The winter season is beautiful in its own right, but it can also be a challenging time to visit a new place. If you’re not the kind of traveler who skis or climbs mountains for fun, you might wonder if it’s even worth going to Austria in the winter. If you’re still on the fence about traveling to Austria during this time of year, we think you should go for it. There are so many reasons why a winter trip to Austria is worth it—even if most of your Instagram feeds will only feature blue-lit selfie pics from December. Here are 9 reasons why you should visit Austria in the winter.
If there’s one thing that can draw people to the frozen slopes of the Alps, it’s the promise of snow skiing. And the best reason to visit Austria in the winter is for skiing. The Alps get tons of snow in the wintertime, and snow is a huge part of the culture in this part of the world. Many regions in Austria are mountainous, so these areas are perfect for skiing and snowboarding. You’ll find lots of ski resorts in the Alps—from Bad Gastein, St. Johann in the east, to the Wilder Kaiser and Axamer Lizum in the west. Austria is the perfect place to go snowboarding or skiing if you’ve never done either before. You’ll find ski schools and even language-specific classes for English speakers.
2. Snowshoeing and Winter Hiking
If you want to do something other than skiing or boarding, consider a winter hike. In a few places in the Alps, you can go snowshoeing. In the area around Salzburg, you can also do winter hiking. If you go snowshoeing or hiking, it’s important to be prepared. Because the weather is colder in the winter, you’ll be more susceptible to getting sick. Make sure to wear warm clothing and perhaps even a face mask if you’re going somewhere with lots of people. You’ll also need to have enough food, water, and emergency supplies to last you through the day. The great thing about hiking in the winter is that you’ll have all the trails to yourself. This means that you’ll have ample time to take in the sights and you won’t feel rushed.
3. Visit Castles and Palaces
If you’re into architecture and history, winter is the perfect time to visit castles and palaces in Austria. Many of them are open year-round, but you’ll have a much better experience if you go during the winter. Austria is home to many famous castles and palaces, including Schloss Schönbrunn, Burg Hohenwerfen, Burg Hochosterwitz, Schloss Eberstein, Schloss Güntersleben, and Burg Rauheck. Some of these buildings are even open to the public year-round. If you have a chance to visit these historic buildings in the wintertime, do it. The architecture is especially beautiful under a blanket of snow. And you’ll have the place almost entirely to yourself.
4. Attend a Holiday Concert
While you’re in the mood for music, consider attending a holiday concert. You’ll find these concerts at many of the castles in Austria, as well as in some cities like Salzburg. You’ll hear lots of beautiful choral music at these concerts and can even join in for some songs. If you’re lucky, you’ll get to hear the Vienna Boys Choir singing carols at Schloss Eberstein or Salzburg’s Ho Ho Ho Musikalische Advents-Konzerte. If you’re a classical music lover, check out the schedule for the Vienna Philharmonic. They’re known for playing at the Musikverein, which is very beautiful in the wintertime.
5. Taste The Food Of Austria
If there’s one thing that embodies the spirit of Austria, it’s their food. You’ll find lots of delicious baked goods and hearty dishes in a wintery setting. If you’re visiting in winter, you can find a few special treats, like Salzburger Nockerln, which is a sweet, baked dessert made with almonds and raisins. If you’re visiting the Salzkammergut region, you can even try the original version of this dish. Another special winter treat is Kaiserschmarrn, which is a sweet, shredded pancake usually topped with a dusting of powdered sugar. This dessert is a favorite at the Wirtshaus in the town of Kirchberg.
6. Do A Toboggan Run In Kirchberg
If you’re visiting Kirchberg in the winter, you can go sledding on the town’s toboggan run. This run is open from December until March, so you can experience the rush of sledding in the winter. You can find the toboggan run in the main square in Kirchberg, which is called Marktplatz. It’s a very popular attraction for families, so you can expect a big crowd during peak season. The toboggan run is free, but you can pay to change into special gear for sledding. If you’re visiting Kirchberg in the winter, you won’t be able to go to the nearby Hohensalzburg Fortress. This landmark is open from April to October, so you’ll miss out on it if you decide to go in the winter.
7. Attend a Music Concert
Another reason why you should visit Austria in the winter is for the opportunity to see musicians perform. There are several music festivals held in the winter in Austria, including Advent concerts and the Salzburg Easter Festival. You can also see many Austrian musicians perform in regular concerts throughout the winter. The Wirtshaus in Kirchberg is particularly famous for hosting music concerts during the winter season. If you’re into classical music, you’ll want to visit Austria in December. That’s when the Vienna Philharmonic plays its famous New Year’s Concert. You can even go to the Musikverein and New Year’s Eve Gala concerts at the Musikverein.
8. Visit a Christmas Market
If you want to experience a traditional Christmas market, you don’t have to travel to Germany. Austria also has many great Christmas markets, including the Wien Winter Market in Vienna, the Rathaus Christmas Market in Graz, and the Advent Market in Salzburg. These markets are open year-round, but they are especially beautiful in the winter, when they’re lit with warm lights. You’ll find many great gifts at these markets, like handmade candles, handmade ornaments, and roasted nuts. You can also enjoy many different foods at the Christmas markets in Austria, like Glühwein (which is warm red wine), roasted almonds, pretzels, and schnapps.
9. Visit a Christmas Village
If you want to experience an Austrian Christmas village but aren’t able to make it to one of the Christmas markets, you can visit one of the various Christmas villages.
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The winter season is a perfect time to visit Austria, because the region gets tons of snow and is filled with beautiful snowy mountains. You can ski, snowboard, and even snowshoe if you bring the right equipment. In the winter, you’ll also find many cities with cobblestone streets, which will make you feel like you’re in Switzerland or Germany. You can also see many of Austria’s famous sights—like castles and palaces—during the winter months, because many of them are open year-round. If you’re interested in culture, you can also check out the many Christmas markets that are held in the region during this time of year. You can find these markets in most major cities and in many small towns and villages.