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.
Location: 1010 Vienna, Rathausplatz
Special Feature: Best options and activities for kids
Dates & Info: Viennese Christmas Dream Market
Getting There: Subway U3 to Volkstheater or U2 to Rathaus or Volkstheater; Trams 2 to Rathaus, 46 and 39 to Ring/Volkstheater, 37, 38 and 40-44 all to Schottentor; Bus 1a to Schottentor or 38A to Ring/Volkstheater.
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.
Location: Stephansplatz, 1010 Vienna, Austria
Special Feature: Best variety
Dates & Info: Weihnachtsmarkt am Stephansplatz
Getting There: Subway U1 or U3 to Stephansplatz; Bus 1a, 2a, and 3a all to Stephansplatz.
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!
Location: Innere Stadt, 1010 Vienna, Austria
Special Feature: Austria’s Longest Crib, candles, decorations, and cultural programs
Dates & Info: Altwiener Christkindlmarkt Freyung
Getting There: Subway U2 or Trams 1, D, 37, 38, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44 and 71 or Bus 1A to the Teinfaltstrasse stop
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!
Location: Schönbrunner Schloßstraße 47, 1130 Vienna, Austria
Special Feature: A New Years Market that runs from after Christmas until around Jan 5th
Dates & Info: Christmas & New Years Market at Schloß Schönbrunn
Getting There: U4 Schönbrunn or Hietzing, Tram 60 or 10, Bus 10A. It’s a little more complicated but these are great directions.
You might also like: VIENNA PHOTOGRAPHY GUIDE: THE BEST SPOTS + HELPFUL TIPS
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!
Location: Prinz Eugen-Strasse 27, 1030 Vienna, Austria
Special Feature: Romantic-great for couples
Dates & Info: Christmas Village Schloss Belvedere
Getting There: Subway U1 to Hauptbahnhof Station, Tram D line to Schloss Belvedere or Trams 18 or O line to Quartier Belvedere followed by a 5-7 minute walk.
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!
Location: Spittelberggasse 1-30 Schrankgasse 1-18, Stiftgasse 13-25, 1070 Vienna, Austria
Special Feature: Cultural, Mongolian yurt
Dates & Info: Weihnachtsmarkt am Spittelberg
Getting There: Subway U3 to Neubaugasse or Volkstheater, Tram 49 to Stiftgasse, Bus 2A to Stiftgasse and 48A to Sankt Ulrichs Platz
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.
Location: Resselpark, Karlsplatz, 1040 Vienna, Austria
Special Feature: Eco-friendly, sustainable, all-organic food
Dates & Info: Art Advent at Karlsplatz
Getting There: Subway U1, U2 or U4 to Karlsplatz Station and exit towards Resselpark.
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.
Location: Burgring 5, 1010 Vienna, Austria
Special Feature: New Year’s Eve Village-new this year!
Dates & Info: Weihnachtsdorf and New Year’s Village at Maria-Theresien-Platz
Getting There: Subway U2 to Museumsquartier or U2/U3 to Volkstheater, Trams D/1/2/46/49/71 to Dr.-Karl-Renner Ring, Bus 48A to Dr.-Karl-Renner Ring
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!
Location: Museumsplatz 1, 1070 Vienna, Austria
Special Feature: Winter-focused theme vs holiday theme
Dates & Info: Winter at the MuseumsQuartier
Getting There: Subway U2 or U3 to Volkstheater or MuseumsQuartier. These stations flank the ends of the MuseumsQuartier campus. Tram 49 to Volkstheater stop. Bus 48A to Volkstheater or 57A to MuseumsQuartier.
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…
Leave a Reply - I Love Comments!
How I like a good old Germanic Christmas Market and would love to check out Wien’s market. I haven’t done Austria over the festive period but looks like I need to hit up the market here. I usually do France, Belgium and North-west Germany as they are all 3-6 hour drive away (places like Bruxelles, Koln, Arras) from London, UK. Fancy some mulled wine now 🙂
Hi Danik-Those are all places I want to check out at Christmastime-France, Germany and Belgium. I have been to France and Germany at other times of the year but need to hit Belgium altogether. Thanks for reading! 🙂
Carol Colborn says
I now see how Vienna sparkles during Christmas. We visited her last year in October. I just have to get over my fear of cold and go in December to see all our favorite places aglow!
