Twinkling fairy lights, softly falling snow, the smell of freshly roasted chestnuts tickling your nostrils, a mug of hot Glühwein (mulled wine) to warm your insides, brass bands marching through the streets……. it sounds like a fairytale, but this is real. This is Christmas in Vienna.
At any time of the year, Vienna is one of the world’s most beautiful cities, but at Christmas time, she gets dressed in her finest and is a sight to behold. The Austrian people hold their Christmas traditions dear to their hearts and the festive season is eagerly anticipated and enjoyed by all.
One long-standing tradition is the Viennese Christmas markets and even today, Vienna provides an abundance of markets where locals and visitors alike can enjoy the warm, festive atmosphere. The wooden covered stalls of the Christkindlmarkt in front of Vienna’s stately City Hall make up the city’s largest Christmas market.
Here you can make your choice from handcrafted gifts, toys and decorations, sweet delicacies and hot Glühwein (mulled wine). The market opens in mid-November so there is plenty of time to buy unique Christmas gifts for the special people in your life.
Children will love the old Viennese carousel and a visit to the Vienna Christmas Workshop where they can bake their own cookies, and for some outdoor activities, despite the cold, why not join them in a sleigh ride?
For art lovers, Schönbrunn Palace market is the place to visit, whilst you’ll find everything from ceramics to hand-blown glass and silver jewellery at the Spittelberg Market. Vienna's Christmas markets offer Christmas shopping in style!
Thoughts of a white Christmas conjure up images of romance and nostalgia and where better to experience this than at a performance by the Vienna Boys Choir? Or take part in a moving Christmas Eve service at the magnificent St. Stephens Cathedral where you can join in the singing of Christmas Carols that have their origins in this beautiful city.
Another not-to-be-missed experience is a special 90 minute Strauss and Mozart Concert at Kursalon on either Christmas Eve or Christmas night.
The festivities in Vienna don’t end on Christmas Day. One of the city’s most famous events, the Kaiser Ball, is a must-attend event on the Viennese calendar. Held under the brilliant chandeliers of the world’s largest ballroom, hundreds of elegantly dressed couples waltz their way around the dance floor to the music that one of Vienna’s favourite sons, Johann Strauss, made popular centuries ago.
If you can’t manage a ticket to the New Year’s Eve Ball, you will still have an evening to remember watching the magnificent annual fireworks display, cruising along the Danube, or from the heights of the Giant Ferris Wheel – looking down over Vienna sparkling in all her glory. Or why not bring in the New Year whilst enjoying a candlelit dinner for two aboard Vienna's giant ferris wheel? Click here to check prices.
Those lucky enough to extend their Vienna Christmas stay into January can enjoy first hand the world famous Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra’s New Year’s Day concert, and for outdoor pursuits, visitors of all ages can glide their way around the Vienna Ice Dream, a purpose-built skating rink in front of the Town Hall.
No visit to Vienna would be complete without a visit to one of the city’s traditional coffee houses. Reward yourself with a warming coffee and sample some of Austria’s finest cakes and pastries, including the famous Sacher Torte and apple strudel. Forget your diet, though – it is Christmas after all!
A Christmas in Vienna is one you will always remember. If you have always wanted to give the planning, preparations and hard work of Christmas a miss for just one year, why not take the opportunity to experience your very own magical white Christmas?
Whether you are travelling as a family, with a partner or alone, Vienna is the perfect destination for Christmas. Let your Christmas fairytale come alive.
Must eat in Vienna:
The famous Original Sacher - Torte. This delicious chocolate cake filled with apricot jam has been made with the same secret recipe since 1832.
Must do in Vienna:
Shop at the Viennese Christmas markets for unique festive gifts and to soak up the magical atmosphere.
Must try in Vienna:
Typical Austrian Christmas fare of ginger biscuits and Glühwein (mulled wine).
Where to stay in Vienna:
Spoil yourself at the 5* Hotel Sacher Wien, home of the famous Original Sacher Torte, and indulge in some traditional Viennese hospitality, or choose the lovely BW Premier Kaiserhof Hotel, just a ten minute walk from the centre of Vienna.
Why not include Vienna in a self-drive tour of Austria? Click here for my suggested Austrian self-drive itinerary.
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