Top European Christmas Markets in Austria and Germany
On Donner, On Blitzen! at European Christmas Markets
I’m addicted to European Christmas markets! In Germany and Austria, they’re called Weihnachtsmarkts and Christkindlmarkts depending on where you are. Each market has distinct aspects and settings that highlight its individuality, but there are many similarities — festive lights, hand-made arts and crafts, food, drink, and entertainment. I love sipping Glühwein and eating bratwurst sandwiches while browsing the arts and crafts stalls and talking to the artisans amid old European settings.
After visiting my first Christmas markets in Germany and the Czech Republic last year, I hoped that I could make a tradition of spending some time every holiday enjoying them. So when the opportunity arose to head to Germany and Austria earlier this month, my Christmas spirit shifted into high gear.
I’m still sorting through the photos that Mr. TWS and I took in European Christmas markets in Prien-am-Chiemsee, Munich, Salzburg and Vienna — some in large town squares, others down small side streets and one that was spread out on a whole island. Sharing a few of our photos, here are my 2012 Christmas cards to you!
The Marienplatz Weihnachtsmarkt is a large market in Marienplatz (St. Mary’s Square). Just a short distance from our hotel and with a spectacular setting in front of the Neues Rathaus, it was the perfect place to kick off our 2012 Christmas market tour.
The Christmas market continued down the long main pedestrian street for blocks with pretty decorations.
The market in the photo below was in the Kaiserhof courtyard of the Munich Residenz and featured hand-crafted products, animated fairy-tale scenes and a large Christmas pyramid.
The medieval theme at Mittelaltermarkt was on display with costumed vendors and medieval gear for sale.
From Prien am Chiemsee
The Christmas market on Frauenchiemsee Island of is one of my favorites for its unique setting on an entire island in Lake Chiemsee. To get to the island from Prien, you take a ferry that first stops at Herrenchiemsee Island where King Ludwig II built a castle. It then goes on to Frauenchiemsee Island and the Christmas market. The total trip is about 25 minutes each way. Glühwein and craft stalls stretch along the shore and among the inns and gasthauses that dot the island.
Salzburg, Austria’s markets are in stunning settings among historic churches, palaces and a mountain fortress. Cathedral Square was a beautiful location, especially at times when the bells tolled or musicians played from the top of the buildings.
The market in nearby Residence Square had many festive booths with Christmas decorations.
The market at the Hohensalzburg Fortress was another of my favorites being small and distinctively set among the fortress buildings nestled in the courtyard. It gave me the feeling of going back in time.
Mozart, the waltz, palaces and Sacher Torte — Vienna is a treasure! There are also many Christmas markets throughout the city.
Our favorite of the Vienna Christmas markets was the one at Schönbrunn Palace. The palace was one of the most impressive backdrops and the market itself was characterized by high-quality, local crafts.
Our last Christmas market and the largest of those in Vienna was Wiener Christkindlmarkt at Rathausplatz (City Hall Square). The lights and decorations are brilliant. There was also more orientation to children with a train and carousel.
There were elaborately lighted gateways at each of the walkway entrances to the square.
Now, where should I go next year?