The holiday season is coming, the most wonderful time of the year is almost here. I love Christmas, which is what made me think of a Christmas city trip. Throughout Europe many cities have Christmas markets and special decorations this time of the year. I wanted to visit a city where I had never been before and which is famous for its Christmas markets and celebrations. There was only one city that ticked all the boxes; Vienna!
This wasn’t the first visit to Vienna for Traveltomtom this year. Earlier this year one of our team members explored Vienna and wrote this Vienna travel blog full of tips. This blog is of course focused on the Vienna in winter and its Christmas Markets.
Vienna Weinachtsbim (Christmas tram)
It caught my eye as soon as I saw it riding through Vienna, the Christmas tram. A tram decorated with Christmas lights, you just can’t miss it when visiting Vienna in Winter. This tram is called the ‘Weinachtsbim’, translated it means the Christmas tram. It’s a charity tram which has been travelling the Vienna streets for 13 years now.
From 2 to 23 December this tram travels through Vienna on Saturdays and Sundays for charity. A full trip takes you about 45 minutes and will get you to Karlsplatz, Schwedenplatz, Schottentor and Rathausplatz. A ticket will cost you 6 euros, but remember, it’s all for charity!
In 2019/2020 the charity is ‘Lernen macht Schule’ (Learning makes School). The initiative goes against the fact that poverty at home massively limits the chances of education. 120 Students and around 240 children from socially disadvantaged groups learn with and from each other - this is how education and integration are promoted. That’s the Christmas spirit!
More than 10 Christmas markets in Vienna
Vienna in winter turns into a true Christmas village. Walking through Vienna, you’ll walk from one Christmas market to the other. One offers even more than the other. But all Christmas markets are located on prime locations, surrounded by the most beautiful buildings.
Vienna has over 10 Christmas markets, I didn’t visit all of them, but I got pretty close. Let me share some of Vienna’s best and prettiest Christmas markets, and decide for yourself which one you’re going to see when visiting Vienna in winter.
My 6 favorite Vienna Christmas Markets
1. Vienna Christmas World on Rathausplatz
Let’s start with the biggest, best and most fun Christmas market in Vienna. Of all the Christmas Markets I visited, this one was by far the largest. It offers more than most other markets, such as a reindeer train, a ferris wheel and an ice-skating rink.
Traditional extras around the Christkindl Christmas market on Rathausplatz are choir singing and brass bands. The bands play around the Christmas tree centerpiece from 8pm to 8.30pm every day.
There is a tall arched gateway with candles, welcoming visitors at the entrance to the City Hall Square for the Vienna Christmas World on Rathausplatz. They light the candles according to the advent. There also is a large tree decorated with hearts, which is called the tree of hearts.
Visiting Vienna with kids, who get tired of visiting all these Christmas markets? The Vienna Christmas World on Rathausplatz also has a Childrens World. It offers a carousel, the reindeer train traveling through and some wonderful light installations. Your kids surely won’t get bored in Vienna in winter.
2. Christmas market at Schönbrunn Palace
Probably the most fairytale like Christmas market of them all. Located in front of the famous Schönbrunn Palace. Schönbrunn is one of the best places to see in Vienna and a must visit when visiting the city.
It is located just outside the city center, but very easy to reach, as it has its own metro station. The best way to reach Schönbrunn Palace is to take metro line U4 from the city, it takes you directly to the palace, and will take just about 10-20 minutes, depending on where you enter the metro. From the Schönbrunn station it is only a short 5 to 10 minute walk until you reach the palace. Here you will find the Christmas market with the famous Schönbrunn Palace in the backdrop. Take the opportunity to also visit the palace and the gardens while you’re here.
3. Christmas village at Schloss Belvedere
Another amazing place to visit in Vienna is the Belvedere Palace, in the heart of the city. It is just a 10-15 minute walk from Karlsplatz, and is considered one of the best things to do in Vienna. In front of the palace there is a Christmas village. Centerpiece of this Vienna Christmas market is the Christmas tree made out of sleds. While you’re here, also enjoy the gardens surrounding Belvedere. From Belvedere, it is also just a 15-minute walk to the Christmas market on Karlsplatz.
4. Christmas market on Maria-Theresien Platz
Located within the Museumsquartier district, this Vienna Christmas village is located on the square, surrounded by two near identical buildings, the Natural History Museum and the Art History Museum. From here it is just a short walk to the main shopping district of Vienna, the biggest Vienna Christmas market on Rathausplatz and the Vienna Christmas market around the St. Stephen's Cathedral.
