Entries in ‘Austria’ Journal

Vienna, Austria Christmas Markets

Friday January 30, 2015 at 6:06 AM | 0 Comments

While some Christmas Markets claim to be the most authentic or have the oldest ancestry, there is no denying that Vienna claims the distinction of hosting the most Christmas Markets in one city. There are approximately 20 Christmas Markets sprinkled about Vienna, Austria, bringing the term pop up market full circle. During my Viking River Cruise, I was able to take in three charming Christmas Markets in one day.
 

Schönbrunn Palace, Sunset, Vienna, Austria

Schönbrunn Palace Sunset. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown


 

I was already excited to visit Austria’s capital with its stunning architecture, blended with old world imperial traditions. Add on Viennese pastries and Lipizzaner stallions and I was in horse heaven. A team of matching white horses waited patiently next to St. Stephen’s Cathedral, ready to take visitors on a tour of old Vienna. On the other side of the cathedral, a Christmas Market welcomed holiday revelers with steaming mugs of glühwein, roasted chestnuts on an open fire (yes, really) and endless stacks of fresh pretzels. Tis the season to be jolly, indeed! There’s no escaping the holiday spirit when you are surrounded by dancing puppets, gingerbread houses and rosy red-cheeked dolls made of cinnamon sticks!
 

horses, St. Stephen's Cathedral, Vienna, Austria

Horses next to St. Stephen’s Cathedral. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown


 


 
 

Demel, snow globe, Vienna, Austria

Snow globes in Demel bakery. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown


 
Stephansplatz, Vienna, Austria

Stephansplatz holiday mug. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown


 
After exploring a smaller Christmas Market in downtown Vienna, some of our Viking River crew opted for an excursion to Schönbrunn Palace in the afternoon.
 
Schönbrunn Palace

In 1569 a member of the Habsburg dynasty purchased a large plot of land, built a mansion and created hunting grounds. Schönbrunn, meaning “beautiful spring” was dubbed the summer residence of the family. In 1918 the Austrian Republic took over the property and turned the 1,441-room Baroque palace into a museum. In 1996 it because a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In addition to strolling the formal gardens, visitors are able to take a guided tour of the imperial apartments and explore the furnished rooms in the palace. There was also a carriage museum tour (for an additional charge) with 94 carriages on display. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to visit the museum.

Schönbrunn Palace was an optional four hour excursion on my Viking River Cruise that I wanted to take to see yet another Christmas Market and I’m glad I did.The Christmas Market at Schönbrunn Palace offered some of the best hand-made crafts in my opinion. This is the place where I purchased some unique Christmas ornaments to take with me back to California. It also gave us a memorable sunset over the palace. What a send-off Vienna!
 

puppets, Schoenbrunn Palace, Vienna

Puppets at the palace. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown


 
Schönbrunn Palace, Austria, Vienna

Glühwein at Schönbrunn. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown

 

Chestnuts, Christmas Market, Vienna, Austria

Roasted chestnuts. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown


 
Article written by, video and photos courtesy of Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown of What a Trip, Travels from Northern California. Disclosure: thanks to the folks at Viking River Cruises for making this trip possible. As always, all opinions are my own.

Top Five European Christmas Markets

Thursday October 25, 2012 at 5:05 AM | 6 Comments

"Christmas Market"

Berlin, Germany has over 60 Christmas markets.

It’s that time of year again!  Get into the Christmas spirit – take a city break and visit some of the European Christmas markets where you could combine your holiday shopping with a culture trip as well.

With the sound of carol singers, the smell of roasting chestnuts and mulled wine to fuel you up from the inside, there is no better way to get into the Christmas vibe than visiting one of the many Christmas markets there are on offer.

Originating from Germany, the ever increasing popularity has meant many countries have introduced their own versions so here are our top five European Christmas markets that we feel are worth a visit.  You can hop on the Eurostar or take one of the many cheap flights on offer for that true Christmas experience.

Berlin, Germany

With over 60 Christmas markets, there is plenty to choose from in this fascinating contemporary city.  With textiles, paintings, jewelry and more traditional gifts, you could get all your Christmas shopping done in one go, and still have time to enjoy a drink and see some of the sights on offer.  The most popular Berlin markets include the largest market situated next to the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church and Weihnachts Zauber on the Gendarmenmarkt,  Held from 26 November – 31st December 2012.

"Belgian Chocolates"

Who can resist Belgian chocolates?

Brussels, Belgium

Held from 23rd November – 1st January, this market attracts more than 2.5 million visitors a year.  This is more than a Christmas market, Brussels Winter Wonders Christmas market also hosts an ice rink, sleighing run, and hundreds of chalets selling traditional Christmas gifts.  There is also a Ferris wheel so if you are with the family, there are plenty of things to do in Brussels and the  kids will be thoroughly entertained.  Being famous for its cuisine, this market is also a good choice for foodies.  Stalls are packed with mulled wine, Belgian chocolates and speculoos (gingerbread Santa Claus!)

Vienna, Austria

This market is situated on the square in front of the wonderful Town Hall.  With rows of wooden huts, trees decorated with theme lights, and stalls selling hand crafted decorations, this market is one of the best known and most visited in Europe.  This is a great choice if you are with the kids and you want to do your shopping. In the Vokshalle, in the Town Hall, daily workshops are put on for children, so parents may enjoy shopping in peace.

"Prague"

Christmas markets in Prague are typically low key and family-friendly.

Prague, Czech

Vanocni trh (Christmas markets) in Prague are usually fairly low key and family friendly.  The Czechs take Christmas seriously so this market is a colorful show of stalls, plenty of mulled wine, as well as theater shows and folk displays.  The main ones are found at Wenceslas Square and the Old Town square.  You’ll find Prague markets running from 1st December – 6th January.

 

Copenhagen, Denmark

Open from 16th November – 30th December, Copenhagen’s Christmas Market at Tivoli Gardens is a truly remarkable market. You will find Christmas trees, a theme park with roller-coasters, and plenty of food stalls and an abundance of ‘gløgg’, a hot and spicy mulled wine drink.  The lake is transformed into an outdoor skating rink and all around the edge you will find stalls selling locally produced arts and crafts and porcelain or wooden dolls.

So take a break before the Christmas buzz, and head to one of the many delightful Christmas markets Europe has on offer.  Book a city break, do your holiday shopping and enjoy some Christmas festivities.

Where are your favorite Christmas markets?

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