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Know Before You Go: Visiting Vienna in Winter

Don't let cold weather get in the way of a trip to Vienna.

Hi, I'm Zoë!

Zoë Smith is a British travel writer, editor, and digital content creator who has lived, worked, and traveled over six continents, and is currently based near Nantes, France. She has written for Rough Guides, CNN, and Culture Trip, and is digital editor at FrenchEntrée.

Winter is a magical time to visit Vienna, with its baroque palaces, snow-dusted parks, 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.  

Wrap up warm

There's no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes.

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—don’t forget a warm hat, thick socks, and gloves. Easy-to-remove layers are the most convenient choice, as the majority of indoor attractions and cafés are fully heated.

Make the most of low season

And spend more time actually enjoying the city.

Vienna can get busy in the run-up to Christmas, so visit the Austrian capital in late January or February for far fewer crowds. The time you’ll save by skipping the lines and waltzing right into top attractions can be spent fitting more activities into your trip. As an added bonus, 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.

A scene at a Christmas market in Vienna.
Vienna's Christmas markets are some of the best in the world.Foto: Muellek / Shutterstock

Get in the festive spirit

Of course, the holidays are worth seeing in Vienna.

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 fairy-tale 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 Rathaus (Vienna City Hall)

Cozy up indoors

Viennese café culture doesn't end in winter.

As the days get colder, Vienna’s legendary cafés 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 boost. Alternatively, dine in style with a dinner date at Schönbrunn Palace, catch a classical concert at Kursalon Vienna, or enjoy a Christmas Eve banquet at the magnificent Weikersdorf Castle.

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