Vienna dresses up spectacularly for the holiday season. Christmas markets pop up across the city and illuminated chandeliers deck the main shopping streets.
This is the time for drinking Glühwein (mulled wine) and Weihnachtspunsch (Christmas punch) and eating Kartofelpuffer (potato pancakes) and Maroni (roasted chestnuts).
Advent festivities dominate the month. So, if you love all things Christmas, you’ll love visiting Vienna in December.
And if Christmas isn’t your jam, how about a pagan winter ritual? Keep reading to learn about the best things to do in the capital city of Austria in December.
Vienna in December: A Local’s Guide to Visiting Vienna During the Christmas Season
Good to Know
- Christmas markets are called Christkindlmärkte in Austria.
- Austrians celebrate Christmas on December 24th (Christmas Eve).
- December 25th and December 26th are both public holidays.
- Most Christmas markets close on December 23rd, or December 26th. The exceptions are the Prater Winter Market (open until January 8, 2023), Schönbrunn Palace Christmas and New Year’s Market (open until January 4, 2023), and the Imperial and Royal Christmas Market at Michaelerplatz (open until January 6, 2023).
- When purchasing Glühwein (mulled wine), or any other hot beverage, from a stand/stall in a Christmas Market, you pay a deposit (Einsatz/Pfand in German) for the mug (usually 3 EUR). You will receive the deposit back when you return the mug. Or, you can keep the mug as a souvenir and lose the deposit.
- On December 31st (New Year’s Eve), you can follow the Silvesterpfad (New Year’s Eve Trail) through the inner district. Learn more in our guide to visiting Vienna in January.
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Vienna in December Map
Vienna in December Weather
The temperature drops in December, but it’s not excruciatingly cold. The average daytime temperature vacillates between 1°C (33.8°F) and 6°C (42.8°F). At night, the temperature ranges from -3°C (26.6°F) and 2°C (36°F).
Bring a big warm winter coat, a hat, a scarf, and warm winter boots. It can snow in December, but the snow never lingers for very long.
Where to Stay in Vienna in December
Budget | Comfy apartments at Siebertgasse is a cheerful, and light-filled apartment-style accommodation in the 12th district, close to the Margaretengürtel U-Bahn station (U4). Each apartment has a kitchen and dining area. We love the airiness, the pastel accents, and the minimalist design of these apartments. This is a great place to stay if you’re an independent traveler, who craves exploring a city on your own terms.
Midrange | Hotel Schani Salon is an excellent hotel located on Mariahilfer Straße, Vienna’s biggest shopping street, a few steps away from the Neubaugasse U-Bahn station (U3). We love this Vienna hotel, because of the bright, modern rooms, the friendly vibe, the communal lounge and bar, and the helpful staff. Breakfast is healthy and varied.
Luxury | Altstadt Vienna is a boutique 4-star hotel in the charming Spittelberg quarter, close to Kunsthistorisches Museum. This contemporary-art-filled hotel features uniquely designed interiors and a hidden rooftop terrace (open from March until October). A wonderful breakfast is served in the Red Salon daily. In the afternoon, complimentary tea and homemade cakes are served in front of the open fireplace.
Luxury | The Leo Grand is advantageously located in the inner district of Vienna, steps away from Peterskirche, Stephansdom, and the Graben. This top-rated hotel features luxurious rooms with romantic, pastel-colored furnishings and decor. Stay here for the unbeatable location, helpful personnel, and fairy tale vibes. Breakfast is available at an extra charge.
Luxury | The palatial Hotel Imperial harkens back to imperial times with its grand, antique-filled interiors and sumptuous rooms and suites (fit for royalty). This 5-star hotel is set on the Ringstrasse boulevard in the heart of Vienna, walking distance to the Vienna Opera House, the Kärntner Strasse shopping street, Karlskirche, and the Musikverein concert hall. This hotel features a cocktail bar in the historic Hallensalon, rooftop fitness center with a sauna, on-site restaurant (Opus) and café (Café Imperial). Breakfast available.
