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Nothing can get you into the holly jolly holiday spirit quite like a beautiful Christmas market, thousands upon thousands of twinkling lights and far too much Glühwein than is acceptable for one’s waistline. No other time of year is more magical than the holiday season anywhere than in Europe, but Vienna certainly knows how to do it best!
The city center of Vienna turns into a large Christmas village with markets spread out throughout the city center making the already stunning city a winter dream. Christmas lights light up the night and stalls line up one after the other and the smell of gingerbread, cinnamon and mulled wine waft through the air.
Experience the Magic of a Viennese Christmas Market! PIN IT FOR LATER!!
Tips for Visiting Vienna:
If you’re looking to visit Vienna, then I highly consider investing in the Vienna Pass which gives you free entry to over 60 main attractions in Vienna including museums and monuments, ultimately saving you both time and money! Zoom right through long queues with the FastTrack entry bonus as well as take full advantage of the Hop-On-Hop-Off bus tour in Vienna!
Are you looking for the best things to do in Vienna at Christmas? With over 20 markets spread throughout the city, it would take you days to see them all, so I’ve compiled a list of the prettiest markets throughout the town. Hopefully this Christmas Market review will help you to decide which markets are the best to visit in Vienna! Each Christmas village is so unique and offers something different! For that reason, many of these are considered to be the best Christmas Markets in Austria!
The December Market or “Krippenmarkt” dates back 1298 when Albrecht I granted the citizens the chance to host their very own markets. Since then, markets have popped up all over the city. At this point, it felt like there was a market wherever a market could be squeezed in!
You’ll need a full two days to casually stroll though each and everyone, enjoying your mulled wine and pigging out on Christmas Viennese cakes, krapfen and so much more, saving the best for the prettiest time of day. You’ll be spending a lot of time outside and Vienna gets pretty blustery with large gusts of cold wind, so you’ll have plenty of reasons to warm up with a variety of Punsch (Glühwein/Mulled Wine)!
If you’re looking for other beautiful Christmas Markets in Austria, the Innsbruck Christmas Markets and Salzburg Christmas Markets are both quite spectacular!
Weihnachtsmarkts am Hof
First up, after strolling down the Graben, we come to one of the most central markets in Vienna. Here at am Hof, you’ll find quality artisan gift stalls offering ceramics, jewelry, glassware and so much more. One stall even has Gustav Klimt inspired votives which were exquisite and unique to Vienna. Food wise, you can grab yourself a cup of Lavender Glühwein and enjoy delicious baked potatoes, waffles or gingerbread cookies! Though this market is small, I did enjoy it a lot and found many unique things to buy!
When: November 17th – December 23rd, 2017
Opening Times: Mon – Thurs 11am – 9pm, Friday – Sunday 10am – 10pm
How to Get There: Metro U3 U-Bahn station Herrengasse
Altwiener Christkindlmarkt, Freyung
Just beyond the Market am Hof is yet another small market in front of the Schottenstift (Scot’s Abbey). The market here dates back to 1772, making it the oldest market in Vienna, hence the name Altwiener Christkindlmarkt, “Old Viennese Christmas Market”. Of importance here is the 46 meter long painted nativity scene on the back of a row of stalls. You can find more stalls with handmade decorations and items, a plethora of gift options, and my personal favorite, a small stand dedicated to Rose delicatessen. There are many stalls to pig out in and small covered huts to duck into to eat or drink your warm mulled wine, away from the blustery winds.
When: November 18th – December 23rd, 2017
Opening Times: Open Daily from 10am – 9pm
How to Get There: Metro U3 U-Bahn station Herrengasse or Metro U2 U-Bahn station Schottentor
Belvedere Palace Christmas Village
If you love castles and art, then head a bit out of the Old Town to one of Vienna’s most popular tourist attractions, the Belvedere Palace, for a magical Christmas Village on the palace grounds with the palace as the backdrop. If you have time, take a peek inside for the most famous piece of artwork, iconic to Vienna, The Kiss by Gustav Klimt. Far enough out of the town and away from large crowds, the market here is relatively small and authentic. Here, you’ll find traditional handcrafted items and Christmas decorations at more than 40 festively decorated stalls. I honestly felt like the Belevedere Christmas Market was the best market to visit of all the Viennese markets as well as the prettiest Christmas Market in Vienna and definitely the best market to visit at night!
While we didn’t have the time to visit the inside, turns out that the Belvedere Palace is totally Instaworthy!
Here, you’ll feel like you’re walking through one of the most elegant markets in Vienna, drink mulled wine from cups that look like angels praying and find massive Krapfen big enough to feed a family! The perfect time to be here is just at dusk to capture the magic of the twinkling star lights in the fountain in front of the palace. This year, a traveling tree made from wooden sleighs was added which has been all over Europe.
When: November 24th – December 26th 2017
Opening Times: Monday – Friday 11 – 9pm, Saturday & Sunday 10 – pm
How to Get There: Hop on a tram, line D to Schloss Belvedere or 18/O to Quartier Belvedere.
