My Experience as a solo female traveler to VIENNA Christmas market
HISTORY OF CHRISTMAS MARKETS IN Vienna
Christmas Markets are a must during the Holiday Season. It simply brings up the magic of this period. But everything started at some point and as I am a sucker for history, let’s dig a little bit into the history of Christmas Markets in Vienna.
If we say Christmas Markets, we normally say Germany! They date back to medieval times when Germans covered a wide part of Europe. Some of the German Christmas markets date from the 15th – 16th centuries. Historical documents registered that Dresden’s market dates from 1434. Nuremberg’s Christmas market allegedly dates from 1628, though some historians say it dates from 1530.
Historians do not agree on when Christmas Markets first appeared in Vienna. They do rely on Chronicles from 1626 mentioning “huts” at Graben and Brandstätte – in front of Saint Stephen’s Cathedral – from the 16th of December until the 9th of January. Bakers, gingerbread vendors, and confectioners sold their goods in these booths. This market was held around Graben and Stephansplatz until the year 1761 when it was shut down.
One thing is for sure, in 1764, there was a Saint Nicholas and Christmas market at Freyung. Being also a regular market, conflicts between stand owners of both markets led to the provisional relocation of Saint Nicholas and Christmas market to Platz am Hof in 1842. In 1843 it became the permanent site for the market.
In 1872 the traditional Viennese fairs were canceled, losing their original meaning in a large and modern city – except the so-called “Christmas market”. In 1903 the 128 stands were renewed and for the first time, they were electrically illuminated.
Since then, word has spread around the world that the Vienna Christmas Market is the most beautiful one. I think you should visit it and make your own idea.
HOW CAN I PLAN A SOLO TRIP TO VIENNA CHRISTMAS MARKET?
No matter where you are, you can reach Vienna easily. From Europe, you can go by car, by train or by plane. You have direct connections from almost every big city.
If you are from outside of Europe, the simplest way is to reach Vienna (VIE) Airport or even Budapest (BUD) Airport. These two capitals are just a short train ride apart. Traveling between these European capitals is easy, affordable, and fast.
The taxi from the airport to the center of Vienna is not very cheap, between 36-38€. My last ride, at 4 am cost me 37.95€. But there is a direct train, the City Airport Train (CAT), that gets you to the center of Vienna for 12€ every 30 minutes, daily from 5.37 am to 11.38 pm. It takes 16 minutes to get to Wien Mitte station.
My Experience of Christmas Market in Vienna
I go to Vienna several times per year, as I have my God Daughter living there. I experience Vienna from a local perspective, but this was the first year I made it during the Christmas Market. It was on top of my list to get there as I’ve heard so many stories about being the most beautiful, eclectic Christmas Market. One that you cannot miss.
So, this was finally the year it happened. I had so many expectations, I could already see myself landing in the fairyland of Christmas Markets.
Well, let me tell you, I fell from the very top of my high expectations.
I don’t know, I just couldn’t feel that magic. And I am a very spiritually awakened and intuitive person when it comes to feeling certain vibes from a place.
So, I am sorry Vienna, but based on my personal experience, I cannot give you the title of The Best Christmas Market in Europe. For now, you are in fifth place in my heart.
WHAT I LOVED DURING VIENNA CHRISTMAS MARKET
I am a sucker for positivity, so I will put here only the experiences I loved in Vienna during Christmas time:
- My God Daughter teaching me how to ice skate in Rathauspark. Priceless moment!
- Eating Kaiserschmarrn (“Emperor’s mess”) – thick fluffy scrambled crêpes with roasted plum stew and powdered sugar on top. Une tuerie! (Something to die for).
- Visiting the Schönbrunn Palace and dwelling more into the history of SISI.
- A walk into the Imperial Carriage along Vienna
- Visiting a Hidden Gem: Hundertwasserhaus, a residential complex, is one of Austria’s architectural highlights.
Where to eat during Christmas Market In Vienna
First, when I am at a Christmas Market I will always prioritize eating local food from the stalls. Vienna does not have only one Christmas Market, it has several.
The most famous one is Wiener Christkindlmarkt in Rathauspark, where there are a lot of people, of course, an ice skating ring, lots of food and drinks, and many attractions for the little ones.
A more cozy Christmas Market I found it to be the one in front of the Schonbrunn Palace. I had a nice guided visit to see the Imperial suites of Empress Sisi and learn more about the history of the Austrian monarchy. Even though it was freezing outside, I went to the Christmas Market to warm myself with a nice mulled wine and a vegetarian Gulash soup served on bread. I am a big fan of winter soups served on bread. It reminds me of my childhood. If you happen to get to the Christmas Market in Vienna, try the Goulash on bread. It is so tasty!
You can find the Goulash in Vienna as well, you don’t have to go to Schonbrunn for that. But it has a bittersweet taste having the palace in the background, though.
In Vienna, I usually go to the same places, where you will find mostly locals, but they are so great:
- Ströck-Feierabend – my favorite café for a brunch. My morning routine when I am in Vienna. There are a lot of Ströck places in Vienna, but for the Ströck-Feierabend. It’s so cozy inside. Their waffles with blueberry jam are a killer.
- Eat the best Kaiserschmarrn (“Emperor’s mess”) at DEMEL. It is generally agreed that the dish was first prepared for the Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph I (1830–1916). A true Viennese would top his Kaiserschmarrn with Zwetschken-Röster (plum compote). You can either serve it on the spot or take it to go. One thing is for sure, this fluffy scrambled crêpe is something you don’t want to miss when you are in Vienna.
- Drink Weihnachtspunsch (Christmas punch) – A version of Glühwein (mulled wine) from a combination of tea, spices, sugar, and spirits (particularly rum and/or brandy). You can find it at every Christmas Market in Vienna. If you are a fan of Amaretto, you will love it, as the taste is strong.
- Have tea at Gerstner, a Salon Privé in the heart of Vienna. Very cozy inside. On the ground floor, you will find the Boutique Bar, and on the top floor the Salon Privé to enjoy a nice cup of hot chocolate or tea.
- Café Central. Since its opening, back in 1876, Vienna intellectuals, politicians, and the important class in Vienna have visited the café. Freud was also a frequent guest at the Central. You will know you are at the right place when you will see all the people waiting for hours to get in. Let me tell you I prefer Café New York in Budapest or Angelina Café in Paris.
- Have the best vegetarian food at Venuss, in the center of Vienna
BONUS: VISIT THE CHRISTMAS MARKETS IN EUROPE ON A BUDGET
- Plan in advance and start early
- Make a list of your favorite Christmas Markets in Europe
- Check the opening dates for those favorite Christmas Markets
- Start with the ones that open early in November, that’s when prices are the lowest for flights and accommodation
- Plan the most optimal route – it demands time and patience
- Check trains between countries or cities, you might find better rates, and you save the planet at the same time. Santa will definitely put you on top of his list
- BlaBlaCar works very well in Europe, so this could be a great option to stay on your budget
- Try to go to big cities during the week, not the week-end when it’s full of tourists
- Find accommodation in a nearby city that is not that crowded or overrated for accommodations (I stayed in Bologna and took the train, 1H15 to Verona to see the Christmas Market)
- Allocate a maximum of 3 days per Christmas Market. It will give you time to experience also the city if it’s your first time.
CHECK OUT THE BEST Christmas Markets tours
DID YOU FIND THIS ARTICLE USEFUL?
Tell me in the comments section if you’ve been to a Christmas Market in Europe and what was your experience. If you are planning to go on solo travel ask me for some useful tips that are not in this article.
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