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Christmas In Vienna: My Best Practice

Updated on October 22, 2013

Christmas Market At Rathausplatz

Christmas baubles at a traditional stall on Christkindlmarkt
Christmas baubles at a traditional stall on Christkindlmarkt

Best Vienna Christmas Markets

Each of the best local Christmas markets in Vienna has its speciality. I have come to know them since I was at the hand of my grandpa steering me through Christmas baubles, snow globes and hot chestnut booths. My top five markets in order of preference:

1. Christmas Village At Altes AKH

What Makes It Special? It is located on the compound of our baroque style 330-year old former general hospital; very child-friendly. Highlight: occasional live animals; the 'craftmen's mile', where traditional craftsmen demonstrate their skills such as candle making, baking gingerbreads, and wood turning. Big plus: it is much less windy than other markets.

2. Christmas Market At Freyung

What Makes It Special? The reason this market is my annual meeting point with old friends: the booth of Demmer's tea house sells the best mulled wine with orange juice. It is not too sweet and has a fresh taste. Other highlights: tin and wooden toys, regional ceramics and jewellery, fine glass ware and more.

3. Christmas Village At Belvedere Palace

What Makes It Special? The stunning backdrop of Prince Eugene of Sayoy's baroque former residence; the quality Christmas arts and crafts, and ceramics being sold; the spectacular lighting of the castle, dozens of Christmas trees, and large 'light snow balls' on the grounds; live concerts; not as windy as the market of Schonbrunn Palace.

Christmas Market At Belvedere Palace

4. Christkindlmarkt At Rathausplatz

What Makes It Special? This market is the headquarters of the Austrian 'Christkindl' (it receives children and runs a workshop for them; kids can post their letters to Christkindl at the 'clowd post office'); daily free trumpet concerts from the tower of Vienna City Hall in front; free international advent choir events on week ends.

5. Christmas Market At Spittelberg

What Makes It Special? The romantic atmosphere of this long narrow 18th century cobble-stoned street in the seventh district; this is a smaller, off-the-beaten track market selling arty modern Christmas ware next to traditional mulled wine and hot chestnut booths;

Top Three Advent And Christmas Concerts

If you want to escape from the Christmas buzz for an hour, sneak into one of these three churches. They all run regular small advent concerts in an intimate settings.

Christmas Carols and Chamber Music At St. Stephen's Cathedral

Add a handful of chamber musicians and soloists to our landmark cathedral and they will smoothen your pulse into Christmas mode. Every weekend in the run up to Christmas, you can hear them play and sing Mozart, Haydn, Bach and Schubert at St. Stephen's.

Trumpet, Organ And Piano At St. Anne's

I love Annakirche (St. Anne's Church) because it is small, intimate and filled with beautiful baroque art. Located just off the busy shopping highway of Kaerntner Strasse, a pianist and organist, and a trumpeter will use music by Schubert, Mozart, and Bach to lift their listeners into Christmas spirits.

Baroque Annakirche

baroque Annakirche
baroque Annakirche

From Haendel to Elvis At Minoriten Church

Who would have known that a 13th century church is the perfect sound box for the most joyful musical kicks at Christmas? A trumpet, a percussion and an organ produce festive music from Haendel and Vivaldi to Alban Berg and Elvis Presley, at just a few hundred metres from buzzing Christkindlmarkt at Rathausplatz.

What To Do On Christmas Eve in Vienna

While the run up to Christmas sends locals and visitors off into a merry buzz, it seems the doors shut on travellers from the later hours of the 24th December, with a few bars and taverns holding the fort for lonely souls. My advice: book a late-ish Christmas dinner at a decent hotel such as the Grand Hotel Wien, the recently renovated Hotel Bristol or the stylish The Ring Hotel, or a popular Vienna restaurant, then join the Viennese for Christmas mass at a local church. Alternatively, visit a good bar for late night drinks.

Hotel Schloss Weikersdorf

This Renaissance castle hotel in the Vienna Woods runs a popular Christmas dinner package, including lovely live music. Later on, your group will join the townspeople of Baden for Christmas mass at the church of St. Stephen's.

My Favourite Popular Vienna restaurants Open on Christmas Eve

Cafe Restaurant Landtmann; Cafe Restaurant Museum; Plachutta Wollzeile; Plachutta Gasthaus zur Oper (1st district)

Restaurant Silberwirt; Restaurant Motto (5th district)

Piaristenkeller; Alte Backstube (8th district);

Most Beautiful Christmas Masses In Vienna

The most impressive Christmas masses take place at the most beautiful of Vienna's churches and cathedrals, such as Stephansdom (St. Stephen's Cathedral), Karlskirche (Church St. Charles Borromeo), Schottenkirche, Annakirche and Augustinerkirche. However, if you prefer a simple family-style church mass in residential Vienna, head for the baroque church of Maria Treu (8th district), the church St. Thekla (4th district) and the church of Neuottakring (16th district).

Christmas masses usually start at midnight and take around one hour. Make sure you arrive a little earlier to get a seat.

Christmas mass at Neuottakring

Christmas mass at Neuottakring
Christmas mass at Neuottakring | Source

Best Bars For Late Night Christmas Drinks

I admit I have never been to a Viennese bar on Christmas Eve, therefore my research was double as thorough. I have been to most of the bars I recommend below on other days of the year and would be comfortable to show up there later on Christmas Eve.

Kruger's American Bar; First Floor Bar; Onyx Bar at DO and CO Hotel; Le Moet at Meridien Hotel Vienna; (1st district)

Motto Bar (5th district)

Most Popular Mulled Wines In Vienna

During the Christmas season, certain mulled wine booths replace coffeehouses as a meeting point with friends and colleagues. They are often run by charity organisations, and are either integrated in Christmas markets, or in busy shopping areas such as Kaerntner Strasse and Graben boulevard. Make sure your boots are well insulated, the hot mulled wine may not reach your feet in time...

Punsch booths at Karlsplatz


My Top Three Mulled Wines ('Punsch') in Vienna

  1. orange punsch at Demmer's Teehaus booth on Freyung market
  2. pomegranate punsch at Witwe Bolte's booth on Spittelberg market
  3. apple-honey punsch at Zum Franz booth on Karlsplatz market

Highest mulled wine booth in Vienna

Vienna's highest mulled wine booth is expected to open at the roof terrace of Cafe Bar Bloom at Hotel Lamee for the 2013 advent season, with breathtaking views of St. Stephen's Cathedral.


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