Christmas in Switzerland is truly like walking in a winter wonderland. Add in the merriment of the markets, you can't go wrong. If you're looking for Christmas markets in Switzerland, I have you covered with 10 of the best!
When I imagine the ultimate Christmas holiday destination, it includes snow-capped mountains, historic buildings decorated with twinkling lights, and of course, magical Christmas markets. There’s arguably no country in the world that fits this definition better than Switzerland, with its snow-covered Swiss Alps, charming alpine towns, culturally-rich cities, and abundance of holiday markets.
I've rounded up the best Christmas Markets in Switzerland, sure to delight any and all ages!
Depending on the Swiss village, city, or region you visit during the holiday season, you’ll be able to enjoy magical Christmas memories: like a horse-drawn carriage ride through the snow or an unforgettable family ski holiday.
As a connoisseur of European Christmas markets, some of my most memorable Swiss experiences have been enjoyed perusing the traditional wooden stalls for unique gifts and snacking on traditional holiday treats.
Fortunately, wherever you find yourself in the country during the holiday season, whether in the capital city of Bern or on a ski holiday in the Alps, you’re guaranteed to find a festive holiday market nearby. This guide will direct you to my 10 favorite Christmas markets across the European winter wonderland known as Switzerland.
Now let's get to 10 of the best Christmas markets in Switzerland that are sure to make your holidays wonderful!
Basel Christmas Market, Basel
Basel’s location as the crossroads of three countries makes it a melting pot of Swiss, French, and German cultures. That diversity and cultural uniqueness forms the foundation for one of my favorite holiday markets in all of Switzerland, the Basel Christmas Market.
This market is located in the center of the city and in the heart of Old Town, and includes two markets at Barfusserplatz and Munsterplatz. The markets are easy to access, but once you arrive, you’ll probably feel like you’ve been dropped off at a slightly more festive version of the North Pole.
The towering Christmas tree on the Munsterplatz welcomes visitors, and the clinking of gluhwein mugs reminds you that the holidays aren’t just fun for little ones. Vendors sell everything from hand-carved toys and trinkets to collectable Christmas items, and the twinkling lights overhead spark even more holiday cheer. The famous tree and gleaming Christmas Pyramid at the center of the Barfusserplatz provide the perfect backdrop for holiday photos. There are countless memories to be made at what is often considered the oldest Christmas market in all of Switzerland.
Basel Christmas Market 2019 dates: Thurs, Nov. 28, 2019 to Mon, Dec. 23, 2019. Open daily 11am-8:30pm. Dec. 23 at Munsterplatz, from 11am to 6pm, and Dec. 23 at Barfusserplatz, from 11am to 8pm.
Bern, Switzerland’s beautiful capital city, is known for being more tranquil than many of the world’s other capitals, and that’s much of what made me fall in love with it. While there’s still a bit of a hustle and bustle, Bern shines more in its cultural richness than its towering skyscrapers. That cultural richness is what makes the Waisenhausplatz Christmas market so special.
Waisenhausplatz is the more traditional of Bern’s two famous holiday markets. It’s bordered by a fence of fir tree branches, which surround the market with the look and smell of the holiday season. Inside the fir fence, you’ll find traditional wooden stalls selling everything from everyday items and gifts to ornaments and other Christmas decorations. Hot foods and traditional holiday snacks are also served from a variety of stalls, so be sure to visit with an empty stomach.
Waisenhausplatz Christmas market 2019 dates and times: Sat, Nov. 30, 2019, to Tues, Dec. 24, 2019. Times are Monday through Saturday 10am-8pm to 8 p.m. Sunday 10am-6pm and Christmas Eve 10am-4pm.
Zurich is the largest and most bustling city in Switzerland, and its famed Christmas market doesn’t fall short on those big city lights. This market is actually more known for its glitz and glam than anything, with a giant Christmas tree, decorated with Swarovski crystals, at the heart of it all.
Zurich’s Christkindlmarket is one of Europe’s largest indoor markets, and it’s easily accessed by train, because it’s actually held directly inside the main train station. Here, you can wander the labyrinth of stalls, snack on cinnamon-topped baked goods, snap photos in front of the crystal-covered tree, and make memories sipping hot mulled wine with friends. And if you’re looking to knock out all of your holiday shopping in one place with unique handmade gifts, there’s no better market in the country to visit than this one in the heart of Zurich.
