Vienna at Christmas
Spend Christmas in the splendid capital of Austria. Vienna is in many ways a cutting edge city, leading the world in design, architecture, contemporary art and more — but its rich history is even more captivating.
Wander in the footsteps of Elizabeth, Empress of Austria, across Baroque streetscapes and past imperial palaces; and discover the echoes of artistic and musical masterpieces waiting around every corner. Take a tour of the Naturhistorisches Museum to marvel the Venus of Willendorf. Of course, at Christmas we’d be remiss not to take a stroll through the many wonderful Christmas markets.
- Come face to face with impressive finds, including the Venus of Willendorf
- Get a glimpse of the former imperial city at the palace of Hofburg
- Historic Churches
- Great Cities
- Cultural Excursion
- Christmas - New Year
- Special Access
- All Inclusive
Our flight lands in Vienna, the illustrious capital of Austria, where our Christmas break begins.
After checking in to our central hotel, a walking tour introduces us to our magnificent surroundings. We revel in the city’s rich architectural heritage, marvelling at such renowned façades as the Hundertwasserhaus, a modern expressionist landmark in the eclectic Landstrasse district.
This evening we enjoy a welcome dinner and drinks, as we get to know the other members of our convivial Christmas group.
Following a hearty breakfast our day begins at the Naturhistorisches Museum, which houses a remarkable prehistoric collection of artefacts in an elaborate 19th century setting. Highlights include the enigmatic Venus of Willendorf, a small limestone nude that has been dated to between 24,000 and 22,000 BC. A remarkable figure from Austria’s past.
In the afternoon we stroll over to one of Vienna’s famous Christmas markets, getting us into a thoroughly festive mood. The city’s Christmas market tradition dates back as far as the 13th century, when King Albert I granted permission for a December “Krippenmarkt”, or Crib Market. Expect steaming cups of Glühwein, gently roasted chestnuts, atmospheric carols and stalls offering the most beautiful selection of handicrafts.
It’s Christmas Eve, and we start the day with a drive out to Stift Melk, a Benedictine abbey perched on a rugged outcrop, overlooking the River Danube. This lavish 500-roomed complex was founded on the site of a Roman castle in 1089, and became a major production centre for Medieval religious and musical manuscripts. Our guided tour takes in the abbey’s famous library, as well as some of the masterful trompe l’oeil ceilings, and the imperial rooms where Napoleon himself once stayed.
Following lunch, we make our way to the former summer palace of Schönbrunn, a sweeping Baroque building containing some 1,400 gilt-edged rooms, as well as a superb sculpted garden, complete with Romanesque follies, a maze, and the towering archways of the “Gloriette”. A masterclass in Viennese opulence.
We rise on Christmas morning to enjoy an especially sumptuous breakfast at our hotel. Replete, our relaxing morning continues with a visit to another of Vienna’s celebrated Christmas markets. The bustling scenes of the city are sure to make us all feel merry and bright.
After lunch we head to the impressive Saint Stephen's Cathedral, with its striking blend of Romanesque and Gothic architecture, its imposing tower (affectionately known as “Steffl”), and the imperial underground catacombs.
The rest of the day is ours to soak up Vienna’s enchanting yuletide moods at our leisure. This evening we enjoy an indulgent Christmas dinner with the group. Frohe Weihnachten!
We spend today exploring the imperial sights of Vienna. We begin at the Imperial Crypt, established in the 17th century beneath the Capuchin Church; a richly-decorated resting place for members of the Habsburg dynasty. The remains of no less than 12 emperors and 18 empresses lie among the vaults here – with the most recent late archduke entombed in as recently as 2011.
Our next stop is the Imperial Treasury, where we admire a glittering collection of secular and ecclesiastical treasures – truly the most decadent section of the Hofburg Palace. Highlights include the Imperial Crown of the Holy Roman Empire, and the Treasure of the Order of the Golden Fleece.
This afternoon we tour the rest of Hofburg. This former seat of the Habsburg dynasty now houses the office of the President of Austria – a 13th-century attraction still brimming with pomp and ceremony.
We round off the day with an excellent farewell dinner, to celebrate the last night of our trip.
Fitting in just one more excursion before we depart, our destination this morning is Schloss Belvedere, the former summer residence of Prince Eugene of Savoy. Within this majestic palatial complex we find a world-renowned art gallery, including the largest collection of Gustav Klimt’s paintings in existence. Melt before “The Kiss”, admire the figurative works of Schiele, and enjoy a carefully curated selection of art which dates back as far as the Middle Ages.
Once we’ve had our fill of visual splendours, we transfer to the airport and make our way back home.
- Expert Guide Lecturer
- Tour Manager
- Local Travel - Private a/c coach
- Meals - All meals included with wine at dinner
- Entries & Tips - Entry to all sites in programme; tips included
- Field Notes
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