vienna

If there were ever a fairytale city for spending a Christmassy weekend away, Vienna would have to be it. From streets gorgeously decked out with sparkly lights and bows to the abundance of stunning ice-skating rinks, this is the perfect place to break out your parka and get your fill of holiday cheer. Spend your days popping between historic museums, all within easy walking distance from one another, and peruse the wares at one of the city’s numerous Christmas markets, strolling between snow-capped stalls with a steaming mug of glühwein in hand. After a big day out, duck into your hotel for a long bath before changing into a fabulous outfit to wear to the opera or any one of the city’s countless cultural events. Here’s our comprehensive guide to a no-stops-missed snowy weekend in the ultra-elegant Austrian capital.

Hint: Looking for a longer getaway? After spending a few days in the city, venture to one of Austria’s other adorable winter locales such as Salzburg, Kitzbuhel or Innsbruck for continued exploration or for a few days of skiing. Each is just a few hours’ drive or train ride away, or hop on a plane to be there in under an hour.

TO STAY

Hotel Sacher

A Viennese icon, Sacher has got to be the most storied hotel in town. The gorgeous, cosy rooms with a touch of Art-Nouveau style are perfect for unwinding after exploring the city. Downstairs, the plush Red Bar should be your first stop for a splendid Viennese meal. Top it off with a slice of the hotel’s famous Sachertorte, a scrummy cherry and chocolate cake. Also not to be missed, the hotel’s impeccably styled Blue Bar, which fills up with throngs of elegant opera goers in the evenings due to its location directly across the street from the Vienna State Opera. We highly recommend you join in after a showing of La Bohème.

Palais Hansen Kempinski

The Palais Hansen Kempinski, built in 1873, is the place to be when you’re looking for a relaxing weekend spent eating and drinking. It has sleek rooms, an indulgent spa, two restaurants, gorgeous bars and a cigar lounge. If you’re celebrating the holidays away from home, the Palais also puts on an array of Christmas and New Year’s Eve events.

Hotel Sans Souci Wien

This hotel is the ultimate in relaxation, with cream and beige tones decking out every room and a super therapeutic spa where you can zen out and warm up after a day spent tromping between Christmas markets.

Grand Hotel Wien

The Grand Hotel Wien is all about classic luxury and does not fail to impress with its warm, welcoming rooms. The hotel’s attention to detail shines through beautifully with its immaculate Christmas décor as well, so this is the place to be if you’re looking to truly get into the holiday spirit. While you’re there, make sure to try out Le Ciel, the hotel’s Michelin-starred restaurant.

TO EAT

Wienerin

This restaurant has a modern atmosphere while serving up classic Viennese dishes with a twist. They make incredible spätzle, a cheesy dumpling-style Austrian egg noodle topped with crispy onions, and offer seasonal dishes such as pumpkin risotto.

Figlmüller

If you came to Vienna with Wiener schnitzel in mind, Figlmüller is the place to go. Their schnitzel is perfectly cooked, and they have one of the best potato salads we’ve tried (trust us, Austrians know how to get this right).

Loca

The ultra-clean black-and-white décor at Loca is the perfect backdrop to the restaurant’s crafty offerings such as stuffed calamari and peach gazpacho.

TO DO

Opera

One of Vienna’s most renowned and revered features, the state opera house is simply stunning. Make sure to take a tour of the building’s grand historic rooms and try to snag some tickets to a performance in the evening.

Belvedere Museum

Located in the gorgeous Belvedere palaces, this museum offers not only an inside look at the stunning design of these 18th century royal homes, but the exhibits on offer never disappoint, ranging from Klimt to Monet. On top of the healthy dose of culture you’ll be getting, the surroundings will without a doubt make you feel as though you’re on your way to a royal Austrian ball.

Climb St Stephen's Cathedral

You can take the elevator up one side of the cathedral, but for unadulterated 360 degree views, climb up the highest part of the tower at sunset for an utterly enchanting look at your frosty weekend home.

