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Christmas time is here! And what can get you more in a festive mood than a nice Christmas market? Strolling through a beautifully decorated market, warming your hands on a hot cup of mulled wine or tea, hearing Christmas carols, …. Are you already in a Christmassy mood? I know I am. One thing to bring me out of this holiday spirit is being hungry and not being able to get any vegan food. This won’t happen in Vienna, the Christmas markets in Vienna have amazing vegan options! Keep reading to find out which are the best to visit and which have the best vegan food.
If you want to get into a Christmassy mood without leaving the warmth of your apartment, you can bake some delicious Christmas cookies. I really enjoy baking vegan gingerbread cookies and vegan Vanillekipferl, two typical Austrian Christmas cookies. Or you can just watch me battle the cold of the Vienna Christmas markets while watching from a warm place:
History of the Christmas markets in Vienna
This year is a special year for the Christmas markets in Vienna since the oldest record of one in the city dates back to 1722. Which means it’s the 300 jubilee.
The main Christmas market of the city has been in front of the city hall since 1975. There you can also find the big Christmas tree of Vienna. It’s a tradition that a different county in Austria sends a Christmas tree around 30 metres high as a gift to the capital every year.
The different names of the Christmas markets in Vienna
If you look into Christmas markets in Vienna you probably stumble upon different words for it. Most commonly they’re named Weihnachtsmarkt, Adventmarkt or Christkindlmarkt.
Weihnachtsmarkt is the exact translation to Christmas market since Christmas means Weihnachten in German. You might also see signs with Frohe Weihnachten, which translates to Merry Christmas.
The four weeks before Christmas have a special name in German: Advent. It derives from Latin and means Arrival since Christians wait for the arrival of Christ. Even though the origin of the word is closely connected with religion, nowadays it’s just another word for Christmas time. You might already know the word from the Advent calendar.
If you’re visiting the most famous Christmas market in Vienna, the one right in front of the city hall, you can’t miss the sign “Christkindlmarkt”. Which almost sounds like Christmas but not quite. Christkindl means christ-child and traditionally in Austria kids believe that Christkind brings them presents on Christmas, not Santa Claus. A weird side note, christ-child looks like an adult female angel in most Christmas depictions. Keep an eye out for it while you stroll through the markets.
Which Christmas market to choose?
There are over 20 Christmas markets in Vienna in 2022. So, it can be overwhelming to choose the right one. The most famous one is the one in front of the city hall. If you want the Christmas market with the most scenic background, the one in front of the castle Schönbrunn or the one in front of the castle Belvedere might be best suited to you. But Vienna’s most vegan-friendly Christmas market is “Weihnachtsmarkt am Spittelberg”.
Best Christmas lights: Christkindlmarkt am Rathausplatz
You really should not miss out on the most popular Christmas market in Vienna, there’s a reason why it’s well-known and super busy. The Christmas tree in front of the city hall is the most beautiful in Vienna and not just the market stalls are decorated festive but also the small park next to it. All the trees in the park have beautiful Christmas lights and there are special Christmas installations. The decorations and lights have no rival in my opinion. And if you have the time, you can even go ice skating at an ice skating rink. The vegan food options at this Christmas market in Vienna are limited to roasted chestnuts and some variety of potatoes as far as I could see.
Best Vegan Food: Weihnachtsmarkt am Spittelberg
The Christmas market at Spittelberg or Weihnachtsmarkt am Spittelberg in German, is the biggest market in 2022 with 125 stalls. It’s also the most eco-friendly Christmas market. Every stall offers fair-trade, sustainable and/or local products and it’s widely known for its organic, vegetarian and vegan cuisine.
Unlike most other Christmas markets in Vienna, this one isn’t on a square but in many connected alleys. So, it doesn’t look that big at first sight because it’s so spread out.
At “Weihnachtsmarkt am Spittelberg” you can find two all-vegan food stalls and plenty of vegan option stalls. We tried vegan food from 6 different stalls, there would have been a few more options we didn’t try, however.
You can check out my YouTube video about the Christmas markets in Vienna if you want a closer look at the vegan food options the markets have to offer.
The first all-vegan food stall we saw was “Die Pflanzerei“, a vegan butcher from Vienna. At the Christmas market, they sell their vegan version of “Leberkäse”, an Austrian-style meatloaf in a bun. It’s a very traditional Austrian snack, you shouldn’t miss out on. If you missed them at the Christmas market, you can also get this sandwich in a few shops in Austria.
The second vegan stall was Goldblatt, a vegan bread spread company. All their spreads have the flavour of meat, egg or fish, but they’re 100% vegan. At the Christmas market you can try out different spreads for free so you know which is your favourite. You can also order their spreads online within Austria or buy them at a few selected partner shops.
Of the other four things we tried, I want to mention Knafeiada especially. They sell the Mediterranean dish Knafeh. It was the first time I had Knafeh for me, vegan or otherwise. The taste is so unique, a must-try. It’s cheesy and sweet and super crunchy. And the process of making it looks so cool. You can watch it in the YouTube video I did about the Christmas markets in Vienna.
Best background view
Did you ever want to go to a Christmas market in front of a castle, so you can feel like right out of a Christmas movie? In Vienna it’s not even possible, you can even choose between two castles! Schönbrunn castle and Belvedere castle might already be on your sightseeing list for Vienna anyway and in the Christmastime those sights have the advantage of having lovely Christmas markets in front of the entrances.
Weihnachtsmarkt Schloss Schönbrunn
The Christmas market in front of Schönbrunn castle is one of the most touristy Christmas markets in Vienna I’ve seen. You hear more English spoken and see a lot more English signs at the stalls. It is, after all, great for tourists, you can visit the main summer residence of the Habsburg rulers and afterwards stroll through the Christmas market while eating some roasted nuts and having some hot wine or tea.
Weihnachtsdorf Schloss Belvedere
In front of the Baroque Palace Belvedere, there’s another lovely Christmas market. Make sure to enter the market on the south side, so you see the Christmas lights reflecting in the water, it’s so beautiful. I really enjoyed this market since it was less crowded than the others and it had lovely decorated stalls.