6 steps to Survive an Austrian Winter

We don’t do snowy winters in Melbourne. Its more like, windy, grey and maybe a low of 7 degrees celsius. Nothing so serious as a snowy Austrian winter. Although Vienna has been remarkably warm this year, its still a lot bloody colder than Australia. So, when my family came across for their first Austrian winter, I offered them the following survival tips:

1. Invest in a decent jacket

Critical decision at the start of winter – what will be your jacket of choice through these long, dark, icy months? My heart always wants to get something fashionable but my thin cold skin needs the most effective gear in the business. Last year S got me an unbeatable Dynafit jacket and I haven’t been cold since. Seriously I can ski in this thing, walk to work, wear only a t-shirt underneath and it still keeps me warm. I love it – but its not exactly high fashion. My family took the same approach – warmth was #1 priority over look!

Snowy Schönbrunn

I’m so cosy, I can frolic at the Gloriette!

2. Shoes will save you

A decent pair of warm boots will make or break your winter. You spend so much time trudging through slush, trying not to slip on ice or simply standing outside in the cold when you’re drinking Glüwein at the Christmas Markets, that a decent pair of shoes is essential. Ideally a warm, comfy, fur lined pair of knee-high boots will do the trick. Otherwise you’ll be wearing thick socks a lot, paired with soggy runners and probably be in a really really bad mood the whole winter!

3. Protect yourself

In the snow you need to protect your skin from the sun on those beautiful clear days. Sounds unlikely but trust me on this – sunburn from snow can be a surprise horror as the reflected glare from the white snowy ground hits your unprotected skin as much as the rays from above. Save yourself from the panda-eyes effect by using sunscreen on those gorgeous blue bird days.

4. Accessorize darling…

In Australia I thought winter was all about wearing lots of cozy layers and big thick jumpers and coats. Here, I’ve learnt that its the little things that make a huuuuge difference. Winter accessories are a must – you 100% cannot leave the house without a scarf, hat and gloves or you will freeze. The icy winter wind will sneak down your neck, your fingertips may turn purple and without a hat you can forget about ever feeling your earlobes again. The most shocking thing I saw over our Christmas break was an Irish lad skiing without gloves….I don’t know how his hands survived. Accessorize every day!

First night in Vienna

Mum and Dad luvin’ their hat investments…

5. Use the right products

S managed to terrify my mum into thinking her lips were going to freeze and fall off completely when he shared this particular tip, but it is an important one. In winter you need to use different moisturizers and lip balms than you would in summer. A lot of beauty products have water based ingredients, so if you use them in winter weather you will only dry out your skin/lips, causing more pain than you had in the first place. Apothekes here in Austria sell winter lip balm for about €4 so treat yourself to the right products. I promise your lips won’t fall off!

6. Get into the Spirit

Winter can be cold, grey and wet. Or, if you have the right attitude it can also be beautifully white, magical and the perfect time to develop new skills. This is my third winter in Austria and there’s at least 3 new skills I’ve developed in that time. My skiing has improved massively – only possible in winter. I’ve gained an excellent ability for choosing delicious Glüwein – only possible in winter. I’ve ice-skated outside a hilltop palace – only possible winter.

Ice skating at Wilhelmenberg

Ice-skating very carefully at Schloss Wilhemenberg

Overall a cold winter is what you make it – so embrace the many wonderful opportunities winter brings and enjoy it- no one ever had fun spending 3 months inside whining!

What’s your best survival tip for winter? I’m sure I’ve missed a few crucial ones so let me know your strategies in the comments.

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8 comments

  1. Gretchen

    Dear Carly,

    I’m writing a piece for a local news publication about the best Austrian blogs by expats. Would you be interested in answering a few questions about your blog?

    All the best,
    Gretchen Gatzke

    PS TourRadar? I think we may work in the same building…Clusterhaus? 🙂

    • carlyhulls

      Hi Gretchen

      That sounds like fun – and yes we are in the same building so should be easy to catch up! Sorry for the late reply – work sent me to London last week – but am now back in sunny Vienna and happy to help, let me know when would suit you best.

      Cheers

  2. melindahulls

    The cold weather did interesting things to my hair as well. Looked a bit drab by the time I returned home

  3. Paul Harris

    If you spend lots of time with your computer use eyedrops or you will very soon start to suffer from ‘dry eye’. Cosy central heating produces very dry air and our tears are not up to the competition. When the temperature drops way under zero even the cold air outside is bone dry!

    • carlyhulls

      You’re so right! My eyes dry out really quickly in this weather, writing on the computer all day definitely doesn’t help…thanks for the tip 🙂

    • carlyhulls

      aw man, that’s the hardest thing for me – arriving and leaving work in the dark is so depressing. But not for too much longer I hope!

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