In the heart of Serbia, Belgrade’s vibrant atmosphere seamlessly blends the modern pulse with a rich historical backdrop, offering a unique experience for every traveller.
The city’s Orthodox Christmas market adds to this allure, decorating the cityscape with lights, bustling stalls, and a warm sense of community.
In this article, you will find all the essential details, including the 2023 dates, opening times, locations, and a highlight of local specialties to enhance your visit to the Belgrade Christmas Market.
Christmas in Belgrade is marked by a blend of tradition and modern celebration.
The city’s streets are adorned with festive decorations, and many people attend religious services, participate in family gatherings, and enjoy Serbian Christmas customs.
Belgrade Christmas Market 2023
The Christmas market in Belgrade takes place at Trg Republike (Republic Square), the city’s main square.
Here you’re welcomed by the sight of colourful wooden huts, each filled with a variety of Christmas delicacies and souvenirs, complemented by the aroma of mulled wine and winter punch.
The festivities feature an indoor amusement park, a skating rink, concerts, and a beer festival, ensuring diverse enjoyment for all visitors.
The annual Santa race, known as the Deda Mraz race, sees thousands donning Santa or Mrs Claus attire, running through the capital for charity, embodying the season’s spirit of giving and unity.
As January approaches, the celebration of Orthodox Christmas on the 7th offers you the opportunity to experience timeless religious traditions at the city’s historic Orthodox temples like the Temple of St. Sava, Church of Saint Marko or the Church of the Ascension.
The burning of the badnjak, a significant Serbian Christmas tradition, is publicly commemorated, highlighting the blend of communal celebration with historical customs.
Traditional foods, like cesnica and sarma, further enhance the festive experience with their unique flavours and embedded cultural symbolism.
Despite the chill of January, the dive for the icy Epiphany cross on the 19th at Ada Ciganlija attracts numerous competitors and spectators, marking a fitting close to the city’s extended Christmas celebrations.
Dates and Location
Belgrade Christmas Market dates: Likely dates: 3rd December 2023 to 6th January 2024.
Location: Trg Republike (Republic Square).
Opening times: 10am to 11pm.
Christmas Day: Closed.
Badnjak: Lighting of the badnjak takes place at the Temple of St Sava.
Santa: Known as Deda Mraz or Grandpa Frost in Serbia.
Ice skating: Yes, at Pionir Ice Hall and other locations.
Vegetarian: Yes, plenty of options.
Vegan: Yes, plenty of options.
Gluten free: Yes, but limited.
Pet-friendly: Yes, but not recommended during busy periods.
Parking: Please take public transport to help limit congestion.
Reason to visit: Orthodox traditions, regional food, Serbian music and dance, New Year’s parties.
Recommended tour: Belgrade Fortress underground tour.
Specialities: Mulled wine, roasted chestnuts, sarma, ajvar, cevapi; traditional Serbian festive food.
Where to stay: Boutique Hotel Museum is a popular hotel, located direcly across from Republic Square.
Hotels near Belgrade Christmas Market
Stari Grad is the ideal area to stay in Belgrade if you wish to be near the Christmas market. This central location provides easy access to the market and other city attractions, making it a convenient choice for visitors.
I recommend the Boutique Hotel Museum, a popular hotel in an ideal location across the Christmas market. You can’t get closer.
Location of Belgrade Christmas Market
Belgrade and Christmas Tours
A city tour of Belgrade provides an excellent opportunity to learn about the city’s rich history and cultural heritage.
With its imposing fortress, vibrant neighbourhoods, and compelling architecture, Belgrade is a destination that merits exploration, regardless of the season.
I recommend this unique underground tour of Belgrade Fortress.
On a city tour, you’ll likely visit some of Belgrade’s most renowned landmarks and attractions, including the lively Republic Square and the Church of Saint Sava.
Christmas in Belgrade
Christmas Specialties in Belgrade
Cesnica: This traditional Serbian Christmas bread contains a hidden coin, symbolising good fortune for the year ahead for the one who finds it. The bread itself is round and often decorated with Christian symbols.
Sarma: Found at many a stall, sarma consists of mince and rice, lovingly wrapped in cabbage leaves and perfectly cooked. This dish is a heartwarming winter treat in Belgrade, enjoyed by locals and visitors alike for its comforting and satisfying flavours.
Mulled Wine: As you meander through the market, warm your hands and soul with a cup of mulled wine, a popular drink featuring red wine infused with spices and served hot. It’s a universal Christmas market favourite, providing warmth and cheer in the cold winter air.
