What to do in Vienna when it’s cold | outdoor edition.

There is no such thing as being too cold outside (unless you live someplace where it’s really really cold) if you ask me, it’s only a matter of how prepared you are and how many layers of clothes you’re actually wearing. However, I get it, not all of you out there are lovers of the cold season and some of you are really looking forward to the warmer seasons. But there’s always a few things one can do to enjoy oneself in winter, especially in Vienna. And we all just need to make the most out of the situation we’re in, right?. Plus, you can’t just stay indoors all day long, you gotta leave your warm flat or house to get some fresh air!

Here’s my go-to list that that will give you an idea how I usually “endure” the cold in winter. I hope it’ll help you enjoy your winter stay in this lovely city.

|| 1 || Go ice skating

This is such a fun activity to try out during the cold season. Admittedly, it can be a bit expensive because entrance fees and shoe rental prices are usually high, but if you’re really into it, it’s definitely worth getting yourself a pair of skates. And for a one-time-thing, it’s worth the money if you ask me. The most popular (and sometimes very overcrowded) ice skating rink is definitely the Wiener Eistraum in front of the city hall on the Rathausplatz. It’s a very lovely place to go ice skating on, and I’d recommend having at least tried it once. If you want to find out more about it, read my post this fun winter activity.

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|| 2 || Venture into the small alleys of the first district

In Vienna, wind will be your all-time companion, and small alleys are the perfect hideaway for avoiding the strongest winds. Not only that, but they’re just amazing, especially in the first district of Vienna. You can walk past beautiful buildings with a rich history, or walk through the passages, or just do some window shopping. If you avoid the typical tourist roads, you might only encounter a few people and not the typical tourist crowd. And apparently I don’t even have a picture to prove that I actually do this from time to time. Shame on me. Just wanna be honest here. haha

|| 3 || Take a tram ride past historical buildings on the Ring

Some might argue this is wouldn’t count as outside activity, but you’re not really inside either. And by playing tourist for a while you’ll be able to escape the cold for a bit (even though this might be cheating then). If you’re lucky and the tram is heated, you can warm up for a bit, before you venture out into the cold again. My favourite routes are 1, D or 71. They’ll all take you past all the important historical buildings of the city.

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|| 4 || Go to the Prater…

…and hop on one of the rides and your heartbeat will pick up a notch. While feeling the adrenaline in your blood you’ll forget the cold temperatures around you. Or at least imagine that you’re on one of the rides because the Wiener Prater has its main season from March 15 until October 31, and during winter most of the rides are closed. However, on a sunny day, some of them might be open. And if not, you’ll have the whole Prater for you. (Trust me, on a weekday there’s hardly anyone there, it feels a bit like you’re in an abandoned amusement park from one of those dystopian movies). And while you’re at the Prater, you should definitely take a turn with the Wiener Riesenrad, the Giant Ferris Wheel, if you’ve never done that before. For me, this definitely counts as an outdoor activity because the wagons are not heated (as far as I remember).

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|| 5 || Go to the Donaukanal for some street art watching

The area along the Donaukanal is some kind of an open-air museum because of the amazing street art and sculptures you’ll find there. Major parts of the walls along the canale are part of the Wienerwand project, so artists are actually allowed to use the walls as their canvas. Just look out for their official sign, the WienerTaube (a pigeon) marks the area where spraying/painting is allowed. With 120 meters, this is the biggest wall for such art that you’ll find in Vienna.

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|| 6 || Go to a local market

Buying local produce and supporting local farmers is a good thing anyways, so you can do something for both yourself and others! Another beneficial factor of a local market is that you’ll get (mostly) everything without being wrapped in plastic. Plus, looking at all the colourful veggies and thinking of what delicious food I could make out of them is always very heartwarming for me.

Naschmarkt, probably the biggest market that we have here in Vienna, is one very good example for this. As opposed to other markets, you’ll get fresh veggies (and lots of other things there) every day (except on Sundays as far as I know) and not just on Saturdays like most other markets. In addition, you can also stop for a bite to eat in one of the cafés and restaurants that are located there, or just buy a piece of Baklava.

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|| 7 || Take a walk on the palace grounds in Schönbrunn or any other lovely park

Suck it up, pack a thermos and take a long walk. Summer will come soon enough, and it will stay forever anyways. Why not make the most out the current temperature, and enjoy how the city looks like when it’s freezingly cold. Have you ever noticed how calm a city can get when the temperature is below zero? Hardly anyone is outside anyways and there’s always the joy of complaining about the weather with a friendly (and not weird at all) stranger you met outside.

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I may have missed other things one can do when it’s cold outside, but those are my main outdoor activities. Can you think of any others?


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In the north of Russia: Murmansk.

A few months ago I was thinking about which places I could go visit while staying in Russia. One of the first cities that came to my mind was Murmansk. I can’t even give a reason for that but I have always had the urge to go there. My travel partners from Nizhny Novgorod were (more or less) easily convinced and the flights to Murmansk from Moscow were relatively cheap as well. So Madlene, Marcel, Frederik & I spent an adventurous weekend in the city far up north without doing much research beforehand.

