Christmas is a favourite holiday for most of us. These are five reasons to visit Vienna in December because Christmas time is special everywhere around the world but it is magical in Austria. Many people return, after their first Christmas in Vienna.
The Christmas Vienna Markets
The Christmas markets are the favourite places for Vienna’s visitors in December. They have existed for a long time and are a tradition that has become a good tourist product. At these markets, you can buy Christmas decorations, gifts, handmade candles, wooden statues, honey, cloth dolls and many other interesting things. You can join a walking tour and visit three of Vienna’s best Christmas Markets while learning about the Austrian holiday traditions and some of the Vienna’s landmarks on the way.
Despite the diversity of offerings, the favourite stands are the ones that sell traditional Christmas punch. As the author of Austrian Cookbook: Tastes of Vienna and much more says, the country’s cuisine is characterised by historical influences and true melting pot of flavours.
Very tasty are the brezeln – bagels that have diverse taste, many of them poured with chocolate. But the most suitable for cold weather is the roasted chestnuts. Their savour wafts away and mixed with the aroma of punch creates an amazing flavour that you can recognize even in your dreams. It’s Christmas in Vienna!
The Viennese Christmas punch will take a separate section because it is the thing that no one should miss trying! It is made from wine, fruit, sugar, and rum, but there are many varieties in the preparation. The drink has a long history, and it is also made in Germany, England, and other countries. However, the punch of Vienna has earned the well-deserved first place.
As mentioned above, its smell (and taste!) creates an incredible mood at every Christmas market in Vienna and around the world. It is my favourite when I happen to visit the humble but still festive Christmas in Sofia, Bulgaria. Each stand has a different recipe, so you can always try something new. And in each bazaar, the punch comes in a different cup. The cost of the punch (250g) is € 3.50. You will need to pay a 2 euros deposit for the porcelain cup that will be returned when you return the cup. In most cases, people keep them because they have a print related to the place of the bazaar. The one I brought back home has Schönbrunn Palace on it.
Christmas atmosphere on the streets of Vienna is made of an enticing mixture of Christmas markets, Christmas-themed drinks and food, decorations, Christmas carols, people dressed warm and many different faces coming from around the world. In fact, everywhere in the streets of Vienna in December, you can feel the Christmas spirit.
Whether staring in shop windows (many of them screaming: 50% discount), drinking coffee in a café (even in Starbucks the music is associated with Christmas) or looking at some of the beautiful cathedrals, you will always feel the holiday spirit. The streets are colourful and vibrating with life, full of people from different backgrounds. The Christmas spirit in Vienna does not leave anyone untouched – families with young children and elderly couples strolling dignified in their expensive fur coats are all lifted up by the holiday mood spreading around its white wings.
One fun way to explore Vienna in this time of the year can be the Vintage Photo Tour. I would love to snap the holiday mood with a Polaroid camera if I go back one day to Vienna!
Sightseeing in Vienna
If you spend a few days to visit the Austrian capital, you will have time to visit Christmas markets but also to visit some of the interesting tourist sights. For sure you will need at least a week if you want to see more, especially if you want to add day-trips to your Vienna itinerary.
What not to miss in Vienna are Schönbrunn Palace (Schloss Schönbrunn), St. Stephen’s Cathedral (Stephansdom), the Natural History Museum (Naturhistorisches Museum) (housed in a beautiful building), the Danube Tower (Dunauturm) (with stunning views over Vienna). Some of the great day-trips I wish I knew about when I was there are to Salzburg, Hallstatt, Budapest and Prague.
There are also many free things to do in Vienna, including visits to museums, attractions and events.
Tourists have a choice between numerous restaurants, bars, and pastry shops. Vienna is a capital in which a person does not feel suppressed by the crowd and the time. The traffic is slow and people are not in a hurry. There are many young people, but there are also native Viennese who add class to the atmosphere of the city.
Every visitor has a great choice of places of his taste. Many tourists line up at front of the classic Viennese cafes included in tourist guides (such as café Sacher and café Mozart). Others prefer restaurants serving traditional local cuisine. A third prefer to mix with young people in trendy bars and clubs, many of which offer a mixture of music of different genres. If you stay in the city until New Year’s Eve, might want to celebrate it in the Vienna’s City Hall Grand Ballroom or join a party with a 5-course dinner menu in Palais Auersperg, one of Vienna’s best baroque palaces.
It can be expected that a popular winter destination like Vienna could be overwhelming to visit. But this is not the case. Vienna is social, easy to explore and offers the pleasure of an orderly environment.
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