Krakow Christmas Fair in 2012 runs daily from 27th November to 27 December on the magnificent medieval Market Square in the KrakowOld Town. In colourful stalls and historic Cloth Hall you can buy traditional Christmas decorations, hand-made arts and crafts, Amber and silver jewellery, Bohemian glassware, sheepskin slippers, traditional wooden toys, leather goods as well as miniatures of the famous Krakow cribs.
There will of course be plenty of stalls with delicious hot food & drink – Polish sausages, pierogi, mulled wine and traditional highlanders’ cheese called oscypek. If you want to get into Christmas mood early, visit Krakow on the first Thursday of December (the 6th of December this year), when in the morning, the annual KrakowNativity Scenes (Szopki Krakowskie) competition of over 100 cribs is taking place by the Mickewicz monument on the Market Square.
Planning your Christmas markets getaway for December?
Well Poland is definitely the cheaper alternative for your traditional Christmas shopping – remember the 5:1 exchange rate…. and the £1 beer (which will be warmed up and have lovely spices in this time of the year…. yum!).
For the flights, Wizzair (hungarian airline out of Luton) are doing fab deals at the moment:
return flights for £65 to Warsawover weekends (try 9th – 12th Dec) and
return flights for £65 to Gdanskover weekends (try 2nd – 4th Dec).
These drop to under £50 return if you go out on Thursday night and come back on Monday morning, bargain!!
All the key cities in Poland have something Christmassy going on so you can jet over in 2hrs15mins (apart from Wizzair you can also try BA, bmi and LOT) and be in one of the beautiful old towns like Krakow, Warsaw or Gdansk enjoying a warm mulled wine or beer, some traditional hot food (polish sausages….. black pudding…. dumplings!), possibly a lot of poppyseed cake (we love it! and it brings good luck for New Year!) and a spot of very affordable Christmas gift shopping (remember to haggle if you pick up more than one thing, they’ll normally let you off a few zlotys).
What’s more Poland has the added magical beauty of snowy winter wonderland so if you’re really lucky you might be able to combine it with making a snowman or two :). Check out the current weather – December to February is usually snow paradise 🙂 – we recommend it (just make sure you wrap up warm!).
Find out more about the Christmas Markets in each city below & read more about Polish cities on our city breaks page.
Krakow – daily from 1st to 26 December, you’ll find the Krakow Christmas Market in the magnificent medieval Market Square in the Krakow Old Town. In colourful stalls and historic Cloth Hall you can buy traditional Christmas decorations, hand-made arts and crafts, amber and silver jewellery, bohemian glassware, furry slippers, leather goods and plenty of other gifts. There will of course be lots of stalls with delicious hot food & drink – traditional polish sausages, mulled wine and traditional highlanders cheese – “oscypek”. Get in the Christmas spirit straight away from the 1st December, when in the morning, the annual Krakow Nativity Scenes (Szopki Krakowskie) competition is taking place by the Mickewicz monument on the Old Town Square.
Warsaw – starting on 26th November and running daily between 12 and 8pm until 8th January (so you can catch it before Christmas or for a New Year’s Eve weekend :)), the Warsaw Christmas Market is in the Old Town’s main square. This year in addition to polish regional Christmas products, clothing, toys and traditional gifts & crafts (phew, yep, lots going on), there will stands from Lithuania, Slovakia, Austria & Croatia with their regional foods, arts and crafts. Live music, Christmas carols and folk bands add to the festive atmosphere.
Gdansk– taking place from 5th until 23rd December, the Gdansk Christmas Market will be on the Dlugi Targ street, the main street in Gdansk Old Town. In the wooden chalets stalls, modeled on Gdansk merchant townhouses, you can buy a wide range of gifts from traditional Christmas decorations, toys, regional arts and crafts to leather goods, clothing and ceramics. And naturally a lot of original Baltic amber and silver jewellery (you might not wanna leave those stalls for a good while). You can expect many stalls full of traditional polish Christmas cakes and sweets. Santa’s grotto and a reindeer driven sledge will add to festive attractions, especially for the little ones.
Soak in Krakow Old town. A beautiful old town with ‘sukiennice’ cloth hall in the middle, housing all the local wood and leather souvenirs & of course tons of amber jewellery. Head there first, and to really soak up the atmosphere, take a seat in one of the many cafes in the square…. and pretend to be an artist/novelist/student 🙂
Listen to Hejnal in the Mariacki Church. You can’t miss this massive twin towered church. Every day at midday the bugler appears at the top and plays the ‘hejnal’, a tune renowned throughout Poland (listen to it all as it cuts off suddenly at the end… sadly that’s when the arrow pierced the bugler… or so goes the legend). Go inside to see the daily unveiling of the wooden carved altar
Wawel Castle Hill. Walk through old town and ‘planty’ gardens until you reach the Wawel castle hill. There you can explore the castle and climb up the tower of the cathedral to make a wish at the sigmuntus bell.
Dine like a King. Being a royal city, make sure you treat yourself to some local Krakow specialties and traditional Polish food in restaurants where many noblemen and even crowned heads tucked into their dinner such as Wierzynek restaurant.
Visit Kazimierz. Explore the old jewish synagogues and museum and learn the history of the Jews of Krakow.
Go to university.Krakow is a known for the oldest university in Poland. Pop in to see the astronomical instruments that Copernicus used and see where Pope John Paul II (then Karol Wojtyla) studied!
Listen to Live Jazz. Krakow is not known as Poland’s culture capital for nothing – take some time out to immerse yourself in jazz in atmospheric Harris Piano Jazz Bar or U Muniaka.
Visit Auswitz.Known as Oswiecim in Poland, the concentration camp is a must for anyone who wants to learn more of Polish and Jewish history of WW2.
Get salty in Wieliczka Salt Mine. Go for a day trip into the local salt mine and climb into the massive underground rooms, some even with chandeliers! You might want to lick the walls while there…. some of us have done that and it’s an interesting experience 🙂
Head into the mountains. The Tatra Mountains aren’t far from Krakow. Simple jump in a coach/mini bus and after a very scenic 3hrs drive you’ll be deposited in Zakopane – the main resort in the Tatras. Once there, you can take the funicular up to Gubalowka and wander around the mountains, pop into a restaurant for some warming local food (try sausages and black pudding) or go for a horse & sleigh ride.