Vienna for Christmas: A Market Guide
No matter the time of year, Vienna is always a good destination for any European traveler. The city boasts glorious facades around every corner, extending for what seems like miles all around you. Its modern streets and fantastic food scene provide an unparalleled contrast between old world decadence and modern European sophistication.
The city's rich history is proudly on display and impossible to miss. Towering statues and spacious squares boast of a time of great wealth and power for Vienna. There's a reason it's nicknamed The City of Dreams. But at Christmas-time Vienna becomes a little more inviting and warm, even despite the cold.
The Christmas Markets
Often rated as one of the top Christmas market destinations in Europe, we are positive Vienna's holiday spirit will put a smile on the face of even the scroogiest visitors. Around nearly every corner are small wooden chalets lovingly decorated for the season, juxtaposed beautifully in front of classical Gothic and Baroque buildings. They're filled with vendors selling Austrian delicacies, traditional drinks, textiles, and holiday trinkets.
No matter the weather, you'll find locals and tourists alike celebrating the joy of the season. And you can't venture more than a few blocks from one market without running into another, each with their own distinct style. Some markets are geared towards families with children, and some are set up more for the mulled wine crowd. Whatever you're searching for, you'll find in the squares and streets of Vienna at Christmas.
The city also does a wonderful job decorating the town's squares, with the main attraction being the light displays. Ornate chandeliers are delicately suspended above the squares and strings of lights illuminate every block near the old city center.
The Art Advent Christmas market is everything you'd hope a European holiday market would be, but so much more. Located directly outside of Karlsplatz Stadtbahn Station this market is for the little ones. It is a sight to behold for kids and adults alike, boasting a holiday ambiance that is straight out of a fairytale.
The backdrop is awe-inspiring, as well. Karlskirche Church is a magnificent 18th-century Hapsburg domed cathedral with a marvelous facade. It's the perfect family gathering place for a joyous Austrian Christmas market.
Here you'll find all kinds of traditional grilled sausages, potato and noodle dishes, and a variety of hot drinks such as Glühwein and Christmas punch. It's easily accessible, has a small petting zoo, a hay pit to play in, and even a unique, pedal-powered carousel created by found items. While other markets have a more glossy and highly-produced feel, this market boasts authenticity and quickly became our favorite of the bunch.
Vienna's main holiday attraction during the holidays, Wiener Christkindlmarkt, may very well be Central Europe's most magnificent market. We don't actually know that, but we will be sure to report back once we have visited all of them.
With more than a few ice rinks, a Ferris wheel, giant snow globes, carnival rides, magnificent light displays, and hundreds of vendors, this market is an attraction all its own. It's located in Rathausplatz fairground and park on the grounds of Vienna's city hall, a magnificent neo-gothic building that towers over the market. The market and building light up at around 4. It's a treat to experience the market as it illuminates, reaching its full Christmas glory just after dusk.
The only downside of this market is that it is truly massive, with tons of tourists, not much seating, and a more corporate holiday feel. If you're looking for entertainment and don't mind higher prices, this is the place to be. If you're looking for authenticity and handmade Austrian crafts, there are plenty of other markets across the city that show a more genuine European holiday.
Don't miss the....
Now, for our favorite thing about the Vienna Christmas markets... hot wine! Viennese Glühwein is something to write home about. It's mulled with quality red wine, lemons, oranges, cloves, cinnamon, and sugar. There are also a variety of other drink choices including Christmaspunsch, turbopunsch, honey wine, berrypunsch, Aperol hot cocktails and more.
Each market in Vienna has their own unique punsch mugs! For a 4 euro deposit, carry your mugs around the markets while you explore. When finished, return the mug in exchange for more punsch money or take the mug home as a souvenir. Check out the mugs we discovered in our short stint at the markets.
Fun for all
Whether you're searching for a romantic getaway or a family vacation over the holidays, consider Vienna the perfect fit. It's world-class zoo, aquarium, children's museums, and parks provide families with endless entertainment. It's plethora of museums, impressive classical music history, and high-end fashion culture creates a sophisticated and romantic ambiance unmatched in central Europe.
Although a bustling city, Vienna is a place where you can actually slow down and relax. With a top-notch airport and wonderful central train station, getting in and out is easy. The U-Bahn and above ground trams connect this otherwise very walkable city, making intercity travel a breeze.
History buffs, foodies, and music lovers from all over the world find themselves smitten over Vienna's views, tastes, and ambiance. And with good reason. The holiday vibe in Vienna is especially inviting, but don't just take our word for it. Start planning your holiday getaway now.