The European Christmas Markets hype has been increasing and with great packages to many destinations it is easy to see why. Also the markets are just so magical and it sure is a great way to kick start the festive period.
We managed to get a cheap flight out to Vienna flying with Laudamotion (part of Ryan Air). The flights to and from Vienna ran smoothly and the journey was less than two hours. Landamotion has very poor reviews online however the experience was not bad. I guess we were expecting the worst so it was all a bonus.
Hotels are a lot more expensive in Vienna. We looked at reviews and booked Saint Shermin in the end. It was clean and like an Air BnB. The location was ideal for transport links and walking to major destinations like the Opera House was less than 15 minutes.
Travelling within Vienna:
The local transport links are efficient, clean and well signposted. They have trams, underground trains and buses. With a Vienna City Pass you can travel as much as you want within the city. You get two types of City passes, one which has more benefits than the other. You get discounts in various places too with the City Pass so it is worth enquiring about. The city pass covers a certain radius within Vienna and the airport is just outside that area. You can get to all the main stations with your pass then get a single ticket to the airport. This costs 2.40 euros. Uber’s are available in Vienna but the public transport worked so well we never needed one.
We had prebooked a private Hoppa Taxi going to the hotel on arrival because we were not sure how much a taxi would be. We have used Hoppa in the past and they have always delivered. Their prices are competitive and there is always a promotional code online.
Things to do in Vienna:
- Free walking tours: The sooner you can do the tour the better. It gives you a snap shot of the city and gives you enough information on where to go. The tour lasts around two hours. Our guide Marie gave us tips which I will share during the post. We covered some great locations which would ordinarily be missed. Some included Joseph’s Square, Monument against War and Fascism, Hofburg Palace, Mozarthouse and some of Vienna’s best backyards.
- Opera House: The Opera House is the Soul of Vienna. Try and see a show at the Opera House. I have never been to see an Opera before and for 3 euros I could not resist. Every evening from around 5pm, you can go and buy a standing ticket. It is first come first serve basis and many reserve their spots early on too. The view obviously is not the best however the sound is incredible and you have little screens to watch the performance. The dress code varies from smart to casual. Coats and backpacks are stored in a cloakroom. Seeing the architecture and the beautiful paintings in the Opera House is worth it too.
- Art & Museums: Visit one of the many art galleries in Vienna- there are several depending on what you like. The same applies to museums. The culture is so rich and there is so much to see and learn. We did not have time to do either of these but I do want to return to cover some of them. The English tours at the museums are at specific times and it is always worth doing a bit of research beforehand so you can visit the venue accordingly. (An example is we got to the Imperial Treasury at midday but discovered the English tour only ran once a day at 4pm)
- Spanish Riding School: Try and watch the horse displays at The Spanish Riding School. Between 10-12 every morning you can see the Lipizzan horses perform and practice for 15 euros. The tickets for the evening are 50 euros plus. We were unable to get to the show on find and though we could get tickets for 7.50 euros there was only 15 minutes left of the morning show and the woman advised it is probably not worth it.
- St Stephen’s Cathedral: This is the Heart of Vienna. The gothic cathedral is just so beautiful. We did not walk up the 300 plus stairs to get an aerial view of Vienna but went inside and were blown away at the architecture.
- Museum Quarter: This is one of the largest cultural quarters in the world and has a range of installations and museums.
- Naschmarkt: I love to visit markets when abroad and Vienna was no different. This is the most popular one in Vienna and has over 100 food and vintage stalls. You can get anything from exotic fruits to spices. It is like a mini Istanbul bazaar.
- Belvedere Palace: Another historic complex in Vienna consisting of two Baroque Palaces, beautiful gardens and lovely paintings.
- Justiz Cafe: Having read recommendations on aerial views of Vienna, we went to the bar on the 18th floor of Sofitel. Unless you have a restaurant reservation I did not think the views were magnificent. The bar was beautiful and there was a good vibe.
For a much cheaper and better view, I would recommend the Justiz Cafe. The views are so much better and it is free to get in. You can enjoy some Viennese cuisine at the canteen if you wish or just go up and take in the panoramic views.
The main reason we had a trip to Vienna was for the Christmas Markets (Weihnachtsmarkt) and they did not disappoint. They have several little markets around the centre, each with a different twist.
Each of the markets have their own mugs for Gluhwein/hot drinks.
We visited these ones:
- Vienna Christmas World on Rathausplatz: This market is located outside the Vienna City Hall and is magical. It was my favourite because it had a lot of stalls (about 150) and had the extra addition of different decorations too
- Christmas Village at Belvedere Palace: The village is not that big and located at the back of the palace.
- Christmas Market on Stephansplatz: This was another one of my favourites. There are about 40 booths however here I found the shops were slightly cheaper (for items like mittens) and because it was so close to the city there was a great atmosphere. The beautiful views of the Cathedral made it special too.
- Christmas Village on Maria-Theresien-Platz: Located across the road from the Museum Quarter here is another traditional market that had a different selection of items. This is where we bought some fancy beetroot cheese (29 euros..oopsie)
- Rooftop Christmas at Ritz Carlton: This is known for the only rooftop Christmas Market. It was a bit disappointing with only 2 booths that sold wine and sandwiches. The best views were on the corner however that was taken up with a private party.
- Advent pleasure market at the Opera House: This was a smaller market opposite the Opera House. This specialises mostly in food and was where I got the spiralled potatoes. It is a small market.
I have an additional post on Food in Vienna for information on cafes and restaurants.
Its bye for now. Thank you for reading.