• Search Please fill out this field.
  • Manage Your Subscription
  • Give a Gift Subscription
  • Newsletters
  • Sweepstakes
  • Destinations

20 Best European Cities to Visit in the Winter, According to Travel Experts

Holiday markets and twinkling lights are calling you to these European destinations.

european towns to visit in winter

OscarCatt/Getty Images

The draw to Europe in the summer may be strong, but winter tends to be even better — particularly for travelers who don’t fare well in the heat or in large crowds. Apart from the peak holiday season, most cities in Europe tend to free up from tourists during the winter. “For me, traveling around Europe in the off-season, and specifically during winter, opens a whole new world of travel,” says Kayla Zeigler, owner of Destination Europe, LLC . “Way less crowds, lower hotel pricing, cooler weather… and more space to roam and take in all that Europe has to offer.”

Before embarking on your trip, however, there are a few things to be aware of. “Days get shorter during the winter season, which means less daylight for sightseeing. I recommend planning your activities accordingly and being mindful of opening and closing times for attractions and shops,” says Lydia Forte, group director of food and beverage at Rocco Forte Hotels . Weather-wise, your packing list and itinerary will depend on where you’re going. The temperatures in Nordic and Central European cities can reach well below freezing — allowing for picturesque snowy scenes and excellent skiing —  while Southern Europe (which includes Croatia, Italy, Portugal, and Malta) promises more sunshine and moderate temperatures. 

Meet the Expert

  • Kayla Zeigler owns Destination Europe, a travel agency that specializes in European vacations. 
  • Lydia Forte is the group director of food and beverage at Rocco Forte Hotels, a luxury hotel brand with over a dozen properties across Europe. 
  • Susan Boehnstedt is president of Critics Choice Vacations, an affiliate of Montecito Village Travel, a Virtuoso agency.
  • Tesa Totengco is the founder of Travels with Tesa and a member of Travel + Leisure ’s Travel Advisory Board.

According to Susan Boehnstedt, president of Critics Choice Vacations , you’ll want to start thinking about your trip as soon as possible. “Weather and delays are always possible… [so] additional planning, patience, and perseverance may be required.” That said, the first step in the process is picking out where you want to go — whether you’re interested in Edinburgh’s Christmas markets, Vienna’s opulent balls, or pleasant walks along Las Ramblas in Barcelona. 

Read on to discover 20 of the best European cities to visit in the winter, according to travel experts.

Nuremberg, Germany

romrodinka/Getty Images

Boehnstedt recommends heading to Nuremberg for the “amazing Christmas markets, musical festivals, and overall festive spirit and atmosphere in the charm of Bavaria.” It will be cold, so travelers should bundle up to explore the charming city — a glass of mulled wine while browsing the famed Christkindlesmarkt, one of Germany’s oldest fairs, helps, too.  

Istanbul, Turkey

Fajrul Islam/Getty Images

“Istanbul's unique blend of history, culture, and stunning architecture is enchanting year-round. In winter, you can explore iconic landmarks like the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque with fewer crowds,” says Tesa Totengco , founder of Travels with Tesa . 

London, England

Karl Hendon/Getty Images

“As Christmas approaches, London transforms into a winter wonderland, adorned with captivating city lights, beautifully decorated shops, and many excellent dining choices,” says Forte. Enjoy an afternoon walking through the brightly lit Kew Gardens, or tuck into a Sunday roast at one of the nearby pubs after a long walk through Hampstead Heath. “The weather, while cold, usually is snow-free, so it makes it easier to get about,” adds Boehnstedt.  

Edinburgh, Scotland

georgeclerk/Getty Images

“If you like moody skies and cozy corners in coffee shops, Edinburgh is the place to visit during the winter months,” says Zeigler. Expect cold weather and shorter days — the sun sets before 4 p.m. in December — but there’s still plenty to enjoy in the Scottish capital. “Keep warm with a wee dram, cozied up next to a roaring fire in any of Edinburgh’s iconic luxury hotels ,” says Zeigler. 

Valletta, Malta

merc67/Getty Images

Snow-capped mountains and excursions requiring multiple layers aren’t for everyone. Thankfully, Europe has other options — one of which is Valletta, Malta. “Malta boasts a mild Mediterranean climate, even in winter. You can explore [Valletta’s] rich history, architecture, and vibrant culture without the scorching summer heat,” says Totengco.

Bath, England

andreviegas/Getty Images

A winter’s day in Bath is best spent browsing its various quaint bookstores, indulging in afternoon tea, soaking in the famed waters of the Thermae Bath Spa, and popping into one of the city’s oldest pubs, Saracens Head or The Star Inn. For a more festive touch, add ice skating at Royal Victoria Park and picking up gifts at the Bath Christmas Market to your day’s activities. 

Paris, France

encrier/Getty Images

It’s true what they say: There’s never a bad time to visit Paris. As fall transitions into the colder months, the City of Light becomes extra cozy and even more romantic. “The museums are empty and are amazing places to have to yourself on a rainy or chilly day. Paris’ famous street cafés are still functioning in winter… with heat lamps and warm furry blankets — perfect for people watching and sipping a glass of wine (or a hot chocolate),” says Zeigler. “And, of course, the lower hotel prices can’t be beat this time of year.”

Related : Why Paris in Winter Is Always a Good Idea — and What to Do While You're There

Dubrovnik, Croatia

loeskieboom/Getty Images

Given its status as a UNESCO World Heritage City, it’s no surprise that Dubrovnik is popular with tourists, especially in the summer. In the winter, though, you won’t have to fight for the best views of the iconic sights — the City Walls, the Cable Car, and the Dubrovnik Cathedral. Your trip may also fall during the Dubrovnik Winter Festival , featuring concerts, festive lights, and markets.

Rovaniemi, Finland

maydays/Getty Images

Winter is the ideal time to visit the “official hometown of Santa Claus.” “Rovaniemi, the capital of Finnish Lapland , is known for its Santa Claus Village, where one can meet Santa Claus himself. Here, you can also enjoy activities like reindeer safaris, dog sledding, and witnessing the northern lights from your unique igloo accommodation ,” says Totengco.

Málaga, Spain

MEDITERRANEAN/Getty Images

“Located on the Costa del Sol, Málaga offers a pleasant climate where you can still enjoy outdoor activities, explore historic sites like the Alcazaba, [visit the] neighboring towns of Ronda and Seville, and enjoy delicious Spanish cuisine in a relaxed atmosphere,” says Totengco. Temperatures typically range from the mid-50s to low 70s, and there the sun provides a much-needed dose of vitamin D.

Reykjavík, Iceland

Merten Snijders/Getty Images

You’ll only have a few hours of daylight in Reykjavík this time of year, but winter is also your best chance to see the northern lights in Iceland. Consider taking a boat tour out of Reykjavík Old Harbor, or use the city as your base camp before heading off on a longer excursion. To shake the cold, take a dip in the nearby Sky Lagoon, where the waters are typically around 100 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Related: How to See the Northern Lights in Iceland

Rome, Italy

Alexander Spatari/Getty Images

Rome’s peak season comes to a close in November, so travelers have December through March to enjoy the capital city’s quieter side. Before or after a day of shopping and sightseeing, Forte recommends grabbing pizza from Emma or getting a table at Roscioli for lunch. We think pasta and pizza sound like the perfect way to warm up from a chilly walk.

Lucerne, Switzerland

LuismiX/Getty Images

As temperatures fall below freezing, the cities and towns in the Swiss Alps — like Lucerne — beckon to winter sports enthusiasts, as well as those who want an extra large helping of alpine charm. “Snow sports in the mountains may likely be very possible. Plan a day tour on one of the Swiss scenic trains across the winter wonderland,” says Boehnstedt. Lucerne is also a great option for international travelers, as it’s just a quick 40-minute train ride from Zurich. 

Lisbon, Portugal

Gautier Houba/Travel + Leisure

Lisbon’s sunshine is part of its appeal, even in the winter. Depending on the day, you may only need a light or medium-weight jacket as you walk up and down the many hills, through the cobbled streets, and by the tiled buildings of the Alfama district. Compared to summer, this time of year is significantly more pleasant for on-foot exploration — but don’t forget to hop on a yellow tram at least once or twice. 

Barcelona, Spain

JackF/Getty Images

According to Zeigler, in Barcelona , “one of Europe’s largest and busiest cruise port cities,”  winter means getting a break from the crowds created by cruises. “Imagine walking directly into the Sagrada Familia with no long line! Strolling and exploring are more pleasant; restaurants are less crowded,” she says. Outdoor swimming may be a no-go, but travelers can still bask in the rays along the oceanfront promenade. 

Venice, Italy

Daniel Gorostieta/Travel + Leisure

“On a sunny winter day, Venice is pure magic! With the city's new floodgates almost fully working now, hardly any high water (Aqua Alta) affects Venice anymore,” says Zeigler. And, as with most European cities in the off-season, it will be easier to navigate your way through the compact city without the staggering number of summer travelers. “Winter is the perfect time to visit the big sites, as you can get tickets and don’t have to do the ridiculous queues,” says Forte. Check off all the classics, including the Piazza San Marco, the Bridge of Sighs, Doge's Palace, and Forte’s personal favorite, the Peggy Guggenheim Collection.

Amsterdam, Netherlands

XXX/Getty Images

Amsterdam might not be the first European destination you think of when planning winter travel, but it has its own brand of magic this time of year.  “When it stays cold enough, long enough, the many canals of Amsterdam become a giant outdoor skating rink,” says Zeigler. This event is rare — and becoming increasingly so — but there are other sides of Amsterdam to explore as well. Bring a book or a good friend to one of the city’s many coffee shops and pubs, complete with “winter lights and cozy nooks,” she adds. 

Nice, France

Utenzilije/Getty Images

You won’t be frequenting Nice’s beach clubs this time of year, but there’s still beauty to be found in the waterfront city; you just have to know where to look. Get your steps in by walking up Castle Hill, a feat rewarded with an incredible view, or spend a day meandering through the narrow streets of Old Town. Schedule permitting, take a day trip to Monaco, or explore one of the many small towns in the French Riviera . 

Florence, Italy

Those visiting Florence in the winter might not see any snow, but they’ll have the gift of lower hotel prices, fewer fellow travelers, and the option to go truffle hunting. “This time of year is when truffles are in season,” says Forte, who shares that guests of Hotel Savoy — named one of the best hotels in Florence by T+L readers — can book a truffle excursion via a vintage car. “The experience is especially extraordinary as guests can enjoy stunning views of the Ponte Vecchio, Piazzale Michelangelo, and San Miniato along their drive before heading into the Tuscan hills on their search for truffles,” she explains. 

Vienna, Austria

Creativemarc/Getty Images

Get out your dancing shoes and black-tie attire: Winter is ball season in Vienna. Viennese balls are open to the public, so travelers just have to find one that aligns with their trip and buy tickets — and don’t worry, there are quite a few to choose from. Not sure where to start? Bookmark the Vienna Philharmonic Ball in January, or the Vienna State Opera Ball in February.

Related Articles

Join our Adventure: Get all my insider tips for motorhoming & road trips

Wandering Bird Motorhome travel vanlife & road trip logo

25 Unmissable European Cities to visit in Winter

Best European Cities to visit in Winter

Looking for the best European cities to visit in winter or the best Europe winter destination ideas? We share the best places to go for winter sunshine, winter snow, northern lights or just plain winter fun!

*We work hard to make this the best motorhome travel blog and road trip website possible, full of helpful content for you. The website is supported by our readers, so if you buy through links on this site we may earn a commission- at no extra cost to you. All opinions remain our own .

If you find this post useful, you can also treat us to a coffee – we promise to enjoy it while creating more useful content like this- we might even indulge in a biscuit (or two!)

JUMP AHEAD TO...

Europe Winter Destination Ideas

I LOVE travelling during winter. And one of the best things about travelling in Europe during winter is you can choose between sunshine, city breaks or mountain retreats.

You can choose to fly in to one of these historic European cities, but don’t forget that Europe is perfect for a winter road trip so you can have a little taste of everything (and we don’t just mean the local foods!)

To help, we’ve compiled a selection of our favourite European cities to visit in winter – we hope one of these best winter destinations are perfect for you!

Best European cities to visit in winter

Where are the best European City breaks in Winter?

Truth be told, there are many options for winter city breaks in Europe – and the perfect idea for you will depend on what sort of city break you want to experience.

If you want a European weekend city break, the best option is going to be a city with an airport which offers direct connection near you- otherwise, you’ll lose half of your weekend travelling!

We especially love short winter trips to these amazing European Christmas Markets (although the UK Christmas markets are amazing too!)

If you have longer than a weekend for a winter vacation, you need to decide if you’d like to experience some sunshine (so you’ll want to head to countries nearer the Equator), see the Northern Lights in Europe or head to the snow. Europe has LOTS of mountains and some fantastic ski resorts (if you have a motorhome, motorhome skiing/ ski camping is an amazing idea!)

We’ve been lucky enough to visit many European cities in winter- here are some of our favourites.

5 Best winter city breaks in Europe for guaranteed snow

Looking for European winter destination city breaks with a high chance of snow ? Whether you enjoy skiing, snowboarding or the drinks in the bar, these European city breaks will give you a taste of European winter mountain life.

There is a lot of talk recently about climate change, global warming and weather shifts, but these places are almost ‘guaranteed’ to have snow. 

(I’ll admit, some of them aren’t ‘cities’- there aren’t many cities built up mountains!!)

Remember- these places are COLD in winter- make sure you pack appropriate warm winter clothing !

Chamonix, Mont Blanc, France

Chamonix- one of the best places in Europe to visit in winter.

We visited Mont Blanc in the summer – and took the cable car up the mountain to enjoy the incredible views.

But Chamonix is a perfect winter city break in Europe . It’s easy (ish) to reach from nearby airports, there are PLENTY of bars, restaurants and places to stay and (apparently) the skiing/ snowboarding is great.

(I don’t ski- I’m like a baby giraffe on ice. I’m scared I’ll hurt something. But I’m happy to enjoy the apres-ski. And the hot tubs!)

Chamonix is also called the ‘ mountaineering Capital of Europe ‘- adventurers travel from all over the world in winter to experience hiking and climbing these slopes in the snow! 

If you’re travelling the Alps in a motorhome , there is a great aire near Chamonix to enjoy. For more information about using aires during winter, see our guide to motorhome skiing.

READ MORE: Complete guide to motorhome touring in France

St Moritz, Switzerland

"<yoastmark

St Moritz is the OLDEST winter holiday resort in the world ! It’s famous for having fantastic snow, whilst enjoying around 320 days a year sunshine.

No, I’m not sure how that’s possible either!

This is the place to come if you want to enjoy your winter weekend break with royalty and celebrities. There are world-class hotels, restaurants, shops and bars to enjoy if you don’t fancy getting out on the slopes. 

The apres-ski scene is relaxed but posh- there’s a lot of money in this resort. But the skiing is fantastic- there’s a reason it’s survived this long as ‘the’ place in Europe to visit in winter. 

Kitzbuhel, Austria

Kitzbuhel, Austria- one of the best European cities to visit in winter

I grew up watching the men’s downhill ski racing with my parents every winter. It was SO exciting!

If you’re going to pick the best European city for winter ski racing, this is the place. It’s only two hours from Munich, so you can pop there for the Christmas Market or maybe even go see Neuschwanstein Castl e in the snow!

(If you don’t know- Neuschwanstein Castle is the one which inspired Disney’s Cinderella castle. It’s seriously beautiful.)

Kitzbuhel is posh, but not obscenely so. Bars are lively and fun, the village is BEAUTIFUL (cobbled streets and wooden chalets) and the skiing is, as you would expect, pretty demanding. 

Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy

Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy- winter destination in Europe

Believe it or not, Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy is 1000 years old ! Just two hours from the canals of Venice and surrounded by the awe-inspiring Dolomites, it’s a great choice for a winter break in Europe.

The skiing is good, plus there are over 50 miles of cross-country trails, if that’s your thing. There are also incredible glaciers to enjoy nearby, like the one above. 

The vibe at Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy is chilled- not as snobby as many ski resorts, although apparently it’s a favourite haunt of George Clooney!

See more about the Dolomites here

Courchevel, France

european towns to visit in winter

I debated not including this in the best winter city breaks Europe… but it’s so famous it’s impossible not to! 

This is THE place for celebs to come to enjoy skiing, shopping and relaxing. It’s also one of the best places for skiing well into March and sometimes early April- the snow is that good! 

People make reservations in Courchevel a year or more in advance, so hotels and chalets book up quickly.

Having said that, you can get some FANTASTIC last-minute deals if you keep your eyes and options open- that’s one of our favourite ways to get a winter weekend break in Europe on a budget.

Europe in Winter- 5 Best European cities to visit in winter to see the Northern Lights

Crisp snowy views, clear chilled night air, sipping a warm drink whilst staring up at one of the most incredible sights I’ve ever seen… the Aurora Borealis.

It’s one of the most common questions- WHERE can you see the Northern Lights in Europe?

The short answer is north of the Arctic Circle and ideally not near the sea (although I’ve seen them twice from a boat!)

Of course, doing that only INCREASES your chances of seeing the Northern Lights- it doesn’t guarantee a sighting sadly. 

Still, these 5 European cities are widely regarded as the BEST European cities to visit in winter to see the Northern Lights. The Aurora can most often be seen between October- March

I’m going to add to this frustration and remind you that these are the best European cities to visit … but you really need to leave them at night-time and get away from the light pollution to get the best chance of seeing the Northern Lights.

Many of these cities offer evening/ overnight tours to make it easier for you.

Abisko, Sweden

Best European cities to visit in winter- Abisko is a great winter city break to see the Northern Lights!

Abisko in Sweden is fast becoming one of the best places in the world to see the Northern Lights! The mountains and local climate create perfect conditions, with a surprisingly high number of clear night skies. 

Temperatures in Sweden are often milder than you expect, thanks to the Gulf stream. This seems to have a good effect on the Aurora- Abisko has one of the highest ‘sighting ratios’ in the world. 

Getting there: Abisko is a Europe winter destination which is tough to access. Flights go to nearby Kiruna, and then you need train or bus north to Abisko.

But this remoteness adds to the increased chance of seeing the lights, so it’s worth the hassle!

Reykjavik, Iceland

Rekyjavik- One of the best European cities for a winter break for see the Northern Lights

Reykjavik in Iceland is very far north, yes, but it’s one of the most popular cities in Europe for Aurora hunters- mainly because there are so many other things to do nearby.

You can enjoy the city of Reykjavik, with its beautiful houses, heritage and cafes, but there are also many famous attractions nearby, such as the Blue Lagoon heated springs, glaciers, waterfalls and more!

We visited Reykjavik for a long weekend in March and we definitely needed warm winter clothing, but it wasn’t so cold that you couldn’t get outside and enjoy the incredible landscapes. 

Of course, to really appreciate the beauty of the Aurora, make sure you get away from the city lights and head to one of these best places in Iceland to see the Northern Lights

Getting there: Direct flights from London and many major cities in Europe & USA. 

Tromso, Norway

Tromso, Norway- a perfect winter city break in Europe

We stopped at Tromso for two nights before catching a Hurtigruten cruise ship (which was fantastic!) We sailed the coast all the way up to the Russian border and back, seeing incredible wildlife.

There are so many breathtaking places in Norway – it’s impossible to pick a favourite!

We were also lucky enough to see the Northern Lights all 4 nights of our cruise!

Tromso itself has many bars, cafes and hotels, as well as a few winter activities to enjoy. Just beware the prices- Northern Norway is even more expensive than Southern Norway , especially for food & drink!

January is a great time to visit- Tromso holds the Northern Lights Festival every January, which is full of music and entertainment,

Getting there: Direct flights from many places in UK, Europe & US.

Don’t forget, if you want to tour Norway in a motorhome , many of the roads are difficult to drive during winter, so you might want to save your road trip until the roads have cleared.

