Although one of Vienna’s newer seasonal markets, you might argue that the Stephansplatz Christmas market could well be the city’s most traditional…
- Very central Christmas market
- Stephansdom cathedral provides a wonderful backdrop
- 40+ stalls, with plenty of nearby shops and restaurants, too
- 2023 dates: Nov 10 – Dec 26
- See also:
(View across to the cathedral and market at night)
Back in “days of yore”, traders often used the space around a church for a market, particularly if that church also served as a place of pilgrimage. So you could get your relics and radishes at the same location.
The Stephansplatz Christmas market follows in that tradition.
Stephansplatz is the square surrounding Stephansdom (St. Stephen’s), the huge cathedral that dominates the pedestrianised area at Vienna’s heart.
The market, then, harks back to medieval times, with its wooden stands clinging to the sides of the cathedral, offering tourists and city dwellers refreshing victuals and a selection of handicrafts and gifts.
No relics, though. Or, as far as I can tell, radishes.
(Around the back)
The location, in particular, helps the Stephansplatz market stand out.
Townhouses and other buildings from the time of Mozart (whose former home is but a street away) form a backdrop, not to mention the magnificent Gothic cathedral with its mosaic roof, towers, catacombs and long history.
Fiakers (horse-drawn carriages) also normally collect at one end of the market, adding another historical touch to the ambience.
With around 40 stalls, the Stephansplatz market is relatively small compared to say the Christkindlmarkt. But it still managed to cover pretty much the entire spectrum of market stands on my last visit.
So you had your handmade and hand-painted decorations made of wood, tin, glass and other materials, but also plenty from the secular side of life.
I found Italian truffles, jars of pesto, candles, woolen hats and gloves, artistic candle holders and ceramics, Lebkuchen, jewellery, snow globes, wooden toys and kitchen accessories, specialist chocolates, wine, schnapps, and more.
(Incidentally, if you want Lebkuchen, Vienna’s renowned Pirker Lebkuchen store sits opposite the fiakers.)
Of course, mixed in among all this are the stands serving food and drink, seasonal and otherwise.
I spotted potato fritters, Leberkäse, roasted almonds, hot sausages, soups served in giant bread rolls, Baumkuchen (spit cakes), Käsespätzle (pasta / dumpling with melted cheese and fried onions), and similar. And Weihnachtspunsch (of course).
(Wine, schnapps and Gothic architecture)
If you’re taking in the Christmas lights display along the Graben and Kärntner Straße, then the market allows you to complete your Christmas experience bingo without much effort: it sits at the junction of those two streets (see map below).
If you do then wander along the Graben street away from the cathedral square, then dip down Kohlmarkt at the end to see Michaelerplatz square: this looks rather nice at night with all the historical buildings (including a wing of the mighty Hofburg complex) lit up. And it often has its own small Christmas market, too.
Opening times 2023
The 2023 dates for the Stephansplatz market are:
- November 10th to December 26th
Opening times are scheduled as 11am to 9pm (but the market closes at 4pm on December 24th and at 7pm on December 25th and 26th).
How to get to Stephansplatz
The market is slap bang in the middle of town, so you should find it on your walk around the city.
Access the market right outside the Stephansplatz central subway station that’s on the U1 and U3 subway lines. You can also reach it on bus lines 1A, 2A and 3A (the stop is also called Stephansplatz).
The same square has another special advent offering, too. In recent years, the Haas&Haas tea rooms has opened up an inner courtyard for drinks and snacks among open fires.
Address: Stephansplatz, 1010 Vienna | Website