11 best Christmas markets in Switzerland
From November, as the weather gets colder and the first dusting of snow begins to fall, tourists and locals alike are given a chance to visit Christmas markets in Switzerland. Here are the best, largest, and most unique Swiss Christmas markets, and what each has to offer.
Largest Christmas markets in Switzerland
Since Switzerland is known for its winter wonderland aesthetic, it’s no surprise that thousands of families and individuals flock to the largest Christmas markets in Switzerland for their annual dose of festive cheer. Here are some of the largest markets for you to check off your bucket list:
Zurich Christmas market
Of course, when we talk about the Zurich Christmas market, we are talking about a number of different events that are based across the city. The largest by area is the “Christmas Village” which occupies Sechseläutenplatz near the lake and the opera house. There, attendants are treated to a cornucopia of winter goodies like Glühwein, fondue and more!
One of the busiest has to be the Christmas market inside the main hall of Zurich Main Station - famous for the Swarovski tree, which has over 7.000 designer crystals hanging from its branches. Other smaller but equally magnificent events are held outside the Fraumünster and in the old town of Zurich, Europaallee and at Werdmühleplatz.
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Basel Christmas market
One market that every single visitor and resident of Switzerland has to see at least once is the Basel Christmas Market. The largest and oldest of their kind in the alpine nation, the markets at Barfüsserplatz and Münsterplatz turn the German-speaking city into a Christmas wonderland.
Visitors can take a trip to the top of the cathedral to overlook Basel as it bathes in the myriad of magnificent Christmas lights, or simply meander through the stalls: Maybe you’ll find the perfect bauble for your tree, or you might enjoy a Glühwein or local delicacy.
Set against the backdrop of the old town, the market is extraordinarily beautiful and is particularly popular for its culinary options. Visitors can find genuine Baseler Läckerli (gingerbread) and grilled sausages in and around the stalls. However, with over 120 stands offering everything from regional delicacies to handmade toys and Christmas ornaments, there really is something for everyone!
Video: Prowalk Tours / YouTube
Christmas market in Geneva
Taking place near the famous English Garden and in the docks, the most prominent Christmas market in Geneva, known as Noël au Jardin or Noel au Quai, is a fantastic place to indulge in all that the festive season has to offer. Taking place so close to the city’s most famous landmarks, the market is a great place to grab a bite or a drink as you explore the centre of town.
Other must-do Christmas markets in Geneva include the Noël au Bastion at the site of the former fortress that protected the region and the Christmas market in the district of Carouge. Whether you are there for the food or the charming little trinkets on sale, the largest French-speaking Swiss city has you covered.
Christmas markets in Lucerne (and Rudolf Christmas market)
Situated in the heart of central Switzerland, Lucerne and its Christmas markets should be high on anyone’s bucket list. With more than 60 stalls to choose from, the market on Franziskanerplatz oozes with charm and local delicacies. Take in the sights of the nearby lake and the sounds of Christmas carols or spend an afternoon sipping Glühwein as you try to find that perfect festive ornament or treat.
The market's trademark attraction is a large advent wreath (at over three metres in diameter it's actually the largest in central Switzerland), which is lavishly decorated with lights, candles and baubles. In addition, just a short walk from the main station in the Inseli park is Rudolf's Christmas market. There, visitors can take in the stunning views of the nearby mountains while indulging in everything the season has to offer.
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Lausanne Christmas market (Bô Noël)
The city of Lausanne truly comes alive in wintertime, and that is reflected in the quality of its Christmas market, also known as Bô Noël. The festival starts with an opening parade, which marches through the city in a spectacle of lights and music. The festival consists of several markets: the main Saint-François market, a creators’ market showcasing the wares of local craftspeople and artisans, and a local market where visitors can sample regional specialities.
The festival places an emphasis on local and regional products, which can be purchased at the hundreds of stands dotted around the city. A new addition for 2023, a 20-metre bobsled track will also be up and running for the duration of the festival. Caution, the video below does contain some flashing images:
Video: Bô Noël Lausanne / YouTube
Small Christmas markets in Switzerland
Along with the larger Christmas markets, Switzerland has a number of smaller events that are still well worth a visit. Here are some of our favourites:
Montreux Christmas market
As a city famous for its jazz festival, Montreux is known for putting on a good show, and that is certainly the case at the local Christmas market. Situated on the banks of Lake Geneva, it is often named one of the prettiest markets in Europe, boasting wonderful vistas of the surrounding hills and mountains.
Along with the traditional market, visitors are also able to take a mountain railway up to Santa's House at Rochers-de-Naye, where you can meet the big man himself. The regular public transport service allows you and your child to ask Samichlaus for anything your heart desires - so long as you’ve been good, of course.
Visitors to the Montreux Christmas market are also treated to one of the most fantastic spectacles of the year: Santa flying in his sleigh. Every day, three times a day, visitors can look to the skies and see Santa gliding through the sky, his sleigh being pulled by reindeer, leaving a trail of stars behind him.
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Einsiedeln Christmas market
High up in the hills in Canton Schwyz is the Einsiedeln Christmas market. Situated right in front of the famous monastery, the event is known for its unique charm, with trinkets and delicacies from the local region and beyond.
There are also a number of Christmas-themed pop-up shops around the village and, on one evening, locals are treated to a special tractor parade - a sign of thanks from the farming community for buying their products and respecting the local wildlife.
Baden Christmas market
Just a stone’s throw away from Zurich in Baden, Canton Aargau, is another fantastic but small Christmas market. Known as Badener Wunderdorf, the market offers everything from street food to accessories and gifts.
The stalls change weekly, so there is always a new selection of food and handcrafted items. Additionally, there is an excellent selection of stalls from all over Switzerland as well as international stalls, including vegetarian and vegan options.
St. Gallen Christmas market
What could be better than a charming old town decked out for the holidays? At the Christmas market in St. Gallen, the whole inner city is decorated with almost 700 stars that sparkle and dance above the UNESCO World Heritage Abbey district.
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Unique and unusual Swiss Christmas markets
Having read this far, you may be suffering from Christmas market fatigue, but there are still a few weird and wonderful events that put a unique twist on the tradition.
Market on Pilatus: The highest Christmas market in Europe
If you ever fancied visiting a Christmas market situated over 2.000 metres above sea level, then the Christmas Market on Pilatus is a must-do. With over 40 different stands to visit, the Pilatus Kulm is the place to be for some high-altitude shopping and feasting.
Despite the peculiar location, visitors can still indulge in all the things that make Swiss Christmas markets great like good food and interesting trinkets to take home. With the market also offering stunning views of the mountains and lakes below, what’s not to love?
Weinachts Zirkus-Zauber in Russikon
Finally, the Weinachts Zirkus Zauber in Russikon, Canton Zurich is a fascinating combination of Christmas market and circus. The traditional food and gift stands are paired with a series of exciting circus shows that are fun for all the family!
Video: Züriost / YouTube
Visit a Christmas Market in Switzerland!
It’s safe to say that Switzerland truly comes alive in the Christmas market season, with a wealth of fantastic events to choose from. Is your favourite Christmas market not mentioned in this list? Let us know your favourite in the comments below!
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