"Naschen" is the German verb for "to nibble". So it should come as no surprise that Vienna's Naschmarkt is a fantastic place to find all manner of food. It is truly a nibbler's paradise! It is full of shops for buying ingredients, delicatessens, ethnic grocers, hot and cold food snack bars, take aways, restaurants and small bars for a tipple. (There is another story about how the market got its name, which suggests that it used to be called Aschenmarkt because of the ash wood milk bottles which used to be sold here, but that just doesn't fit as well, so I'm going with the nibbling if that's all right with you all!)
If using public transport, Naschmarkt's closest station on the U Bahn underground system is Kettenbrückengasse on the U4 line. An alternative is Karlsplatz Station which is served by the U1, U2 and U4 lines. It is not far, however, to walk from the city centre and is close to the Secession Museum. If you have trouble finding it, just ask someone where it is, because everyone who lives here knows where it is!
It is a large space, of a length of around one and a half km. If you want to explore it, I would advise that you allow yourself a good amount of time. If you love food and drink then you won't want to rush. Besides, you'll miss out on the fun and energy of the place if you have to march around quickly through a lack of time. I understand there are guided tours available of the market, but I'm more of a wander around and see what you stumble upon kind of person, so I didn't bother with one. It's up to you how you want to see the market, and a guide isn't really necessary, just follow your nose and what looks appealing on the day! Most of the traders speak English, and the restaurants all have a menu in English.
Naschmarkt is, apparently, Vienna's most popular market. We visited on a Saturday, and we can vouch for that fact. It was as if the entire city had come out to soak up the sunshine and atmosphere! Perhaps elsewhere the crowds of people would have resulted in chaos, but somehow here it is all very joyous and pleasant. It's a happy, friendly busy rather than a stressful and shoving busy. Locals and tourists alike wander around, shopping for food, eating, nibbling and drinking.
The tourist board reckon there are 120 different stalls. I didn't count, so I take them at their word. There are so many stalls that I do think you need to consider your strategy. You either have to visit when hungry, ambling and eating as you go or you have to do a reccy, scope out the place and then home in on where you really want to eat. It depends on the size of your appetite or your belly and what your plans for the day are.
The array of fresh fruit and vegetables in the market was incredible. I was so impressed. The variety beat almost any other market, shop or supermarket I've ever seen. It made me more than a little envious that we have nothing quite like it in London. What a joy it would be to be able to get such a diversity of fresh produce so easily and in one handy place!
A good selection of cuisines are represented in the Naschmarkt. You'll find Austrian food alongside the food of other central European countries, and going further afield, Turkish, Persian, Greek, Vietnamese, Chinese and Japanese. Whatever your tastes, roam freely and you will find something delicious.
I heard that Anthony Bourdain featured a visit to Naschmarkt on one of his TV shows. He visited a charcuterie shop called Herr Urbanek, which he heartily recommendeded as a brilliant place for cured meat and cold cuts. I personally did not visit it, but pass this on in case you want to follow in Bourdain's footsteps.
Some of the stalls can be pricey. If you are on a budget, you may want to ask about the cost of items before buying. Check the quality before you pay. Markets anywhere in the world have a range of goods, going from really great to naff. This place is no different.
We had a enjoyable afternoon just grazing, stopping off for a drink a couple of times and doing a bit of people-watching. Families came out together to eat, others met their friends. It was great to see so many people kicking back, enjoying food and having a good time. My idea of heaven.
On a Saturday, the far side of the Naschmarkt is given over to an eclectic flea market, or "Flohmarkt". It's a fun mix of second hand goods, although a lot of it is frankly old tat. Whether you visit this part of the market depends on how much you feel about flea markets and car boot sales. The food market begins to peter out into a clothes market before the Flohmarkt starts, so you can choose to call time on your visit once you hit the clothes section.
The market restaurants and bars stay open late, so it's a great place for a late bite or for a night on the tiles.
The market reflects the seasons, being particularly fun in December with Christmas trees and Gluhwein (mulled wine). Vienna is very cold in Winter, but it sure sounds like fun! Maybe one day I'll go back then... [drifts off into fantasy travel dream mode.....]