Having spent the last few years in a hot climate at Christmas it was time to go back to the UK and before going home, a European Christmas market trip was in order. Few destinations gear up as much for Christmas as Vienna does, so off to the Austrian capital we went.
There are plenty of blogs out there detailing the in’s and out’s of Vienna’s Christmas markets so I won’t waste my time going into detail about those, Google those and read my why go’s…at Christmas time, instead…
- To get in the spirit; For a Christmas spirit lift, Vienna will exceed expectations. The markets are a Christmas wonderland, its cold so wrapping up warm will get you into the season, you can shop for presents in magical surroundings unlike those horrible shopping centres and Vienna doesn’t do Christmas by halves, especially when it comes to the light displays.
- For the mulled wine; You can smell it from the moment you get on the runway (well not quite but you can definitely smell it as soon as you are anywhere near to a market). The spiced, warming and tasty liquid is served in festive themed mugs in every market. You pay around a 4 euro deposit and get to keep the mug or get your euros back. There is also a pretty good ‘Christmas market’ punch which is available at all markets which is worth a glug or two.
- To visit more than one market; Vienna’s markets are all pretty central and most in walking distance to each other. So it’s more than easy to do a Christmas market crawl. Firstly, Spittelberg, this was slightly different to the normal square style markets as it sprawled out between a few cosy side streets in a quieter part of town. Next up, Karlsplatz, located in front of an impressive baroque church covered with fairy lights the setting of this market particularly caught my photographic eye. Finally, the Freyung market, was another favourite, Vienna’s oldest market located right in the city centre.
- For the architecture (but not the food); What Vienna lacks in good traditional food it makes up for in some pretty stunning buildings. With so many styles intwined, Vienna is up there on one of the prettiest European cities I have visited. Head up to the top of St Stephens cathedral to take in the view. The UNESCO Schonbrunn Palace is an impressive heritage site and a must see, there is also a Christmas market located just in front of it. In terms of food, I wasn’t a massive fan of the famous Sacher torte (apologies), my schnitzel consumption was non existent and would describe goulash as average (again, apologies)
- To enjoy cafe culture; If you still need a reason to go and have a Vienna Christmas market break other than mulled wine, pretty buildings and impressive views – then how about the coffee? The Viennese coffee culture is one you cannot miss, head to one of the grand cafes, specifically Cafe Central, relax and take in the ambience. An integral part of Vienna’s culture it would be rude not to.