Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and while you can look forward to stuffing yourself with home-cooked meals and family drama, you should also be on high alert to finalize your holiday plans. As any frequent traveler will tell you, waiting until after Turkey Day to book your flights for Christmas and NYE is a terrible, and costly idea (you can expect 25-40% premiums on average). To help you whittle down the myriad of places you can possibly visit for the holidays (and help alleviate the anxiety I may have just caused), I want to recommend a somewhat overlooked option – Vienna, Austria.
Vienna is already well-known for its extravagant palaces, grand museums, and amazing coffee houses. And in the winter time, the city transforms into a unique winter wonderland, with several Christmas markets setup throughout the city. There are a few must-visit markets such as the Viennese Dream Christmas Market (in front of the Rathausplatz / City Hall), but the beauty of being in Vienna during this time of the year is being able to wander about and exploring all the markets. You can find the official list of markets ongoing this year at this link (Austria official website), and you can also find a helpful map of these markets laid out on a map at this link (Vienna Christmas market map).
The vibe in these markets differ from daytime to night, so I would recommend planning on visiting the same markets twice to get the full experience. Each market has something different to offer – for example the main market next to City Hall will have more trinkets and shops, while the market next to MuseumsQuartier will have a flair of modern art and a hip, trendy ambiance.
Although the food offering at each market will be slightly different, there are always a few staples, such as Glühwein (warm red wine with slight spice flavor), sausages, and various fried goods.
What I remember most from this trip is just how ubiquitous the Christmas spirit was throughout the city. Decorations abound, the streets were never silent and we were never too far from an eclectic gathering of people simply enjoying each other’s company. Though we were not with our family, the city of Vienna certainly gave us a warm welcome, and gave us an unforgettable Christmas experience.