A Guide to Austria’s Best Christmas Markets

If you’re looking to enjoy a white Christmas, with lots of snow, a Christmas-y atmosphere, and amazing vibe, Austria is one of your best options. Having spent most of my Christmases in warm places like Dubai, Mumbai and Delhi (ok, not so warm but still), for once, I really wanted to experience a true Christmas and I chose to visit Austria, a country I’ve been wanting to explore for a long time. I was not disappointed! Austria’s Best Christmas Markets range from the huge ones with ice rinks in big cities like Vienna to the smaller cozy ones in towns like St Wolfgang. Brightly lit streets, live music and caroling, snow-covered wooden huts selling mouth-watering Schnitzels and Apple Strudels, and lots of Glühwein (hot wine) to keep you warm, make sure you wrap up nicely and make the most of the festive season in one of the liveliest and prettiest countries in Europe.

With most of the markets open from the last week of November until 23rd of December, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day itself are public holidays and most restaurants, shops, monuments and tourist sites are closed. Days are short, with the sun rising at almost 8 am and setting as early as 4 pm. So, if you intend to make the most of your visit, keep the day for exploring the cities, the beautiful castles, churches and historical sites while the evenings can be spent at experiencing the Christmas spirit at the markets, which remain open until 9 or 10 pm.

Here’s my selection of Austria’s Best Christmas Markets to visit:


Vienna:

#1 Rathausplatz: Vienna has the most spectacular markets set in the backdrop of beautiful monuments with ancient architecture. The largest and the most popular one to visit is the one in Rathausplatz, in front of the city hall. It is incredibly huge, has an ice rink, a special dedicated area of children where they can learn to make candles and cookies, beautifully decorated streets, and the gorgeous neo-Gothic style City Hall, beautifully lit up at night, in its backdrop.  Some of the most creative articles can be found in this market – from candles shaped like animals, to candles with small liquor bottles inside, liqueur chocolates and cookies, decorations and gifts.

Rathausplatz, Vienna in winter
Rathausplatz

#2: Belvedere Palace: This is personally one of the most picture-friendly Christmas Market, especially at night, because of the lovely little pond with floating stars and the green roof palace in the backdrop. The market itself is not very big and spans only the width of the palace itself, and is in the front of it rather than in the gardens at the back. However, you can club it with a visit to the palace itself and spend a good 1.5 hours exploring this area.

Austria's Best Christmas Markets

#3: Schönbrunn Palace: The Christmas Market right in front of the palace is another popular one to visit. I love the fountains right after the entrance and the little souvenir shop. The palace deserves a visit as do the large gardens at the back of it. The market itself, although nothing special or unique, offers a large variety of foods and different flavors of Gluhwein and punch.

Austria's Best Christmas Markets

Austria's Best Christmas Markets

#4: Maria-Theresien Platz: This market is right in front of the famous Museums Quartier is best located in one of the most popular areas of Vienna. It’s a fairly small one, with no more than 12-15 stalls, selling mostly candles, decoration, limited variety of food and of course, hot wine.

Austria's Best Christmas Markets
Maria-Theresien-Platz

Austria's Best Christmas Markets

#5: St Stephen’s Cathedral: This is one of my favorite areas in Vienna because of the lively atmosphere here. The streets are beautifully decorated with large lamps, hanging lights and many Christmas trees. There are also several shops including large souvenirs stores. The small and cozy Christmas market is right in front of the cathedral, set against the lovely backdrop of its awe-inspiring Gothic architecture. The horse-drawn sleighs add a special charm to this place, taking you way back in time.

Austria's Best Christmas Markets

Austria's Best Christmas Markets

#6: Judenplatz: Yet another market set in the backdrop of a famous monument, this one a memorial for the victims of the Holocaust, I loved the creative tree decorations being sold here. The lovely fairy lights that flow from a pole in the center of the market to the corners, making for a brilliant scene and a very charming place to try the festive treats such as apple strudel, bread dumplings, Maroni (roasted chestnuts) and potato wedges.

Austria's Best Christmas Markets

Austria's Best Christmas Markets

Austria's Best Christmas Markets

#7: Prater: Prater is not as famous for its Christmas market as it is for the rides and experiences it offers, most of which are closed during the winter. This amusement park is a family-friendly place where you’ll see a lot of children, unlike most other Advent markets. And even though some amazing rides are closed during winter, some are still operational, and you can take a ride on the giant wheel, and enjoy the view of the city from a vantage point. The place brightens up with atmospheric lighting at night and sounds of Christmas carols playing lightly in the background sets a very romantic mood.