Hi Carol-It is cold but not that cold. I like winter and cold weather though. I’m the exact opposite. I absolutely hate the heat! Vienna at Christmas is beautiful and absolutely worth it, I promise. Thanks for reading! 🙂
Tania Muthusamy says
The Vienna markets look like so much fun, with so much to do, not just Christmas shopping. I really love the buildings lit up at night time, it’s makes the atmosphere so magical. The church at Stephansplatz is just beautiful. The Schönbrunn Palace market sounds huge with stalls from other countries there too. I would go crazy at these markets! Lovely post Heather.
Hi Tania-Thanks so much! You’re right, there’s so much more to do other than just Christmas shopping. In fact, that’s probably what I did the least of even though there’s plenty of that as well! Vienna is gorgeous at night and especially at the holidays. Thanks for reading! 🙂
Christmas markets are so beautiful! I’ve only seen them in photos and have yet to actually visit one. The Longest Crib in Austria sounds so interesting. I’d love to go to this market just to check out the 20′ nativity scene.
That’s how I was before visiting Vienna. I’ve seen them so many times. I highly recommend them, they are amazingly fun and Vienna is a great place for your first! Thanks for reading! 🙂
Alice L. Ford says
I’m not usually a Christmas market person but this looks so awesome, from the lights to the food plus the shopping! so many great finds and to think it’s been around since the 11th century is so cool.
This is the first year I am actually going to be in Europe during christmas and I cannot wait.
Hi Alice-Last year was my first year in Europe at Christmas and I loved it so much that’s where I’d love to be every year. Definitely check out the Christmas markets wherever you’re going to be! Thanks for reading! 🙂
Such a European tradition, we don’t really have Christmas markets here in Australia. We travelled to the USA for a White Christmas with our 3 kids in 2017, I really wanted to go to Europe mostly for the Christmas markets but it just wasn’t practical at the time. I will one day make it over the Europe and experience the Christmas markets for myself.
Hi Sally-They aren’t as big here in the US as they are in Europe either. It’s definitely a European tradition. However, we do have them here in the bigger cities in the US if you’re ever over here again for Christmas. Do try to get to Europe though, it’s just a whole different ballgame there for Christmas. Thanks for reading! 🙂
Mei from Travel with Mei and Kerstin says
I almost booked a trip to Vienna for this upcoming Twixmas! But finally I’ve decided to go to another destination (can’t tell you where because it’s gonna be a surprise trip for Kerstin). But now reading your post, I kinda regret it! All these Christmas markets seriously make me want to go to Vienna asap! Well… gotta wait another year then!
Hi Mei-I LOVE how you’re always planning surprises for Kerstin. LOVE it!! So thoughtful and sweet! Vienna is phenomenal at Christmas, I’m not going to lie. We were deciding between Vienna and Prague. I still haven’t made it to Prague but I definitely want to go. But I was quite satisfied with Vienna for my first European Christmas experience. You’ll get there…go next year Christmas 2020! Thanks for reading! 🙂
Sandy N Vyjay says
We have read and heard a lot about the enchanting Christmas Markets of Europe. It has been our dream to travel to Europe around this time to experience the Christmas Markets. Vienna, of course, is one of our must-visit destinations and we have been planning for an East Europe tour for some time. Vienna looks resplendent during this time, and your pictures coax us to head there sooner than later. The Viennese Christmas Dream held at Rathausplatz, indeed seems to be the stuff that dreams are made of.
Hi Sandy-Viennese Christmas Dream is definitely the things dreams are made of! Vienna is incredible at Christmas so I hope you get to go soon. It was my dream to be in Europe for Christmas too, the markets are so serene! Thanks for reading! 🙂
Yukti Agrawal says
I love to visit Christmas markets as they are very vibrant and cheerful. Though I have gone to Vienna but never during Christmas timings. But would love to visit this fairy tale place with all those beautiful decor, especially the red hearts hanging from Christmas trees.
Hi Yukti-It is beautiful at Christmas so you need to return to visit during that time! Thanks for reading! 🙂
Kevin | Caffeinated Excursions says
Hot sausages, Glühwein, Christmas cookies, and roasted chestnuts; the food would absolutely be the main highlight of Christmas market-hopping in Vienna for me! In addition, you got some really amazing night shots showcasing all the beautiful lights and decorations around the city. The light displays at Rathausplatz are truly stunning, but I’d be sure to check out Belvedere Palace as well. I love that reflection in the water!
Hi Kevin-Yes, the food was pretty yummy! And the night shot opportunities were amazing! That reflection at Belvedere was epic. Hope you get to visit one Christmas! Thanks for reading! 🙂