Embracing the Cold in Vienna

Vienna draws in people from all over the world during its summer peak season, but visiting in autumn and winter has perks of its own. You can read more about how I ended up in Vienna herebut today we’re exploring just a few unique activities that Vienna offers during a visit in the cooler months.

Schönbrunn Palace

Schonbrunn palace
Schonbrunn Palace gardens

Aside from getting lost in the wonder of ornate extravagance inside the Palace, the gardens also offer walking trails, a zoo, and stunning views of the city. Schonbrunn PalaceThe bonus of going in winter is getting a discounted pass to both the Zoo and Palace admission. The gardens won’t be as colourful as they will be in the spring or summer months, but they still make for a nice walk and  you’ll get some impressive views of the city from atop the hill.

Third Man Tour

Vienna UndergroundIs there a more unique way to explore a city than wandering around part of its sewer system? If you have seen the film “The Third Man” you may know it was shot in post-war Vienna in 1948, and part of it contains a chase through a sewer network. 20151204_155340If you haven’t seen the film, and think that sounds really interesting, check it out before going on this tour. I managed to go on the sewer part of the tour in December with a very large group , but I believe they usually operate only from May – October to avoid rising water levels in winter months.  Reservations are highly recommended even if you book in late fall. If you’re not interested in the sewer part of this tour,  check out some are other walking tours of Vienna as well.  The Third Man Museum is open every Saturday. Aside from collectables related to the film, it also holds a lot of interesting  information about post-war Vienna .

Christmas Markets and Gluwine

christmas fairy

The best part of coming to Vienna in the winter even if you don’t celebrate Christmas! Some of the largest Christmas markets take place in front of city hall. The markets are a wonderful example of being environmentally friendly as guests can rent a cup or choose to keep it as a souvenir. Make sure to save room for the food at the markets because there’s lots of delicious snacks from roasted nuts to melted cheese and schnitzel. Gluwine is a spiced mulled wine served hot. It’s a perfect accompaniment to browsing the stalls at the markets on a cold evening. There’s plenty of non-alcoholic options as well.

Culture and Cafes

Modern Venus of Willendorf in the entrance of the Natural History Museum
Modern Venus of Willendorf in the entrance of the Natural History Museum

If you’re visiting the Christmas Market near the The Natural History Museum in Vienna it’s worth stopping in. It’s home to some incredible objects, such as a large collection of dinosaur skeletons and the 29,500 year old Venus of Willendorf. If fine art is more your thing, The Albertina is not too far away and holds an incredible permanent collection but they also have interesting rotating exhibitions so be sure to see what coincides with your travel dates. Vienna also holds a number of concerts, some of which are free. If there’s no concerts being held an alternative option is to listen to live classical music at one of the cities popular cafes, such as Cafe Central. Be sure to try some of the hot chocolate in Vienna. The cafes are also renowned for their deserts pastries. Viennese coffee houses often permit smoking and this is part of the culture. There are designated non-smoking areas in the cafes, but if you have a sensitivity to smoke be sure to look up one of the completely smoke free cafes.

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