The best advent Christmas markets to visit in Austria are the Christkindlmärkte in Vienna (Wien), Mozart city Salzburg, Innsbruck in Tyrol, and Linz on the Danube.
Austrian Christmas markets are a popular advent tradition throughout Austria. The largest Christmas markets in Austria are in Vienna (Wien), Salzburg, Innsbruck, and Linz while virtually every town and tourist ski area will have its own market on some weekends and days leading up to Christmas. In Austria, as in Bavaria, Christmas markets are usually referred to as a Christkindlmarkt rather than the standard High German Weihnachtsmarkt – both terms are readily understood in the German-speaking world.
Vienna’s Christkindlmarkt – the Largest Christmas Market in Austria
The Christkindlmarkt in Vienna (Wien) is by far the largest in Austria. The main market is held in front of the neo-Gothic Rathaus (Town Hall) but several further Christmas markets are scattered through the picturesque, romantic capital of Austria.
Further noteworthy Christmas markets in Vienna are held at Schloss Schönbrunn Palace, the Baroque Belvedere Palace, and on Karlplatz Square in front of the Karlskirche (Charles’ Church). The Weihnachtsmarkt at Schloss Schönbrunn is the only one in Vienna that generally operates on Christmas Day itself and a day or two after Christmas too.
Salzburg – Christmas Markets in the Mozart City
Salzburg, the famous birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, is one of the most beautiful cities in Austria. Salzburg is worth visiting at any time of the year but is especially magical during the advent period preceding Christmas.
During Advent, the old town of Salzburg is beautifully lit in the evenings and Christmas markets and stalls are set up throughout the old town. Snow is often an added bonus but the endless arches and covered walkways allow visitors to remain dry if preferred.
Some of the best Christmas markets in Salzburg, including the main market in front of the Dom (Cathedral), continue a few days after Christmas and some are even functioning on Christmas Day itself.
Innsbruck – Christmas Markets in the Tyrolean Alps
Innsbruck has a small but beautiful old town with the Alps constantly present as backdrop to remind visitors that they are in the heart of Austrian Tyrol. Several Christkindlmärkte are spread through the old town, including in Maria-Theresien-Straße and in front of the famous Goldenes Dachl (Golden Roof).
The Christkindlmarkt in the old town of Innsbruck is usually active a few days after Christmas while the one in Maria-Theresien-Straße continues until Three Kings Day (January 6). All Innsbruck Christmas markets are closed on Christmas Day itself.
Linz – Christmas Markets in Europe’s Cultural Capital
Linz, Europe’s Cultural Capital for 2009, has much to offer visitors but being located on the Danube River in between Salzburg and Vienna is often overlooked by tourists visiting Austria. The two main Christmas markets in Linz are the Christkindlmarkt centered on the large oblong Hauptplatz (Main Square) and the Weihnachtsmarkt in the Volksgarten (People’s Park).
Austrian Christmas markets usually run the full advent period and sometimes even continue a few days after Christmas (and occasionally up to January 6). In stark contrast to German Christmas markets, Austrian Christmas markets often function on December 24 and even Christmas Day itself. However, expect markets to close early on Christmas Eve and to have shorter hours on Christmas Day too. Cheap flights to Austria are available on low-cost airlines from many British and European cities. (A121118)