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 opens all-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”
- 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
- Let us hope COVID-19 issues are a thing of the past by Christmas 2022. If not, they may change opening dates and times at short notice, either due to regulations or simply through reduced international travel
Sites commonly open as normal
This list includes those locations that typically remain open over Christmas, with notes based on what they did last time out. 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 – both the Upper and Lower palaces
- Schönbrunn Palace – the outdoor paid attractions, like the maze, close in winter, but the main palace tours and the extensive park and gardens remain open 365 days a year
- Schönbrunn Zoo – famously a place to entertain the kids during the Christmas holidays as it opens all year
- Hofburg Palace – the imperial apartments, Sisi museum and silver collection
- Madame Tussauds – the Vienna branch of the wax museum
- The MAK museum – closed earlier on the 24th (at 3pm)
- Riesenrad (giant Ferris wheel) – closed at 5pm on December 24th
- Albertina museum – open daily but closed at 2pm on Christmas Eve
- Kunsthistorisches Museum (main art history museum but closed at 3pm on the 24th) and Imperial treasury (has also closed earlier in the past on the 24th)
- The Kunst Haus Wien (Hundertwasser Museum) – closed at 3pm on the 24th
- Kunstforum Wien – closed earlier on the 24th (3pm)
- Haus der Musik – has closed earlier (at 6pm) on the 24th in previous years
(Service provided by Booking.com*)
Sites that may close on specific days
- Spanish Riding School – check the schedule. In 2021, for example, it had no public morning training on the 25th or 26th
- Leopold Museum – closed on the 24th in 2021
- Natural History Museum – closed on December 25th in 2021 (and at 3pm on the 24th)
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, you should not get bored (though I reserve a little doubt because of any potential public health issues that might mess things up again).
If the weather’s not too cold, the holidays also present a good opportunity to simply wander around Vienna’s centre (the old town), enjoy the lights, and indulge in some Christmas punch.
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.