No doubt – Vienna is one of the most popular destinations each December. Strong reasons exist for that as the Austrian capital is very charming during that time of the year for its impressive festive lights and decoration, attractive Christmas markets and the inspiring atmosphere spread all over the city.Things to do in winter Vienna:
Of course, the first is to visit the Christmas markets :). Actually, at Christmas time they turn into main attraction. You will see them at many places in Vienna – at the city central squares or around museums and palaces. The most popular ones are the Vienna Magic of Advent at Town Hall square, the Christmas village on Maria Theresien-Platz, the market in front of Schönbrunn Palace, the Old Viennese Christmas market on Freyung street, the market on Karlsplatz close to the Musikverein, etc. The hot punch adds new touches to the Christmas spirit, the grilled sausages smell wonderful, and gingerbreads and cakes are incredibly diverse and delicious. When it gets dark, the markets become extremely lively, so your Viennese evenings can easily combine a music concert with a cup of punch afterwards at the nearest Christmas market. That means during the day you will have enough time to go sightseeing and not miss the most fascinating palaces, museums or galleries in Vienna.
Enjoy the classical music. Vienna is a world leader when it comes to musical events. With more than 15,000 classical concerts per year, the city is an unrivalled destination for the music fans. Travelling to Vienna and not visiting a concert would be a mistake, so you’d better select a performance and spend at least one evening with the music of your favourite composers. A large number of orchestras play in Vienna and you should carefully decide in advance which you prefer . Remember that for the concert halls like Vienna Musikverein or Vienna Konzerthaus, as well as at the State Opera you will need to follow a formal dress code, while usually you can visit most of the musical events, taken in smaller concert halls in palaces and churches, in a casual clothing and in more informal atmosphere as a whole.
The Winter is also the ball season in Vienna with its peak in January and February. The start of the ball season is around the middle of November and lasts until the end of February. Many waltz lovers book a trip to Vienna precisely with this purpose. If intending to participate in a waltz ball, you will certainly need a special preparation – not only concerning the clothing :)
Visit St. Stephen’s Cathedral in the city center. This is the most impressive Gothic building in Austria. You can climb to the top of the tower, revealing amazing panoramic views of the city.
Visit the Imperial palace – Hofburg. Up to 1918 Hofburg was the winter residence of the Habsburgs. The most popular attractions in the palace (,which you can attend with a single ticket) are the Imperial Apartments, Sisi Museum and the Imperial Silver Collection. The Hofburg palace is the seat of the Austrian President and also houses the National Library (believed to be the largest baroque library in Europe), the Imperial Treasury, the huge convention center Hofburg Vienna, etc.
Take a tour in a horse-drawn carriage through the central streets. The two-horse carriages, so called Fiakers, are a traditional part of the cityscape in Vienna. With certainty you will find them waiting on Stephansplatz, Heldenplatz, Albertinaplatz or Petersplatz and there is not a reason for you to miss this exciting experience.
Go to Belvedere Palace. The famous baroque complex – a former summer residence of Prince Eugene of Savoy – consists of two buildings: the lower and the upper Belvedere. The Upper Belvedere nowadays is a house to an art gallery devoted to the Austrian art between the Middle ages and the present. Gustav Klimt’s masterworks form one of the most significant collections of Belvedere. It is believed to be the largest Klimt’s collection in the world and it also includes his most famous painting – “The Kiss “. A small and snug Christmas market is located in Belvedere yard, bringing in the air the wonderful smell of roasted chestnuts and hot punch. Don’t miss it!
Attend the Albertina. The gallery holds one of the most impressive collections of graphic arts in the world, so for all art lovers the Albertina is a must in any Vienna tour.
See the twin museums. They are facing each other at Maria Theresia Square – the Museum of Natural History (Naturhistorisches Museum Wien) and the Museum of Art History (Kunsthistorisches Museum).
Visit Schönbrunn Palace – a former residence of the imperial family and the birthplace of Emperor Franz Joseph. Schönbrunn palace is often called Empress Sisi’s former summer residence – after the pet name of Franz Joseph’s wife. The baroque building with its exquisite gardens and the Gloriette are part of the UNESCO world heritage sites. Within Schönbrunn park area is located the oldest working zoo in the world.
Visit the National Theatre. Burgtheater is one of the most impressive buildings in Vienna.
Call on Mozart ‘s house in Vienna’s city center. Of all the places he lived throughout the city, today solely this apartment on 5,Domgasse street can be seen. The composer lived there together with his family for three years and wrote at that time his most famous works, including the opera “The Marriage of Figaro”.
See the colors of the Hundertwasser house – one of the most popular and most visited sights of Vienna.
Try the famous Viennese schnitzel. One of the most popular restaurants, mentioned in every tourist guide is the Figlmüller – located in a small street behind the “St. Stephen ” cathedral. If you would like to try their famous schnitzel, make sure you have made an advance reservation to avoid standing at the long queue in the cold outside. It may sound absurd and ridiculous, but if you come there in the weeks around Christmas, you will see that is the very truth.Take a cup of Viennese coffee with traditional cakes. Why not at the legendary café Central, which is one of the city cultural landmarks? It is located on 14,Herrengasse street. In the days around Christmas, however, all popular places like that or café Sacher, café Hawelka, café Mozart, are very likely to be occupied by crowds of visitors. Good alternative in case you cannot find a place at some of them is the café at Hofburg Palace.
Do not forget about the Prater park. There you will see another symbolic Viennese landmark – The giant wheel (Wiener Riesenrad), built in the end of 19-th century and of course, yet many more attractions.
Spend some time shopping. During that time of the year shopping in Vienna is quite hectic, even a little bit frustrating, but for an hour or two it’s worth the trouble, especially if you come across your favorite stores :).
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