Festive illuminations, smiling faces, and the ever-present holiday vibe – Zürich is undeniably one of the most enchanting European cities to experience during Christmas. Naturally, no trip to Zürich during the holiday season would be complete without exploring its fantastic Christmas markets. So in this guide, we cover everything you need to know about them and share some of our favorite tips.
- What Makes Christmas in Zürich So Special?
- 2021 Entry Requirements
- Zürich Christmas Markets
- The Best Christmas Market in Zürich
- The Prices
- Final Thoughts
What Makes Christmas in Zürich So Special?
“It’s the most wonderful time of the year” sang Andy Williams in his by now classic song. And although he probably didn’t refer to Zürich in particular, he could well be. Christmas is indeed a fabulous time to be in the Swiss Capital.
Already in late November, beautiful festive illuminations pop up throughout the city as if overnight turning Zürich into an enchanted kingdom. Thousands of shining sparkling lights fill the streets and passages with a warm magical glow.
Christmas trees, from tiny to grand, appear in squares all across town. Arguably the most impressive of them is a giant Swarowski Christmas tree inside the Zürich main station. All covered in crystals, it’s indeed a sight to behold.
Every Christmas Swarowski donates the tree and presents its recent collection along with it. Over the years, it has grown into one of the unique and long-standing traditions that make Zürich so special.
And then of course there are the Christmas markets. Unlike many other European cities, Zürich doesn’t have just one. In fact, there are a total of six Christmas markets to choose from!
It is easy to get lost in time wandering from one market to another always discovering something new and exciting. You will find everything from mulled wine and international cuisine to Christmas toys and Swiss souvenirs in the seemingly endless kiosks.
Christmas markets are immensely popular among locals and tourists alike. Families and friends gather here to have a chat, have a drink or two, and soak in the holiday spirit. It is yet another wonderful tradition that is so easy to fall in love with.
But don’t take my word for it! Just go to Zürich and witness it with your own eyes. I guarantee you will not be disappointed.
2021 Entry Requirements
As the worldwide pandemic is still in full swing, a lot of celebrations throughout Europe are canceled in 2021. Luckily, all of Zürich Christmas markets will take place as planned. The situation may still change, but as of the last week of November, Zürich Christmas markets are open and accepting guests.
There are, however, certain restrictions that you need to be aware of. Most importantly, to enter you need to present a valid COVID certificate along with your ID. This is a general requirement for any place selling food or drinks. As such, all but one of Zürich’s Christmas markets fall into this category.
The certificate must comply with the 3G rule. This means you should be vaccinated, recovered from the disease, or recently tested (“geimpft, genesen, getestet” in German, hence 3G). There are several test centers nearby, so getting a certificate shouldn’t be an issue for anyone.
The certificates are checked digitally, so make sure to have yours available on the smartphone. The EU ones are cross-compatible, and I had no problems using the German certificate. If you are traveling from outside the EU, it’s probably a good idea to check whether yours is accepted.
Unfortunately, this has further implications. Most notably, to ensure the rules are followed, the Christmas markets are now fenced off. This certainly takes a lot of their charm away, especially for the smaller ones. It’s kinda hard to shake off the feeling of entering a corral or a paddock.
Another nuisance is the queues. Because everyone’s certificate is meticulously checked, it may take a while to get inside. Thankfully, once finally in, there are no restrictions. You can even take the mask off, which is certainly a relief.
All in all, the process is definitely not perfect, and there are some inconveniences. But honestly, to me, it’s a small price to pay to be able to enjoy the Christmas markets.
Zürich Christmas Markets
As mentioned previously, there are as many as six different Christmas markets in Zürich. Luckily, they are all within walking distance from one another. This means, if you have just a few hours to spend, you can easily cover them all.
The map above shows all the locations along with the short descriptions. Feel free to use it to follow along as I’m going through each of Zürich Christmas Markets in more detail.
The Old Town Christmas Market
- Dates: Nov 25 – Dec 23, 2021
- Opening hours: Mon – Thu: 11 AM – 9 PM; Fri – Sun: 11 AM – 10 PM
- Address: Hirschenplatz, Niederdorf
- Website: http://www.weihnachtsmarkt-doerfli.ch
The Old Town Christmas Market (also referred to as the “Village Christmas Market” or Weihnachtsmarkt Dörfli), is located in the Niederdoft quarter in the heart of Zürich old town. It is the city’s oldest and tiniest Christmas market and well worth a visit on that merit alone.
