AUSTRIA IN WINTER – THINGS TO DO & TRAVEL TIPS

A WINTER TRIP TO AUSTRIA

Beautiful Austria! Though Austria is always worth a visit, this post is all about Austria in the winter. Find out about the best places to visit, what to do + travel tips for your Austria winter trip.

Austria in the winter is a picturesque wonderland, filled with snow-capped mountains, frozen lakes, and charming alpine villages. From skiing and snowboarding to ice-skating and tobogganing, there are countless outdoor activities to enjoy in Austria’s winter wonderland.

With world-class ski resorts like St. Anton and Kitzbühel, Austria is a top destination for winter sports enthusiasts. Additionally, you can experience Austria’s rich culture through its traditional cuisine, warm hospitality, and festive holiday markets.

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BEST THINGS TO DO IN WINTER IN AUSTRIA

A trip to Austria in the winter is sure to leave you with unforgettable memories and a newfound appreciation for the beauty of the season. 

Salzburg, the birthplace of Mozart, is a very, very charming city in Austria that is perfect to visit in winter.

Salzburg in winter
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Here are some things to do and see in Salzburg during the winter season:

✔️ The Salzburg Christmas Market, located in the old town, is one of the most beautiful in Europe. Admire the festive decorations, listen to Christmas carols, and sample local treats like roasted chestnuts and Glühwein (mulled wine).

✔️ The medieval fortress – Hohensalzburg Fortress – sits atop a hill and offers stunning views of the city below. Take a guided tour or wander around on your own to learn about Salzburg’s rich history.

✔️ Beautiful Mirabell Palace Gardens were originally built in the 18th century for a prince’s mistress. Today, you can enjoy a peaceful walk through the gardens, which are filled with sculptures, fountains, and beautiful flowers.

✔️ No trip to Salzburg would be complete without a visit to Mozart’s birthplace. Learn about the famous composer’s life and see original manuscripts and musical instruments.

✔️ Salzburg is surrounded by the Alps, which offer some of the best skiing and snowboarding in Europe. Take a day trip to one of the nearby ski resorts, such as Obertauern or Flachau, for a day on the slopes.

Salzburg is a magical place to visit at any time of the year, but especially in the winter, this pretty city is amazing. With its charming architecture, beautiful natural surroundings, and rich cultural heritage, it is sure to leave a lasting impression on any traveler.

VISIT HALLSTATT IN THE WINTER

Hallstatt, located in the Austrian Alps, is a picturesque town that is perfect for a day trip in the winter.
Hallstatt in Austria winter
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Here are some things to do and see during your visit:

✔️ Hallstatt’s Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, known for its charming narrow streets, pastel-colored houses, and stunning views of the lake. Take a stroll through the town, admire the architecture, and stop for a coffee or hot chocolate at a local café.

✔️ Hallstatt’s salt mines have been in operation since prehistoric times and are a fascinating attraction to visit. Take a guided tour to learn about the history and see the underground tunnels, slides, and wooden bridges.

✔️ Take the funicular up to the top of the Skywalk for breathtaking views of Hallstatt and the surrounding Alps. Walk along the Skywalk, a viewing platform that extends over the edge of the mountain, for an even more stunning view.

✔️ Learn about the town’s rich history and culture at the Hallstatt Museum, which features exhibits on Hallstatt’s salt mining history, prehistoric artifacts, and local traditions.

✔️ In the winter, Hallstatt offers a variety of winter sports activities, including skiing, snowshoeing, and ice skating on the frozen lake. Rent equipment and hit the slopes for a fun day of outdoor adventure.

Hallstatt is a beautiful destination to visit in Austria in the winter. With its stunning natural surroundings and variety of activities, it’s the perfect place to spend a day exploring and making memories.

CHECK OUT TOUR: From Salzburg: Half-Day Tour to Hallstatt

VISIT VIENNA IN THE WINTER

Vienna, Austria’s capital city, is a beautiful destination to visit in the winter.

Vienna, Austria Schonbrunn Palace (Schloss Schönbrunn) in winter
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Ice skating rink in front Town Hall Vienna in winter
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Here are some things to do and see during your 2-3 day visit:

✔️ This 18th-century palace – Schönbrunn Palace -is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a must-see attraction in Vienna. Take a guided tour of the palace and its beautiful gardens, or visit the nearby Schönbrunn Zoo, which is one of the oldest and most beautiful zoos in the world.

