Krakow Christmas Market is the most popular and best Christmas market in Poland. It’s located on Rynek Glowny, the 13th-century square in the centre of the old town. You can’t miss the stalls as they sit between the famous Cloth Hall and the imposing St Mary’s Basilica.
The following guide provides everything you need to know about this cosy winter market, including confirmed dates for 2023 and opening times.
The market and old town location is a popular meeting place for locals and tourists alike. Many people visit after work and during the weekends leading up to Christmas day.
Krakow Christmas Market 2023
The Christmas market in Krakow is lined with timber huts where they prepare delicious grilled and smoked specialties and slow-cooked hearty soups and goulash.
You can also find handcrafted toys and Christmas decorations to take home or give as gifts.
Krakow Christmas Market dates: 24th November 2023 to 1st January 2024 (the Epiphany Festival runs after Christmas Day).
Location: Rynek Glowny – the main old town square.
Opening times: This varies but you can generally expect the markets to be open from late morning until early evening.
Christmas Day: Open but you might find some stalls closed.
Admission: Free, no tickets required.
Ice skating: There is ice skating in Krakow but not at the Christmas market. Ice Park Jordana is located in the east of the city and opens from early December.
Vegetarian: Yes, there are many soups, pierogies, cheese and desserts that are suitable for vegetarians.
Vegan: Limited options.
Gluten free: Limited options.
Pet-friendly: Yes, dogs are allowed on a lead as the market is in the city centre.
Parking: Please walk or take public transport to help limit congestion.
Reason to visit: It’s a cool city with a younger crowd than in Germany and Austria, it’s more affordable, there’s a good chance of a white Christmas and there is always delicious cheap vodka.
Specialties: Oscypek smoked cheese from Zakopane served with cranberry preserve. Pretty crystal baubles. Sweet vodka based hot drinks.
Recommended tour: 4-hour Polish food tour gives a great introduction to Polish food and culture.
Krakow weather in winter: Temperatures average 3°C / -4°C (high / low) in December. You might see snow if you’re lucky.
Plan your trip: A list of resources to plan your Christmas holiday or winter break.
Travel tip: If you have time take a day trip to the Wieliczka Salt Mine, Auschwitz or to the mountains at Zakopane.
Where to stay: PURO Kraków Stare Miasto is one of the nicest and most central hotels in Krakow.
Hotels Near Krakow Christmas Market
Krakow can be very cold in winter, including in November and December. It’s advisable to look for hotels near Krakow Christmas market to avoid spending too much time walking outdoors when the weather is poor.
However, once you arrive at the market, you can warm up with mulled wine, hot soup or standing around one of the heated areas.
I’ve visited Krakow several times and recommend visitors stay at the Puro Hotel due to its great location and high standards.
Plan your trip to other Polish Christmas markets with our guide. Discover where to go, things to do and the best ways to experience Polish food, history and culture.
Map of Rynek Glowny in Krakow
Christmas in Krakow
During my visit to Krakow a few years ago, I shot this short video to showcase the Christmas market atmosphere. Take a look to get a sense of what to expect and what it’s like to visit in winter.
Even if the market isn’t huge in comparison to other destinations, it’s a fantastic place to visit. I highly recommend it if you get the chance.
Krakow Christmas Market Specialities
Krakow’s market is heavy on food, which is a great thing. There’s so much to try!
These are just a sample of what’s on offer, and it changes every year, but you can expect to see most of the following during the Christmas market period or even into January.
You can do your Xmas shopping at the market or browse the boutique shops in the nearby Kazimierz district.
- Smoked cheese: A good option for vegetarians, although it’s sometimes wrapped and cooked in bacon!
- Pierogi stalls: Savoury stuffed dumplings with cheese, sauerkraut or various types of meat and sweet pierogies stuffed with berries and sweetened cheese.
- Grilled meat stations: Meat lovers can choose from local sausages, roasted pork knuckle, chicken kebab, and other grilled meats. You might want to avoid these if you’re trying to travel more sustainably.
- Polish soup: There are a few vegetarian soups at the Krakow market: mushroom, tomato and cabbage. Plus, you can get traditional goulash soup.
- Mulled wine: Known as “grzaniec,” this warm, spiced wine is popular at all Christmas markets. Look out for signs saying grzane wino, hot wine in Polish or find the stalls with huge barrels in front of them that are dotted around the market.
What to Buy in Krakow
Some popular Polish gifts to buy at the Krakow Christmas market include:
- Hand-painted pottery: Poland is famous for its hand-painted pottery, and the Krakow Christmas market is a great place to find unique and beautifully crafted pieces.
- Christmas ornaments: You can find a wide variety of traditional and modern Christmas ornaments, including glass balls, wooden decorations, and more.
- Handmade candles: Polish candles are renowned for their high quality and beautiful designs, making them a popular choice for holiday gifts.
- Gingerbread: Polish gingerbread, also known as “piernik,” is a sweet, spiced cake that is a popular treat during the holiday season.
- Folk art: Poland has a rich tradition of folk art, and the Krakow Christmas market is a great place to find hand-crafted wooden toys, folk costumes, and other items that reflect this heritage.
- Warm hats and scarves: Winter in Poland can be cold, so warm hats and scarves are always a practical and appreciated gift. You can find a variety of styles, including traditional patterns and modern designs.
