When arriving in Bern this winter, you’ll be immersed in a festive atmosphere within the UNESCO heritage-listed Old Town. Christmas decorations and colourful lights brighten up the streets that come together at Bern Christmas Market.
In this guide, I list the locations of the various markets (there are several), along with updated dates and times for 2023.
Bern Christmas Market 2023
Bern has three main Christmas markets and three smaller markets and events spread out around the city.
For the most traditional market, head to Waisenhausplatz Christmas Market.
For the most popular Christmas market, you might prefer the main market in front of Bern Minster.
Finally, for an upmarket, designer village-style Christmas market, Berner Sternenmarkt is the place for you.
Each Christmas market has different opening dates and times, but dates span from 23rd November 2023 to 6th January 2024, closing on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day.
1. Waisenhausplatz Christmas Market
Waisenhausplatz Christmas Market dates: 1st December 2023 to 6th January 2024.
Location: Waisenhausplatz, Bern Altstadt.
Monday to Saturday: 10am to 8pm. Sunday: 10am to 6pm.
Monday to Saturday: 10am to 6pm. Sunday: 10am to 5pm.
Christmas Eve: Closed.
Christmas Day: Closed.
Boxing Day: Closed.
New Year’s Eve: Closed.
New Year’s Day: Closed.
2nd January: Closed.
Reason to visit: The unique Clock Tower and, if you’re lucky, snow covered landscapes.
Recommended tour: The Clock Tower tour takes you through Zytglogge, one of Bern’s most popular attractions.
Specialities: Tartes flambées, fondue, Swiss raclette (the best cheese in the world) and charcuterie boards.
Where to stay: Kreuz Bern Modern City Hotel is located directly around the corner from Waisenhausplatz.
Hotels near Bern Christmas Market
The historic centre of Bern is a compact, walkable area serviced by an excellent tram system. The central district is known as Altstadt von Bern. It’s a narrow section of streets that is surrounded by the River Aare on both sides. The Altstadt is where you’ll most likely want to stay near the Christmas markets.
I suggest staying at a Kreuz Bern Modern City Hotel as it’s located directly around the corner from Waisenhausplatz Christmas Market, and it’s a 7-minute walk to the market in front of Bern Cathedral. Kreuz Bern is an affordable hotel, at least for Switzerland.
Kreuz Bern is a budget hotel, but if you’d prefer to stay somewhere else, click through to this guide to a range of hotels near Bern Christmas Market.
Read the complete Switzerland Christmas markets 2023 list in my full guide that details where to go, dates, locations and opening times.
Location of Bern Christmas Market
2. Bern Minster Christmas Market
One of Bern’s most popular and beautiful Christmas markets is located in front of the beautiful Bern Cathedral. This is one of the biggest Christmas events in Bern, and it’s easily the cosiest and most inviting.
Bern Christmas Market dates: 1st to 23rd December 2023.
Location: Berner Münster, Münsterplatz – The square in front of Bern Cathedral.
Opening times: Monday to Thursday: 11am to 6:30pm. Friday: 11am to 8pm. Saturday and Sunday: 10am to 6pm.
Location of Bern Minster Market
3. Berner Sternenmarkt – Star Market Bern
A designer Christmas village that’s great for fancy Christmas shopping with fondue chalets and views of the Parliament Building.
Berner Sternenmarkt dates: 23rd November to 29th December 2023.
Location: Kleine Schanze – A small hilltop park towards the west of the old town.
Opening times: Monday to Saturday: 11am to 10pm. Sunday: 11am to 8pm.
Fondue chalet: 11am to midnight.
Christmas Day: Closed.
30th December: 11am to 10pm.
Location of Berner Sternenmarkt
4. Artisan Christmas Market
A special Christmas edition of the regular handicraft market where you can buy directly from local artisans, designers and makers.
Location: Münsterplattform, next to Bern Cathedral.
5. Chalet Alpenland
A lovely space to enjoy a light meal, hot chocolate and handmade mulled wine. All originated from the city of Bern and the surrounding region.
Location: Kornhausplatz (Granary Square).
6. House of Generations Winter Event
Small wooden huts where you can sit and drink, covered in a wool blanket. You’ll also find an interesting mix of speed dating and pony rides. I’m not really sure what to make of this.
Location: In the courtyard of Berner Generationenhaus.
Christmas in Bern
Zürcher Eintopf: This hearty winter stew hails from Zurich yet is quite popular all over Switzerland. This warming dish combines a variety of root vegetables, like carrots and potatoes, with legumes and grains, resulting in a satisfying vegetarian meal perfect for those cold Swiss nights.
Zürcher Geschnetzeltes: This dish is a classic staple of the Swiss table, especially around Christmas. It consists of thin strips of veal cooked in creamy white wine and mushroom sauce. Despite its traditional meat base, a vegetarian variant can be made by substituting the veal with mushrooms or seitan, which hold their own in the delicious sauce.
Raclette: Raclette is an iconic Swiss specialty that embodies the spirit of togetherness that the Christmas season is all about. The name refers to both the cheese used and the method of serving. It’s melted directly from a half wheel of cheese onto boiled potatoes, gherkins and pickled onions.
Fondue: Another Swiss tradition and a favourite during the Christmas period. Prepared with a blend of Swiss cheeses, white wine and garlic, served in a communal pot over a small burner. Bread pieces are skewered on long forks and dipped into the melted cheese mixture. Fondue serves as an excellent vegetarian Christmas dish.
Berner Platte: From the Canton of Bern itself comes the Berner Platte. This is a true feast, typically composed of a range of cured meats and sausages, pork belly and smoked pork. While it’s a meat-based dish, you can create a vegetarian version using smoked tofu, seitan sausages, and a mix of root vegetables for a festive feast that remains true to the spirit of the original.
