There’s a lot to like Krakow at any time of year, but in December the city is host to a great European Christmas market that’s in a lovely central location.

It’s packed with trinkets and food treats and is one of Europe’s most attractive festive destinations.

Here, the team offer tips and advice on what to expect when visiting Krakow’s Christmas market, so you enjoy everything it has to offer.

When is the Krakow Christmas market in 2024?

After Christmas Day, the market transitions into the Epiphany Festival (it’s also known as the Feast of Epiphany, Three Kings Day and Theophany) though the stalls remain largely the same. The actual date is 6 January for Epiphany and three parades that converge on the square. The Christmas market in Krakow will run between these dates:

30 November 2024 – 1 January 2025

Why visit Krakow for its festive market?

Krakow’s Christmas market, with its 100 stalls, is in the heart of the city’s bustling main square (Rynek Główny).

This iconic square, which features a very tall Christmas tree and twinkling lights, becomes a festive playground, teeming with charming wooden stalls offering traditional Polish delights, handcrafted treasures, and a warm and welcoming atmosphere. This really is a delight for the senses and includes:

  • Festive treats: Warm yourself up with a steaming mug of grzaniec (Polish mulled wine) infused with spices and citrus fruits and try a plate of pierniki (gingerbread cookies), beautifully decorated and perfect for a festive snack. It’s also worth trying a hearty serving of oscypek, a smoked sheep’s milk cheese often grilled and served with cranberry sauce. Don’t miss out on a piping hot zapiekanka, a toasted open-faced baguette piled with cheese, mushrooms, and other toppings, a Polish street food favourite.
  • Handcrafted treasures: The market offers a treasure trove of Polish craftsmanship so there are truly unique Christmas ornaments depicting Krakow’s iconic landmarks like Wawel Castle or St Mary’s Basilica. You’ll also find intricately hand-painted wooden figurines reflecting Polish folklore, warm sheepskin gloves and hats perfect for the chilly weather. There are impressive and beautifully embroidered tablecloths featuring traditional Polish patterns. The market also offers skilled artisans showcasing their traditional crafts, like pottery making, amber jewellery crafting and wool weaving.
  • Festive entertainment: Along with the chalets, the market has a busy programme of entertainment including performances by local choirs singing traditional Polish carols. There’s also a Christmas light show illuminating the historic buildings and streets. You can even enjoy a horse and carriage ride around the edge of the market and surrounding streets we enjoyed the beautiful nativity scenes depicting the Christmas story.
  • Fairytale setting: This is a great opportunity to explore the Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with its cobbled streets, the majestic Wawel Castle and charming squares.
  • Affordable experience: Compared to other major European Christmas markets, Krakow offers a more affordable experience, allowing you to enjoy delicious treats, handcrafted souvenirs, and festive activities without breaking the bank.
  • Focus on Polish traditions: The other big difference from European Christmas markets is that Krakow prioritises the showcasing of traditional Polish cuisine, crafts and carols so this is a unique cultural experience. It’s also a chance to discover Polish Christmas traditions.


Here’s why EVERYONE is visiting the Krakow Christmas Market

The loveable duo Probably Lost have created an excellent video about their ‘favourite cities in all of Europe’ – Krakow.

There’s plenty of snow on the ground for their trip and, as usual, they head for the food and drink stalls first.

They have a hit list of things they want to try including mulled wine, soup, smoked cheese, dumplings, grilled meat and cheesecake.

They highlight the huge mediaeval square with a cathedral and the town hall on opposite sides.

There’s also a very good walk through the market to show visitors what they can expect.

The soups look great – and they say of all the Christmas markets they have visited; they haven’t seen as many soups on offer!

The smoked cheese is grilled on an open firepit, and some are wrapped in ham.

These too go down well – they say you can’t go wrong with the food choices.

The stalls don’t just cater for Christmas and the pottery stalls certainly look like a worthwhile visit.

Then it’s on to the plates of dumplings which look very appetising.

And the grilled meat stalls look fantastic with all types of meat being cooked. The portions here are very large…

The presenters also highlight that all the stalls are cashless – unlike the year before when they had to carry lots of euros.

Finally, the cheesecake is really a type of pastry, and it too looks tasty.

The video ends with the purchase of a Polish metalwork in the shape of a dragon bottle opener.


The tradition of a Christmas market in Krakow

The Christmas market tradition in Krakow dates to the 13th century, making it one of the oldest continuously operating Christmas markets in Europe.

It was established as a one-day market for locals to buy provisions for Christmas and the cold winter months that followed.