Best Things to Do in Vienna in December
1. Visit the Vienna Christmas Markets
Vienna’s Christmas Markets are incredibly special because of their scenic locations. Some Viennese advent markets are located in front of palaces and churches, while others are located in historic squares and streets.
In Austria, Christmas markets are called Christkindlmärkte and Weihnachtsmärkte. Here are the most iconic Christmas markets in Vienna:
Karlsplatz Christmas Market | Google Maps
Freyung Christmas Market | Google Maps
Rathausplatz (City Hall) Christmas Market | Google Maps
Maria-Theresien Platz Christmas Market | Google Maps
Belvedere Palace Christmas Market | Google Maps
Altes AKH (Vienna’s Former General Hospital) Christmas Market | Google Maps
Spittelberg Christmas Market | Google Maps
Schönbrunn Palace Christmas and New Year’s Market | Google Maps
When to Visit the Vienna Christmas Markets
Late November until December 23rd, or December 26th.
Most Christmas markets in Vienna will close by December 23rd.
The exceptions are the Prater Winter Market (November 18, 2023 – January 7, 2024), the Schönbrunn Palace New Year’s Market (November 18, 2023 – January 4, 2024), and the Imperial and Royal Christmas Market at Michaelerplatz (usually open until the first week of January) which are all open until early January.
2. The Ritz-Carlton Atmosphere Winter Market Rooftop Bar
This isn’t a substitute for visiting a Christmas market in Vienna, but rather a lovely addition. We come here for Glühwein and the city views.
You don’t need to be a hotel guest to visit.
The atmosphere is very peaceful, offering a lovely respite from the crowded Christmas hot spots in the city.
There are two hut vendors on the rooftop. One sells warm seasonal beverages like mulled wine and punch and the other sells potatoes with various fillings. The prices are higher than average, but the quality is far superior. E.g. it costs 7 EUR for a Glühwein.
Last year, the theme of the Atmosphere Winter Market was “Urban Après-Ski.” There are several 6-person “dining gondolas,” which can be reserved. Requirement: 100 EUR drink/food consummation per hour.
Dates | Early November – Late December
Opening Times | Daily, 4 pm – 10 pm
Location | Schubertring 5-7, 1010 Wien | Google Maps
Entrance Fee | Free
3. Winter in the City at Haas & Haas
Any trip to Vienna will inevitably bring you to the first district and Stephansdom, aka St. Stephen’s Church, the very heart of the city.
In December, Stephansplatz, the pedestrian square surrounding the cathedral, hosts a Christmas Market. Over 20 stands sell food, drinks and Advent-themed souvenirs.
Given its central location, this Vienna Christmas Market can get very congested. If you want to escape the crowds, walk behind the cathedral and sneak into Winter in the City at Haas & Haas.
Here, a single stand sells high-quality Marillenpunsch (apricot punch), Gewürzpunsch (spiced punch), and Glühwein (mulled wine) as well as snacks (potato soup, Wachauer Laibchen bread with ham, and more) in the weather-protected inner courtyard of the Deutscher Ordenskloster (German Monastery).
It’s a secret, atmospheric spot in the very center of Vienna.
Dates | November 4 – December 31, 2023. The market is always closed on December 24th.
Opening Times |
- Mondays – Thursdays: 4 pm – 8 pm
- Fridays – Sundays & Holidays: 2 pm – 8 pm
Location | Stephansplatz 4, 1010 Wien in the Haas&Haas Innenhof | Google Maps
Entrance Fee | Free
4. IKEA husmas Market
If you find yourself shopping on Mariahilfer Straße, Vienna’s longest shopping street, or near the Westbahnhof train station, you may want to venture up to IKEA’s rooftop for a view of the city coupled with a budget-friendly (3 EUR) winter drink (alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks available).
The IKEA rooftop Christmas market comprises six Swedish wooden huts, which have been made available to small Viennese businesses, and a curling rink.
