras Mountains in the south, here are the four Polish Christmas markets you need to visit:
Gdansk is Poland’s “Beauty on the Baltic” and, at Christmastime, this seaside city shines especially bright. The cobbled Coal Market square is the hub of the holiday fun as it turns into a Christmas village full of quaint huts selling home decorations, warm woolen clothing, jewelry and toys.
There are also plenty of spots to tip back steaming mugs of mulled wine and cider as you tuck into traditional Polish food. After you shop and dine, you can take a spin on the carousel (maybe after an hour or so) or have a ride on a horsedrawn carriage.
Perennially one of Poland’s most pleasant surprises for visitors, Wroclaw’s Market Square can compete with the prettiest in Europe. During the holidays, things are especially handsome here as the town’s centuries-old Christmas market sprawls over four different locations.
In addition to a diverse range of delicacies from around Europe and Poland, you will find a stand where you can purchase hand-painted ornaments with a customized message and a blacksmith crafting personalized horseshoes.
For the young ones, there is a Fairytale Wood where tales like Pinocchio, Little Red Riding Hood and Snow White come to life right before their eyes.
Krakow is home to Poland’s largest Christmas market and is also known far-and-wide for its annual nativity scene contest. The competition dates all the way back to the 19th century, and the glittering structures (which can reach up to six-feet tall) are all inspired by the city’s gorgeous architecture.
As far as the market itself, expect a plethora of gifts, food and drink, including one of the most famous delicacies in the region: ocsypek. This smoked sheep’s cheese from the mountains is served warm and toasty. It tastes just like Christmas.
As an added bonus, due to its location near the mountains, snow is a very common occurrence in Krakow during December. And we all know that nothing makes a Christmas market more fun than a fresh blanket of snow.
Warsaw is Poland’s cosmopolitan capital. In between shopping, its stylish stores and hanging out at its swish bars and restaurants, you will find plenty of holiday cheer.
There is a scenic ice skating rink in the Old Town Square, and the main Christmas market is set directly in front of the grand Royal Castle. Expect an international flavor to the vendors in addition to traditional Polish fare. There are also smaller markets dotted around town, including one near the historic Warsaw Barbican.
PHOTO: Krakow is home to just one of Poland's delightful Christmas markets. (photo via Flickr/Rachel Titiriga)