8 must-see Christmas markets in Switzerland

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8 must-see Christmas markets in Switzerland

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Christmas is fast approaching and, with it, the most magical time of the year. After the summer is over, with the first cold weather, the cities are dressed in lights, colors and scents typical of the month of December, and the smell of cinnamon and mulled wine begins to spread through the streets of the main city centers. But December is not only mulled wine and cinnamon, it is also the month of the Christmas markets, an ancient tradition that takes place every year and brings joy, fun and a sense of community. Moreover, they are the ideal place to buy the last Christmas presents, choosing among unique and quality handicraft products. In Switzerland, dozens of Christmas markets are set up every year, welcoming visitors throughout the weeks of Advent and often until 24th December. In this article, we recommend 8 of the most beautiful Swiss Christmas markets, which you can visit on a weekend or day trip.

Basel

Bern

Zurich

Lucerne

Lugano

Montreux

Stein am Rhein

Einsiedeln

We love... Christmas Markets!

Christmas is fast approaching and, with it, the most magical time of the year. Here in Switzerland the first snowflakes have already arrived and the cities are slowly dressing up with lights, colors and typical scents of the month of December such as cinnamon and mulled wine. But December is also the month of Christmas markets, a tradition that is very widespread in Switzerland, where every year dozens of markets are set up, open for all the weeks of Advent and, often, until 24th December. Here the many visitors can buy original and quality gifts or enjoy, in the company of family and friends, seasonal foods or excellent hot drinks, alcoholic or not. In this article we recommend 8 of the most beautiful Swiss Christmas markets, which due to location and public transport connections can be easily visited even during a weekend or day trip. Moreover, aware that the pandemic is not yet behind us and that winter requires all of us to be more careful, we will try to provide you with updated information on the opening status of the recommended markets and any rules of conduct or entry provided by the organizers.

Basel

The Basel Christmas market is one of the largest and most impressive in Switzerland. Its popularity over the years has grown so much that it was voted, for 2021, as the most beautiful Christmas market in Europe by the readers of the magazine European Best Destinations!
The market takes place from November 25th to December 23th, 2021 at Barfüsserplatz and Münsterplatz. The more than 130 stands, set up in colorful, traditional wooden chalets, offer handcrafted goods such as jewelry, toys and more, as well as authentic culinary delights such as white and red mulled wine, waffles, sausages, raclette and traditional Basel Läckerli. But the main attraction is undoubtedly the large tree, created by the well-known decorator Johann Wanner. During Advent, you can also climb the cathedral’s bell tower in the evening until 5:30 p.m. from Monday to Friday and enjoy a special view of the festively decorated Old Town. The entrance fee is CHF 6.00 per person. You can visit the Basel Market daily from 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. (except on December 23, when the market closes at 6:00 p.m.).

Covid rules: access for visitors aged 16 and over is allowed with a valid Swiss or EU Covid certificate (QR code) and identity card. Masks are recommended for all visitors. Furthermore, wear a mask is mandatory for all visitors aged 12 and over in indoor spaces and catering establishments. Food must be consumed at the table (of course masks may be removed while eating). It is always advisable to check in advance requirements and rules of participation on the official website of the event.

– How to get to Basel? Look for your train on the SBB website or search for a flight here*.

– Do you prefer to stay in the city to enjoy the Christmas atmosphere? Find your hotel on Booking.com*.

Bern

The federal capital naturally has its own Christmas market, as elegant and relaxed as its historic center, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are three main areas where the traditional stalls selling handicrafts and gastronomic specialties are located: Münsterplatz, Waisenhausplatz and the Münsterplattform, where an exclusive handicraft market takes place on weekends.
The market on Münsterplatz runs from November 27th to December 24th, 2021, and can be visited Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Friday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Slightly more extensive are the hours of the market set up on Waisenhausplatz, which runs from November 26th to December 24th, 2021 and can be visited Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Finally, the craft market on the Münsterplattform, which only takes place on certain weekends, can be visited on the following dates: 28.11.21: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.; 04.12.21: 09 a.m. – 5 p.m.; 05.12.21: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.; 18.12.21: 09 a.m. – 5 p.m.; 19.12.21: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Covid rules: at the time of publication of this post, entry to outdoor areas is not subject to the presentation of a valid covid certificate, nor are there any particular limitations on entry. However, in compliance with federal and cantonal regulations, restrictions on gastronomic offerings could be implemented. Moreover, the epidemiological situation is unstable and things can change very quickly. It is therefore advisable to check in advance requirements and rules of participation on the official website of the event.

– How to get to Bern? Look for your train on the SBB website or search for a flight here*.

– Do you prefer to stay in the city to enjoy the Christmas atmosphere? Find your hotel on Booking.com*.

