I am planning to visit Austria and Germany in December. I have always been told that one the best Christmas markets took place in those countries. Have someone been to some of them? Where are the markets worth visiting the most? Unfortunately I will be able to stay just for a few days and want to make the best possible choice. Thank you!
The Vienna Christmas markets are so fabulous! I went for four days last year (though it snowed so much I got stuck there for another 3 - I'm not complaining!) and more or less just ate constantly because there's so much incredible food on offer. It's a bit pricey to actually buy Christmas presents or whatever, but the atmosphere is incredible.
Rothenburg and Nuremberg are arguably the most famous German markets. I have been to both cities but only Rothenburg's market and it was very beautiful and picture perfect under the snow. It is busy busy though! Rothenburg is an old medieval walled city.
Christmas market website: http://www.rothenburg.de/index.php?get=171
Nuremberg Christmas market website http://www.christkindlesmarkt.de/en/
Nuremberg is the home to the Nazi Rally grounds and a ton of other interesting history from that era.
Stuttgart, (where I live) has a huge Christmas market as well. But, Esslingen is one of my favorites. http://tourist.esslingen.de/servlet/PB/menu/1290650_l2/index.html It's a medieval walled city with two markets: A typical Christmas market and a medieval Christmas market also! Everything and everyone is medieval themed. Guys whittling wood, banging steel, throwing knives.- It's old school and awesome! Cologne (Koln) also has a wonderful Christmas market.
I live in Vienna, and can confirm the Christmas markets are excellent. One of my favourite times of year in this city. If you end up coming here (and you should!), there's like 15 of them, so here are a few details:
Christmas Market in Spittelberg:
Located in the streets behind the MuseumsQuartier, this one's probably the best, cutest, most romantic. It gets extremely crowded on weekends and Friday evenings, so avoid it then. Otherwise, it's awesome.
Christmas Market in the MuseumsQuartier:
In the large courtyard, this one's more "alternative", i.e. less kitsch, more space age igloo type décor. The music is pretty awesome. The choice for hipsters and bobos, which doesn't mean it's not worth it! Open late, 11pm-ish, and when it closes and you still want more mulled wine, there's four bars there that usually serve it too (The MQ Daily certainly does).
Christmas Market at Maria-Theresien-Platz (between the natural and art history museums):
Really nice one too, lots of food.
Christmas Market at the Belvedere Palace:
Pretty, great backdrop, not usually very busy as it's a bit outside the city centre, but not more than two tram stops. IIRC it closes early, 9pm-ish? I also think this one might be a bit cheaper than the rest? And a few of the stalls are of charities, so your money goes to a good cause.
Christmas Market at Schönbrunn Palace:
Not centrally located, but one of the major tourist spots. Never actually been to the market, it's probably nice.
Christmas Market at Karlsplatz:
Nice, pretty big one, lots of artists selling their stuff (jewellery etc).
Christmas Market at Altes AKH:
Lots of students because it's in the courtyard of a university building, I like this one a lot, though it can get pretty busy as well.
Christmas Market at City Hall:
Avoid, avoid, avoid. Pure kitsch, tons of people, also one of the pricier ones around.
Also, on the off-chance you end up in my hometown, Graz:
The one at city hall is crazy, avoid if possible as well. The one on Franziskanerplatz is much, much nicer, as is the one at Eisernes Tor (all charities selling for a good cause!).
At all of these there's many different kinds of punch, Glühwein (mulled wine) (try the Schilcher mulled wine, it's the best, slightly sour!) and sometimes Glühmost (technically something like hot cider). There's usually at least one or two non-alcoholic drinks per stall, compared to up to 15 alcoholic drinks.
There's food and stuff to buy too, but frankly, for most Viennese people it's about the hot alcoholic drinks. Most of those are around €3-3.50, but some of the punch might be pricier if it includes a shot of something more potent.
Most aren't open past 10pm (IIRC). So far one is open, but all of them will be open in December until the 24th or 25th, sadly not after (though one or two of them might stay open until New Years).
tl;dr: Vienna is awesome in December.
Dear Travellers Friends,
for me and many the best Christmas Market in Europe is the one held in the beautiful town of Strasbourg in France which is also the capital of Europe!! It is well known and people from all over the world visit it every year This Christmas market has been founded in 1570; it was the first in Europe and I promise you will be enchanted by the magic of the Alsatian Christmas!
Thank you guys for the information. At the end we are going to visit Munich, Salzburg, Nuremberg and Prague. I hope it's going to be fun. For next year we might try some other places You gave me pretty good ideas.
Thanks once again!