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A Local's Take on Vienna Christmas Markets - 2022 Edition

In 2019, I did a fairly extensive review of the Christmas Markets in Vienna - there are many!

The link to that topic is here and most of the information stands the test of time (and COVID and energy crisis) - https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/austria/a-local-s-take-on-15-christmas-markets-in-vienna-2019

I thought I would provide a 2022 update as the season has already begun.

I've been to Spittelberg, Altes AKH, Rathaus and Belvedere so far this year. Drinks are about 4.90 Euro with a 3 Euro deposit. I don't think that price is much different from the past. No noticeable issues related to energy issues.

Spittelberg - Again, this is probably the most atmospheric market, spanning three cobblestoned lanes in one of the most historic areas of the city. The same vendors as always. I ate Arepas from a Venezuelan stand (excellent!) and had a punsch. Was tempted by the Käsespätzle and the always famous potato pancake. My favorite jewelry stand was back. My son bought a huge apple cinnamon pretzel. We went in the middle of the afternoon on Saturday and I liked that the crowd was thin as Spittelberg can be a madhouse after dark as the lanes are very narrow. I also like ducking into the permanent shops and galleries that line the lanes. Tip - go to this market around 3 pm and leave before dark.

Altes AKH - Housed within the courtyard of the old hospital building in the 9th District, this market has a village atmosphere, with the food stands representing the different regions of Austria. This year there is also a stand from Georgia and another stand selling empanadas (had them, yummy). Again, this market wins for food. There are several amusement rides for small children and curling lanes. The food stalls greatly outnumber the craft stalls in this market, but there is a lot of room here to wander, making it good for small kids. I also had a hot chocolate mit schlag and churros. Tip - Go for the food, but find a quiet bench in the sprawling complex to enjoy your meal without being bumped.

Rathaus - The "main" Christmas market in Vienna has received a major facelift this year, just like the Rathaus (city hall) that stands proudly behind it. There are notably less stalls this year, which I believe is an effort to better space people. Changes include a new arched entryway, a huge double-decker carousel and a massive stand selling ornaments. Food didn't look very exciting, except for the baked apples and arancini. No craft stands really grabbed me. There are two ice skating rinks, a small ferris wheel and lots of lights in the two parks flanking the main plaza. As noted in my 2019 post, this market is not my favorite but seems to be the favorite of all tourists (some of whom I think do not realize there are other markets). The best time to visit this market - Monday afternoon at 4 pm for minimal crowds.

Belvedere - Absolutely stunning approach to this market once the sun goes down, as there are lights in the pond reflecting against the glorious backdrop of the palace. Once you approach, this market has a few small rides for the little ones on the right. This market always has a Boleslawiec pottery stand, which remains tempting to me year after year. Otherwise, the crafts and food here are similar to other markets around town - churros, moonshine, ornaments, candied nuts, baked potatoes, jewelry. I went on a Thursday evening and the crowd was light, mainly as it had just been raining. This is a good market to hang out in for a while - lots of locals and after work folks. But, again, you come for the amazing backdrop of the palace.

My Christmas Market experience continues below for 2022...

Posted by
2304 posts

Emily,
Thx so much. I'm bookmarking this for a future trip. I have been in Vienna, but not for the Xmas markets.
Another question-
What are your thoughts on New Year's Eve in Vienna?
I look forward to your next review.

Posted by
76 posts

Thanks, Emily.
We have been to the Christmas Markets in Vienna in the past, but have somehow missed these two. We will be spending a total of seven days in Vienna for the markets 10 days from today, and just happen to be staying a three minute walk to the Spittleberg market. The location was not strategic, just (possibly) luck. Regardless, we are excited to get to be in Vienna, again, during this time of the year.

Posted by
76 posts

@Kim

I am so excited for you!! We may actually cross paths in the markets. I will be the one with the silly grin on my face--excited to be there, again.

Enjoy--and smile back, please.

Posted by
4751 posts

@jchurch - Did you read my original thread that I linked? If you missed these two, then maybe you missed more….