Rovaniemi, Finland

Rovaniemi, Finland- one of the best cities in Europe for a winter break

Many people know of Rovaniemi, Finnish Lapland as the home of Santa Claus and reindeer. Hundreds of over-excited children turn up each year on Santa flights (seriously- that’s what they’re called), so they can eat too much sugar and tell Santa all their secrets. 

But Rovaniemi is much more than that. There are hotels for adults to enjoy stargazing and Northern lights watching, as well as photography and wildlife tours. 

Autumn and early Spring are best in Finland; clear nights, but not freezing. There are a lot of lakes around Rovaniemi which offer fantastic reflections of the Aurora if it comes out to play!

Getting there: Can be tricky, depending on airlines, despite Rovaniemi airport being ‘Santa’s airport’. You’ll probably need to fly to Helsinki first and then change. 

Kiruna, Sweden

Enjoy a weekend winter city break in Kiruna, Sweden

Kiruna is a place many people stop at on the way to Abisko, but it has a lot to offer in its own right. For a start, it’s a lot easier to get to than Abisko, with regular flights.

It also offers tours such as snowmobiling on electric sleds- making them virtually silent- a magical way to enjoy the countryside and, hopefully, the Northern Lights twinkling overhead.

There are plenty of hotels available in the area, at all price ranges. 

Getting there: Many direct flights operate during winter months. 

Where can you see the Northern Lights in Europe? Find out HERE

Europe in Winter- 5 best European cities to visit in winter for Christmas Markets

Everyone wants to know the biggest and best Christmas Markets in Europe- and how to visit them.

I have an entire post on the Biggest Christmas Markets in Europe , but here’s a quick rundown on 4 of my favourites:

BIGGEST Christmas Market in Europe- Nuremberg Christkindlsmarkt, Germany

Winter in Europe- BIGGEST Christmas Market in Europe- Nuremberg Christkindlsmarkt, Germany

Nuremberg is the biggest Christmas market in Europe. It has over 350 stalls- which is HUGE, but that’s what makes it fun! (If you’ve ever been to one of the London Christmas Markets , it’s like that… but bigger)

I love everything about this market. There’s so much to see, do, eat and admire that you’ll want to spend much longer than a weekend here. You can enjoy the delicious food, skating rinks and stalls full of handmade crafts. It’s wonderful.

Winter Break in Europe- the OLDEST Christmas Market- Dresden, Germany

Winter in Europe HAS to involve Christmas markets- the perfect winter city break

Dresden is the oldest Christmas Market in Europe . It’s beautiful and a perfect place to spend a winter city break. This market is now over 580 years old!!!!! 

I’m also a fan of the carousel and the Ferris wheel- just adds to the fun, carnival vibe. As you can see above, Christmas markets in Europe are the ‘real-deal’; the locals take great pride in their markets and the entire city gets involved in the festivities.

OLDEST & biggest Christmas Market in France- Strasbourg

Winter in Europe- winter city break. OLDEST & biggest Christmas Market in France- Strasbourg

Strasbourg is the oldest Christmas Market in France- and makes the perfect city to visit in winter for a European city break.

It’s another beautiful city to explore, with quaint streets, beautiful architecture and delicious food!

I love the differences between Germany Christmas Markets and French ones- both fun and festive, but subtle differences in culture. If you have time, I recommend a winter weekend break to both!

London, England- one of the best places in Europe in winter

Best Christmas Markets in the UK

London is magical in winter. There are Christmas lights EVERYWHERE and all the big stores make a real effort to dress their shop windows and entice people inside.

Be sure to visit Harrods- its storefront alone is one of the most Instagrammable places in London at Christmas. You could spend an entire day happily wandering around the busy shopping streets, just soaking up the atmosphere.

Of course, if you only have a weekend in London , you’ll need to spend it wisely. Some of the best places to visit during winter include:

  • A trip on the London Eye
  • Ice skating at one of the many outdoor rinks
  • Discovering at least one of the many museums in London
  • Don’t miss a boat ride on the Thames- and a trip to Greenwich to see the International Date Line
  • And of course, the famous Winter Wonderland, one of the best UK Christmas markets .

Perfect Winter City Break- Munich, Germany

Perfect Winter City Break- Munich, Germany Best European cities to visit in Winter

Munich was the first Christmas Market in Europe we ever visited- and it was magical. Munich in winter does not disappoint.  The atmosphere, the friendly people, the beer… I’ve never felt so Christmassy!! 

All the locals turned up to the market after work to enjoy the music, beer and atmosphere, the beer halls were packed with men in lederhosen and it was a fantastic weekend break for a very reasonable cost! 

We also loved that there were so many things to do in Munich apart from the Christmas Market. 

If you’re planning to visit a Christmas Market in Europe, here are 9 ESSENTIAL things you need to know before you go!

Other notable cities for Christmas Markets include Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen (Denmark), Prague (Czech Republic), Bruges (Belgium), Salzburg and Vienna (Austria), Budapest (Hungary), Tallinn (Estonia), and Amsterdam (the Netherlands). Find out more about Christmas Markets in Europe here.

Europe in Winter- Best European cities to visit for sunshine & culture

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but not many places in Europe are warm during Winter, especially January- March. Sure, you might get sunny days, but there are a LOT of cold winds which brings the average temperature down significantly.

HOWEVER, travelling Europe in winter can be the perfect time to see some of the busiest and more congested cities in Europe.

Places where you normally can’t move for bodies in the old town square or get close to the magnificent architecture normally are PERFECT places to visit in winter. 

You may wander around wearing a warm coat instead of shorts, but don’t let that put you off; these are some of the best winter city breaks in Europe .

Even better, flights and accommodation are often half the price- so you can see more for less! If you’re winter motorhoming , some campsites areup to 70% cheaper!

Looking for sunshine in Europe in Winter? Here are some of the warmest places in Europe in February

Athens, Greece

Athens, Greece- one of the best European cities to visit in winter

 Recommended by Jen from Jen on a Jetplane

While the Greek Islands are quiet in the winter, Athens is buzzing year-round. The city is a tourist hotspot due to the year-round Mediterranean cruise ships which dock nearby.

Winter is the perfect time to plan a trip to Greece . Athens usually has sunny days and mild temperatures. It’s tied with Madrid for sunniest city in Europe, boasting a dazzling 350 days of sunshine annually.

This is the perfect time to visit the Parthenon and the Acropolis Museum where centuries of history and priceless artefacts are displayed.

There’s also a free walking tour on the Rick Steves app to help you get acquainted with monuments you’ll see throughout the neighbourhoods — history is everywhere .

If you want to experience a taste of island life in the city then visit Anafiotika, a residential neighbourhood with whitewashed walls and scenic alleyways that is a hidden oasis. 

Athens makes the perfect base for day trips or winter weekend escapes . You could take a train to the Oracle of Delphi or wander north to Meteora, a UNESCO World Heritage Sore and Game of Thrones location . See them all on this 2-day Athens itinerary.

Winter may be dreary in other places, but in Athens it’s eventful and lively. Take advantage of the off-season prices and reduced crowds to come and explore this historic city. 

Average Winter Sunshine Temperature in January: The average highs are 14-15 celsius (57f) but it can often be even warmer. 

TOP TIP for Winter city breaks: Finally, no visit to Athens is complete without trying some of the delicious food- and always say yes when offered baklava. 

Rome, Italy

Rome is a perfect Winter City Break. Best European cities to visit in Winter

We’ve campervanned in Italy and visited Rome a couple of times- once in June when it was crazy busy and we once again visited Rome in February – which was magical. 

The difference in the volume of people was amazing- there were no queues for the Vatican or the Colosseum and you could get fantastic photos of the major sites without crowds in the way.

True, you couldn’t sit by the Trevi fountain enjoying an ice cream, but you COULD sit there and enjoy a nice hot chocolate while watching the world go by. Get more Italian road trip tips here

  Average Winter Sunshine Temperature in January: The average highs are 13 celsius (55f)

Why is it one of the best European cities to visit in Winter? The history! You could walk around this city for days and still not see everything!   TOP TIP for Winter City Break: The Horse-drawn carriage may look cute, but AGREE a price before you start the ride… or it can be an expensive mistake! 

Dubrovnik, Croatia

Dubrovnik- one of the best European cities to visit in Winter

Recommended by Kate from Our Escape Clause

Featuring bright sunshine, terracotta rooftops, epic Adriatic views, and all the Game of Thrones filming locations you could hope for, it’s hard to argue that there’s a better place to seek out winter sunshine in Europe than Dubrovnik.

It’s no secret that Dubrovnik has problems with overtourism–the small, walled city simply isn’t big enough to hold all the people who want to visit it, but an easy solution to this problem is to visit in winter !

Sure, you’ll need to leave your swimsuit at home, but with winter temperatures averaging no less than 48 degrees Fahrenheit/9 degrees Celsius in the coldest months of the year, it’s not like you’ll freeze during a winter trip, either.

While some businesses do close during the off-season, you’ll find Dubrovnik far from deserted even in the depths of winter. Popular tour options like Game of Thrones tours and day trips to nearby areas run all year, and you won’t have any problems finding a cup of coffee or a tasty meal.

Winter City Break- Cheap accommodation & tours!

The benefits of visiting Dubrovnik in winter are overwhelming. The prices alone are a marvel, with accommodations often listed at around 75% LESS than their going rate in high summer! Of course, if you’re going motorhoming in Croatia , you’ll still be able to find some campsites open too.

Many of the best things to do in Dubrovnik , including visiting Lovrijenac Fortress, admiring the view from Minčeta Fortress, watching the sunset at a cliff bar, and walking its famous city walls, are all available in winter.

But instead of battling crowds to get a view on the city walls at sunset, you may just find yourself standing completely alone while overlooking the Adriatic Sea.

Average Winter Sunshine Temperature in January: The average highs are 12 celsius (54f)

Why is it one of the best European cities to visit in Winter? The Game of Thrones locations! You’ll actually be able to see them at this time of year!!  TOP TIP for Winter City Break: Take the wind chill into account- those winds can be chilly.

Lisbon, Portugal

One of the best winter city breaks in Europe- Lisbon. Best city in Europe to visit in winter

Recommended by Kristen from Our Passion for Travel

When seeking European sunshine in the winter , Lisbon is an easy option. A visit here during the depths of winter in December and January will see average highs of 15 degrees and lows of 8 degrees.

Pair this with 9-10 hours of sunlight each day, and you’ve got a genuine winter sunshine destination (which is probably why so many people move to Portugal – even if just for the winter months!)

If you’re campervanning in Portugal , head to the hills. In many ways, hiking Lisbon’s hills may be better in winter than summer. You’ll still feel the lactic acid burning in your calves, but the more pleasant temperatures will certainly make it easier.

At sunset, head up to St George’s Castle for some unforgettable views over the city.  Of all the things to do in Lisbon , this is not to be missed. 

You’re well perched here to take in the colourful architecture, the bustling hum of the city and the cool sea breeze.

Europe in Winter- Travelling around Lisbon

If you’re looking for the quickest tour of Lisbon available, there is no better option than the #28 tram. And with less tourists than the crowded summer months, the wait time for this tram is likely to be a lot less than those poor souls waiting in the scorching sun.

The #28 tram takes you on a surreal, winding journey of Lisbon’s streets. Watch as the driver winds the incredibly manual tram around 90-degree bends and the tram feels like it’s going to scrape the walls. Grab it anywhere along its route and enjoy this nostalgic ride- it’s the perfect way to make the most of your one day in Lisbon .

Average Winter Sunshine Temperature in January: The average highs are 15 celsius (59f)

Why is it one of the best European cities to visit in Winter? It’s one of the few locations in western Europe with decent weather during Winter.   

TOP TIP for Winter City Break: Give your taste buds a treat at Pasteis de Belem with a ‘pastels de nata’ or 3! The delectable Portuguese egg tarts are originally from this location, and this really is a case of the original being the best.

Nice, France

Nice France- One of the best cities in Europe to visit during Winter

Recommended by Heather from RaulersonGirlsTravel

The French Riviera is a great place to visit when you are looking for sunshine to chase the doldrums of winter in Europe. If you’re motorhoming in France , you might come to Nice in January for a couple of days and end up staying a whole week because of the wonderful weather.

With its own microclimate, Nice tends to stay warmer than the rest of the South of France due to its location surrounded by mountains. Nice is also a prime spot to stay in the French Riviera as it is convenient to travel to many other towns along the Mediterranean- that’s why it’s one of the top cities to visit in France.

Day trips to  Èze village , Saint-Paul de Vence, and Monaco are quick and easy on public transportation. If you want to stay in town there is plenty of things to do such as: walk along the Promenade des Anglais, explore the old quarter, or even see a movie at the cinema.

Best things to do in Nice in Winter

The best thing to do is to eat and there are so many choices for you to pick from. You can sit outside of a cafe, munch on a croissant and drink espresso while watching the people walk by or you can dine on French cuisine in any of the excellent restaurants.

In January average temperatures range in the mid-50s, but with the sun shining down it feels like it is in the 60s. With so many things to do and the fabulous climate during the winter, Nice should be on the top of your list to visit when the rest of Europe is covered in snow.

Average Winter Sunshine Temperature in January: The average highs are 13 celsius (54f) (feels warmer in the sun)  

Why is it one of the best European cities to visit in Winter? The south of France is also famous for being the centre of Impressionism and houses many art museums for you to explore including the Marc Chagall National Museum in Nice.  

TOP TIP for Winter City Break: Stay here in February, and you can visit the nearby town of Menton for the annual Menton Lemon Festival ! (Seriously- you have to see it to believe it!!)  

NOTE: There is a new France winter tyre law- read more here if you’re travelling by road.

Madrid, Spain

european towns to visit in winter

Madrid is one of the best European cities to visit in winter. The weather remains warm (ish) and there are often more sunny days than not, even if the air can feel cool.

How warm is Madrid in Winter?

Surprisingly, snow can fall in Madrid in December and January, but often the average temperature is around 6’c. Not bikini weather, but not too cold to stop you enjoying exploring this beautiful city.

Where to stay ?

If you’re not touring Spain in a motorhome , there are plenty of accommodation options available during winter. Madrid is a big destination for Christmas shoppers, so hotels, apartments and airBnBs in Madrid all stay open throughout winter.

Best things to do in Madrid in winter?

Some of the highlights of a winter city break to Madrid include:

  • Riding the Navibus (Christmas bus- all through December)
  • The Christmas markets (some of the best and biggest Christmas markets in Europe )
  • Visit the Royal Palace
  • Enjoy the many museums and galleries
  • Walk down Gran Via
  • Marvel at Palacio de Cibeles

Of course, if you have time, there’s plenty to do around Madrid as well. You could take a day trip to Toledo , or head north to Valladolid, visit Seville for the oranges or the Spanish coast (although it can be very windswept in winter!

Naples, Italy

Naples Italy- one of the best European cities in winter

Recommended by Kaisa from Glam Granola Travels

Most people consider Naples the gateway to Southern Italy —the city where Southern culture, cuisine, and yes, weather, truly begin!

My favourite winter months to visit Naples are February and March . There isn’t normally much rain, and the hours of sunshine per day are climbing quickly, particularly in March. Average temperatures are in the early teens (c) (50+F) 

Naples is already a wonderfully authentic destination with a much more local feel to it than cities like Rome or Florence, and in the winter this is all the more true. You’ll be surrounded by locals, rather than tourists.

Europe in Winter- Outdoor activities in Naples

While you won’t want to go swimming, the weather is lovely for a hike . You can spend at least a day exploring the ruins of Pompeii , which you may have all to yourself!

Mt. Vesuvius should be open to hikers by February as well, unless the winter ice went particularly late. It’s a really doable day hike with insane views of the entire city , plus who doesn’t want to hike a famous volcano?!

Within the city itself, be sure to eat some Neapolitan pizza . I can’t tell you how many times we’ve sat outside pizzerias, people-watching with a glass of wine or Peroni beer whilst motorhoming in Italy.

Naples has Southern Italy’s characteristic slow-moving, relaxing, laid back vibe to it. I can think of no better city to enjoy some peaceful winter sun, outdoor adventures, and ridiculously tasty food.

Average Winter Sunshine Temperature in January: The average highs are 12 celsius (52f)   

Why is it one of the best European cities to visit in Winter? True, authentic Italian pizza. The “best pizza in the world”, the one Liz Gilbert penned love sonnets to in Eat, Pray, Love, can be found at L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele.   

TOP TIP for Winter City Break: Be sure to visit Herculaneum as well as Pompeii. We enjoyed both, but Herculaneum is INCREDIBLY well preserved!    

Alternatively, head over the border into Asia and enjoy some of these incredible Winter City Breaks:

Baku, Azerbaijan

"<yoastmark

Recommended by Ellis from Backpack Adventures

Baku is a perfect destination to visit in winter . Even though it does get cold, its location on the coast makes for a milder climate than elsewhere in Azerbaijan.

Snow is rare and the average temperature is around 10 degrees Celsius. Most of the time the weather will be sunny. This makes winter a great time to explore the city while escaping the summer heat.

Baku is a city at the crossroads of Europe and Asia and it is actually a bit of both. While Baku’s modern shopping street looks typical European, its old town brings you straight to the Middle East with ancient caravanserais, mosques and palaces.

In fact, the city has a long history of influences from different empires like The Persians, the Ottomans and the Russians.

Baku is also a cosmopolitan city with a lot of new futuristic buildings like the flame towers. They are a symbol for the country’s vast reserves of oil and gas.

Most of its wealth is concentrated in Baku. That doesn’t mean Baku needs to be expensive. For a Capital city, it is still very budget-friendly.

Among the top things to do in Baku is wandering around the old town that is beautifully renovated. Don’t miss the palace of the Shirvanshah.

Average Winter Sunshine Temperature in January: 13c/ 54F

TOP TIP for a winter city break : To see Baku’s futuristic architecture walk along the sea boulevard and then take the funicular up to the flame towers for a beautiful view over the city.

Kusadasi, Turkey

Kusadasi, Turkey- one of the best cities for a winter sunshine break

Recommended by Rebecca from Rayner En Route

Turkey is an incredible country to visit for winter sunshine and one of the best areas to enjoy at this time of year is the port city of Kusadasi.

Situated on Turkey’s western coast, in the summer months, Kusadasi is well and truly alive with visitors coming to land from the many giant cruise ships that dock here.  

Things get quieter in the winter, but with temperatures averaging 16c across these months, there’s still plenty of sunshine-filled fun to be had. For the warmest temperatures, head to Kusadasi in October or November to enjoy the heat in the early ’20s.  

Winter City Break- things to do in Kusadasi

During your trip, start by exploring the city of Kusadasi itself, rambling through its many colourful medinas. These markets delight the senses, with the waft of strong spices filling the air as the energetic sounds of bartering can be heard all around.

Here you can pick up a Turkish eye, a traditional symbol said to ward off bad spirits and keep its owner protected. 

READ MORE: Bizarre Customs and traditions in Europe that you’ve never heard of!

Next walk up to the Güvercinada peninsular, which literally translates to mean Pigeon Island. The castle on the Island was commissioned by an Ottoman admiral, but nowadays it is a relaxing place to walk and explore.

After seeing Kusadasi, a trip to the historic ancient city of Ephesus is a must!  This city was an important metropolis in both Greek and Roman times and offers visitors a spectacular insight into ancient life. 

One of the highlights found at Ephesus is the incredible Celsus library, which was once the third largest library of the ancient world, housing over 12,000 scrolls.  

Taking a tour of Ephesus from Kusadasi is the best way to see these incredible ruins. Enjoy the insight offered by a knowledgeable guide, with transport that easily takes you to the sight in just 30 minutes.  

Average Winter Sunshine Temperature in January: 16c/ 61F

TOP TIP for a winter city break : An experience not to be missed is a visit to Pamukkale’s mineral-rich thermal waters. These gorgeous UNESCO status baths are warm cascading pools that offer visitors the perfect place to relax, in a setting the easily teleports you to another planet.

Entry to Pamukkale costs just £6 and is one of the most visited sights in Turkey. 

Make planning your next road trip EASY (& fun!)

