Come back Christmas break! Jet lag and the return to work make for a brutal reality check following two stress-free, family-filled weeks in Oregon. I am clinging to my relaxed holiday attitude despite all other brain signals indicating it’s time to get back on the London saddle. Before launching into the new year full speed ahead, I have to reminisce about my last European trip of 2014 to see Vienna’s world-renowned Christmas markets. Then I will accept that the holidays are over for now.
After dipping my toes into the Christmas market waters in Switzerland I graduated to the big leagues of Vienna. Along with three friends I spent four days in mid-December braving cold and crowds for this epic holiday experience.
Vienna doesn’t have just one Christmas market, there are dozens of them spread throughout the entire city. It was so fun to wander the streets and discover different markets around every turn. I would have brought home a suitcase of ornaments if EasyJet allowed more carry-ons. We drank our mulled wine and hot rum tea while meandering the stalls and eyeing the gorgeous ornaments and delectable desserts.
Vienna’s architecture had me straining my neck to look up every few steps. The buildings are so ornate and grand. We walked everywhere in the city which was a great way to enjoy the stunning views.
We pulled ourselves away from the markets for some tourist time to see the famous white Lipizzan horses at the historic Spanish Riding School at the Imperial Palace. Unfortunately we couldn’t take photos, but if you’re ever in Vienna I recommend attending morning practice or an evening show to see these beautiful creatures and their skillful riders.
For lunch one day we ventured to the Naschmarkt to see how the locals do their grocery shopping. Delicious food and colorful produce displays made for a relaxing break from our Christmas shopping.
Another day we visited St. Stephen’s Cathedral and took an elevator to the top for a bird’s eye view of Vienna. There was a Christmas market outside the church, too. Win-win.
Vienna is a beautiful city, made even more enjoyable by the addition of the Christmas markets. It was a wonderful way to cap off my 2014 European travels and get into the festive spirit. Now onto 2015!
Know Before You Go
- Austria’s currency is the Euro.
- From the airport take the S7 train into the city center for approx. €5.
- One of my favorite experiences was seeing the Vienna Boys Choir perform. Find tickets to upcoming performances and hear the voices of these little angels here.
- If you have time to travel to Schönbrunn Palace it’s a short train ride from the city center. We didn’t have time this trip but I’d been a few years ago and enjoyed the impressive palace and grounds.
- Vienna is very walkable and we only took a taxi once in three days.
- Enjoy your daily coffee in a traditional Viennese coffee house, our favorite was the historic Cafe Demel by the Imperial Palace.
- My friend Shirley of This Errant Life was the mastermind behind our Vienna trip and she truly outdid herself, mapping out the best restaurants, Christmas markets, and attractions so that all I had to do was show up. She wrote about our trip too in much more detail.
- We also found this article from The Guardian helpful in planning our trip.