As we dash off into the Festive Season and pour another glass of port or sherry and snack one more chorizo infused cheesy chicken canape, I’m reminded of a few things. Mariah Carey’s “All I want for Christmas” (sorry), hearty family meals and… Christmas Markets.
And sure, whilst the Germans were the first to introduce them here in Europe, almost as a sign of appreciation for the Festive Season that was about to come, they have been widely adopted across the continent.
We explore 4 Christmas markets in 4 distinct cities: Bucharest, Brasov, Sibiu and Cluj-Napoca and invite you to read more about this European tradition but also why your next Christmas Market should be a Romanian one.
Whilst Romania has a strong Christmas spirit and I do mean it, Christmas markets haven’t always been around. They havе recently been introduced as a response to some of the more established Western European counterparts but have steadily grown in popularity.
In Eastern Europe, few countries caught up with this and even fewer have what you could proudly say a “Christmas Market” other than a few scattered stalls with some dubious produce.
Below we explore 4 Christmas markets in 4 distinct cities: Bucharest, Brasov, Sibiu and Cluj-Napoca shown below.
We will uncover the many markets the capital boasts to the more intimate and almost specialist markets the latter mountain cities offer.
Should one want to visit all of them is absolutely possible during a weekend. Actually one can simply land at Bucharest, Otopeni Airport, take the train from the terminal, stop in Bucharest, get back on the train and head off to Brasov, Sibiu and Cluj-Napoca (or Cluj for short).
When visiting these markets, they might come as a little surprise as these are real markets with actual produce. The meats, the wine and everything feel real and are real. And by all means, do get yourself a cup of mulled wine, come on it’s Christmas after all.
Bucharest Christmas Markets
Confirmed dates – 20 November 2022 – 26 December 2022
If you are wondering where you can stay and enjoy Bucharest and it’s Christmas Markets we suggest you stay at Hotel Cismigiu. Read more about our stay at Hotel Cismigiu and how to get a 10% discount here.
As one heads to the Bucharest Christmas Markets they will be spoilt for choice. This is because they typically are spread across the city. In an attempt to capture the main ones, have a look below:
Of these, we would recommend the Piata Constitutiei one which is near the Parliament, the Cismigiu Park one and the University Sq. one. These tend to have music and live performances and we felt, the better produce.
There is a good selection of Romanian produce from across the country which makes it very traditional. You can find anything from clothes to cooked food and mulled wine or hot palinka.
Whilst you are in Bucharest, why not consider a visit to Therme Bucharest – one of the largest wellness, relaxation and entertainment centres in Europe.
As of 2022, there is a new Christmas market called West Side Christmas Market. Whilst it is a bit off the beaten tourist path, we do suggest you make the effort.
It’s situated in the Drumul Taberei neighbourhood in the west side of Bucharest. It’s easily accessible via metro or busses and trams. The park itself is decorated splendidly with its trees wrapped in festive lights.
The market itself is located in the lake area and offers all the goodies one would expect. We also suggest you go on the overarching bridge which really gives you a wonderful panoramic view of this Bucharester Winter Wonderland.
Brasov Christmas Market
Confirmed dates – 30 November 2022 – 3 January 2023
Ah yes, Brasov or Kronstadt or Brasso. The many names one gets to have. Like many of us, actually.
Originally, a Teutonic city on an ancient Dacian site, Brasov has become a multi cultural city with Romanian, Germans and Hungarians calling it home.
This carries through very nicely in the Christmas Market with many local produce which are unique and quite intriguing to Romanians themselves. You can find the main market in Piata Sfatului, in the old City Centre. From Salamis to Sausages and from Spirits to Wines this place has it all.
When walking down the street, do indulge yourself with a nice mulled wine and a chimney cake! It makes the cold so much more bearable.
If you visit Brasov, we also recommend a trip to Sinaia and a visit to Peles Castle.
Sibiu Christmas Market
Confirmed dates – 11 November 2022 – 2 January 2023
Nestled at the foothills of the impressive Fagaras Mountain Range, Sibiu or Hermannstadt as it is known by its German name, is an impressive and quite unique city in Romania. As Germans were the main ethnicity, many local produce showcase that.
The market is gloriously located in the Large Sq. marketplace. Our advice is to go during the evening as the lights do make the experience so much better.
Actually, white wine and rose wine are the characteristic wines of the region making it a good candidate for mulled wine. Yes! Actually, the original recipe according to them for mulled wine was with white wine! Take that red!
Also, typical of this area is Sibiu Salami, similar to other Hungarian style Salamis.
Cluj Christmas Market
Confirmed dates – 18 November 2022 – 31 December 2022
Cluj, the tech capital of Romania. Prices are just as spicy as in Bucharest. Actually, whilst writing this article, I think someone’s rent increased in Cluj by 10%.
A city just as multicultural as Brasov, now the Crown City of Transylvania offers tourists an intimate yet festive market just like any other. You can find the market in the Unirii Square just by the cathedral.
If you go to Cluj-Napoca, definitely pay a visit to the amazing salt mine Salina Turda.
Whether you are a solo traveller or a city break kind of couple/family, Romanian Christmas Markets can be an alternative to their Western counterparts. With produce that are there to impress anyone that calls themselves a foodie and whilst you’re at it – why not explore the cities themselves? 😉
Christmas markets are a good way to do some shopping and find hand-made Christmas presents. If you can’t find the right present for your loved ones, why not see our recommendations for gifts for travellers and travel lovers?
Have fun and enjoy the Christmas spirit!
Ready to book? Below are some recommendations to get your trip started:
- Flights – we use flight aggregators such as Skyscanner and Google flights to find the best options. You can find more information about finding cheap flights here.
- Flight compensation – Compensair or AirHelp for flight delays and cancellations.
- Accommodation – would recommend booking your accommodation through an aggregator such as Booking.com or Agoda to get the best rates. We also use TripAdvisor to read reviews.
- Transport – consider Rentalcars.com for car renting or if you rely on public transport, you can use Omio for trains, coaches, ferries, airport transfers and even flights.
- Activities – a great option is GetYourGuide or Viator for tours, excursions, experiences and tickets to many tourist attractions.
- Travel money – we have Starling Bank accounts (UK residents only) with 0% fees on FX and a good Mastercard exchange rate. Revolut is another good option.
- Internet abroad – with Airalo you can access a wide range of eSIMs (digital SIM cards) available for different countries and regions.
- Luggage storage – if you need to store your bags whilst exploring the destination, you can use Radical Storage to find your closest luggage storage and enjoy your journey until the very end.
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