Updated on January 24th, 2020
Last years holiday season couldn’t be any more different to this one. While I’m currently sitting in the humid tropics of Myanmar, last year I was sipping mulled wine, ice-skating on frozen lakes and wandering through as many glorious Christmas markets in Romania as I could find.
It’s no secret that holidays and Christmas are two of my favourite things and I’m not one to skimp on the holiday spirit. If you’re looking for the best travel locations for Christmas celebrations then Romania is your place. The added bonus for visiting the Christmas markets here is that Romania is also great for budget travellers.
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Here are my the top 3 Christmas markets in Romania.
Bucharest Christmas markets
Bucharest is a large city. Which means there are multiple Christmas markets worth visiting here. There is one major market that is by far the biggest but keep an eye out when sightseeing for other smaller ones to visit.
Around the city, streets are decorated with fairy lights at no expense. Large communist buildings are adorned with festive projections and street vendors are selling all kinds of wonderous delights like roasted chestnuts and Nutella crepes. Yum!
We spent a few days in Bucharest and returned to the main Christmas market three times during different times of the day. If you are wondering what else there is to do in Bucharest in December, you can read my best things to do in Bucharest in winter.
Where are the Bucharest Christmas markets?
The capital of Romania designates Constitution Square, the area in front of the dramatic Palace of Parliament to the official markets. This is the largest market and attracts over 1 million visitors annually (which is actually just one month!).
Why they are worth visiting
The Bucharest Christmas market is very traditional and will give you a true feeling of Romanian Christmas. There are over 100 wooden stalls selling homemade crafts and foods, a HUGE 30m Christmas tree, nativity scenes, ice-skating rink, live carols and concerts and a chance to meet Santa Claus.
It’s very easy to spend a few hours wandering around here looking at souvenirs, eating and drinking and enjoying the activities on offer for the little ones. Make sure to try as much of the local food as possible and wash it down with Vin Fiert – Romania’s word for mulled wine. Some traditional foods to look out for are sarmale, kurtos kolak, polenta, sausages and cozonac.
While the real magic happens after the sun goes down, the crowds also pick up. Right after sunset is a great time to experience the markets in their full fairy light delight without having to worry about swarming through hordes of visitors.
During our trip, we visited on a night when one of Romania’s biggest bands were playing, which I’m sure added to the crowds. So, try checking the concert schedule ahead of time if this is something you want to avoid.
When are the Bucharest Christmas markets?
The 2019 Bucharest Christmas markets run from the 28 November – 26 December between10 am and 10 pm.
Basov Christmas markets
Brasov is a medieval city with a large German influence. If this is anything to go by you will know the Christmas markets here are worth visiting.
The Brasov Christmas markets are on a much smaller scale to the Bucharest one. But they are not lacking any festivities. I personally liked these ones even more as they lacked the crowds and the long queues of Bucharest. It was nice being able to walk between the stalls and stop and browse all the merchandise without being pushed onwards.
The food was ok here, but Ben and I were both a little disappointed with what we ate at the markets. If you want to get a proper meal, head away from the square also to find cheaper prices. If you didn’t get to try a Kurtos Kalac in Bucharest, you’ll have to have one here. There is a wagon in the northeasterly direction on Strada Republicii. Bear in mind they are huge! If you are travelling in a pair, I would get one to share. See my Brasov travel guide for more things to do here.
Where are the Brasov Christmas markets?
The Brasov Christmas markets are located in the heart of the Old Town in Piata Sfatului. This beautiful square is surrounded by 18th and 19th-century pastel-coloured houses and other buildings of cultural significance.
Why they are worth visiting
What I loved most about the Brasov markets was their cute intimate size and lack of crowds. It was nice to spend a day sightseeing around the city and finish it at the Christmas markets for some Vin Fiert and people watching.
Carolers walk through the markets drawing crowds around them and creating a fun, relaxed atmosphere. One of the biggest draws to Brasov is it’s famously decorated Christmas tree. Adorned with 3D lights, hanging garlands and over 100 lightbulbs.
What makes the Brasov markets different is many of the stall owners come from Austria and Germany. Creating a few more options for foods and gifts.
When are the Brasov Christmas markets?
Previous years, the Christmas markets have opened December 1 through to January 13 from 10:00 am to 11 pm. Official 2019 dates will be released at the end of November. Keep an eye out for the schedule on their facebook page.
Sibiu Christmas markets
The beautiful Sibiu Christmas market was easily my favourite in Romania. With a hanging canopy of fairy lights covering the entire square and surrounding Baroque-style buildings with ever-changing festive projections. You’ll feel like you have entered a complete Christmas wonderland.
Having its first market in 2007, Sibiu has earned its reputation as one of the must-visit Christmas markets in not only Romania but all of Europe. Consequently, this has created a second tourism season for the once quiet winter city.
For the best views of Sibiu’s Christmas markets, head to the top of the council tower. The tower is open until 8 pm, so you will be able to get some photos after the sun has set. Unfortunately, the viewing area is surrounded by glass but it is still beautiful having the birds-eye view.
Where are the Sibiu Christmas markets?
The Sibiu Christmas markets are located in the Large Square or Piata Mare which is one of the must-visit locations on my 48-hour Sibiu itinerary.
Why they are worth visiting
The giant fairy light canopy is enchanting and creates a magical atmosphere. There is a traditional carousel and a decent sized ice-skating rink not just for the little ones. Santa and his elves are waiting in their house and there are four daily workshops for the kids.
The variety of merchandise you could buy from the stalls is second to none. They seemed to have all sorts of crafts, souvenirs and other wintery items that you couldn’t find in Bucharest or Brasov. I bought myself a cute pair of handmade mittens. This year there are more than 70 stalls from over 20 counties so I’m sure it will be even better.
Due to the location, you can often find yourself wandering around here with a light dusting of snow falling. So make sure you pack warm clothes and some gloves. You don’t want your hands getting cold while drinking your mulled wine.
The town of Sibiu is also worth visiting. There is a lot to do in such a small area and there are some delicious local foods to try.
For more information, check out the Sibiu Christmas markets Facebook page.
When are the Sibiu Christmas markets?
This years market is set to open the 15th of November and run until the 3rd of January. The markets are open daily from 10 am to 10 pm.