Christmas Markets in Austria
The festive period is magical in Austria. Have a look at the best Christmas markets around the country.
Romantic lights, seasonal treats, festive carols, and snow-covered roofs and treetops as far as the eye can see: Christmas is a truly magical time in Austria, with millions of visitors from around the world flocking to the cities and small towns from mid-November every year to join in the celebrations leading up to Christmas Eve.
The highlight for most is, no doubt, a stroll through one of the many traditional Christmas markets, selling everything from punch to chestnuts, from traditional handicrafts to unique Austrian gifts. And at some, kids (and kids at heart) can even mingle with angels and meet the “Christkind”, the traditional gift-bringer in Austria.
Visitors looking to experience the authentic Austrian advent are spoiled with choice. Let us show you some classics – and some lesser-known markets that are just as charming.
CHRISTMAS MARKETS IN THE CITY
Every major Austrian town has at least one Christmas market and it goes without saying that Vienna has by far the most. To be precise, Austria’s capital has more than 20, with the most popular ones being in front of the town hall, at Schönbrunn Palace, and the Biedermeier district of Spittelberg.
However, it’s well worth looking into other cities, too!
Tirol’s Innsbruck features markets right under the famous golden roof, on the main square and the shopping street Maria Theresien Straße, as well as at Hungerburg Castle, where you will sip your punch while enjoying spectacular views over the town. Bonus point: You can hop on a ski lift right in the heart of town before or after hitting the markets! An annual highlight is Innsbruck’s Christkind Parade, on the 18th December this year, featuring the Christkind (“Christ Child”) riding down Maria-Theresien-Straße and the historic lanes in a splendid carriage, accompanied by a marching band, shepherds, angels, sheep, and some 600 local children.
Then there’s Salzburg. Its Christmas Market at Residenzplatz was first mentioned in the 15th century, and is the perfect place to sample all the local festive delights while listening to choral tunes. Just outside the city, the Advent Magic at Hellbrunn Palace awaits, one of the most romantic markets in the region. Its over 700 conifers in the inner courtyard are decorated with 10,000 red Christmas balls and strands of lights every year, while the palace’s windows are turned into an XXL advent calendar.
Other markets worth checking out can be found in Graz and Linz, with the latter ideally combined with a trip to Steyr, just 50 minutes away by train or car, and home of the Christkindl and the Christkindl Post Office, which has been stamping postcard and letters with a special festive Christkindl postmark for over 50 years.
CHRISTMAS MARKETS AT THE LAKE
Romantics and lovebirds will surely enjoy Austria’s Christmas Markets at the water. Salzkammergut’s Lake Wolfgangsee and its villages St. Wolfgang, Strobl and St. Gilgen turn into a Christmas wonderland every year, featuring markets, open fires, musical events, and a chance to experience all the Austrian festive traditions first-hand. The 16 m high, floating “Peace Lantern” on the lake, just off St. Wolfgang’s shore, is the official symbol of the region. 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.
Another great region for markets at the lake promenade is Austria’s southernmost province Carinthia. Head to Klagenfurt, then further on to Lake Wörthersee and check out all the stalls and festive lights in Pörtschach and the famous floating Advent wreath in Velden, then book yourself into a guided torchlit walk to experience even more Christmas magic.
CHRISTMAS MARKETS IN THE MOUNTAINS
It almost goes without saying that Austria’s ski and Alpine regions, too, top up their game to get guests in the festive spirit in the weeks leading up to Christmas.
Besides Innsbruck, Tyrolean resorts such as Kitzbühel, Seefeld, St. Johann, and Kufstein await with punch and chestnut stalls, traditional handicrafts, and cookie baking workshops. Zell am See – Kaprun in SalzburgerLand has several Christmas markets, with a handful right in the heart of the skiing towns and one at Kaprun castle, featuring more than 30 stalls, processions, and lots of regional delights. Obertauern and Bad Hofgastein are also well worth considering for a mix of skiing and Christmas magic.
In Austria’s westernmost province Vorarlberg, Kleinwalsertal und Schwarzenberg in Bregenzer Forest are the go-to places for festive celebrations and markets amidst the Alps, while Montafon holds several Christmas-themed concerts throughout the Advent period (and of course there’s punch stalls, too!).
Read more: Christmas Markets in Austria - Facts & Dates