Vienna in Winter: Christmas Markets and More (Updated 2023)

vienna winter christmas markets

Nestled along the banks of the Danube River, Vienna is a harmonious blend of history, art, and sophisticated charm. This enchanting European capital effortlessly weaves together the grandeur of imperial palaces, the melodies of classical music, and the warmth of its charming coffeehouse culture. In this blog post, we talk about Vienna’s Christmas Markets and the best things to do in Vienna during winter.

Join us as we delve into the heart of Vienna’s cultural tapestry, exploring its iconic landmarks, and immersing ourselves in the festive ambiance of its renowned Christmas markets.

Vienna in Winter: Is It Good?

Similarly to Paris and London, Vienna is a delightful destination in winter, offering a unique and magical experience during the colder months. We have been to Vienna in December, close to Christmas, and were able to soak up the atmosphere of that period. Vienna’s stunning architecture takes on a special charm when covered in a blanket of snow. Landmarks such as Schönbrunn Palace, Belvedere Palace, and St. Stephen’s Cathedral create a picturesque winter landscape. There is no better time to cozy up in a coffee shop or heat up with a piping-hot mug of mulled wine or punch at the Christmas markets!

As well as the famous Christmas markets, Vienna offers an array of activities to enjoy during the winter months. If you enjoy winter sports, Vienna has outdoor ice-skating rinks set against beautiful backdrops. Moreover, Vienna is a city with a rich cultural heritage, and winter brings a plethora of classical concerts, opera performances, and other cultural events. The city’s music scene, deeply rooted in its history with composers like Mozart and Beethoven, is particularly vibrant during the winter months.

The only downside is that Vienna’s winter weather can get very cold so just make sure to dress warmly. To make things easier, we wrote a blog post on “what to pack for a winter trip”. Overall, if you appreciate the charm of winter and the festive holiday season, Vienna offers a magical and culturally rich experience during this time of year!

Visiting Vienna’s Christmas Markets

Vienna’s Christmas markets have a rich history that dates back several centuries. The first recorded Christmas market in Vienna took place in 1294! Back then, these markets were more focused on providing essential goods for the winter season, and the festive, Christmas-time character developed over the years. In the 20th century, Vienna’s Christmas markets evolved into major tourist attractions.

There are several Christmas markets in Vienna and all tend to follow the same pattern. Stalls sell a wide range of gift items, such as sculpted candles, handcrafted decorations, wooden nativity scenes, jewellery, tableware, but also traditional food and drinks. Here is the list of the most popular Vienne’s Christmas markets:

Vienna in Winter: The Best Christmas Markets

1. Christkindlmarkt

2023 dates: November 11th – December 26th

Christkindlmarkt in Rathausplatz square is probably the most famous Christmas market in Vienna. This market features over 100 stalls, a large Christmas tree adorned with lights and ornaments, and an Ice skating ring open until Jan 7, 2024.

vienna best christmas markets
vienna winter christmas markets

2. Schönbrunn Christmas Market

2023 dates: November 18th – January 4th

The Christmas market in front of Schönbrunn Palace is one of the most suggestive because of its gorgeous location. This market features a strong focus on arts and crafts and it’s one of the few to stay open until January. The Schönbrunn Palace is also a popular music venue. Christmas time is perfect for attending a Classical Music Concert With The Schönbrunn Palace Orchestra

3. Belvedere Christmas Market

2023 dates: November 17th – December 31st

The Belvedere Christmas market is located in front of Belvedere Palace, a Baroque palace. This market is renowned for its beautiful location and traditional Austrian food such as sausages, Leberkäse, and Kaiserschmarren. It is also smaller than other typical markets. A great spot if you want to avoid large crowds.

4. Karlsplatz Christmas market

2023 dates: November 24th – December 23rd

Karlsplatz Christmas market is located near the Karlsplatz subway station, and it is nestled in front of the imposing baroque Karlskirche church. This market is popular for organic food and drinks and a large variety of high-quality handicrafts. Those who wish to run a stand at Karlsplatz must follow specific regulations. For instance, they must be Austrian-based and they must create or produce the products on sale by themselves. This is a great initiative to support the local economy and contribute to sustainability.

5. Am Hof Christmas Market

2023 dates: November 10th – December 23rd

Am Hof is a square located in the historic center of Vienna. It’s situated near St. Stephen’s Cathedral and is part of the city’s Old Town. Am Hof market is one of the oldest markets of Vienna and it is widely popular among locals. As well as the usual food and drink stalls, you can also walk into small shops selling Christmas artifacts. This market is ideal for a quick stroll while visiting Vienna’s City Centre and its monuments, such as the St. Stephen’s Cathedral.

6. Stephansplatz Christmas Market

2023 dates: November 10th – December 26th

As the name suggests, Stephansplatz Christmas market is located in the homonymous square, overlooked by the Gothic St. Stephen Cathedral. It features wooden stands selling handmade and hand-painted Christmas decorations and toys and European street foods such as pasta, fried potatoes, and soups. It’s rather small compared to other markets but its location is quite central and in proximity to other markets such as Am Hof.

