WINTER IN VIENNA – WHAT TO DO
Vienna in winter is a wonderful idea! Yes, Vienna in the winter months can be cold, but it is still a gorgeous place to visit because it is magical and a must-see in Austria in the winter.
I have been to Vienna several times – mostly in the summer, but I also braved the cold winter months to see what all the fuss was about. And let me tell you, the Austrian capital of Vienna is a charmer in all seasons.
Don’t worry if you’re not into skiing or snowboarding – Vienna’s got plenty of other things to offer for the winter wonderlanders out there!
Vienna in winter transforms into a magical destination, offering a unique blend of cultural richness and festive charm. The city’s historical streets and squares, adorned with twinkling lights, host enchanting Christmas markets, where the aroma of mulled wine and gingerbread fills the air.
But even outside the Christmas Season in Vienna, you can experience the grandeur of Vienna’s imperial past, explore world-renowned museums, or indulge in cozy cafés.
So, here is my Vienna winter guide – find out about the best winter activities in Vienna, plus more travel tips so you can enjoy a beautiful winter trip to Vienna.
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BEST THINGS TO DO IN WINTER IN VIENNA
Let´s talk about the best things to do in Vienna before and after Christmas Time.
When it comes to Christmas Markets, Austria goes BIG. And Vienna? Well, Vienna takes the cake. The Vienna Christmas Markets are some of the best in Europe, especially when visiting these magical markets at night. Picture this: twinkling lights, steaming hot mulled wine, and delicious treats as far as the eye can see.
And don’t worry, there’s plenty of fun for the kids too – Children’s World has some awesome rides to keep them entertained while you sip on your Glühwein.
BEST CHRISTMAS MARKETS IN VIENNA
While there is no guarantee for a White Christmas in Vienna, there are a ton of Christmas markets to choose from – but if you’re looking for the crème de la crème, look no further than the Wiener Christkindlmarkt am Rathausplatz.
This bad boy is the most famous of them all, and for good reason! It’s smack dab in the center of town, making it the perfect place for a pitstop after checking out other attractions. With 150 stalls, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to snag some sweet gifts and indulge in all the goodies, including the legendary mulled wine. And the Christmas Lights are a treat for the eyes.
If you’re looking for even more Christmas Markets to explore in Vienna, you gotta check out the Christmas Village on Maria-Theresien-Platz. Nestled between the Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna and the Naturhistorisches Museum Vienna, this market boasts over 70 stalls where you can indulge in all sorts of goodies. And if that’s not enough to get you in the holiday spirit, they’ve also got some Gospel choirs and music groups performing.
Don’t forget to swing by the Christkindl Markt am Karlsplatz or the one at the Spittelberg for even more Christmas magic. Get ready to stuff your stockings (and your bellies) with all the holiday cheer Vienna has to offer as it is the best way to spend outdoors just before Christmas comes.
- Open from the middle of November until Christmas
Foodies, if you’re visiting Vienna during Christmas Time, you have to check out the Naschmarkt. This is the most popular market in the city and for good reason! It’s got rows upon rows of open stalls selling everything from quick takeaway bites to fancy sit-down meals.
There are all sorts of Austrian specialties to try (although I must admit, I’m more of a dessert person myself). And if you’re looking to bring a taste of Vienna home with you, the Naschmarkt is also the perfect spot for some gift and grocery shopping.
- Location: At the Wienzeile over the Wien River – it stretches over 1.5 kilometers (0.93 miles)
Celebrate New Year´s Eve
If you’re thinking of visiting Vienna between December and January, why not ring in the New Year in style? Whether you’re in the mood for a fancy shindig (cue the New Year’s Eve Ball at the Imperial Palace – the Hofburg Palace – ooh la la!) or prefer to join the masses and watch the fireworks outdoors, there’s something for everyone to celebrate.
And once the clock strikes midnight, the night is far from over! Head to one of the many bars, restaurants, or clubs to keep the party going and toast to the new year.
I’ve never personally experienced NYE in Vienna, but I have a feeling it’s going to be a blast!
Coffeehouse and Sacher Cake
Calling all dessert lovers! If you find yourself in Vienna, you simply must make a stop at Hotel Sacher to indulge in their famous original Sacher cake.
On my very first trip to Vienna, I knew I had to get my hands on one of Europe‘s most iconic desserts – the Sacher cake.
The Sachertorte was created by Franz Sacher – this chocolate torte was first made in 1832, reportedly for Prince Metternich. Distinguished by its layer of apricot jam, the Sachertorte has become a renowned specialty of Viennese cuisine.
While it’s not exactly my go-to sweet treat (it was the apricot jam that was not “my thing”), I simply couldn’t resist trying it out for myself.
And hey, when in Vienna, it’s practically mandatory to give it a taste, right? But that’s not all Vienna has to offer in the food and drink department – the city is also known for its fantastic coffee culture. So after a brisk stroll through the streets, be sure to cozy up with a warm cup of joe at one of the many charming cafes.
