Cityscape of Zurich, Switzerland, featuring a cluster of historic buildings with pointed spires under an overcast sky, with the magic of Zurich's Christmas Market adding a festive touch.
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Unveiling the Magic of Zurich Christmas Markets – 2023

When winter casts its enchanting spell over Zurich, the city comes alive with the spirit of Christmas. At the heart of this festive transformation are Zurich’s charming Christmas markets, where the air is filled with the scent of mulled wine and roasted chestnuts, and twinkling lights dance merrily in the crisp Swiss night.

Table of Contents

If you’re wondering whether Zurich has a good Christmas Market, the answer is a resounding “yes!” In this article, we’ll delve into the enchanting world of Zurich’s Christmas markets, uncover their opening dates, explore the most popular market in Zurich, and take a sneak peek at the broader Swiss Christmas market scene.

Most Market Dates are November 23-December 23, 2023

Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Visit to Zurich’s Christmas Markets

To ensure a memorable and enjoyable experience at Zurich’s enchanting Christmas Markets, consider these helpful tips:

What to Wear

  1. Dress Warmly: Zurich’s winter weather can be chilly, so bundling up is essential. Wear layers, a warm coat, and a cozy scarf, gloves, and a hat to keep yourself comfortable as you explore the markets.
  2. Comfortable Footwear: Zurich’s Christmas Markets often involve a fair amount of walking on cobblestone streets. Opt for comfortable, sturdy footwear that will keep your feet warm and allow you to navigate the festive market stalls easily.
  3. Stay Dry: Bring an umbrella or waterproof jacket for occasional rain or snow showers. Staying dry will ensure you enjoy the markets regardless of the weather.

Timing Matters

  1. Weekday Visits: If you prefer a more relaxed and less crowded experience, plan your visit to Zurich’s Christmas Markets during the weekday. The markets tend to be busiest on weekends, especially in the evenings, so visiting on a weekday can provide a more tranquil atmosphere for your exploration.

Plan Ahead

  1. Market Hours: Check the opening and closing hours of the specific Christmas Markets you wish to visit. Some may have extended hours during the holiday season, allowing you to explore the stalls and enjoy the festive ambiance even after sunset.
  2. Local Events: Watch for events and market performances, such as choir performances or storytelling sessions. Planning your visit around these events can add an extra layer of enchantment to your experience.

Sample Local Delicacies

  1. Try Swiss Specialties: Don’t miss the opportunity to savor Swiss holiday treats such as raclette, sausages, and apple fritters. Explore the culinary wonders of Zurich’s Christmas Markets and indulge in the flavors of Switzerland.

Take Your Time

  1. Enjoy the Atmosphere: Zurich’s Christmas Markets are about shopping and immersing yourself in the holiday spirit. Take your time to soak in the festive ambiance, listen to carolers, and admire the twinkling lights and decorations.
  2. Capture Memories: Bring your camera or smartphone to capture the magic of the markets. The colorful stalls, glowing lights, and joyful faces create excellent photo opportunities.

Explore Beyond the City Center

  1. Venture Out: While Zurich’s main Christmas Markets in the city center are iconic, consider exploring markets in other neighborhoods and districts. Each market has its unique charm and offerings, allowing you to discover hidden gems.

By following these tips, you can make the most of your visit to Zurich’s Christmas Markets, ensuring your experience is enjoyable and memorable. From dressing warmly and planning your timing to savoring local delicacies and capturing the festive atmosphere, Zurich’s Christmas Markets offer a delightful adventure for all.

Overview of Zurich as a Christmas Market Destination

Zurich boasts a remarkable array of Christmas markets that cater to every festive whim. From the end of November through December, the city’s picturesque squares and streets transform into winter wonderlands, offering visitors a delightful holiday experience.

What days are Zurich Christmas Markets?

Most Zurich Christmas markets typically open towards the end of November or early December and continue through Christmas. Each market has its own schedule, but you can expect to enjoy its festive ambiance daily, with extended hours on weekends.

