Vienna Christmas Markets: Everything You Need to Know for the Holiday Season
My Vienna Christmas Markets Guide covers all the essentials, including opening dates, hours, locations, what to buy, what to eat, nearby hotels, plus a detailed map. This post is huge so if you’re in a hurry or looking for something specific, please expand the ‘Quick Look’ menu to navigate. Otherwise, sit back with a warm mug of glühwein and enjoy.
Christmas in Vienna
A few years ago, I went on a Danube River cruise from Nuremberg to Budapest and fell head over heels in love with the elegant city of Vienna. Coffeehouse culture, classical music, and gorgeous Baroque architecture are just a few of its many charms. For me though, the highlight was wandering through the holiday markets. I don’t usually think of myself as a whovillian, but there’s something absolutely irresistible about sipping warm Punsch, nibbling on gingerbread, and shopping for gifts for friends and family back home.
Vienna Christmas Markets, which begin opening in mid-November, have more than enough to tempt even the biggest Grinch. Last year there were some 20 large Advent markets with a total of around 1,000 stalls! And that doesn’t include the countless small temporary markets, charity stalls, and punch stands.
It isn’t only tourists that are attracted by the profusion of Advent markets and pretty Christmas lights – locals enjoy visiting the markets for a mug of hot punch with colleagues after work, or to do some gift shopping with friends. More than eight million visitors to the city’s Advent and Christmas markets were recorded in 2015.
A festival of light
In the evenings during the lead-up to Christmas, the Advent markets and beautiful decorative lights in the streets transform Vienna into a glittering sea of color. As the festive season approaches 40 or so shopping streets around the city are illuminated by decorations of all shapes and sizes, including giant chandeliers on Graben and huge red globes on Rotenturmstrasse. When the lights are officially switched on at the end of November, 2.2 million bulbs threaded along 20 kilometers of streets create an unforgettable Yuletide setting. (The majority of the city’s Christmas lights use environmentally-friendly LED and energy-saving lamps.)
Children count down the days until Christmas on their Advent calendars. Covered in pretty winter-time designs, the calendar has 24 small numbered doors that the little ones open every morning from December 1-24 to reveal pictures, sayings, sweets or other surprises.
An Advent wreath is part and parcel of the build-up to Christmas. It is traditionally woven from fir branches and decorated with four candles, although more modern designs are also available. Every Sunday in Advent one of the candles is lit – one on the first Sunday, two on the second, and finally all four on the last Sunday before Christmas.
Baking is a typical Advent activity, and traditional favorites include Christstollen (a loaf-shaped cake packed with dried fruits), Zimtsterne (star-shaped cookies with cinnamon), Vanillekipferl (small vanilla flavored crescents made of shortbread and chopped and ground nuts), Anisbögen (aniseed flavored cookies), and Lebkuchen seasoned with fragrant spices. Delicious Christmas cookies are on sale at the various Advent markets, and in the city’s patisseries and confectioners.
Christmas trees and festive food
Christmas trees are another festive tradition in Vienna City, and evergreens such as firs and spruces decorated with candles, baubles, lights, angels, and tinsel are put up at Advent markets and in churches in the capital in the run-up to Christmas. The annual Christmas market on Rathausplatz is home to Vienna’s tallest Christmas tree, usually standing around 30 meters. Residents of the city normally put up trees at home shortly before Christmas. The colorfully wrapped presents under the tree are opened on Christmas Eve (December 24).
Just before or after the gifts are unwrapped most families sit down to a sumptuous Christmas meal. The menu is a matter of family tradition and often includes fish – especially carp – or goose, as well as cold dishes and fondue. It goes without saying that a plate of Christmas cookies will appear on the table at some stage. After the festive season, Christmas tree collection points are set up around the city. The trees are used as feedstock at a biomass power plant.
Churchgoers celebrate Midnight Mass late on Christmas Eve. Many churches put up cribs recreating the Nativity scene from the stable in Bethlehem, complete with figurines of Baby Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, the Three Kings, as well as a donkey and other animals. The most charming Nativity cribs can be found in the crypt at the Peterskirche church in the first district, while each year the Lainz Game Reserve sets up a crib featuring life-size wooden figures (Lainzer Tor entrance).
On Christmas Day (December 25) most families spend the day at home and enjoy Christmas lunch together, and St Stephen’s Day (December 26) is traditionally a time for visiting relatives. Both days are public holidays. Shortly before the turn of the year, Vienna springs back to life again as thousands of partygoers hit the New Year’s Eve Trail. At midnight the giant Pummerin bell at St. Stephen’s Cathedral rings in the New Year – and then the countdown to next Advent begins!
