This post is also available in: Italiano (Italian)
Let it snow, let is snow, let it snow!
The fact is that before to go to Austria, ready to take notes to write an awesome Guide to Christmas Markets in Vienna, I was absolutely sure I wanted some snow. Like… lots and lots of snow. Nobody ever told me that even -4° C can be brutal if it’s snowing a lot and if you havent’ packed the right clothes for a winter trip. The sad truth is that I still had this song in my head while, half frozen and with my hair completely wet, I was looking for some place I could crawl into, hopefully to get some warmth. Make sure you know what you’re wishing for!
I reached Vienna from Bratislava, where I was (big news) enjoying some more Christmas markets. Europe in this period of the year can be so beautiful, and also easy to explore. Because Bratislava is right in the middle, you could consider using it as your home base to reach also Prague (2 hours from Bratislava) and Vienna (1 hour from Bratislava). Lodging in Bratislava is much cheaper, but if you still want to give Vienna a try, then click here to find the best deals during Christmas time. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you!
Just in case, let me add a few practical information to this guide to Christmas Markets in Vienna.
How to get to Vienna from Bratislava by rail
From the Bratislava train station, every hour you can hop on a train to Vienna. The ticket will cost you 10/16€. The price depends on how fast is the train. The journey lasts more or less 1 hour and you will be able to buy your tickets at the train station. I’ve found a lot of dealers online, but they always added their expenses to the final price, so I decided to go straight to the station and risk it. Guess what? I found out that there’s absolutely no need to book in advance. There are so many trains departing from Bratislava to get to Vienna that even if one is full, you can just wait for the next one. Save your money, you’ll need it to go on a shopping spree in at Vienna Christmas markets!
How to get to Vienna from Bratislava by boat
Train is not the only option if you plan to go from Bratislava to Vienna. River cruises are super cheap, if you consider that you will be able to enjoy the Danube. The whole experience feels absolutely decadent and it comes for about 35€ round trip. The cruise will last 70-80 minutes, and you can check times and fares online. In this case I suggest you to book your tickets in advance from the Twin City Liner website, as they tend to sell fast especially in December because of the Christmas markets in Vienna and Bratislava.
Because it will be pretty cold, I suggest you to wear a warm coat, scarf, hat and gloves, especially if you’re planning to stay on the upper deck to take some photographs. After all, there’s no shopping if you’re half frozen. Been there, done that, don’t be like me!
When do I go to the Vienna Christmas markets?
From the third week of November until Christmas (see specific times above) the most beautiful areas in Vienna turn into Christmas villages. Did I already mention that the Christmas markets season is Europe is breathtaking? Vienna, in particular, becomes something straight out of a dream. The nights shine with Christmas lights and candles. The air is filled with the delicious scent of gingerbread, cinnamon and hot punch. Sure, it will be cold, but if you pack the right stuff, you will be able to spend the day outside. Which is perfect if you are planning this to be a day trip from Bratislava or Prague.
How many Christmas markets will I find in Vienna?
Have you ever wondered why they say “Christmas markets” and not “Christmas market“? Nope? Ok. I’m a special girl, mom always said so!
In Vienna there are over 20 Christmas markets, both in the city center and in the outskirts. They all sell seasonal gifts and delicious Christmas treats. The difference is mainly in the background you will find. Vienna is a city full of history, monuments and art. Add this to the Christmas markets business and you’ll know why it’s one of the most visited European cities during the holidays!
The Viennese Christmas Market
Located in front of the Vienna City Hall, it’s the one we liked the most. You just can’t miss it if you want to get into the spirit of Christmas in Vienna.
All it took me to get there was a metro ride to the Rathausplatz. The Vienna City Hall backdrop is unique, especially when it’s all lit up. Inside the City Hall, on the ground floor, there’s also an entire area dedicated to children, where they can learn how to bake Christmas cookies and make candles. On Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays international choirs sing Christmas carols: the entrance is free. Here we found a lot of Christmas presents for women and… well everyone who is absolutely in love with the Viennese Christmas!
