Festivities really rock in Wroclaw: This historical Polish city is tipped to offer Europe’s best (and best-value) Christmas market this winter
- The market, opening on November 18, is held in Wroclaw’s medieval town square
- Hundreds of mini recreations of alpine chalets will be selling gifts and treats
- Hotel rooms in the city centre are easily available for less than £75 a night
Every week our Holiday Hero Neil Simpson takes an in-depth look at a brilliant holiday topic, doing all the legwork so you don’t have to. This week: Poland’s perfect Christmas market.
It is hardly a household name, but the historical Polish city of Wroclaw is tipped to offer Europe’s best (and best-value) Christmas market this winter.
Direct, two-hour flights to Wroclaw with Wizz and Ryanair start at under £45 return, while hotel rooms in the city centre are easily available for less than £75 a night.
Spectacular: The Christmas market in Wroclaw’s medieval town square (pictured) is hailed as one of the best in Europe
And while Poland is one of the few countries where the pound goes further than it did a year ago, travel experts say Wroclaw’s Christmas market would be a world-beater at any price.
‘It’s easily the most underrated festive market in Europe. In Wro’ they really know how to put on a show,’ says travel writer David McClane of the Man vs Globe website (manvsglobe.com).
When it opens on November 18, the main market will be in Wroclaw’s medieval town square, one of the largest in Europe with a Gothic, red-and-gold Old Town Hall in the centre and church steeples rising all around.
Hundreds of mini recreations of alpine chalets will be selling gifts and treats when the market opens on November 18
Festive food and seasonal drinks are a feature, with decorated gingerbread cookies (above) everywhere
Strings of fairy lights are strung across the whole scene and down neighbouring streets, with splashes of colour coming from modern sculptures and giant, shimmering Christmas trees. Recent visitors rave about fragrant fir trees standing between hundreds of mini recreations of alpine chalets selling gifts and treats.
McClane says the market is deliberately family-friendly, with a Fairytale Copse where displays tell the story of Little Red Riding Hood, Snow White and more. Christmas concerts are held on a small stage and carol-singers parade with sleigh bells through the crowd.
Intricately carved wooden gifts are popular in Poland, and best buys include toys, trivets and tree decorations. Locally made woollen scarves, hats and jumpers are popular, as is amber jewellery, with rings and necklaces on sale from the equivalent of just £12.
Wroclaw offers plenty of pretty winter walks. Pictured is the city’s Tumski Bridge
Festive food and seasonal drinks are a feature, with decorated gingerbread cookies everywhere, as is oscypek, a local favourite made of smoked sheep’s cheese, with cranberry sauce. Hot mulled wine comes in dozens of flavours such as black pepper, vanilla, blueberry, raspberry, blackberry and cherry, and is great value at about £2.50.
Away from the market, there are pretty winter walks along the streets and waterways that lend the city its ‘Venice of the North’ nickname. More than 100 low bridges cross the Odra river, its tributaries and canals. Or look for the bronze sculptures of at least 300 mischievous gnomes that dot the city – many are less than a foot tall and get dressed up for Christmas.
Other Polish cities are also worth visiting for good-value festive markets. Gdansk promises, amid the stalls, a Venetian carousel and a virtual-reality sleigh ride, and Warsaw offers one of the most atmospheric settings, with stalls set in the shadow of the old city walls.
Krakow is most likely to have real snow (and Jet2 offers seasonal city breaks that include flights and accommodation), while Poznan’s market includes a spectacular International Ice Sculpture Festival (poland.travel).