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The City Murmansk

Murmansk is located in the northwest part of Russia on the Kola Bay, which is an inlet of the Barents Sea on the northern shore of the Kola Peninsula. The city is located on an extreme-northern latitude just 2° north of the Arctic Circle. It is very close to Norway and Finland – it is possible to reach both countries within a short time. The city’s name is derived from ‘Murman Coast’, and Murman is an old Russian term for Norwegians. With a population of around 307,000 Murmansk is by far the biggest Arctic city (followed by Norilsk in Russia with 175,000 and Tromsø in Norway with 71,590).

Despite being located in such an extreme Northern part, the city/region enjoys some benefits that other northern cities for example in Siberia lack. The Murmansk region has highway and railway access to the rest of Europe, as well as the northernmost trolleybus system on Earth. Comparatively warm Gulf Stream waters keep the city’s port ice-free even in winter.

Murmansk was the last city that was founded in the Russian Empire in 1916. Due to the outbreak of WWI Russia was in need of military supplies so Russia extended the railway system in order to reach the ice-free location on the Murman coast. In WW II Murmansk served as a port for arctic convoys, and afterwards it became the most important submarine base of the Soviet Union.

The climate of the region is subarctic with long & cold winters, and short but mild summers. The mean monthly sunshine hours of November are 6 and in December 0. As we were travelling at the end of November, we had around 3 – 4 hours of daylight and temperatures around -10° C.

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sunrise or sunset?!


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at the airport


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Anatoly Bredov monument

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Bandy, a sport similar to ice hockey where a ball is used instead of the puck, is very popular in Murmansk. We came across the city’s home arena which apparently has an audience capacity of 5,000. Only three places have representation in the female Bandy league, and Murmansk is one of them.

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Bandy arena ‘Stadium Stroitel’

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Murmansk railway station

Port of Murmansk

It was a must for us to go see the docks as the port is the raison d’être of the city.

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Lenin Icebreaker

In the port of Murmansk is the Soviet nuclear-powered icebreaker Lenin (Ленин) which was launched in 1957. It was the world’s first nuclear-powered surface ship. After the decommission in 1989 the ship was converted into a museum.

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Alyosha and the view over the city

From the city centre we could see a huge monument on a hill a bit outside of the city centre. It is the second of the two main attractions of Murmansk so we had to go there and see it with our own eyes. Also, we thought that we might be able to have a great view over the city, which was true. Off we went with a taxi to go there as it would have taken us forever to go there by foot.

The Defenders of the Soviet Arctic during the Great Patriotic War is the official name of the monument, but it is commonly called Alyosha (‘Алёша’). The statue was erected in 1974, is 33.5 metres tall, which makes it the second tallest statue of Russia. Alyosha is dedicated to Soviet soldiers, sailors, and airmen of World War II.

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Hunting the Northern Lights

Murmansk is supposedly a prime spot for watching the Northern Lights. Not Murmansk directly, as a city is hardly ever the best place for spotting them, but the region around the city. Of course we had to try as well but unfortunately we picked the wrong weekend for doing so. Nevertheless, we were still able to see parts of the Murmansk area, we got to listen to very interesting stories about the city and Russia in general, plus we went on a hike at 4 in the morning in order to have a great view over the city. Who else can say that?! Oh, and we played around with Light Painting.

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The world’s…

… northernmost McDonalds in the world. 

On our first day we wanted to bridge the annoying time between lunch and dinner (we missed lunch as we were on the plane at that time) and decided to still our hunger with a quick snack. At that time we weren’t even aware of the fact that we were sitting and eating at the northernmost McDonalds in the world (even though they had a sign for that).

…northernmost trolleybus route in the world. 

According to several sources, Murmansk has the northernmost trolleybus route of the world. Frederik and I decided to stay in bed instead (and not get up earlier before going to the airport) so we did not travel with one of them, but Madlene and Marcel did. Good for them.

… tallest building above the Artic Circle.

The Hotel Arctic which is known as Azimut Hotel Murmansk is the tallest building above the Artic Circle. It was opened in 1984. We’ve been there every day as we had to ask a few questions at their reception, ate in the restaurant Arktika once, and cleaned our shoes with their shoeshine machine.

…first nuclear-powered surface ship

We couldn’t help ourselves but we just had to go inside the ship even though we had to wait for an hour to make the tour which was of course held in Russian.

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agree to disagree on that one…

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Murmansk is probably the most northern part of the world that I will ever travel to (even though I still kinda want to go to Svalbard). Seeing another interesting part of Russia that is so different from the parts that I have already seen was a great experience that I wouldn’t want to miss. We’ve spent some great 2-3 days there, we enjoyed meals in exclusive restaurants (we didn’t do that on purpose…) that were still cheap in comparison to our home countries. We were even lucky enough to see the sun on all three days. The weather was perfect during the day. Even during the night it was warmer than I’d expected it to be (still cold though!). The best thing about the city though is that it is full of beautiful huskies!! ❤️