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How to dress for the cold weather in Austria

Amanda Previdelli
Amanda Previdelli - [email protected]
How to dress for the cold weather in Austria
Austrians know how to layer for the cold weather (Photo by Anton on Unsplash)

While those living near the Alps may be used to subzero temperatures, the cold front hitting Vienna has caught many - especially foreigners - off guard. Here's how to dress for the cold spell in Austria.

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December has come to Austria, bringing a cold front that has brought temperatures well below zero, even in Vienna, where snowstorms and minus degrees have become rare. 

In the west, Styria's Murtal Valley was left without power after heavy snowfall caused the collapse of a high-voltage power line tower in Weißkirchen near Judenburg. In Lower Austria, fire departments received 1,800 calls and were deployed to rescue vehicles that slipped out of the snow or clear away trees that fell due to the heavy snowfall.

The entire country dawned in minus degrees, with some regions of Vienna marking -13C, a rarity in a city where the average for the months is between 0C and 5C. In such conditions, dressing correctly is not only advised but life-saving. 

We took some tips from Austrian sayings but also from our neighbours from further north to help you dress for the cold weather in Austria.

READ ALSO: Eight things to know before moving to Tyrol in Austria

Layering up

A very common saying in Austria states that there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing. If you ask an Austrian friend, they will tell you this refers more to technique, per se, than actual brands and fancy outfits. 

Their first tip will likely be: to use your layers effectively. It's no use having a giant and expensive winter jacket if you are not wearing the proper layers underneath. First, a base layer should fit snugly to your skin and have synthetic or natural materials that wick sweat away from your body. This functionality helps to maintain a dry and warm feeling, ensuring comfort during wear.

A mid-layer can help you retain body heat and is typically made of fleeces or lightweight jackets. Finally, an outer layer would be windproof and waterproof to prevent the cold and humidity from reaching you. 

Layering up also helps transition from one environment to another, as every closed-off space in Austria is heated. You won't want to be sweating inside a store because your shirt is too warm.

READ ALSO: The best winter activities to do in Vienna this year

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Know how to accessorise 

Gloves, hats, a scarf, and - crucially - proper shoes (waterproof, comfortable and warm - we will get to more specifics below) will be essential to keep you from getting too cold outside.

A good hat must also protect your ears, and your gloves should cover your whole fingers if you plan to be out for long. Carrying a backup pair of gloves and a hat is a good idea, as those get lost often.

If it is snowing, consider that you won't want a soaking hat and gloves. So, some Austrians also have waterproof mittens and will only go out with a jacket that has a proper (waterproof) hoodie.

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Footwear

When it comes to footwear, opting for shoes that permit a bit of moisture to pass through might be preferable for colder conditions compared to extremely tight-fitting footwear. Still, weatherproof and waterproof shoes are necessary to avoid the melting snow getting inside and literally freezing your toes. You'd be shocked at the difference a good pair of winter boots makes - it will allow you to enjoy long hours at a Christmas market without rushing home because you are too cold.

READ ALSO: How to keep safe and avoid problems when hiking in the Austrian Alps

Snow boots are an excellent choice for outdoor activities, offering protection and warmth.

Getting a pair of shoe spikes could be worthwhile if you live in a region with a lot of snow and where icy conditions are prevalent during winter. However, the Viennese won't need those in the city. 

As for socks, you can either invest in thick synthetic or woos socks or add more (double or triple up) if you have room in your boots.

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