Day trips from Vienna in Winter

Old Oct 4th, 2019, 08:13 AM
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Day trips from Vienna in Winter

Hi Fodorites,

A friend and I will be spending 5 full days, as well as two partial days, in Vienna in December. I have been to Vienna once before; my friend has not. We'll be seeing the most well-known sites and hitting up the Christmas markets. I'm well aware that you can easily fill up five days in Vienna itself, but we're pretty energetic travelers, so I could see us having some time to take a day trip or half-day trip.

Here are the options I'm considering; I would love your thoughts. For a little extra context, we'll be coming into Vienna from Salzburg and going from Vienna to Prague.

Melk - I visited Melk and did a Danube day cruise on my previous trip. I found the abbey impressive and the town really cute, and I think my friend would enjoy a visit. I know the river cruise isn't an option in December, but I imagine the abbey and town are still accessible.

Bratislava - I think the main draw here is that we'd get to check a new country of our lists of countries visited. I usually hear Bratislava compared less favorably with Vienna, Prague, and Budapest, but it's a quick train trip away and if we have the time I thought it might be fun to explore the town center for a day.

Vienna Woods/Baden bei Wein - I know hiking in the woods is more of a summer activity, but a morning at the spa might be nice.

Any other suggestions or less-known sites within Vienna itself that you would recommend?
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Old Oct 4th, 2019, 08:45 AM
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We lived in Vienna for 7 years before returning to the U.S. in late June. December, while gray, is very merry in Vienna and the surrounds with the Advent and Christmas markets. Be certain to check the calendars for the "special" markets in the city that are only on certain weekends, too, like the Medieval market at HGM (nighttime is best) and the market at Palais Niederösterreich (even if you don't purchase any of the amazing regional food products, the interior of the building is a visual treat).

Bratislava came a long way as a destination while we were in Vienna, and we frequently found ourselves heading there for favorite restaurants (Green Buddha for Thai; Zylinder for Austro-Hungarian (and great Tartare); and Nobile (Georgian, with delish Khinkali and equally delish wine)), or museums (Danubiana in particular). The Stare Mesto is walkable and Instagrammable, if you're into that. There will be Christmas markets, but they are much lower-key than in Vienna and mostly feature food and Honey Wine. I think the ÖBB ticket also includes public transport in Bratislava but I am not absolute.

I believe there is a bus from Vienna to Schloss Hof during the Christmas market season. The market at Hof is okay, but the palace and grounds might be worth an outing. Sometimes it is connected to the market at Schloss Eckartsau (from where the last Hapsburgs left for exile) with corresponding transport between. The market at Eckartsau is small but exceptional.

Melk and the Wachau is dreary in winter, at least to me. The Abbey doesn't sparkle; the views are all shades of brown and gray. And many of the lovely heuriger are closed or on reduced hours. If the public transportation and the timing works, though, Stift Gottweig is nice (they also have a Christmas market), though again the views won't be great. Schloss Schllaburg and its market should not be missed if you can get there.

Baden bei Wien is "Meh" in winter. The spa is nice, but I would not use a day of my holiday on it.

Other ideas for day outings include Stift Klosterneuburg (easy train access), the Lainzer Tiergarten (a bit of an effort on public, but you might be lucky enough to spot the wild boar that roam in the preserve. We have!); and Schloss Esterhazy in Eisenstadt. The Schloss has a Christmas market that is lovely; just do not visit on Sunday, for the entire old town is shuttered tightly, and the couple of restaurants are jam-packed.

Should you have a car, the possibilities widen. One of our favorite Christmas market/Winter Wander was in Johannesbachklamm. Christmas market vendors lined a gorge! Hiking and Glühwein and Christmas Marketing all in one place!

Last edited by fourfortravel; Oct 4th, 2019 at 08:47 AM.
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Old Oct 4th, 2019, 09:17 AM
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Haven't been to Bratislava, I think some people like it but it is easy and fairly quick to get to.

You could consider Eisenstadt, it's only about an hour on a regional train from Wien hbf. It has that palace.

Vienna is large, plenty of areas. Do you have any interest in classical music at all? You know that many famous composers lived and worked there. It's not far out, but the Haydn/Brahms house is worth a visit if you do like those composers (Brahms only gets a room as I think all of his real residences were destroyed, but they do have his actual piano).

But for a different district, you could get out to Heiligenstadt easily by the Ubahn (line U4). It's a pleasant suburb, known for wine, (in the 19th district now) and where Beethoven lived a times and wrote the Heiligenstadt Testament. There is a Beethoven museum there. I'm sure there is info on that and how to get there,_Vienna

You could even visit Budapest for the day if you wanted, a long day as it's probably at least 2.5-3 hrs I did this in summer and enjoyed it, but I probably wouldn't in winter when everything is so grim and it gets dark so early. visiting woods at that time sounds awful to me, and I don't like spending time at spas at all. Lonely Planet says Baden "goes into virtual hibernation between October and March". I guess this is what you are talking about?

if both of you like that kind of thing, why not.
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Old Oct 4th, 2019, 10:14 AM
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I enjoyed Bratislava. This was in 2010, so nearly a decade ago when on a trip to Vienna, Prague and Budapest. Bratislava ended up being the favorite, actually. At the time, it was not very crowded and found the old town to be charming and enjoyable. Some things were closed for renovations, which I imagine might be completed by now. I'd have to look back at my notes and check against them.
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Old Oct 4th, 2019, 10:05 PM
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It has been mentioned before but weather will be a determining factor.
If possible, I'd make a short list of day trips for sunshine and rain, mild and cold weather, respectively.

I would not say that Bratislava is not as "good" as Prague or Budapest, it's just smaller.
So the number of museums and sights is smaller as well.

Vienna has a major spa facility of its own within the city limits at Oberlaa subway station (U1 Southern terminus).
So if the weather is nasty, you don't have to go to Baden unless you want to.

Lainzer Tiergarten has been mentioned before - and it also features the Hermes villa
Opening hours seem to be "limited" in December, so you may want to dig deeper if this interests you.
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Old Oct 5th, 2019, 01:28 AM
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Sopron is the best preserved medieval town of Hungary and it's only 1 hour 18 minutes by train(hourly on weekdays, every 2 hours on weekends) from Vienna.

Sopron station is part of the Austrian rail system(at the same time part of the Hungarian as well) and this has the advantage that the cheap Einfach-Raus Ticket of ÖBB(Austrian Railways) is valid to Sopron(despite being in Hungary).

For the 2 of you a round-trip to Sopron with the Einfach-Raus Ticket is only 34€. That is 17€/person. It's almost as cheap as going to Bratislava(16€).
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Old Oct 5th, 2019, 04:26 AM
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Seeing the mention of Sopron, I just thought of Rust (pronounced, "Roost"). It, too is accessible via ÖBB. The village is popular in late spring and early summer when the Storks are migrating through, and at Christmas time it is darling. For both, however, I believe the markets open in the late afternoon.
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Old Oct 7th, 2019, 10:42 AM
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Thanks for the suggestions everyone!

You've convinced me that Bratislava is worth a visit. We'll keep our plans loose for now and default to spending all of our time in Vienna, but if we find ourselves with some time to spare I think Bratislava will be our alternate plan!
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