Albertina Museum

The Albertina, one of Vienna’s top art museums located in the heart of the city, has an incredible permanent collection of prints and paintings, many of which are by Austrian and German artists. The museum has a great focus on Impressionist art as well, often with special exhibitions devoted to the movement such as ‘Ways of Pointillism with Seurat, Signac, and Van Gogh’. Other exhibitions include Picasso and Andy Warhol.

Schönbrunn

The former summer residence of Austrian royalty, Schönbrunn is a must-see. Less imposing than Versailles, this palace is easily doable in a morning and is a fascinating means of discovering more about Austria’s imperial history.

TO SHOP

Maria Theresien Platz Christmas Market

This Christmas market is nuzzled in between the Natural History Museum and the Kunsthistorisches Museum of art, which are identical and perfectly symmetrical. Come here at night to admire the gorgeous projections on the museums as you stroll between them.

Rathausplatz Christmas Market

One of the bigger markets, the Rathausplatz market is located directly in front of Vienna’s stunning Rathaus, or city hall. With winding skating rinks and an impressive variety of punch stalls, this is definitely one of the prettiest options despite being a bit crowded.

  • Rathausplatz
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Karlskirche Christmas Market

This adorable holiday market, located around the pond in front of the baroque Karlskirche church, is the perfect spot to visit with kids as it includes a very cute petting zoo that is difficult to stay away from.

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Am Hof Christmas Market

This is the market locals go-to. With just the right amount of stalls, carollers, and some of Vienna’s best traditional foods, it’s definitely a must-do on the Christmas market bucket list for a smaller, very authentic affair.

Loden-Plankl

Although Oktoberfest has come and gone, Loden is Vienna’s oldest specialty shop for dirndls, lederhosen and the like. While these might not be at the top of your shopping list, this store also makes beautiful cashmere overcoats and gorgeously detailed traditional Austrian jackets, which are more than worth a look if you’re in search of Christmas gifts (or gifts for yourself). Also not to be ignored: for the quality of the jackets and clothing you’ll find here, the prices for much of the apparel is hard to beat.

TO DRINK

Planter's Club

This whiskey and cigar bar offers a 92-page menu fully loaded with every cocktail and spirit brand imaginable. The dark oak, comfy leather chairs, and dim lighting will sweep you straight into the 1920s for a toasty night in as the snow falls outside.

Loft

This glass-walled rooftop with a groovy colourful ceiling is ideal for chic cocktails and a pristine panorama of the city.

Sacher Hotel Concierge's Favourite Lesser-Known Spots in the City

Onyx Bar

Sink into one of Onyx’s armchairs for a direct view of St Stephen’s Cathedral, just a stone’s throw away from the bar’s floor-to-ceiling windows.

Graben 30

Multi-levelled resto-bar smack in the middle of downtown Vienna. The cushy space is perfect for a long dinner with friends before heading to the intimate lounge upstairs.

Albertina Passage

Underpass in the city centre marked by a giant pink hare standing above the stairs leading to the entrance. Start your evening at AP with dinner (their modern menu is a welcome switch-up from the classic schnitzel) and stick around until it turns into a bumping nightclub in the wee hours of the night.

Sky Bar

This lounge-y space has massive windows for gorgeous views of the city and often has live music performances. We recommend heading here for pre-dinner drinks, just as the sun sets and the twinkly Christmas lights begin to illuminate the city.

Fabio's

Although one wouldn’t often consider Italian food on an Austrian holiday, Fabio’s offers a fun twist on old classics, making it completely worthwhile.

Hotel Sacher

Palais Hansen Kempinski

Hotel Sans Souci Wien

Grand Hotel Wien

Wienerin

Figlmüller

Loca

Vienna State Opera

Belvedere Museum

St Stephen's Cathedral

Albertina Museum

Schönbrunn

Maria Theresien Platz

Rathausplatz

Karlskirche

Am Hof

Loden-Plankl

Planter's Club

Loft

Onyx Bar

Graben 30

Albertina Passage

Sky Bar

Fabio's

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