Austria's Best Christmas Markets

#8: Hofburg Imperial Palace: This is not one of the most popular Christmas Markets in Vienna however, it is a cute little white-stalled market, right in front of Hofburg Imperial Palace in Vienna's city center. There are only a handful of stalls selling Austrian candies and ornaments but a quick stroll here before visiting the Palace could be a great idea.

Austria's Best Christmas Markets

Click here to read about What to do in Vienna in Winter.


Salzburg:

Although I loved the Advent Markets in Vienna, Salzburg is a cute, romantic town, in the middle of the Austrian Alps with cobbled stone streets, narrow lanes and cozy cafes in the backdrop of snow-covered peaks which makes the markets here a lot more magical and romantic. Also, you’re most like to be able to enjoy a snowy white Christmas here, with snow-laden wooden roofs of the stalls selling hot wine and delicious festive foods. In my opinion, Austria's Best Christmas Markets are those of Salzburg!

#1 Salzburg Residenz Platz: This is one of the two main (and biggest) Christmas Market in Salzburg and is located right in the historical city center. It is also one of the oldest Christmas Markets in Austria. Here, you can find more traditional Christmas tree decorations and stalls selling lots of 'Mozart Chocolates' and 'Mozart Liqueurs'. I picked up a bunch from here and they were really good. This along with the market next door at Domplatz form the 'Salzburger Christkindlmarkt'.

Austria's Best Christmas Markets

Austria's Best Christmas Markets

#2: Salzburg Cathedral: Right next to the Residenz-Platz market is yet another Advent market which is almost an extension of it. Also known as 'Domplatz', the setting of this one is even more romantic and traditional, with the lovely cathedral in its backdrop on one side and the Hohensalzburg fortress perched on the hill on the other. You can hear musicians spin lovely tunes while sipping on hot wine and taking a bite of gingerbread in one of Austria's best Christmas markets.

Austria's Best Christmas Markets

Austria's Best Christmas Markets

#3: Mirabell Palace: Located right in front of Mirabell Palace, this Christmas Market is much smaller than the other two. A narrow lane, crowded with the tourists and locals, who find this market very special, a quick walk through stalls selling traditional Maroni, punch and little trinkets for the Christmas Tree is a must!

Austria's Best Christmas Markets

#4: Hellbrun Palace: Although Hellbrun Palace is not really in Salzburg, it is only 20 min away from the city center and forms a really romantic setting for one of the most charming Advent Markets in Austria. With the magnificent palace in its backdrop and ambient lighting creates a very fairy-tale like the atmosphere and the wintery trick fountains only add to the magic! The highlight? Watch the windows of the palace turned into a massive calendar!

Austria's Best Christmas Markets

Austria's Best Christmas Markets

#5: St WolfgangAnother Christmas Market that is not exactly in Salzburg but only a day-trip away is that of St Wolfgang. An adorable little town located on the banks of Wolfgangsee, St Wolfgang's Advent Market extends all the way from the center of the town to the banks of the lake where every night, the massive Christmas Tree is lit up along with floating lanterns and brightly lit stars on the lake. Swedish fireplaces along the market provide relief from the biting cold, along with Gluhwein and traditional Austrian delicacies. St Wolfgang makes you feel like you've traveled back in time!

Austria's Best Christmas Markets

Austria's Best Christmas Markets

Austria's Best Christmas Markets
Click here to read about What to do in Salzburg in Winter.


Innsbruck:

The best thing about the Advent Markets in Innsbruck is that they're all within walking distance from one another. Located in 3 key areas to visit in this cute Alpine town, Innsbruck's markets are definitely some of Austria's best Christmas Markets. Piping hot Kiachln (donuts), Gluhwein or hot punch and the aroma of Wienerschnitzel add to the experience of walking around in a town that is surrounded by the snow-laden Alps. Not only is Innsbruck breathtakingly beautiful, the blend of modern with traditional is bound to make you fall in love with the town.

#1: Marktplatz: Without a doubt, the Christmas Market here is not only the best in town but also one of Austria's best Christmas Markets. The showstopper is the massive Swarovski tree with thousands of crystals that light up brilliantly at night and can be seen from quite a distance. This Christkindl Market is right next to the river and has a selection of some really nice souvenirs and Christmas gifts.

