Vienna is ready for Santa to come
Vienna is home to the world’s oldest Christmas market. In 1294 it started off as the “December market” and over the years it has morphed into what you can enjoy now in Austria’s capital city.
Christmas Markets all over Europe have some characteristics which define them:
- they are usually held during Advent; first Advent Sunday was Dec 1st in 2013.
- they are held in town squares and adjacent to pedestrian zones
- they sell food, drinks – mulled wine, cider, punch -, seasonal items
- they are accompanied by traditional singing (carols)
Vienna is special because there are more than one Christmas Market to enjoy. Good news for your travel plans but probably bad news for your wallet. Generally speaking, the market goodies are not expensive. But they surely add up. If you want to keep the souvenir mug consider it’s 2.5 euros a pop (at the Town Hall market) or 2 euros (at Schonbrunn market), then pretty much anything costs from 5 euros.
The markets come to life during the late afternoon but you might want to engage in some free things to do during day time. Sure, the photo opportunities are amazing at night, but you’d be amazed of how many interesting and funny things you can shoot during the day, too.
Christmas Markets in Vienna
The most popular market takes place in the square in front of the Town Hall. It is called Vienna Magic of Advent and, until December 24 is home to 150 stalls. You can get anything related to a Christmas Market here; from things to put in your tree, to food, drinks and souvenirs. You name it, they have it.
Sticking to the town center, walk along the Ring (continuing towards the Parliament from the Town Hall) and keep going on the tram route. Between the Natural History Museum and the Museum of Fine Arts, there’s a smaller market (just 70 stalls). It is called Christmas village on Maria-Theresien-Platz and of course, you can find everything Christmas related here, too.
Wait, you are not done with the center. Old Viennese Christmas Market on Freyung. Retrace your steps to Volkstheater U-bahn stop and then take U3 to Heerengasse. From here walk to Freyung square, home to a market since 1772.
Hop on the same U3 back, stop at Stephanplatz, connect to U1 for another stop and exit at Karlplatz to check out the market here. This market is noted for the handicrafts (and is also a very young market, celebrating 20 years in 2013).
Now make your way to Schonbrunn. Hop on U4 to get there. This market turns into a New Year’s market from December 27 until January 1. It is smaller than the one at the Town Hall but also less expensive. Worth the trip especially if the weather is nice and you get to walk in the gardens as well.
Other markets are open in front of Belvedere Palace, on Spittelberg, on Riesenradplatz and, for the first time ever, in Stephansplatz (just 26 stalls).
Tip: Vienna is one of the cities in which it is totally worth it to get Vienna Card. It offers 72 h free transport in the city and discounts to many museums and attractions. Price is 19.90 euros / adult.
All photos by Traveling Cricket and may not be used without permission.