When you’re planning a road trip, keeping track & organising all your ideas is often the hardest part. Fix that TODAY with our printable pdf road trip planner. Grab yours FREE now

european towns to visit in winter

This form subscribes you to our mailing list. We share tips, itineraries, stupid mistakes and guides like this for road trippers and motorhomers.

We never spam (yuck) and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Europe Winter Destinations- Where is the best place in Europe to spend Christmas?

This is a tough one- and again it probably depends on what you want from your Christmas in Europe .

Do you want some winter sun and to spend Christmas Day on the beach with a BBQ? If so, Spain or one of the European Mediterranean Islands is probably a good idea.

Alternatively, do you want to enjoy incredible mountain views , but still want some life and a party to join? Perhaps one of the ski resorts would work for you.

If you want one of the best New Year’s Eve parties ever, head to Edinburgh in Scotland. Bringing in the New Year with Hogmanay is an unforgettable experience.

But if you want to get away from it all, hide in a log cabin and watch the Northern Lights shimmer overhead, head further north, above the Arctic Circle and enjoy a Christmas Day you’ll never forget! 

Have you travelled Europe in Winter? Where did you enjoy? 

How else can I help you today?

Planning a winter trip? Looking for ideas? These posts might help:

  • 7 best places to see the Northern Lights in Europe
  • Best & biggest Christmas Markets in Europe
  • 11 warmest places in Europe in February
  • 29 BEST gift ideas for road trippers
  • EPIC UK winter road trips you’ll love to drive

See all our Europe Destination idea posts

Looking for some winter sunshine in Europe? These are the BEST warm destinations for winter Europe travel. All of these cities in Europe have some culture, some sunshine and plenty to do, as well as some beaches to enjoy! Which will you choose for your winter Europe travel destination?

Kat never planned to buy a motorhome. She also never planned to quit her job as an air traffic controller, go touring around Europe in said motorhome, start one of the UK’s largest motorhome travel websites… or get a cocker spaniel.

Find out how she went from stuck in the rat race to being a digital nomad and inspiring thousands of people to have their own epic adventures here.

If you’d like to connect with Kat, send her an email or follow her adventures on social media.

Sharing is caring!

Similar Posts

Top 10 cities to visit in France (besides Paris!)

Top 10 cities to visit in France (besides Paris!)

Cirque De Gavarnie- 10 things you need to know (with map!)

Cirque De Gavarnie- 10 things you need to know (with map!)

Motorhoming & Campervanning in Norway- your Complete Guide

Motorhoming & Campervanning in Norway- your Complete Guide

Best biker road in the Black Forest?

Best biker road in the Black Forest?

Left hand drive vs Right hand drive – which is better for Europe road trips?

Left hand drive vs Right hand drive – which is better for Europe road trips?

12 Unmissable European Road Trip ideas for every itinerary

12 Unmissable European Road Trip ideas for every itinerary

One comment.

Absolutely stunning! Thank you on a detailed impressive guide!

Leave a Reply Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.

travelpassionate.com

The Best 32 European cities to visit in winter

Prague - Best European cities to visit in winter

To many, Europe is seen as a top destination to visit during the warmer months. It’s believed there is more to do as guests to these different countries can explore the great outdoors without fear of being cold or having to trek to different places through harsh weather.

Surprisingly though, Europe is also a great place to visit during the winter. While it’s a little chilly, you’ll be able to experience this continent in a unique way that you can’t during any other time of the year. You can ice skate on ponds, ski down majestic mountains covered in fresh snow, and enjoy flavorful warm meals inside the many cozy restaurants scattered around Europe without having to worry about the hassles that come with the crowds during the summer season.

If you’re interested in finding some of the best European cities to visit in the winter, keep reading. Below you’ll find a list of some of the top cities to explore recommended by 32 travel bloggers.

Table of Contents

32 European Cities to visit in winter

1. edinburgh, scotland.

Edinburgh is one of the Best European cities to visit in winter

contributed by Thais Saito of World Trip Diaries

For a winter city-break in Europe, Edinburgh is a delight! First of all, it’s stunning, with beautiful architecture, parks, squares, and more. Then there’s the food, of course. Even though it may not be known for its food, Scotland has some amazing unique food, like the Scotch Egg. Of course, there’s whisky (yes, the ones made in Scotland are whisky while the ones made abroad are whiskey). You can even take a tour to see how it’s made.

And, of course, it’s such a small city, you can visit all the important and famous sites in one or two days – depends on how fast you move. Why not let go of Google Maps and just wander around aimlessly while there? If you do get lost and need some guidance or help to get back, Edinburgh’s public transport is great and you can reach any part of the city easily!

It’s perfect during winter because it’s low season, which means lower price tags on almost everything, smaller crowds, and it’s just so beautiful with a layer of super white and fresh snow! (Well, as a bonus for Harry Potter fans, it’s a city full of interesting sites related to the books – or movies).

Check out my 3-day Edinburgh itinerary.  

2. Tallinn, Estonia

Tallinn is is one of the Best European cities to visit in winter

contributed by Stefan and Sebastien of the Nomadic Boys

Tallinn, the capital of Estonia is one of our favourite winter city breaks. We came here over a weekend in late December and absolutely loved it. We stayed in a guesthouse we found on TripAdvisor, right in the middle of the old town. Tallinn’s old town was declared a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage in 1997 because unlike any other capital city in Europe, it has managed to wholly preserve its medieval structure and as such is nicknamed “the medieval pearl of Europe”.

We loved the old town of Tallinn because it is so picturesque. The cobblestone streets are all originals, which along with the medieval churches, grandiose merchant houses, barns and warehouses, date back as far as the 11th century.

It also has super cute houses, cafes and sightseeing highlights like the Kiek in de Kök (a 15th-century defensive tower), the Gothic Town Hall, built in the 13th century, and a 64m-high tower located in the main square. It looks like something out of a fairy tale.

There are also several cafes in the old town you can duck into for a hot chocolate/coffee break from the cold outside, which we definitely recommend. What makes Tallinn that extra special is during the winter time, it is usually covered with a blanket of snow, making it even more picturesque than it normally is. This is why we love visiting Tallinn during the winter month.

You might also be interested in: Tallinn in winter.

3. Lincoln, UK

Lincoln is one of the Best European cities to visit in winter

contributed by Heather of Conversant Traveller

The cathedral city of Lincoln is all about cobbled streets, historic sweet shops and ancient architecture. It’s the sort of place you can’t help but fall in love with, and the wood-beamed ceilings, fascinating heritage and vibrant culinary scene attracts visitors from all over the world. Throw in a sprinkling of snow, some colourful fairy lights and a world-class Christmas market and it’s the perfect destination for a winter city break.

Most people start off by checking out the 11 th Century cathedral. Once the tallest building in the world, it’s now the third largest cathedral in Britain and famous for its rose windows and excellent roof and tower tours. Lincoln Castle is also well worth a visit and holds one of the 4 remaining copies of the Magna Carta signed by King John in 1215 at Runnymede. Exploring the cultural quarter of the city by moonlight is rather romantic during winter, made even more special by groups of traditional carol singers and festive market stalls that run throughout December in the lead up to Christmas.

There are also lots of quirky little shops and galleries selling everything from hand-made soap and plum bread to antique furniture and handcrafted jewellery. Just make sure you wear sturdy shoes as the city is built on a hill and some of the streets are quite steep. Which will ease the guilt of indulging in some of the foodie delights here in the centre, such as Brown’s Pie Shop and Roly’s Fudge.

4. Annecy, France

Annecy, a great european city to visit in winter

contributed by Leyla of Women on the Road

Annecy , the “Venice of the Alps”, receives most of its visitors in summer. They stroll along its picturesque canals, delightful lakeside and hike its majestic mountains. When winter comes, the crowds evaporate, leaving behind a city filled with charm, delightfully quiet and walkable.

As your footsteps crunch along the crisp cobblestones of the old town, sounds of laughter filter out of the many welcoming restaurants which have remained open in winter – filled with locals and brimming with authenticity. And, no standing in line. (A special tip: if you love pastries, drop by Rigollot at the end of the arcaded street – he once won the prize for the world’s best pastry chef!)

Also, on the practical side, more hotel rooms are available in winter and the prices lower, so winter is easier on the pocketbook.

Near Annecy, you’ll be wrapped in alpine snow within the hour if you’re looking for winter sports. You can ski in the Grand Bornand and La Clusaz, half an hour from the city. If you’d rather stay away from heights, just snowshoe around the lake.

Hiking trails are all accessible in winter, and you’ll enjoy the extraordinary mountains that tower above the lake. You might even catch sight of some mountain wildlife!

Push a little further and you can visit Chamonix, Geneva and Lyon – it’s hard to beat Annecy’s location. And if you happen to visit in December, don’t miss the lovely Christmas market which is growing each year and attracting visitors from the entire region.

5. Innsbruck, Austria

Innsbruck the perfect European city destination for a winter break

contributed by Carolyn Schonafinger of HolidaysToEurope.com.a u

Innsbruck , the capital of Austria’s Tirol region, is the ideal place for a winter getaway. Winter visitors flock to Innsbruck for snow sports on the surrounding alps but there’s plenty on offer for the non-skier or snowboarder, too. And best of all – it’s all at your fingertips.

Nine ski resorts are within easy reach of Innsbruck – in fact, you can be on the slopes in just half an hour.   It’s not uncommon for visitors (and locals) to spend the morning on the slopes and the afternoon strolling downtown Innsbruck. As host to two Winter Olympics, Innsbruck’s ski resorts can challenge even the best skiers but there are also slopes suited to beginners and children.

In town, Christmas markets appear on the streets from mid-November adding a festive atmosphere to this already pretty city.   A huge Christmas tree is installed near the Golden Roof and the entire Old Town is lit with sparkling fairy lights.

Wandering the market stalls you can’t help but soak up the festive cheer.   More than just a place for buying Christmas presents, the markets are a meeting place, too, where locals catch up with friends and spread the festive spirit over a glass of gluhwein (mulled wine) and some roasted chestnuts.

With stunning baroque architecture, a 16 th century palace, an Alpine zoo, and fabulous shopping amongst its other attractions, Innsbruck will keep you entertained. For a winter getaway in a picture postcard destination, Innsbruck, with its backdrop of snow-capped Alps, is the perfect choice.

You might be interested in: Innsbruck in winter.

6. Strasbourg, France

Strasbourg winter getaway in Europe

contributed by Thomas of Trip Gourmets

Strasbourg is situated in the beautiful region of Alsace in France. It is the capital and also the largest city of the Grand-Est region. It is also the official seat of the European Parliament. But of course, none of these are the main reason why you should visit this fairytale city in winter.

What makes Strasbourg really worthy as a winter city break destination is its lovely historic city center; the Grande Île (grand island). This picturesque old town was actually the first whole city center to be granted the status of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  

The Grand Île is an actual island formed by the river Ill. This gives the whole city an idyllic feeling. Not many things are as romantic as having a cosy winter stroll along a river, marvelling at the charming medieval buildings while eating some hot chestnuts, and warming up afterwards with some vin chaud in one of the many homely bars or restaurants.

Around Christmas you can even stroll through the magnificent Strasbourg Christmas market and get your fix of delicious Christmas sweets like gingerbread.  

Another highlight of Strasbourg is the majestic Gothic sandstone cathedral which is also home to an astrological clock. If you’re feeling energetic, you can also climb the tower of the sixth-tallest church in the world for some wonderful views over the city.  

You might be interested in: Things to do in Strasbourg in winter .

7. Bilbao, Spain

Bilbao Best European cities to visit in winter

contributed by Mike of 197travelstamps.com

Bilbao in Northern Spain is the ideal destination for a winter city break in Europe . If the weather is good and the sun is shining, you can explore the beautiful old town or head up Artxanda Mountain for some impressive views over the city.

Winter is also the perfect season to spend some time inside, enjoying a good glass of wine and some delicious food. And the perfect place to do that in Bilbao is the Mercato de la Ribera. The market is filled with food stalls offering Pintxos, a type of small Tapas served on a piece of bread. Hop from one little stall to the next and choose your favorites.

The most famous tourist destination of Bilbao is the Guggenheim Museum. It doesn’t matter if you are an art lover or not, you will definitely fall in love with this incredibly beautiful building designed by star architect Frank Gehry. I could spend hours just walking around and admiring the façade of the Guggenheim Museum.

The exhibitions inside of the museum may be a little startling if you are not an aficionado of modern art but give it a try and jump into the world of modern art! It is fun!

8. Paris, France

Paris - Best European cities to visit in winter

contributed by Lena of Salut from Paris

 9. Ljubljana, Slovenia

Ljubjlana - Best European cities to visit in winter

contributed by Vrithi of Epicurious Passport

With such reasonably priced airfare on easyJet and Wizzair, Ljubljana is the perfect winter getaway if you live in Europe. Ljubljana is filled with amazing architecture, great food, plentiful bridges, quaint coffee shops and cheery Christmas markets.

Ljubljana is ranked among the most attractive European capitals with its December illuminations and Christmas fair. Each year from December to January Ljubljana is lit up in festive cheer. Not only is it lit up, it is known for the most original light displays. The Ljubljana Castle turns into a fairy tale-like setting.

The vibrant Festive Fair, which houses the Christmas Market, is a must visit. The Festive Fair, which includes numerous food and drink stalls, becomes the center of the city’s social life in December, while its nearby town squares turn into venues for countless free music. Spend the evening at the Festive Fair where you can sip on some Mulled wine and try some great sausages, all while listening to some great music.

Ice fantasy inLjubljana will add to the festive time, where visitors will be able to enjoy more than 2000 square meters of ice skating surfaces in the Zvezda Park. The Ice Fantasy is usually between the end of November and lasts till January.

If you are in the city for New Years eve, Ljubljana celebrates it in the public square with great pomp and show. If you are visiting after the festive season, the blanket of snow on the beautiful landscapes is a sight to behold. The picturesque Lake Bled, just an hour away, with the awe-inspiring views is a must do while in the area.

You might be interested in: Things to do in Ljubljana .

10. Bucharest, Roumania

Bucharest - Best European cities to visit in winter

contributed by Allison of Eternal Arrival

11. Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon. Best European cities to visit in winter

contributed by Cindy of Travel Bliss Now

Lisbon is the perfect winter time destination for those that want a break from wintry weather.  It’s one of the sunniest cities in Europe and, owing to its Mediterranean climate, the average high temperature is 15 degrees during the winter months.

This is a city where  residents continue to enjoy their espressos and pasteis de nata (custard tarts) at outdoor cafés all year round.  As an added bonus, the trees are loaded with ripe oranges from December through February, so be sure to have a glass of fresh-squeezed juice.  To complete your cold weather escape, take a day trip to Sintra National Park where you can take a leisurely walk in lush gardens or on a sandy beach.

Lisbon is becoming an increasingly popular city to visit in the summer months, but the crowds thin out nicely in winter.  That means you’ll encounter minimal, or no lineups for the main attractions like the Santa Justa Lift, which provides a panoramic view of the city.

It’s also easier to find a seat on the iconic tram number 28 that runs through the city, or to wander through the narrow, winding streets of Alfama, the oldest and a must-see neighbourhood in Lisbon. Delicious Portuguese food and wine are affordable year-round in Lisbon, but in winter, there are more hotel rooms available and at almost half the price you’d pay in summer.  It’s ideal for a last-minute winter escape.

Check out my 4 day Lisbon itinerary .

12. Krakow, Poland

Krakow - Best European cities to visit in winter

contributed by Sonja of Migrating Miss

Krakow is the perfect city for a European winter break . Even thought it’s chilly, there are plenty of ways to stay warm! You can sit outside the cafes on the main square next to a heater with a blanket and a hot drink, and enjoy overlooking some of the beautiful historic architecture.

If you’re there before Christmas, be sure to try the mulled wine at the Christmas market! But that’s not the only hot alcoholic drink on offer, you can also step into a pub and expect to see hot beer for sale too. The food in Krakow is delicious, and there are plenty of winter warmers to keep you happy between sightseeing. Try Borscht (beetroot soup) and Pierogi’s from Przypiecek, open 24 hours a day.

When you’re not eating and drinking, you can visit Krakow’s sites like Wawel Castle, and the museum that is in what was once the Schindler Factory. If you want to see more of the city, take a horse and carriage ride from the main square. You can also take a day trip to the Wieliczka Salt Mine. You won’t be any colder underground! Although it’s temping to avoid colder places during the winter, Krakow should be an exception.

You might be interested in: Things to do in Krakow and Krakow in Winter .

13. Pisa, Italy

Pisa - Best European cities to visit in winter

contributed by Marcelle of The Wild Life

To see the leaning tower of Pisa after it appeared in so many comics and cartoon films during my childhood, was very exciting! My daughter and I, visited Pisa for a weekend this winter. Pisa lies beautifully embedded in the green foothills between the mountains of Tuscany and the sea. I was surprised of how much snow can fall in Tuscany while we drove from Milan to Pisa. We must have past at least five snowplows.

Pisa appeared much smaller and more unpretentious than I had expected. With temperatures below 7ºC, not many tourists went to see Italy’s famous monument which otherwise attracts gigantic crowds. Parking wasn’t a problem and just a few hawkers tried their luck. Even the queue to ascend the leaning tower was just a few minutes wait.

The climb to the top of the leaning tower is quite demanding. The stone steps are not easy as they have been worn down over the centuries. In winter, with fewer people visiting, you can admire the views from the top for longer. In high season, you better by your ticket in advance to skip the line, arrive early and not on the weekend.

It was great to finally see the famous landmark! I also liked the Cathedral and the Baptistery and was surprised how shiny clean and white all these ancient buildings contrast with the neat surrounding lawns. After leaving the Piazza dei Miracoli, visit one of the quaint cafés or restaurants in town to round off your experience the Italian way.

You might also be interested in One day in Pisa .

14. Rovaniemi, Finland

Rovaniemi - Best European cities to visit in winter

contributed by Natalie of Love and Road

15. Seville, Spain

Seville - best city breaks in europe

contributed by Maegan of The Wanderlust Dietitian

Seville, Spain is the perfect winter getaway, especially since it is known as the frying pan of Spain. The city is in full bloom by spring time. From floral-lined streets to intricately designed bridges there is beauty everywhere.

My favorite spot in Seville is the Plaza de Espana. The plaza was built in 1928 and used in many cinema scenes and the size of five football fields! There are 48 alcoves with benches and four bridges which represent the four ancient kingdoms of Spain: Castille, Aragon, Navarre and Leon. The mosaics, tiles, ceilings, walls, and lamp posts were breathtaking in their Moorish forms.

For spring concerts and a break from the sun, check out the Metropol Parasol. This wooden structure has a rooftop walkway and is the largest wooden structure in Europe! Seville lights up at night with jazz halls, outdoor bars, and big screen TVs play the latest futbol matches! If you are a culture groupie like me, you will LOVE Casa de la Memoria for a night of live Flamenco dancing!

The sidewalk cafes and shops that trace each major street is the cherry on top to escaping to this beautiful city! Add this city to your winter city break bucket list!

You might be interested in: One day in Seville .

16. Lille, France

Lille - best city breaks in europe in winter

contributed by Hadas of The Fashion Matters

Lille, a beautiful city located in the North of France, makes the perfect winter break. From its popular Christmas market to its shopping and restaurant choices; Lille is a must visit destination for those who want to see more of France. Although often overlooked, there are many great reason to visit Lille, especially during winter.

First of all, Lille has a great transport connection with the rest of Europe as it is one of the stops on the Eurostar. This makes Lille easily accessible especially from Brussels, Paris and London. Secondly, Vieux Lille, the old part of the town, has a flamboyant architecture which is beautifully restored and is undoubtedly the most beautiful part of the town. It is filled with a great selection of restaurants, bars and boutiques.

