Dating back centuries and surrounded by the ruins of castles dating back centuries, Chur is the oldest town in Switzerland. Characterised by its historic car-free old town, cobbled lanes, and stunning Swiss architecture, there’s perhaps no more magical time to visit Chur than at Christmastime. Here’s a guide to visiting the Chur Christkindlimarkt, i.e. the Chur Christmas Market.
Chur Christmas Market, Christkindlimarkt in the oldest town in Switzerland
Chur is a fairytale town to the East of Switzerland. And as the starting point for the magical train that is the Bernina Express to Tirano, Italy, you can’t go wrong by dedicating a weekend to escaping reality and enjoy the delights this historic town has to offer.
Pronounced (as my Swiss friend put it ‘like a cat purring’,) Chur is easily one of the most difficult words to pronounce in Swiss German! Highlights of this Swiss city include plenty of medieval architecture and the opportunity to take day trips to Arosa and Davos.
There are festive celebrations in Chur on an annual basis, though the main highlight of this event is all of the Swiss food. So whether you enjoy raclette, hot chocolate, or simply want to sample some Glühwein (if you want a taste of the Christmas Markets at home, be sure to check out this vin chaud recipe), you’re sure to love this market.
The name itself ‘Christkindli’ is directly translated into English as ‘Christ’s Child,’ while the market is often said to be among the best of Christmas markets in Switzerland (those of Basel, Zurich, and Bern aside). Free to visit, the festivities are designed to be enjoyed by all ages, with rides for smaller children and plenty of spiced wine stalls for the adults.
How to visit the Chur Christkindlimarkt
Whether you want to shop for gifts (and even purchase a Christmas tree) or simply want to hang out with your friends and sip on Glühwein, the Christkindli Market can be found spread out across the historic part of the city. Streets where you’ll find market stalls include Alexanderplatz, Obere Bahnhofstrasse, Poststrasse, Kornplatz.
The market runs from the first Thursday before advent right up until the 23rd of December. Opening times are as follows: Monday to Friday 11 am – 7.30 pm, Saturday and Sunday 11 am – 6 pm. Other festive highlights of the town include ice skating and plenty of twinkling lights draped across the historic and cobbled town streets.
Things to see and do while in Chur
MANOR Chur, Bahnhofstrasse: Though this shop may just appear to be a department store at a first glance, one of the better-hidden gems of Chur (or at least one of its best viewpoints) can be found in the form of a rooftop terrace overlooking the old town towards the train station from the top floor.
Wander the old town: World-famous and car-free, one walk along the historical streets of Chur is akin to stepping back in time. Medieval architecture remains painted with frescoes, while much of the historic heart of the city is dominated by a cathedral dating back centuries.
Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Assumption: With a spire reaching towards the heavens and a history dating back to the 12th-century, it’s hard to miss the Middle Ages constructed Chur Cathedral in the centre of the old town. Within the walls of the cathedral, the relics of St Lucius of Britain are alleged to be located.