Vienna Christmas: Around the city’s markets
Few cities in Europe feature as many Christmas markets in spectacular settings, as the Austrian capital Vienna. And last week I had the chance to explore a lot of them. I was in town to do some research for a newspaper article, and the Christmas atmosphere was actually just a bonus – but it left me with a major holiday-mood-boost to bring home.
It’s believed that you can find far more than 1.000 Christmas market stalls in Vienna during the season, and many of them are set in already stunning spots – like at the Prater park and beside the Schönbrunn Palace. I had the chance to discover a nice selection of them on my way around the city, and wanted to take this change to share some Viennese Christmas magic with you…
The first market I came by was this one in front of the Hofburg Palace, right in downtown. A market of mainly local products and sweet treats, that is running until January 1st this year.
On this square you’re surronded by two beautiful and almost identical buildings, each containing one of the city’s many excellent museums – the Natural History Museum and the Art History Museum. And between them are a wide range of market stalls offering both gift ideas and “edible souvenirs”. From December 27th this market is replaced by a “New Year’s Village”.
No visit to Vienna without stopping by the famous Prater theme park, best known for the mighty Riesenrad ferris wheel. And on the square beside it you’ll find a cosy little “winter market” during the holiday season, with lots of options to treat yourself for a bite and a cup of glühwein (mulled wine).
As in many other cities the biggest Christmas market in Vienna is found in front of the City Hall, with around 150 enticing market stalls and a large ice skating complex, that will be expanded in January. Thereby the Vienna Christmas World turns into Vienna Ice World from January 19 – lasting until March 4, 2018.
The Schönbrunn Castle is a majestic setting for another excellent Christmas market in Vienna, just a short metro-ride from downtown. It’s free to experience this market, which offers many interesting stalls and opportunities to treat yourself. I also enjoyed a walk in the large park behind the castle itself – as well as the Strudelshow beneath the Café Restaurant Residenz, where you learn how a traditional Viennese apfelstrudel is made. Simply irresistible!
Set at the foot of mighty St. Stephen’s Cathedral, this downtown Christmas market offers yet another magical backdrop in the Austrian capital. One of the most impressive features of the towering cathedral is the colourful roof covered by no less than 230.000 glazed tiles! Beneath it the market is a wonderful and temporary hotspot to enjoy a cup of glühwein, and to browse the stalls for possible gifts.
I randomly stumbled upon the atmospheric Christmas market at the square named Am Hof, as I was enjoying an evening stroll around Vienna by night. It was a lovely sight to see locals enjoying hot drinks and snacks in the cold evening, although several stalls had closed down for the night when I came around.
The same day I had to leave Vienna, I jumped on the tram up to the Belvedere Castle, to take a look at the Christmas market set there. A stream of stalls with lots of tempting food and drinks – and a creative “Christmas tree” made by stacking wooden sleighs.
It was a nice goodbye to a majestic city with a ton of Christmas spirit – and even with a lot more markets than the major ones I have listed here. In my opinion it’s definitely among the top-cities to experience the holiday season in Europe.
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