Krakow Christmas Market & The Winter Resort Town of Zakopane
Short City Breaks with a Twist
Krakow Christmas Market & The Winter Resort Town of Zakopane
Krakow's 13th century Market Square with its majestic Cloth Hall and towering St Mary's Basilica, provides the perfect backdrop to this most traditional of Christmas Markets. After soaking up the festive spirit of the City, travel on to the pretty alpine town of Zakopane.
The wooden stalls of Krakow's Christmas market, with their twinkling fairy lights, have plenty to tempt Christmas shoppers. Look out for hand painted glass baubles, traditional Boleslawiec pottery tree decorations with their distinctive blue and white designs, pine wreaths, and gingerbread in all shapes and sizes.
This tour also takes you to the charming villages in the spectacular Tatras region of Southern Poland. This majestic mountain range, the highest in the Carpathian Mountains, is dotted with pretty villages made up of traditional wooden buildings. You will stay in Zakopane, one of the most breathtaking of these villages, where natural beauty and a warm welcome awaits.
Enhance your holiday with a choice of optional experiences along the way:
Our menu of optional visits offers a visit to the incredible subterranean salt mines in Wieliczka; the chance to create your own stained glass souvenir under the tutelage of a mastercraftsman; a guided tour through the wonderous artworks of Czartoryski Museum, and a sleigh ride through the magnificent Chocholowska Valley in the Tatra National Park.
What we love
- The Christmas market in Krakow's 13th century Market Square!
- The edible treats from dumplings and grilled oscypek (sheep cheese served hot with cranberry jelly) to gingerbread, and spicy Galician mulled wine!
- The festive decorations and traditions!
- The museums!
- The mountain views!
- The cable car ride!
- Zakopane, Poland's snowy winter capital!
Experiences you will treasure
- Shopping for hand painted glass baubles, traditional Boleslawiec pottery tree decorations with their distinctive blue and white designs, pine wreaths and gingerbread in all shapes and sizes in Krakow's Christmas Market. (You can read more about these traditional decorations on our blog)
- Discovering uniquely Polish seasonal traditions, including the Christmas crib contest. Held in the city each December since the 19th century, the decorated nativity cribs, some of which reach two meters in height, are taken in procession to the Historic Museum where they are put on public display.
- A spectacular Gubalowska cable car ride over the Tatra Mountains
- Visiting a traditional wooden 'goralskie chaty' house, built by the Polish highlanders, in the picturesque town of Chocholow
- Exploring Zakopane, Poland's historic winter capital nestled at the foot of the snow-capped Tatra Mountains
- The option to visit Poland's most important site, the Wielicka Salt Mine, take a stained glass making workshop with a master craftsman, visit The Princes Czartoryski Museum for a guided tour of its wonderful collection and take a traditional horse and sleigh ride through the Tatra Mountains national park.
How much is it?
Poland's 'winter capital', Zakopane is located at the foot of the spectacular Tatra Mountains.. Your first sight of Zakopane will be from Gubałówka (1129 metres at the highest point) and you will arrive in the centre by cable car.
A Deeper Dive
Situated on the Vistula River in the Lesser Poland region, Krakow dates back to the 7th century. Once Poland's royal capital, the city has traditionally been one of the country's leading centres of academic, cultural, artistic, and economic life. A leading European City Break location, Krakow fuses medieval grandeur and pageantry with beguiling contemporary energy.
Here are two off-itinerary treats for your free day:
Kazimierz District: Once a separate town from Kraków but now fully integrated into the city, this area is best known as the former Jewish quarter. Starting at Plac Nowy, take a stroll along the back lanes to visit synagogues including the Old Synagogue or Remuh Synagogue, and learn about the centuries of Jewish life that came to an end with the German occupation in WWII
Gothic Collegium Maius: Now home to an impressive collection of medieval scientific instruments, the great mathematician and astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus once studied here.
Did you know Krakow holds an annual Christmas Crib Making competition?
One of Kraków's most idiosyncratic Christmas traditions is the creation of 'szopki'. A cross between a nativity scene, gingerbread house and a doll's house, these unique structures date back to the 19th century and were re-popularised in 1937 with the launch of the first official Christmas Crib Competition. The Krakow Museum of History, which organises the annual competition, has kept every crib made since 1945 and the collection makes fascinating viewing.
Visiting the Crib collection is included in the tour price
Among the 177 cribs are spectacular recreations of some the city’s most famous landmarks from St Mary’s Church tower and the city walls, to the Cloth Hall and St Florian’s Gate. Not to be missed!
image: © Muzeum Historyczne Miasta Krakowa
Princess Izabela Czartoryska was an important royal figure of the Austrian Empire, as well as a writer, art collector, and prominent figure in the Polish Enlightenment.
In 1796, Izabela ordered the rebuilding of the ruined palace at Puławy and began a museum to house a collection of national treasures to preserve Polish heritage, in keeping with her motto, "The Past to the Future."
The museum was destroyed in the Polish-Russian war, with the confiscation of the Czartoryski properties; however, most of the collection was saved and smuggled to Paris to be temporarily housed for safekeeping. Izabela's grandson Prince Władysław (Ladislaus)
returned from life in exile to Krakow and reinstated the collection as a National Museum.
The Museum still stands on the same site and has a wonderful permanent collection of decorative Polish objet, including glassware, porcelain, ceramics, fashion, furniture, traditional musical instruments, and heirlooms of the Royal family. There are also fantastic and well-curated temporary shows.
The Czartorysky Family were some of the most influential art patrons and collectors over several generations. Prince Wladyslaw's father the great diplomat, Adam Jerzy Czartoryski purchased one of Poland's most important national treasures – Leonardo da Vinci's Lady with an Ermine, which he brought as a gift for his mother from Italy and can be viewed in the Museum.
We offer an optional guided tour of the Museum on day three.£25p/p.
Dating back to the Middle Ages, this subterranean labyrinth of tunnels and chambers has morphed from an industrial plant at the heart of the Polish economy into a world-famous tourist attraction, event location, and a health resort. It is also a UNESCO world heritage site.
A fascinating feat of engineering and natural artistry, the Mines have attracted visitors for hundreds of years - the first 'visitor' was Renaissance-era mathematician and astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus.
We offer an optional visit to the Mines on day two. £50p/p Minimum two people
You can read 10 fascinating facts about the mines in our blog found via the link below:
As you stroll through the streets of Krakow, you can't help but notice the beautiful stained glass windows decorating churches, monuments, and many of the houses in the Old Town.
Krakow has been involved in the production of stained glass for many centuries, and at the heart of this craft and industry is the oldest functioning stained glass studio in Poland.
The traditions of the prestigious S. G. Zelenski Stained Glass Company continue in the Stained Glass Museum and Workshop. Located in an impressive Art Nouveau building on Krasinski alley, built in 1906 to meet the needs of an efficient workplace, with large windows, high ceilings, and a special basement to accommodate a large kiln, it is now a unique “living museum” combining an active stained-glass workshop with exhibition space showcasing works by contemporary designers.
On day three, you have the option to visit to the Museum for a guided tour and exclusive stained-glass workshop with skilled craftsmen. You will make your own small stained glass object to take home as a unique souvenir. All materials are provided.
£59pp - minimum 2 people
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