The first thing that gets me really excited about winter and December in general is Christmas and, more precisely, Christmas markets. There is something about them which makes me feel so festive and puts me in a great mood.
Because of the pandemic, there won’t be any Christmas markets here in Belgium this year, so I thought that I would just dedicate a post to the most festive city I have known and lived in: Vienna. Each year, there are many markets to be discovered throughout the city, and each of them has its own specific vibe and atmosphere. Discovering them all was one of my greatest joys when I lived there, and I miss it a lot!
So, get ready for some cute wooden houses, fairy lights, cinnamon and spices, delicious food, delicate ornaments and tacky Christmas mugs, with, on the background, one of the most gorgeous cities in the world!
The City Hall:
The Christmas market in front of the Rathaus in Vienna is probably the most famous and iconic. Not only it stands right in front of the beautiful building of the city hall, it also transforms into a wonderful ice-skating rink once Christmas is over.
Stephansplatz and Hofburg Palace:
Another iconic one, thanks to its location: right at the foot of the Stephansdom, the gorgeous cathedral that stands in the centre of Vienna. The beauty of this one is closely linked to the spectacular area where it is located, and from there you can easily reach other Christmas-market stands in front of the Hofburg palace, which was the former imperial palace of the Habsburg dynasty.
Probably the most unique, and for many different reasons. Karlsplatz is a gorgeous area to begin with, but if you put a Christmas market in front of that magnificent building, you are assured to love it. This is also very “arts and crafts” centred, so there are many independent artists and small shops selling their creations there, which makes it a great place to find one-of-a-kind presents.
Another palace, another Christmas market. I remember that when I visited this one, it was probably one of the coldest days I had there, though my spirits were immediately lifted by the warm smell of hot punch (an improved version of mulled wine with tea and rhum) and melted cheese.
One of the most beautiful things about this one is actually not the market itself, but the view you get when coming towards the Belvedere palace: the large pond where many sparkly stars float.
Maria Theresien square and the Museums Quartier:
I’m putting two in one because they are literally 30 seconds away from each other, even though they each have a very distinct vibe and atmosphere. The Museums Quartier is, in Vienna, an area that hosts a lot of museums, mostly centred around modern art and, for this reason, the Christmas market was a bit different there (and I wish I had taken more pictures): igloos instead of wooden huts and neon lights instead of warm fairy lights are just an example of that!
The Christmas market on Maria Theresien square is located between the Museum of Natural History and the Museum of Art, which are both beautiful. It definitely has the traditional, festive vibe you look for in a Christmas market, and I remember eating some delicious kaiserschmarrn there: pancakes cut to pieces with warm berry jam on top of it! It is probably the one I have visited the most too!
The main summer residence of the Habsburg dynasty is yet another magnificent-looking building, and the Christmas market that stands in front of it is almost as beautiful. Even though it is a bit further away than the other ones, it is definitely bigger, and you can find there many hand-made Christmas gifts, original ornaments and a lot of food, of course.
Former General Hospital (altes AKH):
One of my favourites. It is also very traditional and feels super festive. You definitely feel a “Christmas village” atmosphere because it is quite big and all the wooden huts are arranged to form different small alleyways, and it is really delightful. I remember that there were so many food and drink options there that it was hard to choose, but I ended up getting a hot chocolate with rhum – a great combo!
This one has to be my favourite. It is located in a district that has many narrow and cobbled streets, so the scenery is very cute to begin with. On top of that, a bit like for the Karlsplatz market, there are many art objects, ceramics and hand-made things. I would say it is the quirkiest of them all, but absolutely a must-see!
I hope this short compilation put you in a cheerful and festive mood. Writing this post and looking back at all of these pictures made me feel very nostalgic of when we could go to Christmas markets freely – and hungry!
Are you planning to go to Vienna after Christmas and New Years? It’s ball season, and it’s amazing! Check out my experience at the IAEA Staff Association ball here!
Are there many Christmas markets where you live? Have you ever been to Vienna’s?
Other posts about Austria:The Ars Electronica Festival in Linz
– 8 Things to do in Linz
– Going to a ball in Vienna