Vienna comes alive in the holiday season, with its historic squares and baroque palaces adorned in festive illuminations, and the heady scent of mulled wine on the air. If you’re lucky enough to be in the Austrian capital for Christmas and New Year’s Eve, here’s how to celebrate—Vienna style.
See the City Illuminated
During the holiday season, Vienna’s top attractions such as the Austrian Parliament Building, City Hall (Wiener Rathaus), the Hofburg palace, Schonbrunn Palace, and St. Charles’ Church (Karlskirche) twinkle under festive illuminations. When darkness falls over Vienna and the lights flicker on, the city transforms into a winter wonderland of shimmering color. Photography tours are a great way to explore the city streets and squares, with a guide on hand to help you capture the brilliant scenes on camera.
Shop at the Christmas Markets
Browse Vienna’s legendary Christmas markets for seasonal souvenirs such as handcrafted tree decorations and wooden toys, and perhaps sample local Austrian specialities like spicy smoked sausages and freshly baked strudels along the way. The bustling Christmas market at Belvedere Palace is the city’s largest and most popular, but the Town Hall Square and Charles Square markets are also very atmospheric.
Attend a Holiday Concert
Austria boasts a world-renowned classical music scene, and the festive holidays bring out the best in Vienna’s various concert halls. There’s a diverse program of concerts, performances, and recitals in famous venues including the Kursalon music hall, the Palais Auersperg, and St. Peter’s Church. Celebrate Christmas Eve or ring in the New Year at a Strauss recital, and make the evening extra special with a delicious dinner.