Winter is a magical time to visit Vienna, with its baroque palaces and parks dusted with snow and UNESCO World Heritage–listed monuments glittering with Christmas lights. Here are a few tips for braving the cold and visiting the charming Austrian capital in winter.
Temperatures can fall as low as 30°F (-1°C) in the coldest month of January and snow is a possibility, so make sure you pack accordingly—and don’t forget a warm hat, thick socks, and gloves. Easy-to-remove layers are the most convenient choice, as most indoor attractions and cafés are fully heated.
Make the Most of Low Season
Although it can get busy in the run-up to Christmas, visiting Vienna in late January or February means far fewer crowds. The time you’ll save standing in lines can be spent fitting more into your trip. This time of year also brings lower prices on flights, accommodations, and tours. For the best value, consider investing in a Vienna Card or take a hop-on hop-off bus tour.
Get in the Festive Spirit
Celebrate the holidays by exploring Vienna’s lively Christmas markets, where you can warm your hands on a steaming cup of glühwein (mulled wine) while browsing for gifts against the fairytale backdrops of St. Stephen’s Cathedral, Schönbrunn Palace, Belvedere Palace, and Rathausplatz. Once you’ve done your holiday shopping, admire the illuminations on a horse-drawn carriage ride around the city, or try out your skating skills on the gigantic open-air ice rink in front of Vienna City Hall.
Cozy Up Indoors
As the days get colder, Vienna’s legendary coffeehouses make great escapes from the cold, and there are endless choices dotted around the streets and squares of the Ringstrasse. Try the renowned Café Central, favored haunt of Leon Trotsky, or Café Mozart, where Graham Greene preferred to get his caffeine fix. Or why not dine in style with a dinner date at Schönbrunn Palace, a classical concert at Kursalon Vienna, or a Christmas Eve banquet at the magnificent Weikersdorf Castle?