Today I want to tell you about the world famous Christmas Market from Vienna, which I finally got to visit last winter. Since we had a short holiday on the 1st of December, it was the perfect occasion for a Viennese city break.
The atmosphere is magical and feels very traditional, mostly due to the numerous booths selling mulled wine, Christmas ornaments, some traditional winter garb and all kinds of delicious foodstuffs. It was a bit shocking to hear a looot of Romanians in Vienna, the Romanian language must have been the most popular language in the Austrian capital during this early December. Even the sellers were mostly Romanian, it almost felt like home.
The prices? Okay, a bit high, but it’s im-po-ssi-ble to leave any Christmas market from Vienna without buying something, I mean this is why you came here, didn’t you? The wine was 4 EUR, but the Austrians were clever and tried to do a combo offering a personalized mug – in the shape of a boot or a tankard – for 3 EUR. You could return that mug and get your 3 EUR back or you could keep it as memorabilia. Most people chose to keep it, though. This was a very profitable business because, as I later found out from a local, this idea came to life two years ago when the mug was sold for 1.5 EUR and last year for 2 EUR. It’s probably gonna cost 4 or 5 EUR in 2017 at this rate 🙂 The good part is that you can also buy only the mug, without the wine, as a cute souvenir for the people back at home or even for yourself.
I spoke about the wine, because it was so cold that you really needed something warm. But maybe we should also talk about the food. There were giant pretzels for sale, with various fillings and toppings, for 3 EUR, just excellent after an overly sweet wine. They also sold chestnuts, more expensive than anywhere else I bought them, and dare I say, not as good, for 2.5 – 3 EUR. You can also find hot potatoes with butter or fresh potato chips, the amazing langos and kurtos kalacs – so loved in Transylvania – as well as all kinds of sandwiches or hot dogs. My favourite were the muffins with various toppings. And yeah, I paid 3.5 EUR for a small red velvet muffin with a cream and lemon topping, but it was amazing.
Where can you find the Vienna Christmas Market?
These markets usually run from Nov 11 to Dec 26, and after that they become “New Year’s Market”, so if you did not have the chance to see them before Christmas, all is not lost!
The market in front of the Town Hall (Rathaus) is the largest and busiest, and if I’m not mistaken, also the most expensive of them. You can find everything for everyone and it’s impossible to leave without buying something. Be it food, mulled wine, tree ornaments, herbal medicines or even just a hat or some gloves. Speaking of tree ornaments, which I inspected closely, the prices vary between 4.90 and 30 EUR for large ornaments with intricate designs. I actually intended to try and negotiate, but a gentleman in front of me tried it and he had no success with his attempt. The lady selling at the booth outright refused him with a serious attitude, so she didn’t appreciate the question too much.
To get to this market, you should take the subway and step off at the Rathaus station un U2 and walk along the side of the Town Hall building.
Maria-Theresien Christmas Market
Another Christmas Market an be found in the Maria-Theresien Market, right between the Art Museum and the Natural Science Museum. This market has about 70 booths and is mostly about handmade items. This is where I had my red velvet muffin and where I noticed that the wine came with mugs less pretty than the ones in the Rathaus market, but they were also cheaper at 2 EUR.
To get to this market, step off at the Museums-Quartier station on the U2.
Karlplatz Christmas Market
And yet another market worth visiting, is the one at Karlplatz, where the mood was livelier due to the bands playing live music, lights and many many children. This market is full the the brim with handmade products as well and the prices are somewhat in between Rathaus and Maria-Theresien. In the middle of the market they installed a playground for the children, decorated with the Nativity scene and hay bales that the kids used to make forts out of. The bonus of this market was that there was an artist photographer which offered free photo sessions and would send the photos later to your email address. You could also print them, for a price, so you could offer them to your loved ones.
It’s going to be super easy to get to this market- just take any of the U1, U2 or U4 subway lines and step off at the Karlplatz station.
Stephanplatz Christmas Market
The fourth and the last market I am going to cover, is the Stephanplatz Christmas Market, next to and around the famous cathedral. Mulled wine is present here as well in a little boot, same price as the Rathaus Market. The mood is magical, especially due to the Stephansdom cathedral, imposing as always, and a huge Christmas tree in the middle of the market. The traditional Viennese carriages were available for those who dared to ride around in those sub-zero degrees temperatures.
To get to this market, take the U1 or U3 subway lines and get off at Stephansplatz.