Another Glühwein, bitte!
In Austria, Advent Markets, called Christkindlmarkt, are a much-loved tradition, not to be missed. The distinct smell of mulled wine and roasted chestnuts, and the cute little stalls with Christmas decoration and gifts invite Austrians and tourists to get into the Christmas spirit.
Here are 10 of the best Advent markets among the many you can find around Austria:
1- Art Advent
It is located at Karlsplatz. Although the Rathausplatz Christmas market is the biggest in Austria, I find the Karlsplatz market much more beautiful. It is open daily until the 23rd December, just outside Karlskirche, the stunning church where my parents got married. The stalls are usually run by the craftspersons who sell their hand-made products, selected by a jury. Although you see every year almost the same things, you can sometimes find original presents. It gets really crowded at night, with young people, including my daughter and friends, gathering loudly around the Glühwein and Punsch stalls. Kids also love the rides, petting zoo and a straw-covered space to jump on and have fun. Plus, you can have the best Raclette there!
2- Altwiener Christkindlmarkt
The old Viennese Christmas market is my personal favourite. It is a small historical market on the Freyung, in the first district, that first opened in 1772. You will find there unique products such as handmade crafts and delicious local cheese and wines, and there's Christmas music and choral singing from 4:00 pm. It is open until the 23rd of December.
3- The Rooftop Bar
At The Ritz-Carlton, Vienna, becomes the highest Christmas market during the Advent time, offering the typical mulled wine and cocktails. I recommend it, mainly because of the impressive view of Vienna's beautifully lit Christmas decorations.
4- The Hauptplatz Christmas market
It is located in front of the City Hall. It is famous for its Feuerzangenbowle drink; a mix of wine and rum they set on fire before your eyes. I'm not sure if it's the fire or the alcohol in the drink, but it surely keeps you warm enough. The market is open until the 24th of December. The festive capital of Styria has several Advent markets at walking distance of one another, with seasonal music, food and drinks to celebrate the holiday season joyfully.
5- At the Franciscan Church
You will find the oldest Christmas market in Graz. While you enjoy delicious Glühwein, Punsch and farm-produced specialities worth trying, the children will love this traditional market because of the nativity scene with real sheep, a carousel and toys. It is open till the 30th of December.
6- Salzburg Advent Markt
In the beautiful baroque city, the birthplace of Mozart, there are several advent markets decorated with light garlands outside historic buildings. The oldest Christmas market is the one located around the Cathedral of Salzburg. By the way, the famous cathedral bells are considered one of the most beautiful sets in Austria, and weight over 32 tonnes! They ring daily several times; so the best time to stroll in the Salzburg Christkindlmarket and get to hear them is at noon and 6 pm and before Holy Mass begins. You can visit the market until the 26th of December.
7- The Fairy Tale Alley
Christmas market is located in the old town centre. It shows scenes of famous fairy tales along with delicious food stalls and Christmas decorations and gifts. The historical scenery of the capital city of Tyrol beautifully lit is very romantic. Around 17:30, you should find a place in front of the Golden Roof because trumpet players appear on its balcony to play traditional Austrian Christmas music. The market is open until the 23rd of December.
Christmas market is one you shouldn't miss. Take the fantastic funicular designed by star architect Zaha Hadid to the Hungerburg district. Up there, the Christmas market will offer you, yes; you guessed it right, the best panorama view of Innsbruck and the surrounding snow-covered mountains! Besides the breathtaking views, the market has typical Christmas food and drink stalls. It is open from 25th November till the 23rd of December. On the 6th December, Saint Nicolaus visits Hungerburg and then, there’s the wild and super fun Krampuslauf.
9- Mariazell Advent Markt
The small city at the feet of the Styrian Alps is the most important pilgrimage destinations in Central Europe for its famous shrine to the Blessed Virgin Mary. The picturesque Mariazelle Advent is worth visiting. It is only open during the weekends, from the 21st November until the 22nd December. Enjoy the concerts in the basilica, Nativity scenes through the village and tours in the local manufactories. Their Krampuslauf is well-known, with more than a hundred wooden-carved masks.
10- Plangeross Advent Markt
This small mountain village in Tyrol turns into a real-life Advent Calendar. The Pitztal Mountain advent goes from the 1st to the 24th December. Each day, a different house in Plangeross opens its door or window for visitors to try the home-made food, schnapps and mulled wine, and local artisans show their work.
We hope you enjoy the Advent markets, but be careful; too much "Christmas spirit" can make it difficult to find your way back home!
Photos via Shutterstock and @Hochsteiermark Tourismus