The best way to kick of December, you ask? Hop on a plane and fly to the land of traditional Christmas markets, baroque palaces and the birthplace of Mozart and snow globes (yes really – snow globes were invented in Vienna!).
A friend and I spent the first weekend in December exploring Vienna which neither of us had been to before, so after a lot of Pinterest and Instagram research, we spent 4 days walking around the beautiful city, which in my opinion is the best way to see any city!
Vienna does Christmas
Coming from London, I feel like sometimes we can be a bit arrogant when it comes to Christmas, as Christmas in London is truly magical. However, I must admit that Vienna give us a serious run for our money. Now I’m not talking about their Christmas markets, which obviously beat any here but generally the Viennese put so much effort into Christmas and decorating their city for the festival. Everywhere you look, every street corner is decorated with a beautiful Christmas tree, independent shops and hotels all get a festive makeover – and in the words of Love Actually’s Billy Mack – Christmas is all around in Vienna!
One of the main reasons we decided upon Vienna for our winter city-break was the infamous Christmas markets and they sure didn’t disappoint. There are quite a few in Vienna, so if you decide to go during Christmas time, make sure to plan enough time to explore each one, as they are all different and good for different things.
The most famous and the largest one is Rathaus, which is a Christmas market in front of the City Hall, a stunning baroque building that makes a beautiful backdrop for the market. Go with a fairly empty tummy, as there are endless food stalls you must try; from fresh pretzels, snitchels, gingerbread and hot Christmas punch to keep you warm! Evening is obvious the most magical time to go, however it does get very crowded, so we decided to see it again during the day, as we had some spare time on our last day.
Other markets I would recommend are the one in front of the Schonbrunn Palace, Belvedere Palace and Freyung Christmas Market. Freyung is less well known and is a smaller one that many locals go to.
I would recommend no more than 3 days to explore Vienna, as although there is a bit to see, everything is quite close together so you can easily walk from palace to museum and see them within a few hours.
Belvedere Palace itself is a stunning building and inside you’ll find many pieces from Monet and Klimt, and the Schonbrunn Palace was a summer residence for the imperial family in Austria. I would also recommend seeing St. Stephen Cathedral and taking the lift to the top of the tower for a view of Vienna and lastly the Austrian National Library. An incredibly beautiful library with old leather bound books from floor to ceiling, library ladders and classical statues. I was just waiting for Belle from Beauty and the Beast to show up and burst into song any second!
Food & Drink
Cafes are a thing in Vienna, and after walking around in -2 degrees, sitting down in a café with a hot drink and slice of cake is just what you need. Café Central (had regulars such as Trotsky and Hitler) is a very popular one amongst the tourists, so prepare to queue but you’ll find many little cafes on the streets, that you can sit down and warm up at.
Until next time Vienna… auf wiedersehen!