We know, it kind of doesn’t seem logical to venture out when it’s below 10 degrees and raining outside, nevertheless, Vienna is full of things to do in Winter that are inspiring enough to drag you out, no matter how tight of a cuddle you’re locked in with your pillow.
Here’s 23 Winter experiences that you absolutely must have in Vienna:
1. Carve up the ice in a dreamy setting
© Roman Pfeiffer
Make sure somebody is watching (preferably filming) when you nail that pirouette and the spin, the double flip finished with a bow, or in our case, when we fall hard on our ass and bring some 10-year-old with us when we grab on to them trying to save our fall.
Ice skating on the ice rink aptly named Wiener Eistraum in front of the mighty Rathaus, or on the Wiener Eislaufverein ice rink next to the Konzerthaus are definitely at the top of the winter to do list for Vienna. If you can’t skate, be sure to learn this year – the bruises on your bum are worth it!
2. Warm up with a wander through the jungles in Vienna
While it’s a small jungle, warming up amongst the many rare species of exotic plants in Palmenhaus Schönbrunn glasshouse is a good way to defrost your nipples in winter. Standing in the glasshouse will give you a feel of far off exotic places.
If you like the idea of adding broad array of beautiful butterflies to this setting, you should finally visit the Schmetterlinghaus (The Imperial Butterfly house).
3. Visit a theater you’ve never been to before
Or you can revisit a theatre where you’ve seen some quality performances on stage. Up to you, of course. We just find that each theatre season is so short that we like to discover a new theatre each Winter. Whether you want to work through seeing a play at one of the grand theatre houses, like the Akademietheater, or the Burgtheater, or you’d like to sit in the audience at one of the smaller theatre houses, now is the perfect time to do it.
We’ve put together a list of the smaller theatres hosting quality performances on their stages for you.
4. Hit up one of Vienna’s many, many museums
Of course, every guide will recommend that you spend some time in Vienna’s museums as a thing to do during Winter, so this is kind of a ‘Duh!’ tip, however, here’s a pro tip: invest in a Jahreskarte (annual ticket) for one of Vienna’s museums and dedicate your Winter to it.
If you’re anything like us, you find there’s too much in the big art museum halls to discover in one visit, so breaking it down and focusing on different parts of the museum is a very satisfying way to experience Vienna’s impressive museums that really deserve the time.
If you’re looking for inspiration of what museum to visit this Winter, have a look at our guide to Vienna’s most visit-worthy museums.
If you’re looking for something more unexpected, you should check out one of Vienna’s more weirder museums (did you know the city has a museum dedicated to birth control and contraception methods?!!).
5. If it snows, find a mountain close to Vienna and ski down it
While you won’t find top class skiing locations close to Vienna, there are a couple of options that aren’t that far from the city where you can fly down a hill on the sticks. The most popular are Hohe-Wand-Wiese (more for families and amateurs) and in Semmering (about 100km from Vienna, accessible by bus and train – check the ÖBB website for details on their combiticket deals).
If you’re not a skiier, toboganning is also a fun alternative.
6. Try out all of the city’s hot chocolates
While Vienna isn’t known for its hot chocolate, many of its old school coffeehouses have taken great pride in their hot chocolate, meaning there are so damn tasty hot chocolates in this city.
Put on a milky brown smile from a hot chocolate in a café one rainy, windy winter’s day. If you want to treat your eyes while doing it, have a hot chocolate with whipped cream on top in the grandiose, Hofzuckerbäcker Demel coffeehouse. Otherwise, here’s a list of the best hot chocolates we found being made in Vienna.
7. Breakfast or brunch the day away
We have never met anybody who doesn’t love waking up on a winter’s morning and heading to some breakfast place to then pile their plates high with all the favourite breakfast foods, and sit for hours throwing back coffee after coffee.
Brunch may not be the most important meal of the day, but it is the most enjoyable – be sure to brunch it up at one of the following places this winter.
We’ve also got a list of different & indulgent kinds of breakfasts for you to check out.
8. Drink and play at a games bar
There are several bars and cafes around Vienna, which have board games to play along with your drinks. Just picture it – you and a bunch of your friends gathering around some bar’s table with drinks, and battling out a game of Monopoly so fierce, it almost breaks up friendships. Sounds like a delightful way to spend a Winter’s evening, right? You should have a looked at our list of Vienna’s bars with board games.
And we’ve made a list of them here for you.
9. Catch a performance at the Staatsoper
If you enjoy a good power ballad from a man or woman bellowing out his lungs at the Opera, this is something you’d have on your list already. However, if this would typically sound boring to you, slap yourself swiftly in the face and listen very carefully – an experience at the Wiener Staatsoper is not just about the music, but it’s also about the beauty and the history of the place.
If there’s a piece coming up on stage that seems of particular interest to you, be sure to book ahead.
Also. you don’t have to pay a pile of cash to see it: shortly before every performance you can line up and purchase cheap standing tickets. We’ve been known to do this in the past and then spot a seat and move there during the break. We even have a friend that enjoys going to the Opera to sleep amidst it’s cosy red velvet atmosphere. Each to their own. See what’s next on the program on the Staatsoper website.
10. Spend an afternoon browsing in a small bookshop
For some reason, the smell of a bookshop always makes us want to pee. Besides wanting to share that random fact with you all, we’d recommend spending an afternoon in your favourite bookshop this Winter. Asides from the big boys like Thalia on Mariahilferstrasse, there are hundreds of small, charming independent bookstores scattered around the city. And it just so happens we’ve made a list of them.
