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Vienna in December: Travel Tips & Things to Do [2024]

December is one of the most magical times to visit Vienna. Get into the Christmas spirit by attending one of the many Christmas markets or Advent concerts and stuff yourself on hearty Austrian winter cuisine. Below, we have compiled some practical information for you as well as the best things to do in Vienna in December!

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Vienna Weather in December

The December weather in Vienna can be rather uninviting – unfortunately, it is rare to see a white Christmas these days. Expect highs around 40°F (5°C) and lows around 33°F (0°C).

Even if it doesn’t rain during your visit, it is quite likely that you will have overcast skies. It may snow, but the chances are slim.

What to Wear in Vienna in December

Expect December to be rather cold. We would definitely recommend a warm jacket or coat. Hats, gloves, and even a scarf would also be sensible.

Most of all, if you are planning to visit Christmas markets, bring shoes with thick soles or buy some additional insoles. There is nothing worse than cold feet! If the shoes or boots are water-resistant, even better.

Practical Information for Visiting Vienna in December

While December is a popular time for visiting Vienna, it is perhaps one of the least practical months to come. Although all the Christmas activities are enchanting, Christmas also means that much of Vienna shuts down during December.

You can essentially write off the days between the 24th and 26th of December, as well as the 31st (New Year’s Eve) and the 8th of December (Feast of the Immaculate Conception) as almost everything will be closed on those days.

In addition, many restaurants and businesses stay closed altogether between Christmas and New Year’s.

You should also note that it is a rather expensive time to visit Vienna – from upcharge hotel rooms to pricy food & drink at the markets. Short days also mean that you will have less time to explore during daylight (although the evenings are best spent at the markets, anyway).

Where to Stay in Vienna in December

Hostel: Wombats Naschmarkt, a popular hostel in Vienna, within walking distance of the city center

Budget Economy: B&B Hotel Wien-Meidling, great budget option close to Wien-Meidling station

Budget Plus: Motel One Wien Hauptbahnhof, an unpretentious choice within 2 minutes of Vienna Central Station

Mid-range: Mercure Secession Vienna, a reasonably-priced 4-star hotel in the city center

Splurge: Hotel Sans Souci Wien, one of the city’s most prestigious hotels, the glamorous Sans Souci features trendy rooms and deluxe furnishings

Best Things to Do in December in Vienna

Below, find a selection of the best things to do in Vienna in December. The events are sorted in roughly chronological order, but please check the official websites for up-to-date information.

First Things First: Vienna Christmas Markets

It is no secret why thousands of tourists suddenly flock to Vienna during one of the gloomiest and coldest months. Vienna’s Christmas markets are famous for their magical atmosphere, enchanting scents and flavors, and a certain feeling of coziness you can’t get enough of.

Although the Christmas markets in Vienna open already at the end of November, most people visit in December. The closer to Christmas it gets, the more crowded the markets become (understandably).

While there are numerous Christmas markets to check out in Vienna, the most popular one is undoubtedly the Christmas market at City Hall Square (Rathausplatz). With its unique backdrop and adjoining ice rink, nothing can quite compare. 

Simply browse for unique souvenirs that can double as Christmas gifts, and try one of the many Christmas delicacies on offer. Don’t miss a cup of Glühwein (mulled wine), a thing of roasted chestnuts, and a hearty raclette.

If the hustle and bustle of the markets seem overwhelming to you, it can be a good idea to join a guided tour of the markets. This way you can learn about the city’s history and Christmas traditions along the way.

Pro Tip

Although most Christmas markets shut down on the 24th of December, some continue as winter markets or New Year’s markets until the end of the year.

Attend a Classical Concert

Vienna has long been described as the capital of music. Classical music, that is. Almost every famous classical composer once called Vienna their home.

So it should come as no surprise that music is very much ingrained in our daily lives here. Get a taste of it by attending one of the many classical concerts taking place in Vienna every week:

  • Mozart Concert at the Golden Hall: Enjoy the classic works of Mozart in one of Vienna’s finest concert halls. The costumes may seem a bit gimmicky, but they truly add something to the atmosphere. Overall, you can expect a fun evening. >>> Book now
  • Classic Ensemble Vienna in St. Peter’s Church: If you want a bit more variety, this concert offers interpretations of works by numerous composers, including Beethoven, Vivaldi, and Schubert. The setting in St. Peter’s Church provides the perfect atmosphere for a magical evening. >>> Book now
  • Vivaldi’s Four Seasons Concert in Karlskirche: Experience Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, a masterpiece of classical music at the beautiful Karlskirche. >>> Book now
  • Mozart and Strauss Concert at Schönbrunn Palace: Experience a concert and listen to some of the most beautiful overtures, and arias in the unique setting of the Orangerie of Schönbrunn Palace. >>> Book now

Pro Tip

The dress code for most of the concert venues in Austria is formal. While it is not enforced very strictly, it would be good to wear something that covers your shoulders, knees, and toes (for men and women alike).

Attend an Advent Concert at St. Stephen’s Cathedral

Speaking of classical concerts, the most popular among Austrians are probably the Advent concerts at St. Stephen’s Cathedral. Enjoy works by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Johann Sebastian Bach, Franz Schubert, and Georg Friedrich Händel as well as traditional Austrian Christmas songs. 

At 45 EUR, the advent concerts cost a bit more than the typical concerts at the cathedral but the atmosphere is well worth it. Tickets sell out quickly so make sure to book well in advance! >>> Book now

Check out Wien Modern Festival

Although perhaps hard to imagine, in the 80s, classical music was not at the forefront of everybody’s mind in Vienna. That’s when Wien Modern came to be as a way of revitalizing classical music in the city. 

