Vienna's Christmas Markets

Posted in WinterAustria

it’s that time of year…

As we descended towards Vienna, I was only able to see industrious views. It was cold and seemed a bit bitter from my initial impression. The city lies a little after the runway and so an aerial view wasn’t really possible from where we were landing from.

Vienna's Christmas Markets
Vienna's Christmas Markets
Vienna's Christmas Markets
Vienna's Christmas Markets
Vienna's Christmas Markets

what I wore

skirt H&M jumper c/o SUGARHILL BOUTIQUE boots c/o JOULES scarf ASPINAL OF LONDON jacket MONSOON

Checked into the Boutiquehotel Stadthalle Wien

We took the quick train right outside the city centre and headed quickly to our hotel as we were trying to catch as much light time we could. We had plans to visit a few places that afternoon. But before that we checked into Boutiquehotel Stadthalle Wien, literally one of the warmest greetings I’ve ever received from a European boutique hotel. It met all the requirements of being accessible, quiet, clean and topped with a great deal of personality.

The room was spacious and boasted the view of the city life outside. What I noticed quickly was the attention to natural, organic and bio-friendly elements in the hotel. This was a great component for someone who is often traveling as I’m looking for a place that will definitely give attention to wellbeing since I often neglect that whilst traveling. From bedtime snacks of organic apples to energy saving elements, everything was perfectly detailed. What I absolutely loved and why I chose this hotel was the organic breakfast. A spread that was limitless, fresh and catered to every dietary need. When you’re traveling, especially on weekend city breaks, you tend to want to see everything and neglect proper meals with snacks in between. I always start with a big breakfast before taking on the city. Eggs multiple ways, an assortment of bread and cheese, birchers muesli with a series of toppings and lots of various milk alternatives.

Vienna's Christmas Markets
Vienna's Christmas Markets
Vienna's Christmas Markets

What I Wore

joggers c/o BAUKJEN jumper BODEN boots c/o BODEN scarf ZARA

Vienna's Christmas Markets
Vienna's Christmas Markets
Vienna's Christmas Markets

perusing Schönbrunn Palace

Not too far from the hotel is the Schonbrunn Palace. Most people, with a weekend away to Vienna, don’t really visit this bit as it lays just outside the city center, but it shouldn’t be missed. The grounds are actually quite humble in size. We only gazed at the outside and walked just a bit of the grounds to take in the splendor and details. But the second we laid eyes on the Vienna Christmas market {our first of the weekend and favorite too}, we were too excited not to peruse. We grabbed a gluhwein each and walked around cheerily.

Tip for the Vienna Christmas markets: definitely grab a hotel drink at the first stand. They’re there for a strategic reason. Walking around can be very difficult with the cold. Go for a gluhwein {mulled wine} or beerenpunsch and if you’re not up for the alcohol, then try the kinderpunsch or a hot chocolate variety. The hot drink will keep you warm through your meander and then you can return the mug at the stall at the other end of the Vienna Christmas market. With food, we mostly just consumed at the Vienna Christmas markets as it was all comforting and delicious. Your typical plates of spaetzle and bratswurst were available as were the rich goulash soup in a bread bowl and don’t forget the marzipan {almond paste} sweet treats and decadent apfelstrudel {apple strudel}!

Vienna's Christmas Markets

visting Belvedere Palace

After seeing so many photos of this palace in the snow, I needed to make a visit and lucky for me, it even snowed that day. After a big breakfast, we headed straight to Belvedere Palace and found it basically vacant. The palace glowed under the dusting of snow and I couldn’t help but be in awe. Katie and I spoke about how the city must be completely different in the warmer seasons and we’re considering another visit. Of course, the Palace also had a Christmas market on, though not one of our favorites, it was charming!

Vienna's Christmas Markets
Vienna's Christmas Markets

jumper c/o BODEN jeans JOULES boots c/o BODEN

The Christmas Markets usually have stalls for presents that include ornaments, snow globes, food and confectionaries, notebooks, trinkets and more. If you’re looking to visit and do your shopping there, be sure to have cash on you {some stalls have capacity to take cards if they’re bigger purchases like jewelry} and definitely have a tote bag to put your shopping in.

Vienna's Christmas Markets
Vienna's Christmas Markets

taking in St. Stephen’s Church

I heard from many European lovers that this church is one of their favorites. It feels inviting, it is clean and well maintained. Considering how many people were coming in and out of the church, it felt like a place one could actually go and pray or meditate. It was elaborate and dark with rays of light from candles, oil lamps and the stained windows. We took the elevator up to get a 360 view of the city.

