My son and I fell in love with Vienna on our first visit last summer. On a practical level, it’s a very clean, walkable city with great public transportation and a ton of things to do. On an emotional level, Vienna transports me to the land of fairytales. This is the city where Marie Antoinette grew up, surrounded by the beauty and glory of Habsburg Empire. It’s one thing to see fairytale castles in Disneyland, and another entirely to walk through real Baroque-era palaces and gardens where real princesses once lived.
We had a chance to visit Vienna over Thanksgiving. Lucky for us, Christmas Markets were in full swing! Here are some of the highlights from our trip.
Alas, Rathaus isn’t a house full of rats, but German for City Hall. This is where the largest Christmas Market in Vienna takes place. We went after sundown to enjoy the lights. The little shops that line the market were all charming, and the mulled wine was delicious. There was even an ice skating course. Kids had their own space to ice skate too, where they can skate with life-size Pingu.
At the foot of St. Stephen’s Cathedral is another Christmas Market. St. Stephen’s Cathedral is one of the tallest cathedrals in Europe, and the tour of its crypt is well worth your time (it’s a little spooky, though).
Located in the center of Museum Quarter is Maria-Theresien-Platz, where a regal statue of Austria’s beloved empress Maria Theresa stands. It was too early in the morning for Christmas Market to be open, but this one was of substantial size.
In terms of atmosphere and the quirkiness of shop items, Karlsplatz was my favorite. Where other Christmas Markets sold mainly commercially-produced goods, the shops at Karlsplatz had the feel of a craft fair. I was charmed by the merry-go-round made with upcycled hardware.
Wherever you happen to be, we wish you the happiest of holidays!