Why Go: An old-fashioned warmth envelops Vienna at Christmas, softening the hard edges of imperial architecture with twinkling decorations and three outdoor Christkindlmarkts. Vendors sell crafts and ornaments, while visitors fuel their shopping with finger food and a glass of spiced mulled wine, or glühwein. The Vienna Boys’ Choir concerts are lengendary.
Where to Stay: Centrally located on Kaerntner Ring right across from the opera, the Ring Hotel is classic Vienna on the outside, but modern, artsy, and decidedly cool on the inside thanks to a top-to-bottom redesign.
Holiday Dinner: Eight, the Ring’s acclaimed restaurant, is offering four- and five-course Christmas menus. Entrée choices include roe deer loin with beetroot and truffle glaze and pickled pork cheeks with fried onions and lobster.
In Vienna, the coffee house isn’t just a hangout: it’s an institution. Lingering over a newspaper with a pastry and a strong espresso drink is, according to UNESCO, officially a Viennese cultural pastime. Walk off your slice of Sachertorte with a self-guided tour of the city’s stunning traditional, Secessionist, and modern architecture, such as the Imperial Palace, the State Opera House, the Kirche am Steinhof, or the Kunsthistorisches Museum, an exercise in ornate geometry.