Should you enjoy a glass of vino at the Christmas market there, you’re following in some very old footsteps. There was a wine market on the same site as early as 1358 (likely involving less tinsel, though).
The location was also home to Henry II, the Babenberg Duke of Austria in the 12th Century.
Fast forward a few hundred years and the first Christmas market appeared there in 1842. At the time, Dickens was still working on a story about a miserly old fellow named Scrooge and it would be another 12 months before Christmas cards were invented.
Today’s Am Hof Christmas market is ideal for those who like their sights packed together, being close to Stephansdom (St. Stephen’s Cathedral) in the city center and a short walk from the Freyung Christmas market as well.
The market is split into two parts. One is the Kunsthandwerkmarkt (arts and crafts market), which features just over 20 huts selling, um, “arts and crafts”. This is not your run-of-the-mill craft market, though.
Those wishing to sell their wares have to pass a jury-led selection process. Which means the items on sale have a certain level of artistic quality and are not mass-produced. So if you’re looking for some unique gifts, this is a good place to start.
And unlike most market stands, you can go into these ones. So you essentially have a wide aisle of miniature shops – handy for lifting your spirits if the weather turns grim.
The jury process ensures plenty of variety, from art deco candle holders and alternative paintings to miniature draws made from Austrian stone pine.
The other part is the actual Christmas market, featuring the usual Christmas classics, like punch, jams, ceramics, candles, decorations etc. One thing is very different to the 1842 version, though: one stand has its own ATM.
As you might expect, there is plenty to eat here, with different stands selling baked potatoes, langos (big queues), Kiachl (giant fried dough pastries), roast nuts, chocolate-coated fruits, waffles, gingerbread, Baumkuchen (cakes baked on a spit) and more. I loved the stand selling great strings of sausages in all their forms.
My tip: visit at dusk, as there’s a trail of lights above the market like the roof of a circus tent:
Opening hours 2016
- November 11 to December 23
- 11am to 9pm (Mon-Thurs)
- 10am to 9pm (Fri-Sun and on December 8)
- Food stalls are open until 10pm
Subway: U1 (Stephansplatz), U3 (Herrengasse) or U2 (Schottentor). Each is a short walk from Am Hof, or you can catch one of the bus lines below
Bus: The market is within a short walk of various bus stops, including Graben/Petersplatz (1A or 2A), Schwertgasse (1A or 3A) and Teinfaltstraße (1A)
Address: Weihnachtsmarkt Am Hof, Am Hof, 1010 Vienna