Viennese Christkindlmarkt at the Rathaus
You’ll end your day with the most sought after market in the city, located directly in front of the Rathaus (City Hall), impressive all day, every day, but the best time is just before dusk or at night when the lights are lit up. With the imposing Gothic Town Hall illuminating the market in the backdrop, and the Advent arch welcoming you into the market, this is THE most iconic market of Vienna. The Vienna Rathaus Christmas Market is where it all happens but therefore, it’s also the most crowded. Get to the Wien Rathaus Weihnachtsmarkt early in the day if you want to enjoy it without bumper to bumper human traffic!
With a massive Christmas tree standing at the front of the Town Hall, a choir singing Christmas carols that can be heard throughout the entire market, the delicious aromas of sweet roasted nuts and the cold nipping at your nose, here you can stroll around the 154 stalls to find all kinds of goodies. On the ground floor of the Town Hall, you can find an area dedicated strictly to children where they can learn to make Christmas cookies and candles.
From extra large Krapfen, donuts in the shape of pretzels and Viennese cake, you’ll have a wide variety of yummy snacks to eat on. Enjoy your cup of Glühwein from incredibly large Christmas boot cups, the perfect souvenir to take home! Find a pleasant corner in the park which has been lit up with Christmas lights every inch of the way or perhaps burn off those calories by ice skating in front of the Rathaus!
When: November 17th – December 26th 2017
Opening Times: Daily from 10 – 9:30pm, Fridays & Saturdays till 10pm
How to Get There: Metro U2 U-Bahn station Rathaus
Stephansplatz Christmas Market
Wrapped snuggly around the St. Stephan’s Cathedral like a blanket, in the heart of the city center is this small but simple market. Historically, traders always set up their markets around the church and today there are around 40 stalls, a selection of candles, jams, spiral potatoes and so much more! The market is easy enough to meander through on any city trip to Vienna if you’re short on time as it’s directly in the heart of the city center, near the main U-bahn hub. You’ll find many stalls selling warm meals like hot pumpkin soup in a bread bowl or even sausages and spätzle and adorable cupcakes!
When: November 15th – December 26th, 2017
Opening Times: Daily 11 – 9pm
How to Get There: Metro U1 and U3 U-Bahn station Stephansplatz
Winter Market in the Prater at Riesenradplatz
Head to the Prater, Vienna’s fun park, for a beautiful Christmas Market which has a very Disney-esque feel to it, dominated by the Giant Ferris Wheel (The Riesenrad). Enjoy live music Thursday to Saturday at a big stage nearby and sip on your warm Glühwein or take a spin on the swings! Enjoy this market late into the new year well after all the rest have closed for the season! With the motto “Riesen Rocks!” you can bet that this will be a fun family-friendly Christmas Market unlike any other! After all, how many Christmas Markets have you been to that have a Ferris wheel?
When: November 18th – January 8th, 2018
Opening Times: Monday – Friday noon to 10pm, Sat & Sun 11 – 10pm
How to Get There: Metro U1 and U2 station Praterstern
Maria-Theresien Platz Village
Not far from the Rathaus, you’ll find the impressive twin buildings which hold the Museum of Natural History and the Museum of Art. In the center of it all, is the traditional Maria-Theresien Platz market located around the Maria-Theresa monument, the country’s beloved Empress. Here at the Maria-Theresien Christmas Market illuminated Christmas trees adorn the square and jewelry, oil paintings, ornaments and many other gift ideas can be found at the stalls.
When: November 22nd – December 26th 2017
Opening Times: Sunday – Thursday 11:00 to 9pm, Friday and Saturday 11:00 to 10pm
How to Get There: Metro U3 U-Bahn station Volkstheater and U2 U-Bahn station Museumsquartier
Karlsplatz Advent Market
For Christmas Market the whole family can enjoy, head to the Baroque Cathedral Karlskirche, with yet more lights streaming to and fro over the market. If you’re looking for a family-friendly Christmas Market in Vienna, then this would be it! What is normally a beautiful fountain rushing with water in the summer is filled with bales of hay in the winter and turned into a magical playground for children, complete with a petting zoo, as well as tents for arts and crafts for children. A role in the hay has a whole new meaning now! Here at the Karlsplatz Christmas Market, the holiday cuisine is all certified organic and the local goods are all handcrafted by local Viennese artists. Quite possibly the most authentic market you’ll find in Vienna, as all vendors must pass strict guidelines to be admitted! For those who are frightened by clowns, perhaps you’re best to skip this one!
When: November 17th – December 23rd
Opening Times: Daily from 12 – 8pm
How to Get There: Metro U1, U2 and U4 U-Bahn station Karlsplatz
Schönbrunn Palace Christmas and New Year’s Market
Filling up the courtyard in front of the former imperial residence, Schönbrunn Palace, another of Vienna’s iconic tourist destinations, are yet 80 more stalls, selling more handcrafted gifts and decorations made from glass, wood, paper and tin! Of particular interest here were the unique world maps with all the world’s monuments which I wish I had bought! A gargantuan Christmas tree lights up the court yard, standing tall in front of the palace while Christmas carols are sung with holiday cheer directly in front of it. Bust out your holly jolly singing skills at the Schönnbrunn Christmas Market in Vienna!