Sadly, it is also the one that suffers the most from the recent regulations. I imagine that normally tiny stalls would look marvelous amidst the historical buildings. Unfortunately, the grey steel barriers installed this year just kill the magic. In this regard, Zürich could definitely do a better job coming up with fences that wouldn’t feel so terribly out of place.
Regardless, inside you will find everything to lift your spirits. A few shops, a mulled wine stand, and a few food booths are all at your disposal. And frankly, the Glühwein I had here was one of the most delicious in town. So treat yourself to some and let’s keep exploring!
The City Christmas Market
- Dates: Nov 25 – Dec 24, 2021
- Opening hours: Mon-Sat: 10 AM – 8 PM; Sun: 11 AM – 7 PM
- Address: Pestalozzi Square
- Website: https://www.city-weihnachtsmarkt.ch
The City Christmas Market is the only one in Zürich that doesn’t sell food or drinks and therefore has no entrance controls. There are no barriers either, and that makes quite a noticeable difference!
Although there are just a couple of shop rows, it feels like a proper Christmas market of the pre-covid era. There are no crowds and you can leisurely walk around and examine what’s on offer.
There are Swiss natural products as well as jewelry, clothes, accessories, and numerous other goods to choose from. I was particularly mesmerized by the huge selection of candle lanterns. These are just so cute and Christmassy that it’s hard to resist buying one!
Werdmühleplatz Christmas Market
- Dates: Nov 25 – Dec 23, 2021
- Opening hours: Mon–Thu: 4 PM – 9 PM; Fri: 4 PM – 10 PM; Sat: 1 PM – 10 PM; Sun: 1 PM – 9 PM
- Address: Werdmühleplatz
- Website: https://www.singingchristmastree.ch
Just a couple of blocks down from the City Christmas Market you will find another famous Zürich Christmas Market. Colloquially known as “The Singing Christmas Tree”, it is renowned for its enchanting musical performances.
Every day, various choirs from the Zürich region cheer the visitors with their repertoire of Christmas carols. Performances run daily at 5:30 PM and 6:30 PM, with additional shows at 7:30 PM on Friday and 2:30 PM and 3:30 PM over weekends.
Of all the Christmas markets in Zürich, I consider the Werdmühleplatz one the most romantic and sweet. The concerts are charming and beautiful, and I definitely recommend timing your visit to see one. It’s a lovely way to celebrate Christmas and feel the spirit of the holiday season.
Münsterhof Christmas Market
- Dates: Nov 25 – Dec 24, 2021
- Opening hours: Mon-Sat: 11 AM – 9:30 PM; Sun: 11 AM – 8 PM
- Address: Münsterhof
- Website: https://www.zuerich-weihnachtsmarkt.ch
Weinachtsmarkt Münsterhof is a cozy and modern Christmas Market that focuses on local produce and high-quality goods. Despite its modest size, you will find some quite unusual offerings there that can make a nice sweet Christmas present.
Everything sold in Münsterhof Christmas market is manufactured or designed in Zürich or surrounding areas. Even the mulled wine here is made of local grapes! So for a taste of real Zürich, this is where you want to go.
I also greatly appreciated its laid-back and relaxed atmosphere. There are no crowds as in the larger markets, and you instantly feel at ease and comfortable. Overall, it’s a terrific choice to enjoy the Christmassy vibe together with your friends.
Zürich Main Station Market (Christkindlimarkt)
- Dates: Nov 25 – Dec 24, 2021
- Opening hours: Sun-Wed: 10:30 AM – 9 PM; Thu-Sat: 10:30 AM – 10 PM
- Address: Zürich Main Train Station
- Website: https://christkindlimarkt.ch
If you’re anything like me, a Christmas market inside the main train station might sound a little strange at first. You might even be thinking it’s a small establishment hardly worth considering. Well, you couldn’t be further from the truth.
Zürich main station is huge, and so is the Christmas market you will find inside it. Featuring 140 stalls, Christkindlimarkt is one of the largest in Europe. From numerous mulled wine stands and food offerings to gifts, souvenirs, and other Christmas memorabilia, you will find almost anything imaginable here.
Christkindlimarkt (the other name of this Christmas market) is also home to the Swarowski Christmas tree I mentioned earlier. So if you want to witness one of the most impressive (and expensive!) Christmas trees in Europe, be sure to check it out.
The main station Christmas market is understandably one of the busiest in Zürich and therefore lacks the coziness and charm of the smaller ones. But the size and the sheer variety of products make it hard to resist.
