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Things to Do During Winter in Vienna

Probably the most beautiful season to visit Vienna

Dec 31, 2017 | Travel guide

vienna winter wien austria

Seeing Vienna in winter or just before Christmas can be a magical experience. The city is decorated with beautiful twinkling lights, the stores have wonderful Christmas exhibits and the cozy cafés, bars and restaurants tempt the visitors to go inside. To make your planning easier, here’s a list of things to do in Vienna at winter, to pair well with the top tourist tips when visiting Vienna. Have them at hand while on your Wien-Schwechat Airport transfer.

Embrace the weather

Vienna can be cold and snowy during winter, with temperatures below 0 degrees Celsius. However, make sure to pack adequate clothing and waterproof shoes, and you won’t feel the cold. In case you arrive unprepared, you can always buy winter clothing at some of the shopping centers. During the last years, snow is visiting pretty rare, so the locals pray for a little white miracle during the Christmas season. But even if the city is not under a white carpet, you’d still be able to simply enjoy the winter mood.

Christmas Markets

There are many Christmas markets throughout Vienna during this time of the year, an old tradition from the Middle Ages, today changing to a modern one without losing the romantic touch. Vienna’s Christmas markets are open from mid-November until Christmas day, with some of them open until New Year’s Eve. These markets are charismatic with their small wooden huts, selling traditional handcrafts and modern souvenirs under the sound of Christmas music and sight of colorful lights. The bigger ones in the city center are hotspots for tourists, while the smaller ones are mainly visited by locals. Here you can taste some really delicious foods and enjoy a cup of hot wine.

christmas markets in vienna wien austria

Winter Market at the Ferris Wheel

If you visit Vienna after Christmas, the famous Winter Market in the Prater Garden offers an exciting agenda under the motto “Prater Rocks!” They are open from mid-November till the first week of January and have live music performances from gospel to soul and pop on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. While there, you can admire the park and the city from the famous Ferris Wheel. It’s one of the best-known landmarks of Vienna, so a “white” ride can be really magical.

Schönbrunn Palace’s Christmas and New Year’s Market

Vienna hosts a Christmas market in Schönbrunn Palace since 1993, visited by one million people each year. 80 booths with colorful decorations and top-quality products make it an interesting Viennese attraction. After Christmas, the market changes to a New Year’s market closing on the first day of next year. New Year’s market offers some of the same things as the Christmas market, however daily jazz performances are added. Hence, this is the perfect place to spend New Year’s Eve in Vienna.


Vienna stands as a city of breweries and despite the cold weather, you should try some good craft beers. Touring around breweries will give you a chance to warm up after exploring outside, so make sure to visit the top craft beer pubs in Vienna. The beers in the menus are always changing and are a bit different depending on the place you visit. Hence expect a different beer drinking experience.

Imperial Butterfly House (Das Schmetterlinghaus)

Located in the Burggarten Park, the Imperial Butterfly House is the perfect environment for cold feet. Stepping inside this glass house would give you the feeling of a wonderful tropical summer day. Here you can sit down and enjoy the warm humid temperature, while gazing at the multi-colored butterflies fly by. One of them may even land on you! Just relax and admire the lovely small ponds, waterfalls and plants which create a full tropical jungle feeling.

vienna butterfly house das schmetterlinghaus wien

New Year’s Concert (or Neujahrskonzert)

The New Year’s Concert is the most famous Viennese yearly tradition, performed by the famous Vienna Philharmonic in the morning of New Year’s Day. If you enjoy classical music, this is an event you should experience at least once in your lifetime. Each year, a world famous conductor is chosen to orchestrate the concert with music from Austrian composers. The live performance is broadcasted in 90 countries. The tickets are usually sold-out fast, so if you plan on joining the experience, make sure to get yours a year ahead.

Vienna Opera Ball

The Vienna Opera Ball is an annual event in Vienna, with its tradition dating to the aristocracy gathering to escape the gloomy aftermaths of the Napoleonic wars. The first ball took place in 1877, but was named as the “Opera Ball” in 1935. Today over 5000 participants attend, including many important celebrities from all over the word. Each year 150 young couples from different dancing schools open the ball with classical pieces such as the Blue Danube waltz, after which the floor is opened to all guests. The dress code is very strict, so if you plan on attending, make sure to wear a proper attire.

Ice Skating

If you happen to be visiting Vienna from January until March, do experience ice skating as this is one of the must-do things at wintertime. The huge ice skating rink at the park and plaza in front of the city hall is covering an area of 8,500m2, where thousands of visitors gather to skate and have fun. Additionally, this is a great dating location, so many hand-holding sweethearts can be seen dancing to the sound of Strauss. In case you don’t have any adequate shoes, you can rent a pair of skates on site in all size and styles, and lock your belongings in the available lockers. During weekdays in January, the beginners and kids can skate for free in a separated area, so if this is your first time, you’ll be able to learn.

Vienna has so much more to offer during winter. Hence, regardless of your preferences, you can always find new experiences in this charming and idyllic part of the year. So order a taxi service at your hotel’s front desk and enjoy the fairytale.

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