Life

The dazzling Christmas markets of Vienna

Christmas Markets of Vienna
Photo: Provided

One of the lessons I’ve learned while traveling is that it’s very important not to let high expectations ruin your experience of a travel destination.

More than once, I’ve been so keyed up to see something that there was simply no way it could live up to the picture I’d created in my mind. Take Romania’s Transfăgărășan highway, which I’d been repeatedly told is one of the most beautiful roads in the world.

I’d been so excited to see it! But when I got the chance to drive, I was massively underwhelmed.

Meanwhile, low expectations often lead to my being pleasantly surprised by a destination.

Despite having repeatedly learned that lesson, I still had very high expectations when my husband, Brent, and I visited Vienna to take in the city’s many Christmas markets.

So did my expectations ruin the experience?

Not at all! In fact, the only thing that could have improved Vienna’s Christmas markets was if it had snowed.

Here are just a few of the pictures I took during our visit.

Vienna’s most famous — and oldest — Christmas market is the Christkindlmarkt, which translates to Christ Child Market.

Each year a different Austrian province sends a tree to serve as the market’s official Christmas tree.

Officially known as Wiener Christkindlmarkt, the market is located in Rathausplatz, the square in front of the Vienna Town Hall.

Wiener Christkindlmarkt dates back to the late 18th century, though it moved to its current location in 1975.

Estimates are that up to four million people a year visit Vienna’s Christmas markets. That’s twice as many people who live in Vienna!

Dresden’s Striezelmarkt is considered the first true Christmas market. Any guesses when it was first held? 1434!

The Christmas markets are partly about buying gifts and ornaments, but mostly about eating and drinking, and socializing with friends.

That’s some serious decorations.

Any guesses what Frohe Weihnachten means in German? Yup, it’s Merry Christmas!

The park in which Christkindlmarkt is located includes this beautiful carousel…

…as well as these giant lit up globes.

Walking through the park sometimes felt like walking through a painting.

Vienna has twelve different main Christmas markets.

The Christmas market at Belvedere Palace was rather small and disappointing, though this view of the palace made up for it.

You don’t even have to go to a Christmas market in Vienna to see gorgeous decorations.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from Brent and me!

Michael Jensen is an author, editor, and one half of Brent and Michael Are Going Places, a couple of traveling gay digital nomads. Subscribe to their free travel newsletter here.

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