Who wouldn’t want to make the most magical time of the year a little more magical?
And what could be more magical than spending the holidays—or really, any day—in the glittering city of Vienna? Or the town which basically gave us one of our beloved holiday tunes? Visiting any (and all) of the Christmas Markets along the iconic Blue Danube River will amount to the perfect way to spend your White Christmas. Talk about the perfect holiday gift that will only keep giving!
Just imagine… being in Vienna, the musical and coffee culture capitol of the world (the cakes aren’t too bad either) and doubling down on gingerbread cookies, decadent pretzels and super-sized baked goods, sipping (or chugging) hot chocolate and glühwein in festively decorated commemorative mugs, singing yuletide classics and shopping till you drop to find a bevy of tinsel-tastic decorations or the perfect souvenirs to bring back home.
In Vienna, you can do it all. All it takes is a little travel time. Because in the Austrian capitol, there are at least seven popular Christmas Markets. On my trip to Vienna, I got to see both the Viennese Christmas Market (located in front of City Hall) and the Stephansplatz Christmas Market, surrounding St. Stephen’s Cathedral.
The market in front of City Hall is an absolute must-do. Whether you’re looking to shop your whole nice list or go ice skating with friends, this is the perfect backdrop for it. You’ll be greeted by the iconic “Frohe Weihnachten” sign (which translates to “Merry Christmas” but somehow looks more festive in German). While it is most pictured at night, I was there when the market opened and the effect is no less stunning. Venture in and you’ll find all sorts of yummy treats and pretty gifts. Many are indeed Christmas-themed, but not all. I picked up the cutest bowls and a giraffe puzzle for my little nephew.
The Stephansplatz Christmas Market, because it surrounds the St. Stephen’s Cathedral, does feel a bit more solemn and holy. It’s right by one of Vienna’s grandest churches, after all! Some will prefer this market because it is significantly smaller and therefore cozier. There are only a handful of stalls here so you can easily check this one out in between visits elsewhere. There’s also a number of tables where friends can gather with their mulled wine to the season ahead!
All major cities and towns have some sort of Christmas celebration going on, but of course, you won’t want to miss the city that inspired Julie Andrews (and then us) to sing about her favorite things. “Raindrops on roses, whiskers on kittens,” the Salzburg Christmas Market is sure to be among your favorite things should you venture over! Along with traipsing all around Mirabell Gardens (the gorgeous site where much of the “Do-Re-Mi” number was filmed), be sure to wander through the Christmas Markets. Cuteness spilleth over in Salzburg and the market stands are no exception. Go for a holiday-themed ride in a horse and buggy, nosh on pretzels or apples with hearts on them or gush over Austrian dolls. A visit to Salzburg any time of year is magical but the holidays give it that little extra spoonful of sugar.
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