I am a market lover!
To me, markets are places filled with colors, smells and tastes. They are full of smiles, laughs and exciting cries announcing the freshness of a product or the deliciousness of a local delicacy.
One of my main travel objectives is to visit a market in cities known for them. It doesn’t matter if it is a covered, open-air or temporal market. I have been able to do this in cities like Barcelona, Tijuana, Oaxaca, Valencia and Madrid.
When I was researching things to do in Vienna, I stumbled upon a page talking about Naschmarkt, Vienna’s most popular and largest outdoor market.
Noticed I have used words such as “popular” and “largest” to describe the market. The thing is that while I was trying to inquire more about this place, I couldn’t find good descriptions, nice photos or enough reasons to visit. Seems like it wasn’t in any “top 10” lists of the city.
We decided to stop by since we had to eat breakfast anyway (and I hoped to find something in there). That is how we proceeded to take the Metro to Kettenbruckengasse Station.
We got out and start seeing stalls full of colorful shirts, hippie pants and accessories (caps, scarves, etc.). We walked a little bit more and that is when the beauty of this place started to unfold.
We started to see stalls containing hundreds of little bags filled with spices. We inspected the names and discovered things we have never seen in our lives. One of the attendants explained the origin of some of the powders, leaves and grains. We bought bags containing known and unknown contents.
The awakening of the senses continued for about two more hours. After all, the market is about one mile long (1.5 km). It ended up being one of the best markets I have ever visited. We liked it so much that we returned the 4th day of our stay.
I am not sure how the name Naschmarkt came into existence. I found two versions. One say the market has origins in the 16th century when milk bottles were sold in the area. During those times, milk bottles were made out of ash. Hence the “Aschenmarkt” which with time evolved to the way it is called nowadays.
Another version of the story says the market’s original name was Kärntnertormarkt. This was the bridge which was at that time called Kärntnertorbrücke, but is now Elisabethbrücke, later it spread along to reach Karlsplatz. This story does not provides and explanation of how or when the modern term started to be used.
Nowadays, the market is full of fresh fruit and vegetables from around the world (I even saw cactus fruit), exotic herbs, cheese, baked goods, meats, and seafood. Artisan products such as vinegar, oil, sausage and pastries can be found too. They can be bought as souvenirs or gifts (we bought flavored vinegar and oil and they were superb).
In addition the market affords the opportunity to try or buy Austrian bread, cheese and wine. World famous Austrian cakes and pastries are there too for your enjoyment.
But, do not worry, international fare such as doner kebabs, sushi and kimchi are available in the market. I noticed this is a perfect place to sample some Mediterranean and Middle Eastern specialties. They have the plumpest, most colorful olives, figs, baklava, hummus, baba ganoush and fruits and vegetables stuffed with feta or other regional cheeses.
There are many things to eat on the go but there are also many small restaurants which offer traditional Viennese, French or Italian food. You can sit, people watch and enjoy the atmosphere. They have indoor or outdoor seats.
As I mentioned, I visited the Naschmarkt twice. The first time, we arrived around 10:00 a.m. There weren’t a lot of people around and most of the restaurants were closed. There was plenty of space to walk, move and engage into conversation with vendors. It was the perfect time to walk slowly while absorbing all the sights.
The second time, we arrived close to 6:00 p.m. In this case, stalls and stores selling goods were closing down. On the contrary, all restaurants were open, there was live music and food was being prepared on the streets. The market was way more crowded and the atmosphere was very lively.
So, your experience will be affected by the time of the day you choose to visit. I enjoyed seeing both faces of the market. They were as different as day and night.
On Saturday, a flea market takes place at one end of the market. This adds an additional dimension to the place. I can imagine how nice things get when you have additional vendors and good on the grounds.
In summary, I loved, loved Naschmarkt. It is way more than I was expecting. The place is full of gorgeous food and produce but most important; it is full of friendly and happy people. They give you a warm welcome into their stalls and they share with you things they have prepared with their hands. Human interaction is what I crave during my travels and I was able to find it in this beautiful place.
Would you like to visit Naschmarkt?
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