Vienna Christmas Markets
The holiday markets are like a fairytale – an enchanting winter wonderful that is an essential part of Christmas in Vienna. And with such a wide variety to choose from, there really is one for everyone.
Traditionalists make a beeline for the large Advent markets in the city center, such as the Vienna Christmas World on Rathausplatz (Town Hall), or the Old Viennese Christmas Market on Freyung.
The Christmas Market Schloss Schönbrunn (at Schönbrunn Palace) and the Christmas Village in front of the Belvedere Palace have a distinctly imperial feel, as does the Christmas Village on Maria-Theresien-Platz, located between the Natural History Museum and the Kunsthistorisches Museum.
For anyone looking for beautifully handcrafted artworks, the Art Advent Arts & Crafts Market on Karlsplatz, Spittelberg Christmas Market, and Am Hof Advent Market are the places to go. The WeihnachtsQuartier in the MuseumsQuartier is a magnet for fans of designer goods.
Foodies will be in their element at the Advent markets on Mahlerstrasse and in the courtyard of specialist tea store Haas & Haas.
For all this diversity, Vienna’s Advent markets also have plenty in common: they each offer a wide selection of products as well as a mouthwatering choice of food and hot drinks, including spiced teas, drinking chocolate, mulled wine and punch, besides hearty snacks and sweet treats.
Advent Market at the Rooftop Bar of the Ritz Carlton, Vienna
Ritz-Carlton, Vienna, Rooftop Bar, Schubertring 5-7, 1010 Vienna
The rooftop bar of the Ritz Carlton, Vienna on Schubertring boasts the highest Advent market in the city center. A traditional wooden Alpine hut on the roof terrace of the luxury hotel serves hot punch, mulled wine and hearty food, with stunning views of Vienna.
Am Hof Christmas Market
Am Hof, 1010 Vienna
Among the wide selection of arts and crafts on offer at the Am Hof Advent Market are traditional ceramics, jewelry, silk paintings, woodwork, mirrors, and handmade soaps. There’s even a champagne and oyster bar.
Art Advent – Arts & Crafts Market on Karlsplatz
Karlsplatz, 1040 Vienna
Beautifully crafted quality creations from over 70 designer-makers exhibiting stained-glass ware, musical instruments, jewelry, silk paintings, woolen hats and scarves, natural cosmetics and lots more. For the kids, there’s a workshop where they can make their own Christmas gifts, a train ride, a petting zoo, and hay bales to lark around on. All of the food and drink at the market is certified organic.
Belvedere Palace Advent Market
Upper Belvedere, Prinz-Eugen-Strasse 27, 1030 Vienna
At the Christmas market in front of the splendid Baroque Belvedere Palace, merrily decorated stalls offer traditional handicrafts as well as other more contemporary gifts from Austria’s federal provinces and neighboring countries. Visitors can warm themselves up with hot punch and mulled wine, and enjoy a sausage or local favorite like Schinkenfleckerl (a classic winter pasta and ham dish). Brass bands, gospel choirs, and other ensembles provide entertainment, and there are a vintage carousel and mini railway for the kids.
Campus of the University of Vienna/Altes AKH Christmas Village
Altes AKH/University Campus, Alserstrasse/Spitalgasse, 1090 Vienna
Around 50 stalls in the attractive grounds of the old General Hospital form an atmospheric Christmas Village offering handmade jewelry, candles, soap, leather goods, woodwork, and ceramics. Revelers looking for mulled wine, hot punch and a wide selection of Christmas eats won’t be disappointed. Two curling lanes, a children’s carousel, and a Christmas train ride provide further entertainment.
Christmas Market and New Year’s Market Schloss Schönbrunn
Schönbrunn Palace, Schönbrunner Schlossstrasse, 1130 Vienna
About 80 stallholders from Austria and neighboring countries display a varied selection of traditional arts and crafts, handmade Christmas tree decorations, nativity scene sets and other beautiful items made from natural materials. Hot punch and Christmas biscuits are in plentiful supply and there’s music from choirs, gospel groups and brass bands from Austria and abroad.
Kids can do handicrafts under the supervision of expert craftspeople in the Christmas workshop, make biscuits in Schönbrunn Bakery or take a tour of the Schloss Schönbrunn Experience children’s museum. A New Year’s market with traditional lucky charms, delicious food, hot punch and mulled wine is held on the same site from Dec 27, 2018, to Jan 6, 2019 (open daily 10am-6pm).
Christmas Market in Türkenschanzpark
Corner of Peter Jordan-Strasse and Dänenstrasse, 1180 Vienna
Handicrafts, seasonal food, and drink and a carousel in the charming surroundings of Türkenschanzpark – with live music on Sundays.
Christmas Market on Stephansplatz
Stephansplatz (by Churhausgasse), 1010 Vienna
At the Christmas market outside St. Stephen’s Cathedral in the heart of the old town, beautifully decorated stalls specialize in high-quality arts and crafts.
Christmas and New Year’s Villages on Maria-Theresien-Platz
Maria-Theresien-Platz, 1010 Vienna
The square between the Kunsthistorisches Museum and the Natural History Museum is home to the Christmas Village on Maria-Theresien-Platz, where illuminated Christmas trees and music from gospel choirs and Austrian brass bands makes for the perfect festive setting. Christmas gifts on the market stalls include wooden and glass handicrafts and jewelry, watercolors and oil paintings. Food and drink stands serve up seasonal favorites like hot punch and mulled wine. After the Christmas Village closes, from December 27 to 31, 2018 the New Year’s Village will take its place on Maria Theresien Platz
Gourmet Market Next to Vienna State Opera
Mahlerstrasse, 1010 Vienna
Up-market tea store Haas & Haas puts on this Christmas food market (also known as The Pleasure Market) under the glass-covered promenade on Mahlerstrasse. Opposite the Opera house and right next to the Ringstrassen Galerien mall, the 15 stands tempt passers-by with their cheeses, wines, charcuterie, marzipan and nougat, Austrian specialties, and hot punch.
Haas & Haas Winter in the City
Courtyard of Haas & Haas tea store, Stephansplatz 4, 1010 Vienna
Purveyors of fine teas Haas & Haas hold a cozy winter market in the welcoming covered courtyard of their store right behind St. Stephen’s Cathedral. Visitors can warm their hands in front of braziers and enjoy a mug of hot homemade punch or mulled wine, a hearty bowl of soup, or grill skewers over the fire.
K.u.k. Christmas Market on Michaelerplatz
Michaelerplatz, 1010 Vienna
The white stands at the K.u.k. Christmas Market on Michaelerplatz in front of the Hofburg carry primarily Austrian products including candies, tin figures, handmade cribs and much more.
Old Viennese Christmas Market
Freyung, 1010 Vienna
Freyung is one of Vienna’s most beautiful squares, and Christmas markets have been taking place there since 1772. Today, visitors to this small but excellent market can treat themselves to a waffle and a mug of hot apple must (apple wine), punch or hot chocolate while they peruse a fine selection of arts and crafts. The stands offer a wide choice of Christmas tree decorations, nativity scene sets, glass decorations, ceramics, basket ware, and toys. There are Advent music and children’s activities, plus, on weekends, arts and crafts demonstrations.
Spittelberg Christmas Market
Spittelberggasse, Burggasse, Schrankgasse, Stiftgasse, Siebensterngasse, 1070 Vienna
Over 100 stalls with eclectic products from Austria and surrounding countries in one of Vienna’s more Bohemian districts. The market is known for its romantic cobblestone streets, high-quality handicrafts, and food and drink including traditional gingerbread, Christmas biscuits, cakes, pastries, and teas. The kids’ activity program consists of puppet theater, fairy tales, biscuit baking, and candle making. On Sundays, parents can leave the little ones in the safe hands of the staff at the Christmas workshop.
Vienna Christmas World and Christmas Market on Rathausplatz
Small Vienna Ice World Nov 16, 2018-Jan 6, 2019 (except New Year’s Eve) daily 10am-10pm, Dec 24 10am-6pm
Rathausplatz and Rathauspark, 1010 Vienna, www.wienerweihnachtstraum.at
The city’s biggest Christmas market brings the enchanting romance and nostalgia of the season to life, with around 150 colorful stalls offering handicrafts, gift ideas, confectionery, hot drinks including punch and mulled wine, sausages, and snacks. A huge Christmas tree adorned with hundreds of environmentally-friendly LED lights takes pride of place in front of City Hall. The tree is presented by one of Austria’s provinces as a gift to the capital.
It goes without saying that the biggest Christmas market isn’t necessarily the best Christmas market in Vienna. Rathausplatz is very touristy and extremely crowded, especially during the evening and on weekends.
Vienna Christmas World on Rathausplatz (City Hall Square) surrounds the Christmas Market – 4,000m² of ice skating trails on Rathausplatz and through the Rathauspark, the small Vienna Ice World, with an innovative lighting concept that creates a true winter wonderland. There is also more than enough to keep children entertained, including games, a carousel, and a reindeer train.
Weihnachtszauber at Schloss Wilhelminenberg
Savoyenstrasse 2, 1160 Vienna
This small market on the Wilhelminenberg hill has magical views over the city.
Winter im MQ
MuseumsQuartier, 1070 Vienna
A winter wonderland designed like no other, with specially created artistic light installations and much more: Winter im MQ provides an alternative Advent ambiance, while the MQ Point shop in the main entrance to the complex stocks unique winter products and is packed with unique gift ideas.
Winter Market on Riesenradplatz
Riesenradplatz, Prater, 1020 Vienna
This Winter Market in the Prater – branded “The Prater Rocks” – offers lots of fun for all the family with a kids’ winter train ride, the giddy heights of the chain carousel, and live music from pop to soul. All accompanied by warming Christmas drinks and tasty snacks.
Hotels Close to Vienna Christmas Markets
Near Am Hof, Freyung, Michaelerplatz, Rathausplatz, and Stephensplatz
Am Hof 2, 01. Innere Stadt, 1010 Vienna, Austria
Near Belvedere Palace
Rennweg 16, 03. Landstraße, 1030 Vienna, Austria
Near Karlsplatz, Maria-Theresien-Platz, Museumplatz, Spittleberg, and the Vienna State Opera
Robert-Stolz-Platz 1, 01. Innere Stadt, 1010 Vienna, Austria
Near the Rooftop Bar at the Ritz
Schubertring 5-7, 01. Innere Stadt, 1010 Vienna, Austria
Near Schloss Schönbrunn
Schönbrunner Schlossstraße 38-40, 12. Meidling, 1120 Vienna, Austria
Temporary Christmas Markets and Other Advent Events
Advent at Schönbrunn Zoo
Hietzinger Tor entrance, Hietzinger Hauptstrasse, 1130 Vienna
Schönbrunn Zoo offers free children’s tours on each Sunday of Advent (starting at 2.30pm at the Hietzing information center and lasting approximately one hour; children must be accompanied by an adult). On December 8 and 9, 2018, the ORANG.erie becomes a Christmas crafts workshop open from 9 am to 4 pm, and on both days children can also bake cookies in the kitchens of the Tyrolean Farmhouse between 1 pm and 3 pm. On December 24 – when the main family celebrations take place in Austria – special Christmas activities are put on from 9 am to 4 pm, to occupy the kids during their agonizing wait for gifts later in the day.
Advent Market and Christmas Exhibition at Hirschstetten Gardens
Blumengärten Hirschstetten, Quadenstrasse 15, 1220 Vienna
The Christmas exhibition in the heated greenhouses operated by the municipal gardens agency in the 22nd district offers a packed program featuring music and culinary highlights.
Advent Market in the Remise – Wiener Linien Transport Museum
Ludwig-Koessler-Platz, 1030 Vienna
This small, welcoming Advent market is set in the well-preserved, heritage-listed tram depot that houses the Wiener Linien Transport Museum, which exhibits historic and modern transport vehicles throughout the year, and tells the story of public transport in Vienna. Hot punch and roasted chestnuts can all be enjoyed in a festive atmosphere, while gift ideas abound – toy railway streetcars and subway trains, Viennese tram Christmas tree decorations, and nostalgic calendars. There is also a children’s play area and a curling rink.
Nativity display, Peterskirche church
Petersplatz, 1010 Vienna
The show’s exhibits are sourced from private collections and presented in the church’s crypt, under the title “Nativity scenes from around the world”. On weekends there are accompanying events exploring themes related to nativity displays and Christmas.
Medieval Advent Market at the Museum of Military History
Arsenal, Objekt 1, 1030 Vienna
The square in front of the Museum of Military History will be filled with medieval handicrafts and concession stands, jugglers, swordsmen, dancers, fire breathers and entertainers. The children’s program includes fairy tales, a carousel and arts, and crafts.
Nativity display at Lainz Game Reserve
Lainzer Tiergarten, Lainzer Tor entrance, Hermesstrasse, 1130 Vienna
A Nativity display featuring life-size wooden figures at the Lainzer Tor entrance.
