So, Easter, the time of frolicking lambs and, wait…no lambs in Vienna (or Austria). Or very few: different country, different traditions.
In fact, the rabbits rule the Easter menagerie – as you’ll notice if you enter any supermarket in the weeks leading up to the holiday.
Read on for details of Easter markets and events in Vienna, as well as tips on seasonal travel, weather, food, and traditions.
Easter 2024 covers the following days:
- Maundy Thursday: March 28th
- Good Friday: March 29th
- Easter Saturday: March 30th
- Easter Sunday: March 31st
- Easter Monday: April 1st (the only public holiday in Austria over Easter)
Seasonal events (particularly the markets – see below) tend to also fill the 2+ weeks leading up to the actual Easter weekend.
The official Easter school holidays in Vienna last from March 23rd to April 1st, 2024. During this period, any kids aged 14 or less travel free on the transport authority’s subways, trams, and buses.
(The Easter market on the Freyung)
Vienna has become a popular destination for an Easter trip: visitors swap places with the Viennese, who often head to the Alps for a final ski before the spring sun ends the fun.
The Easter markets head up the list of seasonal attractions. Think of them as top-quality arts and crafts markets with a truck-load of eggs and several high-calorie pinches of local cuisine.
As well as an enjoyable experience in their own right, the markets also make a decent source of unique souvenirs and gifts.
The top locations are:
- Schönbrunn: in front of the Habsburg summer palace
- Am Hof: very close to the city centre
- Freyung: usually includes an organic farmer’s market
The big museums had some spectacular exhibitions last Easter (Klimt, Picasso, and Bruegel, to name just three).
(Look for something good at the Albertina)
Expect Easter 2024 to follow a similar pattern. For example, I already know of provisional plans for:
- A huge Roy Lichtenstein exhibition at the Albertina in honour of his 100th birthday
- Renaissance art from Northern Europe at the Kunsthistorisches Museum, featuring notable names like Hans Holbein the Elder, Hans Burgkmair the Elder, Albrecht Dürer and Hans Holbein the Younger.
Explore your full options on the main exhibitions page nearer the time.
(An Osterbaum or “Easter tree” with appropriate decoration)
As far as family Easter traditions go, you only need to know two words: eggs and rabbits.
You paint, colour, decorate, hang up, or eat the eggs, though large chocolate ones in the UK-style are fairly rare.
And the Easter rabbit brings the eggs in the first place. (Given my understanding of reproductive biology, I’m going to assume the rabbit doesn’t actually lay the things.)
Technically it’s the Easter *hare*. The German word for the animal is Osterhase, which derives from Ostern (Easter) and Hase (hare).
Learn more about Austrian Easter traditions here. In particular, discover why you hear the sound of a million hard-boiled eggs cracking in gladiatorial combat on the morning of Easter Sunday.
There isn’t much. If you ignore the increase in the number of eggs appearing at mealtimes.
At least, the seasonal cuisine is nothing like Christmas, with its wide range of advent specialties.
Plenty of rabbit and egg-themed chocolate and candy dominate the Easter table, of course.
I openly admit to a desperate love for Lindt’s Goldhase: chocolate rabbits in a golden livery, with a red ribbon and a little bell. A little bell!
(Easter chocolate, including some imports from the UK: mea culpa)
Apart from the chocolates and sweets, we have Osterschinken (Easter ham), which seems to be various varieties of normal ham with the word Easter added to the front. (But I might be wrong.)
We also have the Osterpinze (pictured below), which is a soft sweet pastry made from yeast dough.
Supermarkets fill with other Easter-themed baked items, but most seem to be Easter rebrands of products you get the rest of the year, too.
I’ll make an honourable exception for the Osterstriezel, even though you do get Striezel all year. In days of yore, this braided brioche only appeared around All Saints’ Day and Easter.
(If I sound a little cynical, it’s because I am.)
Easter travel & weather
The Easter period is still relatively low key when compared to Christmas. The only formal public holiday is Easter Monday (on April 1st in 2024), when shops close. Otherwise, store opening hours are unchanged.
The same principle applies to public transport. A “Sunday service” operates on Easter Monday, but otherwise timetables remain unchanged.
However, since the week leading up to the Easter weekend is always a school holiday, the “Ferien” timetables apply to trams and buses. This largely means slightly longer intervals in the morning, when kids no longer need transport to school.
Weather is a difficult one to call.
March and April in Vienna can see warmth and bright sun, but also late flurries of snow. Back in 2021, for example, we had snow on April 6th (which was the day after Easter Monday).
In late March and early April, we should see spring-like temperatures. But who knows? Check (obviously) the forecast before you pack.
Have fun. And enjoy those eggs.