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Starting in November, Europe’s cities big and small convert their plazas and pedestrian centers into glittering fests lined with stalls and bustling with locals and tourists sipping, shopping and snacking day and night.
To savor the season in grand style, look no further than Austria’s capital city of Vienna. This gem of the Habsburg era breaks out a lavish festival experience set amongst stunning architecture at every turn. A social affair, these advent markets are the place where the Viennese meet with friends and neighbors over roasted chestnuts, steaming sausages and warming cups of mulled wine. Here are some of the best places to catch that sophisticated Vienna lifestyle during the holiday season:
For a Stunning Backdrop: The Wiener Weihnachstraum market features stalls orchestrated throughout the Rathausplatz, the sprawling plaza in front of the impressively lit Rathaus, Vienna’s town hall. So go ahead and enjoy the Advent windows painted by local artists, savor the charming illuminations throughout the park, and stroll one of the city’s busiest markets side by side with locals and tourists alike.
For an Opulent Setting: Catch the city’s convenient public transit for the short ride to the Weihnachtsmarkt at Schönbrunn Palace, which features upmarket stalls and spacious areas for savoring snacks and Glühwein (warm mulled wine) in front of the expansive Habsburg palace.
For Artsy Charm: The Art Advent at Karlsplatz presents a unique collection of stalls featuring area craftsmen and artists. It also delivers some quirky experiences designed to delight including a wide pit of hay bales to romp in, a tiny farm animal enclosure and a carousel made out of recycled wares. But don’t let its funky flair fool you, the market is tucked just outside the old quarter, surrounded by grandeur and speckled with lights.
For Cozier Quarters: The Altwiener market at the Freyung has a neighborhood feel, if your neighborhood just happened to be nestled within classic baroque architecture and dripping in twinkling lights. The stalls overflow with handmade wares, and walkways fill with cheerful locals catching up over a warm Punsch. Bonus, the equally charming Am Hof market is a short walk away.
To Feel Like a Local: Tucked behind the Museum Quarter in the seventh district is the Spittelberg market, a winding stretch of tiny cobblestone streets featuring stalls that spill out from local shops and restaurants. But don’t just stay outside, tuck into warmly lit shops or hidden courtyards for uncharted discoveries.
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