Christmas Markets….Vienna, Bratislava & Zagreb


Saturday Afternoon in Bratislava

Our side trip to Bratislava was a last minute addition to our Christmas Market tour itinerary. After some online research we found that the train to Bratislava was a little over an hour from Vienna and the trains ran every hour. So off we went to Vienna’s main, bustling train station, Wien Hauptbahnhof. Our round-trip fare was very reasonable about EU10.00 each and it was open seating. We arrived at the main station in Bratislava around 1:30pm and took a street Tram into the city center. Our train ticket also covered city Tram and bus service in Bratislava, so this was a great deal. Train travel and public transportation in general in Europe are very convenient and the trains are comfortable and usually on time.

Bratislava is a quaint, charming small city. It had snowed the night before, a light (maybe 1-2 inches) covering on the roof tops added to the Christmas atmoshere. We left the tram at the city center but we didn’t know where to find the Christmas Market, so when in doubt, follow the crowd. The market was a couple of blocks from the city center at the city hall plaza complex.

The Bratislava Christmas Market was small but very festive, mostly locals attending, although we did see a couple of walking tour groups from nearby Danube river cruise boats. It was a fun Christmas Market, we sampled some of the local food like the palacinka, a crepe like treat with a sweet hazelnut filling. The pozsonyi kifli, or crescent shaped pastries, were delicious. These tasted like shortbread but had a center filling of nuts and spices. And yes, we did try the local version of Gluhwein, called Cierny Medved, or “black bear” which is a black currant mulled wine.

We stayed in Bratislava until after dark and were able to get the 7:30PM train back to Vienna. A fun day at a charming town and Christmas Market.

Enjoy a video recap of our “Saturday Afternoon in Bratislava”


Images from Bratislava

Bratislava Slovakia

Christmas Markets….Vienna, Bratislava & Zagreb

Our First Day in Vienna

It’s that time of year when we are off on another Christmas Market adventure. This was our 5th Christmas Market trip since 2013, four have been to Europe (Germany, France, Switzerland, Austria, Slovakia and Croatia) and one trip up to Quebec City last year.

Walking around these Christmas Markets, mingling with locals, smelling the different foods, having a hot cup of the mulled wine and just taking in the festive atmosphere is a perfect way to get into the Christmas spirt.

We left Boston on Wednesday Nov 28th and travelled to Vienna via Newark and Zurich, arriving on Thursday midday in Vienna. Our hotel, the Hotel Alpha Wien was a very nice, comfortable smaller hotel, perfectly located near the main Christmas Market at City Hall. Like many European hotels, the room was a bit small and the shower was really small. The hotel served our purposes and the staff was very friendly and helpful. Also, breakfast was included in our rate. We booked this hotel through which we use quite a bit and have been happy with this online service.


Cozy sitting area at Hotel Alpha Wien lobby.


Vienna, the Imperial City, is one of Europe’s beautiful cities. It has magnificent buildings and architecture, broad avenues and many parks and palaces. According to the Vienna tourist website there are a dozen separate Christmas Markets. In our first four days in Vienna (we came back for one day at the end of our trip) we were able to visit five of the larger markets.

On our first night, we pushed through the jetlag and walked the two blocks from the hotel to the main, biggest Christmas Market at Rathausplatz (city hall plaza). It was a very cold evening, but when we turned the corner and walked onto the plaza the view was spectacular. Every tree in the park was covered in lights, rows upon rows of vendor chalet stalls selling all kinds of Christmas items and crafts, and, of course the food. We made a bee line for the first Bratwurst stand we could find and got on obligatory Brat. Delicious! Also, to warm up, we had to imbibe in some Gluhwein.


Rathausplatz Christmas Market





A video recap of our arrival in Vienna