Last updated on April 1st, 2023 at 04:53 am
Are you planning on visiting Vienna in January (or in winter as a whole)? You’ve chosen a perfect time to do so, because this is the time when you can do some special things, unavailable in the other seasons.
In this article I’ll share the best things you can do in Vienna to make your stay worthwhile, specifically focusing on the month of January.
If you want to find out what Vienna has to offer in January, keep reading!
Weather in Vienna in January
The weather in Vienna in January gets moderately cold and varies between -4°C (25°F) and 10°C (50°F). A winter jacket is needed, and you can get away with just one layer underneath it.
Where to stay in Vienna
We visited Vienna in January 2023 and we stayed at this apartment, located next to the U1 metro line, which proved to be very convenient. The apartment was affordable in comparison to other options in the city, and it was super cosy.
The best things to do in Vienna in January
Attend a classical concert, even if it’s not the New Year’s one
Have you heard of the New Year’s Concert of the Vienna Philharmonics, which takes place every January 1st? I bet for many of you the answer is yes! The tickets for this concert vary between €650 and €6000, depending on the category that you get. But don’t worry – you can find many other concerts at a much more accessible price.
Vienna is known as the capital of music. With tens of different concert halls, there’s plenty of options to enjoy some classical music here.
My mom is obsessed with the New Year’s Concert, but since I can’t afford the tickets for it, I decided to surprise my family with tickets for a different concert, taking place in the same grand hall where the NY one usually does. The hall is called Musikverein (Music Society) and the hall in question is called the Golden Hall. I got the tickets from the Tourist Information Office at Karlsplatz for about €30 each and off we went to a classical concert in Vienna! Oh it was so magical…
If you’d also like to experience the magic of music in one of the impressive Viennese halls, I strongly encourage you to do it! You can either go to the Tourist Information Office and ask for the monthly program where all events are mentioned (that’s how I found ours), or you can go to the different halls’ websites and check what they have on offer.
There’s also an online ticket shop for classical concerts in Vienna, called Vienna Classic, which you can check out. My recommendations for concert halls include the Musikverein, the Schönbrunn Palace and the Konzerthaus.
Visit the Ice World in front of the Rathaus
One of the most visited attractions in Vienna in winter, and especially in January and February, is the open-air ice rink in front of the City Hall.
The Ice World is a giant ice rink (can you even imagine the 8,500 m2 that it covers?) and it’s located in front of one of the most impressive buildings in the whole city. A narrow ice path is making its way through the fairy-lit trees, leading you to four big areas where you can skate away.
Seriously, the place is huge, and it’s incredibly beautiful!
The ice rink opens fully in mid January and is open all the way through the beginning of March – be sure to check the opening date on their website beforehand.
Daily from 10 am to 10 pm
Prices for 2023
Entry fee for adults: €7.65
Skates rental: €7.20
*prices are different for children and there are also group tickets*
Attend a real Viennese Ball
The good news is that the ball season in Vienna starts in January and lasts throughout the winter, until March/April, so this is the perfect opportunity to attend one.
You might be thinking ‘Hold on! Aren’t Viennese balls only for people from the upper class and completely out of reach for us, especially as tourists?’
I thought the same thing before I moved to Vienna and found out that, in fact, anyone can attend a Viennese ball! All you need to do is get a ticket for it!
‘But how much would something like this cost?’ – is what I expect to be your next question. The answer is – it depends. If you’re a student, you’re in luck, because student tickets are highly discounted and you can go to a ball for about €30.
If you’re not a student, it’s a bit more expensive, though it also depends on the ball. It can cost anything between €60 to over €100 for an entry ticket. When looking at the prices, you’ll first see the ones where you get to book a table – they’re usually above €100.
P.S. I have a blog post, dedicated to attending a Vienna Ball – how to get a ticket, which ball to choose, what to expect from it, my personal experience and recommendations, and more! Be sure to read it here.
Take my advice and do not get a table/seated ticket, unless you really need it. There’s usually an opportunity for people without a seated ticket to sit down and rest a bit, but what’s more – you’re there to dance and explore the different halls (trust me, they’re many), and not sit around at a table!
Instead, book the cheapest ticket which is the so-called standing ticket, and dance the night away!
My personal experience and recommendations for Viennese Balls
I’ve personally attended 3 different balls in Vienna and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed all of them. The ones that I attended were the following:
Flower Ball (Blumenball) – a ball, taking place in the City Hall (Rathaus), appropriate for people of all ages, though most people attending are between over the age of 30. This is also the ball that I took my whole family to, and they enjoyed it a lot as well.
WU Ball – the ball of the Economic University in Vienna which takes place in Hofburg. This is a typical students’ ball, so if you’re still a student – you’ll definitely enjoy it. I’ve visited it 2 times – once in 2017 as I was still studying in Vienna, and once this January (2023) with my partner. We’re currently both over 25 so we felt a bit ‘old’ in this setting, simply because most people there were around 20-ish, but this didn’t affect our experience in any way. If you’re above the age of 30-35, I might consider a different ball though. 🙂
Sportsball – this is the third ball I’ve been to and it’s an event, organised by the Sports society and students. Here you may see some famous Austrian sports people and meet many sports students. Basically, a place where most people look good. It takes place in the City Hall and I’d say it’s for people of all ages, though predominantly students.
Other Viennese Balls to attend
You can find a ball for almost anything in Vienna. Some options include the Vienna Opera Ball, Ball of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, Confectioners Ball, Coffee Makers Ball, Physicians’ Ball, Pharmacists’ Ball and more! Keep in mind the prices for every ball can vary.
