Top 5 Christmas Markets in Romania

Top 5 Christmas Markets in Romania

Transylvania’s cities lead the way

Christmas decorations RomaniaThere are many beautiful Christmas markets in Romania, but just a few have a bit of everything: historical buildings, beautiful architecture mixed with unique decorations, lots of activities and, naturally, a wide range of Christmas gifts, ornaments and culinary delights.


Here’s our selection of the 5 best Christmas markets in Romania. Do you have a different opinion? Please leave a comment and tell us of your favorite.



1. Sibiu – Europe’s 8th most idyllic place to live (Forbes magazine)


City highlights: European capital of culture in 2007. Initially called Hermannstadt, the city was founded over 800 years ago by German settlers (Transylvanian Saxons) and it’s surrounded by well-preserved 15th century fortifications. With a mix of gothic, baroque and renaissance architecture, the pedestrian free Old Town was ranked as Europe’s 8th most idyllic place to live by Forbes.


Christmas Market: Upper town, Great Square (18 Nov – 03 Jan). Intact medieval architecture? Checked. Synergy of cultures? Do 3 completely different types of cathedrals sound good? Blazing lights? Last year they took street decorations to a new level with a crazy “cathedral of light”, hanging above an entire boulevard. The race will be tough this year, but Sibiu’s Christmas Market remains the most popular in Romania.


Features: 70 fair huts, merchants from over 20 counties, traditional cuisine, children’s fair park, gospel concerts, carol singing contests, light shows etc.

Christmas Markets in Romania - Sibiu
Sibiu Christmas Market – The Great Square. Credits Ovidiu Matiu


2. Brasov – jewel of Transylvania & stronghold of the Teutonic Knights


City highlights: most visited city in Romania, after the capital. Founded in 1211 by the Teutonic Knights on top of a Dacian site, the city was initially called Kronstadt (German) or Corona (Latin), meaning Crown City. Dramatically overlooked by Mount Tampa, the huge old city is a myriad of cobblestoned streets, craft guilds, fortified towers, gatehouses, cathedrals, medieval decorated inns and bohemian cafes.


Christmas Market: Council Square (6 Dec – 31 Dec). The distinct medieval ambiance coupled with the stunning scenery (a city under a mountain) turn Brasov into a winter fairytale. The Council Square will be the definition of enchantment and the nearby Black Church, the largest Gothic cathedral in Romania, will host major thematic concerts.


Features: Christmas tree (28m high, 67 years old) decorated with 3D light spheres, 25m long garlands, 100 light bulbs etc. A network of light strands will cover the square, overlooking 40 fair huts and a theme park.

Christmas Markets in Romania Brasov
Brasov Christmas Market – The Council Square. Credits George Nutulescu


3. Alba Iulia – a 2000 year old citadel, reborn from its ashes


City highlights: Considered “the spiritual capital” by many Romanians. Why? First off – it’s ancient. Literally. Built by the Dacians over 2000 years ago and conquered by Romans, it became capital of Roman Dacia and seat of the XIII Gemina Legion. Second – it was the medieval capital of Transylvania. Third – it’s the birthplace of modern Romania, symbolizing the Great Union of Transylvania, Moldova and Wallachia.


Christmas Market: Union Square, Alba Carolina Citadel (5 Dec – 15 Jan). You don’t have to be a local to sense the powerful emotions generated by this citadel. There’s a vibration in the air as you walk through a tunnel of Christmas lights, connecting The Onyx Obelisk and The 3rd Inner Gate. Beyond, the Union Square is covered by a huge net of lights and packed with Christmas decorated royal statues, monuments, palaces etc.


Features: 600 sq meters ice rink, Santa’s house, fair huts, shows for children, concerts, mulled wine etc.

Christmas Markets in Romania - Alba Iulia
Alba Iulia Citadel. Credits Ion Baltean


4. Bucharest – between Belle Époque buildings, communist palaces or sky bars


City highlights: although lacking the medieval charm of Transylvanian cities, the capital of Romania is bursting with life, offering diversity and contrasts: glorious Belle Époque buildings, communist giants like the House of Parliament, the 18th century architecture of the Old Town or glass towers topped by sky bars.


