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From late November through December, Vienna transforms into a holiday wonderland. Festive lights are strung up along this city’s famous streets and small markets pop-up all-over town. Imagine yourself sipping on hot mulled wine, shopping at the markets, and going for a stroll along the brilliantly illuminated streets. These experiences create a memorable Christmas in Vienna.

In this guide, we provide a short walking tour through the historic heart of Vienna. On this walk, you’ll see Vienna’s best displays of Christmas lights, visit a few Christmas markets, with the option to add on a visit to a few of Vienna’s must-see landmarks and famous cafes.

This article is one of two that we have about Christmas in Vienna. This article focuses on the Vienna Christmas lights and our guided walking tour. The second article focuses on the Vienna Christmas markets, which gets its own article because the list of markets in Vienna is long.

More Christmas Markets in Europe

Prague is another festive city to visit in December and just a short train ride away from Vienna. Learn more about what it is like to visit Prague at Christmas and the top markets to visit.
London is also a wonderful place to visit in December. This city is filled with small Christmas markets and the streets are lined with thousands of twinkling lights. Plan your trip with our London Christmas Itinerary.

Vienna Christmas Lights

There are several streets in Vienna that are illuminated with Christmas lights. These streets include Graben, Kohlmarkt, and Kärntner Straße. These lights are on from mid-November through early January.

The Ring Road (Ringstraße) once was covered in Christmas lights. In the past few years, this has been scaled back, in order to be more environmentally friendly, so the majority of Vienna’s best Christmas light displays are in the pedestrian city center.

Vienna Christmas Lights Walking Tour

Time: 20 minutes walking time, plus additional time for stops; allow 2 to 3 hours, which gives you time for pastries at Demel, shopping at the Stephensplatz Christmas market, and a slice of Sacher Torte (make a reservation in advance)
Walking Distance: 1.6 km/1 mile

This walking tour starts at Michaelerplatz and ends at the Vienna Opera House, but it can be done in either direction.

Sunset in Vienna in December is 4:00 pm, which gives you plenty of evening hours to see the Vienna Christmas lights.

How to Use This Map: Click the tab in the top left hand corner of the map to view the layers (points of interest and the walking route). You can click the check marks to hide or show layers. If you click the icons on the map, you can get more information about each point of interest.
If you click the star next to the title of the map, this map will be added to your Google Maps account. To view it on your phone or computer, open Google Maps, click the menu button, go to “Your Places,” click Maps, and you will see this map on your list.

Start: Michaelerplatz

Michaelerplatz is a large, famous square in Vienna. The Spanish Riding School, the Sisi Museum, and St. Michael’s Church all sit on this square.

Michaelerplatz | Christmas in Vienna


To get here, the closest metro station is Herrengasse (U3 on the Orange Line). Due to Michaelerplatz’s close location to the Spanish Riding School and the Hofburg Palace, these are great places to visit in the afternoon before starting this walking tour.

Before starting the walk, take a look down Herrengasse, to see the cylinders of lights over the city street.

Herrengasse Chrismtas Lights | Christmas in Vienna



From Michaelerplatz, walk down Kohlmarkt.

This street is covered with curtains of twinkling lights, making it one of Vienna’s top Christmas lights displays.

Kohlmarkt Christmas Lights | Christmas in Vienna

Kohlmarkt | Christmas in Vienna

Kohlmarkt is a high-end shopping street with stores like Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Tiffany, etc.

Demel, one of Vienna’s top pastry shops, is also located on Kohlmarkt. Demel is a great stop along this Christmas lights walking tour, either to enjoy a sweet treat in their café, get a treat to go, or pick up some gifts.


For a quick visit, place a takeaway order from the stand that sits on the front of the store.

However, it is worth it to step inside, as this elegant café is beautifully decorated for Christmas.

Demel at Christmas | Christmas in Vienna

Demel | Christmas in Vienna


Demel Vienna Austria

The shops and display cases sit on the ground level. If you want to sit down and have table service, walk upstairs to the restaurant level. When we arrived, the line was long and we considered skipping this. But the line moved quickly and in just a few minutes we were seated. There are multiple dining rooms so Demel can accommodate quite a few people.

We ordered the homemade nougat dumplings with berry ragout, Demel’s Sachertorte, and the apfelstrudel with vanilla sauce. Everything was delicious but the Sachertorte was the unanimous favorite. They also serve other food, such as goulash and croissant sandwiches.


Continue the walk down Kohlmarkt and then turn right onto Graben. This is Vienna’s most famous pedestrian street and the lights here are the best in the city. Enormous chandeliers of holiday lights line the length of Graben. It’s a sight to see!

Graben Christmas Lights | Christmas in Vienna



Graben will take you right to Stephensplatz. Approaching Stephensplatz, with the view of the amazing St. Stephen’s Cathedral (Stephansdom), is one of the highlights of this walking tour. Seeing St. Stephen’s Cathedral illuminated with holiday lights is even more magical.

