The Bratislava Christmas Markets are one of the most underrated markets in Europe, with Christmas traditions going back hundreds of years.
And while they may not be as well-known as the German Christmas Markets or the neighbouring Vienna Christmas Markets, they are still worth a visit!
But the markets aren’t just an event for tourists, as you’ll see family and friends gathering together to meet up for lunch or after work to enjoy a glass of mulled wine.
In fact, as one of the smaller capital city European Christmas markets, Bratislava’s markets have a local and more authentic feel to them.
In addition to visiting the Christmas Markets, Bratislava is definitely worth visiting. Wander through the cobblestone streets of the Old Town, admire stunning churches and palaces, shop at boutique stores and enjoy some local food and drink at one of the many cafés and restaurants in the area.
If you’re looking for a festive European city break, then Bratislava is definitely worth considering.
Here’s your guide to the Bratislava Christmas Markets, including locations, dates and times, plus what to eat and drink, and other things to do in Bratislava.
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Bratislava Christmas Markets at a Glance:
Why visit: Smaller, less crowded and more authentic Christmas Markets
Location: Hlavné Námestie (main square) and Hviezdoslavovo Námestie
2023 Christmas Market Dates: end of November – Dec 23, 2023
Where to Stay: Crowne Plaza Hotel Bratislava, Radisson Blu
Where is Bratislava
Bratislava is the capital city of Slovakia and is located in the western part of the country. It’s about an hour away from Vienna, Austria, just over two hours away from Budapest, Hungary and three hours away from Prague in the Czech Republic.
Why Visit Bratislava Christmas Markets
While its markets aren’t as well-known as nearby Vienna or Budapest, the Christmas Markets in Bratislava are well worth a visit!
With two Christmas Markets located in the Old Town and only a few blocks from each other, Bratislava is a great destination for those looking for something more low-key.
Twinkling lights and holiday huts that serve warm glüwhein and tasty German treats make for a festive atmosphere, whether you’re shopping for handmade gifts or just enjoying the festive atmosphere.
What’s more, Bratislava is only an hour away from Vienna, making it an easy and convenient day trip to explore from the capital city of Austria.
Christmas Markets in Bratislava
Bratislava has two Christmas markets, both located in the Old Town.
The main market is located in Hlavné Námestie (Main Square) and features a stunning Christmas tree with tons of lights, decorations and live music performances.
The second one, which is smaller in size but just as festive, takes place on Hviezdoslavovo Námestie.
Hlavné Námestie, or Main Square is where you’ll find the main Christmas market in Bratislava, set against a backdrop of the impressive Old Town Hall.
Lit up with twinkling lights, the stalls offer a great selection of Christmas decorations, as well as festive foods and drinks.
In the center, there are plenty of tables under a covered area to stand around and enjoy a mulled wine or sausage while chatting with friends and family.
This Christmas Market has plenty of food and drink options available, with a few vendors selling crafts and decorations.
And of course, there’s a large Christmas tree, brightly lit and decorated, with Old Town Hall as an impressive backdrop.
A few blocks from the market at Old Town Hall is the second Christmas market at Hviezdoslavovo Námestie.
While it’s more rectangular and longer than Old Town Square, this market also offers plenty of Christmas spirit. Here, you’ll find a few food and drink stalls selling traditional Slovak treats such as Trdelnik (a rolled pastry) and mulled wine or other warm drinks.
There are also vendors offering handmade crafts, jewelry and other unique gifts for your loved ones. Here, there’s a stage with live music performances and carolling, as well as a lighted advent wreath and a carousel for kids.
And at the end of the market in front of the impressive Slovak National Theatre, you’ll find a large Christmas tree, complete with a large Nativity scene carved from wood in front.
Other Christmas Markets and Festive Events in Bratislava
In previous years, there has also been a market in the courtyard of Old Town Hall, but this year, in place of a market, a section of the courtyard was filled with uniquely decorated Christmas trees.
While there’s no shopping to be had, wandering through the decorated Christmas trees adds to the festive atmosphere of the market next door.
Eurovea is a large shopping center located near the Danube River with well-known and local brands, so you’ll be able to find anything you need here. There are also plenty of stalls in front of the shopping center to shop for more unique gifts or just sip a glass of mulled wine while you browse.
Throuhgout the Old Town
As you wander through the historic Old Town, there are plenty of shops and cafes selling mulled wine or other warm beverages, perfect to sip on while you stroll the streets and browse through the shops.
Decorated with red and green, and complete with a fireplace inside and playing Christmas carols, the Christmas Tram is a perfect way to explore the city during the festive season. And it’s free to ride!
The Christmas tram runs from St. Nicolas day on December 6th to January 6, 2023 from 4 – 8pm on weekdays and 12-8pm on weekends. It doesn’t run on December 24th and 25th.
While there’s no schedule posted, it comes about once an hour, but unfortunately we weren’t able to time it right to ride the tram.
What to Eat and Drink at the Bratislava Christmas Market
We first sampled trdelnik at the Christmas Markets in Prague, but it’s a staple treat in Bratislava as well. Pastry is rolled and cooked over hot coals, then rolled in sugar and served hot. Delicious!
These are thin, almost crepe-like pancakes (although they’re more dense than a crepe), and served with sweet or sour toppings.
