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
Dailyprogramme of events, including regular arts and crafts demonstrations
- 2020 dates: Nov 21 – Dec 23
- See also: All Christmas markets
NB: Events, etc. continue to be subject to public health restrictions in late 2020 and likely beyond. Be prepared for changes (e.g. compulsory face masks at all seasonal markets)
The Freyung is the name given to an open area in the heart of Vienna, ringed by city palaces and the Schottenkirche, a church whose origins date back to the middle of the 12th century.
I’m sure the Irish monks that founded Schottenkirche 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 Benediktushaus (a guesthouse run by the Schottenkirche) down to the Austriabrunnen (a mid-19th-century fountain creatively called the “Austria fountain”).
It’s a touch quieter (relatively speaking) than some of the bigger markets; the surrounding palaces give everything a tucked away feeling and the narrow aisles create a jolly atmosphere.
The artistic flair bears comparison with the Karlsplatz and Schönbrunn 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 features a changing programme throughout late November and December. Typically, live music charms visitors in the later afternoon, with kids entertainers or arts and craft demonstrations earlier in the day.
Two highlights for me:
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. Across the road that divides the market are the farm stalls selling regional and organic produce. A great place to get speciality cheeses, including the sharp Bergkäse mountain cheese that tastes like someone’s drilling your back teeth (but in a nice way).
This 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 beer.
It won’t take you long to get around the Freyung and it’s worth visiting in combination with the Am Hof Christmas market, which also focuses on arts and crafts and is just a short hop up the road toward the city centre. Alternatively, wander up Teinfaltstraße to find the big Rathausplatz market.
Opening hours 2020
Provisional dates for the Freyung market are:
- November 21 to December 23
- 10am to 9pm (but 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). And 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