If you like your Christmas markets sandwiched between mighty imperial buildings, then Maria-Theresien-Platz is another must on your list.
- Wonderful location between two grand museums
- Fills the gaps between topiary and fountains
- Excellent selection of arts, crafts, and food stalls
- Expect around 70 booths
- 2023 dates: TBA (was Nov 16 – Dec 26 in 2022)
- See also:
The market itself
(View down from the Naturhistorisches Museum)
The setting is, of course, fantastic. This is Vienna at its best.
The Maria-Theresien-Platz square has the monumental Kunsthistorisches Museum on one side, which always features a cracking year-end exhibition. The opposite side has the Naturhistorisches Museum, which likely has its own special exhibition running too.
This means you can feast on sausages and pastries at the market, then view the Feast of Venus by Rubens, then discover how our ancestors coped when the giant animals of prehistory objected to being turned into meat products.
After all that science and culture you might need a bracing drink (also available from the Christmas market).
As well as the two museums, the square borders the Ring boulevard, beyond which lie the giant Burgtor gates and the Hofburg palace. The square’s other side leads to the main entrance to the Museumsquartier (MQ).
And if that wasn’t enough, the market huts slip between fountains, topiary, and an 1888 monument to Empress Maria Theresa (1717-1780).
So eat your chocolate-coated fruit below the alert gaze of the lady who famously said:
While other nations do battle, you lucky Austria, you wed.
(The Empress had 16 children to exploit for her peace-through-marriage policies.)
The quality of the stands is, as usual for Vienna, high. In fact, the only stand I’ve ever seen there that looked vaguely like it sold plastic toys turned out to be from the Natural History Museum. So we can accept that, given the location and importance to kids.
(A market booth selling specialty chocolates)
You’ll find all the usual Christmas market goodies, of course, plus a few extras, as the location is one of the largest.
Two intriguing stops on my 2022 visit, for example, were a stand selling Lithuanian candle houses and another featuring mountains of Italian cheeses and salamis.
Another stand sold traditional snow globes, notable because the first patent issued for a snow globe was to a Viennese surgical instrument manufacturer.
(The family-run business still makes the globes today and often pops up at different markets.)
- Unlike many markets, the Maria-Theresien-Platz version has a temporary toilet facility
- This is definitely one that looks best after dusk, with both museums lit up, and a ghostly Empress watching over it all. The 2022 ambience was a little darker than in previous years, when lights covered the closed-off fountains and the topiary:
(Market view before we had to worry about energy costs)
- The market takes a similar form to a Celtic cross, where the four ends usually have the highest density of food and drink stalls. The end nearest the Kunsthistorisches Museum typically includes some covered areas with bar tables, just in case it rains or snows
- This is one of the few markets where you can take reasonable photos from above: climb the steps leading up to either museum or go up to the top of the small slope at the MQ side of the square
The MQ also has the Libelle viewing platform on top of the Leopold Museum, which might offer a rather fine view down over the Weihnachtsdorf.
If you’re still up for more after visiting, you have two close options:
- The famous Christkindlmarkt sits a bit further along the Ring boulevard (clockwise on a map).
- Alternatively, if you want to enjoy a Christmas market without too much of the Christmas bit (or much of the market bit, frankly), then wander up to the MuseumsQuartier for their Winter event.
Opening hours 2023
I await 2023 details. For the record, the 2022 dates were November 16th to December 26th with the following opening hours:
- 11am to 9pm (Sun to Thurs)
- 11am to 10pm (Fri and Sat)
- Closed earlier on December 24th (4pm), 25th (7pm) and 26th (7pm)
How to get to the square
Subway: Take the U2 or U3 line to Volkstheater or the U2 to Museumsquartier, then a short walk
Tram: The D, 71, 46, 49, 1 or 2 lines all stop at Ring/Volkstheater (requires a short walk)
Bus: Take the 48A to Ring/Volkstheater
Address: Weihnachtsdorf Maria-Theresien-Platz, 1010 Vienna | Website