11 Things to Do in Vienna in December

Vienna is spectacular all year round, but especially in December, when it is covered with lights, parties, snow... and lots of plans to enjoy the city.

Katherine Betances

Katherine Betances

10 min read

11 Things to Do in Vienna in December

Vienna, Austria | ©Tauralbus

When you are planning your trip to Vienna in December, there is an expression you should learn: Frohe Weihnachten, which means Merry Christmas. It will undoubtedly be very useful to make the most of your visit to the Austrian capital at this time of year.

Vienna in December expands its already wide range of activities and you will be able to enjoy from a walk through its wonderful downtown to a fascinating route through its Christmas markets. Despite the cold, this is undoubtedly one of the best times to visit the city.

1. Stroll through the beautifully illuminated shopping streets

Christmas lights| ©fortysix_vie
Christmas lights| ©fortysix_vie

Vienna in December is almost entirely marked by Christmas. It is very difficult to escape the Christmas atmosphere in the main shopping streets: Stephansplatz, Kärntner Straße or Graben.

Anyone who travels to Vienna at Christmas, or even a few weeks before, will be left with their mouths open when walking through these beautifully illuminated and elaborately decorated areas of the city. If this is your case, you can't miss these wide streets dotted with different shopping and dining venues.

A good plan? Stroll at dusk to enjoy the beauty of the lights, accompanied by a good cone of roasted chestnuts (Maroni), a very typical product of the season.

Book a guided tour of Vienna

2. Experience classical music in the city where it was born

Church where the concerts are held| ©jordi Doria Vidal
Church where the concerts are held| ©jordi Doria Vidal

What better plan for Vienna in December than to enjoy a classical music concert! Mozart, Strauss, Vivaldi, Beethoven, Schubert? The repertoire, both for classical music lovers and for those who don't, is truly spectacular, an experience that you have to live at least once in your life! Here are some options: - Tickets for a classical music concert at St. Anne's Church in Vienna, from $42: Located in the city center, this Gothic-style church dates back to 1320. The concert lasts about 1.5 hours and they play pieces by Mozart, Beethoven, Haydn and Schubert - Tickets for a Mozart and Strauss concert in Vienna, from ** $56: The famous Kursalon auditorium in Vienna is the venue for this concert, lasting about 1 hour and 40 minutes, where you can listen to works by famous Austrian artists such as Strauss or Mozart - Mozart concert tickets in Vienna, from ** $65: In Musikverein takes place this Mozart concert, about 2 hours long, to which you can also add the possibility of including a vip option with a glass of sparkling wine, 4-course dinner and even carriage ride to feel like in another era - Tickets for a classical music concert at St. Peter's Church in Vienna, from $46: The works of Mozart, Schubert, Vivaldi, Bach or Beethoven can be set to music in a dazzling setting, in this concert lasting about 1 hour - Tickets for a concert of Vivaldi's The Four Seasons in Vienna, from ** $39**: And for lovers of this Vivaldi classic, I recommend this concert of about 1 hour and 10 minutes, performed by Orchestra 1756, which takes place in the Church of St. Charles Borromeo.

Book a ticket for a concert at the Church of Santa Ana

3. Get to know Vienna without being cold from the streetcar

Vienna tramway| ©a_marga
Vienna tramway| ©a_marga

In the middle of December in Vienna, weather conditions can be a bit adverse. Bad weather? Don't despair! You can take the tourist streetcar along the Ringstrasse and enjoy a first-class sightseeing tour.

Cold and rain are very bad travel companions, making sightseeing an unattractive activity. Thanks to this streetcar, with its thirteen stops, you will be able to get to know the center of Vienna as well as its history, in an enjoyable and unique way. You will travel through the main avenues of the city, passing by emblematic buildings such as the National Opera or the City Hall. A very good alternative to bad weather that will allow you to continue enjoying Vienna and the uniqueness that offers a transport such as the streetcar.

Of course, another way to escape the cold is to book one of the Vienna sightseeing buses. You will also hear all about the history and architecture of the city along the way.

Book your Vienna sightseeing bus

4. See the breathtaking views of Vienna illuminated from the iconic Ferris wheel

Prater Ferris wheel| ©StoptheRoc
Prater Ferris wheel| ©StoptheRoc

Among the activities that should be on your must-do list if you're traveling to Vienna for two days or more is a ride on the famous Wiener Riesenrad Ferris wheel. If you go in December, the views are, quite simply, extraordinary, with the city lit up for Christmas and, hopefully, snow.

