Vienna, Austria is widely considered to have one of the best Christmas markets in Europe. I was so excited to plan my trip, but also a little anxious. Would it live up to the hype? You bet it did! With dazzling lights and some of the best food I’ve tasted, the Vienna Christmas markets are the star of the European holiday season.
There are dozens of wooden chalets in beautiful squares all around the city, perfectly spaced for enjoying museums and historic attractions in between. Here are the top eight Vienna Christmas Markets that you must visit!
Am Hof Christmas Market
Am Hof Square is the historical center of Vienna and home to my favorite of the city’s Christmas markets. It features over 70 chalets selling a wide array of handicrafts, holiday décor, and gift items. This is also where I found the best things to eat. Memorable dishes include artisan sausages, cheesy spaetzle with crispy onions, and raclette so good you won’t want to share.
Belvedere Palace Christmas Village
Vienna was the capital of the Hapsburg Empire and has many palaces to show for it. One of the prettiest is Upper Belvedere Palace, built in the early 1700s for Prince Eugene of Savoy. (The palace now houses the world’s largest collection of Klimt paintings, among other artworks.)
The Belvedere Palace Christmas Village consists of around 40 chalets beside the former royal residence. Sip gluhwein from a charming red boot while doing your shopping. I found authentic Boleslawiec Polish pottery here, among other treasures.
Freyung Old Viennese Christmas Market
With nearly 60 chalets, the Freyung Altwiener Chriskindlmarkt is larger than it appears. The market is tucked up against a 12th century monastery in Freyung Square, which is actually triangular in shape. The theme here is traditional arts and crafts. This is the place to stock up on hand-painted ornaments and old-fashioned confections. I also found a stall selling indigo Blaudruck fabric, which has UNESCO cultural heritage status.
Karlsplatz Art Advent Market
For even more artistic wares, head to the Art Advent Market in Karlsplatz. 80 or so booths are spread out around the large square, which is towered over by Karlskirche, the loveliest baroque church in Vienna. (There’s a nice view of the market from an observation deck on the church’s roof. Tickets required.)
All the products for sale here are handmade in Austria, with the vendors selected by an arts committee. I was amazed by the quality and range of items at the Karlsplatz market and wish I’d had more room in my luggage for purchases.
The market also has loads of food and beverage options, a bandstand with live performances, and a few farm animals inside the central pen. There is something for just about everyone here, hence why it’s one of Vienna’s most popular Christmas markets. Expect large crowds on weekends, especially at night.
Maria Theresien Square Christmas Village
Around 70 chalets fill Maria Theresien Platz, which is conveniently located in between two of Vienna’s major museums. As someone who loves to visit museums when I travel, I really appreciate how Vienna has arranged its markets around the key attractions.
My hotel was in the Museum Quarter, so I passed through this market every day of my trip. I found some beautiful jewelry at a stall here, as well as mulled Lillet (a fortified French wine). This was also the only market playing Christmas songs, which made me wonder: why weren’t the rest?
Schönbrunn Christmas Market
If you are looking for a magical Christmas market experience, head out to Schönbrunn Palace. I’m not sure you could find a more picturesque setting. This extraordinary 1,400 room palace dates to the 1700s and was the summer residence of the Hapsburg monarchy.
The Christmas market set up on the palace grounds features around 80 chalets and is one of the few that stays open until New Year’s. I enjoyed tasty food here including a hot baked potato topped with ham and cheese and a chocolate dipped linzer cookie filled with black currant jam. Though if you are planning to have some mulled wine at the Schönbrunn market, I recommend doing so AFTER your tour of the palace. You don’t want to accidently knock over a priceless vase!
Stephansplatz Christmas Market
Around 40 wooden stalls hug the base of St Stephen’s Cathedral. This monumental church dates to the 1300s and is the most important religious building in Vienna. Honestly, this market felt a little lackluster compared to the others, but is worth mentioning for the setting alone. The cathedral is very impressive! (And free to enter.)
Town Hall Christmas Market
Last but not least is Rathausplatz Christkindlmarkt. Vienna’s main Christmas market boasts over 100 chalets in the large square in front of the impressive Neo-Gothic Town Hall. This market has more of a carnival vibe, with a double-decker carousel and large ice skating rink. There is also an illuminated trail around an adjacent park.
Typical Austrian fare such as gingerbread and sausages are plentiful, but I most enjoyed the arancini stuffed with spinach and mozzarella. These are definitely worth waiting in line for.
Would you like to visit the Vienna Christmas Markets?
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