It's no secret - I love Christmas. So when we realized we had exceptional access to some of Europe's best Christmas markets, the question was 'which would we visit?' We knew we'd have plenty of chances to visit our own markets here in Praha, but what other markets were worthy of a weekend trip? I'm happy to say we chose right in picking Vienna as our first choice.
We had 48 hours in the beautiful Austrian capital to soak up all the Christmas cheer humanly possible and I am pleased to announce we did just that. Until further notice, I'm sticking by my notion that Vienna is actually Christmas Heaven. Even if you're aimlessly wandering around the city, you're bound to find a few markets. So which did we see?
City Hall – Rathausplatz (Magic of Advent)
Maria Theresien Platz
Belvedere Palace Christmas Village
At all of these markets you can find handmade items like beeswax candles, painted glass ornaments, wooden ornaments, and much more - with a few of the inevitable cheesy mass produced souvenirs thrown in between. If you love alcohol, you must try the gluehwein. This hot wine is found all over central and eastern europe, under different names, but essentially spiced, mulled wine served piping hot. If you're looking for a fun souvenir, each Christmas market serves the drink in a different ceramic mug and for around 3 euros you can keep it. I can't promise you'll like it, Anna wasn't so fond of it. I like it as long as it's still hot and my aunt enjoyed her 'hot wine' here in Praha, but it's worth a try.
But, I can promise you'll love sachertorte. The Viennese specialty was created in 1832 by Franz Sacher for Prince Wenzel von Metternich. It's a multi-layered, dense chocolate cake with apricot jam between the layers and dark chocolate icing on the outside. On our way to Schloß Schönbrunn, we stopped in a cute little bakery, Aida and grabbed a sachertorte to go - definitely worth it for the cute little pink box and the chance to eat the famous dessert in the palace gardens.
Make sure to check out the dates and times of all the markets. By chance, we happened upon the SCHÖNBRUNN PALACE market on its opening day. Imagine our excitement when we got to witness the Christmas tree lighting. Enjoying a few traditional German carols in front of a palace with your best friend isn't the worst way to start the most wonderful time of the year.