Best Things to Do in Vienna during Christmas Time
Vienna is one of the most magical cities in Europe, especially in the winter holiday season when everything is so nicely decorated and sparkly. There are quite a few amazing Christmas markets all around the city, but those are not the only magical spots to see in Vienna — everything looks so great. If you’re considering visiting the Austrian capital during the holiday season keep reading, we’ll show you the best things to do in Vienna this Christmas.
Tours around Vienna:
- Vienna Basics
- Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Vienna
- A Music Lover’s Guide to Vienna
- Explore the Heart of Old Vienna
- St. Stephen’s Outdoor Experience
- Otto Wagner and Naschmarkt
- Tour Through the Vienna Secession
Visit the Main Christmas Market — Christkindlmarkt Rathausplatz
The main Christmas Market in Vienna — Christkindlmarkt Rathausplatz, located on the square in front of the City Hall (Rathaus), is the most lively Christmas market in Vienna and helps you get in the perfect Christmas mood. Here you will be able to find dozens of booths, that offer a great range of contemporary and traditional Christmas decorations and gifts.
In addition to the perfect shopping experience, and the lively crowd, you will find many traditional and classic Viennese cuisine. You can easily enjoy mulled wine, with hot chestnuts; along with many complete meals to keep you full and happy. Moreover, the market offers a great deal for kids, so they too can take part in the ongoing Christmas holiday.
Snowy Christkindlmarkt Rathausplatz
Visit more Christmas Markets
As we already mentioned, Christmas markets are popping up all over the city, and even though the one at the Rathausplatz is the main one, there are some others that are pretty amazing and worth visiting.
One of those is definitely Weihnachtsmarkt Karlsplatz — the Christmas market set in front of the most beautiful church in Vienna — Karlskirche (Church of Saint Charles Borromeo). There are more than seventy booths from local craftsmen and artisans lined up in front of this gorgeous church — you can enjoy beautiful ceramics, glass beads, pottery, and Tiffany glass. Also, this market features many live concerts on a regular basis, so you can enjoy anything from electronic pop music to harp solos.
Christmas Market at Schönbrunn Palace
If you are looking for an elegant Christmas market then this one has the perfect setting. Having the Schönbrunn Palace as it’s the background, it presents the most beautiful and magical scenery. In addition, there is a spectacular Christmas tree that will completely mesmerize you. The market offers the perfect Christmas touch, with handmade Christmas decorations, and gifts that are made using natural materials. Moreover, there is a complete food and drinks range, that includes warm Christmas cookies, snacks, and mulled wine. So you can easily spend the day taking in all the market has to offer.
The Stephansplatz Christmas Market
Even though this is one of the newest Christmas markets in Vienna, it is really something special. Is it because it’s located in the heart of the old Vienna, surrounded with gorgeous historic buildings, or because you’ll see many horse carriages with tourists in them, you’ll have to see for yourself… But we promise you’ll love it.
Located in front of the most famous Viennese religious building, Stephansdom, it is lined with about 40 wooden stands topped by lights — it seems a lot smaller than other Christmas markets, but you’ll find everything that you expect on one such market.
These are just some of our favorite Christmas markets, but there are more to visit, such as the Christmas market at Belvedere Palace, Christmas Village on Maria-Theresien-Platz, Christmas Villag at Schloss Hof, Adventmarkt Grafenegg, or Spittelberg Christmas Market.
Ice-skating is an amazing winter activity, and you can find quite a few ice rinks around the city of Vienna. If you decide to visit some of the Christmas markets (and you have to!), you’ll find an ice rink on most of those. You have to try ice-skating in Vienna, when you’re surrounded with Christmas lights, nicely decorated market stands, and all of those amazing smells coming from the stands.
Take a Walk Around the City
Vienna is a gorgeous city, great for exploring on foot, even if it’s a bit cold outside. The streets of Vienna are always nicely decorated, especially in the heart of the city. So, if you find yourself around Stephanplatz, just continue walking down the Graben and Kärntner Straße, you will love the Christmas lights and decorations.
If you’re interested in amazing sights to see in Vienna, check out one of our previous blog posts “Best Historic Things to Do in Vienna” and enjoy exploring!
Snowy Streets of Vienna
Tips for Visiting Vienna in Holiday Season
Visit at the Right Time
Do you need to stay away from the gigantic group at the well-known markets? At that point come in the morning, or when the business sectors open. Might you want to appreciate the twinkling lights all around? At that point intend to touch base at nightfall, and experience the business sectors during the evening.
Bring Small Cash
Some stands will accept credit cards, but cash is safer.
The Christmas markets are primarily outside, and it can get pretty cold in Vienna in December. Wear loads of layers, including warm base layers, caps, scarves, and gloves, if you need to stay outside more than a couple of minutes. Don’t forget some comfortable and warm walking shoes! In case you still get cold, don’t worry, you can always warm up with some hot Glühwein or punch!
Traditional Food and Drink at the Christmas Markets
Make sure to try some of the traditional foods and drinks:
- Maroni (simmered chestnuts),
- Kaisekrainer (Sausage with cheddar in the center),
- Bratwurst (broiled hotdogs),
- Soup in a Bread Bowl,
- Waffeln (waffles),
- Lebkuchen (gingerbread),
- Gebrannte Mandeln (toasted almonds),
- Bratkartoffel (prepared potatoes),
- Heisse Bauernkrapfen (hot agriculturist’s doughnuts),
- Krapfen (filled doughnuts),
- Glühwein (thought about wine) and
- Punsch (or Kinder Punsch without liquor).
Mugs as Souvenirs
Glühwein, Punsch, and other delicious beverages at the Christmas Markets come in charming mugs. After you are done with your drink, you can either keep the mug as a souvenir or return it and get your mug-deposit back (usually around €2-4). Each market has its own extraordinary mug, and they are different every year.
Enjoy Some Coffee & Cake
Vienna is full of old, traditional places where you can have a nice cup of coffee, and a nice dessert, preferably the traditional Sacher Cake. We recommend going to Café Sacher where you’ll have a cake made by the original recipe, or to Café Central that was a popular meeting point for famous artists, politicians, and scientists. But anywhere you decide to go, just sit beside the window and enjoy the snow and the lights outside.
Original Sacher Cake
Visit as Much as You Can
Make the rounds and visit as much of the amazing Christmas markets as you can. We listed a couple of the most popular Christmas markets in Vienna above, yet there are so many more — we just couldn’t visit all of them. Explore the city, and you are certain to discover adorable little markets around each corner. Also, don’t miss any chance to visit Vienna’s extraordinary buildings listed in our previous blog post “What to Do in Vienna: Exploring the Most Impressive Buildings”, or walk around the streets and enjoy discovering some lesser-known beautiful buildings. Don’t forget to take a lot of photos, Vienna is very picturesque!
Stay for the New Year’s Eve
There is one amazing event in Vienna happening every New Year’s Eve, called the Silvesterpfad (‘New Year’s Eve Path’). It’s a huge street party that lines up several free open-air New Years’ Eve concerts in Vienna’s historic city center, where you can hear everything from folk music, waltz, and operetta to pop and rock tunes.
There are many other Christmas- and NYE-related events around the city (read about them on this link), so there are definitely multiple reasons to stay in Vienna a little longer. We hope you’ll enjoy it as much as we did.