The shopping street of Graben with Christmas illuminations

The shopping street of Graben with Christmas illuminations

When it comes to Christmas markets, there’s only German Mitteleuropa that avoids both the saccharine over-the-topness or the shopping pointlessness of their cheap imitations. And the undisputed queen of Adventmärkte is good old stolid Vienna. It’s only in December that the city truly comes to life, for this is when its palaces and baroque churches, its Classics and Lebkuchen, and its Glühwein and ‘Punsch’ come to their own. Hell, nothing tastes like Sachertorte over Christmas!

There are at least a dozen Christmas markets in Vienna, but here are the best.

Best for access: Stephansplatz. No other market is easier to get to than the one by St Stephen’s cathedral. Touristy, though.

Best for food: Am Hof From Stephansplatz if you go down Graben and turn left you’ll find Am Hof and its mouthwatering food stands.

Best for presents: Freyung or Altwiener Christmas market Just continue from Am Hof direction north.

Best for a wander: Rathaus market or Wiener Christkindlmarkt This is the biggest market in Vienna with 150 stands. Set aside a couple of hours to stroll through.

Best for Arts and Crafts: Spittelberg Difficult to find – go to the end of Mariahilferstrasse and ask a local. But really good and hardly touristy.

Best for drinking: Hofburg. Opposite the Rathaus with the spectacular backdrops of the Hofburg palace.

Best at night: Karlsplatz. Or Adventmarkt vor der Karlskirche. Point is you have an amazing baroque church illuminated in the background.

Frankly, there’s lots more, but if you aren’t satisfied with these, hey, what’s wrong with you?