During Christmas time, there’s a huge Christmas market and a big wheel at Lille’s main square the Grand Palace. Lille’s winter wonderland is guaranteed to be a great experience to everyone either you’re traveling with family, kids, alone or with a partner;

Just sip on a mould wine and enjoy the atmosphere. If you’re into trying the local cuisines, the town’s delicacy are mussels which are sold at almost every restaurant in town. In addition, don’t miss a visit to the Palais des Beaux-Arts, a famous art museum in an impressive building.

17. Berlin, Germany

Berlin- best city breaks in europe in winter

contributed by Margherita of The Crowded Planet

18. Lucerne, Switzerland

Lucerne- is great for a winter city break in Europe

contributed by Parampara & Parichay of Awara Diaries

19. Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

sarajevo - city in Europe perfect for a winter break

contributed by Kami of Kami and the Rest of the World

Sarajevo , the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, might not sound like the most obvious winter destination but let me assure you it is a fascinating place to visit, any time of the year. While summer might be hot and humid in the winter months you can enjoy Sarajevo comfortably. If you are lucky you can see the city under the snow – it looks magical, like from a fairy-tale!

Sarajevo is where the cultures collide, where East meets West, literally (look for a sign on Ferhadija street!). That’s also one of the most important cities in the history of 20th century Europe. In Sarajevo World War 1 started, the city was also under the longest siege in the modern warfare history (almost 4 years). Numerous scars will surely remind you about those tragic events.

As you might know Sarajevo was the host city of 1984 Winter Olympic Games and still it’s easy to find the remnants of that time around. But that also means Sarajevo offers some decent and affordable skiing options, especially at nearby Jahorina and Bjelasnica mountains. The newely (re)opened cable car to Mount Trebevic can take you in few minutes from the heart of the city up to high mountains.

Thanks to the location in the valley Sarajevo is also the city of great viewpoints and amazing sunsets. It can get challenging to walk up the steep street but the view is always rewarding. And once you get chilled to the marrow you can stop in either one of the small cafes to drink strong and thick as tar Bosnian coffee or at cevabdzinica to eat famous Sarajevian grilled meat.

20. Venice, Italy

Venice, european city break in winter

contributed by Michael of Mscgerber.com

Venice is without a doubt one of the most magnificent cities on our planet. Yet, the historical city tends to be overcrowded all the time. Crossing the Rialto Bridge without feeling the sweat of other tourists seems to be completely impossible, especially when traveling there during the most-visited summer months. However, there is an uncomplicated way to avoid this: Just visit the beautiful city of Venice during winter.

I spent a weekend in Venice last December after I already visited it some years ago during summer – what a difference. I could experience the magic city of Venice in its whole beauty – particularly early in the morning. The feeling to stand on an empty Piazza San Marco or to even stay on the Rialto Bridge for ten minutes – completely alone – is something I will never forget.

Another crucial factor to visit Venice in winter, at least in my opinion, is he possibility of witnessing snow. The snowflakes just add some more magic to a place that is already out of this world. I’m used to snow and still, seeing snow in Venice was completely different and I enjoyed it a lot. So, what are you waiting for? If you want to enjoy Venice without millions of tourists: go there in winter.

You might be interested in: 2 days in Venice .

21. Copenhagen, Denmark

Copenhagen - winter city break

contributed by Brianne of The Lady Brianne

22. Prague, Czech Republic

contributed by Claire of Tales of a Backpacker

Prague is an incredible city at any time of year, and is even more beautiful in winter.  Prague’s majestic architecture survived the two World Wars almost unscathed, and this already stunning city takes on a fairy-tale feel with a dusting of snow, and becomes even more mysterious as the morning sun peeks through the cloud and the mist swirls around the river.

Although the temperatures can drop to well below zero, come prepared with plenty of warm layers and your effort will be rewarded!  Prague is popular at any time of year, but visit Prague in winter  when there are fewer tourists, fewer bachelor parties and prices are lower so you can get some great deals on accommodation.

Get up early to take photos of an eerily quiet Charles Bridge, and wander the old town as the snow crunches beneath your feet to feel like you’ve been transported back in time.  The cold weather is an excellent excuse to seek shelter in a warm bar or café, where you can sample Czech food like goulash and dumplings or cabbage soup, and of course the ubiquitous Czech beer.

Traditional Czech cuisine is hearty and warming, perfect to enjoy on a cold winter’s day.  Prague also has plenty of museums, art galleries and theatres to keep you occupied if the weather really is too cold to be outside, so Prague is one of the best cities in the world to visit in winter!

You might be interested in: What to do in Prague in 3 days .

23. Rome, Italy

Rome - Best European cities to visit in winter

contributed by Angela of Rome Actually

24. Porto, Portugal

Porto - Best European cities to visit in winter

contributed by Mark + Miranda of The Common Wanderer

Winter in Europe can be a magical time to travel; landscapes transform into winter wonderlands, there are less tourists to contend with, and the whole continent just gets a lovely cosy feel about it. But while many travellers opt to enjoy the quintessential snowy winter breaks like Christmas markets in Germany, skiing on the slopes of the Alps, and winter wonderland adventures in Scandinavia, what about those who are craving some winter sun? Enter Porto , a former port town on the River Douro in Portugal’s north.  

With an average winter temperature of 15c and glorious winter sunshine regularly, Porto is the perfect city for a weekend break where you don’t need to pack a suitcase full of thermals and scarves. Then, there’s the mouthwatering food, stunning vistas, slower pace, and unique culture – and the most brilliant sunsets over the River Douro and the iconic Dom Luis I Bridge!  

Spend a perfect winter weekend in Porto wandering through the twisting laneways of the historic Ribeira district, cosy up in one of the many wine bars and sample some famous port wine, jump aboard one of Europe’s oldest trams and explore the city, discover the incredibly unique architecture (including the bookstore that inspired JK Rowling!), and enjoy mouthwatering traditional dishes of grilled octopus at a riverside restaurant while the warm winter sun gives you some much-needed vitamin D therapy. A weekend in Porto is the perfect remedy for any winter blues!  

You might also like: 2 days in Porto.

25. Zurich, Switzerland

Zurich European winter City Break

contributed by Arzo of Arzo Travels

Are you looking for a perfect city break for the winter? Then head to Zurich, Switzerland . Zurich is one the most popular travel destinations in Switzerland and if you ask me I can totally understand it. However, Zurich in winter is absolutely beautiful – whether you head to Lake Zurich, stroll along Limmatplatz, enjoy the view from Lindenhofplatz or head to the mountains – there is a lot to do even in the winter. If you are too cold and prefer spending your time indoors then you can visit one of the plenty of museums.

If you like Christmas shopping then you´ll surely find presents in the Bahnhofsstraße – the most expensive shopping street in the world. Just bring credit cards without limitations and or extra cash as Zurich is expensive. Before Christmas many areas are beautifully decorated – but it is not only fun to visit in December, but even afterwards.

Due to the excellent location you are within less than an hour at the Rhine Falls. While most people head to areas like Grindelwald or Zermatt for a winter break (where it is all about skiing) Zurich is also a perfect choice as popular skiing resorts are not too far away. Interlaken is about two hours by train or car- so if you do not want to spend a whole weekend skiing then you can do a nice day trip from Zurich.

You might be interested in 2 days in Zurich in winter.

26. Barcelona, Spain

Best European cities to visit in winter

contributed by Wendy of Empty Nesters

Our December visit to Barcelona last year was delightful!  We finally had the chance to visit all the lovely and historic sites we had read about.  Temperate weather, minimal crowds and several charming Christmas markets added to our experience.  For those considering a trip to this famous city I believe a winter visit will make your trip even better.

First and foremost, this city is less crowded in the winter.  If you are hoping for shorter lines at top sites, reasonably sized tour groups, and lower prices, then the months of December, January and February are ideal.  We were pleasantly surprised when we showed up for a guided tour of Gaudi’s Parc Guell and just one other couple joined us.  At Camp Nou, the home of FC Barcelona, there was absolutely no line for the museum and stadium tour.

Barcelona’s temperate winter weather is also a plus. Average temperatures range from 50 to 61 degrees fahrenheit with occasional rain.  I was told during our trip that Barcelona’s location on the Mediterranean Sea is the reason it typically experiences milder weather compared to other popular places in Spain.

And finally, if visiting before Christmas, the charming markets are an added bonus.  These markets are not as large and well known as those in France and Germany, but they are scenic nonetheless and worth some time to browse.

We visited Fira de Santa Llucia near the Gothic Cathedral and Fira de Nadal a la Sagrada Familia, which as the name suggests is across the street from the famous church. Barcelona has frequently been named as an “overtouristed” city, but that was not our experience when visiting in winter.  So if your travel schedule is flexible, skip the summer visit and come in winter instead.

27. Stockholm, Sweden

Stockholm- Best European cities to visit in winter

contributed by Christopher of Traveling Mitch

Stockholm is a city that isn’t easy to get to, but once you’re there you never want to leave. What many people haven’t grasped who haven’t visited is that it’s quite literally a collection of islands (14, to be exact) that forms Sweden’s capital. These 14 islands are connected by more than 50 bridges, and it’s quite a sight to see from out on the water. That would be my first tip for Stockholm, find a way to get out on the water – the bright facades of the houses will make it more than worth your trouble.

There are indeed plenty of sights to see. Gamla Stan, which is essentially the old quarter, is in brilliant condition and you could get lost in its narrow streets for days. The crown jewel, in my humble opinion, is a visit to the Vasa Museum. The Vasa Museum is one of its kind, as it portrays a perfectly preserved ship that sunk in the harbour in the 17th century.

It’s a city that is colourful and vibrant in all the right ways, and the cuisine is well worth a taste. The meatballs, as reputation dictates, are quite delicious, but the reindeer isn’t half bad either. With Stockholm, cosmopolitan meets antiquity, and it works in spades.

You might be interested in: 3 days in Stockholm and Winter in Stockholm .

28. Tromso, Norway

Tromso - Best European cities to visit in winter

contributed by Ryazan of Everything Zany

When it comes to spending a perfect winter city break, Tromso is definitely near the top of my list of destinations. Known as the Northern light city and the gateway to the Arctic region of Norway , Tromso will continuously amaze you on what it has to offer. The city has a little bit of everything for everyone whether you are into nature, sports, night life or museums.

A visit to the Arctic Cathedral is also a solemn experience. You can’t miss the cathedral in Tromso’s skyline because of its unique modern triangular architecture design.If you are up for a winter adrenalin rush, you can also go and do winter sports in Tromso.

Tromso’s winter transportation and public roads are also well equipped for the harsh winter conditions, Tromso even has heated pavements and underground road system that can enable you to travel around the city no matter how bad the weather gets.

The main reason why Tromso is called the Northern Light city is due to the magnificent Northern Lights that blanket the whole city and the Arctic region with its glorious beauty. Polar Nights can also be experienced here in Tromso, which isanother winter phenomenon that only happens in the Arctic region where the sun never rises above the horizon and seems to always be night for more than a month!

29. Reims, France

Reims - Best European cities to visit in winter

contributed by Luke and Meagan of Two Restless Homebodies

At only 45 minutes away from Paris by high speed train, Reims is a perfect place to get away for a winter weekend – but you’ll feel quite at home if you stay longer. Because winter one of this area’s off seasons, AirBNBs and tour slots abound, and you and the locals will have the city to yourselves. Everyone is more relaxed without crowds of tourists around, so you’re more likely to get a taste of Reims culture and chat with locals as you duck into cafes to get out of the wind.

Peruse museums and one of France’s most opulent and historically significant cathedrals – Notre Dame de Reims – nearly alone, or schedule a tour to see Reims’ vineyards and champagne country, which are still spectacular, even in winter. Just a lovely, stay in town and tour Reims’ many champagne houses, like Taittinger, Veuve Cliquot, or Mumm. After all, nothing knocks of a chill quite like a delicious flight of brut champagne! Follow your tastings with a few Fossier rose biscuits, and you’ll truly have had a perfect Reims experience.

Or, if modern, city style is more your coupe de champagne, spend a day wandering around the Galeries Lafayette and Reims’ lovely outdoor shopping district – just be sure to bring (or buy as a souvenir) one of the big scarves currently fashionable in France to keep you warm if the “Beast from the East” decides to make an appearance. No matter your interests, you won’t regret a winter getaway to Reims!

30. Sofia, Bulgaria

Sofia, Best European cities to visit in winter

contributed by Stephanie of Sofia Adventures

31. Bremen, Germany

Bremen is one of the best Best European cities to visit in winter

Bremen, Germany  is a German fairytale town we’d actually never heard of before we began planning our trip to Europe. It’s a bit off-the-beaten path, and you won’t find it on most “where to visit in Germany” lists. We decided to visit the medieval town based almost entirely on beautiful and charming photos and rumors of legendary, classic German Christmas Markets ( confession: we actually plan quite a lot of our travels based on photos and food…)

But despite it’s relative unknown-ness, Bremen is a must-visit stop on any trip to Germany in winter, particularly during the holidays! Bremen is a short hour and a half bus or train ride away from much larger Hamburg, Germany, making it a perfect day trip from Hamburg – but don’t limit yourself to just a day trip to Bremen. It’s definitely worth it to stay for longer.

Winter in Bremen is a magical holiday wonderland, filled with good cheer, delicious food and historic beauty. From the 1,200 year old Old Town with its stunning Rathaus (a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site), to the famous legend of the Bremen Town Musicians, to TWO amazing Christmas Markets (one of them is Medieval themed!), Bremen is full of winter charm and surprises. Be sure to spend a day exploring the entire Old Town by foot, so you don’t miss hidden alleys like the Museen Böttcherstraße or the Schnoor.

32. London, England

London is one of thr best Best European cities to visit in winter

contributed by David of Delve into Europe

London is a perfect city to enjoy a winter break because there is so much to do and see that you barely notice the (occasionally) inclement weather. And if it happens to be clear, crisp and cool, the city is magical during the long evenings and nights with so many buildings so beautifully lit up.

Winter is the ideal time to explore some of London’s multitude of museums. The British Museum alone has over 8 million artefacts, many obtained during the days of the British Empire. Across town, the trio of outstanding museums in South Kensington – the Natural History, Science and Victoria & Albert (V&A) could detain you for at least a day.

There is also an abundance of art galleries – the National Gallery on Trafalgar Square has so much to see that I used to limit myself to one section per visit.  The Tate Britain and Tate Modern are also among the world’s finest. London is also one of the best cities in the world for entertainment. The West End always has a great range of shows and musicals on, and it’s one of the best cities in the world to see live music as there’s always so much on.

The food is pretty marvellous too – the melting-pot of the city reflected in the diversity of its restaurants, from the tiny Vietnamese stall in Camden Market to Chinatown to the wonderful traditional Italian cafes to the curry houses and beigel bakeries of Brick Lane, there are so many places we’ve come to love.

You might be interested in: 7 days in London .

Europe is a remarkable place to visit, even during the winter. The destinations mentioned above are some of the top cities everyone traveling to Europe during the winter should consider visiting. You’ll be able to explore not only the intricate cultures of each of these places, but do so at affordable rates and during less crowded times. Because of this, you’ll be able to experience Europe is a unique way during this chilly time of the year.

Sharing is caring!

Leave a Comment Cancel reply

Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.

snowy hallstatt austria, one of the best places to visit in europe in winter

25 Wonderful Destinations for Winter in Europe (Sun, Snow, or Christmas!)

Whether you’re looking to warm up under the winter sun, make the most of peak season in the snowy Alps, marvel at a whimsical Christmas market, or simply escape the crowds and appreciate one of Europe’s iconic cities during the offseason, there are so many incredible winter destinations in Europe.

Sure, you’ll need to be prepared for lots of darkness (hello 4:30 PM sunsets!) and to make sure you really love whatever coat you pack (because it will feature in basically all of your photos), but visiting Europe in winter offers incredible charm and just as much variety as the more popular summer months!

We love traveling during winter in Europe, whether it’s to appreciate Rome in January without the crowds or to get a little February sunshine in Andalucia.

While December, January, and February are the heart of European winter travel, depending on what you’re looking for, you might be able to count parts of November and March in this guide, too.

Here are some of the best places to visit during winter in Europe, no matter what kind of trip you’re after.

Table of Contents

Festive Destinations for Winter in Europe

Warmest places in europe for winter sun, epic snow + northern lights winter destinations in europe, iconic destinations in europe to visit in winter, essential tips for visiting europe in winter.

Kate Storm and Jeremy Storm at Cesky Krumlov

Some links in this post may be affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of these links, we may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Please see our disclosure policy for more detail.

Rounding up all of the excellent places for festive cheer during December in Europe is an enormous task!

For that reason, we have a full roundup of 31 Incredible Christmas Markets in Europe to check out in addition to this more general winter travel guide.

There’s no doubt that some destinations stand out above the rest, though, which is where this overview comes in.

Here are some of the absolute best Christmas destinations to visit in Europe!

Kate Storm holding a red mug out to the camera at a Cologne Christmas market, home to some of the best Christmas markets in Europe

While I’ve tried to keep this guide limited to specific regions or cities, rather than countries, it would be an enormous oversight to not include Germany as a whole.

The most classic destination for Christmas markets in Europe, Germany is one of the absolute best places to visit in Europe in December (and in some cases, November and January, too–not all Christmas markets close right after the holiday).

Some of the best cities for markets include Cologne, Nuremberg, and Dresden (home to the oldest Christmas market in the world!), though virtually all cities and towns have something to offer.

Looking for something smaller?

Check out Rothenberg ob de Tauber or Heidelberg!

Cologne German Christmas Market at night as seen from above with red roofs of stalls prominent. Cologne hosts one of the best european christmas markets

Alsace, France

Known for its delicious cuisine, wine, half-timbered houses, canal cities, and unique culture that blends many aspects of both French and German culture, Alsace is located in northeast France.

It also happens to be one of the most festive holiday destinations in Europe!

From popular cities like Strasbourg and Colmar to idyllic villages like Riquewihr, Obernai, Ribeauvillé, Eguisheim, and Kaysersberg, Alsace is an absolute dream of a destination.

While summer tourism centers around its wine trail, in winter, it’s the legendary Christmas markets that take center stage–and they more than live up to the hype.

Kate Storm spinning in front of a clock tower in Riquewihr, one of the best day trips in Alsace!

Like Germany, Austria is simply too festive in the winter to categorize anything but the country as a whole as one of the best winter destinations in Europe!

Luckily, thanks to its small size and excellent train system, you can cover quite a bit of ground on a winter trip to Austria.

The standout cities of Vienna (home to a whopping 12 distinct Christmas markets) and Salzburg (home to some of our favorite Christmas markets on the planet) are both must-sees.

Lesser-known but beautiful Linz, gorgeous Graz, and charming Innsbruck (known for its phenomenal winter sports as well as its markets) are also well worth a look.

And, of course, you can’t forget idyllic Hallstatt, one of the most beautiful small villages in Europe!

christmas in austria at night salzburg christmas market

Budapest, Hungary

Featuring gorgeous Christmas markets, an excellent setting on the Danube, and delicious traditional food that lends itself to being enjoyed during cold weather, Budapest is a standout destination in Europe in December.

From Budapest’s biggest (and oldest) market in Vorosmarty Square to other standouts like the Advent Feast of the Basilica, you’ll have plenty of festivities to choose from in Budapest.

Plus, the city itself is a delight in winter, from the magical views from Fisherman’s Bastion to the charm of Budapest’s regal cafe culture (order an Esterhazy Cake at Central Cafe for us!).

As a bonus, Budapest is an easy 2.5-hour direct train ride away from Vienna, making Budapest a fun addition to a winter getaway to Austria.

view of christmas market st stephens basilica budapest from above

Basel, Switzerland

Switzerland may be most famous for its mountains, but its cities are incredibly delightful too–and in the winter, none shines quite as bright as Basel!

Nestled in northwest Switzerland, the small city of Basel is situated on the Rhine River, not far from the Swiss border with Germany and France–giving it plenty of inspiration for its holiday festivities.

In addition to its gorgeous Christmas markets and overall beauty, you’ll find plenty of winter-friendly attractions in town, too.

Be sure to visit the Munster Cathedral (and climb to the top), meander through the fine arts museum, and check out the incredible City Hall.

