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Best Things to do in Vienna in Winter

WINTER IN VIENNA – WHAT TO DO

Vienna in the 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.

I have spent some time in the summer in Vienna, but also got to experience Vienna in the cold winter months. I must say that both seasons (actually, all four seasons) have their charms and this is why I suggest visiting one of the most romantic cities in Europe in winter. While many places in Austria in the winter are the perfect getaways for winter sports activities, Vienna offers a lot to those who do not want to do winter sports (at least not all the time).

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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VIENNA – THINGS TO DO IN WINTER

Let´s talk about the best things to do in Vienna.

Christmas Markets

In Austria, Christmas Markets are big. And in Vienna, you will find some of the best Christmas Markets in all of Austria.

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Visiting them during the day is fun but visiting them in the evening is even more fun. Indulge in mulled wine and plenty of food when strolling and exploring the illuminated Christmas Markets, which also have some rides for the smaller ones at Children’s World.

Christmas market in Vienna most beautiful place in winter
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You have quite a number of markets to choose from – so if you are into Christmas Markets, then Vienna is the place to go: The most famous market is probably the Wiener Christkindlmarkt am Rathausplatz. It is centrally located near many other attractions, with lots of stalls to buy gifts and snacks and, of course, drinks like mulled wine. With around 150 stalls, this is a pretty large Christmas Market.

Vienna in winter
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Christmas Village on Maria-Theresien-Platz, between the Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna and the Naturhistorisches Museum Vienna, is another popular Christmas Market that has more than 70 stalls where you can indulge, and you’ll also find Gospel choirs and music groups here. Make sure to visit the Christkindl Markt am Karlsplatz or the one at the Spittelberg as well.

  • Open from the middle of November until Christmas

Naschmarkt

Since Christmas in Vienna is a lot about food, also visit the Naschmarkt. It is the most popular market in the city with rows of open stalls selling food from takeaway snacks to full sit-down meals. Eat your weight in all kinds of specialties (I am not a fan of Austrian cuisine, but I loooove the desserts) and shop for the ones at home. It is also a good place to do some grocery and gift shopping (if you buy sweets and specialties).

Vienna Naschmarkt in winter, Arzo Travels
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  • Location: At the Wienzeile over the Wien River – it stretches over 1.5 kilometers (0.93 miles) 

Celebrate New Year´s Eve

If you visit Vienna in December – January then you could welcome the New Year here. Whether you fancy an elegant ball – the New Year’s Eve Ball is held annually at the Imperial Palace (Hofburg) – or want to celebrate with the crowd – by watching the fireworks outdoors – there is something for everyone. Afterward, go to one of the bars, restaurants, or clubs to celebrate the new year.

I have never spent New Year’s Eve in Vienna, but I am pretty sure NYE in Vienna would be fun.

Coffeehouse and Sacher Cake

You can visit Hotel Sacher and have the famous original Sacher cake at the hotel restaurant. I know that is what many people love – I am not the biggest fan of it, but when in Vienna…

Hotel Sacher in Vienna, famous Sacher cake._
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On my first trip to Vienna, I made sure to try out one of the most famous cakes in Europe – Sacher cake. It is not my favorite cake, but since it is such a pretty famous cake, I still have listed it here. However, Vienna has also a strong and good coffee culture, so make sure to warm up with a nice coffee in any of the cafes after taking a stroll.

Stephansdom Cathedral 

The Stephansdom Cathedral is one of the most important Gothic structures in Austria. It is one of the best places to visit in Vienna in the winter months – whether you visit in December, January, or February.

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It is the mother church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vienna and the seat of the Archbishop of Vienna – its creation started back in the 12th century, but new elements have been added throughout time.

Since it is centrally located, it is easy to see and also easy to visit. Make sure, you climb the towers (south and north tower) to admire the view of the city. If Vienna is covered in snow, it is probably even better – I have not gotten to experience that, but I imagine it must be a million-dollar view. 

  • 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.

Schönbrunn Palace

Schönbrunn Palace, a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site, is one of the best places to visit in the winter. 

Vienna, Austria Schonbrunn Palace (Schloss Schönbrunn) in winter
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The palace was built in the 18th century and is a beauty to this day. It was the former summer residence of the Habsburgs with imperial ceremonial rooms and magnificent gardens.  You can do a tour and see the interior – even on bank holidays. It is probably the most popular tourist attraction with more than two million tourists visiting – annually! So, it might be busy, especially in December but it is worth visiting.

  • 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 here, which makes this place even prettier.

Schloss Belvedere

Schloss Belvedere, another UNESCO World Heritage Site, is also a place to add to your winter itinerary.

Belvedere Palace in vienna during christmas time
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Prince Eugene of Savoy (1663-1736), a successful general and art connoisseur, had the Belvedere garden palace built as his summer residence. It is in the southeastern part of the city and consists of two Baroque palaces (Upper and Lower Belvedere). It is now home to an extensive art collection. Even for non-art lovers (aka me), it is gorgeous to visit – just look at the pretty gardens which – with some luck – are covered in snow.

  • And you probably have an idea what you will find here before Christmas… Yes, you are right, there is also a Christmas Market.

Ice Skating

From the middle of January to the beginning of March, hop on the ice and do some rounds.

Ice skating rink in front Town Hall Vienna in winter
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Okay, while Vienna is not a paradise for winter sports lovers, you can do some winter sports here. So, head to the ice rink and skate in the beautiful surroundings of the City Hall (Rathaus). There are also some more ice rinks if you visit before January, so make sure to check out different ice skating opportunities.

Tobogganing

Okay, here are a bit more winter sports activities in Vienna. If it snows, then you can also do some tobogganing in Vienna’s parks.

However, even if it does not snow, you can still visit the Jesuitenwiese meadow (in the Prater) or the Kaffeehausberg in Danube Park, which has snow-making equipment, so you can do some tobogganing. If it is cold enough, some artificial snow will make these places a little heaven for sledding fans.

Museums Quartier

Whether you visit Vienna in December or at another time, the Museums Quartier is a good place to spend some time. Before Christmas (almost throughout the entire months of November and December), there are events taking place here – like live concerts – and illuminated artistic projections.

But of course, you can also visit one of the numerous museums here. Honestly, it is also good to warm up and take a break from the cold when needed, but did you know that there are more than 60 cultural institutions to visit? 

Day Trips From Vienna in the Winter

Hallstatt

Hallstatt is one of the most beautiful places in Austria! While I have not visited in the winter (I have only been there in fall), I have seen pictures of Hallstatt.

Hallstatt in winter as a day trip from Vienna
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And I must say, Hallstatt in the winter seems like a perfect day trip from Vienna. Yes, it takes a while to get there, but if you have a day to spare, then I recommend investing the time to see this small village in the winter.

Salzburg

Salzburg is one of my favorite cities – I think it is even prettier than lovely Vienna.

Salzburg , Austria in winter is a fun day trip from winter
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However, like Hallstatt, I have only visited in summer/fall and not in the winter, but I am 1000% certain that Salzburg is another great place and a good winter day trip from Vienna.

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 are getting to and from the airport. 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 less than 7€).
  • 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 will allow you.

Where to Stay

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
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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 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. I swear, I wore two pairs of socks when I did the bus tour and yet my feet were frozen at the end of the tour.
  • My favorite winter clothes are thermals. A quality set of thermals is your key to enjoying the winter weather. 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 snowshoes. 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. 

FINAL THOUGHTS OF 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. 

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. 

Vienna in winter, Austria
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Safe Travels, Arzo
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