In addition, the IKEA husmas market hosts a festive program with free workshops, including decorating cookies, constructing gingerbread houses, and making Advent wreaths.
On Tuesday, December 13th from 6 -7 pm, the Swedish Santa Lucia Choir, made up of 40 singers, will perform traditional Swedish songs in the IKEA restaurant and roof terrace. No registration is required.
The IKEA rooftop is located on the 7th floor. You can take an elevator to the 4th floor and then hop on another elevator to the 7th, or walk up the stairs from the 4th floor to the 7th floor.
Dates | Mid November – Late December
Opening Times |
- Monday – Thursday: 4 pm – 8 pm
- Friday – Saturday: 2 pm – 8 pm
- Closed on Sundays
Location | IKEA Einrichtungshaus Wien Westbahnhof, Europaplatz, Vienna | Google Maps
Entrance Fee | Free
5. Advent Market in the Liechtenstein Garden Palace
The Liechtenstein Garden Palace Christmas Market (Advent im Gartenpalais Liechtenstein in German) is located in the 9th district. The Palace serves as the backdrop for this small, low-key market.
About 25 stands sell food and drinks, including Maroni & Erdäpfelspalten (chestnuts and potato wedges), Käse & Speck (cheese and bacon), O‘Donnald Liköre (Liqueurs), Feuerzangenbowle, Gebrannte Mandeln (roasted almonds), Bratwurst (sausage), Baumkuchen (log cake), Gourmet Punsch (punch), and Glühwein ( mulled wine).
In addition, there’s a Carousel and a nativity exhibition.
We like this Vienna Christmas market, because the atmosphere is subdued and laidback.
Dates | November 17, 2023 – December 23, 2023
Opening Times |
- Monday – Thursday: 2 pm 9 pm
- Fridays – Sundays, and Holidays: 11 am – 9 pm
Location | Fürstengasse 1, 1090 Wien | Google Maps
6. Medieval Christmas Market
The medieval market (Mittelalterlicher Adventmarkt) takes place in late November and early December over the course of four days. All vendors are clad in medieval garb and sell medieval-themed crafts and goodies.
This medieval Christmas market is located both inside and outside the Museum of Military History. There’s no entrance fee to visit the museum while the market is open.
During your visit, you may see and hear market jugglers, fencing demonstrations, and musical acts. This is a great activity to do with kids in Vienna in winter.
Dates | Thursday, November 30, 2023 to Sunday, December 3, 2023
Location | Arsenal 1, 1030 Wien | Google Maps
Entrance Fee | Free
Read Next: Vienna Hidden Gems
One of the most interesting, albeit scary, things to do in Vienna in December is seeing the Perchtenlauf (Perchten parade) at the Prater.
The Perchten are monstrously clad demonic figures who are supposed to drive out the evil spirits of the winter. Wearing large bells and dressed in frightening costumes, the Perchten perform their ritual of noise and light to an excited crowd.
The Perchten tradition is a pre-Christian alpine ritual that happens across the Austrian and Bavarian Alps in December and January.
In Vienna, the Perchten parade happens only once a year in the Prater. Come at least 30 minutes before the start time to secure a place along the railing, so you can see the whole nightmarish festivity unfold.
Date | December 3, 2023 at 5 pm, next to the Wintermarkt am Rieseradplatz (Prater Winter Market).
Location | Prater – Riesenradplatz | Google Maps
Entrance Fee | Free
Read Next: Best Things to Do in Vienna in January
8. Follow the Silvesterpfad
Each year, Vienna’s first district transforms into a huge street party. On New Year’s Eve, you can spend hours following the Silvesterpfad (New Year’s Eve Trail) through Vienna’s inner district.
The path guides you to different stages featuring different types of live music. Along the path, there are food stalls selling mulled wine, champagne, and non-alcoholic beverages.
Admission | The event is free. You don’t need to purchase any tickets or make reservations to attend.
