As I write this I am currently sitting in my apartment in Singapore. It’s hot here (though not as blisteringly so as the summer). Think we’re hovering around 30ish celsius. I tell you this because it’s hard for me to wrap my mind around the fact that I was in -10 celsius weather just a few weeks ago. Logically I knew Europe would be cold in winter, but damn Vienna was cold.
Luckily for you, if you end up in any sort of Germanic-inclined country during the winter holiday season, there’s something to warm you up –Glühwein! I have very fond memories of visiting Christmas markets in Germany when I was a kid. I distinctly remember my first sip of, and subsequent spitting-out-of, gluhwein. Warm, spicy, and a little boozy – for me it evokes warm and fuzzy Christmas memories.
Vienna does New Years right, and one of the contributing factors to making it so right are the extended Christmas Markets. After Christmas is over and done, the markets transform in to New Years Markets, each stall selling delicious food, drinks, and small good luck trinkets to pass out to friends and family. If you’re a fan of tchotchkes and kind of cheesy mugs, hit up all the gluhwein stands and collect the mugs. It’s about 4 euro extra to take the mug home with you.
Vienna is one of the destinations for New Years Eve in Europe, so plan everything ahead of time. Our trips always tend to be a bit last minute, so even 2 months out from December 31st I was scrambling to find a hotel. Through good fortune we managed to book a room at The Guesthouse Vienna. It was the only hotel still available within walking distance of everything. I said “good fortune”, though, because this hotel ended up being a real gem.
Upon our arrival on the 30th, we snagged a taxi from the airport and checked in to the hotel. The Guesthouse Vienna was perfect. The location was central, the design was modern and chic, the restaurant was delicious, and the staff went above and beyond. Pascal (at the front desk) was absolutely exceptional with any help we needed.
A hotel, unfortunately, was not the only thing that was difficult to book two months out. Finding a place to have New Year’s Eve dinner was near impossible. Everywhere I looked was completely booked. Vienna was packed. After a small fiasco with a booking miscommunication for one restaurant, Pascal came to our rescue and found space for us in the hotel’s restaurant. Again, top notch hotel. The restaurant’s manager was also incredibly helpful. Two big thumbs up, would definitely stay again.
If you arrive before the 31st, go check out the New Year’s Eve Trail in the heart of Old Town to see it before it gets slammed with crowds on the 31st. Because, whoa, it’s gonna get slammed with crowds.
Wander the streets of the old town and check out all the market stalls, chandeliers, and stages for orchestras to set up on.
On the 31st get ready to party!
If you’re planning on heading to the Hofburg Silvesterball check out my article Here.
We started wandering around town midday to check out all of the sights. We were warned it would get very crowded in the evening, so it was nice to see everything without thousands upon thousands of other people crowding around.
Stages are set up throughout old town with shows all night – from opera and classical orchestras to popular DJs.
The Old Town New Year’s trail is magnificent, but watch out for flying fireworks. People were shooting them off everywhere, which was alarming.
If you need to do any shopping on the 31st or 1st, make sure you get it done before 3pm on the 31st. Aside from the markets and restaurants, everything shut down. I’ve been a bit unlucky every time I’ve been to Vienna and have been there when all the shops I wanted to visit were closed.
We attempted to visit a few of Vienna’s famous cafes but they all had queues that wrapped around the block. If you plan on visiting one be prepared to wait for a long time outside in the icy weather.
Some of the few things that are open in Vienna on the 1st are the museums. The museums of Vienna are heaven. I’m a huge fan of Renaissance art, so I spent half of my day in the Kunsthistorisches Museum. The museum is unbelievable. I’ll leave you with all of the photos I took. It’s hard not to want to take a million photos in this place. Everywhere you look is a highly detailed masterpiece.
So, my lesson was definitely learned for New Year’s Eve in Vienna. Plan well, and plan well ahead. Oh, and you can always escape in to a museum.