Why You Should (And Shouldn’t) Visit Vienna This Winter

I’ve finally ticked Vienna off of my ever-growing travel bucket list. In many ways, my trip was everything I’d hoped for. The city was beautiful, the food was delicious, and the festive atmosphere was electric.

However, there’s a reason why mid-November isn’t a peak tourist time in Vienna. In fact, if you ask me, there’s about 3. And you should probably be aware of them before you visit Vienna in the winter. 

Here’s 3 reasons why winter might not be the best time to visit Vienna, and 3 reasons why you should go anyway.

Vienna in the winter is grey. Very, very grey. 

picture of vienna in the winter

I had been warned, and as it turns out the weather in Vienna in the winter can be rather miserable. A thick layer of grey cloud seemed to envelope the city for the entirety of our trip. We stayed for 4 days and 3 nights, and not once do I see a glimpse of sun. 

This meant a lot of our activities were restricted to the indoors. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing…

Vienna in the winter is freezing.

picture of vienna in the winter

OK, “freezing” might be a slight exaggeration, but it’s definitely not warm. During my trip the temperatures ranged between 5-10°C, and it’s only going to get colder in December, January and February. 

For the time of year, this felt a lot colder than back in the UK. And spending hours wandering around the city and taking in the sights becomes less appealing when your hands are starting to turn blue. 

Although, the chilly temperatures did add to the festive atmosphere at the cozy Christmas Markets (we’ll get to that later). 

Vienna in the winter is deathly quiet.

picture of vienna in the winter

Perhaps unsurprisingly, there’s not many people out and about on cold winter’s days. Outside of the most touristy areas, the streets were almost empty. Along with the grey, dreary weather, this sometimes felt like I was living in a Nordic crime drama. Atmospheric to say the least.

But beyond the cold and the gloom is a city full of cozy, festive cheer.

Here’s 3 reasons why you should visit Vienna this winter.

Because the Christmas Markets are incredible.

picture of vienna christmas market

Winter in Vienna is all about Christmas Markets – the city has been hosting them since the Middle Ages!

It hadn’t occurred to me that the markets would be open as early as November, so when I stumbled across one while exploring on my first day, I was over the moon.

We ended up spending most of our evenings at the biggest, most popular market, Viennese Dream Christmas Market in Rathausplatz. 

Wandering around the traditional market stalls, munching on hot, fresh snacks from the local food vendors, and sipping deliciously sweet glühwein is the absolute best way to spend an evening. And it’s all set amongst some of the most impressive, historic buildings I’ve seen in Europe.

It’s certainly not to be missed.

You can check the specific info for the biggest Christmas Markets here.

Because you can have the ice skating experience of a lifetime. 

picture of vienna rathausplatz

Also in the Rathausplatz market complex is the most amazing ice skating track I’ve ever been on. It’s so much more than a regular outdoor ice rink.

A seemingly endless ice path weaves between the lit-up trees, offering incredible views of the square (for when you’re not clinging onto the sides for dear life).

Skating around here was hands down the best thing I did in Vienna. And you’ll love it too!

Because it gives you a perfect excuse to get cozy in a traditional pub and drink hot mulled wine by the gallon.

picture of vienna in the winter

The best time to snuggle up in an old school pub is when the weather outside is dreary. While the streets are empty, the pubs and restaurants are filled with merry locals, huge schnitzels and the most enormous tankards of beer you’ll ever see.

It’s the ideal place to chill out, chat and warm up after a chilly exploration of the city. And winter is the perfect time to do it.

So yes, you should visit Vienna in the winter.

Venturing over to Vienna in the winter is definitely a worthwhile experience. While the weather will probably be terrible, the opportunity to explore the Christmas markets and cozy up in adorable little pubs will give you a totally different view of the city. A view free from hoards of tourists.

Even better, you’ll probably be able to snap up some super cheap flights too, as the airlines don’t seem to think people want to visit Vienna in the winter months. I imagine they think it’s too cold and there’s nothing to do.

Shhhh, don’t tell them the truth. Let’s keep those flights prices down. It’ll be our little secret.

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