Here, you can also find a nativity set, as well as purchasing your own to take home. The small of Vanillekipferl and Glühwein waft through the air and the atmosphere is enchanting with the palace in the backdrop. We enjoyed a variety of Glühweins, for example, Vanilla Eierlikör Punsch, Apfel Strudel Punsch and even a Baileys Punsch! This was honestly the BEST Glühwein in Vienna! Be sure to try some of the Austrian delicacies such as “Bauerngröstl” or “Kaiserschmarrn”, sweet chestnuts or gingerbread.
When: November 18th – 26th December 26th, 2017 / New Year’s Market December 27 – January 1st, 2018
Opening Times: Daily 10 – 9pm
How to Get There: Metro U4 U-Bahn station Schönbrunn
There are four main areas located throughout the city where you can find twinkling illuminations hanging to and fro down highly populated areas which are reminiscent of Strasbourg, France.
- The Rathauspark – located directly next to the City Hall, the park is turned into a magical forest of twinkling lights, romantic for an evening stroll.
- Rotenturmstraße – illuminating a main shopping thoroughfare, the shimmering lights will brighten your holiday shopping.
- Kärntner Strasse – lighting up the street where you can find the Hotel Sacher Wien, along another main shopping area, you’ll find Christmas lights strung to and fro. On the corner, you’ll find the adorable big red bow on the shop Popp & Kretschmer.
- Graben – 20,000 LED lights sparkle in the night as the impressive chandelier Christmas lights brighten up this bustling and fashionable shopping pedestrian zone loaded with cafes, restaurants and high end shops. Be sure to look down side streets was are beautifully decorated as well!
- Kohlmarkt – here you’ll find a row of endless twinkling
diamondslights that never seem to end. Simple, but incredibly elegant!
There are a plethora of Christmas lights in Vienna and it’s hard to tell you exactly where each and every beautifully decorated street is. As you’re walking around town, you’ll likely pass many of them yourself. But you should try to plan your Christmas Market sightseeing in such a way that you’re not backtracking to many of the lights, although you’ll be hard pressed not to. For these lights, you’re going to want to backtrack!
A SPECIAL THANKS TO DAVID FROM TRAVELSEWHERE FOR BEING OUR PERSONAL TOUR GUIDE AND SHOWING US AROUND ALL THE BEST MARKETS, THE BEST SPOTS FOR PHOTOS, HAVING A “WHO TOOK IT BEST” PHOTO COMPETITION AND EATING A LOT OF CAKE AND GOOD FOOD IN BETWEEN ALL THOSE MARKETS!!!
Where to Stay in Vienna at Christmas: Vienna SportHotel ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Just a 7 minute walk from the nearest U-Bahn station and a 5 minute ride into the city center, the Vienna SportHotel provides comfortable rooms and affordable parking for those with a car! Before or after your sightseeing, come back and stay fit while traveling by playing tennis or working out in the gym. Perhaps you care to simply relax in the sauna or sit poolside!
Traveling to Vienna in December: Coming from Germany, we drove to Vienna. What we found was that like Germany, the weather is very fickle. We had to watch the weather very closely because if a snow storm should arrive, we wouldn’t be able to drive to Vienna for the Christmas Markets. The weather said chance of snow, so we didn’t let it stop us. However, the snow was quick windy and really coming down which meant that we had to drive a little bit slower, pushing back our arrival time. So, if you’re driving to Vienna in the winter, allow yourself extra time to go slow without rushing to get there. The markets will still be there when you arrive! Better to arrive safely than not at all!
Overall Experience at the Vienna Christmas Markets: Overall, it’s safe to say that the Wiener Weihnachtsmarkt are some of the best I’ve been to! Each one so different from the last, each market so unique with rare Christmas gifts and a variety of mulled wine to drink unlike any other markets I’ve ever visited! There are many things to do at Vienna’s Christmas Market, many things to eat at the Christmas Markets in Vienna and overall, a truly beautiful city to enjoy all of it! You will have no shortage of things to do in Vienna at Christmas! Vienna at Christmas is a truly magical time of year and the thousands upon thousands of twinkling Christmas lights truly makes the city come alive in the holiday spirit! However, Vienna weather in December is EXTREMELY cold and windy! Large gusts of wind often almost knocked us over and without proper winter clothing, we would have froze in our tracks! But don’t let that deter you as visiting Vienna in winter is still a wonderful time! You won’t regret visiting one of Europe’s most beautiful Christmas Markets!
Where would I be without my trusty DK Travel Guides? Lost probably! With quick details, easy to follow suggested sightseeing routes, I can find my way through any city!