Vienna, Austria’s capital city is exceedingly beautiful and sophisticated. It’s one of the few remaining city break destinations that haven’t been overrun by stag and hen parties (we’re looking at you, Riga) and has managed to maintain it’s grandeur level of charm. When you visit expect opulent architecture, and an atmosphere so welcoming that even the world-famous composer Mozart couldn’t resist when he spent time here. Vienna is known as a perfect destination to visit during the Christmas season, thanks to it’s extensive Christmas markets and the Christmas in Vienna concert season which begins on the 17th of December this year. Here’s everything that you need to know about visiting Vienna this festive season.
With over 20 markets and a thousand stalls to visit, Vienna’s Christmas markets are certainly the centrepiece of the city’s Christmas season. The markets were first introduced in 1298, when Albrecht I granted residents the privilege of holding a December Krippenmarkt. That year marked the beginning of a tradition, and since then the markets have grown and grown, with over 20 markets now held in the city over the festive period. Here are a few of our favourites:
Viennese Christmas Market – City Hall
This is the main market, in front of the City Hall, giving it potentially the most glamorous background ever. Expect enticing aromas, ice skating, curling, a section inside the City Hall for children to create Christmas treats, an archway lit with candles and light displays.
Christmas Village Belvedere Palace
Located outside the beautiful palace, this market is entirely dedicated to the baroque lifestyle. There are over 40 stalls carrying handcrafted goods and Christmas decorations.
Christmas Village Maria-Theresien Platz
Located in between the Museum of Art and the Museum of Natural History, this market is set in imperial scenery as a nod to Vienna’s historical background. In terms of the stalls, expect the usual culinary treats and seasonal goods.
Christmas and New Year’s Market at Schönbrunn Palace
At this market in front of the decadent Schönbrunn Palace, over 60 stalls will sell Christmas decorations, Nativity sets and unique gifts. It’s also the place to be for freshly baked treats and punch, served in a souvenir mug.
Freyung Christmas Market
This is a smaller market than many of the main markets, but it as a unique charm. There are Punch and Judy shows for the children, plus daily live music.
Vienna is also famous for its Christmas in Vienna concert which is taking place on the 17th of December this year. It is one of Europe’s most famous classical concerts and it is broadcast around the world. Top classical acts will perform Christmas songs (not like Wham and Mariah, think more traditional) and it makes a great night out. Sadly, this year’s concert is already sold out, but there are plenty of other concerts that you can attend, from choirs to carolling. You can find them here.
Other things to do
- Visit the Nativity scenes in Peterskirche, a beautiful baroque church.
- Visit a roast chestnut stand.
- Walk around the Rathauspark, a park next to the main market.
- Go on a walk to see the Christmas lights, from Kärntner Straße to the Hofburg palace.
- Drink Christmas punch, known as Weihnachtspunsch.
A flight to Vienna takes just over two and a half hours. You can fly from Manchester with Easyjet.
Where to stay
There are plenty of luxury hotel options in Vienna, as well as budget alternatives. Trip Advisor recommends the Hotel Sans Souci Wien and it won the website’s Travellers Choice Award 2016. It’s a sophisticated hotel with designer touches, located in the Spittelberg neighbourhood. A buffet breakfast with champagne is complimentary, with a restaurant, bar, spa, fitness room and an indoor pool just some of the amenities.