Lucerne

The (beloved) city of lights also shines during the weeks of advent, and in 2021 Lucerne is ready to show its festive and sparkling side as well. The traditional Christmas market takes place on the intimate Franziskanerplatz, right in the middle of the old town and just a short walk from the train station. Here every year the old fountain is decorated with candles, lights and fir branches, turning into a giant Advent wreath.
The market at Franziskanerplatz takes place this year from December 2nd to 21st and can be visited daily from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. (food stands close at 9 p.m.).
But there are two other places in the city that are worth a visit: the Vögeligärtli city park, with its winter fun market, and Inseli-Park, where Rudolf’s Christmas has been taking place since 2019 and where you will find many stands and a rich gastronomic offer.
The market in Vögeligärtli takes place this year from November 24th to December 23rd and can be visited daily from 11 a.m. Rudolf’s Christmas at Inseli-Park, on the other hand, welcomes visitors from November 19th to December 23rd, 2021 and can be visited Monday to Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Thursday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., with the only exception of the food stands, which remain open daily until 11 p.m.

Covid rules: At the time of publication of this post, entry to the open-air spaces of the market at Franziskanerplatz and the market at Vögeligärtli is not subject to the presentation of a covid certificate, nor are there any special restrictions on entry. However, in accordance with federal and cantonal regulations, there may be restrictions on gastronomy and cultural events.
Admission to Rudolf’s Christmas at Inseli-Park, on the other hand, applies the 3G rule and therefore only allows access to holders of a valid covid certificate accompanied by an ID.
In general, in view of the unstable epidemiological situation, it is advisable to check in advance the requirements and rules of participation on the official Lucerne Tourism website.

– How to get to Lucerne? Look for your train on the SBB website or search for a flight here*.

– Do you prefer to stay in the city to enjoy the Christmas atmosphere? Find your hotel on Booking.com*.

Lugano

At Christmas, the Swiss city with a Mediterranean heart comes alive with lights and colors and prepares its Christmas market in the heart of the old town. The more than 50 traditional houses, set up in Piazza della Riforma and in the other streets of the city center, offer ideas for gifts, handicrafts, Christmas decorations and of course have a wide range of gastronomic specialties.
The Lugano market takes place from December 1st to December 24th, 2021, but some activities will continue until the Epiphany, January 6th, 2022. It is possible to visit the stands every day from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., with the only exception of December 24th, when the closing time will be at 5 p.m.
If you decide to visit Lugano during the Christmas period, do not miss a visit to Ciani Park, which during the holidays turns into an enchanted forest full of lights and decorations.

Covid rules: at the time of publication of this post, the entrance to outdoor areas is not subject to the exhibition of a valid covid certificate but there is an obligation to wear a protective mask. A covid certificate is also required for some indoor and food areas. However, it is recommended to follow the signs located at the entrance to each area and, due to the unstable epidemiological situation, it is advisable to check in advance the requirements and rules of participation on the official website of the tourist office.

– How to get to Lugano? Look for your train on the SBB website or search for a flight here*.

– Do you prefer to stay in the city to enjoy the Christmas atmosphere? Find your hotel on Booking.com*.

Montreux

In December, the city on Lake Geneva polishes its beautiful lakefront and dresses it up to host a cheerful and elegant Christmas market. The traditional little houses offer handcrafted products and gastronomic specialties. But here Christmas is not only the market! There are many initiatives in addition to the stalls: the lumberjack village, a gourmet space, an ice rink and light show, medieval magic entertainment at Chillon Castle and Santa Claus’ house, set up for children in Les Rochers-de-Naye, the city’s mountain.
The Montreux Market takes place this year from November 19th to December 24th, 2021, but some activities will continue until Epiphany, January 6th, 2022. It is possible to visit the stands on Mondays and Tuesdays from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Wednesdays and Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Fridays from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Food stands generally stay open longer, until 10 p.m. Sunday through Tuesday and until 11 p.m. the other days. Absolutely not to be missed is the flight over the lake of Santa’s sleigh, visible every day at 5, 6 and 7 p.m. (on Saturday at 4 p.m.).

Covid Rules: at the time of publication of this post, entry to the outdoor areas is not contingent upon showing a valid green pass and there is no requirement to wear a protective mask. However, spacing rules are implemented. In addition, in accordance with federal and cantonal regulations, entry to chalet restaurants, indoor attractions and some refreshment areas requires the presentation of a valid Covid certificate and ID. However, the epidemiological situation is unstable and things can change very quickly. It is therefore advisable to check in advance requirements and rules of participation on the official website of the event.

– How to get to Montreux? Look for your train on the SBB website or search for a flight here*.

– Do you prefer to stay in the city to enjoy the Christmas atmosphere? Find your hotel on Booking.com*.

Zurich

For the people of Zurich, it is only truly Christmas when the lights along Bahnofstrasse are switched on at the end of November. But the city does offer many opportunities for Christmas shopping and entertainment and its Christmas markets are spread throughout all districts. Anyway, four are the main Christmas markets in Zurich:

1) The Christkindlimarkt in Hauptbanhof, set up in the main concourse of the city’s central station, is one of the largest indoor Christmas markets in Europe. More than 150 festively decorated stalls sell handicrafts, gift ideas, textiles and culinary delights. The heart of the event is the elegant Christmas tree, more than 10 meters high and decorated with sparkling Swarovski crystal decorations. The Christkindlimarkt takes place from November 25th to December 24th, 2021 and can be visited from Sunday to Wednesday from 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. and from Thursday to Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., with the only exception of the day December 24 when the market will close at 4 p.m.

