Winter activities in Vienna: 10 Things, you should definitely do during the cold season!

written by: Sabine Klug, 12.12.2019

It’s getting cold outside. The sun is only rarely visible, you don’t feel like going outside but at the same time, you are fed up with sitting in your apartment. What are you waiting for? Go out and explore the city life! We´ll show you the best activities in Vienna that you shouldn’t miss out on during Winter and Christmas!

1. Ice skating at “Rathausplatz”

Every year, starting in the middle of November, the Vienna Ice Dream attracts ice skating enthusiasts to the Rathausplatz, which in Winter magically turns into a large ice surface. By the time the Christmas market opens up at the Rathausplatz, a smaller ice rink is built in the Rathauspark. From mid-January the large ice rink with around 9000 square meters – including an ice-skating terrace – will also be available. They also cater for your physical well-being. Numerous snacks–huts around the ice rink temp with their traditional and innovative delicacies.

2. Drinking Punch on Vienna’s most beautiful Christmas markets

It is obvious that the well-known Christmas markets in front of Schönbrunn Palace or the Christmas market in the Museum Quarter are always worth a visit. However, Vienna has so many more Christmas markets to offer, that going on a “Christmas market crawl” from the city center to Liesing is definitely worth it. The “Altwiener” Christkindlmarkt at the Freyung, the k.u.k. (Imperial and royal) Christmas market at Michaelerplatz, the Christmas village in front of the Belvedere Palace, the Christmas Market located at the romantic streets all around Spittelberg or the Christmas village in the old AKH (general hospital) – are just a few of the numerous charming Christmas markets in Vienna. And what do they all have in common? Exactly! Fine punch, mulled wine and a lot of other sweet and savory goodies as well!

3. Summer feeling at the Palmenhaus

If you want to escape the Cold for a few hours and dream of warmer days, head straight into the “Palmenhaus”. It is located in the Parks of Schönbrunn and is the largest of its kind in Europe. Some more facts: The Palm house was commissioned by Emperor Franz Joseph in 1882 and has a floor area of about 2,500 square meters and about 4,900 square meters of glass. An incredible amount of glass panes was processed – 45,000! The palm house is divided into three climate zones and offers visitors an extensive variety of plants. The temperatures reach from eight to 17 degrees.

4. Admire the Christmas lights in the city center

Vienna’s inner city shines bright every year. Starting in Mid-November the elaborate decoration of the city center will catch your eye and announces the start of the beloved Christmas season. A quick fact check: On the numerous shopping streets and historical buildings in Vienna, around 2.2 million points of light shine on a total of around 20 kilometers. But don’t worry, the festive mood is naturally spread in an environmentally friendly and energy-saving manner with LED lighting. Another highlight of the Christmas season is the 60-meter-high Christmas tree decorated with beautiful lights on the Ringturm (Schottenring), which extends to the 19th floor of the building.

5. A fun evening in the “fire – village”

Barbeque with friends. In Winter. In Vienna. Sounds impossible? In Vienna it isn’t! The fire village´s advertising slogan gets right to the point. In reality there is so much more to the concept of the Viennese fire village at the Donaukanal. You can gather your friends and rent a cozy hut with a barbeque area in the middle, you can also choose from the delicious menu and enjoy a nice evening outside with your friends. There is also a bar and ice rinks for curling right on the village for you to enjoy!

6. Relaxing at the Spa in Oberlaa

Treat yourself and take a little break from the stressful everyday life. Relax in the largest city thermal bath in Europe! The “Therme Oberlaa” offers numerous events during advent. An especially nice feature is the possibility to enjoy a warm punch directly in the brine pool or in the outdoor area of the thermal baths. From 2.30 p.m. to 9.15. p.m. you can have your punch delivered directly to the pool. By the way: Going there couldn’t be easier! Just take the U1.

7. Winter Wonderland in Vienna: Take a walk through the snow-covered streets

Definitely wear warm clothes for this one! Pull your scarf over your nose and head out to snowy Vienna! Vienna often presents itself with muddy-gray streets in Winter, but the city can also be completely different. Dare we say: magical!
Discover the city by doing one of these activities in the cold season:

  • Walk through the parks of Schönbrunn: Snow and the cold give the Palace parks their very own flair. Take a walk up to the Gloriette. You will be rewarded with a wonderful view!
  • Prater Hauptallee: Take a leisurely stroll along the 4.4km long straight avenue, which is lined with chestnut trees on the left and right. The Prater Hauptallee is considered as the urban oasis of Vienna and offers a relaxing surrounding, one thing that is really outstanding is that there will be moments where you will be able to see the ferris wheel flashing between the trees. At the southeast end of the avenue is the pleasure house, where you can reward yourself with a warm coffee or hot chocolate by the end of a long Winter walk.
  • Pötzleinsdorfer Schlosspark: The park of this castle is one of the most beautiful spots in the 18th district! Our insider tip: don’t forget the sledge (you can sleigh ride if snow has fallen). Oh, and please consider that dogs are not allowed in the park.
  • Central cemetery: It may seem a little macabre at first, but the central cemetery is always worth a walk. You can always discover something new on the almost 2.5 square kilometer big area. The graves of honor, the cemetery church, the jewish cemetery and the small patches of forest – go explore and let yourself be surprised! You might even run into one of the many inhabitants (talking about deers, squirrels and other animals of course!).

8. Enjoy a cosy brunch

One thing Vienna is famous for is its “Kaffeehauskultur”. Numerous classic coffee houses located in historical surroundings offer the possibility of brunch. Popular locations for late breakfast are the Motto am Fluss (1010), the Haas & Haas teahaus next to the St. Stephen’s Cathedral, the Café Gloriette (1130) or the Brandauer (1190) The authentic Viennese experience only arises in a traditional coffee house, because where else should a perfect day in Vienna start? And since Vienna is known for good coffee, you should already know your order because nothing makes a Viennese waiter grumpier than asking for a simple coffee. This coffee guide offers you practical help.

9. Visit one of Vienna’s museums or exhibitions

Whether you love classical art and visit the “Kunsthistorische Museum” or you like it a little more bizarre and visit the Viennese “Kriminalmuseum”, the “Zauberkastenmuseum” or the “Schuhmusem”, Vienna offers you a huge selection of unusual, but also classic museum. Here is a list of all Viennese museums for you!

10. Wintertime is ball season

Winter in Vienna is ball season and that means “Alles Waltzer” (translates to everything waltz!). Vienna, also known as the city of the waltz, is known for its legendary balls: almost 450 balls are held every year. It doesn’t always have to be the classic three-four time, Vienna offers a lot of variety in dancing the waltz! And the end of a lavish ball night is always celebrated the exact same way: at a sausage stand or with a goulash in one of the many Viennese coffee houses. The Viennese ball calendar gives you a good overview of the balls of the season.

One last, but certainly not the least tip for a Wintery Vienna:
Every Winter – usually from the end of November until the middle of February – the Winter circus makes a guest appearance in Vienna’s Prater on the “Kaiserwiese”. Embrace your inner child and dive deep into the circus world in the heated (!) circus tent!

We wish you a lot of fun with our activities and a wonderful Winter and Christmas time in beautiful Vienna!


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