Austria’s capital city dresses up spectacularly for the holiday season. Christmas markets pop up across the city and illuminated chandeliers deck the main shopping streets. This is the time for drinking Glühwein (mulled wine) and Weihnachtspunsch (Christmas punch) and eating Kartofelpuffer (potato pancakes) and Maroni (roasted chestnuts). Advent festivities definitely dominate the month. So, if you love all things Christmas, you’ll love visiting Vienna in December. And if Christmas isn’t your jam, how about a pagan winter ritual? Keep reading to learn about the best things to do in Vienna in December.

 

Vienna in December Weather

The temperature drops in December, but it’s not excruciatingly cold. The average daytime temperature vacillates between 1°C (33.8°F) and 6°C (42.8°F). At night, the temperature ranges from -3°C (26.6°F) and 2°C (36°F). You need to bring a big warm winter coat, a hat, a scarf, and warm winter boots. It can snow in December, but the snow never lingers for very long.

For a general introduction to Vienna, read our Vienna City Guide and Austria Travel Guide!


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Best Things to Do in Vienna in December

 

  1. Visit a Traditional Christmas Market
  2. Drink Glühwein at the Ritz-Carlton Christmas Rooftop Bar
  3. Drive the Evil Spirits away at the Perchtenlauf 
  4. Drink Christmas Punch at the Palais Coburg Christmas Garden 
  5. Step Back in Time at the Medieval Christmas Market 
  6. Go on a Christmas-Themed Day Trip from Vienna (Coming Soon)


Vienna Christmas Markets

Belvedere Palace Christmas Market - Things to do in Vienna in Decemeber

Belvedere Christmas Market

Vienna’s Christmas Markets are incredibly special because of their scenic locations. Some Viennese advent markets are located in front of palaces and churches, while others are located in historic squares and streets. Here are the most iconic Christmas markets in Vienna:

  • Karlsplatz Christmas Market
  • Freyung Christmas Market
  • Rathausplatz (City Hall) Christmas Market
  • Maria-Theresien Platz Christmas Market
  • Belvedere Palace Christmas Market
  • Altes AKH (Vienna’s Former General Hospital) Christmas Market
  • Spittelberg Christmas Market
  • Schönbrunn Palace Christmas and New Year’s Market

Our favorite Christmas market is at Altes AKH. 

 

When to Visit the Vienna Christmas Markets

Late November until December 23rd (or December 26th). Most markets will close by December 23rd. The exceptions are the Prater Winter Market (which is open until January 6, 2020) and the Schönbrunn Palace New Year’s Market (which is open until January 5, 2020).


The Ritz-Carlton Christmas Rooftop Bar

Ritz-Carlton Rooftop Christmas Market - Top things to do in Vienna in December, Winter Travel

During the Christmas season, The Ritz-Carlton in Vienna transforms its rooftop into a mini Christmas market. This isn’t a substitute for visiting a Christmas market in Vienna, but rather a lovely addition. We come here for Glühwein and the city views. Note: you don’t need to be a hotel guest to visit. The atmosphere is very peaceful and relaxing, offering a lovely respite from the crowded Christmas hot spots in the city. There are two Hütte stands on the rooftop. One sells warm seasonal beverages like mulled wine and punch, etc.. And, the other sells potatoes with various fillings. 

The prices are higher than average, but the quality is far superior. E.g. it costs 7 EUR for a Glühwein. 

Entrance: Free

Location: Schubertring 5-7, 1010 Wien

When: November 15 – December 26, 2019

Opening Times: 4 pm – 9 pm 

More Info: The Ritz – Carlton Rooftop Bar


Perchtenlauf

Perchtenlauf, Vienna, Austria - December

One of the most thrilling things to do in Vienna in December is seeing the Perchtenlauf (Perchten parade) at the Prater. The Perchten are monstrously clad demonic figures who are supposed to drive out the evil spirits of the winter. Wearing large bells and dressed in frightening costumes, the Perchten perform their ritual of noise and light to an excited crowd. The Perchten tradition is a pre-Christian alpine ritual that happens across the Austrian and Bavarian Alps in December and January. 

In Vienna, the Perchten parade happens only once a year in the Prater. Come at least 30 minutes before the start time to secure a place along the railing, so you can see the whole nightmarish festivity unfold. 

Entrance: Free 

Location: Prater – Riesenradplatz

When: December 1, 2019

Time: 5:00 p.m

Read Next: Best Things to Do in Vienna in January


Palais Coburg’s Secret Christmas Garden

Palais Coburg Christmas Garden - Vienna in December

Palais Coburg is a hotel in Vienna’s first district. In December on Fridays and Saturdays, Coburg’s interior garden becomes a secret gathering place for drinking mulled wine. Though open to the public, Coburg’s garden feels delightfully private. Lights are strung up in the trees. Christmas music plays softly in the background. And, a single hütte (hut stand) sells warm beverages and hot dogs. We come here when we want to drink a punch in a festive, yet calm atmosphere. 

Entrance: Free

Location: Coburgbastei 4, 1010 Wien

When: Fridays/Saturdays only November 22 – December 21, 2019

Opening Times: 4 pm onwards 

More Info: Palais Coburg’s Winter Days


Medieval Christmas Market

Medieval Christmas Market, Top things to do in Vienna in December

The medieval market (Mittelalterlicher Adventmarkt) takes place in late November and early December over the course of four days. All vendors are clad in medieval garb and sell medieval-themed crafts and goodies.

This medieval Christmas market is located both inside and outside the Museum of Military History. There’s no entrance fee to visit the museum while the market is open. 

During your visit, you may see and hear market jugglers, fencing demonstrations, and musical acts. This is a great activity to do with kids in Vienna in winter. 

Entrance: Free

Location: Museum of Military History

When: November 28 – December 1, 2019

Read Next: Vienna Hidden Gems


Where to Stay in Vienna in December

Budget | Wienderland Bed & Breakfast is a lovely top-rated budget accommodation in the 6th District near Museumsquartier and Leopold Museum. From this B&B, you can easily walk to the Maria-Theresien Platz Christmas Market and the Spittelberg Advent Market, which is located between the Kunsthistorisches Museum and Natural History Museum. You can also enjoy Vienna’s main shopping drag: Mariahilfer Street. The rooms are clean, cheerful, and spacious. 

Mid-Range | Ruby Lissi Hotel Vienna is the best mid-range hotel in Vienna’s first district. Located in a historic 18th-century building, this finely furnished hotel is walking distance to Schwedenplatz and the St. Stephan’s Cathedral Christmas Market. Their organic breakfast buffet is something to look forward to every morning. 

Luxury | Hotel Sacher Wien is an elegant hotel with regally furnished rooms located across from the Vienna State Opera. Celebrated for the creation of the Sacher-Torte (Austria’s most famous cake), Hotel Sacher isn’t just a place to stay, it’s a slice of Viennese history. Don’t miss out on having dinner at the hotel’s famous Rote Bar and Grüne Bar restaurants. 


Vienna in December City Map


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