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?
This post would make a great Christmas card! Oh how I must visit these and ALL of the other markets someday! LOL. Yes, all 1,000 or so. ; )
Your photos capture the enchanting ambiance so beautifully and now, my wanderlust is insatiable!
Thank you for the wonderful tour!
My expectations were very high about Europe at Christmas & I was not disappointed. What a way to start the holidays!
Fantastic! Spending Christmas in europe, probably Munich, is high on my bucket list. it’s just so hard to leave NYC at this time of year!
NYC is awesome at Christmas, but I think that everyone should experience Christmas in Europe if they get a chance.
Fantastic pictures! I loved them all and can hardly wait for my turn at the wonderful Christmas markets spread across Europe. I may just have to stay for the entire Christmas holiday 🙂
How great that would be to spend the whole season galavanting around Europe! I’d like that, too.
I know, deep down, that it isn’t all about the lights or the glitz or even the snow, but I simply can’t get that image of Christmas out of my head – do you remember, even at the end of “Holiday Inn” it didn’t snow until the very last minute?!…….this post is beautiful, and it has determined !me to go in search of snow next year
Thanks, Linda. Yes, I remember that about “Holiday Inn”. The images we have of Christmas are pretty powerful and the Christmas markets really bring them to life for me.
I’ve always loved seeing photos of the Christmas markets in Europe. Thanks for taking me there.
Have you spent Christmas in NYC?
I’ve been in NYC early in the Christmas season a few times and loved it. I’d really like to be there closer to Christmas sometime, too.
First picture is my favorite! You look so happy and cute, all bundled up and sitting on that model sleigh. 🙂
Yeah, I was quite happy. 🙂
Beautiful pictures. First picture is my favorite too…
Aw, thanks! 🙂
I’m with Muza-chan on this one! Very pretty.
Thanks, Maria — looking at it now really brings such a happy memory.
We are giving serious thought to taking a similar trip in 2013. Your photos have inspired me! And, I’m thinking if you can brave the cold in Germany and Austria, I can brave the cold in Paris next month!
Yes, you can! We experienced Paris in December in 2009 & 2010. Wonderful!
I love European Christmas markets too! I’ve been to the ones in Munich, Salzburg, and Vienna but really want to return and visit more of them. Here in Los Angeles they just aren’t the same.
Pre-Christmas is a whole different experience in Europe, isn’t it?
What a fantastic series of photos. I would like to be in Sweden or Norway for Christmas – what do you think Cathy? I’m sure there are lots of tourists but I bet these markets have a great community feel too. And all that gluwein (sp?) to drink. Wonderful.
I’ve got Scandinavia on my Christmas list, too!
These are beautiful pictures all of them would make beautiful post cards. I have never been to a German market but that is all the more reason for me to make plans to go. I have plans to visit Germany next year but unfortunately not in the winter time. Thank you for sharing your wonderful vacation with us. Continue to enjoy drinking Glühwein and bratwurst sandwiches are the best. Have you had Weiswurst yet???
Haven’t had Weiswurst. I’ll put that on the list for next time. 🙂
It’s always nice to see seasonal photos from around the world. These Christmas markets are nice. I’ve only been to Christmas markets in Canada. Hopefully someday in Europe. Merry Christmas Cathy, Mr. TWS and everyone! 🙂
Thank you! Hope you’ve been having a wonderful holiday season!
What a great post, Cathy! Wow, you got to visit so many during your stay. I would love to visit any European Christmas market but these in Germany and Austria seem to take it to the next level. How awesome to go to an island for a Christmas market. Thanks for the virtual tour since it’ll be awhile before I get to see one.
The island Christmas market was so unusual. I think that Laurel said that it’s been called the best Christmas market in Germany.
Oh wow, very beautiful and atmospheric pictures!! I love it how there’s snow everywhere. I’m from the mid-western part of Germany, where it normally only gets cold enough for snow from January on. Still, even our decembres further up in the country are cold enough to enjoy mulled wine at the Christmas markets. Which surely must be the most important thing;)!
