Vienna Christmas Markets, Part Two: Am Hof and Freyung

Am Hof

Located closest to the very centre of Vienna, the square Am Hof has a rich history. It has got its name because the Babenberg dukes had their court here during the high middle ages. The square is still surrounded by magnificent buildings, although in one of the most prominent ones, the former Bank Austria headquarters, there has recently been a fire which left the square somewhat scarred.

The market is presented by a society of artists and artisans who also organise several markets throughout the year. Some of the exhibitors change over time, so there is always something new, even if you visit several times a year.

They strive for high quality, and most of the time they are quite successful. You can find lots of beautiful pottery, jewellery, and also some traditional Austrian artwork here.

There is definitely less of the usual kitsch than elsewhere. Also, the focus is clearly on the art, as opposed to food and drink, although there is still plenty of that, too.

High quality and a prime location result in premium prices, of course. No way around that.

Size: some 30 booths
Prices: high, hot beverages start at €3.50
Kitsch: low
Special offer: art

Freyung

Right next to Am Hof, between beautiful Palais Ferstl and the benedictine monastery called Schottenstift, there is the triangular square called Freyung with its Alt-Wiener Christkindlmarkt or Old Vienna Christmas market.

This is one of the smaller, and also quieter, Christmas markets in town, which I, for one, like a lot. It’s also a favourite among my friends.

As the name suggests, they are trying to focus on a traditional Viennese Christmas: wooden toys, pottery, tree decorations, and sweets, sweets, sweets (mostly gingerbread). There’s also a vendor selling baskets, another one for bread, ham, and cheese, as well as one for Christmas cards. You get the idea. Traditional Austrian tree decorations are not so much glass balls as stars made of straw, apples, gingerbread, and nuts, by the way.

On the opposite side, in front of Palais Ferstl, there is also a charity Christmas market, for people who need to quench their conscience as well as their thirst.

Size: some 20 booths
Prices: high, hot beverages start at €3.50
Kitsch: low
Special offer: tradition

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