Vienna is without a doubt the most beautiful capital to visit in December. During the festive season, the entire city transforms into a magical fairy tale, with Christmas Markets not only in all the major spots in Vienna, but also in the places you would expect less, such as random street corners. The majestic Christmas decorations lit up in the evening and create the illusion of massive chandeliers hanging above the streets of Vienna.
If you have ever felt that you lost the spirit of Christmas, Vienna is the city that will bring it back to you.
There are more than 20 official Christmas Markets in Vienna, where you can enjoy mouth watering treats, drink the famous mulled wine and shop for cute hand made decorations. Did you know that the Christmas Market tradition in Vienna dates back to the Middle Ages, in 1298?
With so many dotted around city, how do you know which is the best Christmas Market in Vienna, if you only have a weekend to explore?
The Christkindlmarkt at the Rathaus
By Kris from Nomad by Trade
The Viennese Christmas Market in front of Vienna’s Rathaus (town hall) is one of the most scenic in Europe. Running from mid-November until just after Christmas, this is one of the top spots to visit during the holiday season. In addition to the rows upon rows of booths selling Christmas gifts, you’ll also find stands full of delicious baked goods, hot foods, and – of course – gluhwein. The hot spiced wine (and other warm, boozy beverages) are served in specially designed mugs, including a boot-shaped one. Return your mug if you want your deposit back, or keep it as a souvenir. The most popular designs do get snatched up quickly though so if you wait until later in the season they may be hard to find. The Vienna Rathaus provides a dramatic backdrop with its beautiful spires lit up for the holiday season.
If you’re looking for more than just shopping, small carnival rides are set up near the booths. My favorite part was the ice skating rink right in front of the Rathaus. Unlike traditional open skates where everyone sort of mills around in a circle, this skating area was constructed with winding pathways twisting around each other and a giant snow globe. It was the most fun I’ve ever had ice skating. Skates and lockers are available to rent.
The Schönbrunn Christmas Market
By Gemma from Two Scots Abroad
Schönbrunn Palace at Parade Court in winter is just magical. A market you must go to when visiting Vienna in December.
Imagine a series of snug market huts, decorated in baubles, tinsel and lights with a massive Baroque Palace as the backdrop. A tree to compliment the size of the palace is gifted to the market each year.
There are just under 100 stalls which sell traditional crafts. I overheard a tourist try to haggle with a stall staff member and it didn’t go down well as the good was handcrafted by her mother. It’s not just gifts that are on sale though. You can buy local produce and sweets or hot food and drink. Popular dishes include thin potatoes, fried, and loaded onto a long stick. You’ll see lots of visitors walking about with these crisp sticks in their hand.
If you are a fan of creamy alcoholic drinks, Gluhwein with a difference can also be found at Schönbrunn Palace as they master up a Bailey’s infusion in a mug. The mugs are cute too. The standard ‘rent a cup’ process operates which you’ll find at all the Christmas markets.
I enjoyed the buzz from booze as the band took to the stage and played tunes while we bopped along, reservedly, on the spot.
I like the size of this market. Although there are crowds there is plenty of space and tables dotted about for you to stand at. You don’t feel like you are on a Christmas conveyor belt being pushed along stall to stall. It is worth arriving late afternoon and staying through sunset until dark. As you exit the Palace at night, look out for the ponds as they give beautiful reflections of the palace which glows against the midnight blue of the water.
The Stephansplatz Christmas Market
By Heather from Trimm Travels
Visiting Vienna at Christmastime was one of the best travel decisions I’ve ever made. And, visiting all the Christmas markets in Vienna was my next best decision. I can say one of my absolute favorites was the Stephansplatz Christmas Market!
Located in the square outside St. Stephen’s Cathedral in the heart of the city center, the Stephansplatz Christmas Market is a very traditional market. Although not the smallest, it is on the smaller size with around 40 stalls which are wooden and decorated with lights on top. Even more impressive is a lit-up St. Stephen’s Cathedral serving as the most beautiful backdrop during the wintertime festivities which typically run from mid-November to the day after Christmas.
There aren’t as many food options at Stephansplatz due to its smaller size, but you will still find some of the best Viennese food including the usual hot sausages, soups served in bread bowls, crepes and strudels along with the classic gluhwein and kinder punsch. Each market serves its drinks in mugs that have their own color, shape, and logo. I brought home a really cute red sock or boot-shaped mug with Stephansplatz Vienna on it!
Get your shop on with your choice of handmade crafts and glass ornaments. I collect Christmas ornaments from my travels and I was in heaven with all of my choices. The glass ornaments hanging in the stalls were mesmerizing!
Finding Stephansplatz Christmas Market is a breeze and you will most likely find it not even meaning to since it’s located dead in the city center and the cathedral is one of the main attractions itself! Chances are you will come across it again and again while in Vienna!
Have you ever been to Vienna during the festive season? Have you visited a Viennese Christmas Market before? I would love to know your experience at the Christmas Markets in the comments below.
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