Young composers and experienced composers alike are given the stage. Events take place throughout the city throughout the month and the full program is usually published in September. Get more information here.

Experience Viennese Coffee Culture

One of the best things to do when it is cold in Vienna is to seek refuge in one of the cozy cafes. Viennese coffee culture dates back hundreds of years and as Austrians, we do take it very seriously!

A single cup of coffee can keep you in a cafe for HOURS in Vienna – so slow down and relax (and warm up your feet). There are dozens of cafes to choose from. Cafe Jelinek and Cafe Hawelka are two of my personal favorites.

Alternatively, you could also join a guided tour of the coffee houses in Vienna. That way, you’ll also get to learn more about their history and cultural impact. Check out this popular tour for example.

Check out World-Class Museums

If you need to get out of the cold and are curious to learn more about Vienna or Austria, why not check out one of Vienna’s 100+ museums?

Learn about the tragic story of Empress Sisi at the Sisi Museum, or dive into the world of psychoanalysis at the Sigmund Freud Museum.

If art is what you’re after, Vienna has it all – from Baroque opulence to modern Minimalism. I definitely recommend checking out the highly regarded Kunsthistorisches Museum, the fabulous Albertina Museum, and the insightful Leopold Museum.

PRO TIP: If you are planning to visit several museums (and possibly other sites of interest), save some money with the Vienna Pass.

Marvel at Historic Palaces

What would an imperial capital be without imposing palaces? Vienna certainly got them.

A visit to these palaces is the perfect thing to do in Vienna in December as they are significantly less crowded in the winter than in the summer. Reminding our tiny nation of its imperial past, they can take hours to explore in full. Put these two on your bucket list:

  • Schönbrunn Palace: Once the summer residence of the Habsburg family, this imposing palace is a must-see in Vienna. As it is a popular tourist destination, you may want to buy a skip-the-line ticket ahead of time.
  • Belvedere Palace: This opulent Baroque palace serves as one of Austria’s leading museums today. After all, it is home to Gustav Klimt’s famous Kiss. You can conveniently buy your ticket online.

N.B. Please note that some outdoor features at the palaces may be closed to the public during the winter (e.g. the maze at Schönbrunn Palace).

This Human World Festival

This Human World is Austria’s first festival devoted to the subject of Human Rights and one of Vienna’s largest film festivals. It is the only festival taking place in Vienna in December (unless you consider Christmas a festival).

This Human World offers a platform for debate and a space for conversations, allowing attendees to understand the films in their socio-political context.

The range of films in terms of topics, but also geographies and languages is wide. Thankfully, films are shown with English subtitles. Tickets for a single screening cost 8.5 EUR. Check out their website for this year’s line-up.

Lightening of the Hanukkah Menorah

Every year, the Jewish Chabad community in Vienna puts up a giant menorah in the city center of Vienna, at Stephansplatz.

Each of the eight nights of Hanukkah, the community comes together to light the next candle and enjoy some scrumptious sufganiyot (a sweet dish, very much like a jelly donut or Austrian Krapfen). Stop by and join the celebration!

Krampusläufe / Perchtenläufe

If you haven’t grown up in central Europe, there is a good chance that you have never heard of the so-called Krampus. In folklore, Krampus is a creature described as “half-goat, half-demon” and truly frightening.

He is the companion of St. Nicholas and as opposed to his benevolent associate, Krampus punishes children who have misbehaved.

To get face-to-face with a Krampus as a tourist, it’s best to attend a traditional Krampuslauf. It’s a procession of several young men dressed in traditional costumes, roaming the streets. Sometimes you may see so-called Perchten, a local variation of the Krampus (but equally as terrifying).

While these processions are mostly an alpine tradition, you can find them also in Vienna, the biggest taking place in Prater at the end of November. However, you may find smaller processions throughout December.

Go Christmas Lights Hunting

There is something magical about Vienna in December – and a big part of it is the millions of twinkly lights illuminating its streets during the darkest of months. From opulent chandeliers on Graben to more understated lights on Annastraße, most of the inner city has that Christmassy glow.

Pro Tip

For THE most Christmassy Vienna Instagram picture, head to Popp & Kretschmer and their ginormous red bow.

Go Ice Skating

One of the most popular things to do in Vienna in December is to go ice skating. Now, most people will say that you should visit Vienna Ice Dream on City Hall Square (Rathausplatz).

Alternatively, check out the ice rink between the Konzerthaus and the Stadtpark by the Viennese Skating Club or the roof-top Engelmann Ice Rink. Tickets at either cost approximately 9 EUR and all places offer rental skates for 7-9 EUR (+ deposit). Just be sure to bring cash.

Celebrate New Year’s Eve on Silvesterpfad

Year after year, nearly one million people celebrate New Year’s Eve on the streets of Vienna. Not without reason, because Vienna offers dozens of free concerts and other events on the 31st of December.

Also known as Silvesterpfad, make your way through the city until the clock strikes midnight and the entire city center erupts into a (not-so-spontaneous) New Year’s Waltz.

Now, what do you think? What is your favorite time of the year to visit Vienna? What else is there to do in Vienna in December? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!

About Jacky

Hello there, fellow globetrotters! I’m Jacky, a passionate travel blogger with an insatiable wanderlust. With several years of experience in online marketing, I leverage my expertise to ensure that you get the best travel advice, tailored for the digital age. My travels have taken me to over 30 countries, and I love sharing those experiences with readers like you. Besides traveling, my other loves are my beloved cats, architecture, art, science fiction, coffee, and all things cute. My travel tips have been featured on and in the EasyJet Traveller magazine.

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