✔️ Vienna is famous for its Christmas markets, which are held throughout the city in November and December. Browse the stalls for traditional crafts, gifts, and food, and enjoy the festive atmosphere with a cup of Glühwein (mulled wine).

✔️ The Hofburg Palace was the former imperial palace of the Habsburg dynasty and is now home to several museums and attractions, including the Imperial Apartments, the Sisi Museum, and the Spanish Riding School.

✔️ The beautiful Gothic St. Stephen’s Cathedral is one of Vienna’s most iconic landmarks. Climb the 343 steps to the top of the tower for panoramic views of the city.

✔️ Vienna is known for its delicious cuisine, including apple strudel, and Sachertorte (a famous chocolate cake). Be sure to try these traditional dishes at local restaurants and cafes.

✔️ The Belvedere Palace is a beautiful Baroque palace with stunning gardens and several museums. The highlight is the Upper Belvedere, which houses a collection of Austrian art, including works by Gustav Klimt.

Vienna has a lot to offer in the winter, from its beautiful palaces and museums to its festive Christmas markets, making Vienna a must-see in the winter months in my opinion.

THINGS TO DO IN VIENNA IN WINTER

Christmas & New Year’s Concert in St. Peter’s Church

Vienna PASS: 1, 2, 3, or 6 Days of Sightseeing

Vivaldi’s Four Seasons Concert in Karlskirche

Skip the Line: Schönbrunn Palace & Vienna City Tour

READ MORE –> Vienna in the winter

VISIT GRAZ IN THE WINTER 

Graz is the second-largest city in Austria and has a rich cultural and historical heritage. In winter, the city can be quite cold, with temperatures averaging between -3°C to 7°C (27°F to 45°F) and an occasional snowfall. However, despite the cold weather, Graz still has a lot to offer in the winter months.

Graz in Austria winter
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✔️ One of the most popular winter activities in Graz is ice skating, with several ice rinks available in the city center. Additionally, the city is known for its Christmas markets, which offer traditional foods, drinks, and handmade crafts.

✔️ Another attraction is Schlossberg Hill, which provides breathtaking views of the city and surrounding countryside. You can take a cable car or climb the stairs to reach the top. The hill is also home to several historic landmarks, such as the Clock Tower and the Graz Castle.

Overall, Graz is definitely worth a visit in winter, especially if you enjoy winter sports, festive activities, and beautiful scenery.

THINGS TO DO IN GRAZ IN THE WINTER

Graz: Old Town Highlights Private Walking Tour

SKI AND SNOWBOARD IN AUSTRIA

Austria is a world-renowned skiing and snowboarding destination, with many resorts offering spectacular mountain views, diverse terrain, and reliable snow conditions. Here are two of the best ski and snowboard destinations in Austria:

St. Anton am Arlberg – Located in Tyrol, St. Anton am Arlberg is one of the largest ski resorts in Austria and is known for its challenging off-piste terrain. It boasts over 305 kilometers of ski runs, with slopes suitable for all levels of skiers and snowboarders.

St. Anton am Arlberg winter Austria
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The resort is also famous for its lively après-ski scene, with many bars and restaurants to enjoy after a day on the slopes. St. Anton is also a popular destination for cross-country skiing, with over 40 kilometers of trails to explore.

Kitzbühel – Situated in the Tyrolean Alps, Kitzbühel is one of the most iconic ski resorts in the world. It is renowned for its picturesque medieval town, charming atmosphere, and stunning mountain views.

You´ll find 170 kilometers of ski runs, including a world-famous downhill racecourse, the Streif. Kitzbühel is also an ideal destination for snowboarders, with several snow parks and half-pipes available. In addition, the resort offers plenty of non-skiing activities, such as snowshoeing, ice skating, and horse-drawn sleigh rides.

Both St. Anton and Kitzbühel are excellent ski and snowboard destinations, offering a wide range of slopes, stunning scenery, and plenty of après-ski activities. Ultimately, the choice between the two resorts comes down to personal preferences, as both are fantastic destinations to experience the Austrian Alps.

VISIT CHRISTMAS MARKETS IN AUSTRIA

Discover the enchanting Christmas Markets of Austria. With a season that runs from mid/late November to the end of the year, you have ample time to immerse yourself in the festive atmosphere.

Christmas market in Vienna most beautiful place in winter
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Vienna Christmas Market

Here, you’ll find glistening lights that add to the charm of the snow-covered roofs and taste the tempting seasonal treats that the Austrian towns offer. Get ready for a magical experience that will leave you with fond memories of your visit to this beautiful country.

