Visiting Christmas markets back when I was younger when we lived in Austria was a tradition not to be missed as the festive season approached. Eating traditional homemade treats, drinking mulled wine-non alcoholic of course and going on [ tame ] rollercoaster rides and having a jolly good time sure bring back some great memories as a child. I sure have missed these moments now that I’m a grown up and it was time I took myself back home and visited some markets, grab a few handmade gifts, bring back a souvenir or two, drink some mulled wine-the good stuff, soak in some festive fun and indeed take advantage of the beautiful sights and streets of Vienna and use it as a backdrop for photo-shoots.
In this post, I’m going to share with you my top tips for visiting, sights and things I recommend to see and do if you’re planning on visiting any of the Christmas markets – [there are lots of them ] whether at home or abroad or you’re just visiting Vienna in general.
Travel and Hotel:
We booked everything last minute via British Airways’ Holiday finder on ba.com. They do offer some fantastic deals on flights and hotels together seasonally. They had an offer for £99 for 2 days, 1 night stay in Vienna but we wanted to stay a bit longer so we tailor made it and it was still very reasonably priced. I wasn’t very fond of the hotel or the area we stayed at. Its great if you’re on a tight budget otherwise, I’ll recommend spending a few more pennies for something a little better and one that is located centrally too. It wasn’t all bad as there we great transport links with a choice of both Tram and the Metro to get us around the city easily. We were about 8 metro stops away from the city centre and we bought the 24hour metro travel card (don’t forget to validate it) which was valid for travel for on most transport services.
After checking into our hotel, we headed for a casual walk and made our way to Kaernertersrasse– Vienna’s major shopping street. A long street dedicated to shopping, restaurants, coffee shops and also surrounded by various tourist attractions within walking distance. Most of the stores here houses premium brands flagships stores such as Swarovski. Think of it as London’s Regent Street. It runs from Stephansplatz to the Vienna Opera House and onto Karlsplatz – located on the ring road. This is a large square in the city centre with the magnificent Karlskirche– a baroque Chrurch, where you can also find the popular Naschmarkt– farmer’s market nearby.
Our first Christmas market encounter was at Stephanansplatz . It wasn’t that big as so we took a short walk around the stalls, took pictures of the Stephansdom Cathedral – a Romanesque church, reconstructed after the 2nd World War. It was difficult to photograph at night so visit during daytime if you can. I instead visited the best H&M store I had ever been in. It was so beautifully decorated and looked like a manor house. This store was handily located a few yards walk away from the Cathedral. Don’t judge me, I know history is important but one needs to stay current and on trend too so shopping won on this occasion…lol. We then went off to have a very late lunch at Nordsee fish restaurant. I’ll recommend this place and their fish soup if you love seafood. The prices were reasonable too and was it tasty. We took a short walk around the Opera house, visited another christmas market located at Karlsplatz, took more pictures of the baroque church and the Music Association building before grabbing some groceries at Billa supermarket and stocking up on my favourite Austrian drink ever and heading back to the hotel by 8pm.
We didn’t plan on going home so early but it got dark quickly so we assumed it was very late.
Tip: In terms of weather, it was fairly mild during the day and you could get away without a coat but after 4pm when it stars to get dark, you need to reach for your duvet! Also, be sure to get most of your sightseeings done in the short day time and reserve the evenings for strolling around and taking pictures of the Christmas lights decorations. It was so pretty seeing the city decorated and lit up light that.
1. Schoenbrunn Palace
We were up bright and early on our first full day and headed straight to the city centre again to do all the touristy stuff. The first on our agenda was to visit Schoenbrunn Palace. You cannot go to Vienna and not visit its most popular tourist attraction. This was once a hunting lodge built for Crown Prince Joseph. It then became an imperial summer residence for Maria Antoinette during her reign. The palace boasts of 1,441 rooms and only about 22 or so are for public access. There are various guided tours you can pay to visit to get a taste of the imperial lifestyle. Imagine incredible ceiling artwork, gold plated chandeliers, rococo style decorated rooms. It surely is beautifully and filled with Pinterest worthy home decor inspirations if you’re into this type of style.
The fun started for me before I even entered the palace. Outdise the black gates was a street performer called ‘Mozart’. Face painted gold and wore what I believed Mozart would have been wearing back in the day to stay high on the fashion radars. He asked me for a ‘free’ dance [ you usually have to pay him ] whilst he was doing his pre-dance stretch moves. I didn’t oblige even though I’m the worst dancer. It was quite fun shaking a leg with Mozart outside the palace.
This is the backyard garden of the palace. I can imagine what the garden must have looked like during the spring/summer seasons. It was still beautiful nonetheless in this autumn season. This is where we found a spot for shooting some outfit pictures. I mean come on, who wouldn’t like this as their backdrop?
We found a maze garden with it leaves now turned orange and yellow and fitted quite well with the concept I had in my mind for my first outfit shoot, which I have already posted here.
