12 (Mostly Delicious) Reasons Why You’ll Fall In Love With
The Kraków Christmas Market
Forget the few paltry stands on your high street back home. Move over London’s commercial Winter Wonderland. The taste-bud-tingling Kraków Christmas Market is a huge part of why we look forward to winter so much out here. For a start it’s located on the Rynek Główny, the main market square at the throbbing heart of Kraków’s UNESCO World Heritage Old Town. The square itself, which dates back 13th century, is one of Europe’s biggest medieval squares and makes a gorgeous backdrop. There’s Christmas lights, a monster of a (real) Christmas tree, beautiful steamy cabins selling trinkets, sweets and pretty much everything festive imaginable.
The best thing though isn’t just seeing the fairytale sight, it’s that that you can smell the Christmas market well before stepping foot inside. The combination of steaming hot spiced wine, chocolate, gingerbread, crusty bread, goulasz soups, amazing stews and grilled kielbasa blend into one aroma that stops you in your snowy tracks.
So if that catches your attention, here are our top reasons why the next browser tab you open should be Ryanair.com or Skyscanner… our countdown of 12 Things you can find in the Krakow Christmas markets! :
12. Christmas Market Sweets (in particular Fudge)
If you can’t indulge your sweet tooth at Christmas on a winter break when can you? The Christmas markets have an awesome selection of sweet treats to try. Some of our favourite picks are funnel cakes, gingerbread and the aforementioned fudge. Why are we going so crazy about fudge? Fudge in Poland is a big thing, it’s called Krówka which basically means little cow. The stalls here sell fantastic home made as well as really tasty commercially brands in all different flavours. If you want to try the local candy, try the fudge, we promise you won’t regret it!
Bonus Tip: One of our favourite bars in Krakow actually sell their own homemade Krówka vodka. It’s called Entropia and located a short walk from the old town in the Jewish District Kazimierz, definitely another area worth checking out over your trip here. The shot is awesome on its own although with a drop of extra orange vodka you have a flavour dangerously close to Terry’s Chocolate Orange 😉
11. Grilled Cheese
Poland has a few different cheeses of it’s own, as you’d expect. The one most worth trying in our humble opinion is ‘Oscypek’ a sheep’s cheese from Poland’s mountainous region that is often smoked and lightly salted. It can be eaten cold, fried or without doubt the best way; whacked on the grill for a few minutes till juicy and brown and eaten with a spoon full of cranberry sauce! One of the stands even sells the cheese cooked this way but wrapped in bacon with a prune on top (100% recommended). The cheese itself keeps well too so you can pick up a pack to bring home in the hand luggage.
10. Handmade Christmas Tree Decorations
Want to take a little bit of Krakow home with you, something small that will remind you of the magical, tipsy little corner of Europe you visited for years to come? A unique Christmas decoration might be just what you need. There are plenty of craft sellers selling various different interesting and unique Christmas ornaments for your tree or mantlepiece. From the cheap and cheerful wooden figurines to the intricate and ornate delicate glass baubles, there’s something for everyone.
9. Incredible Chocolate
A bad workman blames his tools, a happy one can eat them. Here you can find pretty much everything you’d want that can be made out of chocolate or covered in chocolate. The Christmas market is an absolute chocoholic’s paradise. Chocolate tools, chocolate teapots, Belgian chocolate covered waffles and churros. You can even find chocolate filled pierogi (traditional Polish dumplings). Ok enough typing ‘chocolate’, if you love chocolate and you’re not already sold then there’s no saving you 😛
8. Pork Knuckles
One for the meat lovers!… The pork knuckle is a giant hunk of juicy meat, charred over coals and then simmered in a beer based sauce. They’re incredible! Get one with a side of mushrooms, onions chips or whatever begs your fancy. The huts selling pork knuckles also do roast potatoes, bigos (a Polish speciality) and a wide selection of other grilled meats.
7. Pajda – Open Grilled Sandwich
A true drinking snack and hearty food for the cold of winter…well you can say snack but meal wouldn’t be wrong either. Slices of bread are cut from crusty loaves almost the size of a bike wheel, slathered with either bacon lard or garlic butter, then topped with your choice of grilled kielbasa sausage or seasoned minced meat and finally fried onions and / or gerkins.
6. Wacky Woollen Clothes
There are plenty of clothes sellers in Krakow’s Christmas markets selling unique clothes that you wouldn’t normally find back home. Quaint woollen slippers, big fur hats and scarves and leather gloves. Poland can get absolutely freezing around this time so you can imagine the clothes they sell in the winter markets are generally geared towards fighting the cold. The quality varies but you can find some really excellent articles that might be the perfect gift, for a loved one or for yourself 😉 The socks by the way are incredibly warm and comfy.
5. Mulled Wine
Polish Mulled wine is a thing, a big thing. So much so we’re going to be writing about this soon so watch this space. If you’re looking for the place in the Christmas Market in Krakow selling it look for the big barrel shaped constructions with ‘Grzaniec’ painted on the side. Grzaniec is the Polish word for mulled wine basically meaning ‘warmed’ and warmed you will feel after one, or two. Recently they’ve also started selling these lovely ceramic mulled wine cups for a few extra euro which we think some people will feel is worth it.
4. Kielbasa Sausage
There are a few things you have to add to your Polish checklist…
☑ Visit Auschwitz
☑ Go taste the different Polish Vodkas
☐ Eat a Kielbasa sausage from a grill
There are different kinds: red sausage, white sausage, there’s even one with cheese through the middle of it. A big juicy sausage from the grill, plus a hunk of bread and a squirt of ketchup and mustard. You’re talking beer food right there my friend!
3. Crazy Parties
If you’re out and about exploring the gorgeous Christmas market late in the evening, just before everything closes up, you may just be lucky enough to run in to the single wildest party in town. The world famous Krakow pub crawl actually meets around 9pm each night at the Adam’s Statue slap bang in the middle of the Christmas market. The best thing is that while the group is waiting for latecomers, you can sip mulled wine and feast on all the amazing food from the market around you rather than just waiting around in the snow.
2. Homemade Flavoured Polish Vodkas
Hopefully you’ve picked up the small fact that Poland invented Vodka already. It’s true. They’ve had it around for a very VERY long time here. And in that time they’ve created some truly delicious concoctions. While we hope that you’ll still come and join us on a Vodka Tasting Tour to try the different specialities of Polish vodkas out, we have to recommend this craft drink and confectioner in the Christmas Markets.
What better present can you give than a bottle of plonk? It’s cultural, it’s fun and most of all you get to share it with the person you buy it for on Christmas day!
1. An Experience
YEEEEEESSS… We know, we know… It’s cheesy as hell. But why else do you go on winter getaways anyway? Isn’t the point to make some memories? Some people are very cynical about the Christmas Holidays, that it’s too commercial and nothing but consumerism… Blah blah blah. Even just walking about the Christmas markets and buying nothing but a piece of cheese and cranberry will give your inner child a jolt of the old good will defibrilator, we promise! And maybe along the way you’ll find something hand made for someone you love. Flights to Krakow are cheap, accommodation here is super cheap too!
Memories are priceless though 😉 Happy Christmas!
P.S If you’re looking for a cosy pub to warm up in with a pint after exploring the Christmas market then check out our Ultimate Guide to Craft Beer in Kraków.