Dress Code for Viennese Balls
The dress code can vary from ball to ball, but usually it’s very strict – you’re mostly required to wear a black suit/tuxedo with a bowtie for the men and floor-length evening dress for the women.
Visit the New Year markets
Vienna is famous for its Christmas markets, but if you’re visiting in the beginning of January, you still have a chance to see some of them! There’s usually just a slight difference between the Christmas markets and the New Year’s markets in Vienna, which is noticeable in the decorations and possibly in the goods that are being sold, so that they can reflect the season.
The New Year’s markets include the following:
- Schönbrunn Market (open until January 4th)
- NY Market at the Prater (open until January 8th)
Go to a traditional Viennese coffee house
Another thing Vienna is famous for is its coffee culture. I mean, have you even been to Vienna if you haven’t tried the Wiener Melange?
You’ll find some coffee houses around every corner in the city centre, but if you’re looking for something more authentic, I recommend Café Hawelka, Café Sperl, Café Jelinek and Café Museum.
You could also check out the most famous ones – Café Central and Café Sacher, but there are often waiting lines of tourists, who want to get it, and for me this kills the whole authentic experience.
Expand your knowledge in Vienna’s museums
Vienna is full of fine museums! May it be art, history, music, or whatever else you’re interested in – there’s probably a museum for it! The good news is that there are a few free ones, and many of them are free on the first Sunday of each month – you can check out my blog post about the best free things to do in Vienna, to find out which!
My personal favourite museum is the Natural History Museum – perfect for both kids and adults, as you can explore the history of our planet and the creatures that surround us. For art lovers, I recommend Albertina or the Art History Museum. Regardless of which ones you decide to visit, this is a great way to explore the city while staying warm inside – January in Vienna can definitely get cold.
Visit the magnificent palaces
Another great option for exploring Vienna’s beautiful gems during the colder weather – go to the palaces! There are two major palaces, which can be visited here – Schönbrunn Palace and Belvedere Palace.
Schönbrunn Palace is a Baroque palace and former home to the Habsburgs. The interior and furnishing is still mostly kept as it was during that time, and I recommend you to visit it with a guide or an audio guide! The gardens of the castle are free to visit, but if you want to see the rooms inside you’d have to pay an entry fee.
Belvedere Palace is also a Baroque palace, which is transformed into an art museum. This is where you can see the famous painting “The Kiss” by Gustav Klimt, and many more art pieces. Again, the gardens are free, and you only pay if you want to go inside.
Relax in the thermal waters of Therme Wien
Whenever I tell people that I visited the thermal spas in Vienna, they’re really surprised, as the city isn’t really famous for this. I also feel like not many tourists are aware of this possibility, but in my opinion it’s definitely worth visiting.
The Therme Wien is located at the last stop of the U1 metro line (Oberlaa), just at the metro entrance, so it’s very easily reachable. It’s also enormous – you can spend a whole day here and you probably won’t get bored. It consists of many pools, both inside and outside, big children’s zone with water slides (which are incredibly fun for adults as well), sauna, dark relaxation cave for adults only, a pool with water massages for different parts of the body, and more!
The pools’ temperature varies between 28°C and 36°C, and it’s just perfect even if the outside temperature is below 0. We spent 4 hours there and we didn’t even get to go into every pool – there’s just so many of them!
The price is €26.50 for 3 hours or less, and then you pay about €3 for every hour above that. You can check their prices and combination tickets here.
Top tip: bring your own flip flops and towel, as you otherwise need to pay. One towel cost us €9, and that’s not even a deposit – they just take your money for using the towel!
Indulge in some traditional Austrian food
If you ask me, visiting a new country goes hand in hand with trying the local cuisine. When it comes to Austria, we’re talking Viennese schnitzel, sausage, apple strudel, Knödel (dumplings) and Sacher torte, to name a few.
Go to at least one or two traditional taverns and get a real Austrian dish – you won’t regret it. I have a blog post, dedicated to finding the best schnitzel in Vienna, so be sure to check it out. If you’re looking for a quick and affordable lunch, get a sausage from one of the stands around the city – I personally prefer the Käsekreiner (sausage with cheese inside) in the form of a hotdog, as you get quite a bit of bread as well.
Consider visiting the world’s oldest zoo
Did you know that the Viennese zoo is the oldest still functioning zoo in the world? It was established in 1752 and it’s currently open every single day, even on public holidays. There are more than 700 animal species here and some of them are being saved from extinction.
I’m not usually someone that likes visiting zoos simply because it’s sad seeing animals behind closed bars, but this zoo does take good care of the animals and they help many of them survive as species.
The zoo is located on the premises of the Schönbrunn palace and you can easily combine a visit to both places. Check out the opening times and ticket options on their website.
Try your ice curling skills
Austrian have an interesting tradition of playing ice curling in the winter. You can go to the Badeschiff on the Danube canal and let your competitive side come out, playing against other people. This place also offers some punch and mulled wine to keep you warm on the inside.
Is it worth visiting Vienna in January?
It’s definitely worth visiting Vienna in January – you can ice skate in one of the most beautiful places in Europe, attend a Viennese Ball, see the New Year’s markets or relax at the Therme Wien. There are just some of the many things Vienna can offer in January.
Is January a good month to visit Vienna?
Any month is good for visiting Vienna, but January is exceptionally good for things like attending a Viennese Ball and still getting a feeling of the Christmas and New Year’s spirit.
How cold is Vienna in January?
In January the temperatures in Vienna usually vary between -4°C and 10°C. The lower temperatures are normally during the night, but you still need a winter jacket. Vienna can also get windy, so make sure to have a hat and gloves at hand.
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