Austria’s cultured and charismatic capital Vienna is anything but one dimensional; the city changes with the seasons.

Winter brings jubilant Christmas markets and summer offers up delightful warm weather that entices locals to spend afternoons lounging in the city’s green spaces. An impressive array of annual events adds even more variety. Fortunately, however, some city must-dos, like whiling away an afternoon in one of town’s famed coffee houses, where everyone from Freud to Marx got their caffeine fill, can be enjoyed whatever the season.

Whether you want to see live music, sip a pint in a summer biergarten or just avoid the crowds, here’s our guide to the best time to visit Vienna.

High season: June-August; December

Best time for being outdoors

You’ll likely love summer in Vienna, seemingly everyone does – at times it can feel like the world has descended en masse on those warm days in high season. If you can put up with the crowds though, this really is a lovely time to be in the city, with the parks, vineyards, lakes and outdoor pools all perfect for a sunny afternoon. In the evening, a packed calendar of events, from film festivals to outdoor concerts, stir into life, and it feels like the whole city is out and about.

A second, shorter high season comes in December, when Christmas markets take over the city and festive holidaymakers spill in, on the hunt for (semi) unique gifts and the best gluhwein stands.

People sit at tables lining a busy walkway close to the Hofburg Palace in Vienna in the heart of summer.
The hot days of summer in Vienna call for outdoor dining and lido lounging © Oleg Senkov / Shutterstock

Shoulder season: September-November

Best time for taking in culture

Fall is a great time to be in the city, with less crowds, cheaper hotel prices and lingering good weather (especially in September and early October).

It’s also the time of year when the city puts on a show: the Wiesn, Vienna’s answer to Oktoberfest gets the party started in late September, Vienna Design Week brings the class in October and the city’s Comic Con, the top event for pop culture and gaming in Austria, arrives in November – expect to see a lot of impressive costumes on show. 

Low season: January-May

Best time to avoid the crowds

If you want a Vienna experience that’s less chaotic, try the first part of the year. Many travelers retreat in the face of chilly temperatures, but the weather isn’t a problem in the city’s cosy coffee shops and fascinating museums, palaces and galleries. Tour the Schloss Belvedere without getting elbowed and get into any of the MuseumsQuartier’s museums without the lines. Getting a table at a restaurant of your choice is easier too (outside of Valentine's Day week, that is!). 

A top tip is to remember that the always-popular Christmas markets and skating rinks continue through January, though with far fewer crowds than in December.

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A top-down view of the Vienna Opera Ball, with men, dressed in black, and women, dressed in white, creating a crisscross pattern across the grand venue's large dancefloor.
See one of Vienna's most prestigious events at the Vienna State Opera opera house in February © Sean Gallup / Getty Images


A new year and a new start, with few tourists. This is a time to enjoy the brisk breezes and fresh mornings of Vienna. Try ice skating on the temporary double-level(!) rink which remains standing following the festive season outside the City Hall on Rathausplatz – you can even try your hand at curling here. The city’s Christmas markets continue too, rebranded as “New Year’s Markets”, offering the same intriguing trinket stands and enticing food stalls, but without the over-the-top Christmas decorations.
Key events: New Year’s Markets, Vienna Ice Dream 


Love is in the air in February, and Vienna is perfect for a romantic break. You’ll need to book restaurants well ahead of time if you want to dine with a special someone on February 14 (Valentine’s Day) because a lot of locals and visitors have the same idea.

If that meal goes well why not take your other half to the Opera Ball – one of the grandest dates of the year in Vienna. This annual ball at the Vienna State Opera opera house, which usually falls in mid-February and has been taking place for over 200 years, is a part of the city’s Carnival season, with various other parades and events taking place in the city.
Key events: Carnival, Opera Ball, Valentine’s Day, International Orchid Show


Visual arts take centre stage as winter transforms to spring in the Austrian capital and people begin to leave their heavy coats at home. Two key events are the Photo Wien show which displays the best in contemporary photography, and the noted Spark Art Fair at the Marx Halle, where you can catch the latest in modern art to purchase.  
Key events: Spark Art Fair, Photo Wien 


April sees a flurry of activity on the streets of Vienna as two key sporting events take over the city. In the Rathausplatz, and surrounding areas, cyclists show off their bikes as part of the Argus Bike Festival, with stalls and demos, as well as displays from BMXers and dirt bikers.

