Tucked just a little bit away from the centre, the Christmas market in the Altes AKH has more of a local feel to it. Friends commonly gather here after work to toast the season.
- Officially the Weihnachtsdorf Campus Universität Wien
- Top for regional food from across the country
- Extra activities for kids
- 2023 dates: Nov 10 – Dec 23
- See also:
(Leaving no doubt as to the season)
The Altes AKH has a history of providing for the needy.
In the late 17th century, the complex offered safety and rehabilitation for the wounded of the wars with the Ottoman Empire.
The area later housed Vienna’s main hospital for many years, which explains the location’s name: AKH is short for Allgemeines Krankenhaus (“general hospital”) and altes means “old” or “former”.
Nowadays, people seek nourishment and succour of a more intellectual nature, since the buildings belong to the University of Vienna. Hence the official name for the market: Weihnachtsdorf Campus Universität Wien.
Come November and December, this nourishment and succour take the form of doughnuts and hot punch at the Christmas market occupying the main courtyard.
Great for kids
The park-like layout surrounded by university buildings protects the market from the hustle and bustle of the street outside.
Which is not to say things can’t get busy. But the Weihnachtsdorf is not as well known as, say, the Christkindlmarkt, so you’re less likely to find yourself facing bussed-in tourists.
The Altes AKH certainly enjoys popularity with young Viennese families, as smaller kids can always find a few extra activities there. In 2022, for example, this included ponies, rides, and even a Christmas train.
A playground adjoins the market as well, so this might be the right choice if you’re worried about the toddlers getting bored at any of the alternatives but still want your Christmas punch.
Not so many stands as elsewhere sell market wares, but you’ll still find a selection of the usual booths offering garments, accessories, jewellery, and similar.
You might find a few more unusual stands, too. Last year I spotted organic dog snacks, Scandinavian pullovers, and environmentally-friendly thermos flasks, for example.
Great for food
Many people visiting are actually locals sharing punch and food with friends.
The reason the Viennese gravitate here is because the Altes AKH has always been one of the better markets for food and drink, with a wide choice of warm winter fare and regional specialties from Austria’s provinces.
(And beyond: one booth described itself as a Georgian delicatessen at the previous market. That’s Georgia the country, not the historical era.)
Most of these food and drink stands surround a self-contained mini plaza with plenty of bar tables available for convenience and conversation.
That layout means you can browse the arts and crafts booths elsewhere in peace without needing to avoid people queuing for sausages and Glühwein (or a pumpkin seed wrap).
(A punch stall)
The Altes AKH courtyard also houses several restaurants offering traditional Austrian meals and good beer (the university influence), adding to the weatherproof nature of the market.
The Stiegl Ambulanz restaurant, for example, typically has open fires outside, where you can even roast your own sausages. (I came THIS close to abandoning my vegetarianism for that. THIS close.)
Opening hours 2023
The 2023 market opens from November 10th to December 23rd with the following times:
- 2pm to 10pm (Mon, Tues, Weds)
- 2pm to 11pm (Thurs, Fri)
- 11am to 11pm (Sat)
- 11am to 8pm (Sun)
How to get to the Altes AKH
When I say the market is a little away from the centre, it’s really not too far. You can even walk across to it from the big Christkindlmarkt on the Rathausplatz square, for example. Alternatively…
Tram: the Lange Gasse stop is just outside the main entrance to the market area, and reached via lines 33, 43, 44 and 5
Subway: U2 (get out at Schottentor and go two stops on the 43 or 44 or just walk up), U6 (get out at Alser Straße and take the 43)
Bus: 13a (get out at Skodagasse and go one stop on the 43 or 44 in the direction of Schottentor, or take a short walk)
For a quick historical bonus, pop across the main road outside the market (Alser Straße) to see the Alserkirche, built around 1700. Beethoven’s funeral took place here, and Schubert wrote music for the church.
Address: Weihnachtsdorf Altes AKH, Universitätscampus – Hof 1, Alserstraße, 1090 Vienna | Website