For most of the year, the Freyung hosts a much-loved organic farm market. At Christmas, this converts to the Altwiener Christkindlmarkt. Consider it a gentler alternative to the crowds on the Rathausplatz.
- Traditional old Christmas market with a farmer’s market attached
- Strong on candles and decorations
- On-site events typically include regular arts and crafts demonstrations
- 2021 dates: provisionally Nov 20 – Dec 23
- See also: All Christmas markets
The Freyung is the name given to an open area in the heart of Vienna, ringed by the townhouses of the former nobility and the ancient Schottenstift abbey (whose origins date back to the middle of the 12th century).
I’m sure the Irish monks that founded the abbey would roll their eyes in disappointment (or perhaps not?) at the vast quantities of punch and sausages that disappear here through Advent, but the modern Viennese certainly seem to approve.
The Freyung market stretches across the front of the church and other abbey buildings and down to the Austriabrunnen (a mid-19th-century fountain creatively called the “Austria fountain”).
The market feels a touch quieter (relatively speaking) than some of its bigger cousins; the surrounding tall historical buildings give everything a tucked away feeling and the narrow aisles create a jolly atmosphere.
The artistic flair bears comparison with the Schönbrunn and Karlsplatz markets, with no poor-quality rubbish for sale on my visit: this is a particularly good location if you’re looking for food and drink to take home with you (such as chutneys, honey, chocolate, spices or Schnapps) or decorations (look for the cabin in the centre in particular).
A stage at one end often features a changing programme throughout late November and December. Typically, live music charms visitors in the later afternoon, with kids entertainers or arts and crafts demonstrations earlier in the day.
Two particular highlights:
1. Running along the backs of one row of huts is a huge 46m nativity scene (the longest in Austria) based on a famous 1830 painting by Josef Ritter von Führich.
2. Farm stalls sell regional and organic produce across the road from the main market. A great place to get specialty cheeses, including the sharp Bergkäse mountain cheese that tastes like someone’s drilling your back teeth (but in a nice way).
This “farmer’s market” is also the right location to buy your sausages and cured meats, organic wine and schnapps, or to simply enjoy a glass of organic Austrian beer.
It won’t take you long to get around the Freyung. Consider combining your visit with the Am Hof Christmas market, which also focuses on arts and crafts and is just a few throws of a punch mug nearer the city centre. Alternatively, wander up Teinfaltstraße to find the huge Rathausplatz market.
Opening hours 2021
The Freyung market provisionally opens from November 20th to December 23rd in 2021.
Typical opening times for the event are:
- 10am to 9pm (the farmer’s market may close earlier)
How to get to the Freyung
The market is a short walk from the major sights in the city centre and just south of Schottentor (on the U2 subway line and tram lines 1, D, 37, 38, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44 and 71 – yep, a lot of trams stop at Schottentor). The 1A bus stops at the Freyung itself (the Teinfaltstrasse stop).
If you feel the need to load up on culture points before gorging on market delights, the Schottenstift Museum leads off from the square (look for its famous 15th-century altar panels), as does the Schottenkirche church that serves the abbey.
For something a little more modern, the Kunstforum Wien opposite should have a major modern or contemporary art exhibition on.
Address: Altwiener Christkindlmarkt, Freyung, 1010 Vienna | Website