St. Stephen’s Cathedral
Oh, the grand and glorious St. Stephans´s Cathedral – it’s an absolute must-visit when in Vienna, especially during the winter months. Whether you’re exploring the city in December, January, or February, this iconic Gothic structure is sure to take your breath away.
St. Stephen’s Cathedral in the bustling inner city is a whopping 107 meters (351 feet) long of glorious architecture. That south tower stands tall at 136 meters (446 feet) – making it Austria’s highest church!
Fun fact: it’s actually the mother church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vienna and the seat of the Archbishop of Vienna.
It’s been in the works since the 12th century, with new elements added over time. And with its prime location in the city center, it’s a breeze to visit.
Whether you are a religious Christian or not, spending some time at this pretty church during the Christmas Season is surely extra special.
But make sure you don’t miss out on the best part – climbing the south and north towers for a stunning view of the city. I haven’t had the pleasure of seeing Vienna covered in snow from up there, but I can only imagine it’s a sight straight out of a winter wonderland dream.
- Each tower charges a fee of around $5,50 and $6,50
- You can also visit the catacombs and do a guided tour for about $6,5 (kids under 6 can enter for free). The tours take place several times a day and last about 30 minutes.
If you’re looking for a must-visit spot in Vienna during the chilly months, you simply can’t miss the majestic Schönbrunn Palace. This UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site dates back to the 18th century and remains a stunning sight to behold to this day.
Once upon a time, it served as the summer residence of the Habsburgs and boasts imperial ceremonial rooms and jaw-dropping gardens.
Trust me when I say that taking a tour of the interior is an absolute must – and the good news is that you can do so even on bank holidays. However, be prepared for crowds, as this is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Vienna, with over two million visitors annually.
But don’t let that deter you – a visit to Schönbrunn Palace is well worth braving the masses, especially during the winter months when the palace is adorned with twinkling lights and festive decor.
- Ticket prices: Free with the Vienna Pass, and discounted with the Vienna City Card.
- In the weeks before Christmas, you will find a beautiful Christmas Market, which makes this place even prettier.
If you’re looking for another incredible UNESCO World Heritage Site to add to your Vienna itinerary, make sure to swing by Schloss Belvedere.
This stunning garden palace was once the summer residence of Prince Eugene of Savoy, a successful general and lover of the arts. Located in the southeastern part of the city, it’s made up of two Baroque palaces – the Upper and Lower Belvedere – and now houses an impressive art collection
But even if you’re not a huge art buff (like myself), the palace and its gardens are simply breathtaking to behold. Just imagine wandering through the snow-covered grounds, taking in all the natural beauty. It’s the perfect spot for a winter stroll and some seriously picturesque photo ops.
- And you probably have an idea what you will find here before Christmas… Yes, you are right, there is also a Christmas Market.
Are you ready to glide and slide your way through Vienna’s winter wonderland? While it’s not exactly a hub for winter sports, there’s still plenty of fun to be had on the ice. From the middle of January to the beginning of March, you can lace up your skates and hit the rink at the City Hall (Rathaus), surrounded by some seriously stunning scenery.
And if you happen to be visiting before January, don’t worry – there are still some other ice rinks in the city to check out. So what are you waiting for? Let’s bundle up and show off our best ice-skating moves in the heart of Vienna!
If you’re looking for some more snow-filled fun in Vienna, look no further. While the city may not be known for its winter sports scene, there’s still plenty of excitement to be had. If it happens to snow during your visit, head on over to one of Vienna’s parks for some thrilling tobogganing. But even if the snow is a no-show, fear not – you can still get your sled on at Jesuitenwiese Meadow (in the Prater) or Kaffeehausberg in Danube Park.
These spots are equipped with snow-making machines, so you can still slide and glide your way through the winter wonderland. And who knows – with a little bit of luck and some chilly temperatures, you might just find yourself in sledding heaven. So let’s hit the slopes (or at least the closest thing to them) and make the most of Vienna’s winter offerings!
No matter what time of year you find yourself in Vienna, the Museums Quartier is an absolute must-visit destination.
Covering an area of 90,000 square meters in the heart of Vienna, the MuseumsQuartier Wien houses 60 cultural organizations and stands as one of the world’s most expansive hubs for contemporary art and culture. This includes museums like the Leopold Museum and the MUMOK (Museum of Modern Art Ludwig Foundation Vienna).
If you’re in town during the festive season, you’re in for a real treat – throughout November and December, the Quartier is lit up with dazzling art projections and live concerts. But even if you’re visiting at a different time, there’s still plenty to see and do here.
With so many cultural institutions to explore, you could easily spend a whole day (or more) wandering through the museums and galleries. Plus, let’s not forget the added bonus of being able to warm up and escape the cold when needed.
Day Trips From Vienna in the Winter
Hallstatt is without a doubt one of the most gorgeous spots in all of Austria! While I haven’t had the chance to visit during the winter myself (only in the fall), I’ve seen plenty of pictures, and let me tell you – Hallstatt in the winter looks absolutely magical.