Christmas Markets: Constitution Square (1 Dec – 30 Dec). There are several markets, but the main one is located in the heart of Bucharest, in front of the Palace of Parliament, the 2nd largest building in the world.


Features: 60 fair huts, traditional music & dances, Christmas Choirs, Elven workshop, Santa’s House, intriguing Christmas decorations and local cuisine including various types of sausages, syrups, drinks etc.

Christmas Markets in Romania - Bucharest
Bucharest Christmas Market


5. Timisoara – an exciting mix of cultures


City highlights: The largest city in western Romania, dating back to 1212. It has a cultural & architectural diversity, being influenced by several cultures: Austrian, German, Hungarian, Turkish and Serbian. Timisoara was the 1st city in Europe and 2nd in the world after New York to use electricity to illuminate its public streets.


Christmas Market: Victory Plaza (1 Dec – 8 Jan). The market is located within a large pedestrian plaza, over an area that stretches from the Opera House to the large Orthodox Cathedral. The plaza is surrounded by historical palaces and theaters, displaying a baroque architecture. Everything is illuminated and decorated, from rooftops to fountains and from statues to proud standing trees.


Features: A 23 meter high dome made out of 60.000 lights, 100 fair-huts, The Chocolate House, Santa’s workshop where children can design their own toys, handmade products, cuisine goodies from Banat.

Christmas Markets in Romania - Timisoara
Timisoara Christmas Market – Opera House view.

That was it folks – the 5 best Christmas markets in Romania. Did we miss anything? Do you have a different selection in mind? Please leave a comment and tell us of your favorite.


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5 Charms of a Winter Holiday in Romania


Winter is coming…but unlike the story from Game of Thrones, it brings holidays instead of monsters from the north. A winter holiday in Romania can have many faces. Which one will you choose for your journey? The powerful Queen or the medieval Enchantress? The protective Mother of Traditions, the fierce Mountain Goddess or the seductive Ice Princess? Pick your favorite for a trip where past and present dance together…


1. White cloaked fairytale castles lit up for the upcoming balls

There are 3 epic winter castles and 1 powerful Queen to rule them all…
In the distance, Bran Castle punctures the sky with its towers – a frozen giant starring at you from atop a rocky cliff. You see an old inn nearby, so you step inside for a mulled wine. Shortly, you hear a faded scream. Oh, it’s just the House of Horrors, located upstairs. After all, this is the “land of Dracula”. Later on, as you leave Hollywood fictions behind and head towards the castle, the eerie surroundings slowly take over you…


Winter in Romania Peles CastleOnly 170 miles away, Corvin Castle is preparing for the winter ball. Resembling Hogwarts, the massive structure is one of the greatest castles in Europe. Dazzled by the stunning architecture, you cross the drawbridge and head for the main hall. Dozens of candles, arched columns, people dressed up in medieval outfits, local cuisine and a band playing traditional music. Time to grab your costume – the feast is about to start!

Peles Castle is different. You’re on a carriage tour of the royal grounds when, suddenly, the majestic Palace reveals itself. Built as the private retreat for the royal family of Romania, it’s the first European castle entirely lit by electrical current. Once inside, you clearly see that everything spells luxury: golden chandeliers, walnut tree carvings, marble fountains, Venetian mirrors, secret chambers, the royal armory and many more.


2. Transylvania and its enchanted medieval cities during the winter holidays

During winter, Transylvania’s under the spell of a medieval Enchantress. You have the Romanians – crazy for traditions & festivals. You have 3 months of snow. Can you handle it? Winter is coming…


It’s 4 PM and it’s snowing. You’re standing atop the White Tower, admiring the entire citadel of Brasov – a medieval jewel at the feet of Mount Tampa: 4 gatehouses, 8 fortified bastions, cobblestoned narrow streets, craft guilds, charming street lamps or gothic churches. The cold air stirs the appetite so you head for a tavern.

Winter in Romania - Brasov


Night falls just as you finish eating. Outside, you walk into a different world where blazing lights enchant everything, including the Black Church. A large Christmas tree shines in the middle of the Council Square and a huge web of lights rests above the Christmas Market. Children in colorful costumes walk the streets singing local carols and merchants with medieval outfits offer hot Kurtos cakes, inviting you to boheme cafes…


That was just a bit of Brasov… Each medieval city has its own winter decorations, based on their unique flavor: majestic Alba Iulia and its star shaped citadel, Sibiu with its glorious architecture, Cluj-Napoca and its passion for arts or Sighisoara – the best preserved fortress of its kind in Europe. Visiting the Transylvanian cities during winter is like stepping back to medieval times of fairytales, legends and knighthood.