This Wien Christmas market is open from the 12th November to the 14th December, from 10am to 10pm.
This Christmas market is open from the 18th November to the 23rd December, from Monday to Sunday, 10am to 9pm.
Village Maria-Theresien Platz
Located between the Museum of Natural History and the Museum of Art, this Christmas market in Vienna takes place at Maria Theresa Square (“Maria Theresien Platz“). It’s easy to get here using either the metro (U2 to Museumsquartier), a tram (to Dr. Karl Renner Ring) or a bus (Dr. Karl Renner Ring) according to where you are in Vienna. This time the background is Imperial, as the Museum of Modern Art is located in the former Imperial stables. At the center of the square there’s a pretty large statue depicting Empress Maria Theresa.
This Christmas market is open from the 16th November to the 26th December, from Sunday to Thursday 11am – 9pm, while on Friday and Saturday it’s open from 11am to 10pm.
The Former General Hospital
The location of this Christmas market is peculiar and honestly I didn’t know what to expect. This is in fact Vienna’s former General Hospital. While it felt weird to me to visit a Christmas market held in a former hospital, this is one of the favorite Christmas markets in Vienna from the locals. The atmosphere is in fact very traditional and it doesn’t fail to impress. The stalls are finely designed and decorated, all lit up and even more beautiful when it snows. The easier way to get here through public transport is by rail (to Lange Gasse) or bus (to Skodagasse).
This Christmas market is open from the 12th November to the 23rd December, from Monday to Saturday 2pm to 10pm, while on Sunday it’s only open from 11am to 10pm.
One of the biggest Christmas markets in Vienna, with approximately 60 stalls selling handicrafts and Christmas gifts, including handmade Christmas decorations, is the one located in front of the beautiful Schönbrunn Palace, former Imperial Summer residence and one of the most important buildings in Austria. Many stalls here sell local delicacies and the air is filled with the delicious scent of hot punch. In front of the Schönbrunn Palace there’s a huge Christmas tree. Here international choirs sing Christmas carols and you can watch for free.
This Christmas market is open from 19th November to the 26th December 10am to 9pm, and from the 27th December to the 1st January 10am to 6pm.
This Christmas market is open from the 12th November to the 23rd December from Monday to Thursday 3pm to 9pm, on Fridays from 3pm to 9:30pm, on Saturdays from noon to 9:30pm, while on Sundays and public holidays from noon to 9pm.
Street Food and Christmas treats
There are certain things you can’t avoid while shopping for Christmas presents in Vienna. Of course I’m not only speaking of a slice of the original Sachertorte at the Hotel Sacher, in front of the Vienna State Opera, or the delicious bratwursts and sausages that you can eat hot in a long bun. Vienna offers in fact many dishes that you can only eat during the Christmas period. Their most traditional dish is a fried carp, which can be replaced by roast poultry and pork. For dinner they also have a meat fondue (one of the dishes that the Austrians take longer to eat, as they have the perfect excuse to just sit with their friends and loved ones) that I suggest you try at least once: it’s delicious! At the stalls you will find slices of Lebkuchen, which is similar to gingerbread, and Stollen, a fruit bread covered in powdered sugar. The Weihnachtskekse, Christmas cookies baked in all shapes and often decorated, and the Spekulatius, typical spicy cookies, are especially popular among children.
As you walk around Vienna you will also find the Maronistand that sell roasted chestnuts and delicious slices of roast potatoes with a pinch of salt and pepper (be careful, they can be addictive!). Aside from the last two vegetarian treats, vegans can also try some of the delicious dishes served at Nice Rice. They serve a mix of Persian, Indian and Austrian delicacies, paying special attention to the quality of the ingredients they use. Another alternative could be also Deli Bluem: they serve organic and fair trade juices, coffee, tea and beer from local breweries.
Note: This page makes use of affiliate links that keep the blog alive. Thank you very much for using them!