Vienna's Christmas Markets
Vienna's Christmas Markets
Vienna's Christmas Markets

sauntering Michaelerplatz

We made plans to go to a museum or two and to acknowledge that Vienna, rather Austria in general, houses some of the greatest talents in history. From Mozart to Klimt, they cover an array of talents. So we perused Michaelerplatz leading up and through Museumplatz. Obviously, there’s a Christmas market here too, which is possibly the most magical of them all with horse carriage rides and jingles and choirs about. We ended up parking ourselves in a little cafe to enjoy some tea as we watched the snowfall.

Vienna's Christmas Markets
Vienna's Christmas Markets
Vienna's Christmas Markets

Cafe culture is quite big in Europe, but most particularly in Vienna. The Viennese boast the grandeur of their old cafes and you would find locals and tourists embracing it equally.

Cafe Rien

where we visited. It’s a 19th century humble cafe that is lined with luxe red booths and gorgeous design elements. The views are of Hofburg Palace.

Cafe Hofburg

right in the middle of the palace courtyard and the inside is truly historical. Perfect place to park up if you’re looking for a break between museums and galleries.

Cafe Central

The most grand of all with a vaulted ceiling, charming light, and can host a load of people. This is one of the most frequented in the area and definitely worth it.

special thanks to Vienna Tourism, Boutiquehotel Stadthalle Wien and Labstelle for hosting us for the weekend! And of course to my best friend, Katie for helping capture my outfits!

Vienna's Christmas Markets
Vienna's Christmas Markets
Vienna's Christmas Markets

dinner at Labstelle

We wanted something that gave us a taste of true Austrian cuisine, but celebrated culinary technique too. A farm-to-table concept indulging in the finer bits of the regional cuisine, our best meal of the weekend came from Labstelle. They greet you with fresh bread and homemade butter and then tempt you as they concoct cocktails to the same importance as their food.

We went for the 4-course surprise menu, which is what I suggest if you’re looking for a full experience. We started off with the pickled char, pear, jerusalem artichoke and hemp sponge. The fish, as expected was meaty, but surprising was the hemp sponge that was the gateway to connecting all the textures and flavors. The second course was not what I expected. The bowl came out with cubes of pickled pumpkin and biscotti like bread. But the pumpkin soup that was poured on top was incredible fulfilling. It was warm, straight to the point, and not too diluted. Loved the pairing with the pickled bits as it paid homage to the season.

Vienna's Christmas Markets
Vienna's Christmas Markets

Between this course, I took the time to enjoy my cocktail and take a look around. Just the day before, I spoke to one of my St. Andrews friends, Alice who lives in Vienna. She told me that she often visits Labstelle afterwork with friends for a cheeky drink before heading home. So I flirted with the idea of a cocktail and was given a lemongrass appletini. I’m more of a beer, wine, negroni person-but this was smoked. It was a dramatic gesture too. Brought to the table in this gorgeous goblet with a house spiked juice at the bottom, which was one bit of the cocktail and then there was an intimidating layer of smoke above that. To my surprise, that smoke mimicked something I would enjoy from the Isle of Islay in Scotland within a cocktail you would assume would make an appearance in a scene of Sex and the City. That cocktail was a great representation of the various types, ages and groups of people in the restaurant too. Each dish and cocktail came up with an experience that catered to all within its minimalist yet cozy set up.

But I digress… The beef course was my absolute favorite. Not sure if I was shaking from excitement or from the day’s exhaustion, but the bits of beef braised and roasted were incredible. Barely needed a knife, really. The salt was perfect and medlied with the roots on the plates so gorgeously. What I was surprised to see, and not at all disappointed, were the bread dumplings alongside very already comforting elements. Finally, my favorite round usually, the dessert. When we received it, I was expecting a bit more. I wasn’t at all hungry, but I wanted sometime to top the beef plate of course. But really, the spoonful of pumpkin oil ice cream with the pumpkin bits and cake and cream, made it all worth it. I’ve had desserts like this before, where a single ingredient is celebrated. And when done right, it’s thoroughly enjoyed.

Vienna's Christmas Markets
Vienna's Christmas Markets
Vienna's Christmas Markets
Vienna's Christmas Markets

trousers BODEN jumper c/o BODEN scarf c/o BODEN boots c/o BODEN

The final day, we decided to ditch the museum plan and just walk around aimlessly. We visited different parts of the city, fell in love with the architecture, ate ourselves silly at another Christmas market and then made our way back to the airport. It’s very walkable, but I would highly recommend getting a Vienna travelcard, which gives you access to all public transportation. You can get passes for 24-48-72 hours, we did enough for a weekend, and it was just what we needed.

Vienna's Christmas Markets
Vienna's Christmas Markets