Now, however, it has evolved into a major tourist attraction while retaining its warm and welcoming spirit.

We think the market retains its historical charm, with many vendors dressed in traditional Polish attire, adding to the authentic atmosphere.

How to plan a visit to Krakow Christmas market

Consider these tips as you plan your festive trip:

Planning: We think that visiting on weekdays will help avoid weekend crowds, especially during peak season. That also means booking your accommodation early too.

Clothing: Krakow winters can be quite chilly, with temperatures often dipping below freezing. Pack warm layers – thermals, a winter coat, hat, gloves, and sturdy boots are essential. Be prepared for snow too.

Currency: Poland uses the Polish Złoty so it’s a good idea to exchange some currency beforehand or use a travel card. Many stalls accept debit and credit cards, but some will only deal in cash.

  • Souvenirs: The unique Polish keepsakes we mentioned earlier include intricately crafted amber necklaces and hand-painted wooden boxes depicting Polish folk scenes. You could even buy a warm and stylish sheepskin hat or scarf to keep you cosy during your visit. For friends and family, take a pack of beautifully decorated pierniki cookies home to share.
  • Basic Polish phrases: While we found that many Poles speak a good level of English, learning a few basic Polish phrases will be appreciated, such as ‘Dzień dobry’ (Hello), ‘Dziękuję’ (Thank you), ‘Proszę’ (Please), ‘Przepraszam’ (Excuse me), ‘Wesolych Świąt Bożego Narodzenia’ (Merry Christmas).


Krakow Poland Christmas Market

This video is in 4K by Planet Krakow and shows the market in all its glory.

It’s worth noting, because the video starts there, that the square has an indoor market in the middle of it which is open all year but at Christmas everything is bedecked in decorations and lights.

The presenter says there are carol concerts every day and the stalls with handicrafts are impressive from glassware to metal work and pottery.

We also get to see the lace tablecloths and various clothes on sale.

The presenter also highlights that the stalls appear to be different with more variety to enjoy than the year before.

The mulled wine stalls do a roaring trade, plus there are different versions with fruits including raspberry, for instance.

The video is made on the opening day and the snow is starting to fall so wrapping up to keep warm will help visitors enjoy the market.

Viewers will get a good idea of what the market is about watching this video – and why it is growing in popularity.


How to get to Krakow for Christmas

The best and easiest way to visit Krakow for the Christmas market from the UK is to fly.

  • Flying: The UK airports with direct flights to Krakow include Leeds Bradford, Heathrow, Birmingham, Manchester, Gatwick, Stansted and Luton. The airlines that fly direct include Ryanair, easyJet, Jet2, Wizz Air and British Airways. Fares vary but Flightscanner highlights that the trip takes between two and two and a half hours. On average, a flight costs £110 – though we found a £15 offer from Stansted and many more charging between £40 and £75.
  • Train: While it is a scenic journey, you’ll have to take the Eurostar to Cologne and then to Berlin before connecting to Krakow. The journey takes between 16 to 23 hours. It can be surprisingly expensive too with Eurostar tickets starting at £156 to Cologne and £40 on to Krakow – though we did find tickets on other train travel platforms for £500.
  • Driving: Travelling by car is an option but the journey is just over 1,000 miles. You’ll need to factor in the cost of the Channel Tunnel – the most popular route – or a ferry. Plus, food for what is a long trip.
  • Coach: Travelling by bus is the cheapest option and the journey takes up to 35 hours. Costs range from £75 to £200, depending on when you travel.

Staying in Krakow

Krakow offers a variety of accommodation options, from charming boutique hotels in the Old Town walls to cosy guesthouses and Airbnbs. Here are some factors to consider when choosing your stay:

Budget: There’s a good choice of budget hostels and hotels in Krakow including HI Hostel Krakow in the Old Town with beds from £15. The Flamingo Premium Hostel is also in the heart of the city, Miodosytnia Aparthotel in the Kazimierz district and Hotel Alf which is a cheap hotel a bit further away from the centre.

  • Mid-range: Hotel Wawel Krakow is a charming offering and close to Wawel Castle and the main square. It offers comfortable rooms with traditional Polish décor and modern amenities with prices from £70 per night for a double room. There’s also Hotel 32 Kraków Old Town, Hotel Wentzl and Hotel Wielopole which is a classically furnished 3-star hotel.
  • Luxurious: Hotel Copernicus is a luxury hotel in a historic Old Town building. It offers spacious rooms with elegant décor and modern amenities, and prices start at £200 per night for a double room. There’s also Bonerowski Palace and Hotel H15 Luxury Palace.