Austria's Best Christmas Markets

#2: Old Town: There is a Christmas Market located right in front of the most famous historical icon of Innsbruck - the Golden Roof. This is the oldest and the largest Christmas Market in Innsbruck and a lot more traditional than the one in Marktplatz, yet equally enchanting and intriguing. The historical setting of the place adds to the charm of the market along with stalls selling handicrafts, winter clothes, and Austrian winter foods.

Austria's Best Christmas Markets

Austria's Best Christmas Markets

#3: Maria-Theresien-Platz: Located in the more modern part of Innsbruck, this Christmas Market offers more creative decorative items as compared to the one in Old Town. A street with brightly lit trees, walls decorated with massive stars and the Alps in the backdrop make this market one worth visiting.

Austria's Best Christmas Markets

Innsbruck in winter
Maria Theresa Street Christmas Market

Click here to read about What to do in Innsbruck in Winter.

84 thoughts on “A Guide to Austria’s Best Christmas Markets”

  1. I know it’s only the beginning of November, but this post has thoroughly got me in the Christmas spirit! I have been to Austria, though only for a few days when I was working at Snowbombing Festival in Mayrhofen – so I definitely need to go back and explore more x

  2. Wow, these Christmas markets look amazing and so beautiful. As a kid, Christmas always use to excite me. But at those time, we did not have Christmas market or rather a celebration back here in our locality (in Kolkata). Only Bow Barracks and Park Street to some extent used to get all decked up for Christmas. But nowadays I can see Christmas markets and all the excitement.
    Enjoyed reading the post and all the locations are so interesting. It was such a happy reading.

  3. We were planning to do a white Christmas this year and we were split between Bavaria and Austria. Maybe we will do a mix of both. The atmosphere and the mood at these markets is just so invigorating. And your pictures make it look so pretty.

  4. I’ve always wanted to visit the Christmas markets in Austria. Christmas is my favourite holiday – more for these kinds of festivals, markets and the beautiful lights and decorations. I hope to make it to one of these (or more!) in future.

  5. These Christmas markets look awesome, but I must go for my home city of Zagreb, although one thing that draws me for the Austrian Christmas markets is the snowfall, then the markets become more enjoyable, white snow, mulled wine, and some snacks and walking through the lit up streets.

  6. Austria is in my travel list and I can’t imagine that there are more than the ones I have listed. Christmas market is not a thing here in the Philippines so I am looking forward to visiting one and your list is a great help.

  7. Going to a European Christmas Market has been on my bucket list forever. But I still don’t have any plans to go. Thanks for sharing all the tips and re-inspiring me to make plans!

  8. I love a good Christmas market! Give me a mug of Gluhwein and some delicious snacks and I’m a happy guy. This selection all look really pretty and picturesque, I think my top pick would be the Innsbruck Markatplatz though, it looks gorgeous. Thanks for all the great info.

  9. I love when Christmas and Snow go together and I can understand a longing for snow after living in warm places. I am in awe of the small tows with those snow-capped mountains as a backdrop for all seasons. Salzburg would definitely be my pick to celebrate Christmas in Austria.

  10. This is very handy, I’m looking for Christmas markets to go to and I think the ones in Austria look particularly lovely. Some great ideas here.

  11. Oh, how I do love Christmas markets in Europe! We visited Vienna a few years back and explored some of the markets, including the famous Rathausplatz. It was our first winter living in the UK, and the ease of hopping over to Austria for the Christmas markets was so enjoyable. Mulled wine and sweets all night long, every night! Of course, it looks like we missed out on a bunch of other smaller markets dotted around the city, so looks like we need to head back.

  12. I’ve only been to Vienna in Austria, and that was during the high summer so didn’t get a chance to explore the Christmas markets. Who knew there were so many?! I think it’s great that the Hofburg Imperial Palace has a few bits and pieces out front to browse before entering.

  13. What an amazing list of best Christmas markets in Austria. The decorations, energy and ambience is so festive. I have always been fascinated when I see such scenes in the films. Hope I get to visit Europe during Christmas to enjoy some of these from this guide.

  14. Thanks for sharing a guide to Austria’s best Christmas markets and there are so many beautiful ones that it is confusing to select the best one. I was in Salzburg during Easter time and have seen all those lovely decorations everywhere and so I can imagine Christmas time must be greater there. Loved the Hellbrunn market because of special window decor having calendar dates.