And, if you’re feeling like a bit of a completionist, be sure to head to Dreiländereck, where you can walk through Switzerland, France, and Germany all in a matter of minutes!

basel switzerland christmas market next to the munster cathedral, one of the best winter destinations in europe winter getaways

Prague, Czech Republic

Prague has long been one of those particularly gorgeous European cities that captures the imagination when admiring it from its many angles–and that’s just as true in winter!

Strolling over the Vltava River along the Charles Bridge, admiring the famous Astronomical Clock, and exploring Prague Castle are all absolutely wonderful activities in winter.

Add in the city’s incredible Christmas markets in December (featuring plenty of Czech beer, of course), and Prague becomes one of the top winter travel destinations in Europe.

Be sure to climb up to the top of the Old Town Hall Tower to admire one of the best views of Prague and to enjoy a jaw-dropping view of the Christmas market held in the Old Town Square!

Prage Christmas market in its central square as seen from above during blue hour. Prague has some of the best Christmas markets in Europe

While I wouldn’t necessarily categorize any of these places as “warm” in the summer sense of the word, if you’re looking for a bit of sunshine and fresh air, these (relatively) hot winter destinations in Europe are excellent options!

Sure, you’ll be photographing beaches instead of donning a bathing suit and jumping into the water–but with a little luck, you may even get to leave your coat behind when exploring.

… And, as a bonus, most of these sunny European destinations are much less crowded and much less expensive during the winter months (the Canary Islands, as the warmest place in Europe in winter, are an exception).

kate storm and ranger storm sitting along the seven hanging valleys trail, one of the best things to do in algarve portugal

Sicily, Italy

With its stunning architecture, complicated history, delicious food, and dramatic landscapes (hello, Mount Etna!), Sicily makes a fantastic getaway for travelers looking for winter sun in Europe.

Since visiting Sicily in, say, January or February rules out beach time, a winter trip is a perfect opportunity to take advantage of even more affordable prices than usual to appreciate the island’s incredible cultural sights.

Marvel at the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento, get lost in Ortigia, taste the chocolate of Modica, admire the views from Taormina’s Greek Theater, and tour Palermo’s impressive cathedral.

We also loved this food and history tour in Palermo, and highly recommend it!

Hoping to visit Mount Etna?

You absolutely can–and in winter, you may even get to see it covered in snow.

Kate Storm in a blue skirt overlooking Ragusa Ilba from Ragusa Superiore, one of the best views on this 10 days in Sicily itinerary

During the summer, popular parts of Malta are often overwhelmed with cruise ship passengers–but by visiting Malta in winter, you can skip the crowds and keep the sunshine!

The country’s capital, Valletta, is the sunniest city on the continent, making it the perfect place to seek out the winter sun in Europe.

Other fun things to do include exploring the Silent City of Mdina, the charming fishing village of Marsaxlokk, and exploring the rocky and beautiful coastline of the island of Gozo (you’ll just need to skip the swimming).

With its arid landscape and intense heat, Malta can be quite brutal during the summer.

But, on the flipside, it can be equally as mild in the winter, with Valletta reaching an average high of 60°F/15°C in January and February.

colorful fishing boat in harbor of Marsaxlokk malta, one of the best places to visit in europe winter sun

Sometimes called the “Hawaii of Europe” (though a few other winter sun destinations compete for that title!), Madeira is located off the northwest coast of Africa.

As an autonomous region of Portugal , Madeira is easy to access from mainland Europe but often feels worlds apart, with incredible landscapes and a food and wine scene all its own (if you’re familiar with Madeira wine–this is where it comes from!).

Some of the best things to do in Madeira include visiting the Valley of the Nuns, admiring Cabo Girao, and tasting the famous Madeira wine.

Be sure to also make time to hike the levadas–unique channels that were built into the side of Madeira’s mountains.

And, for travelers planning a trip over the New Year, Madeira’s capital city of Funchal puts on a fantastic firework display each December 31!

waterfall into the ocean on madeira portugal road trip view

The Canary Islands, Spain

Arguably the most classic winter sun destination in Europe, the Canary Islands are–like Madeira–located off the northwest coast of Africa (though even further south than Madeira).

Without a doubt, the Canary Islands are among the warmest places in Europe in winter!

With average high temperatures hovering around 68°F/20°C, there is no better place to enjoy a bit of heat and sunshine in Europe over the winter.

The archipelago that makes up the Canary Islands boasts something for everyone, with some of the most popular islands being Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, and Tenerife.

Tenerife is the busiest island, with adorable villages, sandy beaches, and plenty of activities to keep you busy from day to night.

Meanwhile, Lanzarote is known for its dramatic volcanic landscapes.

white village perched on a dramatic cliff in tenerife, one of the best winter sun destinations in europe

The Algarve, Portugal

With its sunny weather, mild temperatures, and excellent hiking, Portugal’s Algarve is without a doubt one of the best places to visit in Europe in winter!

From exploring charming towns like Lagos , Carvoeiro, Sagres, and Tavira to hiking gorgeous trails like the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail, you’ll find plenty to do during winter in the Algarve.

And, quite honestly–the water in the Algarve stays so cold during the summer that if you come from a hot climate like us, you may not want to swim during the summer anyway (making winter the perfect time to visit).

Not swimming seems like a small price to pay for having iconic beaches all to yourself!

We loved our January trip to the Algarve and would love to visit in the winter again.

kate storm at ponta da piedade , one of the best lagos attractions

Andalucia, Spain

Whitewashed villages, sandy beaches, vibrant cities, and some of the most stunning architecture in the world (hello, Alhambra!), Andalucia is one of the absolute best places to visit during winter in Europe if you’re looking for warm weather and a bit of sunshine.

Sure, you won’t want to swim when visiting the beaches of the famous Costa del Sol, but they’re still worth strolling along.

And, cities along the coast, like Malaga, are much more pleasant to explore in winter than during notoriously the hot and humid summer.

While visiting Andalucia, be sure to tour the Alhambra in Granada , check out the Plaza de Espana in Seville , admire the stunning views from Ronda , and tour the incredible Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba .

And, if you can’t decide what kind of winter vacation in Europe you’re looking for, don’t worry: in Andalucia, you can truly do it all.

The mountains surrounding Granada are home to the only ski resort in Europe where you can enjoy downhill skiing with a view of the Mediterranean Sea in the distance!

kate storm and ranger storm at the mirador san nicholas in granada spain, one of the best places to visit in andalucia

Crete, Greece

As Greece’s largest and almost southernmost island (Gavdos has it beat there), visiting Crete in winter may not be the typical Greek vacation, but it can be a delightful one!

From restaurant-hopping in Heraklion to enjoying the charming Venetian harbors of popular towns like Chania and Rethymnon without the crowds you’ll experience during the summer, visiting Crete in winter has plenty to offer!

While it will be too cold to swim (expect temperatures around 60°F/15°C), the beaches are still beautiful and well worth admiring from the shore.

And, let’s be real: a centerpiece of any well-planned trip to Greece is its food!

The Greek coffee, local food, and local wine are all ready and waiting to be enjoyed during a winter trip to Crete.

view of crete greece in winter from above with beach in foreground and mountains in background

As one of the warmest places in Europe during winter and boasting around 340 days a year of sunshine, it’s safe to say that Cyprus is a fantastic winter sun destination!

If your dream trip to Cyprus includes getting away from the beaches to hike in the Troodos or Kyrenia Mountains, soaking up deeply interesting history in Nicosia, and enjoying a bit of European winter sun, you’ll have a great time.

While sunsets are still fairly early and the closest you’ll get to the sea is looking at it, Cyprus in winter is a special–and uncrowded–experience.

And, while Cyprus is known to foreigners primarily as a winter sun destination, head high enough into the mountains and you can ski there, as well!

view of a cyprus beach on overcast day in winter in europe

If your idea of the perfect European winter vacation includes lots of snow and/or plenty of opportunities to chase the northern lights, these epic adventure destinations have you covered!

Rovaniemi, Finland

Located in Finnish Lapland and home to the famous Santa Clause Village each holiday season, Rovaniemi is the perfect winter destination in Europe for travelers looking to combine outdoor adventure with festive cheer!

With its child-centered Santa Claus Village, it also ranks among the absolute best places to visit in winter for families.

Reindeer sleigh rides, snowmobiles, dog sledding , and–of course–night-time expeditions to try to spot the magnificent northern lights–are all among the top things to do in Rovaniemi in winter.

Back in the Santa Claus Village, you’ll find kid-centered versions of many of these classic Lapland activities, too.

Don’t forget to send a letter home from Santa Claus’ Main Post Office while you’re there, either!

siberian huskies getting ready for dog sledding in finnish lapland, one of the best places to visit winter europe

Tromso, Norway

As one of the world’s most cherished destinations for chasing the northern lights, Tromso, Norway is absolutely one of the best places to visit in Europe in winter!

While–and I cannot repeat this enough in this article–viewing the lights is never guaranteed, professional night tours like this give you the best odds of spotting them in Tromso.

And, beyond the lights, a full array of winter adventures await in Tromso.

Consider signing up for a dog-sledding experience , visiting a Sámi reindeer farm, and even going whale-watching!

Taking the cable car up for sweeping views of a very snowy, beautiful Tromso in winter is another must!

northern lights over fjord in tromso, one of the best snowy places to go in europe winter

Chamonix, France

Nestled in the French Alps, not far from the border between France, Switzerland, and Germany, you’ll find the (rightfully) famous European winter travel destination of Chamonix situated in the shadow of Mont Blanc.

Most famous for skiing, Chamonix rose to prominence a century ago when it hosted the first-ever Winter Olympic Games in 1924.

Today, it is known for its incredible skiing and winter sports, and its access to some of the absolute best views of Mont Blanc.

You can also step inside the Mer de Glace–the largest glacier in France–during a winter trip here.

While Chamonix’s comparatively high prices mean that it will mostly appeal to skiers, you don’t need to be a skier to appreciate the beauty of this Alpine town in winter!

view of the french alps from a ski resort in chamonix, one of the best european winter places to visit

Abisko, Sweden

Located north of the Arctic Circle in Swedish Lapland, Abisko is known for its sheer amount of darkness over the winter, including periods of “polar night” where the sun never rises!

This is an enormous asset, however, for its biggest tourism draw: spotting the northern lights .

After all, there’s nothing like 24/7 darkness to give you the biggest odds possible to admiring the Aurora Borealis.

Like other Arctic destinations in Europe, you’ll also be able to enjoy activities like reindeer camps, dog-sledding, snowmobiling, and more during your winter getaway.

That being said, in Abisko, there’s no doubt that catching sight of the northern lights is the star of the show!

northern lights above the trees in abisko, one of the best places in europe in winter

The South Coast, Iceland

The South Coast of Iceland is downright magical during any time of the year, but to experience a side that most visitors don’t see, head there in winter!

Many of Iceland’s top attractions, including the famous Skogafoss Waterfall, Jokusarlon Glacier Lagoon, and the town of Vik, can be found here.

This is also where you’ll find Vatnajokull Glacier, the largest glacier in Europe and one of the most popular ones to hike on.

One of the biggest draws of Iceland’s South Coast in winter, though, is something you can only do during the cold months: hiking inside the ice caves !

You can also spot the northern lights here–fingers crossed–but of course, it’s never a guarantee.

person standing inside an ice cave, bucket list iceland travel experience

Visiting Europe in winter is incredible for once-in-a-lifetime epic experiences like the northern lights and festive events like Christmas markets, sure… but there’s another (less crowded) side to visiting Europe between November and March, too.

During these dark and admittedly sometimes dreary months, many of Europe’s most iconic cities–places known to be described with adjectives like “overtouristed” during the summer–receive a mere fraction of the tourists that they do during the high season.

The result is pleasant, beautiful cities, views of stunning architecture that you have enough elbow room to enjoy, and museums that can be sampled at a leisurely pace.

If you’re looking to take advantage of the off-season lack of crowds and lower prices, here are some of the best cities to add to your list!

kate storm on the spanish steps at dawn, during a 4 day rome itinerary

Venice, Italy

Ethereal, beautiful Venice, with its gondolas , canals, opulent architecture, and downright implausible existence, is one of those places that people seem to either love or hate.

… and if you want to love it, you’ll be much more likely to do so by visiting in winter!

Sure, you’ll need to bundle up and expect gray weather–but honestly, Venice looks gorgeous under clouds.

It’s an excellent trade in order to experience St. Mark’s Square when it’s not literally covered by tourists (the exception: during Carnival).

Winter is when Venice is most prone to its “ acqua alta “, or high water–in other words, flooding–but the vast majority of the time, this won’t disrupt your trip at all.

kate storm and jeremy storm in front of a canal in venice in winter, one of the best things to see in italy

Paris, France

Years ago, when planning our first-ever trip to Europe, we decided to spend a week in Paris during winter!

We loved it enough that we’ve happily returned to Paris in the winter several times since (and in all the other seasons as well–after all, “Paris is always a good idea.”).

Yes, the skies will typically stay gray, and you should absolutely pack a travel umbrella , but the moody weather suits Paris just fine!

Enjoy the Louvre with a fraction of the crowds, ice skate in view of the Eiffel Tower, and enjoy a daily bowl of delicious French onion soup, and you’ll quickly forget the weather.

If you happen to visit in December or early January, be sure not to miss the Christmas markets and decor, either–the Galeries Lafayette Christmas tree alone is worth going out of your way for.

2019 galeries lafayette christmas tree, one of the best things to do in paris in winter

Rome, Italy

Without a doubt, the biggest reason to visit Rome in winter is the lack of crowds.

We’ve spent time in Rome during almost every month of the year, and the difference in crowd levels during December, January, and February are downright astonishing compared even to the shoulder seasons!

And, while the days are shorter, Rome’s attractions are arguably better appreciated during winter.

This is not only due to the lack of crowds, but to the lack of heat (did you know that most of the Vatican Museums aren’t air-conditioned? Just saying.).

Rome is quite possibly our favorite city in the world, and from touring the Colosseum to marveling at the Pantheon to devouring delicious pasta daily, a winter trip to Rome is an excellent experience.

One reason not to visit Rome during the winter though? Christmas markets.

They exist–technically–but if that’s what you’re after, head to Central Europe instead.

kate storm and jeremy storm standing in from of Colosseum, One Day in Rome -- Rome in a Day

Dubrovnik, Croatia

There’s no doubt that many of the best things to do in Dubrovnik , from swimming in the Adriatic Sea to kayaking around Lopud Island, are only available in the summer.

If you’re in the mood for something a bit unorthodox, though, let me say: winter in Dubrovnik has its charms!

We spent 2 weeks enjoying Dubrovnik in February, and the experiences of walking the city walls almost completely alone, strolling through the city without fighting the crowds, and enjoying winter sunsets was an absolute delight.

And, even better: no cruise ship crowds.

Dubrovnik doesn’t get particularly cold (average highs in February reach 56°F/10°C), making it a mild way to experience some winter sun, too.

We snapped this photo on the city walls in in February, where we only passed about 5 other people during the entire experience!

kate storm looking over city walls dubrovnik

Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona may be on the Mediterranean, and it may feature beaches… but really, at its heart, Barcelona is not a beach town.

And, as a result, it makes for a fantastic winter trip in Europe!

Skip the overwhelming heat and intense crowds of the summer, and instead opt to marvel at masterpieces like La Sagrada Familia and Casa Batllo in the winter (and, as a bonus, the facade of Casa Batllo is more visible in the winter, too).

From browsing Mercado La Boqueria to strolling around Las Ramblas to soaking up the views at Park Guell, virtually all of the best things to do in Barcelona are improved but visiting in the offseason.

view of park guell in barcelona spain, a top europe bucket list travel destination

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

During the summer months, Amsterdam is known as one of the most crowded and touristic cities in Europe… but in the winter, that all melts away!

Yes, you will be cold (the humid, damp cold of Amsterdam is not to be underestimated), and the days are short, but in exchange, you can explore the canals, peruse the cheese shops, and marvel at the museums with far fewer crowds!

Hearty, cozy Dutch snack foods, such as oliebollen, pancakes, stroopwafel, and even Chocomel, are also a delicious addition to your time in Amsterdam in winter.

And, while you probably won’t experience snow or frozen canals (sadly not a common experience), the charms of Amsterdam’s architecture, history, and culture are more than enough to make a winter visit worth the effort.

Kate Storm in a brown coat looking over a foggy canal in Amsterdam in December

Plan your days based on the available daylight.

While gray clouds, rain, and possible snow are all pretty much expected by travelers visiting Europe in winter, the incredibly short days can be harder to adjust to (at least, they were for us).

For example, in mid-December, the sun sets around 4:55 PM in Paris, around 4:00 PM in Vienna, around 3:30 in Reykjavik, and 1:30 PM in Rovaniemi.

Depending on where you go and what you plan to do, the amount of daylight available can greatly impact your plans!

jeremy storm at christmas market in cologne germany

Book epic excursions toward the beginning of your trip (and be flexible).

This is especially important for extremely weather-dependent activities, like spotting the northern lights in Iceland or dog-sledding in Tromso .

As magical as these experiences are, a snowstorm or poor lighting conditions can derail them.

By booking your most sought-after activities at the beginning of your trip, you can leave yourself room to reschedule and try again later.

dog sledding from perspective of sled driver during winter europe

Don’t assume winter is offseason everywhere.

When it comes to popular European winter destinations like Lapland for the Northern Lights or Vienna for Christmas markets, the sooner you can book your hotels and tours, the better.

Hotels and tours both fill up, and we have had to stay further out of the center than we would like more than once due to procrastinating on deciding where to stay!

We book our hotels and rental apartments through Booking.com , and our tours primarily through Get Your Guide or (in certain destinations) Take Walks .

travelers exploring the decorated streets of antwerp belgium at night decorated with christmas belgium in winter lights

Make sure you love your coat, hat, and gloves!

… because they will be in just about every picture you take!

Unlike during the summer, visiting winter destinations in Europe often means ending up with photos where you look like you wear the same thing every day.

That’s not a bad thing, but make sure you love what you bring!

Bringing a second coat can be a heavy inconvenience, but mixing things up with different hats and scarves is much easier.

Winter in Salzburg: Kate Storm at Christmas Market

Bring a travel umbrella with you!

This is especially important for cities– Lisbon may be known for its sun, for example, but it gets plenty of rain in December and January!

You can purchase an umbrella when you arrive, too, but as someone who has had to throw away one too many cheap umbrellas while traveling, it’s better to be prepared and bring your own .

kate storm with a pink umbrella in front of the opera house in paris in the rain

Warm, comfortable boots are an absolute must.

Bonus points if they’re waterproof!

Cold feet make everything less pleasant when sightseeing.

I love my Ugg Kesey Motorcycle Boots and have been wearing them when exploring Europe in winter for years now.

Kate Storm in a brown coat standing with a white Christmas tree in Colmar. A decorated pink house is in the background--this is a classic photo spot in Colmar in winter!

Which month you travel will influence your winter trip to Europe.

January through March, for example, are most popular for hunting for the northern lights (though of course, there’s never any guarantee of seeing them and you can see them outside these months!).

January and February are popular for winter sun getaways in southern Europe, and the days will (slowly) be getting longer as winter wears on.

And, it should go without saying, December is the most popular month for Christmas market trips, but with careful planning, you can visit some markets during a November or January Europe trip, too.

[convertkit form=3127238]

2 photos of european winter, sled dogs and snowy hallstatt. black and red text reads "25 epic europe trips for winter"

About Kate Storm

Image of the author, Kate Storm

In May 2016, I left my suburban life in the USA and became a full-time traveler. Since then, I have visited 50+ countries on 5 continents and lived in Portugal, developing a special love of traveling in Europe (especially Italy) along the way. Today, along with my husband Jeremy and dog Ranger, I’m working toward my eventual goal of splitting my life between Europe and the USA.