Airbnb is another great option for finding a place to stay in Krakow during the Christmas Market.

There are a wide variety of apartments and rooms available to suit all budgets and tastes – and most Airbnbs are in the Old Town or Kazimierz district, both of which are within walking distance of the main square. Prices start from around £50 per night for a private room.

We would advise anyone booking an Airbnb to read the reviews carefully and pay attention to the location of the apartment – always make sure it’s in a safe and convenient neighbourhood.

Other attractions in Krakow to visit

Along with the Christmas market, there’s a lot to see and do in Krakow, including:

  • Wawel Castle: The majestic Wawel Castle is a former royal residence perched on a hill overlooking the city. There are opulent staterooms and lovely views of Krakow from the castle walls.
  • Rynek Główny: Even outside of the Christmas market season, Main Market Square is a bustling hub, offering historical landmarks like St Mary’s Basilica (which is worth a visit) and the Cloth Hall, a historic marketplace. There are bars and coffee shops aplenty here.
  • Wieliczka Salt Mine: This is a unique underground adventure and a UNESCO World Heritage Site that has impressive salt sculptures, and the mine has a fascinating history.
  • Schindler’s Factory: You can also visit the Oskar Schindler Factory, a museum dedicated to the Holocaust and the story of German businessman Oskar Schindler who saved more than 1,000 Jews during World War II.

It’s also worth making the trip to see the Auschwitz-Birkenau, a Nazi concentration camp. It is a harrowing glimpse into the atrocities that took place here in World War II and the excellent guides, or educators, deliver the tour really well.

Budgeting for your Krakow Christmas market trip

To help you budget for your Krakow Christmas market trip, here’s a breakdown of the potential costs by the team:

  • Accommodation: Fortunately, most of Krakow’s accommodation is in the Old Town or a short walk away. A hostel dorm bed is £15 – £30 per night, a mid-range hotel double room is £70 – £120 per night, while a luxury hotel double room is £200+ per night. We found that Airbnb private rooms are £50 – £150+ per night.
  • Food and drink: When visiting the Christmas market, expect to pay around £3 – £5 for food items like sausages, pierogi (Polish dumplings), and pastries. Drinks like mulled wine or hot chocolate can cost around £2 – £4. Sit-down meals at restaurants can range from £10 – £30 per person depending on the type of cuisine and location. We found that using local shops and supermarkets was a cheap way to get by.
  • Transport: There’s plenty of public transport and single fares for buses and trams in Krakow cost around £1 – £1.50. It’s worth buying the KrakowCard which offers unlimited travel and discounts on attractions. It offers access to 40 museums and attractions and free travel. The price varies but can be bought for either one, two or three days of use. Expect to pay between £10 – £20 per person per day.
  • Taxis: We found that taxis are a convenient option when travelling around the city – and quite cheap (when compared to UK taxis). There are lots of taxis around the main square.
  • Souvenirs and gifts: At the Christmas market, ornaments, handcrafted items and local delicacies range from £5 – £20. In the nearby shops, the prices will vary depending on the type of souvenir and location. Expect to pay around £5 – £50 for souvenirs.

Here’s a sample budget for a stay in Krakow, broken down by per person, per day:

  • Budget: Accommodation (£20) + food (£25) + transport (£5) + activities (such as a free walking tour) = £50
  • Mid-range: Accommodation (£80) + food (£40) + transport (£5) + activities (a museum ticket at £10) = £135
  • Luxury: Accommodation (£250) + food (£60) + transport (£10) + activities (such as fine dining £50) = £370.

Other Christmas markets to visit from Krakow

A festive trip to Krakow also offers an opportunity to visit other Christmas markets, such as:

  • Wrocław Christmas market: The charming city of Wrocław has a vibrant Christmas market featuring a spectacular light show, beautiful nativity scenes and a focus on regional crafts and delicacies. Take a day trip from Krakow by train.
  • Prague Christmas market: The capital of the Czech Republic has a magical Christmas market offering traditional Czech crafts, glühwein and a festive atmosphere in the Old Town Square. Travel there by train or bus from Krakow.

Visiting the Christmas market in Krakow

We found that Krakow’s Christmas market offers a captivating blend of festive cheer, rich history and a touch of fairytale charm.

The Polish festive experience is different to that found in Germany and France that other European cities copy, and the warmth of Polish traditions make this a great city to visit.

The big square that plays host to the market is impressive and there’s a good selection of stalls to enjoy. The city also offers lots of bars and cafes to make this an unforgettable winter wonderland experience.