Explore 4 Traditional Polish Christmas Markets in Szczecin
This post was written in collaboration with Visit Szczecin and may contain affiliate links, but rest assured that, as always, all recommendations are my own.
After travelling to beautiful Szczecin, Poland, over the summer, I knew I wanted to go back and experience this historic city during the colder months. There was no better time to do so than at the start of the Szczecin Christmas market season (in early December).
In partnership with Visit Szczecin, I explored 4 charming, traditional Polish Christmas markets on opening weekend, basked in the gently falling snow, soaked up the cheer, and ate and drank my weight in holiday fare. In this post, I’ll be sharing the best Szczecin Christmas activities at the markets and beyond.
Please note that Szczecin’s Christmas markets are up and running in 2021, but of course, Covid regulations apply, so make sure to read up on these before visiting.
Introducing Szczecin, Poland
Before we dive into the Szczecin Christmas market scene, here is a brief historical overview of the city.
Szczecin is located very close to the German border on the banks of the Oder River, just a 2.5-hour drive from Berlin. Until World War II, Szczecin was part of the Prussian Empire. German was widely spoken and there was a direct train line connecting the thriving merchant city to Berlin and many international destinations.
Szczecin bred its fair share of influential historical figures, too. One of the 18th century’s most powerful women, Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia, was even born and raised in the Ducal Castle.
Szczecin’s history goes back much further than its integration into Prussia, however. Indeed, Szczecin has changed rulers many times since the 8th century, when it was founded by the Vikings. Since then, the wealthy port town was coveted (and conquered) by Poland, Sweden, Prussia and even France.
Interestingly, today’s visitors will find traces of the city’s eclectic, international past as they wander about town. The area around Deptak Boguslawa, for example, is offered referred to as a pastel Paris, with its clourful Hausmann-style buildings lining grand boulevards.
How to Plan Your Perfect Szczecin Christmas Market Weekend
Alright, so let’s get to it: Szczecin Christmas market season is upon us!
There are 4 markets in Szczecin, conveniently located in the city center and within easy walking distance of each other. This year, the Christmas magic extends beyond Aleja Kwiatowa, Adamowicz and Lotników Squares for the first time, taking over charming the charming, aforementioned Deptak Boguslawa pedestrian zone.
The markets being quite compact, it is easy to visit all four in a few hours, but I recommend checking them out at least twice: once during the day and once after dark.
It makes the most sense to spend 1 – or better yet – 2 nights in Szczecin, like I did. This will allow you to visit the markets at a relaxed pace and experience some of Szczecin’s other popular winter activities.
Attractions beyond the markets include indulging in a gingerbread smoothie (yes, smoothie!) 22 stories above ground, getting cozy at a beautiful turn-of-the-century cafe and bookshop and ice skating with locals at the Netto Arena.
The first part of this post will focus on Szczecin’s Christmas markets. The second will take a look at 6 other Szczecin winter activities. Read on!
What to Wear in Szczecin in December
Chances are you’ll be spending a lot of time outdoors on your Szczecin Christmas market trip. In December, it can snow or be very windy and temperatures hover around 0 – maybe a few degrees below freezing. Therefore, proper attire is essential to be able to enjoy your stay.
Make sure to pack heat tech (or very warm wool) socks, COMFORTABLE waterproof footwear, and several sweaters. It goes without saying that a thick but comfortable coat is also key.
This is how I managed to stay warm while trekking outside for hours at a time (and mind you, we would often stop to take pictures, so if you plan to stop and start a lot, these tips apply even more!).
Concretely, these are the items that made the difference on my winter getaway to Szczecin (pictured above and below):
- An orange puffer jacket by Monki (and the best part is that it’s not made with down).
- My trusty Sketchers, which are not only waterproof but have memory foam soles.
- For a touch of style, I’m a huge fan of this white Weekday bucket hat.
- Heat tech socks by Uniqlo: trust me, you do NOT want cold feet as you wander around!
Discover Szczecin’s 4 Christmas Markets
Szczecin’s 4 Christmas markets may be close to one another in the city center, but each displays unique characteristics and attractions.
Let’s start with the new kid on the block. While the Deptak Boguslawa market may be a newcomer to the Christmas scene in 2021, the street itself is a Szczecin icon. Lined by cafes and restaurants, this cobblestoned pedestrian area is a popular spot for locals and visitors to mingle year-round. The colourful buildings also make for great photo ops!
During the Christmas season, garlands of golden lights shine down on passersby, stately facades are illuminated in red and green and little wooden huts serve traditional refreshments like mulled wine and fried pierogi. All the while, cheerful Christmas music plays.
A charming market fit for romantic strolls on cool evenings, Deptak Bogusława’s atmosphere may be slightly more subdued than that of the other 3 Szczecin Christmas markets, but therefore ideal for couples, small groups of friends or even solo travellers.
Walk for about 8 minutes towards the city center to reach the next Szczecin Christmas market on our list, livening up Lotników Square. Whereas Deptak Boguslawa’s market exudes distinct “neighbourhood” vibes, bustling plac Lotników is definitely more of a city center market.
Upon arrival, you’ll be greeted by a giant Christmas tree – the largest in Szczecin – seemingly watching over the entire market. As I wandered amidst the wooden stalls, I caught whiffs of gingerbread in the air. Workshops and stage performances by local artists added to the holiday ambiance.
