Austria's Top Winter Destinations

Vienna's historic Ferris wheel in the Prater, forever linked with movie classic The Third Man
Vienna's historic Ferris wheel in the Prater, forever linked with movie classic The Third Man | © Markus Schieder / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Culture Trip
12 April 2021

Austria in winter is a magical place to visit, with excellent winter sports, Christmas markets and lots and lots of snow. Whether it’s a secluded snug log cabin or concerts in Vienna, read on for Culture Trip’s guide to the best places for a winter break in Austria.


Natural Feature
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Innsbruck, Austria
© John Elk III / Getty Images

Breathe in the spicy scents, hug your hands around a steaming mug of gluhwein, and allow yourself to melt into the festive spirit at one of Innsbruck’s Christmas markets. Austria is famed for being an all-round pro at all things festive, and the markets in this city never fail to raise Christmas cheer. One of the best and most traditional takes place in front of the iconic Golden Roof – a building gifted by the Emperor to his wife in Austria’s Imperial days – and sees clusters of wooden stalls selling a variety of handcrafted treats and trinkets and serving delicious homemade dishes.


Architectural Landmark
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People visit Christmas market near town hall at evening
© Anton Gvozdikov / Alamy Stock Photo
Vienna is undoubtedly one of Europe’s most beautiful capital cities and a place where merrymaking and Christmas celebrations are taken very seriously indeed. Events across the city range from quaint markets held in the shadow of dramatic baroque architecture and classical concerts in some of the greatest venues in the world to art installations and ice rinks. Check out our guide to the best activities in Vienna at Christmas.


Architectural Landmark
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Lake Faaker See and Mittagskogel in the sunlight, Karawanken range, lake Faaker See, Carinthia, Austria, Europe
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This is an idyllic area of Austria, perfect for those who want a rural getaway, away from the hustle and bustle of city life. The resort of Schönleitn is a charming cluster of wooden cabins, arranged around the beautiful lake Faaker See. It is incredibly beautiful when snow falls, transforming the Alpine area into an elegant winter wonderland.


Historical Landmark
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Historic city of Salzburg with Salzach river in winter, Salzburger Land, Austria
© Scott Wilson / Alamy Stock Photo

Second to Vienna, the city of Salzburg is the next best venue for an Austrian Christmas city break. The Christmas markets are atmospheric and the surrounding snow-tipped Alps make a delightful backdrop for seasonal festivities. You can also escape into the wilderness; a 90-minute drive from Salzburg’s city centre, Saalbach is a delightful and charming village full of great cafes, bars and boutique hotels. With the addition of a new ski lift and slopes ranging from 830m (2,723ft) to 2,095m (6,873ft) it’s perfect for winter-sport enthusiasts.


Architectural Landmark
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View of majestic mountains and lake.Nature getaway. Turquoise water of Gosau See,lake,Austria,Dachstein glacier in background.Vacation travel scene.
© Eva Pruchova / Alamy Stock Photo

Located 700m (2,300ft) above sea level, the district of Gmunden in Upper Austria is blessed with densely rich forests, rugged mountains and glittering streams. Between 13 and 21 January each year, the azure skies explode with colour, when hundreds of Luftballons grace Gosau’s heavens for Hot Air Balloon Week. This is just one of many spectacular attractions to enjoy here; the glaciers and the enchanting Lake Gosau are also sights not to be missed.

Thermenland Styria

Architectural Landmark
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Building of Geistreich Conference Centre at Rogner Bad Blumau hotel complex, designed by architect Friedensreich Hundertwasser
© imageBROKER / Alamy Stock Photo

Friedensreich Hundertwasser’s work is probably the best example of weird yet wonderful architecture in Vienna. As well as his famous wobbly apartment block in Vienna, he also designed some of the buildings around the Rogner Bad Blumau in Styria, making for a wonderfully surreal world. Around the spa, there are a variety of outdoor thermal pools and massage and treatment packages available, providing some respite from the cold weather.

Aqua Dome – Tirol Therme Längenfeld

Spa Hotel
4.6/5 (183 Reviews)
Aqua Dome in Langenfeld, Tirol | usage worldwide
© dpa picture alliance / Alamy Stock Photo
From $426 Per night per room
This photogenic, dreamy spa in Tirol is undoubtedly one of the best in the Alps. Forget all your troubles in one of its 12 beautifully designed thermal swimming pools (the outdoor pools have temperatures of 93-97°F), or sweat your way to serenity in one of the seven saunas, each of varying intensity – a unique experience when there is snow on the ground outside. A range of treatments is also available, including massages and facials.
More info

Ski resort Kitzbuehel

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Skier and snowboarder on the slopes at Kirchberg in Tirol, part of the Kitzbuhel ski area in Austria.
© Anthony Brown / Alamy Stock Photo
The sprawling Kitzbuehel ski area creeps over two provinces and seven municipalities. Fifty-four cable cars and lifts commute high above the world-famous ski resort on the summit to 2,000m (6,600ft) above sea level. On the piste map you’ll find an immaculately groomed 179km (111mi) of slopes and 36km (22mi) of ski routes.
These recommendations were updated on April 12, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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