For the brief time my wife and I were in Vienna we had the wonderful opportunity to visit the Schönbrunn Christmas market. It was a wonderful experience and one I was grateful to go to, but there were a few things I wish I’d known before going to get the most out of it.
Best Time to Go
We went in the morning and for many reasons this is one of the better times to go. There are less people, meaning the lines aren’t as long, the crowds aren’t as bad to wade through, and there are more items to find because they haven’t been picked over yet. You can take your time exploring each shop knowing that if you find something you like you don’t have to buy it right then and there because an hour or two later it’ll probably still be there if you haven’t found something you like more.
The only reason I might advise against going in the morning is because some of the shop owners may not have opened their booths yet. Knowing the majority of tourists will be there at night a few wouldn’t open until noon in order to capitalize on the crowds that come in later. So there’s a possibility you might miss a few items because of that.
The final reason you may choose to go later is because it’s a Christmas market. The lights, sparkling ornaments, and fires are much more magical when it’s darker out. I’ve seen pictures of the market at night and the place really seems to shine in a way we didn’t get a chance to see having gone in the morning.
If you want to avoid the crowds and shop at your leisure go in the morning. If you want the Christmas atmosphere and more shops to look through, go at night.
It’ll Be Cold
Whatever time you decide to go the Christmas market in Schönbrunn will be cold. Winter in Austria can be bitter and you will be absolutely miserable if you’re not prepared. You will definitely need good warm coats, gloves, scarves, hats, thick socks, and anything you can think of to keep yourself warm.
The Christmas market often sells these items if you find yourself missing something or if what you have proves to be inadequate. I watched tourists exchange their designer beanies for Austrian fur lined winter caps and wool mittens, both of which were selling like hotcakes.
The market is pretty open which means there’s little protection against wind, but if you find it getting to be too uncomfortable after standing in the lines you can take a moment to warm up by the fires they have set up around the market.
Original quality shops and food
The nice thing about this particular market is that the shops are run by craftsmen and artisans, not stores and product lines. It was rare to find anyone selling second hand goods or cheap lower quality items. My wife and I bought real glass icicle ornaments crafted by a local glass blower, wooden ornaments were carved by hand, sweaters were knitted by locals in town and countless other memorabilia was made by individuals and not factory produced.
Yes, it does mean the items were more expensive, but the selections were original and unique and make for some excellent souvenirs.
Go Inside the Palace
The Christmas market is held in the front square of the Schönbrunn Palace. The building is in the baroque style and was built in the 1700’s for Austrian royalty. During World War Two it was repurposed as a temporary British headquarters and since then has been preserved as a museum by the Austrian Republic.
The Schönbrunn palace is open year-round to tourists with ticket booths outside. It is a phenomenal building to behold and one of my deepest regrets was not having prepared to go inside and experience it.
If you plan on going to the Christmas market in Schönbrunn I strongly suggest going online and buying tickets to see inside. Not only would it be a nice break from the bitter cold, but it is a gorgeous building to see on its own.
The Schönbrunn Christmas Market is absolutely wonderful and an amazing experience to have during the Christmas season. To get the most out of it make sure you bundle up, decide which time is right for you, buy from the selection of original quality goods, and take a tour of the Schönbrunn Palace before you leave and you’ll have an amazing time.
Featured Image by Gerard Fally
Author: Benjamin Baker
After serving abroad in a religious capacity for two years Ben has felt the pull to travel and explore ever since. This desire was further fueled by his wife Maddie and the two have traveled to many places over the last few years. Ben’s hope is that by sharing his knowledge and experiences obtained while traveling that others can improve their lives and the lives of others through travel. Check out additional articles written by Benjamin.