5. Vienna Art & Crafts on Karlsplatz
The name says it all, this is a slightly different market than all other Christmas markets around Vienna. It’s all about art & crafts, vegan and environmentally responsible gifts and presents. The Karlskirche makes the perfect backdrop for this Art & Crafts market.
6. Christmas market on Stephansplatz
I think I liked this market the most. It is located in the center of the shopping district and is located around the St. Stephen's Cathedral. Even though it is not the biggest in town, with the cathedral in the background, and a large Christmas tree near the entrance, this gave me the ultimate Christmas feeling.
Christmas shopping in Vienna in winter
Vienna has a lovely and large shopping district, where you can find everything. Their main streets are beautifully decorated with Christmas lights and decorations.
Karntner Street and Graben Street are the two main shopping streets, and the two streets that have the most beautiful Christmas decorations. These streets are your place to be if you want some last-minute Christmas gifts.
Take home lebkuchen, Mozart kugeln or chocolates, perfect Christmas gifts for your family and friends.
Christmas tree shopping in Vienna
Karntner Street and Graben Street offer it all, from fancy clothing and sunglasses to traditional Viennese souvenirs. Little did I expect they would sell Christmas trees right in the middle of the busiest shopping streets of Vienna. But they actually do. They sell the most beautiful Christmas trees here. If I could have taken one with me on the plane, I would have!
Best place to stay in Vienna
There are many places to stay in Vienna and there is something available for every budget. As always, location is key in my search for accommodation. Hotel Grand Ferdinand is located at the Ringstrasse, close to the city centre of Vienna and the main shopping district. Metro and tram stops are just around the corner, and the City Park is just a 5-minute walk from the hotel.
The train station, where the CAT airport train arrives is just a short, 15-minute walk from the hotel. So, everything you need is basically just around the corner. Hotel Grand Ferdinand has a superb location.
The (breakfast) restaurant of the hotel is located on the 8th floor, overlooking the city of Vienna. Enjoy some amazing city views while having your breakfast. Breakfast service is a la carte and personalized. Water, juices, coffee and tea are served to your table. You can order any style of eggs, toasted sandwiches and pancakes from the chef.
I just loved their lobby, which had a small carousel. Have you ever seen a carousel in a hotel lobby? I’m sure this is all part of the Vienna in winter experience that I loved big time.
Collect your own Vienna Christmas mugs
Four of the Vienna Christmas markets are called Vienna’s most magical Christmas Villages. These are the villages on St. Stephens Square, Belvedere Palace, University Campus & Maria-Theresa Square. Something fun to do for all ages at these four Vienna Christmas markets is that you can collect a free mug. Buy a mug at the first three markets, receive a stamp, and you’ll get the 4th mug for free.
Punch and hot chocolate are served in the loveliest mug designs on all markets and villages. Getting a punch or hot chocolate you’ll also pay €4 deposit for the mug. If you hand in the mug, you’ll get those €4 back, otherwise, you’re taking home a lovely souvenir from the Vienna Christmas markets.
All Ears On Vienna 2020
If reading this blog made you excited about Vienna, but you need one more reason to visit this beautiful city in 2020, keep on reading. Vienna is the Capital of Music in 2020, they launched the All Ears On Vienna 2020 programme just recently.
Vienna and music belong together. The focus in 2020 is on those artists and institutions that make Vienna the world capital of music. International stars such as Billy Joel, Hans Zimmer, Yuja Wang and Joshua Bell all rave about Vienna. They are Viennese by choice, just like Beethoven who once came to Vienna to stay and would have celebrated his 250th birthday in 2020.
Vienna in winter food tip
You can’t visit Vienna without having a traditional Vienna Wiener Schnitzel. You can get them everywhere in Vienna but let me give you an insider’s tip to one of the best schnitzels in Vienna.
Go to Glacis Beisl, located just behind Museumsquartier, a bit hidden, so you have to do a bit of searching, but once you found it, you will have a delicious meal and a great time. Make sure to put in a reservation, because they get fully booked most days!
The food on the Vienna Christmas markets aren't bad either.
Vienna truly is a magical place to visit during the winter and especially December because of the Christmas markets. If you like Christmas and like to visit Christmas markets, Vienna really is a must visit destination for you. Keep in mind though that it gets really busy these days. A lot of people want to visit the same markets and want to buy the same things. So, if you don’t mind a crowded city then go ahead and book your Vienna Christmas getaway in winter
This blog was written by travel writer and Traveltomtom team member Ashley. She visited Christmas city Vienna in December 2019, on behalf of Traveltomtom, and wrote this Vienna Christmas blog.