Leave a Comment Cancel reply

Ten great winter holiday ideas in Europe

Nov 6, 2023 • 5 min read

european towns to visit in winter

It's impossible not to hopelessly fall in love with some parts of Europe in winter © Getty Images

Here are 10 suggestions for quintessentially European things to see and do in the colder months.

Winter comes in many guises in Europe . In the polar north there’s serious snow, the northern lights and weeks without sun. Around the mild Mediterranean, you’ll find lingering warmth well into the season. And in the center of Europe: cozy cafe culture and halls decked with Christmas spirit.

It’s an inspiring time to visit grand cities, charming villages and cultural sites. With fewer queues, you can fit more into your itinerary, and off-season prices make European accommodation wallet-friendly in November, December, January and February. Using Europe’s train network you can explore countries at your leisure, and it’s easier to meet locals outside the often-frenetic summer tourist season. 

People walk through a lit up Christmas market in front of an elaborate church.

1. Drink glühwein at Christmas markets in Germany or Austria

December sees these romantic historic markets pop up all over Germany , Austria and other Central European nations. Expect cute stalls selling everything from gingerbread to sleigh bells, and plenty of good cheer, toasted with a glass of warming glühwein .

Top tip: Famous markets in Cologne , Vienna and Munich draw the tourist crowds, but seeking out ones in smaller towns is rewarding.

Bathers crowd Szechenyi Baths in Budapest on January 1st

2. Warm up at one of Budapest’s famous thermal bathhouses

Couples skating hand-in-hand, breath cloudy in the frosty air – there’s nowhere better for it than the enormous outdoor ice rink in Budapest’s picturesque central park, Városligeti Műjégpálya . Feeling chilly afterward? Hungary’s capital is famous for its ornate thermal baths .

Top tip: At night seek out a ‘ ruin pub ’– an atmospheric drinking venue artfully housed in a once-abandoned building.

3. Witness the northern lights in Abisko, Sweden

Located almost as far north as you can get in Europe on a train,  Abisko in Lapland is for lovers of serious winter. The sun doesn’t rise for several weeks in December and January, but that darkness makes it one of the world’s best places to view the majestic aurora borealis (northern lights). Other attractions include cross-country skiing along national park trails and husky mushing.

Top tip: Stop off at nearby Kiruna to see the famous Swedish Icehotel .

12 years old girl pulling a sledge on snow in forest. She walks uphill on a trail in a cold sunny winter day in Transylvania, Romania

4. Steel-gray skies set the mood in Transylvania, Romania

You can’t visit Dracula’s lair on a sunny day with lambs bleating in the fields, right? You want steel-gray skies, bare trees and a smattering of snow. Braşov and Sighişoara , two hours apart by rail, are gorgeous medieval towns with various connections to Vlad Ţepeş, the historical Dracula, though it’s doubtful he ever set foot in his so-called castle.

Top tip: Bram Stoker never visited Romania , so don’t expect many parallels with the book or films.

Low angle view of backpacker looking at La Giralda in Seville Cathedral against cloudy sky in cit

5. Bask in the sunshine in Andalucía, Spain

Some parts of Andalucía are further south than the African coast, so expect mild temperatures in winter . Accommodation is cheap and crowds are smaller at standout attractions like Granada’s Alhambra and Seville’s cathedral . Plus, tapas and nightlife in the cities are as enticing as ever.

Top tip: Head to the Sierra Nevada near Granada if you want snowsport action.

Woman looking at a temple on the Acropolis, Athens, Greece.

6. Have the best sites in Athens (almost) to yourself

It’s a real downer trying to Photoshop 500 people out of your would-be-prizewinning Parthenon photo, but during the winter in Athens , it’s not an issue. All summer stresses – crowding, tourist pricing, intense heat, queues, air pollution – more or less disappear. The average temperature during the winter is around 13ºC (55ºF). It’s the best time to explore the country’s ancient heritage and experience local culture.

Top tip: By all means do some island-hopping, but most accommodations close in winter.

Skier at the summit of a mountain in Slovakia; there is cloud cover below and a chairlift rising to the right.

7. Hit the slopes at Jasná, Slovakia’s best ski resort

Slovakia offers high-quality skiing at affordable prices . Accommodation and food are reasonable too, and there’s a friendliness that’s missing from some of the snootier Alpine slopes. Jasná is the best Slovakian resort, with long descents flanked by snow-laden spruce trees, set in the ruggedly lovely Tatras Mountains.

Top tip: Flights from the US direct to Slovakia can be pricey, so don’t make this your entry point to Europe.

A happy tourist woman enjoys the view to the beautiful Nyhavn area in Copenhagen, Denmark, during winter time with snow and Christmas decorations

8. Expect snow flurries and fairytales in Copenhagen, Denmark

For a fairytale European winter, it’s hard to beat the home of Hans Christian Andersen . Forget the over-hyped Little Mermaid and head to the city’s cozy bars and cafes to watch snow flurrying outside. In the heart of town, the 19th-century Tivoli amusement park is a romantic, kitsch delight around Christmastime, with heartwarming illuminations and body-warming mugs of glögg (mulled wine).

Top tip: Noma may have closed but Copenhagen still has an incredible restaurant scene. Go for broke at Alchemist , widely considered one of the world's best restaurants. (Book three months in advance and set aside 4–6 hours.)

People in Reindeer sledge caravan safari in winter forest in Rovaniemi, Lapland, Finland

9. Visit the unofficial home of Santa Claus in Rovaniemi, Finland

Fistfuls of Christmas clichés characterize Rovaniemi , the ‘official’ terrestrial residence of Santa Claus. Everyone’s favorite bearded man hangs out in an atmospheric Arctic Circle grotto, and it’s free to visit him (but photos are another story). Snow and reindeer add festive spirit, while the Arktikum Museum gives insights into life at these latitudes.

Top tip: Finnish thermometers have more numbers below 32°F (0°C) than above, so pack serious winter clothing.

People in masks and Venetians costumes look into the camera.

10. Be seduced by the incredible Carnival in Venice

Hauntingly beautiful and rather weird, Venice’s Carnival in February is a European highlight. Elaborate costumes and spooky masks bring the canal city’s colorful history to life. Costumed dances are pricey affairs, but you can have a ball enjoying the free events with a mask bought on the street – just be prepared for epic crowding.

Top tip: Book accommodation well ahead. Day-tripping in and out on a train will considerably lower costs.

This article was first published Sep 19, 2019 and updated Nov 6, 2023.

Explore related stories

Features - Stonehange - Summer Solstice - 2017

Wildlife & Nature

Jun 17, 2024 • 3 min read

June 20, 2024, is the summer solstice in the northern hemisphere. These unique celebrations are steeped in local culture and history.

european towns to visit in winter

Mar 13, 2024 • 6 min read

Tourists enjoy street flamenco traditional show, performance for spectators visitors at Plaza de Espana

Mar 9, 2024 • 5 min read

european towns to visit in winter

Nov 22, 2023 • 7 min read

The Christmas markets at Nuremberg and Cologne are worth a visit.

Nov 17, 2023 • 6 min read

european towns to visit in winter

Nov 15, 2023 • 5 min read

european towns to visit in winter

Nov 1, 2023 • 15 min read

A chef prepares paella in Spain

Sep 25, 2023 • 8 min read

Munich, Germany - October 1: famous beer tent called Hacker-Pschorr and people at the biggest folk festival in the world - the oktoberfest on oktober 1, 2018 in munich.

Jul 10, 2023 • 6 min read

european towns to visit in winter

Jul 3, 2023 • 6 min read

  • Destinations
  • Hotels & Homestays
  • Food & Drink
  • People & Culture
  • Mindful Travel
  • Readers' Travel Awards
  • Escape to Rajasthan
  • READERS TRAVEL AWARDS
  • #LOVEGREATBRITAIN
  • TAJ SAFARIS
  • BOUTIQUE HOTELS
  • CNT TOP RESTAURANT AWARDS
  • DESTINATION WEDDING GUIDE
  • DON’T TRAVEL WITHOUT IT
  • #UNDISCOVERAUSTRALIA
  • ESSENTIALLY RAJASTHAN

21 European cities that are even better in winter

By Caitlin Morton

Europe in Winter Budapest Hungary

There are warm-weather devotees among us too quick to skip a visit to Europe in winter, instead holding out for the sun-kissed beaches of summer. But we’re here to make the case for embracing snowy weather and making the most of the coldest season. A wintry day in Europe can be—dare we say?—downright blissful, and certainly beautiful.

Beyond the Christmas market rush , most major cities are refreshingly crowd-free and inexpensive during the chillier months, and they offer outdoor adventures and cozy experiences well worth travelling for. (Seriously, how good does a warm mug of real hot chocolate in a riverside Belgian café sound?)

Whether you want to plan a vacation for the end of this year or are already looking ahead to 2023, these photos of Europe in winter will have you booking your next trip in no time. Read on for 21 European cities—and a few villages, if we’re getting technical—that we think are best when the temperature drops.

This gallery has been updated since its original publish date.

Arctic Treehouse Hotel Rovaniemi Finland

Rovaniemi, Finland

Finnish Lapland is a winter wonderland like no other, perhaps best exemplified in the region’s capital city of Rovaniemi. Aside from being perhaps the best place to spend Christmas (the town claims to be the official hometown of Santa Claus, after all), Rovaniemi is packed with reindeer farms, husky sledding, ice skating rinks, and Northern Lights safaris that make it a must-visit for adventurous families. If you’d prefer something a little less festive and a little more pensive, book a few nights at the Arctic TreeHouse Hotel . Here you can sip glogg by the fire, eat cloudberry ice cream and smoked salmon, and take in views of the snow-blanketed forests from your warm bed.

Prague

Prague, Czech Republic

When a dusting of snow coats St. Charles Bridge and Old Town’s church spires, the whole of Prague transforms. But the city also has some of Europe’s best Christmas markets —outside of Germany , at least—where even the most jaded traveler will succumb to the trdelník (fried dough) and mulled wine sold in festive stalls.

Vienna Austria

Vienna, Austria

Vienna is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe , and that’s a fact no matter the season. But we’re particularly fond of the Austrian capital in the winter, when you can double down on hot chocolate and sachertorte, watch free outdoor simulcasts of the opera (loads of people attend, even when it’s freezing), listen to classical holiday concerts, and snap photos of Schönbrunn Palace and St. Charles Church (pictured) covered in snow.

Zermatt Switzerland

Zermatt, Switzerland

Visiting Switzerland during ski season is kind of a no-brainer—especially if you plant yourself in Zermatt. Sitting at the foot of the country’s iconic Matterhorn mountain, this impossibly gorgeous resort town has an abundance of serious skiers, fresh powder, and epic views from the lifts. Its ​​après-ski scene (which, let’s be honest, is just as important as the slopes) is also the best around: Enjoy a lemondrop martini at the Grand Hotel Zermatterhof ’s Star Bar, refuel with some alpine cuisine at Brasserie Lusi, and take in a spa treatment or two at Hotel Firefly .

Tallinn Estonia

Tallinn, Estonia

Tallinn practically overflows with charm, thanks to its turreted castles and a lovely location on the Baltic Sea. The city has one of the best-preserved historical centers in Europe, with many of its medieval churches and merchant houses falling under UNESCO protection . The views of the city center from Toompea Castle are beautiful no matter the season, but they pop even more under a layer of snow—in fact, they make those cold, Baltic winters downright bearable.

Advent in Zagreb Croatia

Zagreb, Croatia

With its cobbled streets, old city quarter, and baroque architecture, Zagreb has everything you would expect from a Central European capital—plus a few extra-special perks come wintertime. The city erupts with yuletide cheer during its annual Advent in Zagreb festival, complete with 25 Christmas markets, ice skating rinks, and glittering lights galore. Fill up on homemade sausages and brandy, then schedule a day trip to nearby Plitvice Lakes National Park to see the 16 terraced lakes and waterfalls completely frozen over—an imagination-defying landscape that simply must be seen in person.

Bergen Norway

Bergen, Norway

Bergen has all the makings of an idyllic Nordic village: colorful wooden buildings , a scenic harbor, and sweeping views of the surrounding fjords. The town looks pretty in the summer, sure, but it’s during the winter months that you get to view the Northern Lights during their peak season. If you’re going to be freezing up in Scandinavia, you might as well get to cross an astronomical wonder off of your bucket list.

Image may contain Transportation Vehicle Boat Water Outdoors Watercraft Vessel Nature and Canal

Every December through January, the Amsterdam Light Festival brings some illumination to the Dutch capital, courtesy of light installations from all over the world. The 11th edition of the festival will launch on December 1, with the theme “Imagine Beyond” promising more creative pieces of art than ever. While the city does draw considerable crowds during the holiday season, the tourist numbers tend to drop with the temperatures, so the later winter months are prime for enjoying snow-shrouded canal views and cozy restaurants in peace. And we swear: Dutch food , hearty with lots of bread and potatoes, is even more satisfying on cold days.

Ilulissat Greenland

Ilulissat, Greenland

Greenland’s western town of Ilulissat draws tourists for several reasons: the UNESCO-listed Ilulissat Icefjord, dog sledding, relative accessibility (you can fly there from Iceland or Denmark), and its proximity to iceberg-filled Disko Bay. The biggest crowds descend during summer—chasing that midnight sun, no doubt—but Visit Greenland strongly recommends coming in winter: “The stunning silence of a thick snowy terrain, speckled by a few howls of the Greenlandic dog, is an experience everyone should try at least once in their lives.” You’ll also avoid high hotel prices and swarms of mosquitoes, which are surprisingly populous in Greenland during the summer months.

Venice Italy

Venice, Italy

Venice has become notoriously overrun during peak season—just see its recent attempts to limit tourist numbers for proof. But come wintertime, the city actually lives up to its La Serenissima (“The Serene”) nickname. The canals are quiet and shrouded in mist, hotels give discounted rates, and you can actually visit St. Mark’s Basilica without a stranger’s selfie stick poking you in the eye.

Strasbourg at Christmas

Strasbourg, France

A blend of French and German cultures (it’s located right near the border with Germany), Strasbourg naturally stuns in the winter months. Grey skies are more common than snowfall in the Alsace region, but we say it’s worth visiting no matter the weather. Strasbourg’s Christmas markets are renowned (they were first held here in the 16th century), causing the scent of mulled wine and bredele cookies to waft through the streets. The brilliant hanging lights that illuminate the city’s centerpiece, the Cathédrale Notre Dame de Strasbourg, are also a sight to behold.

Europe in Winter Budapest Hungary

Budapest, Hungary

Winter is, hands down, the best time to visit Budapest . Seeing the Hungarian Parliament surrounded by ice drifts on the Danube could make even the strictest of beach bums embrace the cold. And you’re sure to find all of those grand cafés, museums, and thermal baths infinitely more welcoming after spending a few chilly hours exploring the city.

Dublin at Christmas

Dublin, Ireland

Ireland’s capital is one of our favorite places to visit in winter —and not just because of all those cozy little pubs. Every December, the city hosts the magical Smashing Times City of Dublin Winter Solstice Celebration, a festival honoring the solstice (December 21) with céilí dancing, traditional storytelling, and a fire ceremony. Dublin also gets lights up even more around New Year’s Eve, with events like the light festival Luminosity, and the world’s largest Celtic drum session set around town. Of course, there is also beauty in the season itself: James Joyce’s short story “The Dead” even pays tribute to the city’s snow-covered graveyards.

Tivoli Gardens Copenhagen

Copenhagen, Denmark

When you visit the birthplace of hygge (basically the Danish concept of “coziness”), you better believe your winter vacation is going to be inviting. That lovely feeling can be found throughout Copenhagen , from pastry shops to inviting hotels . Don’t feel like you have to stay indoors to enjoy the season, though. Those Michelin-starred restaurants, Tivoli Gardens , and canal views are certainly worth bundling up for. And is it just us, or do the buildings of Nyhavn look even more colorful against a snowy background?

Edinburgh Scotland

Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh ’s Hogmanay Festival—a three-day bacchanal celebrating the New Year, with outdoor concerts, fireworks, and dancing Scots —is reason enough to book a trip to the city. Not much of a partier? Shop for some cashmere, then curl up with your new scarf and some whisky at the speakeasy-style Panda and Sons . You can also work up a sweat skiing in Pentland Hills Regional Park or walking among the winter-flowering plants at the Royal Botanic Garden.

The snow covered village of Hallstatt in the Austrian Alps

Hallstatt, Austria

Yes, it's technically a village, but nowhere fits the phrase “ storybook setting ” better than Hallstatt, which sits pretty on the shores of Austria’s Hallstätter See (about an hour’s drive east of Salzburg). The town's 12th-century churches, candlelit restaurants, and market square only become more stunning during the winter months, especially when the already-scenic Dachstein Mountains are capped with snow. As with most Austrian towns, Hallstatt does winter activities well , with skiing, snowshoe hiking, and horse-drawn carriage rides all up for grabs.

Bruges at Christmas

Bruges, Belgium

Europe’s best-preserved medieval city is also one of its most bewitching, especially during the holiday season . Let’s start with its light displays, when every tree and storefront seems ablaze with twinkle lights (just look up as you wander the cobbled streets). When your fingers start going numb, warm up with mugs of Belgian hot chocolate in the historic Craenenburg Cafe .

Ljubljana Slovenia

Ljubljana, Slovenia

Slovenia ’s capital city is a real-life fairytale setting, come sunshine or snow flurries. Visit during December to see the Baroque architecture surrounded by Christmas lights; or dodge the crowds and book a trip after the holidays, when you’ll have tons of room to stroll the pedestrian-only Old Town and sip coffee by the riverside cafés. You can also add Lake Bled and the Julian Alps to your itinerary, as Ljubljana makes the perfect base for Slovenian day trips.

Berlin Germany

Berlin, Germany

Germany is known around the world for its Christmas markets —its capital city alone has more than 60 of them, including the incredibly picturesque WeihnachtsZauber, which is surrounded by landmarks like Französischer Dom and the Konzerthaus. But don’t think that Berlin ’s wintery appeal starts and ends with the holidays. Travelers can enjoy the city’s Michelin-starred restaurants , buzzing nightclubs, and edgy museums well into the new year, sans the summer crowds.

Sighisoara Transylvania Romania

Transylvania, Romania

Visiting the Gothic castles and dense forests of Transylvania on a bright summer day is great. But visiting when the mountains are quieted by snow and the sky has a bleak, wintry haze to it? Way more appropriate. While we are well aware that Transylvania is an entire region, there are so many cities that shine in the winter that it’s impossible to choose just one: Sibiu has a glittery Christmas market with 100 merchants, an ice rink, and a Ferris wheel. Brașov is a great home base for exploring some of Romania’s most famous castles, including Bran Castle and Peleș Castle (both less than an hour away). And Sighișoara is a classic medieval town with a UNESCO-protected historic center and colorful houses that look especially striking against crisp, fresh-fallen snow.

Christmas at Somerset House London

Christmas in London has timeless appeal—chalk it up to the decorated Georgian townhouses, lively pubs, and a dash of Dickensian charm. But the winter months that bookend the holidays have their own charms, as well. Visitors can go ice skating at the Natural History Museum or Somerset House, then warm up with some museum visits and afternoon teas. Be sure to slot out a couple of day trips to nearby cities like Cambridge and Bath, where you can admire the impossibly charming streets dusted in snow and hole up in even more cozy pubs.

First published in CNT UK

All products are independently selected by our editors. If you buy something, we may earn an affiliate commission

  • Inspiration
  • Destinations
  • Places To Stay
  • Style & Culture
  • Food & Drink
  • Wellness & Spas
  • News & Advice
  • Partnerships
  • Traveller's Directory
  • Travel Tips
  • Competitions

The European cities that are even better in winter

By Sophie Knight and Olivia Morelli

The European cities that are even better in winter

Gothic  Italian  cathedrals glistening with frost, gilded European palaces topped with twinkling icicles and fjord-side wooden houses in  Norway  – these are the  European city  sites taking winter wonderland to a whole new level. For more inspiration, see our pick of the best  city breaks to take in winter .

