I love a lot of things…castles, cakes, shoes and don’t forget the Christmas Markets! Over the years I’ve visited quite a few markets around Europe including Germany, France and now Austria so I thought I would create a little Christmas Market Guide to Salzburg and the surrounding villages after my recent visit.
Salzburg Old Town
The big draw in Salzburg is the Christmas Market in the Old Town around Dom Square…the market is spread out however it has a lovely flow to the market so you’ll be able to browse every market stall with ease and there is a great mixture between food and decorations.
I was a bit disappointed not to see that many Nut Crackers or Smokers like you do in Christmas Markets in Germany (and yes I know this is Austria but had made a little assumption in my mind which was obviously wrong)...I did spot a few here and there however they weren’t that expensive which made me think they weren’t made locally. If you want to buy traditional Christmas Decorations then pick up the item to see if you can spot a sticker or ask the shop keeper if they were made in Europe.
Travel Tip: Use your feet…most of the old town is a pedestrian area only and you will stumble upon numerous Christmas Shops and the Advent Markets which are dotted around the city…make sure you wander down all the little alleyways as you will find plenty of cosy cafes and little pop up shops selling Christmas decorations.
Gluten Free Tips: Head over across the bridge to Hotel Sacher for a piece of gluten free cake…on the day we visited they had two options. If you follow a vegan diet there are plenty of options dotted around the Salzburg Christmas market.
Sternadvent mit Wintermarkt
As I said above you really need to pop down the little alleyways along Getreidegasse as there are a number of little Christmas Market stalls to wander through with more craft items for sale…I found these ones to be better than the main one in Dom Square…shhh don’t tell them that I said that!
Travel tip – Highly recommend Mozartwinkel for a place to stop for a cuppa and just watch the crowds pass by – address is Universitätspl. 15; right by a cute little market stall.
Mirabell Palace and Gardens
There is a small Advent Market just beside the Mirabell Palace and Gardens (on the main road close by the Congress building); this is mainly a locals Advent Market and it’s where they pick up their gorgeous wreaths, chug back a few mulled wines and whatever is cooking…our concierge at the Crowne Plaza said that they offered the best Mulled Wine in Salzburg at the Mirabell Gardens Christmas Market.
Now while the Palace isn’t open for a sticky beak, there is a rather beautiful Christmas Market in the grounds…you can visit the markets and tick off visiting the glass gazebo from the Sound of Music all in one go.
I loved the surroundings of this markets…and I felt rather festive after visiting Schloss Hellbrunn…Schloss means Palace just so you know. Personally I thought the quality and selection of goods were a lot better here than the main Christmas Market in Dom Square …and price wise it was cheaper than the main market.
Visit the Old Town market first then head to Schloss Hellbrunn…best way is to compare prices however if you see something at Schloss Hellbrunn then buy it when you see it as it’s a little way out of town.
Travel Tip: catch the Number 25 bus…buy tickets on the bus (2.60 euros each way…or it could be 2.80…my brain is pants) or they are cheaper again if you buy from a newsagent prior to boarding…buses run every 20 minutes during week days and the journey takes approximately 20 minutes . The bus will show the stop on a tv screen so you will know when you’re approaching Schloss Hellbrunn.
Gluten Free Tip: I did spot one or two gluten free snacks…chocolate covered fruit and a slice.
I usually love to look at department stores especially if they are old school department stores as they normally stock lovely Christmas decorations however Salzburg didn’t seem to have any…or the concierge and I were not on the same wave length (more than likely…Lidl kept coming up when I was trying to describe I wanted more of a Liberty style department store than a Lidl supermarket!)…but I did find a couple of shops that may be of interest for you.
Depot Salzburg – Linzer Gasse 17-19
Depot had some rather cheap Christmas decorations upstairs…depending on your favourite colour scheme etc…I bought a couple of things including some funky ribbons. The quality isn’t great so you definitely get what you are paying for here…choose wisely.
Gehmacher Salzburg – Alter Markt 2
Now I love love love this interiors and clothing shop…I could basically move in and I held myself back from buying a few things that I really really needed like a Reindeer Coat hook…he looked a bit evil holding his gun but my goodness I fancied the socks off him. I did buy some of the most gorgeous large red glass baubles from this store…at 7 euros a pop they were pretty damn expensive however the quality was exquisite and I’ve never seen them anywhere else. I tried to buy quality glass ornaments when I’m travelling as they become your family Christmas heirlooms.
Salzburg is a really compact city; you will stumble across every market if you’re visiting for a weekend…you will need to catch the bus or grab a taxi to Schloss Hellbrunn as it’s not walkable.
A Christmas Market Guide to Salzburg’s Surrounding Villages
We (the royal we…G drove!) rented a car and drove down a section of Austria’s Romantic Road which is rather pretty…I didn’t have too much of a fixed plan bar one little town in particular which didn’t turn out to be the one I really loved the most.