Toppings range from Nutella, jam or honey, to more interesting ones like blue cheese, goose fat, chicken liver or duck fat!
Another type of potato pancakes, these are traditional Slovak pancakes, similar to latkes but often seasoned with garlic.
These are fried and thicker than lokshe, served with a variety of toppings or even served plain.
Actually a Hungarian specialty, Langos is popular at the Christmas Markets in Prague and Bratislava, as well as other neighbouring countries.
It’s a deep-fried flat bread that, similar to lokshe, can be topped with a variety of options. Popular choices are garlic butter and cheese, sour cream or sweet toppings like Nutella.
This is the Slovak version of a schnitzel, where a pork cutlet or chicken breast is fried with onions and then served on a bun with mustard, more onions and sometimes hot peppers.
This is a traditional Slovak cabbage soup, usually served as an appetizer or side dish. It’s made with sauerkraut, mushrooms, and smoked meats – a great way to warm up on chilly winter days!
No Christmas Market is complete without mulled wine!
The traditional Slovak version is made with red wine, suagr and spices such as cinammon, cloves and other festive spices.
While the red wine version is more popular, there’s also white wine options and non-alcoholic choices available.
This is a Slovak mead, made with honey and spices. It’s usually served warm and is said to be good for your health!
You’ll find bottles for sale at the Christmas markets, or you sample warm glasses at the market stalls. There are different options of mead, made from different types of honey, so be sure to try a few!
Punc is another popular warm drink that you’ll find at the Christmas Markets in Bratislava.
It’s basically varene vino (mulled wine), with pieces of fruit and some rum added in for an added kick!
Other Christmas Markets Nearby
Bratislava is a unique capital city, as it borders two countries. Vienna, the capital of Austria is just over an hour away by train and makes for a good day trip. Vienna’s Christmas Markets are spectacular and there are over ten markets throughout the city.
Budapest, the capital of Hungary is a little farther away at three hours by train, so while a day trip would be tricky, it would be a good option to extend your time in Central Europe and visit the amazing Christmas Markets in Budapest as well.
Things to Do in Bratislava in December:
- Walk around the Old Town. If you’re arriving in Bratislava at the train station, walk towards the Old Town and you’ll pass the Presidential Palace and then enter the historic Old Town. See Michaels’ Gate, St. Martin’s Cathedral, and then Old Town Hall, where you’ll see the large Christmas market at the main square.
- Take a walk up to Bratislava Castle for some incredible views of the city, as well as the Danube River and the UFO Bridge.
- A short walk from the Christmas market at Old Town square is the Blue Church, actually St. Elizabeth’s church but as it’s entirely blue, even on the inside, it’s known as the Blue Church.
- See the UFO Bridge. An interesting bridge crossing over the Danube, it’s actually the 7th longest hanging bridge in the world and at one end, there’s a tower with a restaurant that looks like a UFO, hence its nickname. It’s a great spot for a meal and to watch the sunset, but you can also take in the view from the tower without visiting the restaurant (admission fee applies).
Tips for Visiting the Bratislava Christmas Market
- Bring cash, as most vendors won’t accept credit or debit
- The markets have a zero waste policy, and you’ll find recycle centers set up at either end of the Main square, Hvalné Námestie.
- In line with the zero waste policy, bring a reusable bag for any purchases.
- Dress warmly! It can be cold and wet in Bratislava in December, so be sure to bundle up! Layers are a great way to stay warm and these base layers from Decathlon are great for kids!
- Bratislava’s markets aren’t as busy or as popular as others in Europe, but they still do get crowded on weekends. The best time to visit is through the week and during the day.
- If you are travelling as a family, here are a few more tips if you are visiting Christmas Markets with kids.
Where to Stay for Bratislava Christmas Markets
Bratislava is a smaller city, but still has a variety of accommodation options to suit any budget. The best area is to stay is in the Old Town, as you’ll be within walking distance from both Christmas markets.
We stayed at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, conveniently located directly across from the Presidential Palace and only a 15 minute walk to the train station. It’s only a few minutes walk from the hotel to Old Town Hall and Hviezdoslavovo Námestie, where you’ll find the Christmas markets. Rooms were clean and comfortable, and had quite possibly the best pillows I’ve ever slept on!
Another great option is the Radisson Blu, which is directly across from the Christmas Market at Hviezdoslavovo Námestie. It’s also only a few blocks to Old Town Hall and the other Bratislava Christmas market.
Bratislava Weather in December
Bratislava experiences cold and wet weather in December. It’s quite common to have mild snow during this time, but quite often you will see rain as well.
In December, expect temperatures to range from an average low of -2°C (28F) and an average high of 6°C (43F). It can get cold, especially after the sun goes down, so be sure to dress warmly!
Final Thoughts on the Bratislava Christmas Market
The Bratislava Christmas markets are not as well-known as those in Vienna or Prague, but still have plenty to offer when it comes to food, souvenirs, and activities for the whole family. You’ll get to experience more authentic and traditional Christmas markets, without the huge crowds and long lines.
And with its close proximity to Vienna and Budapest, Bratislava makes for a great weekend getaway and a wonderful way to experience the festive Christmas season in Europe.