The square has the Art History Museum on one side and the Natural History Museum on the other. So you can feast on sausages and strudel, then view the “Feast of Venus” by Rubens, then discover how our ancestors coped when the giant animals of prehistory objected to being turned into sausages.
After all that culture you might need a bracing drink (also available from the Christmas market).
The setting is, of course, fantastic. As well as the two museums, the square borders the Ring, beyond which are the Heldentor gates and Hofburg palace. The other side borders the main entrance to the Museumsquartier.
The market huts curl their way around the square’s fountains and the centrepiece monument to Empress Maria Theresia, unveiled in 1888.
Eat your hot dog below the watchful eye of the lady who famously said, “While other nations do battle, you lucky Austria, you wed.” She had 16 children to exploit for her peace-through-marriage policies.
Despite its wide layout, the central location means the market gets busy, so be warned if you go after dusk when the crowds gather for an evening mug of punch.
The quality of the stands is, as usual for Vienna, high. In fact, the only stand I saw that looked vaguely like it was selling plastic toys turned out to be from the Natural History Museum. So we can forgive them, given the location.
You’ll find all the usual goodies, of course, plus a few extras as the market is one of the largest.
For example, in 2015, there was a stand selling incense and myrrh from the Far East, and another selling tea flowers – balls of dried flowers that “blossom” in your teapot to impart the flavouring.
A chocolate stand offered a host of special varieties, including organic selections from Zotter (my favourite chocolate supplier).
There was also a stand selling traditional snow globes, notable because the first patent issued for a snow globe was to a Viennese surgical instrument manufacturer. The family-run business still makes the globes today.
One quick tip: make sure you have a 50 cent coin with you. There’s a toilet facility, but it costs 50 cents to get into it.
Opening hours 2016
- November 16 to December 26
- 11am to 9pm (Sun to Thurs)
- 11am to 10pm (Fri and Sat)
- Closes earlier on December 24th (4pm), 25th (7.30pm) and 26th (7.30pm)
The market converts to a New Year’s market after the 26th until the end of the year.
Subway: U2 or U3 to Volkstheater or U2 to Museumsquartier, then a short walk
Tram: D, 71, 46, 49 or 2 to Dr. Karl Renner Ring (and a short walk)
Bus: 48A to Dr. Karl Renner Ring
Address: Weihnachtsdorf Maria-Theresien-Platz, 1010 Vienna
Website: http://www.weihnachtsdorf.at/ (includes a full English version)