2) The Dörfli Christmas Market is the oldest in the city and takes place in the streets of the “Niederdorf” district, between the central Niederdorfstrasse and the Hirschenplatz. The aroma of mulled wine and the scent of cinnamon dominate the many stalls set up here. The Dörfli Christmas Market takes place from November 25th to December 23th, 2021 and can be visited Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

3) The “Wienachtsdorf” Christmas Village on Sechseläutenplatz, opposite the Opera House, is one of the largest in the city. Its location on the shores of the lake make it particularly charming and certainly one of the most beloved by the people of Zurich. If you are passionate about design, this market is certainly for you! Here, in fact, the city’s designers, in rotation, can put on display and sell their handcrafted creations. Of course, there is also a wide range of gastronomic offerings for a pleasant evening with mulled wine and typical Swiss dishes. The Christmas village “Wienachtsdorf” takes place from November 25th to December 23th, 2021 and can be visited from Monday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 22 p.m. and on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 20 p.m.

4) The Werdmühleplatz market, a small hidden market just a stone’s throw from the main station, is worth a visit because of its special feature: the “Singing Christmas Tree”, a large stage in the shape of a richly decorated Christmas tree on which choirs from all over Switzerland perform traditional Christmas carols every day. The Werdmühleplatz market runs from November 25th to December 23rd, 2021 and can be visited Monday through Thursday from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., Friday from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m., and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. To hear the choirs perform, however, you’ll need to be there Monday through Thursday at 5:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m., Friday at 5:30 p.m., 6:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday at 2:30 p.m., 3:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.

Covid rules: at the time of publication of this post, entry to Zurich’s Christmas markets is contingent upon showing a valid green pass and ID. It’s suggested (and sometimes mandatory) to use cards or Twint for all payments at the markets. However, the epidemiological situation is unstable and things can change very quickly. It is therefore advisable to check in advance the requirements and rules of participation on the official websites of the events. You can find the links within the page of the individual events, on this page.

– How to get to Zurich? Look for your train on the SBB website or search for a flight here*.

– Do you prefer to stay in the city to enjoy the Christmas atmosphere? Find your hotel on Booking.com*.

Stein am Rhein

Of the least known Christmas markets in Switzerland, the one in Stein am Rhein is certainly a real gem. The small town, in fact, is located at the meeting point between Lake Constance and the Rhine River and has a characteristic old town with half-timbered houses and painted facades. It is therefore an ideal destination for a visit throughout the year, but at Christmas time it is made even more fascinating by the many decorations that brighten up the streets, squares and buildings. The “Märlistadt” – the “city of fairy tales” – as the Christmas event is called, takes place this year from December 1st to January 2nd and offers not only stands of handicrafts and gastronomic specialties but also many cultural initiatives and entertainment. The stands can be visited from Wednesday to Friday from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 19 p.m. In the presence of many visitors and if the weather allows it, the closing time can be extended up to 10 p.m.

Covid rules: at the time of publication of this post, entry to outdoor areas is not contingent upon the display of a valid green pass. However, the epidemiological situation is unstable and things can change very quickly. It is therefore advisable to check the requirements and rules of participation in advance on the official event website (German only).

– How to get to Stein am Rhein? Look for your train on the SBB website or search for a flight here*.

– Do you prefer to stay in the city to enjoy the Christmas atmosphere? Find your hotel on Booking.com*.

Einsiedeln

This Christmas market, like the one in Stein am Rhein, is certainly a little hidden gem. The event takes place in the small town of Einsiedeln, in front of the spectacular setting of the large monastery. The numerous stalls, the illuminations and the large Christmas tree fascinate young and old and give the town an old-fashioned charm. In 2021, the Einsiedeln Christmas Market takes place from November 26th to December 5th, and you can visit the stands Sunday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Covid Rules: at the time of publication of this post, entry to the outdoor areas is not contingent upon showing a valid green pass. However, the epidemiological situation is unstable and things can change very quickly. It is therefore advisable to check in advance the requirements and rules of participation on the official website of the event (in German only).

– How to get to Einsiedeln? Look for your train on the SBB website or search for a flight here*.

– Do you prefer to stay in the city to enjoy the Christmas atmosphere? Find your hotel on Booking.com*.

Tips

1

The best way to experience the magic of Christmas is to visit the markets on a cold winter afternoon, perhaps holding a warm cup of mulled wine in your hands. This choice, however, can be a real challenge for those who choose to move only by public transport and is therefore constrained by the operating hours. Therefore, if you live far away from your chosen destination, we suggest you to bet on one of the big Swiss cities, such as Basel, Bern, Zurich or Lucerne, and stay overnight there: in this way you will have the opportunity to visit all the city markets and enjoy the Christmas atmosphere without the risk of missing the last train!

2

In this article we have listed only eight of the many Christmas markets set up every year in Switzerland, but we know there are many more! If you have visited a Christmas market other than those listed that you liked or that particularly impressed you, then let us know by leaving a comment below or, if you want it, by writing an article to publish on our blog!

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