Only a week or two away from what I would classify as winter in Vienna, Austria, and I already have friends living overseas in warmer climes asking me “What’s the weather like in winter in Vienna?”.
Because I think most, who have never been to Austria I admit, imagine a typical Austrian scene — sky-high mountains, snow as far as the eye can see and weather as cold as a witch’s tit.
Sorry, we’re about three hours away from the Alps, snow isn’t a daily occurrence but, yep…it’s cold.
In fact, weather in winter in Vienna might surprise a lot of people. I know, when I first moved to Austria’s capital city, it certainly surprised me, as I expected it to be much worse than it actually is.
Snow in winter in Vienna?
Turn on the TV (or, in my case, watch a YouTube video as I don’t own a TV) at any time during the winter in Austria, and you’ll see stories of snow in western Austria so deep people are having to stand on their roofs and shovel it off, before the roof collapses under the weight of it.
Yeah, no, that’s not the situation in Vienna.
In fact, in the almost six years since I moved to Vienna, I have only seen a small amount of snow. Snow that either comes down in a few flakes and has gone by lunchtime, or 1-2 centimeters worth that might stick around for a couple of days, and then is gone as well.
Any snow that falls in winter in Vienna is also easy to navigate, as city authorities are brilliant at getting it cleared. Half the time before it has barely even arrived.
A good indicator of just how good Vienna authorities are about clearing snow is you will often hear the snow ploughs out right as the snow begins to fall. Followed soon after by the folks spreading gravel and grit on the sidewalks.
As it often snows late at night, or sometime in the middle of the night, that means by the time you get up and head off to work, the sidewalks are fully gritted and easily navigable.
It also means, unlike in the U.S. where I have fallen on my ass on icy sidewalks more often than I would like to admit, it is rare to even slip in Vienna, let alone fall, as the sidewalks are gritted to perfection.
That grit will stay on them right through until the end of March or so as well, Until the chance of snow has finally disappeared. Then hordes of city workers spread out across the city to shovel it up, and return Vienna to clean, grit-free sidewalks once again. Just in time for spring.
Any snow we do get doesn’t seem to adversely affect Vienna’s superb public transportation either, as trams, trains and buses stick to the same on-time schedule they always do.
The temperature in winter in Vienna, Austria
While Vienna may not get much snow — and it has done in years past apparently, but rarely anymore — the temperature is an entirely different story.
Beginning in early-October, temps will fall quite quickly so that, most years, we get an average of 15°C (59°F) during the day, with a drop to around 8°C (46.5°F) at night.
November and December are more bitingly cold. But what makes the temperature feel even colder is the wind.
Vienna is easily one of the windiest cities I have ever lived in. Pair that with already cold temperatures, and going outside in November and December as that wind blasts around a corner, and it can be a decidedly chilly experience.
Average highs and lows are generally 8.1°C (46.6°F) and 0.5°C (32.9°F) respectively. Throw in the wind and brrrrrrr.
January, however, is the coldest month in Vienna, with temperatures not getting much above freezing for most of the day, with average lows of -0.8°C (30.6°F) and even colder.
If you enjoy a good brisk walk in sub-zero temperatures, though, and I love it, Vienna is the perfect place for that.
February and March then start to warm up, just in time for spring. Although it is possible to still get mild snow both months and, as my parents discovered on a trip to Vienna a couple of years ago, early April can still be bloody cold as well.
So, what’s the weather like in winter in Vienna? Wear a sweater, a thick coat, scarf, a hat (mandatory because of the wind), gloves and a warm pair of boots throughout the winter months, and you’ll be fine.
I’ve managed it for the last five-plus years, and Miss Handle Any Temperature I am definitely not.