  15. Wow! I would love to spend Christmas in Austria someday. It is just the perfect place to be. I did not realize that there are a lot of markets available and it would be my joy to visit them all. Bookmarking your post for future reference.

  16. Christmas markets in Europe are indeed the stuff of dreams and what better place than Austria to experience them. The night seems to have come alive with the Christmas markets. Vienna, of course, seems to be in a class of its own in terms of brilliance, but the smaller towns have an old world charm which is so touching.

  17. I am dying to go to Austria’s Christmas Markets so I LOVED this post! I actually bookmarked it for later 🙂 Although they all look wonderful, I think the St Stephen’s Cathedral would be my favorite. Thanks for sharing all of this information!

  18. I love Christmas markets in Europe in general. Like you, I’m use to warm Christmases and a white (or at least cold) Christmas is on my dream list.

    What a comprehensive list of Christmas markets in Austria. You would have had a blast discovering all of them!

  19. I am a little partial to Innsbruck. I love the vibe of that city and with the Christmas markets, I think it becomes even more charming. I have been reading about the fun and the vibes of these markets in your earlier post. Guess it is time for me to try one of these out.

  20. We just left Austria a week ago and went to all three cities. I see how bedecked they get for Christmas. We went to the Swarowski Crystal World in Innsbruck and know what you mean when you say that crystal Christmas tree is a showstopper!

  21. I love Christmas markets! I’ve been to Rathausplatz in Vienna a few years ago and it was a very nice and relaxing place. Great punch and amazing atmosphere! However, I prefer the smaller towns now. 🙂 Getting older? 🙂

  22. The Austrian Christmas markets deserve their reputation as some of the best. Wandering around looking for gifts while sipping on a hot drink is perfect. I love the use of the windows as it’s own advent calendar in Hellbrun Palace. Talk about getting in the holiday spirit!

    1. I haven’t been to many Christmas Markets in Europe but I know for sure, not many can match up to the vibrant ones in Austria 🙂

  23. Oh wow! What lovely Christmas markets! I can’t seem to choose what’s my favourite from your photos! 🙂 Good for you for experiencing Christmas in Austria! Love the photos and indeed the busy atmosphere of these markets and the holiday spirit is enticing!

  24. I havent done Christmas markets in Austria yet (done them in Belgium, France, UK etc) but i would love to check out the one in Salzburg so I cna combine that with a trip to the mountains. It be right proper Christmasy then 🙂

  25. Amazing post. I would love to spend one such real Christmas. Vienna seems a great place to spend a cozy Christmas time. I especially loved the decorations in St Wolfgang and Helbrun Palace.

  26. I’ve only been to Vienna and Innsbrook so I would like to check out the markets in Salzberg. I haven’t done christmas markets before.

  27. I haven’t attended any Christmas market yet but they look such a nice place to be. In my city, very recently they have started with this trend. The German embassy do it every year, hopefully this year I will attend

  28. Oh dear, Christmas market season is peeking around the corner – and tomorrow it will be 82F 😀
    But yes, the stores are already selling all these treats and I think that in one month the stalls will be set up all over Europe.
    I like Austrian markets better than those in Germany – maybe because I don’t live there; or maybe because they are really nicer.
    I love the one between the two museums around Maria Theresia.

  29. Christmas markets are always the best, especially in Europe. The architecture of the buildings makes the experience even more magical and more Christmassy if that is even a word haha. Belvedere looks like a definite must for us.

  30. Given the period of the year, this post is a great inspiration for pre-holiday destinations. A weekend in Austria would be nice. Which city might be easier to visit with kids?

    1. They’re all good with kids. Vienna is bigger than most so it’s likely to have more options for things to do with the little ones.

  31. You made me miss Austria during Christmas – but wait, were all the photos taken this year? I believe they start always December. Hot wine is always on the list. How I miss Europe on Christmas!

  32. I have always dreamed of visiting Europe around the holidays and going to the Christmas markets, and I see why Austria would be the perfect place to experience them! I don’t shop much, so for me it’s all about the atmosphere — my top picks would be the ice rink at Rathausplatz and the roasted chestnuts at Judenplatz. And of course hot wine.

  33. That’s a long list of places to enjoy Christmas Markets. Well Medha, it’s definitely a great experience to witness all these streets decorated for Christmas – I mean the big lamps and Christmas trees adorned with lights make it all look so magical. I am so glad you have been to places like these. I am yet to experience this. This Christmas I will be in Akureyri in Iceland and let’s hope I get to see something similar.

