“If you’re tired of schnitzel, you’re tired of life”, they should probably say in Vienna. But if you do fancy eating something that isn’t breaded pork, then the Naschmarkt is a top option.
It’s Vienna’s biggest food market, a place for pepinos and papayas, kiwis and kiwanos. You want olives? Name your size, colour and flavour. Got a craving for cassava? Step this way my friend. And why not pick up a yam while you’re here?
For a quick “flavour” of the place, check this slideshow:
Built over the River Wien, which runs underground in this part of the city, the market has two main alleyways: one dominated by restaurants, the other by food stores and stalls.
Drift down the main food alleyway and take in the colours and smells of the produce and the shouts and cries of the market traders as they encourage customers to add another ox heart tomato to their shopping list.
Try then buy
I used to take my kids in their pram, and stand owners would rush over to give them a free falafel or something sticky, sweet and definitely not found in your average Viennese supermarket.
So as you wind your way past mountains of olives and octopus, prepare to be greeted with a stuffed pepper or a sliver of salami to taste.
The food stalls themselves are mainly a mix of local gourmet offerings and stalls featuring food and ingredients that trace their origins back to Ottoman cuisine, with a splash of India, the Americas, China and elsewhere thrown in for good measure.
You’ll find row after row of Baklava (a sweet dish made from filo pastry) which has its roots in Roman cooking and the Topkapi Palace kitchens of Istanbul. Stuffed dates jostle for space with exotic herbs, spices, pickles, dried fruits, and nuts.
Even the innocent fruit and veg stalls hold a few surprises, like Indian snake fruit.
Cheese lover? Suffice to say my recovery from a Stilton addiction ended after I went to the Naschmarkt.
And if you’re looking for more protein, there are butcher stalls, selling such delights as wild boar, pheasant and venison. The Naschmarkt is big on seafood too: sole and sturgeon, king crabs and catfish, organic salmon and Argentinian giant shrimps, to name but a few of the products on offer.
The gourmet alleyway
Although technically a food market, a sizeable minority of stands and locations are now places to eat. In good weather, outdoor tables are crammed with guests enjoying food from around the world and a glass of chilled wine or beer.
I’ve not eaten there, but the presentation of the food suggests a high average quality. So you can choose – eat, for example, a sumptuous seafood platter on site or buy the ingredients and make your own later.
The Naschmarkt began life around the 1770s, mainly as a milk market, and located in front of a large aristocratic property outside the then city walls.
Its big moment came in 1793, when the authorities declared that any fruit and vegetables not brought into Vienna along the Danube had to be traded at this location. Which had an inevitable impact on the value of a market stand.
Things progressed more or less happily until the start of the 20th century, when a relocation was necessary due to water regulation works on the River Wien.
The market moved a little to the north and west to its present home, which is actually built over the river itself, and sandwiched between the Linke Wienzeile and Rechte Wienzeile roads that carry traffic along the river’s route.
All of which sounds simple, but the phased transfer wasn’t fully completed until 1916. The pavilions have remained largely untouched since and the market completed its latest refit in 2015.
The Naschmarkt includes just over 120 fixed stands and pavilions, as well as temporary areas. They begin opening around 6 in the morning on weekdays and close by about 7.30 in the evening, though the cafes and restaurants stay open longer of course. Saturday sees the stands close early, by 6pm, and Sunday the market is closed.
- The area adjoining the southwest edge of the market hosts a large flea market most Saturdays.
- It might be best to visit the market at a busy time, like Saturday mornings. More of the stalls are open and the bustle adds to the atmosphere, if you don’t mind making slow progress down the narrow market aisles.
- Go down the main restaurant aisle toward the Kettenbrückengasse station and carry on once the restaurants stop – you end up in a quiet area behind the food stalls, where graffiti, empty racks and stores of produce can make great photos.
- The area around the Naschmarkt is also rich in restaurants and coffee houses. If the market is too crowded, you can always take refuge in one of the establishments nearby.
- Over the road from the Karlsplatz end is the Secession building, home to the famous Beethoven Frieze by Gustav Klimt.
How to get to the Naschmarkt
Subway: U4 to Kettenbrückengasse, U1, U2 or U4 to Karlsplatz (and a short walk)
Tram: 1 or 62 to Karlsplatz (and a short walk)
Bus: 59A to Bärenmühldurchgang or Preßgasse, 4A to Karlsplatz (and a short walk)
Address: Naschmarkt, 1060 Vienna