11. Go waltzing at a Viennese Ball
Play the part, get dressed up in your best suit or ball gown and waltz and swing your partner (or break out into a breakdance) around the dance floor at one of the traditional Viennese Balls happening during January and February.
12. Munch on some streetside Maroni (chestnuts) and Erdapfelpuffer
The smell of roasting Maroni is a constant presence throughout the city and the little black huts where the roasting is being done are often hard to walk by without stopping to buy your own paper cone filled with the nutty warm, goodness. Don’t let winter pass you by without this experience, and, of course, the obligatory small talk with the stand owner that goes with it.
13. Get cosy in a Gasthaus with a heart-warming meal
The Austrian kitchen, which is full of dumplings and meat-based dishes, suits winter, like ice cream suits summer. Visit a traditional Austrian Gasthaus for some of that home cooked Oma’s (translation: grandma’s cooking).We’ve put together of the cosiest one’s we’d recommend for you.
14. Visit Vienna’s small contemporary art galleries
Vienna’s art scene is alive and well, with a wealth of young artists creating and hanging new perspectives and imagination on walls all the time. If you’re into art of the contemporary variety, we’d suggest you visit one of the Vienna’s independent art galleries.
15. Tour the Emperor’s theatre
A tour of the Burgtheater reveals the many layers to the stage, and takes you behind the scenes of how the famous theatre functions. The history reads like something that should be on the stage. You can check out our article about this unique experience.
16. Discover one of the lesser-known Viennese Coffeehouses
Viennese coffeehouses pay no attention to time, or the world outside. And their bohemian, romantic charm only grows as they get older – the wooden floorboards, the feeling like you’re sitting next to a poet or an artist, newspapers on wooden holders, hat racks, marble table tops and Thonet chairs. Incredibly, all these years on, coffeehouses are still a refuge for all kinds of people in the city, everybody having their neighbourhood favourite.
We’ve composed a list of 10 of Vienna’s best, yet lesser known coffeehouses where the locals drink their Melange.
17. Go on a winter day (or weekend) trip from Vienna
The thing is, it doesn’t snow very often in Vienna, and you tend to see more days of when the sky is blanketed in grey clouds. What this means is that winter tends to be a more grey affair than a dreamy white (nothing against the colour grey). So escaping the city for a day on the weekend in search of the Winter wonderland spots is highly recommended. A few weekend trip destinations that are made for Winter would include the likes of Salzburg, which is a short train trip away. Not far away from Salzburg is Hallstatt, which is gorgeous when it’s been snowing.
The again, why limit your day trip adventure to Austria. Popping over to Prague (which is only 4 hours by train) or catching a bus to Krakow in Poland (duration is about 8 horus) are also exciting weekend trip options from Vienna.
18. Spoil your sweet tooth by trying the best Apfelstrudel Vienna has to offer
It’s one of Austria’s claims to fame, and there’s nothing that compares to it – the ye’ old Wiener Apfelstrudel (Viennese apple strudel). The oblong pastry, made up of a flaky-layered pastry jacket filled with spiced apple and raisins can be found in every coffeehouse’s menu, but where can you find the best in the city? Check out our list of 7 places where to find the outstanding serves of this famous dessert.
19. Get your swimmers on (or get naked) – It’s Therme time!
Visiting one of the thermal spas spotted around Austria can be one of the best things you can do to restore your love for life if you’re lacking it in Winter.
If you can, escape to one of the thermal spas nearby to Vienna (eg. Linsberg Asia Therme), or visit one of the many saunas in the city.
20. Go for a Hike and finish with a Hütte (a mountain cabin)
Combining a hike through the Wienerwald (translation: Vienna Woods) with a Hütte or Gasthaus at the end of it is one very authentic Austrian thing to do in Winter, and it’s also one of the most rewarding things to do. If you like to hibernate your way through the colder months, we get it, but one thing we’d suggest you drag yourself out of the house for this month is to do the Hike & Hütte combo.
Just choose one of the many Stadtwanderwege (translation: urban walking trails) weaving in and around Vienna, grab yourself a hiking buddy and you can be certain there will be a Hütte, or Gasthaus somewhere along your trail.
21. Visit one of these cosy cafes with a fireplace
It’s truly an inviting scene when it’s cold outside – the clatter of coffee cups, the low murmur of conversations being exchanged and the warm glow of a fireplace filling a cafe. And there you are, at the centre of it all. Doesn’t sound like a bad way to spend a a chunky portion of a day, right? Here are a list of Vienna’s cosy cafes with fireplaces.
22. Make it the WINTER OF BEETHOVEN!
Beethoven is being celebrated in a big way this year, because, if he was alive, he’d be 250 years old! Umm, well, you get what we mean. The big B lived the majority of his life in little old Vienna, and boy did he live an interesting life. So, as you would expect, there’s a lot of Beethoven-ccentric things happening around the city. One of those things being the current exhibition in the national library, Menschenwelt und Götterfunken. The exhibition reveals how complex (and difficult) a character he was, revealing the composer’s complicated relationships with women, patrons, musicians and his family through letters, drawings and manuscripts. Visitors can also see the scores of his Violin Concerto and String Quartet Op. 95. Also, the Staatsoper will have one of the most famous operas composed by Beethoven, Fidelio, playing throughout Winter, in several different versions put together by different directors. Have a look at their website to find out when you can catch a performance.
There’s also a augmented reality tour on offer, which guides you on a walking tour telling the story of this fascinating composer, and the The Wiener Symphoniker are performing over 36 concerts of Beethoven music this year.