At Christmas, the small historical Freyung square converts to the Altwiener Christkindlmarkt. Consider it a gentler alternative to the larger markets elsewhere in Vienna.
- Traditional old Christmas market
- Usually has an organic farmer’s market attached
- Strong on decorations
- On-site events often include craft demonstrations & music
- 2023 dates: Nov 17 – Dec 23
- 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 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.
The locality feels a touch less frantic than those of some of its bigger cousins, such as the main Christkindlmarkt; the surrounding historical buildings give everything a tucked away feeling and the aisles create a jolly atmosphere.
(Go after dusk for the best ambience)
This is a particularly good alternative if you’re looking for food and drink to take home with you (such as chutneys, sauces, mustards or Schnapps) or decorations (look for the large cabin that usually occupies the centre in particular).
The market typically features a changing events programme throughout late November and December. 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 a famous 1830 painting by Josef Ritter von Führich) that normally runs along the backs of one row of huts.
Do cross the road, too, to find farm stalls selling regional and organic produce. 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” also provides an excellent opportunity to buy your sausages and cured meats, or simply enjoy a glass of organic wine. And at one end you might also find a handful of booths forming a standalone charity Christmas market (I can recommend the jams).
(The nativity scene runs alongside the road)
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 market 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).
Should you feel the need to load up on culture points before or after gorging on market delights, the Schottenstift Museum leads off from the square (look for its famous 15th-century altar panels).
For something a little more 21st century, the Kunstforum Wien opposite the market hosts a solo exhibition for Robert Motherwell across winter 2023/2024.
Opening hours 2023
Dates for the 2023 Altwiener Christkindlmarkt on the Freyung are November 17th until December 23rd.
Opening times are 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