Although you can go up in the morning, my recommendation is to wait for the sun to set, which happens quite early in December. Of course, it is possible that some of the attractions of the Prater, the oldest amusement park in Europe, are closed if it snows too much, but this rarely affects its famous Ferris wheel.

In addition, the Prater itself usually hosts a Christmas market, so you will be totally immersed in a magical atmosphere.

Useful information

  • Location: Prater, 1020.
  • Price: about 13.5 € for adults and about half for children.
  • Hours: from 10:00 a.m. to about 9:45 p.m. in the evening.

Book your tickets for the Wiener Riesenrad Ferris Wheel

5. Visit Schönbrunn Palace and its Christmas Market

Snow in Schoenbrunn Palace| ©traveljunction
Snow in Schoenbrunn Palace| ©traveljunction

Visiting Schönbrunn Palace is a year-round activity, but it is in December that you will enjoy the imperial Christmas market, which adds a special touch to the visit and more reasons to book a guided tour of Schönbrunn Palace.

The outskirts of the palace are dressed up for Christmas and offer visitors a very beautiful and charming traditional setting. Beneath the majestic Schoenbrunn Palace are countless Christmas huts, a good place to enjoy a tasty Weihnachtspunsch and buy a typical Christmas souvenir.

Inside the palace you will be enchanted by the wonder of its halls: the Oval Chinese Cabinet, the Blue Chinese Hall, the historic Vieux-Lacque Hall or the Hall of the Million. The sense of historic grandeur is palpable with every step you take inside. In addition, you have the opportunity to book a visit with dinner and concert for an experience you will never forget.

Book a guided tour at Schonbrunn Palace

6. Get to know Vienna's museums and take the opportunity to warm up

Austrian Museum of Art History| ©Marcus Winter
Austrian Museum of Art History| ©Marcus Winter

Although visiting Vienna' s best museums is a must at any time of the year, there is no doubt that doing so in December has an added advantage. So, not only will you enjoy its rich culture, but you'll also spend some time indoors in a heated interior.

There is a wide range on offer, but I especially recommend two museums:

  • Tickets for Kunsthistorisches Museum, the Vienna Museum of Art History, where you will have the opportunity to get to know a real marvel, both inside and out. It is one of the most important museums in the world, built by Emperor Franz Joseph, who compiled an impressive collection of art. Inside it offers one of the most valuable collections of Renaissance and Baroque. Although you can admire pieces and objects spanning nearly 5,000 years of history.
  • Tickets for the Albertina Museum Vienna, located in the center of Vienna, specializes in painting. It is estimated to have about 65,000 works of great authors such as Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and Bosch.
  • Tickets for Upper Belvedere in Vienna, where you can immerse yourself in the collection of the Upper Belvedere and admire more than 400 works of art ranging from the Middle Ages to the present, with pieces by Klimt, Schiele, Renoir, Van Gogh and Monet.

Book your ticket for the Kunsthistorisches Museum:

7. Collect your Weihnachtspunsch mug

Mug with Weihnachtspunsch| ©Reto Meier
Mug with Weihnachtspunsch| ©Reto Meier

In Vienna in December everything is tradition, every routine in the streets has an attractive charm. One of the traditions you can't miss on your trip is a hot cup of Christmas punch (Weihnachtspunsch), a type of mulled wine, a typical winter product that you will find everywhere, especially at the Christmas markets.

This drink is served in traditional cups, with unique designs from each area. When ordering the drink you will make a deposit for the mug, if you do not want it, the deposit will be refunded. You can also buy the mug separately without taking the liquor, but for cold Vienna there is nothing like a good cup of Weihnachtspunsch - you can't leave Vienna without taking your mug back home!

Try other December foods

Like everywhere else, Austria has some typical winter dishes. If you travel to Vienna in winter there are a few that I recommend you try to make your experience more complete:

  • Maroni: these are simply roasted chestnuts. In the streets you will find numerous stalls that serve them in a paper cone.
  • Schaumrollen: this sweet is made with puff pastry that is rolled up and filled with meringue or whipped cream.
  • Langos: this is a type of flat bread that is fried.
  • Lebkuchen: a country version of a gingerbread cookie.

8. Climb the tower of St. Stephen's Cathedral

St. Stephen's Cathedral| ©Bwag
St. Stephen's Cathedral| ©Bwag

Vienna is always beautiful, but this beauty is enhanced by the Christmas lights and decorations. A good way to contemplate this panoramic view is from the top of St. Stephen's Cathedral, a unique architectural work, located in the heart of Vienna.