In 2021, it is also the only Christmas market where I was able to buy mulled wine in a real (rather than paper) mug. You get charged an additional 4 CHF for it, which you get back when you return it empty. Or, you can just keep the mug as a souvenir, which is what we did.
Zürich Christmas Village near the Opera House
- Dates: Nov 25 – Dec 23, 2021
- Opening hours: Mon-Sat: 11 AM – 10 PM; Sun: 11 AM – 8 PM
- Address: Sechseläutenplatz, near Zürich Opera
- Website: https://www.wienachtsdorf.ch
With “only” 120 stalls, the Christmas Village near the opera house (Weinacthsdorf am Bellevue) is technically smaller than Christkindlimarkt. And yet, due to its location in the open air, it actually feels much larger.
It is also by far the most popular Christmas market in the city. As such, it gets super crowded on weekends and later in the evenings. Which in turn means that the queue to get in is sometimes quite long. But what awaits inside is more than worth the hurdle.
With endless richly lit and decorated stalls, real bonfires, and culinary delights from around the world, it is undoubtedly the most classy of all the Christmas markets in Zürich. From Swiss fondue to Venezuelan fast food to Portuguese Pastel de nata, there is something to try for everyone here.
Locals and tourists alike flock here to immerse in festive activities and have a joyful time together. So treat yourself to a tasty snack (or two), get some hot mulled wine flowing, and enjoy the glorious evening with friends and family.
Just be sure to bring your credit card as cash is not accepted in the Christmas village.
The Best Christmas Market in Zürich
With such abundance and variety, you might be wondering which Christmas market is the best? The most beautiful, most Christmassy, most impressive of them all? Truth be told, the answer is – all of them.
Every Christmas market in Zürich is unique in some way, be that history, the concept, the decorations, or the goods. Each one can and will surprise you. So I genuinely advise you to try them all. They are so close to each other that you can easily do so in a single evening.
But what if you only have very limited time in Zürich? In this case, it mostly comes down to your preference. If you don’t mind the crowds, Christkindlimarkt inside the train station and the Christmas Village near the opera house are the two obvious choices.
For a more intimate and relaxed experience, I recommend the Münsterhof Christmas Market. And if you are looking for a perfect Christmas vibe, the Singing Christmas Tree is hard to beat.
One last thing I need to talk about is the prices. Switzerland is a very expensive country, and its Christmas markets are no exception. To give you an idea of what to expect, here are some sample prices:
- Entry: free
- A glass of mulled wine: 6-7 CHF
- Tea or coffee: 4 CHF
- Bottle of beer: 6 CHF
- A hotdog: 10-12 CHF
- A sausage with a bun: 9-10 CHF
- Pastel de nata: 3 CHF
- Small decorative lantern: 25 CHF
- Hand warmers: 20 CHF
This may not seem overly terrible at a glance, but the costs do accumulate quickly. A mug of mulled wine here, something to bite there, a souvenir to bring home, and suddenly your bank account takes quite a beating.
This doesn’t mean you have to be insanely rich to have a good time in Zürich. The decorations, the light installations, and of course the Christmas markets are all free for you to visit and enjoy. But if you are traveling on a budget, this is something to keep in mind.
With its incredible light installations and a total of six Christmas markets to choose from, Zürich is a lovely city to relish the holiday mood. It may not be the biggest or most famous Christmas destination out there, but it sure has its distinct character and charm.
I had a lot of fun walking its gorgeously decorated streets, and I am sure you will too. And if it gets too cold outside, there is most probably a cozy and welcoming Christmas market somewhere just around the corner where you can get your hands on a mug of steaming hot mulled wine.
I hope you enjoyed this guide to Zürich Christmas markets and got something useful out of it. If so, please share it with your friends, post it on social media, and help spread the word. And if you have any questions or just want to chat, leave me a note down in the comment section.
We also have further articles on travel in Switzerland and around the globe, so feel free to explore the blog to your heart’s content. Here are just some of our recommendations:
- Basel Christmas Market Guide: the Best in Europe 2021. Or is it?
- Sunrise on Top of the World: Photography Guide to Mt. Pilatus
- Three Places to Enjoy Winter in the Black Forest
- 7 Tips for Winter Landscape Photography
- The Best of Heidelberg – 13 Top Things to Do and See
- Lisbon Photography Guide: 10 Fabulous Spots to Capture
With that, happy travels and let’s see each other soon!