Later in the month, it’s the turn of the runners to take centre stage, as the city’s annual marathon takes place – taking part is like a sightseeing tour of the city, as runners pass all the key historic Habsburg sights on their extended circuit. 
Key events: Argus Bike Festival, Vienna Marathon

A tourist admires art in the Museum of Art History in Vienna. The male tourist stands with his back to the camera, with a huge painting in a large frame in front of him.
Low season is a great time to visit Vienna's various cultural attractions, like the Museum of Art History © Tupungato / Shutterstock


Austrians love a beer and Vienna’s Bier Festival is a mainstay of the city’s events calendar. Biergardens are set up all over the city in May, and with the sun shining and temperatures rising, you’ll find much merriment taking place. For something more cultured, try the Vienna short film festival, Vienna Shorts, which has been going for two decades and provides a great platform for up-and-coming filmmakers.
Key events: Vienna Bier Festival, Vienna Shorts, Vienna Wine Festival


The first month of high season sees all kinds of cultural displays taking place, including the Vienna Festwochen, with shows covering theatre, art, dance, and everything in between, happening across the city. Also in June, the Vienna Jazz Festival provides a smooth soundtrack to the long summer nights, while street fashion lovers should check out the Fesch’Market, which gives space to new young designers in a large industrial space.
Key events: Vienna Festwochen, Vienna Jazz Festival, Danube Canal Festival, Fesch’Market


Cinema is huge in Vienna, and July’s warm evenings mean serious al fresco film festival action, with the Dotdotdot Short Film Festival, the Frame Out art film festival in MuseumsQuartier and the Town Hall Square Film Festival in Rathausplatz kicking off in July and running into September.

Cinephiles should also make time for a visit to the Austrian Film Museum, which is home to a collection of approximately 31,000 films, and hosts a handful of showings every day. Away from film, Popfest, a cool music festival, comes to town.
Key events: Frameout Film Festival, Dotdotdot Film Festival, Town Hall Square Film Festival, Popfest


In August, the hottest month in Vienna, the city can become excessively toasty and citizens cool off at the seasonal stranbads and lidos (beaches and pools) that open up from May until September. It’s a big Viennese tradition to hit the pool or river beach on hot weekends and the biggest and best is the remarkable Gansehaufel Island with mid-century architecture, space for thousands of bathers and a playpark for kids.
Key events: Seasonal Strandbads, Vienna Classic Days

An evening view of the Christmas market in Vienna, with fairy lights illuminating the various market stalls.
Vienna's Christmas markets attract tourists at the beginning and end of the year © S.Borisov / Shutterstock


By September, the students have started back at university and locals go back to work following summer vacation. Not everyone’s hard at work though: the Wiesn, Vienna’s answer to Oktoberfest, sees big-time beer drinking and oompah music round off the summer season.

Also in September is Waves, a brilliant little music festival which takes place at the WUK venue and showcases emerging talent and the best new bands from around Europe – it’s a place to discover the stars of the future.
Key events: Waves, Wiesen 


History and design fans get their chance to experience the best Vienna has to offer in October with the annual Long Night of The Museums at the start of the month, with museums and galleries across the city open after dark and beckoning people in with music and other special treats. Alongside this, Vienna’s note-worthy Design Week is Europe’s largest and has been taking place since 2007. Expect talks, launches, displays and other surprises from across the worlds of graphic design, fashion, architecture and product design. 
Key events: Vienna Design Week, Long Night of The Museums 


November offers something for those who like their culture on the slightly nerdier end of the spectrum, with sci-fi nuts and comic fans gathering, usually in impressive costumes, at the city’s large-scale Comic Con event, where all kinds of leftfield films, TV, comics and books are celebrated. Music fans, meanwhile, will want to check out the Wien Modern Festival, where avant garde musicians and new composers are given the space to play their newest and boldest arrangements. 
Key events: Comic Con, Wien Modern 


Christmas time in Vienna means that Mitteleuropean staple that gets the tourists coming back every year. Yes, it’s the Christmas Market season; and Vienna has lots and lots of them, from the mainstream, like the village of stalls (lined with festive staples like wooden toys, bratwursts, gluhwein and marzipan) that takes over Rathausplatz in front of the Town Hall, to the Spittelberg iteration, where stalls tend to focus on more artisan items, like jewellery. The city’s event calendar finishes with a bang as firework displays mark the coming of a new year.
Key events: Christmas Markets, New Year Fireworks

You might also like:
The top things to do in Vienna
Austria’s best road trips
The 10 best day trips from Vienna

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