On our first morning in Vienna we set out for Schönbrunn Palace and its famed Christmas Market.
The 1,400 room palace was the long time home of the Hapsburgs and remains one of the most important and well known sites in Austria. The sheer size of it is staggering. While it’s a bit sparse in the winter, I think the gardens would be incredible in the summer months.
No visit to the city during the 4 weeks of advent would be complete without a visit to at least one Christkindlmarkt/Weihnachtsmarkt, as they are known locally. The city is brimming with them, both large and small, and the Schonbrunn market was my favorite of the two we went to.
The market sits directly in front of the grand palace and is packed with food stands and gift stalls.
Because we visited in the early afternoon there weren’t too many people about. I’m not a huge fan of crowds, so this was more than fine by me. It gave us the chance to wander the many stalls and admire the beautiful and charming holiday decor without having to jostle for a spot. I am absolutely in love with traditional German Christmas handicrafts, such as smokers and candle arches. We found a stand with the most adorable and unique smokers. My mom and I thought the prices were a little steep, but now we regret not buying any (luckily they have a website!).
Of course we had to have a couple of mugs of the festive drink known as gluhwein-a hot spiced wine. While I liked the mug of it I had at the Sofia Christmas Market, the two mug-fulls I tried in Vienna had a strong taste of vinegar. My mom hated it and even the smell made her sick. Even though it wasn’t my favorite, the souvenir mugs it comes in were a fun souvenir to take home. If you don’t want the mug it can be returned for a refund on the € 2 deposit.
The market got busier as it got later and after making the rounds to all the stalls we decided to head out. I walked away with only a Schonbrunn palace gluhwein mug and a small gnome ornament. Vince and I also got two of the most enormous pretzels that I have ever seen. Not too bad considering I could have done some major damage at a few of the vendors!
Admittedly, Vienna’s Christmas Markets were the thing that prompted me to book our trip. I thought my first Christmas spent abroad should be celebrated in a special way, and that it was. However, while I liked the markets very much, I found other parts of the city and our trip to be much more enjoyable. I hope to visit Germany’s holiday markets one day to see how they compare.
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