Count Down | No matter where you are, Strauss’ Blue Danube is played when the clock strikes midnight (24 Uhr). And in true Viennese style, everyone dances the waltz into the New Year. For the best view of the fireworks, head to the Rathaus.
Start Time | The New Year’s Eve trail begins at 2:00 p.m.
End Time | The New Year’s Eve trail ends at 2:00 a.m.
Where | Vienna’s first district (1. Bezirk/Innere Stadt)
9. Soak in the Thermal Water of Therme Wien
Therme Wien is a massive thermal spa complex in Vienna, bordering Kurpark Oberlaa. In fact, it’s the largest Therme in Austria.
The 75,000 m² spa comprises 26 indoor and outdoor pools, 18 saunas, multiple relaxation zones, a fitness center, treatment center, and canteen-style restaurant. The facilities are immaculate.
The day spa is conveniently located at the Oberlaa U1 station on line 1 of the Vienna U-Bahn. It only takes 15-20 minutes to get here by transit from the city center.
Visiting Therme Wien is an authentic introduction to Austrian spa culture. This is not a tourist attraction. Locals of all ages visit Therme Wien to soak in thermal water, swim, sweat in saunas, and get massages. There are adults-only spaces and pools and areas designed for children.
It’s possible to purchase 3-hour entry tickets, day tickets, or after-work tickets (6 pm till closing). For the most enjoyable experience, get the “Relax! One Day Holiday” ticket.
You can also book massages and other treatments.
Learn More: How to Visit an Austrian Therme
10. Palais Coburg’s Secret Winter Garden (closed in 2023)
Palais Coburg is a hotel in Vienna’s first district. In December on Fridays and Saturdays, Coburg’s interior garden becomes a secret gathering place for drinking mulled wine.
Though open to the public, Coburg’s garden feels delightfully private.
Lights are strung up in the trees. Christmas music plays softly in the background. And, a few vendors sells warm beverages and hot dogs.
We come here when we want to drink a punch in a festive, yet relaxing atmosphere.
Dates | TBD
Location | Coburgbastei 4, 1010 Wien
Entrance Fee | Free
11. Grafenegg Christmas Concert and Market Day Trip
Grafenegg is a castle complex located in Lower Austria.
During select days in December, Grafenegg hosts a large Christmas market with 140 stalls. The market extends across the castle grounds into the castle square and interior.
Bonfires and strings of fairy lights illuminate the castle and park. Musicians enhance the atmosphere. And, vendors sell high-quality local goods. You’ll find the products here are a step up from the average Austrian advent market.
To make your Grafenegg day trip extra special, we recommend attending the classical Christmas concert (Weihnachtskonzerte) in the evening.
Definitely purchase your tickets in advance. When you attend the concert, you’ll get free entrance to the Grafenegg Christmas market, which is normally 8 EUR. Here’s more info on Grafenegg’s Advent schedule.
Dates | December 7 – 11, 2023
Opening Times | 10 am – 7 pm
Location | Grafenegg, Lower Austria | Google Maps
Entrance Fee |
- Adults: 10 EUR
- Youth (ages 13-18): 5 EUR
- Children (ages 0 – 12): Free Entry
How to Get to Grafenegg | There’s a free shuttle from Wagram-Grafenegg train station to Grafenegg every 20 minutes after the hour, during the opening times.
12. Schloss Rosenburg Christmas Market Day Trip
Schloss Rosenburg is a notable Renaissance castle in Lower Austria.
During Advent, Schloss Rosenburg transforms into a dreamy Christmas greeting card, come to life. The Christmas market, formally called the “Waldviertler Christkindlmarkt at the Rosenburg,” fills the rooms of the castle with seasonal handmade gifts.
In the various castle rooms, you’ll find local food products, art, Christmas decorations, toys, and more.
The castle square is a vibrant gathering place for feasting on regional specialties like Feuerfleck and drinking mulled wine.
