Austria’s capital 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 definitely 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 Vienna in December.
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). You need to 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.
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Best Things to Do in Vienna in December
- Visit a Traditional Christmas Market
- Drink Glühwein at the Ritz-Carlton Christmas Rooftop Bar
- Drive the Evil Spirits away at the Perchtenlauf
- Drink Christmas Punch at the Palais Coburg Winter Garden
- Step Back in Time at the Medieval Christmas Market
- Go on a Music and Christmas-Themed Day Trip to Grafenegg
- Go on a Christmas-Themed Day Trip to Schloss Rosenburg
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
- Freyung Christmas Market
- Rathausplatz (City Hall) Christmas Market
- Maria-Theresien Platz Christmas Market
- Belvedere Palace Christmas Market
- Altes AKH (Vienna’s Former General Hospital) Christmas Market
- Spittelberg Christmas Market
- Schönbrunn Palace Christmas and New Year’s Market
Our favorite Christmas market is at Altes AKH.
When to Visit the Vienna Christmas Markets
Late November until December 23rd (or December 26th). Most markets will close by December 23rd. The exceptions are the Prater Winter Market (which is open until January 6, 2020) and the Schönbrunn Palace New Year’s Market (which is open until January 5, 2020).
The Ritz-Carlton Christmas Rooftop Bar
During the Christmas season, The Ritz-Carlton in Vienna transforms its rooftop into a mini Christmas market. 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. Note: you don’t need to be a hotel guest to visit. The atmosphere is very peaceful and relaxing, offering a lovely respite from the crowded Christmas hot spots in the city. There are two Hütte stands on the rooftop. One sells warm seasonal beverages like mulled wine and punch, etc.. 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.
Location: Schubertring 5-7, 1010 Wien
When: November 15 – December 26, 2019
Opening Times: 4 pm – 9 pm
More Info: The Ritz – Carlton Rooftop Bar
One of the most thrilling 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.
Location: Prater – Riesenradplatz
When: December 1, 2019
Time: 5:00 p.m
Read Next: Best Things to Do in Vienna in January
Palais Coburg’s Secret Winter Garden
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 single hütte (hut stand) sells warm beverages and hot dogs. We come here when we want to drink a punch in a festive, yet calm atmosphere.
Location: Coburgbastei 4, 1010 Wien
When: Fridays/Saturdays only November 22 – December 21, 2019
Opening Times: 4 pm onwards
More Info: Palais Coburg’s Winter Days
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.
Location: Museum of Military History
When: November 28 – December 1, 2019
Read Next: Vienna Hidden Gems
December Day Trips from Vienna
There are plenty of things to do in Vienna in December. However, if you’re interested in exploring other places in Austria, consider the following winter-inspired day trips.
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. 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.
Entrance: 8 EUR
Location: Grafenegg, Lower Austria
When: December 5 – 8, 2019 / December 5 – 8, 2020
How to Get to Grafenegg from Vienna: There’s a bus transfer from Vienna at Musikverein Wien to Grafenegg. You have to order your bus ticket 10 days before the concert (latest). It costs 12 EUR (round-trip). And, you can book your transfer online on the Grafenegg website.
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 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.
Entrance: 6 EUR
Location: Schloss Rosenburg, Lower Austria
When: November 25 – 26, December 2 – 3, December 8 – 10, 2019
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.
Where to Stay in Vienna in December
Budget | Wienderland Bed & Breakfast is a lovely top-rated budget accommodation in the 6th District near Museumsquartier and Leopold Museum. From this B&B, you can easily walk to the Maria-Theresien Platz Christmas Market and the Spittelberg Advent Market, which is located between the Kunsthistorisches Museum and Natural History Museum. You can also enjoy Vienna’s main shopping drag: Mariahilfer Street. The rooms are clean, cheerful, and spacious.
Mid-Range | Ruby Lissi Hotel Vienna is the best mid-range hotel in Vienna’s first district. Located in a historic 18th-century building, this finely furnished hotel is walking distance to Schwedenplatz and the St. Stephan’s Cathedral Christmas Market. Their organic breakfast buffet is something to look forward to every morning.
Luxury | Hotel Sacher Wien is an elegant hotel with regally furnished rooms located across from the Vienna State Opera. Celebrated for the creation of the Sacher-Torte (Austria’s most famous cake), Hotel Sacher isn’t just a place to stay, it’s a slice of Viennese history. Don’t miss out on having dinner at the hotel’s famous Rote Bar and Grüne Bar restaurants.
Vienna in December City Map
More Information for Your Trip to Vienna:
- Vienna in January
- Vienna Hidden Gems
- Vienna City Guide
- How to Get Standing Tickets for the Vienna State Opera
More Information for Your Trip to Austria: