Vienna Christmas Markets
Vienna knows how to do Christmas! It provides the perfect, imperial stage for glittering, fairy tale-like Christmas markets that spring up around the city starting from mid-November. The smell of roasted chestnuts, sweet Christmas punch and beeswax candles fill the air in many of the city’s picturesque squares and corners as Christmas stalls, festive lights and decorations take over.
Bunny is not a Christmas lover per se but she does enjoy hopping around Vienna’s buzzing Christmas markets, sipping festive drinks, snapping photos and nibbling gingerbread cookies. It is impossible not to like Christmas when it is made this pretty, aromatic and inviting, Bunny says.
Where Are the Christmas Markets?
Most of Vienna’s popular Christmas markets are located within the inner city, including some that are nestled among the city’s most iconic buildings. See Bunny’s map below for the exact locations.
Most Viennese are traditional people and tend to go to the same market every year, ordering punch from the same vendor year after year. As a visitor, you can be a bit more experimental and sample a few different Christmas markets to get a full flavour of the festive fun in town.
Bunny’s Favourite Vienna Christmas Markets
Although the markets all seem quite similar on the surface, selling Christmas knickknacks, sausages, giant pretzels and hot punch, there are some differences that set them apart.
Christmas Market on Spittelberg
Christmas Market on Spittelberg is the first Christmas market Bunny ever visited in Vienna - some 10 years ago - and it remains her favourite today.
The market snakes around narrow, cobble-stone streets (Spittelberggasse, Stiftgasse, Schrankgasse and Gutenberggasse) close to the popular shopping street Mariahilfer Strasse, but is in a quiet, atmospheric quarter of the city.
It has idyllic alleyways and stalls that sell handmade items, local art, crafts and Christmas decorations. The Christmas punch is flowing generously and you can also get a bite of your favourite festive food from many of the stalls here.
If you require something more substantial, one of Bunny’s favourite restaurants in town, Tian Bistro, is located right in the middle of this market.
To enjoy the romantic cobble-stone streets and intimate atmosphere.
Vienna Christmas World on Rathausplatz
This one, ladies and gentlemen, is 100% aimed at tourists. You are much likelier to hear Russian, English or Japanese here than Austrian-accented German. But that does not mean you shouldn’t visit. Vienna Christmas World on Rathausplatz is probably the liveliest Christmas market in town.
Rathausplatz has it all: wonderfully illuminated City Hall providing the beautiful backdrop, ornate Christmas decorations, 150 wooden stalls selling everything from traditional gifts to Christmas treats and decorations, a massive Christmas tree, an ice-skating rink, a romantic tree of hearts for couples in love (the Bunnies are way past this stage) and a special area, Children’s World, for the kiddie-winks.
If you have time for only one Christmas market in Vienna and are not afraid of crowds (oh yes, it will be heaving with people), Rathaus is probably where you should head.
To witness the total Christmas madness and brag about your visit on Instagram.
Christmas Village at Belvedere Palace
The beautiful Baroque Palace provides a magical setting for the Christmas Village at Belvedere. Although the market itself is smaller than many of the other popular markets, it is also a more pleasant, quiet experience. The Palace and the landscaped gardens are lit up beautifully, making this one of the more romantic Christmas markets.
Belvedere Palace is not located in the city centre but Bunny doesn’t mind making the extra trek (tram ride) to experience it at least once every season. Although the stalls offer similar wares than the other Christmas markets in town, such as decorated ceramics, homemade candles and scents and the sort, Bunny just finds the atmosphere somehow better at Belvedere.
To enjoy relative quiet in the gorgeous setting.
Old Viennese Christmas Market Freyung
Apparently, a Christmas market was held at Freyung as early as in 1772. That’s some serious tradition, Bunny says.
The Old Viennese Christmas Market Freyung is still big on tradition, retaining an old-fashioned and more authentic flair today. You can buy handicrafts, glass decorations and ceramics here but, most importantly, you can also find the best jacket potatoes at this Christmas market.
Bunny is (only ever) slightly obsessed with jacket potatoes and has done some serious research into the quality of jacket potatoes at Vienna’s Christmas markets. The clear winner, she is happy to announce, can be found right at the entrance of the Old Viennese Christmas Market Freyung.
To eat the best jacket potatoes in Vienna.
Am Hof Christmas Market
Am Hof Christmas Market is located on the square in front of Park Hyatt Vienna, the best hotel in town. It is a relatively small, but popular market that has an air of sophistication. Bunny understands that the artisan merchandise on sale here are also of good quality - not that she would be able to tell the difference herself.
The highlight of the market for Bunny is an elegant champagne bar, with proper bar stools and woollen throws. Such a brilliant idea! Am Hof Christmas Market is also known for its variety of sausages and ham, not exactly Bunny’s scene, but quite popular with the local folk.
If you happen in this part of the city, Freyung and Am Hof are just two steps from each other, so it is really easy to visit both in one go.
Two words: Champagne bar.
Other Christmas Markets in Vienna
We all have different tastes so if none of the above piqued your interest, you may also want to check out some of the other Christmas markets in town. Some of them are good destinations for dedicated visits while others are small and easy to check out while you do your Christmas shopping.
Advent Pleasure Market on Riesenradplatz
Vienna’s charming, old-fashioned amusement park Prater is an atmospheric place for a Christmas market. Here you can enjoy some hot punch and have a round on the famous Riesenrad afterwards. This is not a market for Christmas shopping, but the stalls provide plenty of options for anyone interested in festive drinks and bites in lovely surroundings. There is even life music in the evenings. Prater rocks, as their slogan goes.
As an added bonus, the Advent Pleasure Market on Riesenradplatz stays open until 6 January, longer than most.
Christmas Market on Stephansplatz
Stephansdom, St. Stephen's Cathedral, is one of the most iconic buildings in Vienna. The Christmas market that springs up around Stephansdom is quite picturesque, very central and hence usually busy. There are lots of handicrafts, all variations of punch and sweet snacks for sale.
If you feel energetic after all the punch, climb up the South Tower of Stephansdom (open daily until 5:30pm) for some excellent views of Vienna.
Art Advent - Arts & Crafts on Karlplatz
Karlsplatz is the closest thing to an alternative Christmas market in Vienna. There is an artsy atmosphere, all organic fare and unique handicrafts on offer. The gorgeous Karlskirche provides a nice background to pony rides, meet-ups with farm animals and a children’s play area.
This is considered one of the best Christmas markets for kids. Consider yourself warned, Bunny says.
Christmas Market & New Year’s Market, Schonbrunn Palace
Schonbrunn Palace Christmas Market is not as central as some of the other popular options but it is an imperial affair, with a spectacular background, a dazzling Christmas tree and live music performances to keep you warm on a chilly winter day. The usual punch, hot sausages, Christmas cookies and handmade decorations can also be found here.
Imperial and Royal Christmas Market
If you happen to hop in the Hofburg Palace area, check out the Imperial and Royal Christmas Market. It is located right next to the Roman ruins on Michaelerplatz. The stalls here are imperial white, a nice contrast to the other markets. You can enjoy some Christmas punch and sweets here while snapping photos of the horse-drawn carriage that are parked next to the stalls.
Christmas Village on Maria-Theresien Platz
The Christmas Village on Maria-Theresien Platz is situated between two impressive buildings, hosting Vienna’s Museum of Art and Museum of Natural History. Bunny recommends popping in the impressive Natural History Museum before or after perusing the Christmas market.
The Christmas Village itself offers traditional handicrafts and festive food. Music groups and choirs organise Christmasy performances here. The market is open longer than most, turning into a New Year’s Market on December 27th.
Christmas Village on the University Campus
Christmas Village on the University Campus is another big Christmas market, with rows and rows of stalls of all variation. Unsurprisingly, it is particularly popular with the student crowd. There is a special place to kiss your beloved (or someone else) under a mistletoe. The Christmas Village on the University Campus also has quite an impressive nativity scene.
Almadvent, located next to the Messe Wien Exhibition Congress Center, is the only Christmas market that has an entrance fee - but only after 3pm. Bunny thinks some of the wooden huts here look more like ski chalets serving food and selling Christmas knickknacks. There are also some fancy features, such as a fairytale forest, but Bunny is not sure it is worth the extra trip or cost to visit this one.
Advent Pleasure Market at the Opera House
Advent Pleasure Market is a tiny row of Christmas stalls next to Vienna’s Opera House. The huts here offer mostly culinary treats, so do your Christmas shopping elsewhere, Bunny says. It is easy to check out the market if you happen to be in the area but no need to make a special trek here, although the lit-up Opera House is an impressive sight at night…
- Vienna Christmas markets usually open around mid-November and close at Christmas, although a few markets stay open beyond New Year.
- The markets are generally free to visit. Almadvent is currently the only one charging an entrance fee at select times.
- All the markets can be easily reached with Vienna’s excellent public transportation.
- Cash is king at the markets. While some stands may accept credit cards, it is best to visit with wads of cash.
- Beware of pickpockets. Although Vienna is a safe city to visit, Christmas markets are an ideal hunting ground for wallet-snatchers.
- Dress warm! The punch alone is not going to keep you cozy for long.