When we think about Christmas we see the beautiful image of Romantic lights, seasonal treats, festive carols, and snow-covered roofs. Millions of tourists from all over the world come to Austrian cities and small villages in mid-November of each year to take part in the festivities leading up to Christmas Eve. They come to witness the amazing Christmas vibes that would bring out the inner child in them and would match the magical atmosphere.
A stroll through one of the many typical Christmas markets, where everything from punch to chestnuts, traditional crafts to one-of-a-kind Austrian items are sold, is undoubtedly the highlight for most people.
There are many options for tourists who want to experience the real Austrian holiday season. Let us show you some well-known marketplaces as well as some less well-known but still very charming to visit.
Every major Austrian city has at least one Christmas market, but Vienna by far has the most. In fact, there are more than 20 in Vienna, with the most well-known locations being in front of the town hall, near Schönbrunn Palace, and in the Spittelberg Biedermeier neighborhood.
(c) OEW by Sebastian-Burziwal
However, it’s well worth looking into other cities, too!
You can find Markets in Tirol's Innsbruck directly beneath the legendary golden roof, on the central square and the shopping route Maria Theresien Straße, as well as at Hungerburg Castle. There you will be able to drink the delicious punch while taking in the breathtaking views of the city.
Bonus activity: Before or after visiting the markets, you may go on a ski lift right in the middle of town! The Christkind Parade in Innsbruck, which takes place on December 18th this year, is a highlight of the city's holiday season. It features the Christkind (also known as the "Christ Child") riding down Maria-Theresien-Straße and the city's historic lanes in a magnificent carriage, accompanied by a marching band, shepherds, angels, sheep, and about 600 local children.
Finally, there is Salzburg. The city's Residenzplatz Christmas Market, which was first referenced in the 15th century, is the ideal location for sampling all the regional holiday treats while listening to choral music.
One of the most romantic marketplaces in the area, Advent Magic at Hellbrunn Palace, is just outside the city. Every year, 10,000 red Christmas balls and strands of lights are hung from the inner courtyards over 700 conifers, and the palace's windows are transformed into an enormous advent calendar.
The Christmas markets by the sea in Austria are likely to be the perfect spot for lovers and romantics. Every year, Lake Wolfgangsee in the Salzkammergut region and the nearby towns of St. Wolfgang, Strobl, and St. Gilgen transforms into a winter wonderland for the holiday season, complete with markets, bonfires, musical performances, and opportunities to partake in all the customs of the Austrian nation. The region's official symbol is a 16-meter-high floating "Peace Lantern" on a lake not far from St. Wolfgang's beach.
(c) OEW by Gerald-Gruenwald
However, lights can be found all over the lake. The best way to enjoy all the festive decorations and markets is an advent-themed boat tour.
Austria's most southern province, Carinthia, is another fantastic market area along the lake shoreline. Go to Klagenfurt, then continue to Lake Wörthersee, and see all the shops and holiday decorations there and the well-known floating Advent wreath in Velden. Then sign up for a torchlit tour to experience even more Christmas magic.
Austria's ski resorts and Alpine regions top up their game in the weeks before Christmas to get the visitors in the festive spirit.
Along with Innsbruck, other Tyrolean resorts including Kitzbühel, Seefeld, St. Johann, and Kufstein have punch and chestnut stands, customary crafts, and cookie-baking classes.
Zell am See - Kaprun in SalzburgerLand has numerous Christmas markets, including those in the middle of the skiing resorts and one at Kaprun castle, with more than 30 sellers, processions, and a variety of local treats. Obertauern and Bad Hofgastein both provide a mix of skiing and holiday fun.
Main Image Credit: (c) OEW by Filmspektakel-GmbH