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Visiting Vienna in winter is one of the best decisions one can make. Not only is this the time when the city is at its most beautiful state, but it also offers so many things to do that you might even get a bit overwhelmed.
Well, put all your worries aside, because I have created this guide specifically about things to do in Vienna in December. The weather may be a bit cold, but these activities will surely make your heart and soul warm and full of Christmas spirit. So, lets dive into it.
The Best Things to do in Vienna in winter
1. Visit the Christmas Markets
One of the most essential things people come to Vienna in December is because of the Christmas markets. European Christmas markets are known for their incredibly festive atmosphere, delicious local food and drinks and incomparable holiday spirit.
Vienna is a proud home to 17 (yes, you read that correctly) Christmas markets, scattered all around the city centre and beyond.
I have a full Vienna Christmas markets guide, covering every single one of them, so you can decide for yourself which one youd like to put on your agenda for visiting Vienna.
2. Admire the gorgeous Christmas decorations
The local municipality doesnt hold back when it comes to creating a holiday spirit. They go absolutely full out on the decorations, if you ask me. Most central streets are covered in wonderful ornaments, many trees are wrapped in fairy lights, and some buildings have their own special decorations as well. You cant not appreciate the beauty of it, especially after the sun sets and youre left with a glowing city in front of your eyes.
3. Enjoy a drink on the Christmas punch terraces
Whats better than sipping on a delicious drink while overlooking beautiful Vienna from above? The Christmas punch terraces make this possible and very accessible. The experience is usually accompanied by chill music, warm blankets and/or heating lamps.
There are a few places where you can go:
- The Ritz-Carlton Vienna
Schubertring 5-7, 1010
November 15 - December 26, 2019
Daily from 4.00 pm - 9.00 pm
- Palais Coburg
Coburgbastei 4, 1010
November 22 - December 22, 2019
Every Fr & Sa from 4.00 pm
- Klyo Punch Terrace
Uraniastraße 1, 1010
November 15 - December 23, 2019
Daily from 5.00 pm - 10.00 pm
- Badeschiff (Punch Deck on the Pool Boat)
Donaukanal (Schwedenplatz/Urania), 1010
All winter long from November 13, 2019
Mon-Sat from 4.00 pm - 10.00 pm, Sun from 2.00 pm - 8.00 pm
- Hotel Lamee
Rotenturmstraße 15, 1010
November 15, 2019 - Mid of January 2020
Mo-Fr 12.00 noon - 11.00 pm, Sa & Su 10.00 am - 11.00 pm
Closed when raining/snowing
4. Go on a walking tour
Despite the cold-ish weather, walking tours are still operating and they are certainly the best way to get to know the city. You can either choose between free walking tours (where you tip at the end) or organised paid walking tours (usually in much smaller groups than the free ones).
Some of the most popular free tours in Vienna are:
- PrimeTours: www.primetours.at
Languages: German, English, Spanish
Meeting point: Helmut-Zilk-Platz, look for the yellow umbrella
When: Daily at 11:00 and 15:00 (English)
Friday and Saturday at 9:30 (German)
Evening tour Wednesday-Sunday 18:00 (English)
Duration: 2 hours
- Welcome Tour Vienna: www.welcometourvienna.at
Meeting point: Helmut-Zilk-Platz
When: Daily at 10:30 and 14:30 (English)
Duration: 2 - 2.5 hours
- Good Tours: www.goodviennatours.eu
Language: German, English, Spanish
Meeting Point: In Front of Albertina, Albertina platz 1, look for the green umbrella
10:00 (English and Spanish)
14:00 (English and German)
Duration: 2.5 hours
Free tours need to be booked online in advance!
For paid tours in smaller groups there is no registration needed. Just show up and pay on the spot. For more information visit this page.
5. Cosy up on the HOP-ON HOP-OFF Bus
An alternative, or even a supplement to the walking tours, are the big tourist buses. They drive around the city, reaching all major tourist attractions and providing information about them. They are also a great option when the weather is colder and youd rather be sitting somewhere warm, but still getting to see and explore Vienna.
