The aromas of mulled wine and cinnamon star cookies fill the air, hundreds of candles light up the night and the children are eagerly waiting for Santa Claus: the Christmas market season is upon us. We have put together a list of the best ones.
A visit to the starry city: St. Gallen Christmas market.
700 stars light up the way for visitors to the St. Gallen Christmas market, leading them into the city centre and to the enormous Christmas tree in front of the cathedral. High-quality Swiss crafts are on sale at over 50 prettily decorated little gabled houses. Mulled wine, red wine punch and other tasty treats are also there to tempt you. And in keeping with St. Gallen tradition, the 30 percent RailAway discount doesn’t just apply to your journey there by public transport but also to a Bratwurst and bread roll at the Chlausbeizli restaurant.
When: 24 November to 24 December 2016
Getting there: on foot, head towards the city centre from St. Gallen station. Book your RailAway combined ticket now and benefit from a 30 percent discount on your journey by public transport.
The oldest: Dörfli Christmas market in Zurich’s Niederdorf.
The Dörfli Christmas market in Zurich’s Niederdorf is Zurich’s oldest Christmas market, yet it remains a well-kept secret from those less familiar with the area – most tourists stick to the big market at the main station. What they don’t realise is that the festively decorated Hirschenplatz, Niederdorfstrasse and Rosenhof have handmade crafts and Swiss-oriental specialities on show against a particularly beautiful backdrop of the town. The Dörfli market is definitely worth a visit!
When: 23 November to 24 December 2016
Getting there: walk from Zurich main station towards Niederdorf or take the tram as far as Zürich Limmatquai. More information.
The birthday boy: Winterthur Christmas market.
The Winterthur Christmas market is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. The special wooden chalets are being done up particularly nicely to mark the occasion and one or two anniversary surprises await visitors. They’re not saying any more just yet… It’s no surprise, however, that the traditional Santa Claus parade will be taking place on 27 November, with over a hundred Father Christmases taking part.
When: 25 November to 23 December 2016
Getting there: walk from Winterthur station towards the historic centre. Winterthur Christmas market is held in the Neumarkt area of the car-free historic centre of Winterthur. More information.
The cultural choice: Bremgarten Christmas and “Christchindli” market.
From the book launch and Christmas brass band concert through to pony rides for the children, the Bremgarten Christmas and “Christchindli” market in Aargau has something for everyone. As well as the 320 market stalls, the first four days of December are packed with concerts, contemplative events and Christmas delicacies.
When: 1 to 4 December 2016
Getting there: You can reach Bremgarten most easily with SBB and the postbuses. Public transport will take you directly into the centre of the Christmas and “Christchindli” market. More information.
Back to medieval times: the “Weihnachtsmarkt der Sinne” in Zofingen.
When the medieval period meets jazz and Santa Claus, it must be what’s known as the Christmas market for all the senses in Zofingen. This year there will again be 200 different stalls and attractions to discover all around the illuminated town church. With traditional crafts to sell, the medieval market gives this Christmas market in Aargau something a little bit different.
When: 2 to 4 December 2016
Getting there: the Christmas market spreads out towards the historic centre from Zofingen station. More information.
Under cover: Neuchâtel Christmas market.
When it’s stormy and snowy outside, there’s nothing more inviting than a visit to the Christmas market in Neuchâtel. “Artisanales de Noël” brings together 150 local artisans and regional producers in a large, heated marquee. From ceramics and elegant accessories through to wood carvings, the market has everything, including food and drink served in a festive atmosphere.
When: 3 to 11 December 2016
Getting there: the market is a 15-minute walk from Neuchâtel station towards Place du Port, or you can take the Fun’ambule cableway (pay when you get there) followed by a five-minute walk. More information.
Christmas magic amongst the castles: Christmas in Bellinzona.
Bellinzona doesn’t have just one Christmas market – in December, the entire town famed for its three castles is transformed into a magical Christmas wonderland: whether it’s Piazza del Sole with its inviting Christmas village and ice rink, or the Christmas market in Castelgrande castle, or the special exhibition on “The world of nativity scenes”, the festive spirit can be found throughout Bellinzona. You can even benefit from a 30 percent discount on the Bellinzona Pass with the RailAway combination ticket.
When: Christmas village in Piazza del Sole (1 December 2016 to 8 January 2017), various Christmas markets (11, 15 and 18 December 2016), “The world of nativity scenes” special exhibition (12 November 2016 to 8 January 2017)
Getting there: Book your RailAway combined ticket now and benefit from a 30 percent discount on your journey by public transport.
Specialities of Alsace: Les Marchés de Noël de Strasbourg.
There are some amazing Christmas markets just over the border as well as in Switzerland. The journey from Basel to Strasbourg takes just under an hour and a half, and there are all manner of little markets to discover when you get there. And who knows, perhaps you’ll find yourself an Alsatian speciality at the Bredele market in Place d’Austerlitz that tastes just as good as our Mailänderli biscuits.
When: 25 November to 31 December 2016
Getting there: take tram A from Strasbourg Gare Centrale towards Illkirch Graffenstaden Lixenbuhl or tram D towards Strasbourg Aristide Briand as far as Langstross Grand‘Rue, then continue on foot to Place de la Cathédrale. Book your RailAway combined ticket now and benefit from a 30 percent discount on your journey by public transport.
Christmas markets in Colmar.
Colmar is situated halfway between Switzerland and Strasbourg and is home to an impressive five Christmas markets all vying for visitors’ attention. The Christmas market in the Little Venice quarter is a miniature paradise for children, with Father Christmas waiting to listen to their wishes and the famous “world’s smallest carousel” dancing its merry way around. Colmar’s wealth of tourist attractions is also a big draw, as well as its centuries-old tradition of hospitality and many culinary specialities.
When: 25 November to 30 December 2016
Getting there: from the station, take the bus towards Horbourg-Wihr as far as Théâtre, then change and head towards Marché Couvert as far as the terminus. It is then 150 m on foot to Koïfhus/Place de l’Ancienne Douane. Book your RailAway combined ticket now and benefit from a 30 percent discount on your journey by public transport.