The hot mulled wine is certainly a big plus of the enjoying the markets — for me, anyway. 🙂
Love Christmas markets. They never get old for me.
It’s only my second year going to the markets, but I don’t think they’ll get old for me, either.
So glad to see you made it to Prien. Not many people do. Lovely little town, isn’t it?
Yes, it is a lovely time & I can’t wait to go back!
Every Christmas we promise we’ll visit a European Christmas Market… Maybe that she be our New Year’s resolution? Happy Holidays to you and your family!
As you can tell, I highly recommend kicking off the holidays at European Christmas markets — hope you do it next year!
It really is like a fairyland to me. There is nothing like that in Australia at Christmas Time! I wonder if I will ever see this?
I hope you will see this someday — just as I hope to see your part of the world sometime! 🙂
Now this is where I could get excited about Christmas – and shopping. Some beautiful shots here and great information. Merry Christmas Cathy to you and Mr. TWS!
Thanks, Jackie — hope you’ve been having a great holiday season.
lovely photos, Cathy. thanks so much for sharing your journey with us. as for where you should go next on your Christmas market travels — how about Dublin? there are several in the cuty, including one amidst the Georgian architecture in Merrrion Square. or head west to Eyre Square in the city of Galway for a lively holiday market. not always snow in Ireland at the holidays — though sometimes there wil be — but a lovely holiday spirit whatever the weather.
happy Cjrsitmas to you!
I would love to visit Ireland during the Christmas holidays. I was there several years ago in the fall. What a wonderful country & people!
We were just in London and surprised to find that they copy the German markets there — I still think the original ones are the best, especially in Austria.
London is another one of my favorite places to be during the holidays. We spent a little time there in early December of 2009 & 2010. Lots of holiday spirit!
This is so awesome! We were in Prague last winter – that was my first introduction to Christmas Markets. I had hoped to go to Germany this year, but alas, it wasn’t to be! That is going onto the plan for next year for sure! Love your photos. Looks like you had a brilliant time! Happy holidays.
I was in Prague last winter, too — maybe we bumped into each other at the market in old town square. Wonderful place to experience Christmas markets.
It’s so great to see these pictures of the Weihnachtsmärkte, especially the one on Marienplatz in Munich. I saw them putting up the tree a few weeks ago, but I’ve been in the US since then. It’s a beautiful square. Thank you for these pics!
I’m sure that Marienplatz is beautiful any time of year. Hope I get a chance to visit in other seasons sometime.
I love the first picture the best. This is helping me to get into the Christmas mood. It’s just how I picture Christmas should be — all snowy and European with lots of gorgeours wares to tempt me.
Thanks! It’s kind of nice when Mr. TWS is with me to take a lot of the pics. 🙂
It all looks so wonderful with those spectacular lights. Merry Christmas!!!
Thanks, Andrew. The lights really do set the festive mood.
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A great year indeed! Cheers to an even better one in 2013!
Merry Christmas, Cathy! Vienna has been my favorite city yet for Christmas markets. Next year I hope to take a Christmas market river cruise and visit some in Germany. Laurel’s posts from the Lyon Festival of Lights make me want to visit there as well!
Glad you made it to Vienna. Such a neat and wonderful place anytime of year, but I can imagine even moreso at Christmas.
Are you guys still on this side of the pond?
Lovely lovely lovely! Christmas markets are easily one of my favorite things about Europe, especially the ones in Germany and Austria. 🙂
The Christkindl markets in Vienna are my faves. Love your photos 🙂
Glühwein and bratwurst – why else do you need to go to the Christmas markets? 🙂 Great festive photos. We’ll take this opportunity not to wish you a happy new year and look forward to more of your posts in 2013. 🙂
Julia and Barry
Crikey, you must have been to more Christmas markets than me!
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I am so happy to view these Catherine! Its exactly as I thought it would be! Beautiful. I hope that one day my wife and I can attend a Christmas Market tour in Europe and see all these wonderful sights! Thanks for sharing.
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