St Gilgen Advent Market
This was a last minute stop that I added onto our itinerary as we were leaving the airport car park with the rental car and oh my goodness, it was my favourite…it resembled something out of a little fairytale.
The village has designed these large candles made out of fibreglass and had them made in Austria…they are dotted all around the town, on street lamps and in window boxes and you can buy them from a few of the little stores dotted around the town…I loved them so much that I bought two to take home with me.
Just need G to make me some shutters and window boxes now…G called me high maintenance…as if <coughs> I’m totally high maintenance but can get ready for a black tie event in less than 10 minutes!
While there were a number of stores selling hats and socks, there were a number of cute stores selling Christmas decorations that were truly wonderful and which we hadn’t spotted in Salzburg (stalls can start to become repetitive…the same hats and socks etc).
Travel Tip: we had a hire car and there are a few car parks…park up on the main road and walk down, it’s totally worth a wander through St Gilgen.
Gluten Free Tip: We stumbled upon a little cake shop, Cafe Eissalon Dallmann (Mozartplatz 2a 5340, St Gilgen, Austria)…well I wanted a hot chocolate as I had lost feeling in my finger tips and a large meringue with cream jumped straight into my mouth…don’t you hate it when things like that happen when on holiday!
St Wolfgang Advent Market
Now this was the place that I really wanted to visit as their Christmas Market is known as the best Advent Market in Austria and St Wolfgang is known as the most romantic spot in all of Austria…if you’re a foodie you will love this market a lot…there are a lot and I mean a lot of food stores compared to Christmas decorations.
The star attraction are the buildings of course which are beautifully painted however I found the market to be a bit hit and miss…maybe I had hit one to many Christmas markets…who knows.
Travel Tips: Park the car and walk to the length of the Christmas Market…you can enjoy a boat trip which runs between three villages on Lake Wolfgangsee or a festive trip on the Cog Railway for views over St Wolfgang (we were going to do this however temperatures had plummeted…try -11 degrees hence my chestnuts were frozen solid!)
Gluten Free Tips: I didn’t spot anything in the markets themselves and we were full from our previous stop but there are many eating establishments here.
Hallstatt Advent Market
We hit Hallstatt really early on a Saturday morning; we were warned to arrive prior to 10am as it gets packed…it’s insta-famous you see. Now we were told that the market was open for 10am however we didn’t see much life to it; I think we were a bit too early.
It’s very pretty under a blanket of snow and there are a few shops selling festive decorations…just be wary that it is very touristy with signs on houses asking you not to take photos of their house…sad but very true.
Travel Tip – Parking around Hallstatt is a bit of a nightmare, you basically need to park in one of the outer village car parks and they run shuttle buses into the village…get there early to avoid the crowds however this may impact on how many stores are actually open
Berchtesgaden Christmas Market
We crossed the border and headed to the Christmas Market in Berchtesgaden; it’s a area of natural beauty and favoured by walkers during the warmer months. Berchtesgaden has a Christmas Market which is rather small to be honest…the stalls were very similar to what was on offer in Salzburg and the surrounding towns and villages.
They do have some fantastic wooden displays in Berchtesgaden though which caught my eye and there is a lovely florist selling Christmas decorations…I left some reindeer behind in Germany…honestly reading personal finance books have curbed my spending a lot!
Travel Tip – there is an underground car park right by the Christmas Market…highly recommend staying at the Kempinski Berchtesgaden for the views and spa alone…while we didn’t stay on this visit we have stayed at this property when it was under the Intercontinental branding and loved it…they offer a spa day pass which is good value for money as it’s a bit pricey to stay now.
Let me know if this Christmas Market Guide to Salzburg has helped you out…and if you do visit and have any further tips why not drop them down in the comments box below for others to read…sharing is caring folks!
Travel Tips for Salzburg, Austria
- The Old Town is almost a total pedestrian zone so make sure you have comfortable shoes; the city is small and very walkable
- During the winter months, a number of the attractions are closed so if you are offered the Salzburg Visitors card be wary of what is actually open and if you’re going to get value out of the card…it does offer free transportation.
- Most of the stall holders only accept cash so make sure you are carrying euros; you will find atm machines in most markets
- We hired a rental car from the airport for a few days to visit some of the outlying villages and towns – this was as a good idea for us as it meant we had flexibility on to where we visited plus it was cheaper as there were three of us rather than booking tours
- Viator is offering a Christmas Market tour to some of the villages close to Salzburg if you don’t fancy driving.
- A taxi costs no more than 15 euros from the airport to the Salzburg Old Town area
- Check out my packing tips on what to wear to the Christmas Markets in Europe…I’ve visited a few so I now know a few tricks not to freeze by bottom off
- If you’re visiting a number of Christmas Markets across Europe then make sure you check out my handy travel tip post for the Christmas Markets.