Thank you to Vienna Tourism for providing me with the Vienna City Card. As always, all opinions and recommendations are my own. This post also contains affiliate links. You can read my full disclosure policy here.Christmas markets in Europe are a big deal in case you haven’t heard. Last December, I finally made my first trip to Europe during the Christmas season. Vienna, Austria was my destination and my first experience with European Christmas markets. I was like a kid on Christmas morning-I couldn’t have been more excited! I did my best to hit up as many as I could during my weeklong stay and now I’m sharing my guide to Vienna Christmas markets!
Vienna Christmas Markets
Of course, Christmas markets originated in Germany. However, with markets dating back to 1298, Austria was a leading pioneer in carrying on the German tradition. Commonly referred to as “Christkindlmarkt” which is German for “Christ child market”, these markets typically take place in a town square or outside of churches. Generally, you will find wooden stalls decorated with lights and filled with handmade goods, food, and drinks. Some will have extras such as ice skating rinks, carousels, choirs, and other live music.
Whatever any individual market might feature, I can guarantee there’s a good time to be had at the Vienna Christmas markets.
Time to check them out!
Probably my personal favorite, I’m starting with the Viennese Christmas Dream held at Rathausplatz, the square outside of City Hall. The largest Christmas market in the city, it is also the most famous.
Inside City Hall, kids can make cookies, candles, and other goodies. Other family-friendly activities include a reindeer train, carousel, Ferris wheel, and ice skating rink.
Outside after dark, the grounds come alive all around the stalls and throughout the grounds.
Don’t miss the red hearts hanging in the trees!
All of the traditional Christmas market food and drinks are available including hot sausages, Glühwein, and kinderpunsch, a non-alcoholic alternative to Glühwein.
Although it’s one of the newer kids in town, the Christmas Market at Stephansplatz is a very traditional market.
Its central location in the heart of Vienna is definitely a plus. And, I love how the church lights up at night in all different colors.
Comparatively speaking, it’s considered on the smaller side and as far as space I feel that’s accurate. However, there are about 40 stalls which is more than some of the other markets. For that reason (along with the crowd factor due to its location), I am categorizing it as medium-sized.
Characteristic of all markets, it has beautiful handmade crafts along with its own mug to serve as a vehicle for the popular Glühwein.
The vision of Jörg Mauthe, Altwiener Christkindlmarkt Freyung was developed as an alternative to Christkindlmarkt and Advent Magic. A unique thing to see here is the “Longest Crib in Austria” which is a nativity scene running nearly 20-feet along the back of a row of stalls!
For the rest of the year outside the holiday season, Freyung is a popular organic farmer’s market. It’s the perfect place to get your meats, cheeses, spices, and honey!
Christmas Market at Schloß Schönbrunn is on the larger side with around 80 stalls featuring exhibitors from Austria as well as other nearby countries.
With the Schönbrunn Palace serving as a beautiful backdrop, you can shop for homemade nativity scenes and glass ornaments…
or buy sweet treats such as these fantastic gingerbread cookies, pancakes or roasted chestnuts. We bought cute little iced cookies with Vienna on them. They make great gifts!
Don’t forget to step back and admire the Schönbrunn Palace in its entirety!
Christmas Village Schloss Belvedere is an appropriate name for the small market found outside the enormous palace. Make sure you step behind the lake to get this shot (tripod required)!
The stunning baroque architecture lights up brilliantly and with only 20 stalls on each side, it is the perfect place for those desiring smaller crowds. It’s also great if you are looking for wooden toys, ceramics, and handmade soaps.
Don’t worry, the treats are all there too from strudels and sausages to crepes, dumplings, and Glühwein!
Weihnachtsmarkt am Spittelberg started out in 1970 with a few vendors and over the years grew into what it is today. Wander through the romantic streets, catch a puppet show, a drum workshop, and even a Mongolian yurt! This Christmas market at Spittelberg is definitely known for embracing culture!
If you are wanting a market with a focus on the arts with alternative vibes, Art Advent at Karlsplatz is that place. Located right out front of the Karlskirche church, the entire market is sustainable and the food, organic. Even the carousel for the children runs on pedal power.
To actually have a stall at this market you must handmake your goods yourself and then must be approved by a committee. As you can imagine, these are highly sought out positions that ensure originality and sets Karlsplatz on a different level from others.
Weihnachtsdorf on Maria-Theresien-Platz is located between the Museum of Natural History and the Museum of Art. As you peruse the many stalls full of goodies, don’t forget to look up and take in the sights around you!
Also, don’t forget to stop to check out the mug selection and warm up at one of the many wooden tables decorated with festive lanterns.
Winter at the MQ is the happening place for those who want more of a winter party vs a Christmas jingle. Here you won’t find Santa, nativity scenes or reindeer. Nope. Instead, you will find a contemporary party scene with alternative LED light projections dancing on the buildings’ facades. Think live DJs and drinks like organic beer, Cranberry and Elderflower Punch and yes, Glühwein!
When traveling to Vienna, my recommendations are:
- Hotel Sacher Vienna or Imperial Hotel for accommodations.
- The Vienna City Card for discounts on attractions, transportation, and more.
- These best cafes in Vienna for fantastic Viennese cuisine.
- World Nomads for travel insurance. You can get the total cost and breakdown of the plans FREE. Please don’t EVER travel without insurance!
- Questions? Hit me up on Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Email 🙂
Who’s ready to get their Christmas on in the Austrian capital city? The Vienna Christmas markets won’t disappoint. There is something for everyone no matter if you’re a child or a child at heart! 😉
Have you been to Vienna at Christmas? What was your favorite of the Vienna Christmas markets? Let me know below!
‘Til next time…