Stockholm

Stockholm, Sweden

Walking around Stockholm feels magical most of the year, but never more so than during winter, when sunlight glistens off the Söderström and houses are dusted with frost.

Granada

Granada, Spain

One of Spain 's most dramatic locations is particularly alluring when the surrounding Sierra Nevada mountains are capped with white hats and trees branches droop with layers of snow.

During the colder months this ancient city with its natural caves and sandhued houses is cloaked in a quilt of snow.

Matera, Italy

During the colder months, this ancient city with its natural caves and sand-hued houses is cloaked in a quilt of snow.

Fresh snowfall provides the ultimate canvas for Viennas grand buildings and bright pops of colour.

Vienna, Austria

Fresh snowfall provides the ultimate canvas for Vienna ’s grand buildings and bright pops of colour.

While steep streets and sharp corners make for slightly hazardous walks the views are worth it with Gothic buildings...

Edinburgh, Scotland

While steep streets and sharp corners make for slightly hazardous walks, the views are worth it, with Gothic buildings towering above snow-covered alleys hiding cosy pubs, cute cafés and windswept square gardens.

This is our edit of the top hotels in Edinburgh

Like something straight out of Disneys Frozen this winter wonderland is filled with hilltop castles frosty turrets and...

Salzburg, Austria

Like something straight out of Disney’s Frozen , this winter wonderland is filled with hilltop castles, frosty turrets and icy domes.

The strikingly modern Arctic Cathedral towers over this Norwegian city where the Northern Lights are known to light up...

Tromsø, Norway

The strikingly modern Arctic Cathedral towers over this Norwegian city, where the Northern Lights are known to light up the skies.

Winter in the French capital is about as romantic as it gets with powdery alleyways cosy cafs serving steaming chocolat...

Paris, France

Winter in the French capital is about as romantic as it gets, with powdery alleyways, cosy cafés serving steaming chocolat chaud and views of the Eiffel Tower disappearing into the thick fog.

Check out our ultimate travel guide to Paris

Flying into Innsbruck which has one of Europes most dramatic airports at Christmastime is a spectacle in itself with...

Innsbruck, Austria

Flying into Innsbruck , which has one of Europe’s most dramatic airports, at Christmastime is a spectacle in itself, with views of Austria ’s white peaks and mountaintop ski resorts tumbling down into colourful villages.

With its ancient stone buildings and crumbling edifices Rome is even more timeless when covered in snow.  These are the...

Rome, Italy

With its ancient stone buildings and crumbling edifices, Rome is even more timeless when covered in snow.

These are the most beautiful places in Rome

The Czech capital is known for its uniform redroofed houses and during the colder months the buildings look as though...

Prague, Czech Republic

The Czech capital is known for its uniform red-roofed houses, and during the colder months the buildings look as though they have a thin dusting of icing sugar.

These are the best things to do in Prague

The Estonian capital becomes extra alluring during winter as ancient churches flicker with candlelight and pink and...

Tallinn, Estonia

The Estonian capital becomes extra alluring during winter as ancient churches flicker with candlelight and pink- and yellow-coloured houses line streets thick with snow.

Dine at one of the best restaurants in Estonia's cosmopolitan capital

A brave surfer faces icy water under snowladen branches in this Bavarian city.

Munich, Germany

A brave surfer faces icy water under snow-laden branches in this Bavarian city.

While the streets are hidden under inches of snow the spires of Budapests florid gothic Matthias Church shimmer with frost.

Budapest, Hungary

While the streets are hidden under inches of snow, the spires of Budapest ’s florid gothic Matthias Church shimmer with frost.

These azuretinged streetscapes bring a whole new meaning to Elviss Blue Christmas.

Zurich, Switzerland

These azure-tinged streetscapes bring a whole new meaning to Elvis’s Blue Christmas .

The citys brightly coloured architecture stands out even more in winter contrasting with the silvery landscape.  These...

Copenhagen, Denmark

The city’s brightly coloured architecture stands out even more in winter, contrasting with the silvery landscape.

These are the coolest things to do in Copenhagen

Venice has a beautifully eerie feel in winter as gondolas heavy with snow gently bob in icy canals and the citys...

Venice, Italy

Venice has a beautifully eerie feel in winter, as gondolas heavy with snow gently bob in icy canals and the city’s dramatic domes and churches are hidden in a thick mist.

The citys terracottatiled domes and intricate bell towers glisten against the backdrop of the snowcapped Apennines. ...

Florence, Italy

The city’s terracotta-tiled domes and intricate bell towers glisten against the backdrop of the snow-capped Apennines.

Here is our edit of the best things to do in Florence

With an average winter temperature of 0ºC southern Iceland has icy landscapes everywhere you look  but Reykjavík is our...

Reykjavík, Iceland

With an average winter temperature of 0ºC, southern Iceland has icy landscapes everywhere you look – but Reykjavík is our favourite corner of the country, its low-rise architecture contrasting with the ancient crests of Esja, a mountain range that’s about 3.2 million years old.

Surrounded by pinecovered peaks on one side and endless mirrorlike fjords on the other this town is a magical splash of...

Bergen, Norway

Surrounded by pine-covered peaks on one side and endless mirror-like fjords on the other, this town is a magical splash of colour in a wintry blanket of white.

Its hard to find a lovelier place in the snow than this medieval Belgian town. Stroll along the inky canal in soft...

Bruges, Belgium

It’s hard to find a lovelier place in the snow than this medieval Belgian town. Stroll along the inky canal in soft snowfall to discover hidden cobbled lanes, festive market squares and turreted buildings.

Here are 27 brilliant things to do in Bruges

Thick snow lines the cobbled streets melting into the icy Amstel river as passersby shuffle along huddled together as...

Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Thick snow lines the cobbled streets, melting into the icy Amstel river as passers-by shuffle along, huddled together as closely as the city’s distinctive tightly packed houses.

Read more about the most beautiful places in Amsterdam

Red and orangebrick buildings topped with green domes contrast prettily with the soft white snow on nearby rooftops.

Kraków, Poland

Red- and orange-brick buildings topped with green domes contrast prettily with the soft, white snow on nearby rooftops.

The capital is best explored at dusk for a true Dickensian experience  even the moodiest Scrooge would cheer up at the...

London, England

The capital is best explored at dusk for a true Dickensian experience – even the moodiest Scrooge would cheer up at the sight of the snowy streets lit up with the prettiest lights and festive Christmas markets .

Colourful Wes Andersonesque buildings peek out beneath snowcovered rooftops and frozen spires.

Warsaw, Poland

Colourful Wes Anderson -esque buildings peek out beneath snow-covered rooftops and frozen spires.

Perhaps Europes most festive hub at Christmas Berlin becomes filled with market stalls serving steaming glühwein and...

Berlin, Germany

Perhaps Europe’s most festive hub at Christmas , Berlin becomes filled with market stalls serving steaming glühwein and currywurst – and they’re even prettier with a sprinkling of frost.

Britains famous university town becomes still when students return home for Christmas and leave behind a peaceful winter...

Cambridge, UK

Britain’s famous university town becomes still when students return home for Christmas and leave behind a peaceful winter haven.

Discover Cambridge's most charming hotel, University Arms

With its Gothic duomos embellished palazzos and icy piazzas this city in northern Italy looks even more dramatic when...

Milan, Italy

With its Gothic duomos , embellished palazzos and icy piazzas, this city in northern Italy looks even more dramatic when grey skies give way to hazy snowfall.

Stay in one of the most beautiful hotels in the fashion capital of Italy

In a long deep valley straddling the Hron River and against a backdrop of the Kremnica Mountains this Slovakian city is...

Banská Bystrica, Slovakia

In a long, deep valley straddling the Hron River, and against a backdrop of the Kremnica Mountains, this Slovakian city is one of Europe’s most beautiful in winter.

PlanetWare.com

15 Best Places to Visit in Europe in Winter

Written by Diana Bocco Updated Nov 26, 2021

Most people may think of warm-weather vacations as the only logical way to enjoy their time off, but there's something to be said for embracing the icy weather, too. Winter brings about the magic of Christmas , the adrenaline of ski runs down mighty mountains , and the romance of sleigh rides under the starry cold skies.

While not every European city is suited to winter, some just flourish as the temperatures plummet. Take a look at our list of best places to visit in Europe in winter and what makes each so special.

1. Zermatt, Switzerland

2. bregenzerwald, austria, 3. val thorens, france, 4. reykjavik, iceland, 5. abisko, sweden, 6. hallstätt, austria, 7. rovaniemi, finland, 8. nuremberg, germany, 9. prague, czech republic, 10. bergen, norway, 11. venice, italy, 12. strasbourg, france, 13. cortina d'ampezzo, italy, 14. copenhagen, denmark, 15. budapest, hungary, map of places to visit in europe in winter.

Zermatt

During most of the year, Zermatt is a sleepy village. Come winter, though, skiers of all abilities descend upon it to take over the 200-plus kilometers of pistes. Zermatt is a haven for expert skiers , with off-piste opportunities and top stations sitting at altitudes of almost 4,000 meters.

Non skiers will find plenty of things to do in Zermatt as well. For those who want to try snowshoeing and winter hiking, Zermatt offers plenty of sunshine during the colder months , perfect for a walk in the wilderness. There's also tobogganing and sledding, as well as guided hikes for those who want to discover off-the-beaten-path areas.

A great easy trail to try is the 2.2-kilometer walk from Blauherd to Fluhalp, where you can catch sight of chamois grazing on the slopes and the Matterhorn in the distance.

Snowshoer in Bregenzerwald

The Bregenz Forest is the Zermatt of snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. With many kilometers of trails available, chances are good you'll get to enjoy this winter wonderland much on your own.

Clean air and clear skies mean this is the perfect destination for star gazing and night walks. In fact, the area is known for its snowshoeing trips through the forest on full moon nights, as well as its Damüls "cuddle path." This is a romantic five-kilometer path better enjoyed under the stars.

Start at the Zum Glöckle public house, past fairy-tale wooden huts and towards the Alpe Unterdamüls hut. Though the hut is closed in winter, the nearby country inn and restaurant is a great place for a cup of hot chocolate as you reach your destination. It's an easy walk on powdery snow illuminated by the infinite starry sky.

The towns of Au and Bezau are in the Bregenz Forest and offer easy access to ski trails, sledding, and sleigh rides, as well as winter hiking . There's also plenty of things to do indoors when you need a break from the cold, including museums, galleries, and artisan buildings showcasing local handicrafts.

  • Read More: Top Tourist Attractions in Bregenz & Easy Day Trips

Skiers in Val Thorens

Sitting at an altitude of over 2,000 meters with 140 kilometers of pistes, Val Thorens is the highest and most famous ski resort in Europe . The resort is surrounded by dramatic peaks and a blanket of snow as far as the eye can see – great for sports enthusiasts but also truly spectacular to see.

For those who want the beauty without the adrenaline, Val Thorens has plenty to offer off the slopes as well. From snowshoeing and winter hiking to more unusual activities such as mountain biking on snow or sliding down the mountain on France's longest toboggan run . You can try an ice driving course or fly down the mountain on the highest zipline in Europe at hair-raising speeds of over 100 kilometers per hour. Or test your true courage with an ice diving experience.

  • Read More: Top-Rated Ski Resorts in France

Reykjavik

Iceland is at its best in winter, when the alien-looking landscape is covered in blue ice as far as the eye can see. The land of the eternal glaciers, Iceland offers the kind of adventures you can't find anywhere else in Europe.

Every February, Reykjavik holds the Winter Lights Festival, which showcases light installations and plenty of outdoor activities to celebrate the last month of winter and the upcoming lighter days.

If you're looking to warm up, Iceland is also famous for its many geothermal pools , where you can soak in steaming hot water under the icy midnight sky.

Reykjavik is also the perfect starting point for adventures around the country . From here, you can catch a train or a short flight to other corners of Iceland, where you can do everything from glacier hiking in Vatnajökull National Park to witnessing the 10,000-year-old Great Geyser in action.

  • Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions & Things to Do in Reykjavik

Northern lights in Abisko, Sweden

Abisko is often considered the best place to see the northern lights on a budget. This is because the village has a special microclimate that makes catching the dancing lights on the sky a lot more likely than in other Scandinavian destinations. This means shorter stays are needed, which is easier on the budget.

Abisko is also the perfect destination for die-hard winter fans who want to experience cross-country skiing, sledding, snowmobiling, and winter hiking under the never-ending polar night .

The world's first ice hotel is also located nearby – you can either spend a night here in "cozy" -5 degree Celsius temperatures or just take a guided tour to learn about its construction and history.

Hallstätt

Hallstätt sits right on the shores of Hallstätter See, full of 12th-century fairy-tale churches and quaint Alpine houses and surrounded by the snowcapped Dachstein Mountains.

Hallstätt is tiny, with a population of under 1,000 permanent residents who live in Alpine timber houses built up on the steep hill slopes.

Equally stunning all year long, Hallstätt really shines when it's covered in snow and ice. If you're feeling up to the task, the best view of winter Hallstätt is from the Hallstatt Skywalk high above town, though reaching it requires a hike not always possible in the depth of winter.

  • Read More: Top Tourist Attractions in Hallstatt and along the Hallstätter See

Aerial view of Rovaniemi, Finland

For December travelers, no other destination makes more sense than Rovaniemi, considered the official home of Santa Claus . A fairy-tale place just four kilometers south of the Arctic Circle , the Santa Claus Village feels like a mix of amusement park and Arctic wonderland.

The area around Rovaniemi is a favorite for northern lights tours. Over 200 aurora borealis displays can be seen here every year – one of the highest numbers in Scandinavia.

Even if you don't catch a display of northern lights, Rovaniemi goes through a magical period of Polar Twilight (rather than Polar Night), where the sun will still rise for a couple of hours per day. During these months, bluish, glittering snowdrifts cover everything, providing a magical quality to nature and buildings alike.

The Ounasvaara outdoor area around town is perfect for snowshoeing among snow-covered forests, while Ounaskoski beach is a famous spot for winter swimming under the midnight sun.

When you need some indoor time, Rovaniemi offers plenty of icy breaks, including a snow restaurant, an ice hotel, ice slides and castles - plus a warmer break in the form of the Arktikum Science Museum.

  • Read More: Top-Rated Things to Do in Rovaniemi

Nuremberg Cathedral during the holidays

Christmas markets are a European staple, and few countries do Christmas markets better than Germany. After all, it's hard to beat the blinking of holiday lights in a medieval town, especially under a soft dusting of December snow. The Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt, which has been around since around the 1500s , is considered one of the best Christmas markets in Germany .

Here, over one hundred stalls sell everything from the famous local "Rauschgoldengel" (gold-foil angel decorations) to the traditional lebkuchen gingerbread against a backdrop of historical buildings.

With shopping done, visitors can catch a holiday concert at the Lorenzkirche church, home to one of the largest organs in the world . Or take a stroll up cobbled streets to the grounds of Nuremberg Castle, then visit the city's toy museum to learn about the centuries-old tradition of wooden toy making.

  • Read More: Top Tourist Attractions in Nuremberg & Easy Day Trips

Prague in the winter

Winter rolls over Prague in early December and lasts well into February, with a dusting of snow regularly covering the Old Town's church spires and red rooftops.

Second only to Germany for its great Christmas markets, the city is lively and busy during the second half of December, as tourists from all over Europe come over for some holiday merriment. February is Masopust or carnival season in Prague – another great time to visit during the cold months to see a fanciful parade of giant puppets and whimsical costumes.

The city that Franz Kafka loved just feels more magical in winter, as ice-skating rinks open all around the city, and medieval churches put on classical music concerts for the delight of visitors.

If you need a break from the cold Prague evenings, Prague is home to many other attractions , including over 100 museums and galleries, an indoor aqua park, one of the oldest libraries in the world (the 12th-century Strahov Library), great shopping , and much more.

Colorful snow-topped buildings in Bergen

Arrive in Bergen in January, and you get a few magical things all packed into one. Colorful wooden buildings covered in snow, breathtaking views of the fjords covered in icy mist, and a chance to catch the northern lights dancing over the city.

Bergen's idyllic harbor is a pleasure to explore off-season, as snow covers the fairy-tale-looking landscapes around. Sit at a café near the water to sip some hot chocolate and try kanelboller , Norway's version of a warm cinnamon roll. Then take the funicular to the top of Mount Fløyen for a spectacular view over the entire city.

Fjord cruises run throughout the entire winter , and there's truly no better way to experience the quiet magic of the fjords than from the water. Plus, the Bergen mountains around offer plenty of opportunities to try cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, or sledding. The five-hour hike between Mt. Ulriken to Mount Fløyen is a popular winter walk just on the edge of town.

During November and December, the world's largest "gingerbread town" is built within the city of Bergen. And on winter days, when the weather doesn't cooperate, you can get a peak of the country's strong connection to the sea at the Bergen Maritime Museum.

  • Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Bergen

Grand Canal in Venice on a winter's day

Venice might surprise you as a winter destination, but there's a reason it often makes the top 10 winter lists. Once the colder months arrive, the tourists leave. This means you mostly get the sleepy streets, Piazza San Marco , and the bridges on the canal to yourself. Just remember to visit before the second half of January, as that's when Carnevale kicks off and things get busy and expensive again.

While Venice might not sound like a snow destination, it can certainly snow in the city, and the canals often freeze in winter, the sun glistening on the ice in a rainbow of lights.

When the canals aren't frozen, you can still catch a gondola ride – just bundle up under a thick blanket as you ride on the misty waters. During December, Venice's largest square is turned into a gigantic ice-skating rink.

  • Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Venice

Strasbourg in the winter

Paris might capture the heart of lovers everywhere, but there's a storybook French city on the German border that can do winter charm a lot better than the country's capital. Strasbourg borrows from its neighbor to offer traditional Christmas markets, gigantic Christmas trees, and a dusting of snow as you walk through the stalls with a cup of hot chocolate.

Plus, Strasbourg is an enchanting medieval town famous for its half-timbered houses and picturesque canals that are stunning in any season.

The Franco-German influences can be seen everywhere in Strasbourg, including in its cuisine. No visit to the city is complete without sitting at a café near the water to taste an apple and cinnamon tartes flambées – which literally translates to "pie baked in the flames."

And don't let the winter weather scare you from taking a walk around the cobblestone streets of La Petite France, the oldest section of the city and the most photogenic, where millers and fishermen once sold their fare in the medieval houses that still stand.

The Strasbourg Cathedral, the 17th-century Barrage Vauban, and the Baroque Palais des Rohan are great places to visit in winter. They're particularly stunning in December when decorated in Christmas lights, but they're also a great indoor escape all winter long.

Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Strasbourg

Skiing at Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy

Located just two hours North of Venice and perhaps better known for being home to the 1956 Winter Olympics , Cortina d'Ampezzo is the getaway to the Italian Dolomites and one of the best ski resorts in Italy . Sitting just steps away from Lake Sorapis and the Tre Cime National Park , the town is also a high-end destination for winter lovers. The Winter Olympics will return to Cortina in 2026 – so now is the perfect time to visit, before the crowds take over again.

For adventure lovers, the town offers easy access to three skiing areas : Faloria Cristallo Mietres, Tofana, and Lagazuoi 5 Torri. Plus, there are great hiking trails you can use for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing in winter, and an Olympic ice stadium to try ice-skating and curling. There's even an international mushing dog sledding school, where visitors can take a short "driving" class, spend time with the dogs, and then enjoy their very own 30-minute ride on a husky-powered sled .

The town itself transforms into a winter wonderland in December, with a lively Christmas market , famous for its hot chestnuts and charming wooden huts selling handmade crafts. But the sense of wonder extends all throughout town during December, with many 18th-century buildings and cozy cafés covered in lights and holiday decorations.

Colorful buildings in Copenhagen's Nyhavn district

Compared to the rest of Northern Europe, Denmark has milder winters with snow that usually doesn't make an appearance until January. This makes it a great destination for city lovers who want to experience the magic of winter with walks by the canal in Nyhavn or the ultra-famous Kronprinsensgade street, Copenhagen's best destination for cafés and boutique shops.

