Having already checked out the German and Polish Christmas markets last year, this year – I went in search of another destination to get into the festive spirit. Vienna has been touted as having some of the best Christmas markets in Europe – what a perfect statement to put to the test.
I had been to parts of Austria in my youth, in particular the picturesque towns that dot along the Italian border. This, is what i had in mind for Vienna – however that wasn’t really what i found. I was in fact, a little bit disappointed. The past two years I have spent my spare time flitting across the world, mainly Europe, and the most saddening thing I’ve noticed is that EVERYWHERE is starting to look like anywhere. The shopping strips are all the same, with the same H&M and Zara style chains, and you can get any cuisine you want, in any capital city. For those living there, that’s fabulous. But as a traveller – you are looking for culture, difference. Vienna has all of the beautiful landmarks and architecture, but it is starting to blend into its peers – vibe wise.
That being said, I had a fabulous weekend exploring. Here are some of the little gems I found along the way;
Frohe Weihnachten: There are Christmas markets at every turn come end of November, but by far the best in town is Frohe Weihnachten, which has pride of place in front of the town hall. Full of eggnong, gluhwein and bratwurst, I wasn’t disappointed on the food front. But the most impressive thing about the market, was the cross country ice skating. The course chopped and changed and took up a huge amount of space, it was much more exciting than the normal circle of ice you usually see.
Rafael Kaiser Apartments: Was the biggest tick accommodation wise, couldn’t have picked a better place to stay. It was just outside of the city, an easy stroll into the heart of town. Late check in? Not a problem. They give you a code and you retrieve your own key upon arrival out of hours. The apartments were fabulous, there is no maid service, but it wasn’t really needed for a weekend stay. There was a place to pop your bags after checkout, and it all was automated as well. In fact, we didn’t see a single ‘hotel’ person or receptionist our whole stay. We did it all ourselves!
Kylo – was a lovely waterside spot to enjoy a long lazy brunch. This modern, lovely cafe had gorgeous decor, friendly staff and to die for food and coffee. They served avocado on toast in probably the prettiest way possible. (if that is even possible..)
Das Loft – awesome place for a drink with a view. This top floor bar has the most amazing roof ever. Decked out in autumnal theme, it gave the venue the coolest vibe. There was a DJ playing great tunes, drinks were pricey but that was expected, and the view is 360 across the city. Worth a visit!
Palmenhaus – Is a cafe/restaurant set inside a greenhouse. And it is just as lush as it sounds. I have always been a fan of high ceilings, and these are as high as they come. Beautiful traditional, simple food made the experience even more delightful. I had my first proper Viennese apple strudel here, and it was damn delicious.
All in all, even with the Christmas markets to explore as well, I found two days plenty to fit in all of the major sights of Vienna, any longer and I fear I would have been scratching my head a bit as to what to do. There were plenty of museums and art galleries that I could have explored. But to get in the major sights by foot – a weekend was plenty.