There are two companies you can choose from when it comes to the Hop On Hop Off buses in Vienna. They both offer very similar routes and prices, so you can check out both websites and decide for yourself:
- Vienna Big Bus Tours
- Vienna Sightseeing Bus
Included in the Vienna Pass
6. Check out the amazing museums and exhibitions
Vienna is full of incredibly interesting and rich museums and there is something for absolutely everyones taste. I mean, we even have a Chocolate Museum!
Amongst the best and most popular ones are:
Art History Museum, Leopoldmuseum, Albertina and Belvedere for art.
Natural History Museum, Weltmuseum for some history about the world;
Hofburg, Sisi Museum, Schönbrunn Palace for history about the Austrian empire and Princess Sisi
And much more… !
7. Go ice skating
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What better time to go ice skating than in the winter season.. especially in Vienna. The most popular (and certainly the most beautiful) place to go ice skating is in front of the City Hall. The square transforms in a magical ice rink with fairy lights all around it, as well as different paths, curling around the trees, making it an exciting experience.
There are, of course, other ice rinks in Vienna, so if you want to avoid all the crowds, then head to Erste Bank Arena or Wiener Eislaufverein.
8. See a classical concert
What a better time to see a concert than while being in Vienna in December? I mean, the weather outside is already quite cold, and nothing beats sitting in a stunning old concert hall and listening to pure art.
Vienna is famous for its classical music concerts, especially since it is named the capital of music and its the place where Beethoven and Mozart used to live for some time in their lives. There are quite a few places which house classical concerts in Vienna, such as the Opera State House and Musikverein.
Tip: I would not recommend buying tickets from someone in the streets. Many well-dressed people will try to persuade you into buying a concert ticket from them - these are usually cheaply bought tickets with bad seats, which they are trying to sell for a higher price. Always go to the venue and purchase from there directly!
9. Take a day trip
If you have more time on your hands, I would definitely suggest taking a day trip to some other places around Vienna. A stunning destination, especially during winter, is Hallstatt - a tiny mountain village, located 3,5 hours from Vienna by car.
Another very preferred destination is Salzburg. The fourth largest city in Austria is also the birthplace of Mozart, and it attracts more and more visitors every year. Due to many factors like culture, history, heritage and attractions, Salzburg has been named the most inspiring city of Austria. If you had to choose one more place to visit apart from Vienna, this would most definitely be my recommendation.
Another very popular day trip from Vienna is the neighbouring capital of Slovakia - Bratislava. The city is located only about an hour away from Vienna and its a lovely city, which can easily be discovered in just one day. The city center is rather compact, but it still has this European charm to it.
10. Try local food
Wiener Schnitzel, Sachertorte, Kaiserschmarrn, Apfelstrudel and the list goes on.. Austria is home to some delicious food that you never knew has been missing in your life. Have breakfast at Hotel Sacher where you can try the special Sacher cake, prepared by the original recipe, and go to Figlmüller for dinner to try some of the best schnitzel in town. All the snacks and sweet treats you can taste at the Christmas Markets, which are always happening in Vienna in December. Naschmarkt, the biggest local food market, is another great place to taste different specialities.
11. Treat yourself to a day at the Therme
What better time to enjoy a nice relaxing day at the thermal spa than during the cold December in Vienna? Therme Wien is a large complex of many indoor and outdoor pools, as well as sauna, massage rooms etc.
The thermal baths are very easily reached by metro line U1 - the metro station Oberlaa drops you off right in front of Therme Wien.
How to get around Vienna?
Vienna is a big city, and even though the city centre is very walkable, you will most definitely have to use public transport to get around. Especially considering that some important tourist attractions are quite outside the city centre, like Schönbrunn palace and Belvedere palace for example.
There are, however, a few other city cards to take into consideration. I have summed up every single one of them in this blog post, including descriptions, benefits, drawbacks and personal opinion on who are the cards most suitable for.
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