Switzerland

Festive Cheer at Zurich’s Christmas Markets

Christmas markets are one of the best ways to get into the festive spirit. We had 24 hours in Zürich to make the most of that opportunity. Our day was filled with sparkling Christmas decorations, delicious treats, mulled wine, steaming hot chocolate, twinkling lights and the sounds of carols and excited chatter.

Arrival in Zürich

We left the campervan in Athens at Megaparking (booking completed online via Parkcloud), and were dropped off by the free shuttle service to the airport.

The flight from Athens to Zürich was about two and a half hours long. After arriving at the airport we walked straight through without any customs check. A strange scenario for us, being used to the Australian system, where you are checked and sometimes double checked on arrival – even on internal flights. It’s really embarrassing when the sniffer dogs go crazy at your luggage, the other passengers stare uncomfortably and you feel like a hardened criminal because you have a piece of forgotten fruit in your bag! Yes, in Australia, no fruit to be transferred from one state to another!

However, none of that here. A quick, easy transition from collecting our baggage from the carousel and going down a couple of floors to catch the train to Zürich main train station (Zürich HB). In fifteen minutes we were in the centre of Zürich. 

Our hotel was just five minutes walk from the station. This meant that we could easily get to the local Christmas Markets and explore the centre of Zürich.

aeroplane wing above the white clouds with the swiss mountains in the distance
Our first glimpse of the Swiss Alps in the distance

Niederdorf Christmas Market

Our first port of call was to visit the Niederdorf quarter of the Old Town. Here we found Zürich’s oldest Christmas market. The market stalls lined the streets through the main route and spilled into the side streets, adding to our sense of being lost within the magical, festive old town.

multi-coloured hanging plastic stars in Christmas market stall
Christmas colour

 We had been travelling through rural Greece in the campervan so had been cut off from any Christmas festivities. Therefore, it was a treat to be immersed within these quaint alleyways and to finally realise Christmas was only four days away! 

 

Merry Christmas Sign in the Christmas Markets
Christmas Market Signage

An eye-catching backdrop to some of the Christmas market stalls was the 11th Century Fraumunster Church. Across the Limmat River its elegant copper-topped spire stood out against the pale, grey sky. 

 

Two Christmas market stalls selling bags and clothes with a church in background with green-blue spire
Looking across the Limmat River towards the Fraumunster Church

When we had exhausted most of the Christmas market in this area, we walked back along the riverfront. The soft accented colours on the buildings and the bright blue boat coverings played a part in brightening what was an otherwise dreary, cold winter’s day.

several boats with blue covers - buildings on other side of river
Zürich along the River Limmat

Wienachtsdorf Market – the Urban Christmas Village

The next Christmas market on our list was Zurich’s ‘Wienachtsdorf’ – the urban Christmas Village. It was  near the Lakeshore and in front of the Opera House.

 

Red building with large toy soldiers either side and white doors leading inside
Attractive Christmas stall with intricate Christmas decorations of all sorts inside.

We visited in the daytime but I imagine it may be preferable to stroll around in the evening as during the day it seemed to lack some  ‘Christmas Spirit’. The music playing was general pop songs and not Christmas songs, which took away some of the mood for us.

There were around a hundred stalls forming the ‘village’ with a range of local culinary delights on offer. An ice-rink added to the festivities. Here, the children seemed to be having great fun moving the ‘ice penguins’ around the rink.

With hands that were numb and lips turning blue, we headed back to the hotel to warm up and have a small break, before venturing back out to visit the remaining two Christmas markets. 

Werdmuhleplatz Christmas Market with the ‘Singing Christmas Tree’

Thawed out and raring to go – also hungry which tends to be a good motivator – we set out again to top up our festive cheer. We made our way to the central train station and followed the signs for the Bahnhofstrasse in the pedestrian subways.

As we came near the top of the steps at the exit, we were welcomed with thousands of twinkling stars  – it was a magical sight. Maybe even more so in the rain, with the starry lights reflecting on the shimmering, rain-soaked street.

Nightime with rain on street and reflections of christmas fairy lights which are hanging down in vertical lines from above
Zürich’s Bahnhofstrasse Christmas lights at night

Further along, we came to the Werdmuhleplatz Market with its renowned unique attraction, the ‘Singing Christmas Tree’. The rain was coming quite heavy by now.  Nevertheless, the choir took its place on the tiered podium, which was in the shape of a giant Christmas tree, and blasted out their carols. They seemed unperturbed by the inclement weather. Meanwhile, visitors and locals alike, sipped mulled wine huddled underneath umbrellas enjoying the impressive spectacle.

 

A podium shaped as a christmas tree with choiur singers dressed in red on the different tiers
The famous ‘Singing Christmas Tree’

Christkindlimarkt – Train Station Christmas Market

With warm mulled wine pleasantly flowing through our veins, we headed back towards Zurich’s most central Christmas Market, Christkindlimarkt. It was in the main concourse of the Train Station. Apparently, it is one of the largest indoor Christmas markets in Europe.

Seemingly out-of-place, the 50ft Swarovski Christmas tree stood majestically, with thousands of sparkling crystals dripping from its branches.

A 50 ft christmas tree with crystals hanging on the branches
The 50ft Swarovski Christmas tree

Packed shoulder to shoulder, shoppers pondered over which gifts to buy. They sampled the many varieties of mulled wines and foods on offer. The stalls were drawing them in with sparkles and festive temptations.

Amongst this hustle and bustle we stumbled upon a stall selling Indian curries. This was our perfect opportunity to take a delicious steaming container of veggie curry and dhal back to the hotel. A well deserved treat after fulfilling the task of seeing every Christmas market in Central Zürich in one day! Our Christmas cheer was full to the brim.

The next day we were making our way to the Swiss Alps for our much-anticipated Christmas holiday with the family. I could already feel that warmth and contentment that comes with spending that special time with your loved ones.

 

Michelle

Author: Michelle

After finishing my Law Degree I decided to become a teacher. I am passionate about teaching, learning and most of all, about inspiring others. Now, as a writer and blogger, I love sharing our travels and our musings on life’s journey. I hope, through these, we can play a part in inspiring you to do whatever ‘satisfies your soul’.

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