Dreaming of a white Christmas this year? While Europe may be going through an exceptionally hot summer, it’s only a couple of months until the temperatures start to drop, beanies get pulled out from the back of cupboards, hot chocolate becomes a daily drink and toes start tapping to Christmas carols.
One of the world’s most beautiful winter wonderlands, Austria is home to big cities rich with history and quaint little villages buzzing with Christmas cheer. From the markets illuminated by twinkling lights to the warm, hearty dishes enjoyed next to crackling fireplaces, here are just a few reasons why you should spend your next Christmas in Austria…
Magical Christmas Markets
From the middle of November until the beginning of January each year, Austria is abuzz with Christmas markets. Sparkling lights draped across snow-covered roofs, Christmas trees adorned with ornaments and delicious seasonal treats bring the cities and towns alive with Christmas spirit. Grab a packet of freshly-roasted chestnuts and a mug of warm mulled wine (Glühwein) and explore the many stalls shopping handcrafted goods and trying not to eat too many gingerbread cookies!
Just like Santa’s gift list, Austria’s list of Christmas markets is an extensive one. From quaint little markets in small Alpine villages to the extravagant ones found in the popular cities like Salzburg, Vienna and Innsbruck, here are 10 markets to enjoy during Christmas in Austria:
- The Christmas World, Vienna
- The Christmas Village, Vienna
- Seefeld Christmas Market, Seefeld in Tirol
- Old Town Market, Innsbruck
- Hungerburg Christmas Market, Innsbruck
- Kitzbühel Christmas Market, Kitzbühel in Tirol
- Salzburg Christkindlmarkt, Salzburg
- Mirabell Square Christmas Market, Salzburg
- Hauptplatz Christmas Market, Graz
- Glockenspielplatz Christmas Market, Graz
Also Read: The Best Christmas Markets in Europe
Festive Food and Drinks
If there’s one thing winter calls for, it’s cosy food and an endless supply of warm drinks. Traditional Austrian dishes are packed with rich flavours and dominated by meats and carb-dense foods – think hearty goulash soup with a warm piece of freshly-baked bread, and schnitzels with potato salad. If Mac and Cheese is one of your go-to dishes, be sure to try out a bowl of Käsespätzle – soft egg noodles served with a delicious cheesy sauce – it’ll definitely make you weak at the knees.
For travellers with a sweet tooth, don’t be surprised if you return home having packed on a couple of extra kilos. Known for their incredible Apfelstrudel (apple strudel) and Sachetorte (dense chocolate cake with apricot jam), a sweet treat worth indulging in is Kaiserschmarrn, a shredded pancake served with a generous dollop of jam or fruit compote. Wash all of these down with a mug of rum-spiced hot chocolate and your sweet tooth will be more than satisfied.
Christmas markets, tasty treats and hot drinks are essential during a visit to Austria over the festive season, but what really makes this the ultimate winter wonderland are the incredible ski resorts set in the towering snowy mountains. Grab those fluffy beanies and put on your adrenaline face because you’re in for one great adventure!
If you’re a seasoned skier or snowboarder, you’ll no doubt head straight to the red or black slopes, but for those starting out, don’t stress, there are incredible ski schools ready to get you tackling the slopes in no time! After a day or two on the “baby slopes”, you’ll find yourself heading down slopes that initially looked impossible. And after a long, exciting and exhausting (yes, muscles you didn’t know you had will hurt) day, stop at one of the many mountain après-ski spots for a cold beer, mug of hot chocolate with cream, or Jägertee – an alcoholic punch made with rum and spiced black tea.
With so many incredible ski resorts scattered throughout Austria, deciding where to go can be a little overwhelming. Around an hour’s drive from Innsbruck, Salzburg, and Munich International Airport, here are our top ski resorts that promise amazing slopes, great hot chocolate and snow-filled memories…
- Zillertal Arena
- Ski Arlberg
- Kitzski Kitzbühel ski area
- Ischgl and the Silvretta Arena
- Zell am See
Dashing Through the Snow…
Now we know bolting down slopes isn’t for everyone, so fear not, there are always plenty of other activities happening. Go for a gentle trot in the snow on a horse-driven sleigh, spend the afternoon ice-skating, or bum board down the slopes before enjoying a schnapps and slice of cake while watching the world go by. If you’re looking for a little retail therapy, visit one of the many boutique stores for beautiful winter clothing and souvenirs.
Packing your bags yet? Tick this magical destination off your travel wishlist and spend Christmas in Austria – there really isn’t a greater gift!
Have you experienced a white Christmas before? Tell us about your best winter wonderland memories.