Experience the magic of Christmas in Vienna as you stroll its picturesque streets lined with glittering lights and festive décor. The aroma of roasted chestnuts and mulled wine from the punch stands will tantalize your taste buds, while local stallholders offer a wide range of handcrafted gifts to get you into the yuletide spirit.

The tradition of Christmas markets in Vienna dates back to the Middle Ages when Albrecht I granted Vienna’s citizens the privilege of holding a December Market or “Krippenmarkt” in 1296.

Over time, the markets have evolved considerably, and now there are over 20 official Advent markets that offer a diverse selection of seasonal goods and irresistible treats. A visit to Vienna’s Christmas markets is a must-do holiday activity that is sure to leave you feeling merry and bright!

As the sweet sound of church bells fills the air, it’s clear that Christmas is on its way in Salzburg and Salzburger Land.

Salzburg Christmas Market in Austria winter
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The city’s snow-covered rooftops, domes, and towering spires offer a stunning backdrop for the Christmas markets, which are sure to warm your heart. Take a romantic stroll atop the city’s hills for a breathtaking view before returning to the lively bustle of the Salzburg Christmas market below.

The scent of punch, toasted almonds, roasted chestnuts, and baked apples will envelop you, and the tantalizing array of gingerbread hearts, nativity figures, Christmas tree ornaments, toys, and toasty knitwear offered by vendors is sure to delight.

The Christmas markets in Salzburg and SalzburgerLand are a must-see for anyone seeking a truly magical holiday experience!

NEW YEAR´S EVE IN AUSTRIA

Vienna’s entire inner city turns into a massive party zone on New Year’s Eve, which attracted up to one million people every year pre-Covid. The Silvesterpfad “New Year’s Path” starts at 2 p.m. on December 31 and ends at 2 a.m. on January 1.

 Enjoy concerts on the streets, dance to the ever-present sound of the waltz and the latest chart hits, and watch the fireworks at the stroke of Midnight, accompanied by all the church bells ringing (and half the town dancing to the Blue Danube Waltz on the street!). Wondering about the stalls selling little pigs, shamrocks, and chimney sweeps along the path? Austrians are big on lucky charms. Other things we quite like on New Year’s (and any other winter day): mulled wine and punch to warm up!

While Vienna may steal the spotlight on New Year’s Eve, the rest of Austria knows how to throw a celebration too. In Innsbruck, brass band parades and evening fanfare in the Old Town set the tone for a joyous evening.

To add to the ambiance, artistic light displays are projected onto the facades of buildings. For a view of the stunning fireworks and laser shows, head to the surrounding mountains like Nordkette. Whether you’re in Vienna or Innsbruck or any other part of the country, New Year’s Eve in Austria is a unique experience that will leave you with lasting memories.

Salzburg is another exceptional location that knows how to celebrate New Year’s Eve in style. At Residenzplatz, live music adds to the festive atmosphere, and the entire town is lit up with spectacular fireworks. For an extra touch of tradition, the New Year’s Salute is fired off at Hohensalzburg Fortress, offering a historic setting for ringing in the new year. Whether you’re in Vienna, Innsbruck, or Salzburg, there’s no shortage of merriment to be had on New Year’s Eve in Austria!

In Graz, the New Year is welcomed with an exciting laser show and upbeat music by DJs on the main square, followed by parties that keep the celebration going all throughout town.

Meanwhile, in Linz, locals and visitors gather at the picturesque main square, Danube River, and Schlossberg and Pöstlingberg mountains to witness the stunning fireworks display that lights up the sky. No matter where you are in Austria, there’s no shortage of fun-filled festivities to make your New Year’s Eve extraordinary!

FAQ: AUSTRIA IN WINTER TRIP

So, after finding out about where to go in the winter, here are some very important travel tips to make your winter trip to Austria go smoothly.

Here are some general travel tips – for many of the points, you will find more detailed info further below.

✔️ Dress in layers: The weather in Austria during the winter can be unpredictable, so it’s best to be prepared with layers of warm clothing.

✔️ Book accommodations in advance: Popular ski resorts and cities like Vienna can fill up quickly during the winter months, so it’s best to book accommodations in advance.

✔️ Be aware of holiday closures: Many shops and attractions may have limited hours or be closed during Christmas and New Year’s Day.

✔️ Respect the environment: Austria’s beautiful winter landscapes should be treated with respect. Make sure to follow guidelines for responsible winter tourism, like staying on marked trails and disposing of trash properly.