Exploring Zurich’s Christmas Markets

Christkindlimarkt at the Zurich Central Station

Located right at the heart of the city, the Christkindlimarkt at Zurich’s Main Train Station is a bustling hub of holiday activity. The market surrounds the massive Swarovski crystal tree, creating a dazzling spectacle impossible to miss. Stroll through the charming stalls to discover handcrafted ornaments, exquisite Swiss chocolates, and festive decorations. As you sip on a cup of warm Glühwein (mulled wine), the holiday spirit infuses every corner of the station.

The Christkindlimarkt at the Zurich Central Station with lots of chalets selling food and handcrafted items.

Christkindlimarkt, Hauptbahnhof Zürich, Zürich
Days & Hours:  Sunday-Wednesday: 11.00 am – 9 pm; Thursday – Saturday: 11.00 am – 10 pm (Dec 24: 11.00 am – 4 pm)

The Christmas tree at Wienachtsdorf Christmas Market at Sechelautenplatz. There are rustic chalets and tables around the tree to eat and drink Glühwein.

Wienachtsdorf at Sechseläutenplatz – Zurich Viennese Village

For a truly immersive experience, head to Wienachtsdorf at Sechseläutenplatz. This market has a distinct Alpine feel and a cozy village atmosphere.

The wooden chalets house a wide array of unique gifts, from handmade jewelry to traditional Swiss handicrafts. Children and families will adore the ice skating rink and the enchanting carousel, making it a perfect destination for all ages.

The Welcome sing to the Wienachtsdorf Market with the rustic chalets in the background.

This was our favorite Christmas Market. It is located next to the Zurich Opera House and on Lake Zurich. The cozy chalet with great food vendors and shopping attracted us the most of all the Markets in Zurich.

Zürcher Wienachtsdorf, Weihnachtsmarkt, Sechseläutenplatz Zürich
Days & Hours: Monday to Saturday, 11.00 am – 10.00 pm; Sunday until 8.00 pm

Fondue chalet hours: Monday to Thursday: 11.00 am – 11.00 pm; Friday and Saturday until 12.00 am; Sunday until 10.00 pm

Ice Rink Hours: Monday to Friday, from 11.00 am

The Singing Christmas Tree at the Werdemuhleplatz Market

Werdemühleplatz Christmas Market – The Singing Christmas Tree

Tucked just off the famous Bahnhofstrasse, the Werdemühleplatz Christmas Market is a hidden gem in Zurich’s holiday landscape. What makes this market truly special is the “Singing Christmas Tree.” This captivating tree hosts choirs worldwide, who gather on its “branches” to perform enchanting carols and festive songs. It’s a heartwarming experience that resonates with the spirit of the season.

The Singing Christmas Tree & Wiehnachtsmärt Werdmühleplatz  Zürich
Days & Hours: Monday to Thursday: 4.00 pm – 9.00 pm; Friday: 4.00 pm – 10.00 pm; Saturday: 1.00 pm – 10.00 pm; Sunday: 1.00 pm – 9.00 pm

Choir performances: Monday to Friday: 5:30 pm / 6:30 pm; Saturday and Sunday: 2:30 pm / 3:30 pm / 5:30 pm / 6:30 pm

Dörfli Weinachtsdorf im Niederdorf – Old Town

Wandering through Zurich’s historic Old Town during Christmas is like stepping into a fairytale. The cobbled streets and medieval buildings provide a picturesque backdrop for the market’s cozy stalls.

You’ll find artisanal crafts, Swiss specialties, and heartwarming treats here. Don’t miss the chance to try raclette, a Swiss dish of melted cheese served with potatoes, pickles, and onions—a true winter delight! Zurich’s oldest Christmas market is a perfect scene in Old Town

Weihnachtsmarkt im Niederdorf, Niederdorfstrasse, Zürich
Days & Hours: Monday–Thursday 11.00 am -9.00 pm; Friday & Saturday: 11.00 am – 10.00 pm; Sunday: 11.00 am – 8.00 pm

The building illuminated with the light designs at the Illuminarium.

Illuminarium at Landesmuseum Zurich

A short walk from the main train station, you’ll find the Landesmuseum Zurich, where the inner courtyard transforms into the mesmerizing Illuminarium during the holiday season.