When you need a break from walking and standing, you can grab refreshments at the tavern, or the coffee and cake room (second level).
Based on our experience, we highly recommend eating outside and not in the tavern. The proportions served in the tavern were appallingly meager.
Dates | November 25-26, 2023, December 2-3, 2023, and December 8-10, 2023
Opening Times | 11 am – 6 pm
Location | Schloss Rosenburg, Lower Austria | Google Maps
Entrance Fee |
- Adults: 8 EUR
- Children: 4 EUR
How to Get to Schloss Rosenburg from Vienna | Driving is easiest, but you can reach Rosenburg by train. From Wien Franz-Josefs-Bahnhof take a train to Hadersdorf/Kamp Bahnhof (1 hour). At Hadersdorf/Kamp Bahnhof, take a second train to Rosenburg/Kamp Bahnhof (30 minutes). Use the Oebb website to plan your trip.
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Austria Trip Planning Essentials
When to Visit Austria
Getting around Austria
Austria has an excellent public transit system. We’ve used it extensively to travel throughout the country. We highly recommend using transit if you’re visiting cities (Vienna, Salzburg, Innsbruck, Graz, etc…), and/or doing hut-to-hut hikes.
Some areas like Mayrhofen, Schladming and Lech am Arlberg have wonderful seasonal transit systems in place (e.g. summer hiking buses). However, if you’re not visiting during the high season, bus frequencies are significantly reduced and it’s far easier to get around with your own vehicle.
If you’re planning on visiting multiple destinations across Austria, we recommend renting a car.
Use these road trip itineraries for trip planning inspiration:
- 2 Week Austria Road Trip – starting in Vienna
- 1 Week Austria Road Trip – starting in Salzburg or Munich
- 10-Day Bavarian Alps & Tyrolean Alps Road Trip – starting in Munich
We recommend using the Discovercars.com car rental reservation platform to search for and book car rentals. This easy-to-use booking platform compares car rental deals from 500+ trusted providers, so that you can choose the best option for your trip.
If you’re driving into Austria from a neighboring country, don’t forget to purchase a vignette at/near the border.
Hiking in Austria
Where to Hike in Austria
Read Austrian Alps Hiking Destinations for an overview of where to hike in Austria, with tips on specific trails and where to stay. Also check out Best Day Hikes in Austria and these region-specific hiking guides:
- Salzburg Hiking Guide
- Innsbruck Hiking Guide
- Filzmoos, Salzburg Hiking Guide
- Schladming, Styria Hiking Guide
- Lech am Arlberg, Vorarlberg Hiking Guide
- Vorarlberg Hiking Guide
- Vienna Mountains Hiking Guide
Hut to Hut Hiking in Austria
Austria is a premier hut-to-hut and long-distance hiking destination. The quality of the mountain huts are superb. We particularly love the high-alpine trails, which are called Höhenwege in German. We’ve summarized our favorite multi-day hikes in Trekking Austria. If you’re new to hut hiking, read this in-depth guide to Hut to Hut Hiking in Austria.
What to See & Do in Austria
- Visit a gorge like the Liechtenstein Gorge in Salzburg, or Wolfsklamm Gorge in Tirol.
- Bathe in the thermal pools of an Austrian Therme like Aqua Dome in Tirol.
- Stay in a thermal spa hotel like Rogner Bad Blumau (designed by Friedensreich Hundertwasser) in Styria, EurothermenResort Bad Ischl in Upper Austria, or the Aqua Dome Hotel in Tirol.
- Hike to a mountain lake like Lake Tappenkarsee in Salzburg or Lake Drachensee in Tirol.
- Go Wine Tasting in South Styria.
- Marvel at the culture, music, and architecture of Vienna.
- Eat heartwarming mountain food in an Almhütte at Grosser Ahornboden in Tirol or Ursprungalm in Styria.
- Drive the Grossglockner High Alpine Road in Hohe Tauern National Park.
- Visit the castles, monasteries, and wine taverns of the Wachau Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.