Lebkuchen: Swiss gingerbread, known as Lebkuchen, is a popular treat at Christmas. These rich, spiced biscuits can be decorated with icing and enjoyed with a warm drink.
Mailänderli: These traditional Swiss Christmas biscuits have a delicate, buttery flavour. As one of Switzerland’s most popular Christmas biscuits, they’re often the first sign of the holiday season. Shaped in various festive designs, these vegetarian biscuits are a delightful blend of egg, butter, flour and lemon zest.
Food at the Christmas Market
Glühwein: Vendors warm red wine and infuse it with a blend of spices like cinnamon, cloves, star anise and citrus. Served hot in festive mugs, glühwein keeps your hands warm and spirits high as you explore the market stalls.
Swiss hot chocolate: Unlike the standard hot chocolate, the Swiss version is luxuriously rich and creamy, made with high-quality Swiss chocolate that melts into warm milk. Whether you’re warming up after a chilly walk or simply treating yourself, it’s a comforting drink.
Bratwurst: Traditional Swiss sausages are a Christmas market favourite. Cooked over a charcoal grill and typically served with a crusty roll and mustard, it’s a tasty hand-held treat that you can enjoy as you browse the market stalls.
Rösti: A crispy, golden-brown potato pancake that originates from the Swiss canton of Bern. Rösti is prepared by grating potatoes and frying them until crisp. Served hot, it’s a satisfying snack that’s also an excellent vegetarian option.
Magenbrot: A spiced biscuit that translates to ‘stomach bread’. Magenbrot is a small, sweet treat flavoured with anise, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg, covered in a sugar glaze. Despite its unusual name, it’s a delicious biscuit, often enjoyed with glühwein.
Chäschüechli: Small cheese tarts or quiches, known as Chäschüechli, are a savoury snack. Often filled with Swiss cheese and a mixture of cream and eggs, these flaky pastries are irresistible and provide a satisfying vegetarian option.
Schweinshaxe: Found in the German-speaking regions of Switzerland, Schweinshaxe is a pork knuckle that is roasted until the skin is crisp and the meat tender. A hearty dish that warms you from the inside out on a cold winter’s evening.
Pretzels: Originating from neighbouring Germany, pretzels are a beloved snack at Swiss Christmas markets. Sprinkled with coarse salt, these twisted bread treats make a delicious, savoury snack.
Churros: As a nod to international flavours, you’ll also find churros at the Bern Christmas market. These Spanish doughnut-like pastries are deep-fried, dusted with sugar, and often served with a chocolate dipping sauce.
What to Buy
Swiss Cheese: Switzerland is famous for its quality cheeses, and the Bern market provides an excellent opportunity to sample and purchase some of the finest. Gruyère, Emmental, and Appenzeller are among the classics, but you might also come across less-known but equally tasty regional varieties.
Swiss Chocolate: Known worldwide, Swiss chocolate makes a decadent gift for loved ones or a tasty treat for yourself. At the market, you’ll find a variety of chocolates from leading Swiss brands as well as handmade treats from local chocolatiers.
Handmade Swiss Clocks: Symbolic of Swiss precision and craftsmanship, handmade Swiss clocks are beautiful mementos. You’ll find a variety of clocks, from cuckoo to wall clocks, meticulously crafted and ready to bring a touch of Swiss charm to your home.
Christmas Ornaments: The market stalls in Bern feature a diverse range of Christmas ornaments. Hand-painted glass baubles, wooden figurines and intricately designed tin ornaments are among the gems you can find. Many of these ornaments reflect Swiss and Bernese culture, making them unique souvenirs.
Bernese Honey: The region around Bern is known for its high-quality honey. Jars of golden, locally produced honey, often flavoured with seasonal spices, can be a sweet reminder of your visit to the Christmas markets in Bern.
Handicrafts: Bern is home to skilled craftsmen and women whose works you can admire and purchase at the Christmas market. From hand-carved wooden toys to delicate lace, these items embody the Swiss dedication to quality and detail.
The City of Bern has information regarding events, attractions, art, culture and nightlife for visitors to Bern, the Beer Capital. It’s an excellent resource for those visiting Bern in winter.
Sustainable Travel Tips
The choices we make have an environmental and social impact on the places we visit. When visiting the Christmas markets, keeping sustainability in mind is important. Implement some or all of these responsible travel measures during your visit.
- Shop mindfully. Only purchase what you really need.
- Walk, cycle and use public transport to get around.
- Stay in a sustainable hotel powered by renewable energy.
- Stay in hotels. Short-stay apartment accommodation can lead to a lack of affordable housing for locals.
- Avoid using plastic or buying items made or packaged with plastic.
- Try to eat locally sourced organic food where possible.
- Limit your consumption of meat and dairy.
- Be open to diverse cultures and experiences.
- Explore more than just the main tourist areas.
- Support the arts and attend local events.
- Visit fewer places but stay longer at each destination.
Bern has 6 Christmas markets in total. Three main Christmas markets and three smaller events are spread out around the city.
The Christmas market on Waisenhausplatz starts from 1st December 2023 to 6th January 2024. Berner Sternenmarkt dates are 23rd November to 29th December 2023.
The Christmas markets are located at Waisenhausplatz, Münsterplatz and Kleine Schanze.
No, the Christmas markets in Bern are closed on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day.
If you have visited Bern in winter or want to leave a review of the Xmas market, please comment below. This helps others 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 Bern, Switzerland. This means I get a small commission from any bookings at no extra cost to you.