The best Christmas markets are perhaps those with palatial backdrops, where you can sip mulled wine beneath marbled eves of imperial splendour.
I defy you to enter through the southern gate after sunset and not gasp in wonder at the beauty of the scene before you. My photos cannot do it justice. For a moment, the world seems a better place.
Just be sure to stand with a view across the lake and photograph the palace, market and Christmas lights in their entirety. This is what Christmas in Vienna is all about.
The palace itself houses a permanent art collection, including Klimt’s famous “The Kiss“. That painting would set you back in excess of €130 million, so you might prefer to pick up something a little more affordable at the market.
(The Kiss is way too big to gift wrap, anyway.)
The market certainly has a focus on arts and crafts, and I found no tacky, plastic rubbish. It’s also smaller than most of the main markets, with a single channel flanked by around 20 stands on each side.
There I found jewelry from Murano glass, amber, silver and steel. Scented woods and handmade soaps to tickle the senses. Ceramics and candle holders, soft toys and woolly hats, leather-bound diaries, handcrafted decorations and even drinking horns made from real horn.
And, of course, there is enough to eat and drink, too. As well as the usual chestnuts and sausages, there were open dark bread sandwiches, fried potato dishes (Bauerngröstl), dumplings and doughnuts, cupcakes, crepes, and much more.
Given the history of Belvedere, one stand was even selling food from the Savoy, including raclette, tartiflette and gratin savoyard. Bon appétit mes amis!
If you’ve little ones, they might like the old-fashioned carousel or a trip on the reindeer train (not using real reindeers). But for me the market is best suited to couples looking to capture the romantic flair of times gone by.
Steal a fleeting kiss before the lake, then share a steaming baked potato and a mug of punch in front of the palace before shopping for Christmas delights.
Opening times 2018
- November 23 to December 26
- 11 am to 9 pm (weekdays), 10 am to 9 pm (weekends), closes early on the 24th (11 am to 4 pm) and 25th/26th (11 am to 7 pm)
Tram: the D line takes you direct to the Schloss Belvedere stop or take the 18 or O line to Quartier Belvedere and walk (or go one stop on the D)
Subway: U1 (get out at Hauptbahnhof and walk, or catch the 18, O or D trams). I recommend the trams as I walked and got lost.
Bus: 13a (get out at Mommsengasse and take a short walk or catch trams from Hauptbahnhof)
Address: Weihnachtsdorf Schloss Belvedere, Prinz Eugen-Strasse 27 – 1030 Vienna
Website: http://www.weihnachtsdorf.at/ (includes a full English version)