Vienna is beautiful anytime of year but come Christmas, she sparkles with extra festive cheer including numerous Christmas markets, or as the Viennese say “Christkindlmarkts,” to visit. The Christkind, or baby Jesus, brings the gifts in Austria, not Santa and does His shopping in the markets.
He has plenty of choice as there are more than 20 in which to celebrate the season.
Most markets have between 40 and 75 vendor booths. They are not just for shopping though, a big part of the tradition is enjoying glühwein and local festive food with friends, with the option to purchase both regular and imaginative gifts at the same time.
The majority of Vienna’s Christmas markets are open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, and 10:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Christmas Eve. But be sure to double-check opening times and dates via the links provided below.
10 November thru 26 December
The main Christmas market is the large one located outside the Rathaus (city hall). It has been held here for 50 years and is probably the most well-known by tourists, due to its location. It remains open until 26 December, so is a great gathering spot for tourists visiting the city over the festive season. Here you can wander through the park illuminated by hundreds of lights, see the nativity scene, go ice skating or even kiss beneath the herzerlbaum at the Bussiplatz (kissing place).
Kids can bake their own biscuits in the Rathaus bakery, you can write a letter to the Christkind which is mailed by the Austrian postal service, and you can even compose your own carols! The stalls are generic but the beauty outweighs the commercialism.
18 November thru 4 January
What more stunning location for a Christmas market could you wish for than a royal palace? The market here offers a better class of gifts if you will, more artisanal than the regular plastic Christmas market fare, from glass blowers, wood carvers and candle makers to potters and artists. You’ll also find a large selection of local food delicacies. This market has a beautiful carousel, activities for the children and live concerts in front of the Christmas tree (which gets fed to the animals in the zoo after New Year) and in the Orangerie.
If it’s culture, you are looking for then this is the place.
17 November thru 23 December
Vienna has many delightful Baroque buildings, and The Belvedere is definitely one of them. By day it houses paintings from Klimt and Schiele in its fabulous museum but during the festive season it provides a splendid backdrop for a market. I challenge you not to be blown away by the beauty!
15 November thru 23 December
Yet another spectacular location is the Maria-Theresien-Platz Christmas market. Located between the Museum Quartier and the Hofburg palace this market checks all the boxes … festive lights, stalls and delicious traditional seasonal food.
16 November thru 23 December
On the opposite side of the Maria-Theresien-Platz market you can find the cute Christmas streets of Spittelberg. Clustered along narrow streets, more reminiscent of a Dickensian Christmas than the larger markets, the stalls offer an eclectic selection of products to buy and delicious things to eat. Alongside the stalls are small cafes, bars and restaurants all adding to the atmosphere. I love this market and love even more its leaning towards an eco-based event. Fair trade, organic, vegan, resource conserving and sustainabilty are not words you generally hear in a Christmas market and I love that Spittelberg is embracing that.
10 November thru 23 December
This is one of my favorite markets in Vienna as it feels more like a local’s spot. Housed in the university grounds, which were once a large hospital, this Christmas market is full of stalls selling more craft-style gifts and is known locally for its better local food options, you’ll also find a couple of restaurants on the campus. For kids there is also a play area.
10 November thru 26 December
This has the splendid backdrop of Vienna’s Gothic cathedral, St Stephan’s and, although small, is close to the main shopping streets. It’s a great opportunity to escape from your shopping for a warming glühwein & a reminder of what this season is all about.
10 November thru 26 December
This small market is another favorite and is close to Stephansdom. The little stalls are more little wooden cabins and sell, again, less plastic imports and more craft-style gifts. Again, the food on offer looks and smalls delicious and features many local favorites such as deep fried dough “frisbees,” sausages, fried potatoes and of course lebkuchen.
These are just some of the wonderful offerings on Vienna’s platter of Christmas markets.
There are more we just don’t have room for in one post:
* Wintermarket at the Reisenradplatz ~Prater.
* Freyung, an old Viennese Christkindlmarkt
*Art Advent at Karlsplatz.
* Turkenschanszpark ~ a small local market.
*Hirschstetten ~ a flower garden that holds a Advent market & a Christmas show.
*Palais Lichenstein ~ Advent market.
*Museums Quartier ~ Wintergarten in the MQ.
If it’s a Christmas experience you are yearning for then Vienna has got you covered.
Read more about Christmas Markets here in Dispatches’ archives.
Photographer/writer Jackie Harding was born in the United Kingdom. As a long-time expat, she lived in Boston for 12 years and in the Netherlands for the past 10 years.
Trained as a nurse in the U.K., she worked for nine years in the United States as a special education teacher’s assistant. Since moving to the Netherlands, she has discovered writing and photography.
Contributing to Dispatches since 2016, Jackie has written about her travels around Europe as well as about expat life and issues.
She also covered the Women’s March Amsterdam.
She’s married to British businessman Martin Harding and is the mother of two international adult children.