New year, new destinations. Why not start with Vienna? With hundreds of museums and dozens of cozy coffee houses, there is plenty to explore indoors in Vienna. If you’re not scared of the cold, numerous wintery activities will keep you busy outdoors as well. Below, we have compiled some practical information for you as well as the best things to do in Vienna in January.
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Vienna Weather in January
January in Vienna could be considered the deep of winter and the weather can be rather uninviting. Expect highs around 39°F (4°C) and lows around 32°F (0°C).
Note that Vienna is a pretty windy city which makes it feel much colder than it actually is. It is possible that it snows in Vienna in January, but the chances are slim these days.
What to Wear in Vienna in January
Expect January to be rather cold. Bring a warm coat or jacket. Hats, gloves, and even a scarf are essentials. Whether you are planning to explore a lot on foot or not, it’s still best to pack a pair of comfortable winter boots.
There is nothing worse than cold feet! If the shoes or boots are water-resistant, even better.
Practical Information for Visiting Vienna in January
Many consider January in Vienna to be kind of a dead month. And partially, this is true. The Christmas season and the holidays are over and people are getting back to work.
What remains is uninviting weather, short days, and a minimal cultural program. However, it also has its upsides:
There are hardly any people visiting, making Vienna relatively cheap in January. All popular tourist attractions are open as usual (including museums, palaces, churches, etc.), except only a very few outdoor venues (e.g. the maze at Schönbrunn gardens).
Apart from the 1st and 6th of January, there are also no public holidays for the rest of the month, giving you quite a bit of flexibility.
Where to Stay in Vienna in January
Hostel: Wombats Naschmarkt, a popular hostel in Vienna, within walking distance of the city center
Budget Economy: B&B Hotel Wien-Meidling, a 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 January in Vienna
Below, find a selection of the best things to do in Vienna in January. Pick one or two and combine them with dozens of other fun things to do in Vienna.
1. Attend the New Year Concert
Did you know that each year the New Year Concert by the Wiener Philharmoniker at the Musikverein is broadcast in more than 90 countries worldwide? Well, as you can imagine, this is a hugely popular event and it’s next to impossible to get tickets.
I mean, you have to enter a literal lottery to get your hands on a spot. However, even if you can’t attend in person, turn on the TV at your hotel and tune in virtually at least 😉
2. Enjoy Johann Strauss’ Operetta “The Bat”
Since its premiere in 1874, Johann Strauss’ operetta “Die Fledermaus” (“The Bat”) has been a focal point of the Viennese cultural calendar.
After all, it’s a humorous depiction of Vienna in the 19th century and Austrians don’t take themselves too seriously. Luckily, the performance is accompanied by English surtitles.
Check out the website of the Vienna State Opera for tickets.
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).
3. Visit the New Year Markets
Don’t be bummed if you missed the Christmas markets in December – with a little bit of luck, you can still catch the winter or new year markets in Vienna. Some of the Christmas markets stay open throughout the first few days of January.
The most notable one is probably the market at Schönbrunn Palace, but the winter market at Riesenradplatz makes a great alternative as well.
4. 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.
5. 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 Emperess 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.
6. 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 January 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.
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).
7. Go Ice Skating
One of the most popular things to do in Vienna in January is to go ice skating. Vienna Ice Dream on city hall square (Rathausplatz) is probably the most visited ice rink in Vienna. And although it is VERY commercial, it somehow still manages to retain its fun atmosphere.
Tickets at either cost approximately 9 EUR and all places offer rental skates for 7-9 EUR (+ deposit). Just be sure to bring cash.
8. Relax at a Thermal Spa
Most people’s minds go to Iceland when speaking of thermal spas, but Austria is another great place to visit a thermal spa. Although volcanic activity in Austria ceased a LONG time ago, the lucky leftovers are several hot springs in the east and southeast of the country.
In Vienna, you can reach one of the most popular spas in just 15 minutes by public transport – Therme Wien in Oberlaa. It’s the perfect place to warm up during the cold winter months.
Apart from pools, it also offers saunas, massages, and pretty much everything else you would expect from a spa. Day tickets cost 35 EUR.
Check out their website for more information.
9. Learn how to Make Viennese Wafers
Vienna is world-famous for its cakes and pastries. Many visitors also know the popular treat “Mannerschnitten” – thin wafers stacked and filled with chocolate cream.
Plain wafers may sound a bit understated, but they CAN shine on their own. At O.Sacher, a shop that has been around for more than 100 years, you can learn a bit about their history and learn how to make wafers yourself.
10. Listen in at Resonanzen Festival
Resonanzen is a festival of early music, taking place every January in Vienna at the Konzerthaus.
It is fairly unique as not only the music itself is ancient, but the instruments on which it is played are historic, too. Check out the website for this year’s program.
11. Try Your Hand at Curling
What others call “curling”, Austrians call Eisstockschießen. Not to worry, the sport isn’t as complicated or lengthy as the name.
Essentially, you hurl a stock down an icy lane and try to get it as close to the target as possible. It’s a very alpine winter activity and definitely something unique to try in Vienna.
There are a handful of places where you can try your hand at the sport. Just be sure to book your slots online ahead of time:
- Badeschiff (from 45 EUR per 30 minutes)
- Museumsquartier (from 45 EUR per 30 minutes)
- Vienna Ice Dream at City Hall Square
12. Lose Yourself at Paradise Festival
Although most popular music festivals in Vienna take place during the summer, Paradise Festival heats up the city in late January.
On two floors, visitors get to enjoy psytrance and progressive trance, often attracting big names. Don’t miss it if you’re ready to lose your mind (a little 😉 ). Follow their Facebook page for the latest updates.
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 January? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!
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 lonelyplanet.com and in the EasyJet Traveller magazine.