The Magic of Christkindmarkt in Vienna

Our favorite time of year filled with mulled wine, gingerbread and ornaments.

The plus side to Eastern Europe in the winter isn’t just cheaper accommodations and less tourists. It’s also about Christmas markets! We were beside ourselves. And of all the Christmas markets out there, I had my eyes on Vienna to be our first.

Vienna has a number of beautiful Christmas markets during the winter season. Some were not open yet when we arrived on Thanksgiving, but I was happy the ones I wanted to see were.

Christmas Village at Maria Theresien-Platz

You know it’s good when you have 98 Degrees’ Christmas album playing in the background. Don’t even lie, you’re probably humming the tunes right now as you are reading this.

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The Christmas Village in Maria Theresien-Platz has the ideal location situated between two beautiful museums – the Museum of Fine Arts and the Natural History Museum.

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The moment you enter the square, you can’t help but smell fruit and spice and everything nice. On our way home, we’d often stop by for a delicious mug of hot spiced gluhwein to warm up.

Christmas Market on Spittelberg

Spittelberg has to be the cutest of all markets in Vienna. It’s not set in any town center or square. Instead, the market weaves through idyllic little lanes in the Spittelberg neighborhood. It’s smaller, cozier and more cultured.

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The holiday gift offerings are different and unique here because I think they cater to the neighborhood and locals more than tourists.

Vienna Magic of Advent

But my absolute favorite is the original, the biggest and prettiest of them all – Rathausplatz in front of the City Hall. I mean, one look below and you’ll see why too. I’ve never seen a more romantic and enchanting City Hall. By day it’s spectacular. By night, it’s pure magical.

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The surrounding trees in the square are fantastically decked out with over-sized Christmas lights and my favorite is the “heart-tree”. It has gigantic bright red lights in the shape of hearts which you could see all the way from the Parliament building down the block.

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Rathausplatz has giant pretzels. But not just giant pretzels the size of my head – traditional Austrian sweet pastries complete with warm apple streudels, gingerbread, roasted chestnuts and cream-filled donuts – we were on a sugar high from the smell of baked sweets and fried dough alone.

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Everything that says Christmas to me is here in Rathausplatz – Christmas caroling and carousels, scented candles and green wreaths topped off with a perfectly humongous tree in the middle of it all.

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And then there were the ornaments. Wooden ones, glass ones, hand painted and etched and blown. I was ornament overwhelmed. In a good way of course. Before we left Vienna, I was on a hunt for the perfect ornament – our first ornament together for our 2014 tree!

Vienna-ornament

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Between the mix of traditional sights and smells, the lights and decorations, I’m convinced the magic of Christmas is in Vienna.
 

Where is your favorite Christmas market?

 
 
Our trip to Eastern Europe was made possible by the awesome folks at Eurail.com. Travel Europe this winter by train, book now for great winter savings.

 

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  • Maria Falvey

    Ah the colors, the lights, the sights and smells and WHOA! That is a *LARGE* pretzel! Thanks for bringing the market to me.

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      Of course! I’d bring back giant pretzels if I could. :)

  • Caro_PassportandaToothbrush

    Soo beautiful! Not helping my current craving for some European travel!! We have a pretty nice market in Toronto, in the Distillery district!

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      Where are you guys now? Home for the holidays? I wouldn’t mind seeing the markets in Toronto.. wish we had some here in Cali..

      • Caro_PassportandaToothbrush

        Oh no, we’re still on the road, been 7 months now! Currently in Bangkok, which strangely enough is FULL of Christmas decorations, kind of odd!

  • Ashley of Ashley Abroad

    I love these shots! Those pretzels are huge. I just went to some Christmas markets in Cologne, Germany, and they were so cozy, made even better with lots of piping hot Gluhwein of course. I’ve always wanted to go to the one in Vienna though… well at least since I saw the Anthony Bourdain episode filmed there!

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      I hear Germany has some of the best Christmas markets – Nuremburg, I think. I totally saw that episode of Bourdain too. :P

  • Kim Kelly

    What a gorgeous time of year to visit!! My husband visited Heidelberg a few years back at this time of year and called it purely magical. Beautiful pictures!

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      I’m officially addicted to European Christmas markets.. told Gerard we’re going every year. Lol.

  • http://twitter.com/thatbackpacker Audrey Bergner

    Mmm, mulled wine is one of my favourite things about Christmas. That and gingerbread cookies!

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      The cookies were delicious.. unlike the ones I’ve had here in the States.

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