Marx Halle, Karl-Farkas-Gasse 19, 1030 Vienna
Design market for dedicated followers of fashion, design fans and more, with gift ideas that are not to be found on every street.
Palais Coburg Winter Days
Coburgbastei 4, 1010 Vienna
From Thursday to Saturday, punch, delicious wintertime treats, and lounge music await in the Palais Coburg. Blankets and heat lamps keep the cold at bay.
freiraum quartier 21, Arena 21, Ovalhalle, MQ, Museumsplatz 1, 1070 Vienna
A paradise for connoisseurs of the finer things in life opens in the halls of MuseumsQuartier on the first weekend of Advent, with fashion, jewelry, ceramics, small interior furnishings, books and many more creations from Austrian and international designers. Entry to the 1,000m² indoor market is free.
Vienna Christmas Markets Map
Guided Tours of the Holiday Markets
Small Group Walking Tours
If you’re visiting Vienna’s magical Christmas markets for the first time, traveling solo, or have a limited amount of time, a guided group walking tour can be a fun way to get a taste of Vienna’s festive holiday spirit. On this 3 hour afternoon tour, you’ll visit three of the top Christmas markets in the city, where you’ll get to try some original holiday punch, eat delicious baked potatoes, and freshly baked gingerbread. You’ll also travel as a group by metro so you can cover a lot of ground in a short period of time.
Private Walking Tours
If group tours aren’t your thing, you can still get in the holiday spirit with a private walking tour through some of Vienna’s most picturesque squares. Leave the navigating to someone else so you can concentrate on relaxing and soaking up the atmosphere. You’ll visit the Arts & Crafts Market on Karlsplatz, the Old Viennese Christmas Market on Freyung, and the Kingdom of Lights at Rathausplatz.
Escorted Coach Tours
Have you ever taken a guided coach tour? I tried it once, in Scotland, and was pleasantly surprised. It does have its drawbacks (early morning starts plus plenty of packing and unpacking, to name a few) but the luxury air-conditioned coaches are definitely a comfortable, low-stress way to travel. If this sounds like your cup of eggnog, Trafalgar offers an 8-day festive foray to some of Europe’s most magical Christmas markets including exciting destinations like Austria, Germany, and Switzerland.
Holiday River Cruises
Uniworld offers a collection of holiday river cruises that let you celebrate the season in incredible style. You can unpack once then cruise along the mighty Danube through three nations – Germany, Austria, and Hungary – each one decked in all their holiday finery.
What to Buy at the Vienna Christmas Markets
The capital’s Advent markets are laden with Christmas goodies including candles, baubles, arts and crafts, cribs, toys, gifts and Christmas decorations. Each market has its own character, from intimate to high tech, and each artist has his or her own story to tell.
- Blown glass ornaments
- Handcrafted wooden toys
- Handknit ornaments
- Snow globes (Snow globes were invented in Austria!)
- Handcrafted jewelry and hairpins
- Beeswax candles
- Honey and jam
- Austrian Schnapps
- Nativity scenes
Food at the Vienna Christmas Markets
You knew we’d get here eventually right? So let’s talk about the mouthwatering selection of food and hot drinks to enjoy at the Christmas markets, including spiced teas, drinking chocolate, mulled wine and punch, plus yummy snacks and sweets.
- Glühwein – hot mulled wine
- Kartoffelpuffer – potato pancakes
- Krapfen – yeast dough pastry, filled with jam (sweet) or sauerkraut (savory)
- Raclette – bread with warm cheese
- Bauerngröstl – bacon, egg, and potato fry up, usually topped with a fried egg
- Käsekrainer – sausages stuffed with cheese
- Bratwurst – grilled or fried sausage
- Vanillekipferl – light, crescent-shaped biscuit made with butter and almond flour
- Kaiserschmarrn – a dessert made from pancake batter
- Waffeln – waffles
- Lebkuchen – a gingerbread-like cookie
- Bratkartoffel – pan-fried potatoes
- Heisse Bauernkrapfen – farmhouse donuts
- Maroni – roasted chestnuts
- Suppen im brotteig – soup in bread bowls
- Strudel – layered pastry with a sweet filling
- Schinkenfleckerl– pasta and ham
There you have it – everything you need to know about the Vienna Christmas Markets for the upcoming holiday season.
Have you been to a Christmas market? What’s the best thing you ate or drank there? Let us know in the comments below.
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