It may take a bit of time to get there from Vienna, but it may be well worth the effort for a perfect day trip. This charming little village is simply begging to be explored, with its snow-covered streets and cozy cafes. So if you have a day to spare, I highly recommend taking the time to experience the winter wonderland that is Hallstatt.
- Check out my Hallstatt post for more information.
Salzburg is hands-down one of my all-time favorite cities, and it might be even more stunning than Vienna (shh, don’t tell anyone!). Now, full disclosure: I’ve only had the chance to visit during the summer and fall months, so I can’t personally speak to what it’s like in winter. But based on everything I’ve seen and heard, Salzburg is an absolute must-visit spot for a winter day trip from Vienna.
From the charming old town to the towering Hohensalzburg Fortress, there’s so much to see and do in this enchanting city. And just imagine how magical it would all look covered in a blanket of snow! Salzburg is well worth the trip, no matter what time of year you choose to visit.
- Check out my Salzburg itinerary which includes many travel tips.
VIENNA WINTER TRAVEL TIPS
Here are some quick travel tips for your winter trip.
How to Get From the Airport to the City Center
- The airport is just around 15 km outside of the city center, so getting from and to Vienna airport is super easy.
- Buses and trains get to and from the airport – mostly from the main train station in Vienna (Hauptbahnhof). Buses are a bit slower – they take about 40 minutes. The train takes just around 15 minutes. Bus tickets are cheaper.
- You can book your private transport or hop on a taxi.
- Still, unless you are exhausted, or money does not play a role, I suggest using buses or trains.
How to Get Around Vienna in Winter
- Vienna is very walkable. Most attractions are located in the city center and only a few attractions are further away, so you might need public transport/taxis sometimes.
- Public transportation is also extremely good (a 24-hour ticket is around 8,20 €).
- There are also Hop On and Hop Off buses in Vienna, which is super convenient.
- Driving in Vienna, even in the winter months, is possible. But you might stress out because it is busy and parking might be tricky. So, my tip is to rely on public transportation for the most part and also walk as much as the weather allows you.
Vienna Pass vs. Vienna Card
ℹ️ The Vienna Pass gives you free access to more than 60 attractions around Vienna. In addition, you can skip the line entry to popular Vienna attractions, including the Vienna Hop On Hop Off sightseeing tours.
ℹ️ Tickets are a bit more expensive than the Vienna City Card but give you unlimited free public transport in downtown Vienna (public transportation is in general quite affordable in Vienna), and good discounts on Vienna’s major attractions.
Where to Stay For a Winter Vienna Trip
LUXURY – HOTEL SACHER: Find luxury at its best at Hotel Sacher near Hofburg. The hotel is rated the best in the city. Its central location makes it a perfect hotel for your Vienna trip. Find out more about the rates for staying in this hotel here.
MID-RANGE – MERCURE VIENNA FIRST: One good medium-priced accommodation to stay in Vienna is Mercure Vienna First. It was the place I stayed at when I visited Vienna on my last trip. Find out more about that particular hotel by clicking here.
Or check out my full accommodation guide on Vienna – just click here to find your perfect hotel in Vienna.
Safety Tips for Vienna
Vienna is quite safe, though pickpocketing is very common. It is good to be aware of your belongings and be attentive. Particularly when you visit the Christmas Markets, make sure to watch your belongings super carefully.
Weather in Vienna in the Winter
Vienna can get cold in the winter months! No, not Siberia cold, but make sure to pack warm as it can be around 0ºC. The coldest it got was -21.7°C (-7°F) in the 1980s. The chances of snow in the winter months are high though it is not a winter wonderland as you have it in the Austrian Alps.
What to Pack for Vienna in the Winter
If you visit Vienna in December – or winter in general – it is important to dress warmly. Or better to dress in layers. It does not have to be super cold – but it can be.
✔️ 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 thermals. A 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 warm shoes. You’ll want your shoes to be as versatile as possible. Shoes that allow you to enjoy a variety of activities while keeping your feet warm and dry.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON A VIENNA WINTER VACATION
Vienna in winter is magical – especially December is a great month to visit! But as you can see, even the other winter months will have their charm.
And there you have it, folks – a winter wonderland awaits you in Vienna! From ice skating at City Hall to sipping on mulled wine at the Christmas markets, there’s something truly magical about this city during the colder months. And with stunning sights like Schönbrunn Palace and Stephansdom Cathedral just waiting to be explored, there’s no shortage of beauty and wonder to discover.
Plus, with easy day trips to nearby towns like Hallstatt and Salzburg, you can really make the most of your time in Austria. So bundle up, grab a warm drink, and get ready to fall in love with Vienna in all its winter glory.
Wishing you a wonderful trip – and hope you’ll get lucky and experience some snow in Vienna! Check out my detailed 2-day Vienna itinerary.