This is my favourite season to visit Vienna as it becomes a Winter Wonderland. I’m not a huge fan of Christmas or anything, but just the atmosphere with the lights, snow flurries and the squares full of wooden huts selling Christmas handicrafts and Gluhwein (mulled wine) in adorable souvenir mugs. I don’t care if it’s cheesy, I can not get enough of it!
Don’t forget, it was the Austrians who invented the snow-globe! I wonder where they got their inspiration…
1. Christmas Markets:
If you’ve never been to a German/Austrian-style Christmas market, this is your big chance.
In my opinion, the best Christmas Market to go to is the one in Rathausplatz (12th November – 24th December), that’s where the stunningly gothic city hall is. There’s a park around it and they cover all of the trees in lights and there is such an atmosphere, it’s incredible! It’s always busy but if you can, try not to go on a Friday night because it’s a bit much to be honest, you can’t get anywhere near the stalls. But any other night and you can look at the (expensive, but cute) Christmas decorations for sale, enjoy a tasty treat and a mug of Gluhwein or four to get you into the Christmas spirit!
I award the Silver and Bronze medals to these two great markets:
Belvedere Palace, November 18th – 23rd December)
Marie-Theresian Platz (on the way to the one at city hall), November 16th – 26th December)
2. New Year:
Now, I’ve never been in the Austrian capital during this time but it’s on my list! Find your way to Stephanplatz (near a huge church, but where in Vienna isn’t?!) because when the Pummerin Bell strikes midnight, everybody waltzes together! It sounds absolutely wonderful!
Even if you’re not a fan of wine (I can’t stand the stuff), you have to try some mulled wine. It’s warm, it’s fruity and it’s just downright delicious. On a cold Winter’s night in Vienna though, watch you don’t (or do, I don’t know what you like!) drink it too quickly thinking it’ll go cold – it goes straight to your head!
You can either bring your own mug or buy one at one of the markets. Once you’ve chosen your favourite cup to buy, make sure you show the stall owner that you already have a mug or else they’ll charge you for a new one each time and you’ll have a rucksack full of “Weihnachten im Wien” mugs!
4. The Weather:
I know, I know, it’s cold. -2ºC – 3ºC, in fact. But Vienna, with all it’s beauty, carries the Winter quite well compared to other European cities. There’s snow, but you’re not bringing half a foot of it into your hotel room every evening. You’ll need gloves though, especially if you’re taking a lot of photos, because your poor fingers will turn blue as you spend minutes trying to take the perfect shot. Once you’re wrapped up in a woolly hat, gloves and scarf, you’ll actually be fine, and it’s well worth it, I promise.
5. The Coffee Shops
The Viennese are well known for their coffee shops, and for good reason too! These make for fantastic stops during your trip around the city. What could sound better then sitting down next to a heater with a steaming hot cocoa after your bracing walk (or tram ride) around Ringstraße? I bet Freud did!