3. Living traditions frozen in time – winter in unique UNESCO villages

In the snowy highlands, The Mother of Traditions protects the ancient legacy of the Dacians, bringing to life customs and celebrations that look as if they were locked in time.


The cities may have their glamorous winter festivals but Romania’s real treasure lies with its traditions, surviving in the Carpathians for millennia. This isn’t about reenactments or fancy parades. It’s about eerie places where incredibly hospitable people actually live & thrive off the land. Places where celebrations & costumes are passed down from father to son. Places where past and present dance together…


Admiring the Maramures countryside from the comfort of your balcony, you notice a young boy on a black horse, galloping over the thin layer of snow. With that in mind, you head downstairs for lunch. The manor has the comfort and appliances of modern day, but all the decorations are handcrafted. A girl, dressed up in the local folk costume, brings the traditional “sarmale” and other goods on handmade ceramic plates.

Winter in Romania - Traditional dance


After a good meal, you hop in a horse drawn sleigh and the host takes you to Sapanta, the tallest wooden church in the world, or to the closest of its 8 UNESCO sisters. Traditions? You’ll encounter many. There’s a regional carol contest in mid-January, each village being represented by a group of young men carrying a distinctive flag. Until then, each band will be busy rehearsing, caroling unmarried girls from house to house or organizing “Hore” – village round dances where you can easily jump in!


Maramures isn’t the only place where “Romania never dies”. The Stone Land of Apuseni Mountains or the regions of Bucovina and Fagaras are just as beautiful and have their own stories. Traditions include “Plugusorul”, Masked Dances of the Bear, Stag & Goat or “The Dragobete” – local version of Valentine’s Day.


4. Balea – one of a kind alpine experience

The seductive Ice Princess walks on the rooftops of Fagaras, covering the alpine crests in shining diamonds. Her beauty is reflected over the glacier lake of Balea, enthralling the Ice Hotel’s tourists.


Winter in Romania - Balea Ice HotelYou just woke up and everything’s frozen: the table, the chairs and even the bed beneath you. Despite this, you feel warm & fuzzy. You head outside and the view leaves you breathless. You’re standing on an icy plateau, surrounded by steep mountains. Close by, there’s an ice church, ice restaurant & bar and several igloos.


That’s right – you’re at the one of a kind Balea Ice Hotel, one of the largest in Eastern Europe. The hotel is being rebuilt each year based on a different theme. Aside from its magnificent locations and excellent facilities, the hotel has its own winter park: snowmobiles, tubing, ski, snow zorbing, ice sculpting or skating over Balea Lake.


5. Mountain duality – adrenaline vs relaxation

The fierce Mountain Goddess is a tough breed, offering lots of adrenaline & excitement. Regardless, she has her ways of rewarding those with an active spirit, comforting them with her thermal waters.


Adrenaline. You need it. Medieval cities or ancient traditions may have their charm, but the wild Carpathians can also offer unforgettable thrills: heli ski, paragliding, ice climbing, hang gliding or bungee jumping.

Winter in Romania - Transalpina ski resort


Not everybody likes the extremes, but we all love having fun at the winter parks. For ski & snowboard, your best bets are Poiana Brasov (most complex ski resort in Romania), Transalpina Ski Resort (stunning views over Vidra Lake) or the Maramures resorts of Calnic, Borsa or Mogosa.


If you had enough snow for the day there’s another way to warm up, aside from mulled wine. At Baile Herculane, you’ll find outdoor baths with hot waters. Don’t worry about snowing – the steam will chase off the snowflakes. Sources of thermal waters & spa can also be found in resorts like Baile Tusnad, Felix or Sovata.


Which faces of the winter you’d like to see during your holiday in Romania?

If you’re reading this, then you’ve surely considered planning a trip to Romania. Still, which places would you choose? Can you have a bit of all? A tailor-made itinerary could be the best choice, so, hurry up and design your own holiday in Romania!


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