The best time to book Christmas markets is July/August as that’s usually when the airlines have a sale for travel dates from October through March.
Lots of people recommend using skyscanner.ie to find the cheapest flights but personally I love bravofly.com as you also get a little grid telling you what dates would be cheaper than your chosen dates.
When travelling to Christmas markets I highly recommend going on the first weekend they are open, usually the last weekend in November, this ensures you miss the huge crowds and you’ll also get a better deal on flights & hotels.
Rathaus - Town Hall
Vienna is one of the most magical places to visit the Christmas markets as they have many many years of experience & really know how to add the wow factor.
We flew direct to Vienna and paid €140 each return with Aer Lingus. We took advantage of their sale to get this reduced rate.
Christmasmarkets.com has a wealth of information about markets all over Europe, so that’s where I went to find a hotel near the city centre, which is always the market centre.
We eventually decided to treat ourselves & chose the 5* Flemings Deluxe Hotel Wein-City at €170pp for 2 nights B&B.
Fleming’s Deluxe – Beware of the showers!
At check-in we were asked if we were together to which I replied, yes of course we are....WRONG answer! When we got to the room it was clear to see he was asking if we were together together.
There were two single beds pushed together to make a double & a glass box in the middle of the floor that housed the shower. Ahhh now you’re thinking it probably has that electrical smart glass thingy going on where when you close the shower door it frosts over....eh no.
(Sue Here: I managed to get to the Front Page of Reddit with my version of this pic, all was not lost (apart from my eyesight))
Overall the hotel is nice but certainly not 5* by Irish standards. The breakfast was fresh & had a huge selection to choose from, including smoked salmon. The location of the hotel was superb just around the corner from the Town Hall & metro station which connects you to the whole of Vienna.
There are about 25 different Christmas markets dotted all around Vienna. You can get maps to all of these on Chirtmasmarkets.com. The best thing to do is print them off before you go.
Most of these are little markets of about 5-10 stalls around the city streets. We visited most of them as we were rambling around for the day. Our favourite ones were...
Some of the traditional gingerbread on offer at a market stall
Rathausplatz market: This is the largest market, it consists of about 150 stalls selling all sorts of traditional wooden decorations, schnitzels & mulled wine. The Rathaus windows are converted into an advent calendar & the windows open throughout December. The smells are amazing!
Schonbrunn Palace (also a zoo here), Belvedere Palace, Karlsplatz & Spittelberg are also other markets worth a visit.
Prater Christmas Market
Prater is an old amusement park in Vienna easily accessed via the metro. We saved this till last so we could ride the old ferris wheel in the dark & see the twinkling Christmas lights of the market below.
We didn’t pay into the amusement park as most of it was closed for the season but we did pay onto the ferris wheel €9pp. It was worth it for the wonderful views over the rooftops.
View of the market from the Ferris Wheel
Back down in the market there is free live music every Thursday to Saturday to really get you on the festive spirit. You can choose from the multitude of stalls selling mulled wine with or without a shot of brandy.
It was here that we found white mulled wine, a superb drink that was exactly like warm alcoholic marzipan in a glass. We had many of these, sure it’d be rude not to!
Have you been to Vienna? Any hints or tips you can share?!
We've just booked our trip for this year to Cologne, so if you've been there, we'd love to hear from you too!