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Xmas Markets/Bratislava?

Hi all:

We are heading to Vienna this Christmas! We will be there 4 nights, 3 full days. Traveling with husband and 12/14yo boys.

I am planning mostly to wander around and check out the scenery and Christmas Markets... we likely won't look much at museums, palaces etc... the boys don't do so well with that as you can imagine. My birthday falls during the trip so they may have to suffer out a short concert for me... :)

On our 3rd day, I was thinking of doing a trip to Bratislava - mainly because it's so close and we can (the boys really like "checking a country" off the list!).... has anyone been around Christmas there? I was thinking more we would just take the train there (I think it was train, have to double check), have lunch, wander around.... Opinions?

Alternately, if it is snowy there is apparently sledding in Vienna parks, so if it was conditions for that we may dump Bratislava for that, depends on how the kids are holding up I guess....

Also, if anyone has any suggestions specifically re: teen boys in Winter, please let me know!

Thanks!
Kim

Posted by
6355 posts

I enjoyed my day trip to Bratislava from Vienna. I took the train but I think there is also a bus. If you take the train there is a local bus from the train station to the old center of town; I believe the bus drops you directly at the main square in the old center. I've not been there at Christmas time so can't answer about the holiday markets, but here's a website that might help some: http://www.xmas-markets.org/bratislava-christmas-markets/

Posted by
4383 posts

You want to take the bus, not the train. The train station is a long way from the center.

Don't count on snow for sledding. It is rare that it snows in Vienna in December. In fact, it hasn't snowed much here in years.

Posted by
926 posts

OK good to know, thanks!

Wondering if we should take a day trip out to the mountains...? Semmering? Would they likely have snow or no?

I am not dying to go sledding or anything, we usually do that here for Xmas.... but just seems weird to be going in the winter and not going to the snow there.... maybe I should not worry about it...

Kim

Posted by
1394 posts

I recommend the train, not the bus. There is a special ticket for € 16, called "Bratislover" ticket. It is good for going by train from Vienna to Bratislava (on two different routes if you like) and back, and it includes free public transport in Bratislava for a full day. Public transport is easy to use, there are buses between both train stations and the center, as well as trams (trolleys).

Do not use the speed boat between Vienna and Bratislava. It is rather expensive, slower than the train, and the cruise is boring as you can watch trees only on either side of the river.

Posted by
183 posts

Who knows abt snow, even in Semmering. Pretty unlikely in Vienna, though. But you could have a 'snow strategy' and a 'non snow strategy' worked out and just decide depending on the immediate weather forecast once you are here. It's pretty simple to decide last minute to take a train up there to go play in the snow for a day. Just walk into one of the ÖBB customer service offices and work with an agent (Praterstern, Karlsplatz both work).

As an alternative to Bratislava , you might look at going to Czechia. There is a direct train from Vienna to Znaim/Znojmo which are very pretty, small towns. Znaim's Christmas market is open until Dec 20. That would check another country off the list for your boys. That same train also stops in Retz, which is another lovely town but on the Austrian side. They have a big square and will have a Christmas market as well. Far higher ratio of locals/natives to bus tourists in both those places than in Bratislava, if that matters to you.

Posted by
191 posts

I took a quick day trip from Vienna to Bratislava by train last year using the day ticket a previous poster mentioned. I walked from the train station to the town center which was a great way to get a feel for the city (it is a bit of a walk). They have a couple of markets as you make your way to the river. I seem to recall one of them had ice skating:)

After wandering around town, I took a tram back to the station to catch the train. It was a good trip and you can spend as much or as little time as you want.

Posted by
351 posts

Last Christmas it was not snowy at all, but it was cold outside. If you need some "inside" time, the Natural History Museum in Vienna is pretty amazing and kid friendly. There is a market right out front.

I insisted that my boys, older than yours at the time, go to the Nutcracker Ballet (we did this in Budapest, not Vienna) as they had never seen a ballet anywhere, and I think they liked it better than they thought. Somewhat more kid friendly than a concert, maybe, because there is a lot to watch. Climb to the top of the tower at St. Stephens too. At that age and even now that they are older, my kids loved bike tours, if you can find one in December...

Posted by
926 posts

Ha funny you say that! I just booked Nutcracker tickets for Prague! I think they will be ok... my husband and I love theater and dance and have taken them to a few things, but not in a few years... since we went to see Lion King (they were maybe... 8 and 6?) and about 10 minutes in my older one said "Why do they keep singing?" and I said "It's a musical, they are going to sing everything" and he was like "Whaaaaaa???" and started crying. Haha, so we took a little break after that! But I think they can handle it better now.

Was thinking of a music concert in Vienna... still on the fence. Might need to add in Natural History Museum as people keep recommending that. :)

Thanks!
Kim