At Christmas, the small historical Freyung square hosts the Altwiener Christkindlmarkt. Consider it a gentler alternative to the larger markets elsewhere in Vienna.
- Traditional old Christmas market
- Farmer’s market attached
- Strong on decorations
- Stage has craft demos, kids entertainment & music
- Book a concert experience* for your Vienna trip
- 2024 dates: TBA (was Nov 17 – Dec 23 in 2023)
- See also:
(One entrance to the market)
The Freyung is the name given to an open area in the heart of Vienna ringed by both the ancient Schottenstift abbey (whose origins date back to the middle of the 12th century) and the townhouses of the former nobility.
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 seasonal market (the “Altwiener Christkindlmarkt”) stretches across the front of the church and other abbey buildings and down to the Austriabrunnen: a mid-19th-century fountain that used rivers as metaphors for the reach of the Austrian empire.
(Go after dusk for the best ambience, of course)
The locality feels a touch less frantic than at such markets as the main Christkindlmarkt; the surrounding historical buildings give everything a tucked away feeling, and the two aisles create a jolly atmosphere.
This is a particularly good alternative if you’re searching for decorations (look for the large cabin that traditionally occupies the centre). Otherwise, expect a solid mix of gifts & craft items, little gourmet items and delicatessen products.
The market features a changing events programme. So you might find live music charming visitors, catch a kids show, or watch a craftsperson demonstrating their skills on the central stage.
A particular highlight is the huge 46m nativity scene (based on an 1830 painting by Josef Ritter von Führich) that normally runs along the backs of one row of huts.
Do cross the road, too, to browse more stalls selling regional and organic farm produce: usually a great place to get specialty cheeses. I have undying love for the sharp Bergkäse mountain cheese that tastes like someone’s drilling your back teeth (but in a nice way).
At one end of this “farmer’s market”, you also typically find a handful of booths forming a standalone charity Christmas market (I can recommend the jams).
(The central hut sells a whole range of decorations)
It won’t take you long to get around the Freyung market. So 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.
If it gets too cold for you, leave the Freyung square while keeping the abbey on your right to find one of Vienna’s nicer coffee houses (Café Diglas at Schottengasse 2, home of the generously-sized banana slice).
(The nativity scene runs alongside the road)
And should you feel the need to load up on culture points before or after gorging on market delights, then the square offers two strong options:
- The Schottenstift Museum with its famous 15th-century altar panels
- For something a little more 21st century, the Kunstforum Wien opposite the market plans a major Paul Gauguin retrospective for the end of 2024
2024 Dates & Opening times
I don’t have the 2024 details yet. The last Altwiener Christkindlmarkt on the Freyung opened from November 17th until December 23rd. Opening times were 10am to 9pm.
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).
Address: Freyung, 1010 Vienna | Website