Christmastime starts early in Vienna. November 11th to be exact. I’ve been in the Christmas spirit since September, though—my roommate and I always play Christmas music when we’re cooking together, so the opening of the Christmas markets was long overdue. On the first Friday of their opening, my friends and I went to the two closest to us: the Christmas markets at Stephansdom and Altes Wien. There were so many great stands: handcrafted jewelry, pottery, ornaments, and some delicious treats and drinks to go along with the ambiance!
There are 12 main Christmas markets scattered all throughout the city of Vienna, as well as random pop-up ones you can find just by wandering around. Here are the Christmas markets that everyone should visit, and, in my opinion, are the best: Am Spittelberg, Karlsplatz, and Uni Wien.
Am Spittelberg is a Christmas market tucked away in the quiet, quaint streets of the 7th district. It has a super cozy, local vibe to it, and many of the stands sell homemade arts and crafts, as well as your typical ornaments and delicious treats. I went for the first time with my friend on her birthday, and we celebrated by eating our way through the market. We enjoyed langos, which is fried dough often topped with sour cream, cheese, and garlic. We also gobbled up some arancini and Kaesespaetzle (potato noodles covered in cheese sauce and fried onions – basically the Austrian version of mac and cheese). My favorite part of this market was that it wasn’t filled with tourists, and we got to enjoy a local, Austrian Christmas market experience.
Karlsplatz is another favorite market of mine, as it has crafty vibes and is only a ten-minute walk from where I live! There are a lot of stands at this market, and the majority of them also sell homemade arts and crafts. I saw a lot of stands selling handmade pottery and blown glass, as well as lots of jewelry stands. It seems like a great place to buy thoughtful gifts for family members and friends. I explored the Karlsplatz market for the first time with my language buddy, who told me I had to try some of their roasted Mandel (almonds) that are coated in sugar. They were absolutely delicious and nice and warm, the perfect Christmas market snack for a cold Vienna day.
The University of Vienna’s Christmas market is also one of my favorites. It seems so cool that this market is on a college campus! I wish that my home university had a Christmas market like this. This market is super popular among locals, and so there was definitely quite the crowd both times so far that I’ve gone. I tried Maroni (roasted chestnuts) for the first time while visiting this market. I wasn’t sure that I was going to like them, and wasn’t quite sure what to expect texture-wise, but they were actually quite fun to eat! The outside of the Maroni is super hot, so you have to wait a few minutes before cracking them open, but the inside is the perfect temperature. I recommend that everyone give them a try! The Uni Wien market is one of my favorites because it has the vibes of a larger, more touristy market like the ones at the Rathausplatz or at the Stephansdom, but without the hordes of tourists. It is a great experience to hear locals talking in German around you, enjoying their punsch with friends and family, and making a fun evening out of going to the Christmas markets.
Austria is still a pretty religious country, and so this time of year is very important to the people of Vienna. This season is marked with great celebration in the form of balls, nights out at Christmas markets, and gorgeous light displays lining the streets of the first district. I have seen three major seasons in Vienna this semester—the end of summer, fall (with the harvest), and winter, and I have to say that this has been my favorite time so far. It pains me to be leaving in a few weeks, but that just means I have to visit as many Christmas markets as possible with my time left.
More Blogs From This Author
Hi! My name is Grace Heaton and I am thrilled to be studying abroad in Vienna during the Fall 2022 semester. I am an incoming Sophomore at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA studying Marketing, French, and German. In my free time I enjoy traveling, learning languages, listening to music, going to coffee shops, and adventuring with friends! I am excited to immerse myself in Austrian culture this fall, and can't wait to see where this journey takes me!