Best Places to Visit in Austria in Winter

Winter hiking in Muhr, Austria – How to Enjoy The Great Outdoors In Winter

In winter, Austria has it all: Christmas markets, frozen lakes, New Year celebrations, skiing, ski jumping, and of course, the Vienna Philharmonic New Year’s Concert. It’s not one of the most visited countries in Europe by accident. While Greece has islands, Athens, Meteora, and the Parthenon, it still attracts fewer tourists during the summer than Austria does in winter. 

It’s hard to say which place you should visit on your Austria trip during the cold winter months, but the country is not huge. Graz and Salzburg are only 2 hours away from Vienna, and the farthest city from Vienna is Innsbruck, just 4 hours away. So, if you have a couple of days, you can see all the places worth visiting in Austria.

Vienna

You cannot visit Austria and skip Vienna, regardless of the season. In winter, Vienna transforms into a magical place. The city is famous for its beautiful Christmas markets, where you can enjoy warm drinks, local snacks, and find unique handmade gifts. The streets and buildings are adorned with festive lights, creating a cozy and inviting atmosphere. Another highlight is the Vienna Philharmonic New Year’s Concert, a world-renowned event. 

Vienna’s museums and palaces, like the Schönbrunn and the Belvedere, offer a glimpse into Austria’s rich history and culture, which is even more enchanting during the winter months. The coffee houses of Vienna, with their warm, inviting ambience, are perfect for relaxing after a day of exploring.

Hallstatt

Although the tourist season in Hallstatt typically ends in October and starts again in April, Hallstatt in winter is my favorite place to visit. It’s not crowded during this time, offering a peaceful experience. The fairytale-like houses, which are usually adorned with flowers in other seasons, are beautifully decorated with Christmas lights and ornaments, creating a picturesque winter wonderland. The snow-covered roofs and the surrounding mountains provide a stunning backdrop, making it feel like stepping into a postcard scene.

Oberaichwald

Known as the rural gateway of Austria, Oberaichwald looks extraordinarily beautiful during the winter season

Considering that we’re used to seeing the pollution in the urban areas, a visit to Oberaichwald is a change of scenery you won’t get enough of. Surrounded by the serene sounds of wildlife and wind blowing, the peace here complements the natural beauty of this place. 

Apart from its panoramic sights, the biggest attraction in Oberaichwald is the Finkenstein Castle. Being dipped in history, the Finkenstein Castle has an alluring aura towards it. This castle leverages the scenic beauty of this town, allowing travelers to leave this place with happy memories and beautiful pictures. 

To sum up, Oberaichwald is one of the best places to visit in Austria in winter if you’re looking for a place with plenty of recreational activities and natural sights. 

Wildschönau

Located in the heart of Tirol, Wildschönau is a remote Alpine valley located approximately 1000 meters above sea level! As snow drapes Wildschönau during the winter season, the valley becomes the go-to spot for skiers worldwide. 

Being home to three charming villages, Wildschönau houses some of the best infrastructure for winter sports. One of the most prominent ski resorts is the Alpbachtal Wildschönau. Reaching this ski resort requires taking a cable car, the village of Auffach, adding further adventure to your journey.

Once you’re done enjoying the festivities from the ski resorts, you get to choose between beautiful mountain huts and charming farmhouses for accommodation. The accommodation options in Wildschönau go a long way in making your trip memorable. 

Don’t forget to visit the Schaubergwerk Lehenlahn, a former silver mine dating back to the Middle Ages.

Salzburg

This is not a surprise on my list, but I had to include it. Visiting Salzburg during winter is a must. Salzburg’s Christmas market is often ranked among the top Christmas markets in Europe. In Salzburg, the weather is usually rainy, with almost 300 rainy days a year, so you might expect similar weather during your visit, regardless of the season. 

The snow in winter complements the historic architecture and festive decorations. Salzburg is famous for being the birthplace of Mozart and of course, there are various musical concerts and events around Christmas.

Bad Ischl

Located in Upper Austria, Bad Ischl is one of the most iconic towns in the country. The summer residence of the Habsburg emperor is located here. The town is loaded with opulent architecture and grand buildings that retain the area’s natural beauty while giving it a classy touch. 

Bad Ischl also became considerably famous by Doctor Wirer, who commended the town for its thermal water having healing effects. With this high-end spa utilizing the special thermal water, the town has successfully transitioned into a tourist destination. 

Another must-visit spot in Bad Ischl is the Salzkammergut Lake District. This area offers abundant amenities and activities and has a panoramic touch that makes the town look straight out of a fairytale. 

Zell Am See

If you’re looking for a proper winter place, Zell Am See has to be one of the ideal destinations to visit. Spanning a few quaint Alpine towns, this area transforms into a winter sports hotspot for travelers worldwide. 

From experienced snowboarders and skiers to tourists worldwide, Zell Am See accommodates everyone visiting to enjoy the winter season. Zell Am See is also home to numerous reputable ski schools, which allow enthusiastic beginners to learn the sport and make the experience enjoyable. 

Apart from recreational activities, Zell Am See is also home to Ice camps. These camps incorporate a series of igloos, which enable you to enjoy panoramic views of the mountains in an authentic winter aesthetic. 

Ötztal Valley

Considering that Ötztal Valley is home to the tallest waterfall and the highest mountain in Tirol, it’s easy to see that this place offers a unique winter experience. 

Like other places on this list, both villages of Ötztal Valley become an ideal spot for recreational activities. Where Obergurgl is renowned for various ski resorts, Hochgurgl offers a wide range of winter sports and activities, allowing visitors to enjoy the adventure. 

Tourists worldwide recognize Ötztal Valley as a true winter wonderland, considering the activities and panoramic sights of the area. Being overwhelmed by its beauty, the Austrians call this area the “Diamond of the Alps.” 

With a blend of impressive sports facilities, delicious dining options, and outstanding Austrian hospitality, Ötztal Valley qualifies as one of the best places to visit in Austria in winter! 

Thermenland Styria

Thermenland’s infrastructure is captivating and unusual, and it is home to Friedensreich Hundertwasse’s work. One of the famous spots is the wobbly apartment block in Thermland. Friedensreich also designed some buildings across the Rogner Bad Blumau, allowing Thermenland to appear as a wonderfully surreal place. 

Thermenland is also home to various amenities, such as outdoor thermal pools. These pools offer a number of treatment and massage packages to add a laid-back vibe to your adventure. The best part about visiting these thermal pools in winter is the relaxing effect they exude.

In conclusion, Austria in winter is a tapestry of snow-laden landscapes and cultural festivities that beckons travelers with its enchanting allure. Whether you’re gliding down Alpine slopes, wandering through historic Christmas markets, or soaking in the warmth of thermal spas, Austria offers an array of unforgettable experiences.

Each destination encapsulates a unique aspect of the country’s charm, promising memories that will last a lifetime. So pack your bags, prepare for wonder, and get ready to discover the winter magic that only Austria can offer.