Zurich Christkindlmarket dates: Thurs, Nov. 21, 2019, to Tues, Dec. 24, 2019. Times are Sunday to Wednesday 10:30am-9pm, and Thursday to Saturday 10:30am-10pm. Christmas Eve 10:30am-4pm.
Lucerne Christmas Market, Lucerne
Swiss locals and travelers from around the globe venture to the waterfront city of Lucerne for the annual Christmas Market in the heart of Old Town. From late November to Dec. 23, Franziskanerplatz becomes a miniature town of festively-decorated wooden stalls and vendors selling traditional Swiss holiday foods and drinks. Kids can sip on a sweet Christmas punch while parents savor hot mulled wine and shop for one-of-a-kind gifts from the more than 70 vendors.
It’s worth visiting the Lucerne Christmas Market for the festive feel alone. Watch as the little ones run to the Christmas carousel, which is assembled every year and turns to holiday music played by choirs and brass ensembles. If you’re feeling like even the slightest bit of a Scrooge this year, the Lucerne Christmas Market is guaranteed to spark your holiday spirit.
Also make sure to check out the covered bridge while you there, it's the oldest in Europe!
Lucerne Christmas Market dates: Sat, Nov. 30, 2019 to Mon, Dec. 23, 2019
Lugano Christmas Market, Lugano
Your Christmas holiday travels may take you to the picture-perfect resort town of Lugano on the coast of Lake Como. While this city in southern Switzerland often feels more Italian than Swiss (it’s even Italian-speaking), it doesn’t lack any of the holiday charm you’re seeking. Even more, while the rest of the country is quite frigid during the winter months, Lugano remains mild, creating a more enticing atmosphere for shopping and dining outdoors.
Lugano’s Old Town area becomes a not-so-snowy winter wonderland during the Advent season, when festive holiday market stalls fill the streets. The stalls, offering handmade trinkets and traditional holiday treats, provide a welcome change from the countless high-end shops nearby. Of course, you can always duck into those when you need an extra-special gift. And don’t miss the massive Christmas tree with its twinkling lights in Piazza Riforma, which is often visited by swans from the lake, creating an even more photogenic (and adorable) backdrop.
This market’s proximity to Italy also means you’ll enjoy lower prices than many other Swiss Christmas markets, so bring plenty of cash and be ready to shop. The Lugano Christmas Market also extends into January, which means it can be visited on your after-Christmas travels too.
Lugano Christmas Market dates: Sat, Nov. 30, 2019 to Mon, Jan. 6, 2019.
Einsiedeln Christmas Market, Einsiedeln
Not all of my favorite Christmas markets are characterized solely by what’s inside. Many times, the backdrop is much of what makes a particular holiday market so special, and that’s certainly the case in the charming municipality of Einsiedeln.
The Einsiedeln Christmas Market is appropriately located next to the town’s gingerbread museum, which is also a bakery and an ideal place to grab holiday baked goods before leaving. The market offers an intimate atmosphere, and its slightly smaller size only adds to the charm. But arguably even better than the festive stalls, decorations, and foods inside, is the backdrop of the snow-covered Einsiedeln Abbey. This Benedictine monastery, which has been visited by pilgrims for more than 1,000 years, offers unrivaled history and charm, and the surrounding jagged mountain tops add even more to the festive spirit and beauty.
The Einsiedeln Christmas Market is only open for nine days during the Advent season, so this is a market you may need to adjust your holiday travel schedule to visit.
Einsiedeln Christmas Market 2019 dates: Sat, Nov. 30, 2019 to Sun, Dec. 8, 2019
Christkindlimarkt Rapperswil, St Gallen
Thousands of holiday lights, and 700 stars shining over the square, welcome visitors to Christkindlimarkt Rapperswill in St Gallen, a historic city that takes Christmas seriously. Within the twinkling market, you’ll find more than 250 vendors, selling everything from holiday decorations to gifts and gourmet foods. I love watching the candle makers dip and decorate the candles they later sell in their booths.
The glimmering lights and choirs singing holiday carols can spark the Christmas spirit in even the most Scrooge-like visitors. Outside of the market, the city of St Gallen fully embraces the Christmas spirit with many restaurants offering special menus with traditional holiday foods. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been to St Gallen in the past, the city has an entirely different feel from late November to late December.
