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WEATHER

Which parts of Austria will have a white Christmas this year?

Even though Austria is known for cold winters, a white Christmas is not as common as you might think. Here are the odds for a snow-filled festive season in Austria this year.

Snow Austria
What are your chances of scenes like this on Christmas Day? Photo: Daniel Diesenreither/Unsplash

A white Christmas is a dream come true for many, but according to weather forecasts the only places in Austria where it can be guaranteed this year are where there is already snow.

This mostly means areas of Carinthia, Vorarlberg and Tyrol where there is already a decent blanket of snow on the ground from Austria’s record snowfall two weeks ago.

In Carinthia, there is currently 20cm of snow in low-lying areas like Feistritz ob Bleiburg, and in Dellach im Drautal there is 40cm of snow.

FOR MEMBERS: Q&A: What will Austria’s Covid restrictions be over Christmas and New Year?

Meanwhile, in Schoppernau in the Bregenzerwald region of Vorarlberg there is almost half a metre of snow cover.

In Tyrol, ski resort towns in the Alps still have a thin covering of snow which is expected to stay throughout the Christmas period, although fresh snow is not forecast until next week.

Additionally, the snow is expected to stay in some parts of the Salzburg region, such as St. Johann in Pongau, Abtenau and Krimml, and in Zeltweg and Mariazell in Styria.

But in many low lying areas of Austria (including Vienna), there is a slim chance of more snowfall, so residents could be in for another “green Christmas” (in reference to green fields at Christmas).

Weather forecast for Christmas 2021

On Friday December 24th, most of the country is forecast for sunshine and clouds. 

Some light rain is expected in Upper Austria in the morning and the temperature will range from a high of 10 degrees in Vienna to 1 degree in East Tyrol. In the Alps, the high is forecast to be around 7 degrees and there could be some freezing rain.

READ MORE: Five Christmas songs to improve your German language skills

On Saturday December 25th, most of the country will have cloud cover with limited sunshine, and some rain is forecast in the east of the country. Snow is expected between 1,500 and 2,000m.

Has Austria’s weather changed?

In recent years, a white Christmas has become increasingly uncommon in Austria due to climate change and warming temperatures, with the chance of a white Christmas almost halved in the past few decades.

According to figures from the Central Institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics (ZAMG), St. Pölten in Lower Austria last experienced a white Christmas in 2007.

Linz, Salzburg, Graz, Bregenz and Klagenfurt haven’t had a white Christmas since December 24th in 2010, and Vienna and Eisenstadt have not had snow at Christmas since 2012.

It wasn’t always this way though and in the 1960s most of Austria enjoyed a white Christmas almost every year.

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DISCOVER AUSTRIA

Five Austrian destinations you can reach by train to escape the heat

With Austria reaching increasingly high temperatures, here are some places you can reach by train to cool down.

Five Austrian destinations you can reach by train to escape the heat

Summers in Austria are likely to get even hotter as extreme weather becomes the norm worldwide, and experts are talking about temperatures eventually reaching (and surpassing) the 40C mark.

While the entire country is on high alert for high temperatures, there are a few regions that tend to keep milder temperatures – at least in comparison.

They also happen to be beautiful places with good connections to the train and public transport services.

READ ALSO: Five European cities you can reach from Austria in less than five hours by train

Here are five destinations in Austria that you can reach by train to escape the heat of the summer season.

Sonnblick, Hohe Tauern

The alpine mountain range goes through Salzburg, Carinthia, and East Tyrol and contains some of the most spectacular landscapes. Some of its highest peaks, including the Sonnblick summit, reach 3,106 meters of altitude.

The mountain is a popular destination throughout the year, with ski tourers coming in winter and mountaineers arriving in the summer. Even during the worst of July’s heat wave, temperatures didn’t go over 26C in the valley and usually stayed around 15C to 20C.

Nearest railway station: Taxenbach – Rauris, ca. 15 km from Rauris’ town centre.

Here you can find more information about the area.

Lungau Salzburg Austria mountains and trekking

The Lungau region has many beautiful treks in nature (©Ferienregion Salzburger Lungau)

St. Michael im Lungau, Salzburg

This lovely market town located in Salzbrug is a major winter destination for skiing but also offers excellent hiking and tour possibilities during the summer.

While it’s not as cold as the peak alps, the temperatures there are usually a few degrees lower than in other regions.

READ ALSO: How to explore the Austrian mountains in the summer like a local

For example, while most of Austria saw 30C to 35C during the July heat wave, the thermometer didn’t go over 30C in the town. Still hot, but not as unbearable and considering the city is surrounded by nature, with hiking treks, rivers and lakes to cool off, it’s a great alternative to the scorching heat of the bigger cities.

Nearest railway stations: Unzmarkt (for those coming from the east and south) and Bischofshofen or Radstadt (if you are arriving from the north).

Here you can find more information about the area.

Semmering, between Lower Austria and Styria

The mountainous region is known as the ski resort of the Viennese. During summer, temperatures in the Hirschenkogel mountain (1,340m high) usually don’t exceed 20C.

In the valley, though, they can get higher, but it’s easy to cool off in the woods or the tree park, mountain carts and bike park, for example.

READ ALSO: Discover Austria: Five beautiful hikes and destinations south of Vienna

Nearest railway station: Semmering train station.

Here you can find more information about the area.

Climbing the mountains in the Dachstein region give you a chance to cool down in high altitudes and see fantastic views (© Peter Burgstaller / Schladming-Dachstein.at)

Ramsau am Dachstein, Styria

This small town is near the Dachstein mountains and because of its location and elevation, temperatures tend to be some degrees cooler than in surrounding areas. Average temperatures during summer are 20C, but heat waves can bring that up, so be mindful of the weather forecast.

READ ALSO: Heatwave: Nine of the coolest places in Austria

Still, the region is a trendy tourist destination with alpine pastures, beautiful lookout points and many mountain huts.

It’s also easy to get to the Dachstein glacier, in Salzkammergut, where there are literal ice caves for people to get out of the blazing sun and seek refuge in subzero temperatures.

Nearest railway station: Schladming (and there are trains with direct connections from Graz, Innsbruck, and Vienna).

Here you can find more information about the area.

Vienna

The capital may be a hotspot for some heat, but it also has been doing extensive work to counter the effects of climate change. The city has numerous swimming spots (from beaches in the different areas on the Danube to public pools), water fountains and cooling water sprays all over the Austrian capital.

Additionally, its many museums and famous cafes are air-conditioned, and you can enjoy some quiet time in the cool shade while eating a sacher torte, for example.

READ ALSO: Vienna’s free ‘cooling centre’ lets you avoid Austria’s stifling heat

If things get really bad, you can take a trip to the south pole and visit the penguins at Schönbrunn Zoo, which is always a lovely event. On the worst heat wave days, the Red Cross sets up a cooling centre with shade, air conditioning, and plenty of water.

Nearest railway station: the Vienna Central Station, though you can also arrive through other stations, such as Westbahnhof or Meidling, for example.

READ ALSO: Five of the best things to do in Vienna this summer

Do you know any great spots to cool off during Austrian heat? Let us know in the comment section below or send us an email at [email protected]

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