St Stephens Cathedral Vienna Christmas

There is a Christmas market at St. Stephen’s Cathedral (Christmas Village Stephansplatz), so make sure you plan enough time to browse the market stalls, pick up a hot beverage and/or a bite to eat. We recommend making a loop around the cathedral to see the cathedral lit up from all angles. See our article on Vienna’s Christmas Markets for more information.

In the building behind St. Stephen’s Cathedral you can walk through a corridor at the Haas & Haas tea shop to enter a courtyard. There is a covered outdoor bar setup in the courtyard and this is promoted as “Winter in the City.”

Or, if you want to warm up and have a seat inside, take a detour over to Kleinod, a cocktail bar with a local vibe. It is located on Singerstraße.

Kärntner Straße

Now, take a stroll down Kärntner Straße. This pedestrian street is home to many souvenir and clothing shops, as well as a popular pastry café, Conditorei Sluka, and Würstlstand, a sausage stand. Over 550,000 LED lights adorn the hanging lights that run along this street.

Kartner Strasse Christmas Lights | Christmas in Vienna

Kärntner Straße | Christmas in Vienna

If you want a drink or a meal with a view, put SKY @ STEFFL on your list. This restaurant and bar offers an elevated view over Vienna and a gorgeous view of the roof of St. Stephen’s Cathedral. Make a reservation in advance.

St Stephens Cathedral View

The view of St. Stephen’s Cathedral from SKY @ STEFFL

Continue along Kärntner Straße until you reach the Opera House and the intersection of Kärntner Straße with Philharmoniker Straße.

This intersection is home to three famous buildings. To your right is Hotel Sacher, where the famous Sacher Torte was created. This is an extremely popular place to visit and on our most recent visit to Vienna, it had a line at all hours of the day. If this is a place you plan to visit, definitely make a reservation in advance. It could save you well over an hour wait in line.

Across the street is the Opera House and Popp & Kretschner, a shopping store that is covered with a giant, illuminated bow, making it a popular Christmas photography location in Vienna.

Popp and Kretschner Christmas Lights

Popp & Kretschner | Vienna Christmas Lights

Vienna Opera House

Cross Philharmoniker Straße and continue to Opernring. Turn right to get a view of the front of the Opera House. This building is beautiful in the evening, when it is illuminated.

Vienna Opera House Lights

Vienna Opera House

At this point, you have the option to visit the Advent Genuss Markt (the Advent Gourmet Market). This covered market is located on Mahlerstrasse and it specializes in food and drinks. It was not open during our visit in 2023 but is expected to return in 2024. Get updated information on the official website.

End of the Walking Tour

This concludes our Vienna Christmas lights walking tour. If you need to use public transportation to get to your hotel or next stop on your Vienna itinerary, walk two blocks to Karlsplatz, to catch the U1 (Red Line) or U4 (Green Line). You can also ride the tram that runs along Ring Road.

Austria Travel Guide

Christmas in Vienna: Festive Things to Do

In addition to our Christmas lights walking tour, there are many Christmas markets to visit in Vienna. Several of the best markets include the Viennese Dream Christmas Market (on Rathausplatz), the Christmas markets at Belvedere Palace and Karlsplatz, and the Christmas market at Schönbrunn Palace. For the full list, take a look at our guide to the Vienna Christmas Markets.

Graben with Snow | Christmas in Vienna

Another view of Graben | Christmas in Vienna

If you have any questions about Christmas in Vienna or this Christmas lights walking tour, let us know in the comment section below.

More Information for Your Trip to Vienna

VIENNA: Get started with our article about the best things to do in Vienna. Don’t miss our guide to 10 must-visit cafes and coffee houses in Vienna and learn how to spend one perfect day in Vienna.

CHRISTMAS IN EUROPE: Learn what it is like to spend Christmas in Prague. Spend a week in London at Christmas, seeing the Christmas lights and shopping in the Christmas markets. And don’t miss our guide to the best Christmas markets in Vienna.

AUSTRIA: Learn how to spend one day in Hallstatt, one day in Salzburg, and don’t miss our guide to the best things to do in Innsbruck.

CENTRAL EUROPE ITINERARY: Learn how to put together Budapest, Vienna, and Prague together in our 10 day Central Europe Itinerary.

EUROPE TRAVEL INSPIRATION: For more great ideas on where to go in Europe, check out our article 30 Beautiful Places to Visit in Europe and the 20 Best Hikes in Europe. You can also get more travel ideas in our 10 Days in Europe itinerary guide, which has 10 great itineraries for your next trip to Europe.

Read all of our articles about Austria in our Austria Travel Guide.


Vienna Christmas Lights Walking Tour


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