Lotników Square’s market is bustling day or night – and a great spot to purchase artisan-crafted gifts. Or simply to enjoy a warm mug of mulled wine and some gingerbread cookies, fried sausages, pierogi and other traditional Polish Christmas market specialties!
Lotników’s Market flows into Adamowicz Square, separated only by Mazurska Jagiellonska Boulevard. While activities for the whole family take place at each market, Adamowicz Square might be the first stop for parents and children.
Here, you’ll find a beautiful Venetian carousel and playground for the younger ones, and photo spots like lit-up neon angel wings for teens. Adults, meanwhile, can browse the wide array of stalls offering everything from local honey to craft beer and liqueurs, sweeties, candies and even churros.
The biggest of the Szczecin Christmas markets, Aleja Kwiatowa boasts 40 stalls, also featuring a mix of local products, crafts, and takeaway fare. Don’t leave without sampling the Polish wines (Stall 32) and beers (Stall 28)!
What’s more, Aleja Kwiatowa Market is your destination for all things Szczecin with a pop-up tourist office.
This market is at the heart of the city and only a short walk to the Old Town, where you’ll find the Ducal Palace and famous, brightly coloured Haymarket Square.
Szczecin Winter Magic Beyond the Markets
While the Szczecin Christmas market scene is undeniably a top attraction during the month of December, the city has many other offerings for winter guests. In this part of the post, I’ll be sharing 6 things to do in Szczecin that will nicely complement your Christmas market visit.
Enjoy Festive Drinks with City Views
While in Szczecin, a stop at Cafe 22 is a must. From the top floor of the city’s tallest highrise, you’ll be able to admire 360-degree views over the city as you enjoy a signature holiday drink (alcoholic or not).
During my stay, I watched day turn to dusk while sipping a delicious gingerbread and banana smoothie, topped off with a little gingerbread cookie.
Cafe 22 also has a selection of delicious-looking cakes and savoury choices, ranging from hearty salads to soups and sandwiches. If you get hungry, I can definitely recommend the Thai-style salad!
Get Cosy at Szczecin’s Most Historic Cafe
During our stay, my camerawoman Naomi and I were invited to visit the charming, historic Kamienica w lesie; much more than a coffee shop, this is a shrine to Szczecin’s fascinating past. Here, you can savour scrumptious homemade cakes and coffee while learning about the Szczecin of yesteryear.
What makes Kamienica w lesie truly stand out is that its owner, a local historian and author, recreated a turn-of-the-century tea room, so stepping inside feels like stepping back in time. You can even purchase a vintage postcard in the cafe and pop it into a 1900s mailbox. It will get delivered!
Naomi tried a blueberry tea that matched the blue & white tiled walls. My sweet tooth led me to try the marzipan latte. We both indulged in some lactose-free, freshly baked slices of cake.
Don’t forget to visit the downstairs exhibit while you’re here – you’ll be able to view artifacts and photographs belonging to Szczecin’s inhabitants of yesteryear.
Go for a Peaceful Park Stroll
If you’re ready to escape the hustle and bustle, make sure to go for a wander around Jasne Błonia and Kasprowicz Parks. I can imagine that these two green spaces (separated only by Ksiedza Piotra Skargi Avenue) become particularly beautiful after a fresh coating of snow. We visited the park the day before it began to snow, but still enjoyed a wander around the trails, lakeside and curved bridge.
Warm Up at a Bookshop Cafe
Więdzy Wierszami Bookshop & Cafe invites visitors to settle down with a good book and hot drink. A few tables can be found amidst the bookshelves on the ground level. The entire upper floor, overlooking Jasne Błonia park, consists of cafe seating with table service. During the Christmas season, visitors can bask in the holiday cheer, as Więdzy Wierszami has been decorated with care.
Shop Local at Szczecin’s Gourmet & Designer Bazaar
Bazar Smakoszy will appeal to anyone looking to snag fashion pieces created by Polish designers or sample gourmet regional specialties. This is the perfect spot to wrap up your Christmas shopping (no pun intended!) and treat yourself, too.
Located within an industrial-chic hall on the outskirts of town, Bazar Smakoszy is where Szczecin’s hip crowd comes to hang out.
There are two sections to this indoor market: one is dedicated to food, whereas the other showcases a wide range of apparel and accessories. The hall is also home to a couple of third-wave coffee shops and cafes with vegan and non-vegan dishes.
The Bazaar runs every Sunday from 10 am to 3 pm.
Go Ice Skating at the Netto Arena
At the start of December, the Netto arena’s ice rink opens its doors to the public. Grab some rental skates and go for a spin. This is guaranteed to make you feel like a kid again! The arena is a bit removed from the city center, but a direct tram will get you there in about 25 minutes.
Szczecin Christmas Market Vibes Are All Around the City
The Szczecin Christmas market scene may be the main attraction in December, but the festive atmosphere can be felt throughout Poland’s third-largest city. Whether you are sipping mulled wine at one of the market stands, shopping for Christmas gifts at Szczecin’s designer bazaar or doing loops on the ice, you’ll be in the holiday spirit before you know it!
P.S. If you’ve enjoyed my Szczecin Christmas market guide, make sure to also read these posts:
- How to Visit Szczecin Like a Local: 21 Things to See, Do & Eat
- Zgorzelec, Poland Travel Portrait: A Tale of Twin Cities
- 11 Top Tips For Exploring Görlitz, Germany’s Hollywood