winter in vienna
If you want to describe Vienna you might as well try to write a never ending story as this lovely and multifaceted city constantly reinvents itself. Every visit to Vienna is an opportunity to find and explore new places and attractions. Even though the city is very beautiful during spring we highly recommend to go to Vienna in winter, one of the most beautiful seasons to explore this magical city.
Around that time, Vienna is transformed into a winter wonderland. You will experience lovely smells around every corner and street musicians pervading the air with nice tunes. From November onwards, Vienna literally shines in a new light as many parts of the city are illuminated with intricate lighting designs and elaborate decorations.
Advent in Vienna – a diverse experience
The traditional Viennese Christmas markets are one of the highlights within Vienna’s large spectrum of cultural programs and Advent activities. Right in the middle of the old town at “Freyung”, which is close to “Graben”, is a lovely small Christmas market with traditional and exquisite offers. This is also a place where the Viennese themselves like to meet for freshly made mulled cider or mulled wine after a long day at work. You can also have a stroll around the various stands and have a look at the traditional craftsmanship, decorations, and delicacies offered. By the way, roasted chestnuts and potato slices are available on pretty much every Christmas market.
At Vienna Rathausplatz, you will get a quite different vibe. No costs are too high for the overall staging of this special Christmas market which makes it one of the most commercial markets in Vienna.
There are also lovely Christmas markets around some of the Viennese palaces and castles such as the Belvedere Palace in the 3rd district, the castle of Prince Eugen and – probably the most famous one – the Schönbrunn Palace. Despite many visitors these markets maintain a high quality standard and exquisite offers. The markets around the palaces convey an almost fairytale-like feeling and are therefore are also a big magnet for families and their children, respectively.
We also highly recommend a visit to the Spittelberg located in Vienna’s 7th district, between Siebensterngasse and Burggasse. Right in the middle of the medieval looking alleys a lovely arts and crafts market has been established in the last decades. The narrow streets break up the uniformity of a conventional Christmas market and provide a unique experience as visitors can discover something new around every corner.
If you want to make a nice little Advent trip, Schloss Hof (Hof palace) is THE place. Not far from Vienna, this baroque castle offers a diverse Advent program including an exquisite Advent market.
Winteroffers in Vienna
Ball-Season in Vienna
November 11, the official start of the carnival season is also the start of the ball-season in Vienna. One of the most popular balls is the Viennese Opera Ball but the variety of balls in Vienna is unique in its diversity.
Whoever wants to experience one of the Viennese balls can brush up their dancing skills in one of the numerous local dancing schools where they offer a wide variety of courses. This is the best way to learn some of the classical ballroom dances, which are essential in order to make a good impression at a Viennese ball.
While the ladies might go shopping to one of the many exquisite boutiques to find a nice ball gown and matching accessories, the gents can enjoy the atmosphere of a traditional Viennese coffee house. If you are too overwhelmed with the various different coffee options and are not sure whether to order a Melange, a cappuccino, an Einspänner or a Mocca, there is always the option to treat yourself with a small beer – a Seidel in Viennese – while you read one of the newspapers provided. Seriously, it is hard to find a more comfortable place than an original Viennese coffee house.
More Winter Activities
We highly recommend you go ice skating while you are in Vienna. If you are lucky and the Old Danube is frozen, you will be able to experience this unique part of the river and its beautiful scenery on ice skates. You can reach the Old Danube easily with the subway.
The so-called Wiener Eislaufverein (Vienna ice skating association) at Heumarkt is always open. As you do your laps, you can also watch experienced ice skaters or simply have a chat with Viennese people. From January onwards, the Eistraum (ice dream) at Vienna Rathausplatz is open, a unique ice skating rink with a direct view to the beautiful facade of the Rathaus.
Arts and culture are of high value in Vienna, and to talk/write about all the different facets that Vienna has to offer would yet again be a never ending story. Still, we want to mention our favorites which are the Museum of Natural History, the Art History Museum Vienna and the Albertina. Also worth a visit is the Vienna Naschmarkt which brings us to our next topic.
Culinary Highlights in Vienna
The Viennese cuisine offers many classic and traditional dishes. You will find the best Schnitzel at Figmüller, be able to enjoy beer and pork knuckle in the Prater, experience the delicious taste of boiled fillet, called Tafelspitz, at Plachutta, and top off your meals with your favorite sweets at Demel. And let us not forget the unique Viennese Heurigen (taverns mostly selling homegrown wine and food) in all their variety. If you like a more posh atmosphere you can visit Heurigen in the area around the 19th district and if you want to experience more rustic Heurigen you can go to Stammersdorf or to another outlying district of Vienna. Most of the Heurigen are open during winter and if you are lucky you might even be able to take a stroll through a snow-covered vineyard before or after your meal.
New Year in Vienna
New Year’s Eve in Vienna is quite busy. The inner city is transformed into a large out door ballroom, the so-called New Year’s Trail leads through the city and passes several stages with concerts and other performances. The program is diverse, entertaining and on a high level. Vienna not only knows how to party but also how to orchestrate the city in the best way possible, especially on New Year’s Eve. – Not to mention the many many culinary delights at the turn of the year.
For those who prefer a more quiet and calm New Year’s Eve program, the numerous Viennese hotels provide many lovely offers for the turn of the year. You should feel lucky if you are one of the people with tickets for the New Year’s Concert of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. But do not despair if you do not have a ticket – the concert is also broadcast on national television. And whether live or on screen, this special concert is always a highlight.
Shopping-Tips in Vienna
Viennese Spring Fever
The beginning of Easter mostly marks the end of winter in Austria. Around that time, Vienna is alive with the smell of spring and the various Easter markets increase the anticipation for this feast. Throughout Austria there is a wide variety of traditional Easter customs, which are more prominent in the rural areas and less so in the bigger cities. Even though these customs might not be as prominent, Vienna still offers a variety of Easter markets with traditional goods, colored eggs and many Easter decorations. On the culinary side, these markets provide a wide range of Easter delicacies ready for you to taste them.
Apart from all the culinary delights you can experience around Easter you might also want to visit one of the many churches such as Karlskirche in Vienna around that time. Stephansdom is also a nice choice and one very exciting and lesser known fact about it is that you can visit the catacombs underneath this landmark in the course of a guided tour.
- Vienna Rathausplatz in winter
- Christmas markets at the Viennese palaces
- Arts and crafts market at Spittelberg
- Visiting an authentic Viennese dance school
- Ice skating
- Get a taste of Vienna (Wiener Schnitzel, pork knuckle, and much more)
- New Year’s Concert of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra on January 1
- A stroll through the city’s Easter markets
- Guided tour through Vienna’s catacombs