Experience festive magic with a Krakow Christmas market break. This oh-so-charming Polish city is spellbinding year-round, but really comes into its own during the winter season. Wander the Old Town for medieval architecture embellished with twinkling lights, make a beeline for Rynek Główny for stalls teeming with traditional trinkets and duck into one of snug cellar bars when night falls.
Rynek Główny Market (Nov - Dec)*
Krakow’s knockout main square, Rynek Główny, gets dressed up in its fanciest festive sparkle and is filled on one side with a buzzy Christmas market throughout November and December. Stroll through and you’ll find stalls selling frosted gingerbread, wooden decorations and delicate jewellery. Hungry? Slabs of cheese, enormous meaty sandwiches and churros drizzled in chocolate are among the goodies to grab.
A night on the town
This city comes to life after dark – if you know where to look. As well as candle-lit restaurants, you’ll find unassuming doors which lead to cosy cellar bars and jazz venues. Just follow the sound of sax! When it comes to food, Krakow’s Old Town has traditional eateries aplenty, while over in Kazimierz, hip restaurants offer a different taste of the city.
Every year, Krakow has a tradition of hosting a nativity scene competition. Contestants construct colourful interpretations complete with churches, or szopki, and other architecture you’ll find in the city. It’s a gorgeous display of Christmas spirit and people flock to see these delicate pieces which are showcased in shops and squares around Krakow.
Take some time away from Krakow’s Christmas market festivities in the Old Town to discover Kazimierz, the city’s Jewish District. There’s a distinctly different feel to this edgy area, with art galleries, cool cafés and quirky shops dotted throughout. It’s here you can also learn about the treatment of the Jewish community during World War II through Kazimierz’s many museums and plaques.
While there’s plenty going on in Krakow itself, it’s well worth taking a day trip to see two of the area’s top attractions. Auschwitz-Birkenau, a former Nazi concentration camp, provides a harrowing and heartbreaking glimpse into the atrocities that took place in Poland during World War II. Meanwhile, the UNESCO-listed Wieliczka Salt Mine takes you on an incredible subterannean journey up to 130m underground, passing chapels and statues along the way.
‘Tis the season to be jolly and there’s no better way of getting into the spirit on a Krakow Christmas market break than with live music! Pop over to the stage in Rynek Główny for choirs singing carols or book tickets to watch the sweet four-piece orchestra at the intimate Chopin Concert Hall. For live jazz, Harris Piano Bar, tucked away off the main square, hosts musicians every night!
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This museum within Oskar Schindler's now famous factory, which he used as cover to save hundreds of Jewish people from Nazi death camps, is now dedicated to pre-and post-war Krakow. It has a permanent section...
Built on the site of Oskar Schindler's famous factory, this modern warehouse museum is made up of glass floors and slanting roofs. The collection has 4,000 works by Polish and foreign artists that date from the...
Get your fill of Krakow’s indulgent seasonal goodies. Which will you choose? Grilled meat enveloped by enormous slices of bread slathered with garlic butter, chunks of Polish cheese or even freshly cooked churros drizzled with hot chocolate sauce?
Ice rinks sprout up all over Krakow throughout the winter season, offering you the chance to pull on a pair of skates and whizz around the ice! Head west from the Old Town to Jordan Park one evening, when the ice rink looks even more magical under the glow of hundreds of fairy lights.
Stock up on stocking fillers at Krakow’s Christmas market. Dinky wooden decorations, knitted goodies and glass ornaments are among the locally-produced line-up. It’s worth bobbing inside neighbouring Cloth Hall to peruse the colourful clothing and jewellery on offer.
Love the slopes? Zakopane, Poland’s top ski resort, is just two hours away from Krakow, so is ideal for a day trip. The snow-dusted Tatras Mountains create a whimsical setting and there are 16 pistes for you to explore.
St Mary’s Basilica is simply stunning. The façade is an icon of Krakow’s skyline, but the real treasures lie inside. It’s hard to tear your gaze away from the star-spangled ceiling and ornate, colourful panelling. What better spot for a Christmas carol concert? Look out for dates throughout December.
Warming winter tipples
Vodka’s the Polish drink of choice so Wodka Bar is the perfect place to sample a few thimbles of different flavours. Just around the corner you’ll find yourself in Rynek Główny, where there are huge wooden barrels serving steaming mugs of mulled wine, grzaniec galicyjski.