Vienna

Christmas Markets in Vienna

Only in Vienna can you breathe in the authentic Christmas atmosphere: come and get your fill of decorations and presents at its legendary markets.
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One of the best times to visit Vienna is in autumn, between mid-November and the Christmas holidays, when the city is festively decorated and the Christmas markets open.

Is it perhaps its elegance, which constantly – and somewhat nostalgically – harkens back to the splendour of the Habsburg courts? Its innate flair for classical music, the ideal soundtrack of the Christmas season? Its white blanket of snow that adds charm to a city that is beautiful in itself? It is an indescribable mix of elements that makes Vienna the ideal setting for a truly magical Christmas.

Its Christmas markets, a tradition that dates back to the 17th century, are now legendary: there are plenty of them scattered around the city, from the super-fancy to the kitschy, but all very atmospheric.

Although we doubt you can resist the temptation to shop, you don’t have to shop to enjoy Vienna’s Christmas markets . Thanks to the special festive atmosphere, it is pleasant to wander around the stalls and browse, and if you are a photography enthusiast, you can take home some great shots.

It is also nice to go to the markets just to have a glass of comforting hot punch or to warm your hands with a small packet of steaming chestnuts!

Christmas market on Rathausplatz

Mercatini di Natale Rathaus
Rathausplein during the Christmas markets © Österreich Werbung, Photo: Viennaslide

The most famous Christmas market in Vienna, which for many tourists is simply THE Vienna Christmas market, is the one held on the Rathausplatz, the central Rathausplatz square, which is the scenic venue for many open-air events throughout the year.

In the area from the Rathaus, Vienna’s City Hall, to the Burgtheater, more than 150 quaint little wooden houses are set up selling sweets, gift ideas, Christmas decorations and hot punch.

The overall view of the festively decorated square looks like something out of a storybook: a huge Christmas tree over twenty metres high is placed in front of the town hall, an archway at the entrance to the square is decorated with candles and the trees in and around the square are lit up.

The market is part of a larger programme of Christmas-themed events, the Wiener Weihnachtstraum or Viennese Christmas Dream.

Opening Hours

The Christkindlmarkt on Rathausplatz generally runs from mid-November to 26 December, open 7 days a week from morning to evening.

The ice rink at Rathausplatz

If you want to experience unforgettable moments of romance and fun, you can take advantage of your visit to the Christmas market to go ice-skating, just as many Viennese do: the skating rink that is set up on Rathausplatz at Christmas time is one of the most atmospheric in the world. It actually consists of two rinks connected by different paths that in total occupy an area of 4500 square metres.

If ice skating doesn’t appeal to you, head to the other ice rink on Rathausplatz and try your hand at curling, a winter sport that seems a little bizarre to many, but which Austrians are very fond of.

The curling rink is smaller, only 550 square metres, and from 10 a.m. until mid-afternoon can be used free of charge as a skating rink by children and beginners.

Other Christmas markets in Vienna

Don’t limit yourself to the Christmas market on Rathausplatz: take a look at the other markets scattered around the city. They are very different from each other, but there are some elements that are unmissable: Christmas lights decorating the market premises, lots of Christmas decorations for sale, hot punch or mulled wine (or both), roasted chestnuts and lots and lots of people.

We have chosen the four most interesting ones:

Still not satiated? You can find more or smaller Christmas markets at Stephanplatz, in front of St. Stephen’s Cathedral, at Belvedere Castle, the Prater, at Karlsplatz and at Maria-Theresien-Platz, between the Art History Museum and the Natural History Museum.

What to buy at the Vienna Christmas markets

The markets at the Belvedere © Österreich Werbung, Photo: Popp-Hackner

You can buy a little bit of everything at Vienna’s Christmas markets, but generally speaking the wares fall into three categories: Christmas decorations, food and sweets, and gift ideas.

If you visit Vienna’s Christmas markets, you should stock up on Christmas decorations because you will be hard pressed to find lights, tree balls, garlands, candles, centrepieces and other such exquisite decorations with a romantic and slightly nostalgic charm anywhere else. You can pull them out every year to decorate your home at Christmas time and remember the wonderful times spent in Vienna.

A stroll through the Christmas markets will delight those with a sweet tooth, who will find all sorts of candies, sweets and food delicacies, including chocolates in the strangest shapes, dried fruit and hot chestnuts.

The little ones will gape in wonder at the traditional wooden toys, teddy bears and other top-quality toys on sale at the markets.

There is also room for gift ideas for adults, with lots of handicrafts, natural cosmetics and soaps, honey products, clothes, accessories, perfumes, teas and herbal teas.

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