Winter Punch: Adding to the variety of drinks, winter punch graces the market with its mix of juices, spices, and sometimes a splash of alcohol, offering another means to keep the winter chill at bay.
Plum Brandy (Rakija): Sample the Serbian plum brandy known as rakija for a stronger beverage. This drink is a favourite local spirit in Serbia and will add warmth to your Christmas market exploration.
Sweet Pastries: As you roam through the market, various stalls present an array of sweet pastries, each offering unique flavours and textures, reflecting the diverse culinary heritage of the region.
Christmas Gifts and Stocking Fillers
Oak Branch Badnjak: While not a Christmas item, the oak branch badnjak holds a central position in Serbian Christmas traditions. It’s symbolically burned in homes and public places on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, representing the shepherds’ fire on the eve of Jesus’s birth.
Wooden Toys: A delightful choice for children, wooden toys crafted by local artisans are available in various shapes and characters. These toys often represent Serbian folklore and can be a unique gift.
Lavender Products: Serbia is home to abundant lavender fields, and the market features a range of lavender-based products. You can find items like scented candles, soaps, and sachets, all infused with the calming aroma of lavender.
Traditional Textiles: The market showcases a variety of traditional textiles such as woven rugs, tablecloths, and scarves, often made with natural materials and displaying Serbian folk patterns.
Pirot Kilims: A special type of flat tapestry-woven carpet, Pirot kilims are recognised for their quality and unique geometric designs. They are an emblematic craft of the Pirot region and make a distinctive and valuable gift.
Honey and Honey-Based Products: Serbian honey is highly regarded, and vendors in the market offer an array of honey products. From pure honey jars to cosmetics made from honey, these products symbolise the rich natural resources of Serbia.
Slatko and Jams: Though mentioned as a food item earlier, slatko and other homemade jams are also popular gifts. They are often beautifully packaged, making them appealing for stocking fillers.
Wines and Rakija: Serbia’s wine and rakija (fruit brandy) have a strong presence in the market. You’ll find vendors selling bottles from local vineyards, representing the rich viticulture of the region.
For those looking to explore more of the city, including current events and things to do, I suggest visiting Go Belgrade, the city’s official website, although it is a bit dated in some areas.
Sustainable Christmas Tips
Here are a few tips on how we can travel more responsibly in Belgrade at Christmas:
Stay at Eco-Friendly Hotels: Belgrade has seen a growth in environmentally conscious accommodation that relies on renewable energy sources. These hotels often incorporate solar panels and energy-saving practices. By choosing to stay in such accommodations, you’re supporting businesses that prioritise sustainability and are contributing to reducing the city’s carbon footprint.
Reduce Food Waste at Markets: The Christmas markets in Belgrade provide an array of delicious food options. Be mindful of portion sizes, and try to order only what you can eat. Many stalls use locally sourced ingredients, and by consuming responsibly, you can enjoy the local cuisine without contributing to unnecessary waste.
Ethical Consumption: While the markets are filled with appealing gifts and souvenirs, consider buying only what you genuinely need or will use. For example, handmade crafts by local artisans support the community and are more likely to be utilised rather than mass-produced items.
Sustainable Diets: Consider opting for meals that have a lower environmental impact. Many vendors at the Belgrade Christmas market provide vegetarian or plant-based options, which typically require fewer resources to produce. Embracing these alternatives aligns with a more sustainable way of eating.
Sustainable Transport: Belgrade has an extensive public transport system, including buses, trams, and trolleybuses, that can take you around the city efficiently. Opting for public transport instead of private vehicles or taxis can greatly reduce your carbon emissions during your stay. Additionally, the city centre is quite walkable, especially around the Stari Grad area where the Christmas market is located, so consider exploring on foot when possible.
Support Local Charities: During the festive season, various charitable organisations in Belgrade run campaigns to support those in need. Participating in these initiatives, such as donating to food banks or shelters, can make your visit more meaningful and have a positive social impact.
These tips can enhance your visit to Belgrade during Christmas and align it with responsible and sustainable tourism practices. By making thoughtful choices, from where you stay to what you eat and buy, you can enjoy the city’s festive offerings while contributing to its environmental and social well-being.
If you want to leave a review of Belgrade Xmas Market, comment below.
Recommendations are independently chosen based on personal travel experiences and extensive research. This post contains affiliate links to hotels and tours in Belgrade, Serbia. This means I get a small commission from any bookings at no extra cost to you.