Warsaw Christmas market | what to expect
(Updated Nov 2020)
I’m one of those people who enjoys more the run-up to Christmas than the actual day itself.
So, it’ll come as no surprise that I’m the first to suggest taking a Christmas market break. Since we’d already done Vienna and Berlin, we decided to check out the scene at the Warsaw Christmas market.
Warsaw, and Poland in general, tend to get overlooked during this period for more popular choices.
The Polish celebrate Christmas just as much as their German and Czech neighbors, and it’s just as bright and dazzling. If you’re looking for a European Christmas market, that’s also surrounded by a remarkable history, you may just enjoy Warsaw.
1. Its central location
The Warsaw Christmas market usually starts around the last week of November, but dates can vary.
The official website isn’t much help, so plan to visit around late November just to be on the safe side.
You can find the Christmas market in Castle Square, which is in the reconstructed Old Town. It also happens to be the location of many of Warsaw’s must-see attractions.
Castle Square — Warsaw Christmas market
As you enter Castle Square (plac Zamkowy), you get a sense of how the former Warsaw used to be.
One of the city’s most famous landmarks, Sigimund’s Column, dominates the skyline, overlooking the colorful townhouses below. The column commemorates King Sigismund III Vasa, the monarch who moved Poland’s capital from Kraków to Warsaw in 1596.
As the location name suggests, the rebuilt Warsaw Royal Castle is also in the square.
If you visit during November, you’ll be happy to read that entry is free. I really recommend visiting, as they did an amazing job reconstructing the castle after the bombing by the Nazi Germans.
Arts and crafts gifts
Stocking fillers at every stall
2. Bargains and great food and drink
The Warsaw Christmas market resembles what you find in many European cities. Wooden huts decorated in red and green, selling a wide variety of gifts and edible treats.
It’s much smaller than its Berlin, Prague or Vienna counterparts, but it’s also less busy too. The latter may have something to do with the freezing weather, or because it was still November when we visited.
Plenty to eat — Warsaw Christmas market
As you wander along, you’ll see everything from traditional hot Polish cheese pastries, to not so traditional Middle Eastern baklava.
With temperatures hovering around -8/9° in the evenings, I highly recommend warming up with a mug of Gluwein. Spicy, rich and robust, it’s Christmas Hygge in a cup.
If you like your bargains, the prices at the Warsaw Christmas market are really reasonable.
Probably truer if your currency is Pound Sterling, Euro or the US Dollar, but nonetheless, there are plenty of great deals. By the end of our trip, we’d taken home 3 pairs of sheepskin-lined slippers, Christmas sweets, and festive decorations.
Baltic cheese stall
Cheesy Polish pastries
Not 1, but 2 Santas!
3. The Old Town Market Place market
If you haven’t frozen over from the low temperatures, head to the Old Town Market Place (Rynek Starego Miasta).
You’ll find several stalls selling festive food and drink, as well as an ice skating rink in the center. Dating to the 13th century, the area was the center of Warsaw until the end of the 18th century.
More to see — Warsaw Christmas market
Renaissance style buildings greet you upon arrival, its colors even more luminous in the sunlight. The town hall was once the meeting place of representatives of guilds and merchants, as well as city fairs.
While I recommend visiting during the day to fully appreciate the detail and architectural style, it’s much prettier at night. More people, both locals and foreigners, brave the cold to enjoy an outdoor beer, or grab something to eat.
“With temperatures hovering around -8/9 in the evenings, I highly recommend warming up with a mug of Gluwein. “
4. Church Christmas market
It’d be amiss for to me not to mention other stalls we came across near the Old Town.
Before approaching Castle Square, you’ll pass a catholic church with a neoclassical design. There’s no English name for the church, and the Polish name’s tricky to pronounce but you can’t miss it.
Inside the entrance to the church courtyard are a few market stalls also selling goods and products. Take advantage of the pure wool items for sale. We took home a few pairs of alpaca wool and cashmere socks, and all for under £20 (€22/$25).
Plenty of sweet treats on offer
Old Town Market Place
5. The verdict
As much as we enjoyed visiting the Warsaw Christmas market, truthfully speaking, it’s not as good as Prague or Vienna. It’s much smaller, and lacks the energy of its larger counterparts.
However, there’s a plus side. For one, the lack of big crowds means that there’s no-one pushing you out of the way. Also, you can take many photos or videos as you like, and uninterrupted too.
I recommend adding the Warsaw Christmas market as a side attraction, rather than base your trip around it. Warsaw makes a great city break destination, and there’s enough to occupy a 3-day itinerary.
Warsaw Christmas market
Where to stay in Warsaw
To experience a boutique experience without the high cost, consider booking Sleepwell Apartments. It’s situated off the popular Nowy Świat street in Warsaw, offering affordable 4-star accommodation in stylish surroundings.
I can’t write about hotels in Warsaw without mentioning the luxury Raffles Europejski Warsaw. Taken under its wing by the Singaporean Raffles group, it’s truly a luxury hotel that satisfies its price tag.
What do you think of the Warsaw Christmas market? Would you like to visit? Leave me a comment below, I’d love to hear from you.m you.
Till next time, happy boutique travels x
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Welcome to my site! I'm Lisa, founder of Following the Rivera. I write primarily for a ‘flashpacker’ audience, a demographic (late 20s onward) that enjoys glamping over camping and staying at boutique/luxury boutique hotels. Flashpackers also like to indulge in the local food and wine, cultural activities, as well as a spot of wellness on their travels. Want to know more? Read on....