It is one of the must-see sights of the city and inside lie the remains of the Habsburg family. Its towers are spectacular and are considered a jewel of Gothic art. The South Tower is the highest and it is possible to climb to the top and enjoy a singular and unique view.

Only 343 steps will make you climb the 136 meters of this spectacular tower. Once at the top, the effort will have been worth it as you will be able to contemplate a beautiful view of the place. Do you dare?

Useful information

  • Location: Stephansplatz 3.
  • Price: the ascent to the tower costs about 5.5 € for adults and 2 € for children under 14 years.
  • Opening hours: usually open from 9 am to 5:30 pm.

9. Enjoy a good coffee at the Cafe Museum

Cafe Museum| ©Val in Sydney
Cafe Museum| ©Val in Sydney

For the cold of Vienna in December , there is nothing like a good coffee in a pleasant and historic place. The Cafe Museum is an ideal place to taste the best coffees while you soak up the historical scenario of the Viennese culture.

Vienna offers an important coffee culture and in the Cafe Museum you can rest and relax with one of its best alternatives, as did local cultural figures such as the great painter Gustav Klimt.

It is a great opportunity to taste the classic and true Viennese coffee accompanied by one of the succulent cakes that they offer to their customers. I have no doubt that the Cafe Museum will become one of your favorite places during your visit to Vienna.

Useful information

  • Location: Operngasse 7.
  • Price: I'm not going to fool you, this is an expensive place where an espresso can cost about 4 €.
  • Hours: every day from 8 am to 9 pm.

10. Do not stay without taking a souvenir of their Christmas markets

St. Stephen's Cathedral Christmas Market| ©Johann G
St. Stephen's Cathedral Christmas Market| ©Johann G

Few places are as alive with the spirit of Christmas as Vienna. From the end of November, the Christmas markets open their doors, marking the start of the festive season in the city. There are more than 20 Christmas markets and a good plan is to make a guide of them and enjoy a route. You will discover endearing corners full of the magic of Christmas, where it will be impossible not to take an unforgettable souvenir.

  • A must is the Christmas market at the Rathausplatz square, with more than 100 Christmas stalls full of a wide variety of decorations and typical gastronomic products.
  • Nor can you fail to admire the Christmas Village at Maria-Theresien-Platz, located on the circular Ringstrasse in the heart of the city, a delight that will take you back to childhood.

Christmas markets are, without any doubt, one of the great attractions of Vienna in December, a dream come true if you love this time of the year. Remember that the Christmas markets in Vienna open in mid-November and usually end on December 26.

11. Surprise yourself in the House of Butterflies

At the Butterfly House| ©chiara balza
At the Butterfly House| ©chiara balza

You'll be realizing that Vienna has numerous things to see and do and although strolling through its streets is really impressive during the month of December, it's quite possible that you might feel like, once in a while, stepping into somewhere warm. A very special one, and not too well known, is the Butterfly House.

This building, located in the Burggarten park, houses hundreds of exotic butterflies. In order to provide the animals with the best environment, the interior maintains a constant temperature of about 26º C and a humidity of 80%. In short, a real rainforest in the middle of cold winter Vienna.

In addition to seeing beautiful butterflies of all colors fluttering freely, here you will be able to rest for a while. Just sit still and admire the beauty of the waterfalls, ponds and plants in the garden.

Useful information

  • Location: Burggarten/Palmenhaus.
  • Price: 7 € for adults and 5,5 € for school children.
  • Hours: daily between 10 am and 4 pm.

The weather in Vienna in December

View from the Cathedral in Winter| ©shai grinberg
View from the Cathedral in Winter| ©shai grinberg

If you are planning a trip to Vienna in December, you will need to know what the winter cold is like in the area. December is not the coldest month in Vienna, as it is usually January, when the lowest temperatures are recorded. Thus, the average high temperature is 4.6° C and the average low temperature is 0.5° C. It's a fact, it will be cold, but that's part of the charm of traveling to Vienna in this month.

Good news! December is not a month that sees much precipitation, with an average of 7.6 rainy days. It is also a great time to see and enjoy snow in the city.

Bring warm clothing, especially gloves, hats, winter socks and even earmuffs. Before traveling, it is always advisable to check the temperature in Vienna for the days you will be there.

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