Don't worry about the cold and snow at this time of year because the festive season has its own warm glow. And besides, you can always arm yourself against the low temperatures with two essential classics available at every self-respecting Weihnachtsmarkte (Christmas market): mulled wine (Glühwein) and punch (Punsch).
In Austria, and in Vienna in particular, they take Christmas very seriously. During the four weeks of Advent (check the exact dates and opening times here), which begins four Sundays before Christmas Eve, the Austrian capital gives free rein to its festive spirit by decking out the city in gorgeous decorations and lights and setting up its traditional Christmas markets.
The range of markets you'll find as you stroll through Vienna is rich and varied, offering traditional handcrafted Christmas decorations as well as more contemporary versions for new times and tastes, not to mention the inevitable souvenirs - after all, lots of tourists flock to the city to experience the festive season in Vienna at first hand. With so much to choose from, you're sure to discover somewhere special, and no doubt you'll also find a Christmas decoration or gift to buy and take home as a memento.
This spectacular market is the largest and most popular one in Vienna. It dates back several centuries and is held in a marvellous setting: City Hall Square (the Rathausplatz). Although since it's the most famous market, it's also the most crowded one, so try to avoid peak time. As well as the typical stalls, you'll find live music, and in the evenings you can listen to children's choirs inside city hall.
Belvedere Palace Christmas Village
Another of Vienna's major tourist attractions, the magnificent Belvedere Palace, also has its own Christmas market. Don't miss the opportunity to visit the Belvedere gardens and experience this spectacular setting.
Christmas Market at Schönbrunn Palace
Another Vienna classic, this market is also held in a truly spectacular setting: the Schönbrunn Palace. You'll find approximately 80 stalls with handicrafts, as well as activities for children. From 19 November to 26 December the theme is Christmas, then from 27 December to 1 January the decorations change and the items on sale are all to welcome the new year. There's also a series of jazz concerts.
Christmas Market at Spittelberg
Located just behind the Museum Quarter, in a much quieter and less touristy area, this market is famous for handicrafts and excellent punch.
Christmas Village on Maria-Theresien-Platz
You'll not only find Christmas handicrafts at this market situated at the heart of the Museum Quarter. It's also famous for the array of stalls where you can try a selection of Viennese culinary delights.
Come and discover the festive charms of the Austrian capital. Find a cheap flight to Vienna and pack your bags.
Pics by Cha già José