Snowflakes softly falling to the ground, festive stalls bedecked in lights, ice rinks springing up around the city… Christmas in Warsaw has so much to offer.
If you’re visiting Warsaw this festive season, here’s a full guide with all you need to know!
What’s Warsaw like at Christmas?
When the first snowflakes start to fall on Warsaw, the Christmas markets spring into life and the city’s abuzz with a festive atmosphere.
Lights pop up across the buildings, Christmas trees make their way along the streets, and carols can be heard from bars and restaurants all around.
Many businesses will close during that time, however, you can still buy last-minute gifts at the Christmas market at Old Town!
While many locals tend to leave town to visit family during the holidays, Warsaw’s still a busy hub over Christmas.
Things to do in Warsaw at Christmas
From Christmas market shopping to eating festive food, there are some incredible things to do in Warsaw at Christmas!
Christmas market shopping
It’s never too late to buy Christmas gifts or souvenirs!
Poland is known for the beautifully handcrafted glass Christmas tree ornaments which tend to be passed on from generation to generation.
You’ll find them in shops across town as well as at the Christmas markets.
This year, the Christmas markets across Warsaw will open to visitors on November 24th and last until January 7th.
Make sure to check out the markets surrounding Old Town as well as the main ones.
One of my favourites is the market just next to the entrance to St. Anne’s Church.
You’ll find this as you head towards Old Town, tucked aside in a cosy courtyard.
Here, there’s handmade jewellery, pottery and ceramics, carved wooden pieces and artwork.
Warsaw Old Town
An absolute must-visit, the Old Town in Warsaw is one of the cosiest and most charming places during Christmas time.
It’s the heart of the festive season, with vibrant Christmas markets, aromatic mulled wine booths, and unique artisan Christmas tree decorations!
Bundle up (it might be snowing!) and stroll down ul. Nowy Świat towards Zygmunt’s Column in Old Town.
Along the way, you’ll be enchanted by the dazzling Christmas decorations.
As you approach Krakowskie Przedmieście, the inviting aroma of mulled wine – grzaniec or grzane wino – becomes more pronounced.
This seasonal treat, exclusive to Warsaw’s Christmas, blends citrus with an array of spices. Don’t miss the mulled beer, a local Christmas speciality.
Enjoy a cup to keep the chill at bay, and if you’re peckish, Zapiecek restaurant is a must-visit – try their renowned pierogi, particularly the ones filled with sauerkraut and meat.
While indulging, remember to check the schedule for Christmas shows at the Multimedia Fountain Park along the Vistula boulevard, adorned with enchanting figurines every Christmas.
And of course, no visit is complete without a selfie in front of the splendidly lit Christmas tree at the Royal Palace!
Buy Bolesławiec pottery
Bolesławiec pottery, also known as Polish pottery or Polish stoneware, is a type of ceramic pottery with a distinct, hand-painted, glazed pattern. Originating from the town of Bolesławiec in Poland, this pottery is renowned for its high quality and unique designs.
If you’re looking for a last-minite Christmas present, look out for Bolesławiec plates, bowls, mugs, teapots and vases.
Look out for the exclusive Christmas designs, only available during this festive season.
Visit the Barbakan
H to local artists, the Barbakan turns is illuminated during and full of scented Christmas trees at this time of year.
From there, you’re just a step away from the Main Market Square of Old Town.
Take a moment to look around at the colorful renovated buildings which were fully destroyed during World War II – now decorated with Christmas lights!
Ice rink at the Palace of Culture
A key Warsaw attraction every Christmas (and throughout winter!) is the huge ice skating rink which pops up every year in front of the Palace of Culture.
Expect to also find Christmas lights all around – as well as decorated Christmas trees!
At this ice skating rink, you’ll also find booths with sweet treats and lollipops on the eastern-facing side of the Palace of Culture.
At Christmas the entire Palace of Culture is lit up in various colours – you’ll see its festive lights from far away!
Hot chocolate at Wedel Cafe
Make sure to stop by the Wedel Cafe for a cup of legendary hot chocolate where you can also buy Santa Claus or Christmas tree-shaped chocolate figures.
Warsaw Christmas traditions
Christmas brings Polish families together – it’s a family occasion!
Poland follows the Catholic traditions strictly during Wigilia, or Christmas Eve.
Straw or hay is usually placed at the table and an empty chair is prepared in case an unannounced guest arrives at the door.
In smaller towns and villages, carols are sung on the streets and the local priest, accompanied usually by Church assistants, visits every house in the neighborhood singing kolendy.
The biggest and by far most loved tradition, bringing families and relatives together, is the sharing of opłatek, also known as the Christmas wafer.
This is shared at the Christmas Eve supper. You break a piece of the opłatek handed out to you while exchanging good wishes!
What to eat in Warsaw at Christmas
If you happen to be visiting Warsaw during Christmas, be prepared to experience local cuisine on every corner – especially at the Christmas markets!
Polish cuisine is rich in spices and renowned for its mouth-watering taste.
Some of the most famous Christmas dishes include:
- Kopytka – The Polish version of homemade dumplings, best served with butter and sprinkled sugar but you can also add bacon and spring onions.
- Bigos – A hearty stew prepared with sauerkraut, different types of meat and sausages, and mushrooms.
- Barszcz z uszkami – Beetroot broth with small dumplings.
- Pierniki – Gingerbread cookies.
- Carp – The carp steals the show every Christmas Eve.
- Vegetable salad
- Poppyseed cake
- Pierogi (of course!)
- Oscypki – traditionally smoked cheese made from sheep cheese that originates from the Tatra mountain area in the south (not too far from Krakow)
- Typical local snacks – roasted nuts, roasted chestnuts, and sausages!
Tips for visiting Warsaw at Christmas (2023)
This year, Christmas Eve falls on Sunday, December 24th.
For most residents of Warsaw, this means a three-day weekend!
December 24th also happens to be one of the two shopping Sundays in December, which means that you can expect to find most shops open until around 2pm.
On Sundays, most businesses close apart from restaurants, bars, cafes, and cinemas.
Keep in mind though, that the date for this last shopping Sunday of the year could change at short notice as the Polish Trade and Distribution Organization has issued an appeal to have that particular shopping Sunday postponed until the following week.
Eating out at Christmas
If you want to eat out during Christmas, several restaurants will be open during the period.
One place I recommend wholeheartedly is Bułkę przez Bibułkę, which can be found in several locations across town: ul. Żurawia 6/12, ul. Zgoda 3, ul. Puławska 24, ul. Zwycięzców 32, Konstancin Al. Wojska Polskiego 3.
You can also check out Der Elefant at pl. Bankowy 1, or Boska Praga on ul. Okrzei 3 on the other side of the Vistula River.
If you fancy Indian cuisine, head down to Bombaj Masala on ul. Ząbkowska 29 and Krochmalna 61.
For Chinese and Nepalese food, we recommend Pełną Parą Dim Sum ul. Sienna 76.
Make sure to look up the opening times for each restaurant as most will probably open around noon or 1pm at the earliest.
Are you ready for a Warsaw Christmas?
With many airlines offering cheap flights to Poland, Warsaw is an affordable and attractive Christmas destination for tourists.
If you’re looking to spend this year’s holidays abroad, Warsaw is certainly worth considering!