Thousands of lights decorate the facade of the building, creating a wonderland of illumination. It’s a spectacular sight that’s perfect for capturing memorable photographs. While you’re here, indulge in the offerings of several food vendors that add a savory dimension to the experience.

More Festive Delights in Zurich

As we explore Zurich’s Christmas wonderland, we stumble upon more magical attractions that will delight visitors of all ages.

The "Lucy Lights" on the Bahnhofstrasse

Bahnhofstrasse’s ‘Lucy Lights’

While you’re in the Bahnhofstrasse area, don’t miss the “Lucy Lights.” These radiant decorations festively illuminate Zurich’s renowned shopping street. Strolling along Bahnhofstrasse during this time feels like wandering through a fairytale of lights and glamour, with boutique windows adorned in their holiday best.

The Circus Conelli lights glowing across Lake Zurich.

Circus Conelli

For a different holiday entertainment, visit Lake Zurich and experience Circus Conelli. This circus combines acrobatics, clowns, and live music to create a mesmerizing show that appeals to all ages. It’s a great place to take the kids and immerse yourself in the magic of the circus.

The St. Nicolas Christmas Tram loading with it's new passengers.

Zurich St. Nicolas Christmas Tram

For young believers aged 4 to 10, the Zurich St. Nicolas Christmas Tram is a delightful treat. Angels and Santa himself take young passengers on a tram ride, reading heartwarming Christmas stories along the way.

The tram departs from the Bellevue tram stops and follows a circular route, eventually returning to its starting point. Tickets for this enchanting journey are in high demand, so be sure to secure yours well in advance at the Jelmoli Marlitram.

The Samichlaus Parade with men carrying large cow bells that made the most interesting sound along the parade route.

Santa Claus Parade (Samichlaus Parade)

On the last Sunday of November, Zurich’s Bahnhofstrasse comes alive with the joyful sounds of Santa Claus and his helpers parading through the streets. They distribute gingerbread cookies to delighted children, creating heartwarming memories for families and visitors alike.

One of the many Santa Claus at the Santa Claus Parade, one of his "helpers" is in the background wearing his plain brown monk outfit.

Stumbling upon this parade is magical if you’re fortunate enough to be in Zurich on this special day. It’s the perfect way to kick-start the holiday season.

Lichterschwimmen Event

One of Zurich’s most picturesque and heartwarming traditions is the ‘Lichterschwimmen’ event. On December 21, 2023, at 6 pm, hundreds of tiny lanterns are launched from Stadthausquai and set afloat down the Limmat River. This beautiful spectacle, hosted by Zurich Tourism, serves as a heartfelt ‘thank you’ to tourists and locals for their support throughout the year.

As you watch the lanterns drift gently on the water, Zurich Tourism also provides hot punch and sweet treats for onlookers at Weinplatz, making it a warm and memorable experience.

Märchen Chlöschtle Festival

If you’re in Zurich from December 16th to 18th, you won’t want to miss the Märchen Chlöschtle Festival. Held at the Zurich Public Library, this annual event celebrates the season with music, art, and storytelling.

Local authors, storytellers, musicians, and artists share their talents and spread festive cheer. It’s an opportunity to immerse yourself in the enchanting world of storytelling and creativity, making it a perfect evening for all ages.

Culinary Delights: What to Eat and Drink at Zurich’s Christmas Markets

The husband eating a sausage with a warm bun accompanied with it. We were surprised that the sausage was served outside of the bun.

Sausages

At Zurich’s Christmas Markets, the aroma of sizzling sausages fills the air. Whether you prefer bratwurst or cervelat, these hearty Swiss sausages are a beloved snack. Served with a roll, they are the perfect savory treat to keep you warm as you explore the markets.

65-hour Cider Steak

For those seeking a hearty and flavorful dish, the 65-hour Cider Steak is a must-try. This succulent steak is cooked sous-vide for approximately 65 hours, resulting in tender, melt-in-your-mouth perfection. It’s a true delicacy that showcases Swiss culinary craftsmanship.

Öpfelchüechli

Indulge your sweet tooth with Öpfelchüechli, a delightful apple fritter served with custard. These crispy and golden fritters are a beloved Swiss dessert, especially during the holiday season. The warm, sweet apples and the creamy custard create a heavenly combination.