- Polish dolls: Quite popular at the Christmas market.
- Wooden toys: For some reason, you’ll find not only toys but many wooden kitchen gadgets.
Other attractions at the Christmas market include artisans working on their craft, singing, dancing and free concerts and the occasional appearance of Santa Claus for the kids.
Things to Do in Krakow in December
Krakow in December is vibrant and bustling with shoppers and visitors from around the world.
There is so much to see and do: visit museums or the countless churches, take a day trip to sombre Auschwitz or see the underground cathedral carved into a salt mine.
Krakow is also known for its religious history, thanks to the strong presence of the Catholic church, along with Krakow being the hometown of Pope John Paul II.
Krakow is a popular summer destination but is becoming more well-known as a great break destination during Christmas and New Year.
It’s a fun, young city with so much history, great nightlife and laid-back cafe culture. While you’re in Krakow, be sure to check out these things to do.
- Wawel Hill and Castle – Medieval royal castle and museum area. Try to visit at least one of the buildings in the museum complex.
- Cloth Hall – The huge building on the main square is home to little shops with handmade goods and unique gifts. It’s free to walk through and have a look around.
- Kazimierz – The old Jewish Quarter is filled with cool cafes and bars. This is a great place to stay in Krakow if you want to be in a lively, hipster neighbourhood.
- Zapiekanka – Eat a traditional Polish baguette/pizza topped with grilled mushrooms and cheese. Head to Plac Nowy in Kazimierz for the best. This is the best fast food in Poland!
- Pierogies – Don’t miss out on eating some of the tastiest dumplings in Poland. Sweet or savoury, pierogies are a must-try.
- Sweet fruit-flavoured vodka – Poland is famous for all kinds of vodka (obviously), but in cafes around the main square like Cafe Camelot, you can try some deliciously sweet, hot vodka, perfect for warming up in winter. They aren’t as strong as you might imagine, and vodka is inexpensive in Poland.
- Brunch – You might want to recover from a night of vodka drinking and eating with a delicious late breakfast at Bistro Charlotte. This modern cafe has fresh bread, baked items and excellent coffee.
- Auschwitz – If you have time, take a day trip to visit the former concentration camps at Auschwitz–Birkenau. Take a tour or get the bus from central Krakow (going by train is more complicated).
Krakow Tourism if the city’s official website that has information and more details about visiting Krakow on a Christmas break or winter holiday.
You can find out about museums, public transport, religious routes, Jewish heritage, Pope John Paul II, walking the Royal Route and many other attractions. They can also help with further questions regarding the Krakow Xmas market in 2023.
What’s in a Name?
The Krakow Christmas market is sometimes referred to as the Rynek Glowny Christmas market. Rynek Glowny is the main square in Krakow, and this name reflects the location of the market, which takes place in the heart of the city, in the Main Square.
The name “Rynek Glowny Christmas Market” is simply a reference to the specific location where the market is held, and it is one of the many names used to refer to the Krakow Christmas market.
You might also see it written as Cracovia Christmas Market, Cracow Christmas Market or Weihnachtsmarkt Krakau.
The use of different names to refer to the same event is due to the fact that the market is popular among international visitors, many of whom may have different ways of referring to it in their own language.
The different names simply reflect the diverse linguistic backgrounds of visitors to the market and the various ways that they choose to refer to it.
Sustainable Travel Tips
When visiting the Christmas markets, keeping sustainability in mind is important. Simple changes to the way we travel can make all the difference for the environment and local communities.
- Shop mindfully. Only purchase what you really need. Wooden toys and Christmas decorations might be a good option if that’s what you need.
- Walk, cycle and use public transport to get around. Krakow’s historic centre is relatively small, so if you’re physically able, you should be able to walk to most places.
- Stay in a sustainable hotel powered by renewable energy.
- Avoid using plastic or buying items made or packaged with plastic. Take your own reusable bags for your purchases.
- Try to eat locally sourced organic food where possible. This is very achievable in Poland.
- Limit your consumption of meat and dairy. Vegetarian pierogies are delicious and an easy meat-free swap.
- Be open to diverse cultures and experiences.
- Explore more than just the main tourist areas. If you step away from the city centre, you might find some cool bars with live music, for example.
- Support the arts and attend local events. Krakow has many great galleries where artists display their works. Speak to the owners and learn about what they’re doing.
- Visit fewer places but stay longer at each destination. I highly recommend spending 5 days in Krakow if you can; there’s a lot to see.
Krakow Christmas Markets starts on the 24th November 24th November 2023 to 1st January 2024 (the Epiphany Festival runs after Christmas Day).
The Christmas market is located at Rynek Glowny, the medieval main square in Krakow.
Polish dolls are a particularly popular gift at the Christmas markets in Krakow. You’ll also find hand-painted pottery, Polish candles, folk art and handmade wooden items, including children’s toys, kitchen gadgets and Christmas decorations.
Stay in Stare Miasto, Krakow’s old town, if you would like to be near the Christmas markets.
If you have visited Krakow in winter or would like to leave a review of the Krakow Xmas Market, comment below. This helps others who are interested in visiting and trying to plan their holiday.
Recommendations are independently chosen based on personal travel experiences and extensive research. This post contains affiliate links to hotels and tours in Krakow, Poland. This means I get a small commission from any bookings at no extra cost to you.