2. Mariahilfer Strasse
We spent most of our day here walking, enjoying the sights and mainly shooting for the blog and left around 2pm and headed back into the city centre for some lunch. We stopped off at Mariahilfer Strasse – the longest and most lively shopping street. We knew we’d find more places to eat to here. Luckily, we didn’t have to go far to find our lunch hotspot. Two minute walk from the Westbahnhof metro station and we discovered ‘Le Burger’. The clue is in the name. This was a very chic decorated modern-contemporary-eatry. Decked with live plants on the wall. It had two floors- upstairs was for finer dining with ala carte menu and downstairs had a more fun approach with a self-service style. For me, it was the swing chair that lured me in. Forget scouting the place for a restaurant that served authentic Austrian cuisine – aka there real wiener schnitzel. I wanted to dive into a tasty burger whilst sitting on a swing chair like the big kid that I am. Oh their homemade lemonade was tasty too. Thumps up for this place.
After our tasty Le burger treats, we took the metro and headed off to find the Hofburg. We had no clue we had even walked passed it until another tourist pointed to us when we asked for the whereabouts of it. We weren’t really impressed with it from what we saw compared to what we had seen online. I think by the time we got there, it had turned into a car park or we found the rear of the building.
4. Rathausplatz Christmas Market
Either way, we carried on walking along the street until we heard music and saw Christmas lights decked on every single tree along the street. It seemed we had walked into the biggest and best Christmas Market there ever was. This one had everything. We finally got a taste of the coveted mulled wine. Mine came in a novelty mug in a shape of a shoe boot. Of course, I brought the mug home with me. Why the need to ask? After all, I paid €7 euros for it. I would have received my €3 deposit back if I returned the mug but it was so cute and couldn’t buy on its own.
We took more pictures and carried on walking till we found ourselves at Stephanspltaz once again. It was too early to head back to the hotel so we walked around the place we didn’t the day before, we went to the Nordsee again to pick up some more seafood goodies as we knew, we’d be hungry by the time we reached home. We stopped off at aida bakery, a high street version of Laduree. It seemed very popular as the place was still packed with people around 8pm.
We ordered slices of cake to go as desserts for later, cake in the box means a very happy girl. We walked along Kaertnerstrasse for the last time and got the metro back to the hotel.
Photoshoot Day at Albertina Musuem
Today’s itinerary was dedicated to shooting and shooting only. I had to pile on warm clothes on top of the outfit I was supposed to shoot which I shall post very soon. We took to the city centre for the last time to scout for a quite place to shoot. We got off at the wrong metro station- in our minds we knew where we were going. We ended up walking past the Hofburg– yes, we ended up on rear side yesterday. It was quite impressive but guess who didn’t take a picture of it? We found a quite location near the Albertina Museum which had a lovely pale pink building. But the most impressive part of the museum was the decorated staircase leading up to the museum entrance. We took a few test shots with this colourful background. I’ve seen other art pieces of this staircase so it might have changed the next time you visit. Fear not, I still trust it will be just as good.
I wasn’t quite digging my uber colourful outfit. I mean as a tourist, the last thing you want to do is stand out as one. You try to blend in with the locals just for obvious reasons. I wouldn’t say Vienna is known as a fashion capital. The style here is quite laid back and causal, so imagine the stares and whispers amongst people I recieved whilst walking around tourist areas wearing a blue dress with a pink coat and spotty tights. Talk about being outstanding. It really makes me uncomfortable but that’s one thing I’m slowly getting used as a fashion blogger. I’m going to have to shrug it off and even learn how to enjoy the ‘attention’. However, I did cheer up though once I noticed my coat somehow matched the colour of the museum building. Happy days!
After shooting, we headed off to Herengasse and had lunch at Vapiano and headed off back to the hotel. I think by this time, we had seen every bit of Vienna that we wanted to see. We planned on coming out again later that evening for some more mulled wine but I guess we didn’t realise how tired we were before we hit the bed for a snooze and woke up really late.
We had an early morning flight back to London so the whole day was spent travelling. We got the S7 Bahn direct to the airport. The whole journey took lees than an hour. There was nothing exciting on day four except I couldn’t wait to get on the plane and go through all the pictures we took. That’s how I kill time on flights. Oh by the way, I did get my Wiener Schnitzel fix at the airport. I know people usually have tea and coffee and croissants for breakfast but oh not me, I wasn’t leaving without my schnitzel. It tasted so good probably because it was our last meal in Vienna.
I am currently rummaging through all the footage we shot and hoping to put a montage together to show what we did around Vienna. Hopefully that will give you more insight of the atmosphere. I’ll update this post with the video once its uploaded onto my YouTube channel. Or better yet, please subscribe to receive notification once it goes live.
UPDATE: Here’s the video I promised ( see below). Sorry about the quality some of the footage. If you can’t see the video screen below, please use this link here.
Hope you enjoy this vlog.
Thank you so much for reading and coming along with me on this trip.