Posted by
76 posts

Emily, thank you.
Yes, I did get to see what you had so kindly shared. We have been to many of the markets in Vienna, but had somehow missed Spittelberg and Altes AKH....so, those two are for sure on our radar this time.

When we visited Vienna back in the Spring of 2017, we had come across a park that we fell in love with-Türkenschanzpark--and was happy to learn that there is a small market there, too. Our plans are to get to see it as well.

Thank you so much for sharing.

Posted by
15322 posts

Hi Emily. Thank you for posting and for the link to your 2019 post. I will be in Vienna for a very short visit Dec 7-8. Your reports will be very useful in planning my limited time.

I'm drooling on the keyboard just thinking about the potato pancakes. Can I get them with quark? That's my favorite. The hot chocolate sounds good but I'll probably skip the churros (ending this trip in Barcelona).

Posted by
4751 posts

Chani - I hope you have a great visit to Vienna. Note that Dec. 8 is a public holiday, so many places will be closed. The potato pancakes are just like latkes, but they are only served with garlic butter. FYI - in Austria, quark is called Topfen. I'll be coming to TA soon- bring on the Sabich!

Posted by
15322 posts

Garlic butter sounds good too. Now I understand why the hotel rates are so high during my stay. I had planned on Dec 6-7, but Wizz Air changed their schedule. Not sightseeing this trip, so closures won't be a problem but I guess the markets will be more crowded.

Enjoy our warm weather! I'm still wearing sandals and short sleeves.

Posted by
4751 posts

Christmas Markets 2022 Continued...

Freyung - Always a stunner and especially so this year as many other markets feel much more commercialized. This market sits in a historic square (actually triangle) in the city center, where markets have been held since the middle ages. The crafts here are the real highlight, with unique sellers, including a great candle maker and gorgeous enamel jewelry. I fell in love with the felted ornaments and bought adorable felt mistletoe wreaths. While wandering around with my peach gluhwein from the stand next to the small stage, I was able to listen to some men in lederhosen sing Christmas songs. I almost stopped for the raclette over boiled potatoes, but didn't. I think I'll be back for more candles. This is truly a top market in Vienna and should be on everyone's "must do" list.

Am Hof - One block over from Freyung, the Am Hof market is another popular stop for locals, particularly for its large sausage stand selling Kaesekrainers with burnt cheese edges. I spend most time having a look at an antiques stand as he was selling a Krampus doll. There is also a nice lavender stall. In the back of the market, there is less crowding and a few more food stands. Lovely buildings surround the square, so this is a worthy stop any time of year, but it pairs nicely with Freyung. My tip is to make a stop in the Ferstel Passage when walking from Freyung to Am Hof to get a gluhwein from the wine shop - the best I've had, plus the passage is a real photographer's dream.

General note - there are Lion's Club and other stands all around the city, particularly in the center, selling punsch and gluhwein for a good cause and a notably lower pricetag. A particularly charming stand can be found at Molker Steig and Schottengasse.

Posted by
5 posts

Emily,

Thanks for all of the great info. We'll be in Vienna right after X-mas. Do you know if any of these markets may be running through New Years Eve?

Posted by
4751 posts

A few of the markets stay open until Dec. 26 - https://www.wien.info/en/shopping-wining-dining/markets/christmas-markets-342664

I would say do not bother with the Imperial and Royal or Riesenrad markets running through Dec. 31 as these are very junky. The pleasure market at the Opera is food focused but very small and not really a typical market - but work a look.

Definitely do make time to visit the New Year's Path (Silvesterpfad in German) on New Year's Eve/Day. Lots of lively stalls selling punsch and gluhwein as well as a huge carnival atmosphere in front of the Rathaus (City Hall). On New Year's Day, it is absolutely amazing to go to the Rathaus during the famous Vienna Philharmonic's New Year's Day Concert and watch everyone waltz when the Blue Danube plays on the jumbotron. Here's a link - https://www.wien.info/en/music-stage-shows/new-years-eve-354224

I would note, however, that New Year's Eve is a wild night in Vienna, so be careful of rogue fireworks and broken glass.