The best Winter sport places in and around Vienna

Vienna may not be the obvious winter sports destination. For a break from sightseeing, however, a few excellent places in and around Austria’s capital invite for ice skating, ice curling, tobogganing, cross country skiing and even Alpine skiing.

Ice skating

Since Vienna hosts several excellent ice skating places this is the easiest winter sport to integrate into a city break. Most prominently, you can ice skate directly in front of Vienna’s City Hall during the festive Christmas market. After that, the ice rink will be extended to cover the full square, with several paths meandering across the park. Secondly, Vienna’s Ice Skating Association (Wiener Eislaufverein) runs a more than 6,000 square meter large rink between Wiener Konzerthaus and Stadtpark next to the city center. At both locations you can rent ice skates.

Vienna winter sports: Wiener Eistraum iceskating

During a period of icy cold days well below 0 degrees Celsius, lovers of natural ice skating should venture out to skate across vast Lake Neusiedl South East of Vienna (see video). There are several access points, for example at the villages of Breitenbrunn, Neusiedl, Podersdorf and Weiden. Make sure you know the rules and safety regulations for ice skating on natural lakes. As with all natural ice skating in Austria individuals skate at their own risk.

Tobogganing

At a few hundred meters from key sightseeing spot Hundertwasserhaus, Prater park’s Jesuitenwiese (‘Jesuit Lawn’) hosts a tobogganing slope in the winter. Even if there is not much natural white, snow cannons provide for adequate coverage of the 30 to 60 meter long tobogganing.

Vienna winter sports: tobogganing

Another recommendable tobogganing spot is in the middle of Kurpark Oberlaa, not far from Vienna’s most popular thermae and spa ‘Therme Wien’. Probably the most romantic tobogganing stretch in Vienna is in the park of Potzleinsdorf Palace, north east of the city center. Given enough snow, the lawn just next to the park entrance above the playground can be used for tobogganing. For a couple of Euros a day you can rent a toboggan at the Fahrrad & Ski shop in Linke Wienzeile 124/128, close to Naschmarkt.

Ice curling

The ice stock sport is getting in fashion in Vienna again. Especially when you are in a group curling is a fun game that works a bit like bowling. The best places to do it are during Vienna’s ‘Wiener Eistraum’ event in front of Vienna City Hall (see photo), at the Christmas Market of Altes AKH (in the Old General Hospital) and at Badeschiff, a party and leisure boat mooring on the Danube Canal close to the city center. In general, time slots for a curling alley have to be booked in advance.

Vienna winter sports: curling at Wiener Eistraum, Vienna City Hall

Alpine skiing and snowboarding

While Vienna’s Hohe Wand Wiese lawn provides one decent ski slope safer snow conditions and skiing facilities can be found at above 1,000 meters from sea level in the city’s surroundings. The closest ski resort from Vienna is Unterberg, at just an hour’s drive west of the city. Unterberg’s 10 slopes cover all levels of difficulty, hosts two mountain restaurants and a mountain hut providing warm snacks and provides ski rental.

Vienna Winter Sports: skiing close to Vienna

Semmering/Zauberberg and nearby Stuhleck at approximately 100 kilometers south of Vienna. With 20 slopes and 15 lifts Semmering and Stuhleck are among the most popular local ski resorts, including a fun park for skiers and snowboarders, ski rental and a few mountain restaurants and huts.

Cross country skiing

A mere 20 centimeters of snow is all that is needed for Vienna’s Snow Sports Academy to start tracing cross country ski trails at various locations in the city. Out of a total of eight trails the most popular is in Prater park’s four kilometer long avenue Prater Hauptallee, close to the Giant Ferris  Wheel. For skiing along the Danube the best spot is on Danube Island.

Vienna winter sports: cross country ski trail in Vienna Prater

Cross country skiers who prefer perfect vistas, and a glass of wine, should head for Cobenzl hill in Vienna’s winery area of Grinzing. The trails are done in a way to also allow beginners to have safe fun. Cross country skis are available for rental at the Fahrrad & Ski shop in Linke Wienzeile 124/128.

Barbara Grll-Cao is the Founder of Vienna Unwrapped.

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