Imagine the smell of ginger, cloves, vanilla and cheese. Got it? Now add Mariah Carey’s All I want for Christmas and after that all the Christmas songs you know. Ok, now close your eyes and imagine hundreds of thousands little lights brightening up majestic imperial buildings, streets and trees. By now you should be nodding with your head to the beat of the music and looking for a Glühwein-stand.
Christmas markets in Austria (and other German-speaking countries) have a very long tradition. In fact, Vienna was the first to hold a December market in 1298.
The past weekend we spent in Vienna exploring the city with our English friends, indulging in food and drinks and visiting palaces. Before we introduce you our favorite Christkindlmarkets, let’s clear a few terms:
Christkindlmarket = Christmas market (in the article C-market)
Glühwein = Mulled wine
Punch = Punch 🙂
Maroni = Chestnuts
Platz = Square
Here are our favorite Christkindlmarkets (Christmas markets):
Spittelberg is a neighbourhood in the 7. district. The C-market is in the pedestrian zone, where you can find handmade goods like jewellery, home décor and clothes. I have to admit, I liked it very much, maybe even the most.
Quick tip: If you enter the Spittelberggasse from the Burggasse – the second food and beverage stand on the right has an amazing Mango punch.
This is probably the most modern C-market in town. There are 9 “MQbis”, temporary structures illuminated by LED lights where you’ll find Glühwein and Maroni. The big buildings around are also illuminated by light installations.
This Christkindlmarkt is between two breath-taking museums – the art history and natural history museum. From Christmas decoration, a photo booth to hot drinks and sweets – they have it all. Don’t miss the Statue of Maria Theresia in the middle of the square – if by any chance you don’t know her; she’s the reason you have to go to school. 😉
This is probably the most famous Christkindlmarkt and I can understand why – the impressive Rathaus (City hall) is beautifully illuminated, in the garden in front of it is a fairy tale Christmas world, the C-market is full of different stands and the highlight is definitely the Ice skating rink (actually there are ice trails through the forest). If you don’t have your own ice skates you can borrow them for 7,00€, entrance to the ring is 7,50 € (if you buy tickets online you get a 10% discount) and locker is 2€.
Let’s proceed to some royal castles and palaces. Belvedere are actually two palaces – upper and lower Belvedere and the C-market is in front of the upper Belvedere palace. There are again stands with decoration, food and drinks.
Quick tip: If you order your hot beverage at a French waiter, be sure you got what you ordered. 😉
This is the most popular sight in Vienna and for good reason – the castle was the home of the Habsburg monarchy, nowadays it’s listed as UNESCO world heritage site and the most impressive fact – in the castle gardens is the oldest still existent zoo in the world.
Of course, there’s a C-market in the castle courtyard filled with stands of all kinds of goods. Make sure to go to the back of the castle where you can see a hill. On top of it is Gloriette, a beautiful imperial building in which today is an upscale Coffehouse. But just for the view of Schönbrunn and Vienna it’s worth to stroll up.
The Karlsplatz is in front of the Karlskirche (Charles` church) and in my opinion the most child friendly market in town. In the middle of the square there are hay bales and a petting zoo, the gastronomy offer is mainly bio and organic and the stalls offer unique handmade stuff (the market is also called Art market).
The heart of downtown Vienna is Stephansplaz with the iconic Stephansdom (Stephans church). Around the church you can find stalls with Christmas decoration, home décor and of course hot drinks and sweets. The stall with snow globes which claims they were invented in Vienna caught my attention. Of course I had to ask Uncle Google and look it up – it’s true. Back in 1900 the first snow globe was made in Vienna.
Prater is a big park with an amusement park in the 2. District. The C-market is in the amusement park (no entrance, you pay for every ride separately). There are life acts on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, otherwise you can visit Madame Tussauds, 5D Cinema, they have ponies to ride and the main attraction is the Riesenrad (giant wheel).
This is a small C-market with all the stands as elsewhere, but here you can find the carriages for a royal ride around the city (from 55€ for about 20 min). It is in walking distance to Stephansplatz, Maria-Theresien-Platz and Rathaus.
Here you have a map with the locations of these Christmas markets:
Mulled wine from 3,50€
Punch (Amaretto, Mango, Grapefruit, Berries …) around 4,50€
Deposit for the mugs between 2€-4€
The fact that we visit Vienna every year in December speaks for itself. So make sure to include it in your travel plans for this or next year.
Would you like to visit Vienna in the Christmas time? Or have you done it already? If we have anyViennese people reading – which Christkindlmarkets should we visit next time?