Christkindlimarkt Rapperswil 2019 dates: Thurs, Nov. 28, 2019 to Tues, Dec. 24, 2019
Chur Christmas Market, Chur
What better place to experience Switzerland’s holiday charm than in the country’s oldest city? Chur, which often falls off the beaten tourist path, offers a historic backdrop for one of my favorite Christmas markets in the country — the Chur Christmas Market.
The city’s fairytale-like Old Town hosts a Christmas market that seems to fall off the beaten path too, and that’s much of what makes it so special. Here, you can admire glistening holiday lights, shop to decorate your home for the holidays (or complete your Christmas list), and snack on traditional Swiss holiday eats. Discover the city’s rich history or embark from here on one of the country’s scenic winter train rides and make an entire getaway out of your visit to the charming Chur Christmas Market.
Chur Christmas Market dates and times: Thurs, Nov. 28, 2019 to Tues, Dec. 24, 2019. Times are Monday to Friday 11am-7:30pm, Saturday and Sunday 11am-6pm.
Schaffhausen Christmas Market, Stein am Rhein
The fairytale-like town of Stein am Rhein becomes even more magical during the holiday season, when the Schaffhausen Christmas Market opens and visitors come from around the world to soak in the holiday cheer. Parents can shop the arts, crafts, and spices until they drop and kids can ride the carousel, hop aboard the steam railway, or greet Santa Claus and his ponies (a different take on reindeer).
The entire riverside town of Stein am Rhein embraces the Christmas spirit with its medieval buildings decorated in shining lights, and following the market, it’s an absolute must to walk the Rhine bridge, as its draped in holiday lights. Bring your camera, because the market, and all of Stein am Rhein are especially photogenic this time of year.
Schaffhausen Christmas Market dates: Wed, Dec. 4, 2019 to Tues, Dec. 31, 2019
Montreux Noel Christmas Market, Montreux
It may be the final entry on my list of the 10 best Christmas markets in Switzerland, but the Montreux Noel Christmas Market is arguably the top holiday market in the country. Much of the market’s fame comes from its postcard-worthy setting on the shore of Lake Geneva. Lavish hotels, which look more castles, and snow-capped mountain peaks serve as a backdrop for the lake and Switzerland’s most scenic Christmas market.
You can eat until you burst at the Montreux Noel Christmas Market, snacking on freshly-made crepes, candied nuts, and other traditional Swiss holiday eats. Shopping includes a variety of goods from vendors around the country and around the globe. For instance, I found Canadian maple syrup and hand-crafted gold bookmarks here. If you’re looking for a gift for that person who already has everything, this is the place to do your holiday shopping.
Even better, you can break up your shopping and dining with trips to the wine-drinking igloo. The Montreux Noel Christmas Market is truly unlike any other in Switzerland, and that’s why it may be last but certainly not least.
Montreux Noel Christmas Market 2019 dates: Thurs, Nov. 21, 2019 to Tues, Dec. 24, 2019
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT CHRISTMAS MARKETS IN SWITZERLAND
WHAT SHOULD I KNOW BEFORE VISITING CHRISTMAS MARKETS IN SWITZERLAND?
Christmas markets in Switzerland are similar to those across Europe and around the world. However, when I travel throughout Switzerland, I try to allow myself a little extra time to explore the cities in addition to the markets. Many Swiss cities take Christmas decorating seriously, like Stein am Rhein, so I like to allow myself a day or two extra to explore.
I also like to visit Christmas markets with plenty of cash on hand, since many vendors prefer cash or simply don’t accept credit card at all.
WHAT ARE THE DATES FOR THE CHRISTMAS MARKETS?
Most Christmas markets in Switzerland run from late November to late December, often closing on Dec. 23, or Dec. 24. However, some markets do run through the holidays into January, and others are open for just a few weeks preceding Christmas.
HOW MANY CHRISTMAS MARKETS ARE THERE IN SWITZERLAND?
Venture throughout Switzerland, and you’ll find Christmas markets everywhere from the largest city squares to the tiniest villages. It’s difficult to say exactly how many Christmas markets there are in the country, but if you find yourself in Switzerland during the holidays, you’re guaranteed to locate a market nearby.
Some of my favorite smaller cities do not have Christmas markets but that shouldn't stop you from going! The town of Zermatt is a winter dream and I highly recommend it!
If you're dreaming of a Christmas wonderland, then Switzerland is the perfect choice!
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