The Christmas markets in Innsbruck, Austria are in a unique setting for special memories to be made. Snow-capped mountains and medieval cobbled lanes combine with local Christmas traditions to make the Innsbruck Christmas market experience a truly authentic one.
Our visits to the Innsbruck Christmas market are somewhat predictable. In fact, it has become an annual outing for my birthday in November. What better way to celebrate than spending the afternoon and early evening at the markets in Innsbruck’s historic old town?
Here is my Innsbruck Christmas market review to convince you there is nothing better than a mountain view Christmas market in the Austrian Alps. After reading and (better still) visiting, I’m sure you’ll agree it’s right up there with the best Christmas markets in Europe.
Innsbruck Old Town Christmas Market
When: 15 November to 23 December 2020
Hours: 11:00 – 21:00
The Christmas market in the heart of the Innsbruck old town makes traditionalists like me happy. How can it not with a giant Christmas tree sparkling right next to Innsbruck’s most famous sparkling object – the Golden Roof with its 2,657 fire-gilded copper tiles. I mean, one would think Kaiser Maximillian had it built especially for Christmas.
A great time to be in front of the Golden Roof with a Glühwein is around 17:30 when trumpet players appear on the balcony to play traditional Austrian Christmas songs. The best place to watch and listen to the music is from the elevated viewing platform behind the tree and stalls directly in front of the Golden Roof.
Allow yourself time to simply stroll through the narrow lanes of the Innsbruck old town with its 70 or so market stalls. Don’t forget to look up at the beautifully preserved facades of the medieval buildings, because you might miss the 28 life-size characters from fairy tales and legends looking down at you. On the other hand, the four giants of Riesengasse (Giant’s Alley) are hard not to notice.
Watch out for the Father Christmas/Santa Claus with his beautiful old street organ at the Innsbruck Christmas market. He is very generous when it comes to giving out biscuits and sweets to his small fans. He even hides some gifts in the basket under his organ. Simply drop a few cents into his tin.
Of all the Christmas markets in Innsbruck, the old town market is where we normally have something to snack on. My favourite is the sweet Kiachl (deep-fried dough with a place for a filling in the middle), while C likes the savoury one with Sauerkraut. M enjoys the strawberries dipped in chocolate and we all can’t get enough of the sugar-coated nuts.
Market Square Christmas Market
When: 15 November to 23 December 2020
Hours: 11:00 – 21:00
The Christmas market next to the Inn River on the market square or Marktplatz is where children feel most at home. An old-fashioned carousel and a 14-metre tall Swarovski crystal Christmas tree lend a nostalgic flair to this market. It’s just a beautiful setting in general with the row of colourful houses across the river and the mountains in the background.
We always start our Innsbruck Christmas market tour at the Marktplatz, because M will drive us crazy if we don’t. He loves to play the duck fishing game next to the carousel. Each plastic duck he pulls out of the water has points attached to it. He may choose a prize from a selection, depending on the number of points he gets. This doesn’t come cheap, with the starting price being €5 for four ducks 🙄 .
Apart from the general food, drinks and craft stalls, the market square is also home to a petting zoo and a puppet theatre.
Maria Theresa Street Christmas Market
When: 25 November 2020 to 6 January 2021
Hours: 11:00 and 21:00 (until 15:00 on 24 December,19:00 on 31 December, and closed on 25 December)
Just up the road from the Golden Roof, there are another 30 or so market stalls in the pedestrian zone of Maria Theresa Street. I always get the idea this is where the locals hang out. From here, you have some beautiful views of the Nordkette mountains.
The Maria Theresa Street Christmas market is close to two shopping centres – The Kaufhaus Tyrol and the Rathaus Gallerien. You also can’t miss the two impressive sets of knights’ armour looking at you from the second-floor window of the Hardrock Cafe Innsbruck.
More Innsbruck Christmas Market Event Tips
- 5 December – Nikolaus and his angels visit the old town Christmas market at 17:00.
- 12 to 13 December – Tyrolean Carol Singing in the Congress Innsbruck.