Melted cheese being poured into a baguette. There was so much cheese at the Markets!

Raclette

You can’t visit Switzerland without trying raclette. Melted cheese lovers rejoice as you watch the raclette wheel being scraped onto a plate of boiled potatoes, pickles, and onions. It’s a comforting and cheesy delight that’s quintessentially Swiss.

Flammkuchen

Flammkuchen is a thin flatbread covered in a creamy layer of creme fraiche, onions, and various delectable toppings, often including bacon. This crispy, savory treat is perfect for sharing and pairs wonderfully with a glass of mulled wine.

Gommer Cholera

For a unique and hearty Swiss dish, sample Gommer Cholera. This vegetable pie consists of potatoes, apples, onions, leeks, and cheese, all encased in a flaky pastry crust. It’s a satisfying and flavorsome option for those trying something distinct.

Kaiserschmarrn

End your culinary journey on a sweet note with Kaiserschmarrn. These shredded pancakes are served with applesauce, plum compote, and a generous dusting of powdered sugar. It’s comfort food at its finest.

Warm Drinks

To stay warm and toasty while exploring the Christmas Markets, sip on traditional hot beverages like Glühwein, a mulled wine infused with spices, and Glühmost pressed apple juice simmered with warming spices. These drinks will keep you warm and festive as you wander through the market’s enchanting stalls.

Nutcrackers were one of the many items that you could buy at the Markets. There were all kinds of varieties.

A Guide to Shopping at the Christmas Markets in Zurich

The Christmas Markets in Zurich are not just about immersing yourself in the holiday ambiance; they are also a treasure trove of unique and handcrafted items that make perfect gifts or cherished mementos of your visit. Here’s a shopping guide to help you discover the wonderful finds at these markets:

Handmade Ornaments

Regarding festive decorations, Zurich’s Christmas Markets have you covered. Explore the stalls adorned with beautifully crafted ornaments, each a piece of art. From delicate glass baubles to intricately designed wooden decorations, these ornaments will add a touch of holiday magic to your home. Choose from traditional Swiss motifs or contemporary designs to suit your taste.

Embrace the Swiss tradition of baking delicious holiday cookies with unique cookie molds. These intricately designed molds come in various shapes and patterns, allowing you to create delicious and visually stunning cookies. They also make for thoughtful gifts for bakers and cookie enthusiasts in your life.

Candles of every shape and style

Candles play a significant role in Swiss Christmas traditions, and Zurich’s Christmas Markets offer an exquisite selection. Discover candles of every shape, size, and style, from elegant taper candles to whimsical and festive designs. Whether you’re looking for the perfect centerpiece for your holiday table or a delightful gift, you’ll find an array of candles.

Swiss Crafts and Artisanal Gifts

Support local artisans by browsing a wide range of Swiss crafts and artisanal gifts. From handwoven textiles and pottery to intricate woodwork and leather goods, these crafts showcase Swiss artisans’ rich traditions and creativity. You will find something special whether you’re looking for a unique souvenir or a meaningful gift.

Traditional Swiss Food and Drink

Take a piece of Swiss culinary tradition home by exploring the food stalls. Swiss chocolate, cheese, and cured meats make delightful gifts and souvenirs. Look for beautifully packaged Swiss chocolates and cheese selections to please the food enthusiasts on your gift list.

Fashion and Accessories

If you’re in the mood for a little fashion indulgence, Zurich’s Christmas Markets also feature stalls offering stylish clothing, accessories, and jewelry. Explore local designers’ handcrafted scarves, hats, and jewelry to find the perfect statement piece or wardrobe addition.

Handcrafted Toys and Games

Zurich’s Christmas Markets offers a charming selection of handcrafted toys and games for the little ones on your list. From traditional wooden toys to whimsical stuffed animals, you’ll find unique gifts that inspire creativity and play.

Where to stay when visiting the Christmas Markets in Zurich

Zurich is very popular during Christmas; I recommend booking your accommodations well in advance.  I started planning our 2022 trip in June of 2022.