The Best Things to Do in Vienna During Winter

Vienna is undoubtedly a must-visit destination in Europe throughout the year. However, The city’s landmarks look especially enchanting in the winter. As well as strolling around the famous Christmas markets, there are plenty of things to do in Vienna during winter. Let’s look at these in more detail: 

1. Go Ice Skating

Lace-up your skates and glide across the ice at the outdoor ice skating rinks, such as the one in front of City Hall (Wiener Eistraum) or the ice rink at Schönbrunn Palace.

2. Explore Schönbrunn Palace

While the gardens may be less colorful in winter, Schönbrunn Palace is still one of the most elegant buildings in Vienna.  Explore the opulent rooms, learn about Austrian history, and enjoy the festive decorations with the guided tour of the Schönbrunn Palace

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3. Warm up at a Coffeehouse

Vienna is famous for its coffeehouse culture. Seek refuge from the cold in one of the city’s historic coffeehouses, where you can savor a cup of hot coffee and indulge in delicious pastries such as the Sachertorte. Some of the most famous cafés include Café Central and Café Sacher.

4. Join a Free Walking Tour

Explore Vienna’s most iconic monuments with an expert English-speaking guide. Free tours do not have a fixed price. Each person values the quality of the activity and, at the end of the tour, gives the amount that they consider appropriate. We always go with them as we think they are a fair and affordable way to explore a city. In Vienna, there are two types of free tours available: The Day Free Walking Tour and the Night Free Walking Tour.

5. Visit the Belvedere Palace

The Belvedere is a historic complex consisting of two Baroque palaces, the Upper Belvedere and the Lower Belvedere, along with a beautiful garden. Visit The Belvedere Palace and immerse yourself in an impressive collection of Austrian art from the Middle Ages to the present day. One of the most famous works on display is Gustav Klimt’s “The Kiss,” a masterpiece of Symbolist art!

vienna in winter
best things to do in vienna

6. Attend a Concert or Opera

As we mentioned earlier, Vienna is renowned for its classical music heritage. Attend a concert or opera performance at one of the city’s prestigious venues, such as the State Opera House or Musikverein.

7. Discover the Vienna Woods

Take a winter hike in the Vienna Woods (Wienerwald) and enjoy the serene beauty of nature covered in snow. There are also traditional Austrian Heurigen (wine taverns) in the area.

8. Enjoy Viennese Cuisine

Indulge in hearty and warming Viennese dishes. Try traditional winter specialties like Speckknödeln meatballs, Wiener Schnitzel, goulash, or Kaiserschmarrn.

9. Vienna's Winter Walks in Prater Park

Explore the Prater, Vienna’s large public park, during winter. The Giant Ferris Wheel and the park’s pathways take on a different charm with a dusting of snow.

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is vienna good in winter

10. Vienna New Year's Eve Winter Trail

If you’re in Vienna for New Year’s Eve, join the Silvesterpfad (New Year’s Eve Trail) in the city center, where you can enjoy live music, entertainment, and a spectacular fireworks display.

11. Relax at Museum's Quartier Courtyards

The courtyards of the Museums Quartier are open to the public. It’s a great place to relax, and you can often find outdoor art installations. While the museums themselves may have entrance fees, the outdoor spaces are free to explore.

12. Danube River Promenade

Take a stroll along the Danube River. The Danube promenade offers beautiful views, especially during sunset. You can also cross the Danube Canal and explore the vibrant areas of Leopoldstadt.

13. Visit the ST. Stephen Cathedral

St. Stephen’s Cathedral is a masterpiece of Gothic architecture and is considered one of the most important landmarks in Vienna. The cathedral’s intricate details, including its iconic diamond-patterned tile roof, make it a visually stunning structure. According to their website: “Admission to St. Stephen’s Cathedral is free of charge, but only allows a visit to the main nave. The towers, catacombs, cathedral treasury, and the lift to the Pummerin bell can only be visited with a guided tour for a fee”.

best things to do in vienna

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Vienna in Winter: Christmas Markets and More - Time for conclusions…

In this blog post, we talked about Vienna’s Christmas Markets and the best things to do in Vienna during winter. We have been to Vienna during the Christmas period and experienced the festive atmosphere. Vienna is undoubtedly a beautiful city, boasting a wealth of architectural treasures, cultural richness, and well-maintained parks and gardens. It is a great destination all year round. However, the festive period gives it that magical touch. From the twinkling lights and fragrant aromas of the Christkindlmarkt to the grandeur of imperial palaces adorned with a dusting of snow, the city transforms into a winter wonderland that beckons exploration. That is why we decided to dedicate it to this blog post. We have reviewed the most popular Viennese Christmas Markets, most of which open in November and December. Finally, we have listed other things not to be missed during a visit to Vienna in winter.

Whether you’re sipping mulled wine at a Viennese Christmas market, marveling at the artistry of a snow-covered Belvedere Palace, or simply enjoying the city’s timeless elegance, Vienna in winter offers a captivating and unforgettable experience. Embrace the season’s magic, and let Vienna’s winter charm leave an indelible mark on your heart.

Do you like city breaks? We wrote some interesting articles on Amsterdam, CopenhagenDubrovnikLisbonNaplesRomeBudapestLondonEdinburgh and Barcelona too!

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