Wondering if you can visit any museums and palaces in Vienna over Christmas?
The answer is normally yes. Read on for the details.
The big Austrian Christmas celebration is on December 24th in the late afternoon or early evening. But the official public holidays are Christmas Day (25th) and Boxing Day (26th). On those two days, transport services shift to longer intervals, and stores, offices etc. are closed.
Museums & other attractions
(Schönbrunn Palace typically opens all the year round)
To cut a long story short, many (most) places typically remain open across the 24th, 25th and 26th. You shouldn’t be short of things to do or see.
Whatever it says below, though, do check locally with official sites to be sure, because:
- Some locations may have a weekly day off that happens to fall on a Christmas date and I might miss that
- Mondays or Tuesday are popular choices for the “day off”, so this might affect December 25th and 26th in 2023
- Equally, many places open up on their usual day off if it happens to be a public holiday!
- Christmas opening hours may change, especially as some locations clarify their Christmas dates quite late
- Since the 24th is the big day, it’s not unusual to find places closing a little earlier on that day, so staff can get home to their families
Sites commonly open
(The zoo normally opens 365 days a year)
This list includes those locations that typically remain open over Christmas.
Don’t forget to check the Christmas market opening times, too (some may open for at least part of the day across the holiday period).
- Stephansdom cathedral – bear in mind this is a working cathedral so religious services may prevent you accessing some areas at some times
- Belvedere – the Upper and Lower palaces (has closed at 2pm on the 24th in the past)
- Schönbrunn Palace – the outdoor paid attractions, like the maze, close in winter, but the main palace tours and the extensive park and gardens, for example, remain open 365 days a year
- Schönbrunn Zoo – famously a place to entertain the kids during the Christmas holidays as it opens all year
- Sisi Museum, Hofburg – the Sisi museum and imperial apartments actually had longer opening hours on the 24th, 25th and 26th in 2022!
- Madame Tussauds – the Vienna branch of the wax museum
- The MAK museum – closed earlier on the 24th in 2022 (at 3pm)
- Riesenrad (giant Ferris wheel) – closes at 4.45pm on December 24th
- Kunsthistorisches Museum (main art history museum but closes at 3pm on the 24th) and Imperial treasury (also closes at 3pm on the 24th)
- Kunstforum Wien – closed earlier on the 24th in 2022 (2pm)
Sites that may close on specific days
- Spanish Riding School – check the schedule. The annual programme has no public morning training marked for December 25th and no guided tours from the 24th to the 26th.
- Leopold Museum – this closed on the 24th in 2022
- Natural History Museum – closed on December 25th
- The Kunst Haus Wien (Hundertwasser Museum) – normally opens but is closed over Christmas this year as it’s undergoing renovations with an expected reopening in early 2024.
Other attractions may be open over Christmas, too, but I’ve just listed some of the major ones.
Basically, even with possible changes to the above for 2023, you should not get bored (though I reserve a little doubt because these days predicting what’s going to happen seems an impossible task).
With shops and businesses closed on the 25th and 26th, everything’s quieter and you get a different, more relaxed atmosphere when delivery vans and stressed workers are off the streets.