WHAT TO PACK FOR AUSTRIA IN THE WINTER

It is important to dress warmly. Or better to dress in layers. Here are some of the most important items you should consider packing for your Austria winter vacation.

✔️ A warm, waterproof jacket should be one of the first items you think to pack. Avoid choosing a bulky jacket that takes up a lot of space. This can make you feel uncomfortable when you have layers underneath. Instead, opt for a lightweight trench raincoat that will keep you warm, dry, and comfortable. 

✔️ A knitted beanie is a perfect solution for keeping the warmth in while you venture out. A hat will keep you toasty warm wherever you are.

✔️ A pair of gloves can do wonders for your mobility and comfort. When selecting your options, it’s worth investing in a pair that can dry quickly and are touch-screen compatible.

✔️ A warm scarf and/or turtleneck sweater are key items for keeping your neck covered. A turtleneck sweater is perfect as a garment to wear underneath your jacket, while the scarf can be removed easily. 

✔️ Leggings are an essential item to pack as you can dress them up or down. You can even wear them underneath your denim as an extra layer of warmth. 

✔️ When it comes to packing socks for your Austria winter trip – the thicker, the better. The chances are that you’ll be spending a lot of time outdoors in the snow, and you’ll want your feet to be warm and cozy. 

✔️ My favorite winter clothes are thermalsA quality set of thermals is your key to enjoying the winter weather in Austria. You have to wear them on a cold day to believe what a wonderful invention it is!

✔️ Make sure you have a trusty pair of waterproof shoes. You’ll want your shoes to be as versatile as possible. Snowshoes allow you to enjoy a variety of activities while keeping your feet warm and dry. 

By packing appropriately for your winter trip to Austria, you can stay comfortable and enjoy all the winter sports and attractions the country has to offer.

WHAT IS THE WEATHER LIKE IN AUSTRIA IN THE WINTER?

The weather in Austria during the winter season (December to February) can vary depending on the region. In general, however, winters in Austria are cold with temperatures often dropping below freezing.

In the lowlands, like Vienna, average temperatures usually range from -2°C to 6°C (28°F to 43°F) during the day, while in the mountains, temperatures can drop to -10°C to -15°C (5°F to 14°F) or lower.

The snowfall in the mountains can be heavy and the higher the elevation, the greater the snowfall.

In addition to the cold temperatures and snow, the winter season in Austria can also bring fog, icy roads, and occasional strong winds. It’s important to check weather forecasts and road conditions before traveling to ensure a safe and comfortable trip.

HOW TO GET AROUND AUSTRIA IN THE WINTER

Getting around Austria in the winter is relatively easy thanks to its well-connected transportation network. Here are some options to consider:

🚆 TRAIN: Austria has an extensive train network that covers most major cities and towns. The trains are clean, comfortable, and reliable, and offer stunning views of the winter landscape. Consider purchasing an ÖBB Vorteilscard, which provides discounted fares on all ÖBB trains.

🚌 BUS: Buses are another option for getting around Austria in the winter. Many cities and towns have local bus networks and long-distance buses connect major cities. Flixbus is a popular bus company in Austria, offering affordable fares and comfortable amenities.

🚗 CAR: Renting a car can be a good option if you want to explore Austria’s smaller towns and rural areas. Keep in mind that winter driving conditions can be challenging, especially in the mountains, so be sure to check weather and road conditions before setting out.

🚎 SKI SHUTTLE: If you’re planning a ski holiday in Austria, consider using a ski shuttle service to get to and from the ski resorts. Many ski resorts offer shuttle services from nearby train stations or airports.

🚖 TAXI: Taxis are widely available in Austria, especially in larger cities. They can be a convenient option for shorter trips or when you need to get to a specific location quickly.

Overall, getting around Austria in the winter is easy and convenient. With a little planning and research, you can find the transportation option that works best for your travel style and budget.

FINAL THOUGHTS ON WINTER IN AUSTRIA

Visiting Austria in the winter season is a truly magical experience that offers a unique blend of natural beauty, cultural attractions, and exciting winter sports activities. From the charming Christmas markets to the stunning snow-capped mountains, Austria in the winter is a must-visit destination for travelers seeking adventure and culture.

Whether you’re looking to hit the slopes, enjoy a hot mug of Glühwein by a roaring fire, or explore the rich history and architecture of cities like Vienna and Salzburg, Austria has something for everyone. Just make sure to pack warm clothing and plan ahead to make the most of your winter vacation.

Winter sports in Austria, Austrian Alps
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