When it comes to Christmas markets in Europe your mind initally wanders to the likes of Germany and the ultimate fairytale city of Colmar France but Warsaw at Christmas is something to be marvelled. In my opinion Warsaw is completely underrated for a festive weekend getaway. The Polish celebrate Christmas just as much as their German and Czech neighbours and it is just as bright and dazzling. On top of that there are so many things to do in Warsaw that it makes for the perfect Christmas city break.
Warsaw Christmas Markets
If you are looking for a European Christmas Market, that is also steeped in history and tradition, then you must experience Warsaw at Christmas. Not only is Warsaw an extremely cheap place to visit but it is so pretty, traditional and quaint. Exploring Warsaw’s Christmas markets should be top of the list. All throughout the city you will find pop-up markets of different sizes with food, drinks, activities and cute wooden chalet stalls to explore. There’s a quaint and traditional vibe that feels a billion miles from the panic buying of Christmas shopping in other cities. The largest can be found at Warsaw’s Castle Square.
The Warsaw Christmas Market usually starts in the last week of November. Warsaw is one of those cities that inspires me by its sheer resilience. During World War II most of the Old Town was completely destroyed by Nazi bombings. But the city was determined to rebuild itself and reconstructed an exact replica of how the Old Town once stood. Because of this, the Old Town of Warsaw was put on the UNESCO list of heritage sites in 1980.
Ice skating in Warsaw
It is here amongst the colourful buildings of the Old Town Square that you will find an ice skating rink during the build up to Christmas. You can rent skates here for about €2.50 per hour. Ice skating backdrops don’t get much more romantic than the pastel coloured Baroque buildings in the Old Town Square. In fact, here, you will find the most Instagrammable spots in Warsaw. So grab yourself a mulled wine and enjoy this beautiful city during the festive season.
There is also a free ice skating rink outside the Palace of Culture and Science.
Weather – what to expect
With temperatures dropping over the winter months in Poland and the high likelihood of a White Christmas experience during the festive season it is advisable to dress warmly for your trip and expect some cold temperatures. Temperatures can get as low as -8/-9 Celsius so be sure to dress appropriately to enjoy the Christmas markets. The very low temperatures should be worth considering if you are bringing very young children here .In my opinion it is better suited to a romantic couples break or a trip with friends than for very young families who might not enjoy the colder weather. The best way to warm up is with a mug of Glühwein. Spicy, rich and robust, it’s literally Christmas in a cup.
Christmas Light Festival
No other city does Christmas Lights quite like Warsaw. Over December the city lights up with the annual Warsaw Christmas Light Festival. Trust me, these light installations are some of the best and most festive that I have ever seen and it is obvious just how much money goes into lighting up the city for Christmas. These are top quality!
A series of light installations start in the Old Town’s main square and stretch for 20km along the Royal Route to Wilanów. They are simply dazzling. If you are in Warsaw at the beginning of December, you might just be lucky enough to catch the switching on ceremony, which marks the start of the festive celebrations in the city.
Last January Mister Lavin brought me to Warsaw to attend a ballet. It was his Christmas gift to me and I was so excited to explore this beautiful city. What I didn’t expect to see was that Warsaw was still full of festive cheer a month after Christmas! Not only is Warsaw the perfect place to enjoy the build up to Christmas but it also is amazing for those wanting to extend the celebrations. Christmas decorations don’t come down until the beginning of February so it is the perfect place for those wanting to prolong Christmas.
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Until next time you crazy kids!