Helpful resources for planning your visit to the Christmas markets of Zurich

To make the most of your visit to Zurich’s Christmas Markets and ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience, here are some essential resources and tips to keep in mind:

Getting Around Zurich

Navigating Zurich is a breeze, thanks to its efficient public transportation system. Consider these options:

  • By Train: The train is often considered the best mode of transportation within Zurich. Zurich Hauptbahnhof (main train station) is well-connected and user-friendly, making it easy to access the city’s various Christmas Markets.
  • By Air: If you’re flying into Zurich, you’ll likely arrive at Zurich Airport (Flughafen Zurich). From there, it’s a quick and convenient commute into central Zurich, with various transport options, including trains and trams.
  • By Car: If you prefer the flexibility of a rental car, Zurich offers car rental services. However, navigating the city by car can be challenging due to traffic and limited parking, especially during the holiday season.

Currency and Payment

Zurich uses the Swiss Franc (CHF) as its currency. While credit cards are widely accepted in Zurich, carrying some cash is a good idea, especially when visiting the Christmas Markets. Many market vendors may prefer cash transactions, and having Swiss Francs can simplify your shopping experience.

Swiss German Phrases

While English is widely spoken in Zurich, especially in tourist areas, knowing a few basic Swiss German phrases can enhance your experience and show respect for the local culture. Here are a few essential phrases:

  • Hello: “Hallo” or “Grüezi” (a common Swiss German greeting).
  • Please: “Bitte.”
  • Thank you: “Danke.”
  • Excuse me: “Entschuldigung.”
  • Goodbye: “Auf Wiedersehen.”

Travel Insurance

Before embarking on your holiday adventure, it’s always wise to have comprehensive travel insurance. Travel insurance provides peace of mind by protecting against unexpected events such as trip cancellations, medical emergencies, and lost luggage. Ensure your insurance coverage is up-to-date to enjoy a worry-free visit to Zurich.

Zurich Card

To maximize your exploration of Zurich and make the most of your time at the Christmas Markets, consider acquiring the Zurich Card. This city pass offers numerous benefits, including free access to public transportation within Zurich, discounts on various attractions, and even complimentary admission to select museums. The Zurich Card is a convenient way to explore the city and enjoy savings during your visit.

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Day Trips and Tours to Take while Visiting Zurich

The Enchanting Swiss Christmas Market Scene

It’s challenging to crown a single market as the most popular in Switzerland because each market offers a unique and captivating experience. However, if you’re looking for a truly magical setting, you might want to explore the Christmas market in Basel’s old town. We have a full post on the Christmas Market in Basel.

Check out our other Christmas Market posts. Most of those locations can be combined with a trip to Zurich.


Final Thoughts on the Zurich Christmas Markets

Walking down the street we came upon a bunch of motorcycles and mopeds with drivers dressed as Santa Claus.

As the holiday season approaches, Zurich transforms into a winter wonderland adorned with twinkling lights, festive decorations, and the heartwarming spirit of Christmas. Exploring Zurich’s Christmas Markets is a magical experience that captures the season’s essence. From the lively main train station market to the historic Old Town market, each corner of Zurich comes alive with festive charm.

The Christmas Pyramid at the Weihnachts

In this guide, we’ve embarked on a journey through Zurich’s enchanting Christmas Markets, uncovering the key attractions, unique traditions, and delectable treats that await visitors. The Singing Christmas Tree, the Illuminarium, and the Santa Claus Parade are just some captivating experiences that add to the city’s holiday charm.

And it’s not just about what you see and do; it’s also about what you taste. Zurich’s Christmas Markets offer a culinary adventure like no other. The markets are a feast for the senses, from savoring Swiss sausages and 65-hour Cide Steak to indulging in apple fritters and raclette.

Zurich’s Christmas Markets invite you to immerse yourself in the holiday spirit, whether shopping for unique gifts, sipping on mulled wine, or simply basking in the enchanting atmosphere. So, bundle up in your warmest attire, savor the season’s flavors, and let the magic of Zurich’s Christmas Markets create cherished memories that will last a lifetime.

May your holiday season in Zurich be filled with love, laughter, and the magic of Christmas!

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