  34. I’m feeling so Christmassy after reading this post! I loved Austria but visited during spring so the snow was long gone! I have to say, my favourite is the one by Schonnbrunn Palace and beautiful Innsbruck! It’s so iconic, especially with the snow in the background. I’m usually back in Italy at Christmas, and we have these little stalls, but nothing as festive as in Austria!

    1. I fell in love with Austria because of the Chrismassy feel and the charming towns with the markets. I’d love to go back and experience it in the spring also someday 🙂

  35. I want to visit Austria for plenty of reasons and this Christmas market just added a cherry on the cake! How beautiful those colorful crowds look against the backdrop of snow-white ice? Beautiful write up!

  36. Vienna and Saltzberg are right up there on my wish list. I agree the market at Hofburg Imperial Palace looks really cute. Maybe Christmas Markets would be a good time for me to visit Austria

  37. Austria is such a charming country and the perfect place to visit at Christmas time. I’ve been in November, when the markets were just gearing up for Christmas. The Christmas decorations on sale were unique and handmade.

  38. Wow! Looks like the perfect Christmas holiday destination. Going to add it to my list. Someday! I love the local markets, whenever I travel I always keep a day aside for the markets to feel the real vibe of the city.

  39. Christmas indeed is one of my favorite seasons. Christmas in Austria looks magical! Definitely Rathausplatz and St. Stephen’s Cathedral are one of my favorites. With all the magnificent architectures, stunning bright lights and Christmas decorations, together with the lively atmosphere, gosh! It makes me so excited to experience Austria on a Christmas season! I love how you captured the atmosphere with your pictures too! Thank you for sharing this.

  40. Thanks for the tips on Austrian Christmas markets! I’m not a big fan of cold weather, but the lights and sights might make me change my mind. I’ve never had hot wine before, at least not on purpose, and it sounds like the perfect way to stay warm. Taking a sleigh ride through a Christmas market with a cup of hot wine might be the most Christmasy thing I can imagine. Thanks for the inspiration!

  41. I lived in Europe for a few years and Christmas markets are what I miss the most! I never got to visit any in Austria though. They look great though! I’d like to visit Prater because they also have rides. I think it’d be fun to look down on the Christmas market from the ferris wheel.

  42. I’ve been to that one in Vienna, but I would definitely would like to visit other ones. Look really nice 🙂
    But my favorite is still that one in Zagreb, Croatia and it’s also last few years the best one in Europe 😀

  43. Being German, I love Christmas markets as I grew up with them. Nothing beats the smell of mulled wine and hearty food to keep you warm. I have never been to an Austrian Christmas market, but the ones you listed look stunning!

  44. Gosh I had NO idea that Vienna had so many distinct Christmas markets, that looks like a great city to visit at this time of year especially. Salzburg and Innsbruck also appeal, especially for a shorter trip, perhaps.

  45. Wow, there are so many. I didn’t realize there would be so many to choose from. Going to a European Christmas market had always been on my wish list. I love markets anyway, and the extra magic of Christmas decorations would be wonderful!

    1. Austria has a LOT of Christmas markets. Innsbruck and Salzburg are smaller cities so there are fewer, but Vienna has one in every corner!

  46. I have always wanted to visit the Christmas markets. Thanks for this great introduction to the markets in Austria. The Rathausplatz market in Vienna certainly looks like a postcard! We missed Schönbrunn Palace when we visited Austria so a Christmas visit would be awesome. I love the idea of tasting lots of different foods. Hot wine at the Maria-Theresien Platz sounds like a great way to warm up. We loved Salzburg in the spring so Christmas must be a magical time. A day trip to St Wolfgang would provide the small town experience. We missed Innusbruk totally on our last trip, so would definitely add this to the agenda. Thanks for providing lots of options for a winter Christmas trip to Austria!

    1. Don’t know if you visited Hallstatt on your last trip but if you didn’t, you must! They didn’t really have a Christmas market there but the village was so magical during winter, all covered in snow, I fell in love with it!

  47. There are a few places I have always wanted to visit for Christmas, and Austria is one of them. I love how charming and magical all of the Christmas markets look. I especially love the atmosphere of the beautiful architecture at places like the Belvedere Palace and Domplatz market. Thanks so much for sharing.

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