1. Our Christmas Markets are the envy of the world
Pop the keywords ‘Vienna’ and ‘Winter’ into your brain’s mental image search and Vienna Christmas markets are bound to be at the top of your results.
Kids love the lights, the stalls and the atmosphere, while adults enjoy the Punsch and the waffles – everyone’s a winter winner. Whether you know it or not, those fuzzy, happy winter associations are already forming in your kids’ own memories.
Feel the pride wash over you (or is that the Glühwein kicking in?) when you hear how far some tourists have come to see the Vienna Christmas markets. All you did was sit on the U-Bahn for a bit.
2. There’s self-inflicted public humiliation on ice
The fun doesn’t stop once the holiday season is over. The annual winter ‘Eistraum’ in front of the Rathaus is a popular highlight for bruised hip enthusiasts of all ages. From speed demon kids and seasoned Eistraum ‘Profis’, to wobbly loved-up couples and white-knuckle wall clingers.
3. We’ve got sledding hills galore
If you come from a less winter-developed country you may think sledding is simply sliding down a muddy hillside in a bin liner. In Vienna it’s an entire snow-based subculture and it’s basically a parental right of passage to teach your kids a healthy obsession with sledding. The city even has a directory of sledding(or Rodeln) opportunities by district, complete with difficulty and notable features.
In fact, apart from the 5th, 7th and 8th districts sledding is possible across Vienna.
4. Spas are accessible to everyone
You wake up on yet another cold, gray day on a winter break that seems to last forever. You know any moment now, just like yesterday, the kids are going to ask ‘what are we doing today?’ You need to think fast.
The only solution is to head to the spa where you can sit and soak in a warm pool while your kids reflect on how cool you are for thinking of this. Add fluffy bath robes and ready access to schnitzel into the mix and you may be overcome with how cool you are for thinking of this too.
With Therme Wien located conveniently at the end of the U1, winter temperatures can be avoided by kids and adults alike in warm water surroundings on a multiple-times-a-week basis. This might get a bit costly, though.
5. Riding around on an old tram is magic
Not everything needs to break the bank, however. Sometimes it’s the little things that make winter in Vienna so special.
Like riding around the ring on one of Vienna’s beautiful old tram cars (‘Bims’). Kids have even been known to throw a tantrum if the tram you’ve been waiting for turns out to be of boring modern design. A tram-trum, if you will.
Unless you’ve experienced one of these relics from a different age for yourself, it’s hard to combine ‘magical winter moment’ with public transportation. The shaped wooden seats, the sound of the carriages rolling and clunking, the soft bell announcing the next stop and getting the seat directly above the heater…sigh. It all makes for a full-sensory winter experience.
6. We’re surrounded by incredible winter walks
After that, the idea of getting out into the cold air might be dangling in last place on many people’s bucket lists. But if you are one for frosty breath, beautiful low light, massive scarfs and stunning views, then Vienna (and her surroundings) are for you.
Getting the kids (and some adults) out the door and into nature can sometimes only be achieved with the promise of a cafe or ‘Hütte’ at the end.
Luckily, early in 2022 Vienna Würstelstand went on four winter hikes around Vienna with a Hütte at the end of them so you don’t have to. No, we mean… for you to enjoy too!
7. There’s hot chocolate everywhere
From about late September onwards it seems the banks of Willy Wonka’s chocolate river have burst and are freely flowing through the city.
OK, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but walking from Stephan’s Dom down to the canal will grant you ample (we counted at least 56) opportunities to get you and your little one a steamy hot chocolate treat. Two minutes later and there’s usually chocolate all over. Rapidly cooling on a well-chosen outfit or streaming from nostrils. But that bit’s on you.
8. Culture for kids is pretty abundant too
Vienna is blessed with some of the finest cultural opportunities in the world – and not just for adults. Vienna’s children’s theaters and museums have a full winter program of events ready for those not so keen on spending hours on one of those aforementioned walks or at the playpark.
Here are four to name a few:
9. Inexplicable traditions: Krampus vs. Nikolaus
Nothing says winter season to kids in Vienna (and all of Austria) like a 2 meter tall man-goat/carpet sample terrorizing the neighbourhood for one night only. On 5th December, castles, stately homes and village squares play host to this hundreds year old tradition.
Children who haven’t come a cropper of the massive devil-rug are rewarded by a visit from Nikolaus on 6th December bringing chocolate, oranges and every child’s fave… peanuts.
10. You can grab a bedtime book on your way home
OK, so libraries may not be exclusive to Vienna, but the city has some excellent choices all well connected by one of the most efficient underground public transport systems in Europe.
This means you can stop off on your way home, pop above ground to select a bedtime classic and then carry on your way in less than 20 minutes.
Now get out there and enjoy the magic of winter in Vienna!