In which cities should you go to make the most of Advent and Christmas markets? For the magic of winter, go to Tyrol, Vorarlberg or even Salzkammergut! For your New Year’s Eve, choose the cities, Vienna or Gosau! Here is the guide to winter destinations in Austria.
January and February are really cold months in Austria. Therefore, the greatest amount of snow falls during these months. Mountain regions with their alpine climate occupy most of the country and are characterized by very cold winters. Average temperatures are therefore low in winter. Above 2,700 to 3,000 m there is snow all year round. In Vienna, the winters are rather mild, compared to other parts of Austria. However, temperatures often drop and can be below zero (-2 to -4°C on average). But it is precisely this cold accompanied by snowfall that creates this magical winter atmosphere. We have listed 5 best winter destinations in Austria for you.
Winter in Vienna is a special experience. A walk in town is the perfect opportunity to find your Christmas presents. The Christmas markets are particularly welcoming. You can find everything there, from gastronomic specialties to arts and crafts. Vienna’s most beautiful squares turn into enchanting Christmas markets from mid-November.
For a traditional market, head to the Vienna Christmas Market on Rathausplatz, the old-fashioned Freyung Christmas Market or the Christmas Market on Stephansplatz. Arts and crafts aficionados can head to the Karlsplatz or Spittelberg Christmas markets. The Christmas markets at Schönbrunn Palace and Belvedere Palace exude an unmistakable imperial flair. The Winter Market on the Place de la Grande Roue is more active.
Each Christmas market has its own charm and special activities to keep the kids busy. But they all have one thing in common: sweet delicacies and culinary specialties. And you are bound to find a gift or two while strolling between the stands. The smell of punch, shortbread and toasted almonds wafts through the air, as does Christmas music.
In Vienna, Christmas is synonymous with traditional Advent concerts, joyful church carols, spirited gospel evenings and shows. The whole city of Vienna celebrates the change of year. At midnight, locals and tourists welcome the New Year by dancing in the open air to the sound of the Pummerin, the famous big bell of Saint-Etienne Cathedral. On New Year’s Eve, his hits are even broadcast on radio and TV just before Johann Strauss’ famous Blue Danube. On January 1, the New Year’s Concert of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra is broadcast live from the Musikverein, millions of viewers follow the event in more than 90 countries.
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The Wildschönau is the perfect opportunity to immerse yourself in the present and past (peasant) culture of Tyrol. This quiet valley with a soothing atmosphere is also famous for its music and musicians. Wildschönau holiday region in the high valley of the same name stretches over 24 kilometers. The small Markbachjoch pass lake is beautifully guarded by sculptures by international artists. The dragon is the heraldic animal of Wildschönau. It was he who, according to legend, made the valley habitable. At the Club du Dragon, the many stories about the region will fascinate your children and they will learn, by baking bread on the farm or by building cabins and dams in the middle of nature, to know the local culture.
In Bergbadl, you can count on the joys of bathing. As for the hike in the Kundler Klamm gorge which connects the Wildschönau to the Inntal valley, it is a guaranteed refreshment! If you like adventure, with the Zauberwinkl high ropes course, which rises up to 21 meters, you have hit the mark. Also open in winter. At Tyrol’s first Wood Museum in Auffach, you can see more than 3,000 exhibits, from radios to leather shoes with wooden soles.
The Wildschönau Mountain Museum of Rural Life and numerous festivals reflect the long-lived tradition of peasant life in these mountains. Do not miss the valley festival in August: its imposing parade is the icing on the cake. About 300 kilometers of marked hiking trails invite you to discover the valley. 40 kilometers of mountain bike circuits allow mountain bikers to explore the region. They can also rent electric bikes.
Since winter 2012-2013, the multiple pleasures of skiing have been waiting for you on the 145 kilometers of slopes of the Ski Juwel Alpbachtal Wildschönau ski area. In the Family Park Schatzberg, boxes, kickers, wallrides and a 130-meter halfpipe await snowboarders and freestyle skiers. The cross-country ski trails stretch over 50 kilometers and are free. Highlight from the Schönangeralm refuge, this is the dream track. Away from the slopes, 40 kilometers of well-cleared winter hiking trails await you, as well as many snowshoe hikes.
This is probably the best place to enjoy in winter. You get hot air balloon week and many other activities like that. This area is covered by surprisingly large forests and is also surrounded by high-peaked mountains. This region also experiences a hot balloon week almost each week. Every single activity that takes place here will be both great and fun. And there is something happening not only for adults, but also for children there. For those who don’t ski in Austria during their winter holidays, going to this can also be great. This is among the best winter destinations in Austria.
Zell am See
Zell am See is a tourist town located in the state of Salzburg in Austria. Equipped with a winter sports resort, this picturesque town has a large number of visitors each winter but it is also pleasant to visit during the other seasons. In winter, the resort offers more than ski or snowboard slopes. Visitors can practice an almost endless list of fun sports activities!
One of the best ways to experience the landscape of Zell am See is by pursuing winter sports. If you are an amateur or experienced skier, the Zell am See – Kaprun ski area is perfect for you! Zell am See is one of Austria’s most beloved resorts with its fantastic panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and the lake below. All the Zell am See – Kaprun ski resorts are easily accessible thanks to the buses that take you to the foot of the slopes.
The altitude of the Kitzsteinhorn (3,203m), one of the highest peaks in the region, allows you to ski all year round. For the more adventurous, the Schmittenhöhe (1,965m) offers many black runs – an adrenaline rush guaranteed in an exceptional setting! For intermediate skiers and beginners, the Zell am See – Kaprun ski resort offers a range of beautiful green, blue and red runs. Take your time and enjoy the breathtaking views of the area’s ski slopes! Zell am See is also suitable for snowboarders. The brand new snowpark, located in the Zell am See – Kaprun ski area, allows snowboarders to train and make jumps on an area of more than 30,000 m2.
Spend an unforgettable holiday in Sölden, one of the largest winter sports resorts in the world. In summer too, the Tyrolean valley of the Ötztal offers a multitude of activities. The Ötztal valley already offers a fascinating spectacle, at its end is Sölden. It is no coincidence that the town is today the official European training base for the American alpine ski team.
The Sölden Glacier ski area awaits you with its 150 kilometers of perfectly groomed slopes and 33 lifts. It is the only ski area in Austria that allows three summits over 3,000 meters to be reached by cable car. The Freizeit Arena leisure center has an indoor swimming pool, tennis courts and a fitness centre. 300 kilometers of hiking trails take you up to 3,000 meters above sea level.
Sölden is a real paradise for mountain biking and cycling. The ski lifts carry your mountain bike for free to save you a grueling climb. Then everything is within reach of the pedal. In August, Sölden hosts one of the most spectacular cycling races in the world: the Ötztaler Radmarathon. Shopping enthusiasts also have plenty to do. In Sölden, you will find a high concentration of sports shops. Accommodation options are diverse and varied to meet the expectations of some two million annual tourists. You will find 920 tourist accommodations, from private rooms to luxury hotels.