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 2023 covers the following days:
- Maundy Thursday: April 6th
- Good Friday: April 7th
- Easter Saturday: April 8th
- Easter Sunday: April 9th
- Easter Monday: April 10th (the only public holiday in Austria over Easter)
During the official Easter school holidays in Vienna (April 1st to April 10th, 2023), all kids aged 14 or less travel free on the transport authority’s subways, trams, and buses.
(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 (Munch and Hockney, to name just two).
Easter 2023 promises to follow a similar pattern. Top exhibitions already scheduled include, for example:
(Look for Picasso at the Albertina)
- The Albertina has a commemorative Picasso exhibition and solo exhibition for Alex Katz, presents the great masters of printmaking (like Dürer, Munch or Miró), and showcases drawings by Bruegel and contemporaries
- The Albertina Modern tackles the printmaking theme but post-1945, featuring such luminaries as Andy Warhol and Damien Hirst
- The rather creative The Fest exhibition entertains at the MAK
- A joint Klimt exhibition with Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum at Lower Belvedere focuses on the former’s artistic influences
- A Kiki Kogelnik exhibition at the Bank Austria Kunstforum Wien
- The Kunsthistorisches Museum puts paintings by Old Masters in dialogue with works by Georg Baselitz
…explore your full options nearer the time on the main exhibitions page
(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 any. 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.
(Supermarkets being supermarkets, I daresay you’ll find a few Christmas delights morphing into Easter shapes with a quick change of packaging.)
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.
If I sound a little cynical, it’s because I am.
This 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).
With Easter 2023 in early April, we should see spring-like temperatures. But who knows? Check (obviously) the forecast before you pack.
The Easter period is still relatively low key when compared to Christmas. The only formal public holiday is Easter Monday (on April 10th in 2023), 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.
Have fun and enjoy those eggs.