Hungerburg Christmas Market
When: 16 November to 23 December 2020
Hours: Monday to Friday between 13:00 and 19:00 and from 12:00 on weekends and public holidays
With its prime location about 300 metres above Innsbruck, this is a small and intimate mountain view Christmas market specializing in handmade Austrian Christmas decorations.
The market at the Hungerburg station of the Nordkette cable car offers fantastic views of Innsbruck, the Inn Valley, and the Alps. The Congress station of the cable car, from where it’s less than 15 minutes to Hungerburg, is a 5-minute walk from the Golden Roof. You can buy the ticket online but it’s also included in the Innsbruck Card.
If you’re in Innsbruck on 6 December the Hungerburg Christmas market is also where you’ll meet Sankt Nikolaus and (if you’re brave enough) a Krampus. While Nikolaus and his angels hand out sweets to the kids, the Krampuses are set on frightening them (and their parents).
The Krampus “show” is held in the parking area at the Hungerburg. Get there early to get stand in the front row to watch the spectacle of around 20 devils running around a huge bonfire. They make a big racket with the cowbells hanging from their waists. Afterward, they join the crowds at the Christmas market and are happy to pose for photos.
Wilten Christmas Market
When: 25 November to 21 December 2020
Hours: Monday to Friday from 16:00 to 20:00, and 14:00 to 20:00 on Saturdays. Closed on Sundays and public holidays.
Organic glühwein and Sardinian delicacies, of all things, are the big attraction on the Wiltener Platzl, a small square on the corner of Leopold and Liebenegg Streets. However, there are also handicrafts and short concerts and puppet shows planned to keep visitors entertained.
St Nicolaus Christmas Market
When: 22 November to 23 December 2020
Hours: Daily from 16:00 to 21:00
The St. Nikolaus district is on Hans Brenner square across the Inn River. It is a quiet market known for its festive music and home-made biscuits. On Fridays and Saturdays in December, a vintage tram called the “Innsbruck Christkindlbahn” takes children on free rides from 15:30 to 19:00.
Bergisel Christmas Market
When: Every Advent weekend between 22 November and 22 December 2020 + 7/8 December and 21/22 December
The youngest Innsbruck Christmas market addition is on the Bergisel Hill in the shadow of the like-named Olympic ski jump. It’s called the Kaiserweihnacht (Emperor’s Christmas) and the perfect place to escape the crowds in the Innsbruck old town. This is where you come to enjoy a Glühwein around a fire, watch the Innsbruck city lights, and buy homemade Christmas gifts.
Practical Tips for Your Innsbruck Christmas Market Visit
- Traditional Austrian Christmas decorations, handcrafted products, and local seasonal delicacies are sold at the market stalls of all the different Christmas markets in Innsbruck.
- There is an information counter in front of the Ottoburg restaurant (where you enter the Innsbruck old town from the river) where you can ask the friendly angels everything you want to know about the Innsbruck Christmas market.
- If you’re visiting the Innsbruck Christmas market with kids, it’s best to go in the afternoon before it gets too cold and too crowded.
- In Tyrol, a Christmas market is called a Christkindlmarkt.
- The price of a glühwein at the Christmas markets in Innsbruck is generally €3,20 with a mug deposit of €3. So don’t get a fright if your first glühwein costs €6,20. You’ll get almost half back when you return the mug. However, if you like the mug, keep it as a souvenir!
- I’m a white wine girl and while most people associate glühwein with red wine, a white wine version is also available at most stalls. Try it.
- Warm fruit punch is the kids’ version of glühwein.
- Remember to dress warmly. Feet, hands, and ears quickly get cold when standing around outside. A pair of gloves with fingers that come off are great for handling money and mugs of glühwein.
The most popular Christmas markets in Innsbruck are in the historic old town of the city. They are the markets in Maria Theresa Street, in front and around the Golden Roof, and on the market square. All three are within easy walking distance from each other. The other three of the six Christmas markets in Innsbruck are in Wilten, Sankt Nikolaus (both in the city), and at the Hungerburg cable car station overlooking Innsbruck.
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