Did you know that the Christkindlmarkt in Salzburg is one of the world’s oldest and most beautiful Christmas markets in the world?
Yes, Germany has plenty of fabulous Christmas markets but Salzburg’s Christmas market is well worth a visit. After all, it’s part of the typical Austrian Christmas traditions. Here’s what you need to know.
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1. Opening Times
The Christkindlmarkt in Salzburg runs from 23 November 2023 to 1 January 2024. In 2024, it will be 2024: 21 November to 1 January 2025.
It’s open from 10am to 8.30pm Mondays to Thursdays, 10am to 9pm on Fridays, 9am to 9pm Saturdays and 9am to 8.30pm on Sundays and Holidays.
The first day of Salzburg’s Christkindl market officially takes place the second last Thursday of November.
It is well worth it to attend the official opening ceremony of the Christkindl market as well. The market is open every day and starts at 10am.
Events not to miss are:
- Christkind and Angels: 2 December 4pm, Domplatz
- Live choir (and you can sing along): 28 Nov, 5/12/19 December 2023, 6-8pm
- Live brass band from tower: 29 November sowie 6/13/20 Dezember 2023, 6pm, Domplatz
The arrangement of the Christkindlmarkt Salzburg as we know it today dates back to 1974. But why was the market founded in the first place?
Well, in the 15th century there was a tiny market called “Tandlmarkt”, a small market with local products. It was also hosted on the cathedral square.
In the 17th century it got a more Christmasy touch and was renamed “Nikolaimarkt”. Nikolai is the historical person Saint Nikolaus, who inspired the figure of Santa Claus. Fittingly, it was opened on December 6, which is Nikolaustag, St Niclas Day.
Besides the typical market fare, such as pottery, leather goods and more, you now could also find puppets, toys and souvenirs. Back then, the market wasn’t a Christmas market, more a pre Christmas market in Salzburg and was exclusively located by the side of the cathedral.
3. Market Fare
Nowadays, the streets of Salzburg are wonderfully lit everywhere and the market stretches out much more. In total there are around 100 market stalls selling all kinds of Christmasy goods. These include lebkuchen, mulled wine, grilled meats, marzipan, incense and wooden toys, baubles and hangers.
4. What to see
Locals are particularly proud of the live Christmas tree and the fairy lights that are strung across the circular Christmas market like a starry sky. Of course, as is typical for Christmas markets in Austria, there are live performances and events as well.
On Tuesdays, the choir sings and on Thursdays and Saturdays you can listen to traditional and live brass music coming from the towers.
If you want to see the Christmas Angel, called the Christkind, visit on Saturday afternoon. This is typically a kids event, so don’t try to take part, just watch the spectacle.
5. When to Go
Naturally, you can only go when the Salzburg Christmas market is open, which is throughout most of December. However, it also matters what time of the day you can go.
During the week and day time, you have the least amount of people visit (in case you want to avoid crowds). And it can get pretty crowded in the Old Town of Salzburg any day of the year as is.
Check the event calendar for special performance and live music times.
A great day to visit is December 6, as it is “Nikolaustag”, the day of St Nicolas. He comes to hand out gifts to nice kids. But be aware of the Krampus as well. That is one scary creature and you will get to see him during the infamous Krampuslauf.
But beware! It is not for the faint hearted. If you dare take a look, check out my video I made of the Krampuslauf in Salzburg.
6. What to Pack
December in Salzburg can be rather chilly and the cobblestone streets will make your feet grow cold easily. Therefore, I recommend wearing thermal underwear and warm wooly socks. Winter boots are very practical as well.
If it is particularly freezing, having a hand warmer in your pocket is a great idea. Definitely wear 3 so you can warm your hands both in the cold and on the hot mulled wine cups. Don’t forget your hat.
While Salzburg is a safe city, pickpockets aren’t uncommon on Christmas markets in general. So only have a small bag with you and make sure it has zippers.
7. Getting there
How do you get to the Christkindlmarket in Salzburg? Well, that’s easy. The train station is only a 15 minute walk away. In case you want to travel more of Europe or between multiple countries, having a EU or interrail ticket will save you money. Click here for the cheapest prices on Eurail passes.
Make your way towards the monastery to the east below the Salzburg fortress. Then turn left and head towards the Old Town of Salzburg.
You will hardly miss it thanks to the busy crowds streaming towards the cathedral. The Old Town is very compact as well and worthy of a nightly stroll. There is a bus stop right outside the gates as well in case you are staying a little outside. Check more transport options here.
8. Salzburg Accommodation
Staying in the centre of Salzburg is ideal for exploring the various Christmas markets. Imagine nightly walks in the old cobblestone streets, historic houses and charmingly decorated interiors will welcome you to town.
If you want to treat yourself to a luxurious stay, check into the Arthotel Blaue Gans. The hotel is tastefully decorated in a minimalist but rustic style, making it more homely rather than grand.
Rooms come with a satellite TV, a minibar, a safe, and a bathroom with hairdryer. An onsite restaurant will serve you traditional Austrian cuisine and Salzburg specialities. Check availability here.
More affordable, especially if you can share the hotel room with a travel buddy, is the fabulous Hotel & Villa Auersperg. Each hotel room comes with its very own unique design and this Salzburg hotel is located right next to Villa Auersperg, a historic city villa. Check availability here
How would you like it to stay in a Baroque building next to the historic Trinity Church? You can do that with a stay at Gästehaus im Priesterseminar Salzburg.
Old Town can be reached by foot. If you want to cater for yourself, know that the guesthouse includes a kitchenette, too. Check availability here.
9. Other Christmas Markets in Salzburg
There are even more Christmas markets in Salzburg (“Weihnachtsmärkte Salzburg”). Besides the Salzburg Christkindlmarkt, you gotta check out the Hellbrunn Christkindlmarkt. It’s not far away and you can easily catch a bus over to Hellbrunn.
You probably know the small palace and grounds from the movie The Sound of Music. It served as the home of the van Trapp family.
The Christmas Market at Hellbrunn, known as “Hellbrunner Adventzauber”, is super cute. There is a small entrance fee but then you have access to the little stalls and Christmas trees in the palace courtyard.
- Address: Schloss Hellbrunn, Fürstenweg 37, 5020 Salzburg
Another nearby Salzburg Christmas market is the Christmas market at Mirabellplatz, also located in the Old Town. It is situated at Mirabell Palace (“Schloss Mirabell”), on the opposite bank of the river to the Residence and the Cathedral.
Address: Mirabellplatz, 5020 Salzburg
While you’re in the Old Town. Enter the yard of the Sternbräu guesthouse. It houses a tiny Christmas market known as Sternadvent.
Address: Griesgasse 23, 5020 Salzburg
High up on the fortress, you can find another small market installation. It is free to roam the city walls, only getting inside the museum and up on the towers requires a fee.
Address: Fortress Hohensalzburg, Mönchsberg 34, 5020 Salzburg, Austria
I hope you are having a very cosy holiday time, no matter what you celebrate. Maybe you are hugging a warm mulled wine and are eyeing tomorrow’s door in your Christmas calendar?
I’d love to hear how you celebrate Christmas (or whatever December celebration vibes with you) below in the comments.
Have you been to an Austrian Christmas market before? Let’s talk!
More from the Austria blog
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- Where to go on a holiday in Tyrol
- A trip around the Alps
More Christmas travel tips
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- My home town’s two Christmas markets: Jena in Germany
- German state capital Erfurt has 17 Christmas sites!
- Where to find castle Christmas markets in Thuringia
- The best locations for Christmas lights in London