As one of the oldest amusement parks in Europe, the 19th-century Tivoli Gardens is worth a visit anytime of the year. But the massive area is especially dazzling in winter, when thousands of tiny twinkling lights bounce off the ice and snow all around you.

Tivoli actually has a special Christmas season (which runs from mid-November through early January), when Santa Claus makes regular appearances, holiday-themed shows are always on, and the restaurants inside the park serve traditional European Christmas dishes. During January and February, the park remains open, and the massive ice-skating rink becomes the main attraction.

Aside from Tivoli Garden's own Christmas market, you'll also find large Christmas markets at King's Square and Nyhavn, and even one inside the city zoo.

Need a break from the cold? After soaking up café culture, stop by one of the city's many museums, many of which put on special winter shows and exhibits.

Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Copenhagen

Budapest in the winter

Compared to capitals in western Europe, Budapest is more affordable and much less crowded in winter, making it the perfect place to visit at Christmas for those on a budget. In December, the city is home to two main Christmas markets: Vörösmarty Square and St. Stephen's Basilica .

The market at the square is the largest, with over 100 stalls selling everything from a selection of craftwork to handmade chocolates and the popular Mézeskalács gingerbread. There's live music here daily, too, with a program that includes Christmas music but also jazz and blues, as well as traditional dancing. The market in front of the church is smaller but offers a skating rink and puts on a delightful light show, with lasers projecting on the façade of the basilica itself.

Budapest is famous for its thermal baths and hot springs – and there's no better time to enjoy them than in the freezing winter days. The Széchenyi Baths are the largest and busiest, while the Gellért and Rudas baths are the most visually striking if you're after stunning architecture.

If you're up for braving the outdoors instead, the City Park Ice Rink – one of the oldest skating rinks in Europe – is hard to beat, with the Vajdahunyad Castle in the background. Or you can try a cruise down the Danube River for stunning views over UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Budapest

instagram logo

More on Switzerland

Switzerland Travel Guide

Go Far Grow Close

20 Best Snowy Winter Vacations In Europe (2024)

Last Updated on March 13, 2024 by Nicole

There is something magical when it snows. Even though it signals that it is cold outside, and the warm rays of the sun have come and gone, the snow opens up new worlds of discovery. Instead of green forests and mountainsides, there are vistas of snow draped trees and white capped mountains. Where you once hiked among wild flowers, you now do winter sports such as snowshoe, downhill ski, cross country ski, snowmobile, dogsled, ice skate, or simply walk along snow packed paths. In many places, the winter months means it is the best time to see the Northern Lights. European cities often become even prettier with a white dusting over ancient roofs. So, where are the best snowy winter wonderlands to visit in Europe? And which of the winter months – December, January, February, or even March – are the best times to visit? Here are 20 best winter getaways with snow in America.

This post may contain affiliate links. That means that I may earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if you buy something through my site. This helps me run my website and produce the articles that I hope you find helpful.

Other Options

After reviewing this article, if you are still looking for inspiration for other cold or warm winter vacation destinations in Europe, then consider the following:

  • 24 Best Places To Visit In Europe In January ;
  • 22 Best Places To Visit In Europe In February ;
  • 25 Best Places To Visit In Europe In March ;
  • 24 Best Places To Visit In Europe In November ; and
  • 24 Best Places To Visit In Europe For Christmas .

For those hoping to find inexpensive European destinations regardless of the season, please see:

  • 27 Best Cheap Cities In Europe For A Fantastic Vacation ; and
  • 22 Best Cheap Countries To Visit In Europe .

If you can explore other parts of the world for amazing snowy winter wonderlands, then check out these spots in the United States – 24 Best Snowy Winter Wonderlands In the USA .

Best Snowy Winter Holidays In Europe

Here are 20 of the best winter vacations in Europe for stunning scenery, winter sports and for a snow-filled vacation. Most of them offer regular snowfalls in December, January and February, while others have a winter season that extends from November to March, and even into April. Each of them offer fantastic winter activities, in addition to other popular attractions available all year round.

For each spot, the best things to do are featured, the weather including expected snowfall is set out, as well as the most convenient airports and transfers are highlighted. Finally, a wonderful hotel or other accommodation is recommended to make sure that you have the best winter escape possible.

best winter destinations in Europe to see snow

Zermatt, Switzerland

By Linda from Hiking The Alps

One of the best places to visit in Europe for a snowy winter wonderland is the little mountain village of Zermatt in Switzerland. This lovely place is hidden in the end of a deep valley, in the very south of Switzerland, on the border to Italy.

Zermatt calls itself the “Home of Winter” and accordingly, it is one of the best winter destinations in Europe. Several times it has been chosen Best Ski Resort in the European Alps. In 2022, the destination was even awarded the Traveler’s Choice Awards by TripAdvisor in the category “Best of the Best Destinations for Skiers in the World”. Besides great skiing, the area offers fantastic snowshoe hikes and even the option to do excursions on Husky sleigh rides.

One of the best reasons to visit Zermatt is that from nearly any place within the village and the surrounding mountain areas, you can admire the world-famous Matterhorn Mountain, the Swiss national symbol.

The greatest view of Zermatt, the Matterhorn and 28 other mountain peaks above 13,000 feet (4000 meters) is Gornergrat at 10,100 ft (3089 m) above sea level. You can reach the observation platform on foot or directly from Zermatt with the Gorner Bahn, the world’s first fully electrified cog railway. The village is car-free, which makes strolling through the charming, narrow streets to admire the traditional Swiss houses, easier and better.

If you are keen to try the famous Swiss cheese Fondue and some home-made Glühwein (mulled wine) head to  Igloo Village , high above Zermatt. You can even stay the night and enjoy the fantastic atmosphere out in the whirlpool.

Snowfall can begin as early as October and last until late April. You will see the heaviest snowfall in December and January with 17.7 inches of snow each month. But for those passionate about skiing and snowboarding, you can do both year round, in the winter and summer months, on the Little Matterhorn. The area is also known for having more than 300 days of sun, so don’t forget the sunscreen.

Best Way To Reach The Destination

Located in the middle of the highest mountain peaks in Switzerland, it is quite a  journey to reach Zermatt . The closest airport is Geneva which is about 3hrs drive. However, the journey is definitely worth it!

Hotel Recommendation

Linda from Hiking The Alps says, “If you are keen to try the famous Swiss cheese Fondue and some home-made Glühwein (mulled wine) head to  Igloo Village , high above Zermatt. You can even stay the night and enjoy the fantastic atmosphere out in the whirlpool.”

best European destinations for a snowy winter wonderland

Lapland, Finland

By Jenny from Jennie Wanders

One of the best snowy winter vacations in Europe is Lapland, Finland, in the Arctic Circle. Between the months of November and March, the lakes freeze, the sun sets early and the sheer white snow can reach a depth of up to 35″ (90cm), so don’t forget your snow boots! 

If you’re visiting Lapland for the first time , head to Rovaniemi, the ‘capital’ of Lapland. Rovaniemi is known for its incredible snow forests, beautiful frozen lakes and home of Santa Claus and his elves.

There are many popular activities to do in Lapland and Rovaniemi, but you won’t want to miss out on spotting the Northern Lights. Known as one of the most incredible natural phenomena in the world, the Northern Lights are best seen during the cold winter season. 

If you’re lucky, your tour will involve a trip on a snowmobile to the depths of the Finnish countryside, truly one of the most beautiful places in Finland. You need to avoid all light to increase your chances to see the Northern Lights. 

Rovaniemi is full of bucket list experiences. From the Northern Lights to reindeer sleigh rides, ice fishing and of course, Husky rides. Wrap up warm from the cold weather and spend the day with the Huskies. Play with them in the snow, take a sleigh ride and then cosy up around the fire with a cup of hot chocolate or tea.

Temperatures in the colder months (December to February) range between 3.2 to 21 degrees Fahrenheit (-6°C to -16°C), so make sure to pack your warm hat and gloves at this time of year! But, if you forget anything, your tour company or hotel will have suitable clothing to borrow or rent. 

It snows heavily from November to April, but there is can also be snowfall in October and May.

The best ways to access Rovaniemi is from Helsinki International Airport either via sleeper train, or a short 50-minute flight. 

Jenny says, “If you’re staying in Rovaniemi for the first time, make sure you book into the Apukka Resort . Situated about 20 minutes from the town centre, it’s in the heart of nature and the perfect place to stay.

This means you can spend your time in Lapland walking through snowy forests, ice fishing on frozen lakes and snowmobiling over thick layers of snow. They even have glass igloo rooms for you to spot the Northern Lights from the comfort of your own bed. It doesn’t get much better than that!”

best European city to enjoy snow and winter sports

Tallinn, Estonia

By Ellis From Backpack Adventures

Are you looking for a budget friendly snowy winter holiday in Europe? Then, you should consider Tallinn. The capital of Estonia has a beautiful medieval old town and is surrounded by lots of nature. Tallinn in winter is a magical winter wonderland with a thick blanket of snow covering the city from December till February. 

Winters in Tallinn can be cold with temperatures hovering around freezing point. Some days offer a clear blue sky, others can be gray and misty. Luckily, Tallinn has plenty of indoor and outdoor activities. The city has lots of interesting museums when the weather is not in your favor.

However, Tallinns true beauty is outside. Wandering through the cobbled stone streets of the scenic Old Town is one of the best things to do in Tallinn. In winter, the central square is decorated with a Christmas tree and one should not miss the viewpoints over the city. Another scenic place in winter is the pink Kadriorg Palace and its snow covered park. You can visit the art museum inside the palace or go for a walk in the park.   

Tallinn is also the perfect place to get out in nature, even in winter. Some places are even more spectacular such as the frozen Jagala waterfalls only 18.7 miles (30 kilometers) from Tallinn. The Viru bog trail is a popular day trip from Tallinn and the boardwalk through the frozen bogs remains open in winter. 

Average temperature in December through March ranges from 25 degrees Fahrenheit to 35 degrees Fahrenheit with February being the coldest. Expect snowfall from November through March. December and January will have the most at about 5.3 inches per month.

You can fly into Tallinn airport which is only 20 minutes away from the city center.

Ellis says, “The Hestia hotel Il Marine is a great budget hotel right next to the Old Town.”

best winter sport destination in Europe

Chamonix-Mont Blanc, France

By Erin from Erins Travel Tips

The ultimate destination in France for a snowy winter getaway is the stunning village of Chamonix-Mont Blanc (often most referred to as Chamonix). Here you can spend the perfect winter holiday cradled in the valley of a charming 19 th  century village.  

Chamonix is renowned for being a top ski resort destination. Mont Blanc is Europe’s highest mountain peak in the Alps at 15,781 feet. It is also known for holding the first Olympic Games back in 1924.

While in Chamonix, you must go to the top of the Aiguille du Midi. The ride in the vertical cable car holds the record as the highest in the world. Once you get there, you will be rewarded with spectacular panoramic mountain views. On your way up or down the mountain, there are plenty of things to do with cafes, shopping, and viewpoints.

Extend your day by taking the Skyway Monte Bianco cable car between two countries. This memorable experience has out of this world views! You will be suspended in the air with the clouds below you.  

For the less adventurous, you can also easily travel by car to Courmayeur, Italy through the Mont Blanc Tunnel which runs underneath the Aiguille du Midi.  Either way, you can easily see France, Italy, and Switzerland on this trip without traveling more than an hour. In addition, Chamonix is a great place home base for day trips to  Annecy and Gruyères . 

Chamonix offers some of the best winter sports in Europe. You will be impressed by the sheer magnitude of these mountains. Chamonix skiing is so prominent that there are 3 distinct ski areas, Les Grands Montets, Brévent – Flégère, and the Le Domaine de Balme. 

In Chamonix, you should expect snow most of the year and even into the summer months. The average temperatures range from 29°F in the coldest month (January) to summer highs in July around 62°F. Precipitation due to the elevation averages around 50 inches per year.

You can reach Chamonix by flying into the Geneva International Airport (Genève Aéroport). It is the closest airport to the Savoie region, and just over an hour’s drive on the Swiss motorway. Car travel is the easiest and most convenient way to travel. Chamonix is also accessible by train with service from Paris Gare de Lyon and to Annecy or Geneva. 

Erin says, “Stay in the heart of the village at the stunning,  Hôtel Mont-Blanc Chamonix . This 5-star resort is the perfect place to relax with its luxury spa amenities. It is also conveniently located near excellent restaurants and boutiques.”

best places to visit in Europe for snowy winter wonderlands

Zakopane, Poland

From Holly from Four Around The World

Zakopane is a small town in southern Poland that is nestled in the Tatra mountains. It is a popular destination for both Polish and international travellers who come to enjoy the many winter sports and incredible mountain scenery. It is also one of the best snowy winter trips in Europe.

There are many things to do in Zakopane during winter . Zakopane is one of the best family ski resorts in Europe. Snowboarding and skiing are very popular and there are several terrain parks where you can test your skills. Kids will also love tobogganing down Gubałówka Hill, one of the most popular sledding hills in Zakopane.

Don’t miss a chance to take the Funicular up Mount Gubałówka for the best views of Zakopane and the Tatra mountains. The other popular nearby attraction is taking the cable car to the top of Kasprowy Wierch. This is the highest ski resort in Poland. Even if you aren’t keen on winter sports, it is a great place to enjoy spectacular views!

The average temperature in Zakopane in winter sits between 21 degrees Fahrenheit and 25 degrees Fahrenehit (-4 to -6 degrees Celsius) during the day and drops lower during the night. There is an average of 7.87 in (200mm) of snow in each of December, January and February. However, snow falls up to 6 months of the year, making it possible to enjoy a visit in November and April when there will be fewer tourists.

To reach Zakopane, the closest international Airport is Krakow. It is 70 miles (113 km) by car or take the 2-hour bus ride between Krakow and Zakopane.

Holly says, “You will find plenty of options for accommodation in Zakopane. There are some beautiful private holiday home rentals, which are perfect for visiting with a large group. Otherwise, Hotel Aquarion Family & Friends is a fantastic choice for families. It is right next to Zakopane’s indoor waterpark.”

best places in Europe to enjoy winter sports

Copenhagen, Denmark

By Trisha from P.S I’m On My Way

Copenhagen is a great snowy winter city break in Europe. From  living in Copenhagen , the best tip is to visit during the Christmas season (late November through early January) as the city holds over 10 big Christmas markets in the city where you can eat, shop for gifts, and get to know the Danish culture.

For a full winter adventure, Copenhagen has ice skating rinks that are free of charge. You only need to rent your ice skating gear for DKK 50 (US$7) and you can go ice skating for as long as you want. Frederiksberg Runddel and Toftegårds Plads are two of the best ice skating rinks in Copenhagen that are open every winter.

Indoor enthusiasts can go cafe hopping in Copenhagen and eat food primarily offered in winter. For example, Flæskesteg is a traditional winter pork dish that is widely served within the country. Overall, Copenhagen has an impressive cafe culture and they have many delicacies that are unique to Denmark.

Weather And Directions

The minimum temperature in Copenhagen in December is 37 °F (and can go up to 40 °F). There will be cold evenings where temperatures drop to 20 °F. Make sure to pack proper winter clothing, not just normal jackets and shoes. 

Snowfall in Copenhagen occurs from December to mid-March. January and February is the best time with the most snowfall (1.8 inches each month).

The airport that serves Copenhagen is Karstrup. Denmark has a very efficient transportation system. Here are some options from Copenhagen Airport to the city center:

  • Bus: 30 minutes ride at US$4 per person. Trusted bus companies are Movia, Flixbus, and Öresundståg;
  • Train: 13 minutes via Danish Railways (from US$6 – US$10);
  • Subway: 15 minutes via Copenhagen Metro (from US$3 – US$5); and
  • Taxi: 10 minutes from US$25.

Trisha says, “As for accommodation, I usually just go for a VRBO if I am traveling with someone. Most of the time, I visit Copenhagen solo and stay in hostels like Urban House or Steel House. 

If you want to stay near the canals, the most ideal neighborhoods to book your accommodation are in Amager , Nordhavn, and Christianshavn .”

best winter wonderland to visit in Europe

Innsbruck, Austria

By Paul from Paulmarina

Innsbruck  is the regional capital of Tyrol in Austria. The city is nestled between the Alps and is known for winter sports. The Winter Olympics were held in Innsbruck twice in 1964 and 1976. It is one of the best cities with snow to visit in Europe in winter.

Winter sports aren’t the only thing for which Innsbruck is known. People come from far and wide to see the golden roof, the symbol of Innsbruck, in the Old Town. The roof was built in the 15th Century and was tiled with 2,657 fire-gilded copper shingles in the early 16th Century. It looks stunning when the first snow falls in November.

In addition, the modern and impressive looking Nordkette cable car takes you within 20 minutes from the city center to the top of the Karwendel mountain. On a sunny day, you get a stunning 360 Degrees view of the winter wonderland below. Of course, you can also enjoy a wonderful ski day as well.

If you just want to take in the charming feeling of the Old Town and its architecture, visit in December, during the Christmas season. There are great Christmas markets. The one next to the River Inn is heartwarming, and the colorful buildings with the snow-capped mountains in the back will get you into the Christmas mood.

The Krampus tradition is still very much celebrated in the area and worth an experience. Traditionally, a man hides in animal skins, under carved wooden masks, and ties bells to their costume so that people hear the clanking in the darkness. They carry a long stick and a canvas bag to drag naughty children away.

Historically, this was a frightening tradition for small children. Today, children are no longer taken away and instead, many towns host formal processions. It is held on the 5th of December and St. Nikolaus visits on the 6th of December.

The temperature is usually between 15 and 32 degrees Fahrenheit in winter. It may drop further in early January.

January and February are the best months for guaranteed snow. Occasionally, it snows earlier in November too. If it’s a good year, then December is the best time to enjoy fresh snowflakes when Christmas lights and decorations adorn the medieval city.

The snow tends to melt starting in March. Then, the best way to enjoy the snow is on the surrounding mountains.

Innsbruck has an international airport, so you can fly direct. It is only a few minutes into the city center.

Paul says, “Innsbruck offers many great hotels in which to stay, so you will surely find something that suits your needs.”

best European destinations to visit for winter sports

Limone Piemonte, Italy

By Francesca from Travel Heal Love

Limone Piemonte is one of the oldest Alpine villages in Italy, with a twelfth-century church at its center, in the Piedmont region of Italy. Near the France border, Limone is a famous location for skiers for both Italian and French people. It has a magical atmosphere when everything is covered by a thick layer of snow. It is one of the best places in Europe to enjoy winter sports.

Limone Piemonte is a popular winter sports destination in Italy. It offers a lot of terrain for downhill skiing and snowboarding up to elevations of 6700 feet (2,060 meters). There are 32 miles (52 km) of slopes available in total and 14 ski lifts. You can bring your own equipment or you can rent all you need at the local shops.

However, this is not the only activity that you can do while in Limone Piemonte. In fact, you go cross-country skiing, hike or snowshoe, or go mountain biking in the surrounding mountains. You can discover many beautiful places by following the walks and itineraries in the Italian-French natural parks. Also, there is a skating rink for roller skating in the summer and ice skating in the winter. It is so much fun!

During the winter season, the temperatures can go pretty low, with an average of 27.9 °F from December to March. It usually snows a lot in this period, especially in February. Some years, there is up to 56 inches (140 cm) of snowfall in total. Amazing right? A white paradise!

To reach this unforgettable destination you can fly into Turin International Airport and then drive or get a train. It will take around 2 hours by car and 2 hours and 45 minutes by train.

Francesca says, “ Limone Piemonte offers great accommodation for local and international guests. Most of them resemble a mountain cabin, with lots of woodworks, fireplaces, and rugs. Furthermore, many of them offer shuttle services to take you to the nearest ski lifts for the best snow adventure of your life!”

most beautiful places in Europe to visit for snowy winter wonderland

Loften Islands, Norway

By Bradley from Dream Big Travel Far Blog

Lofoten islands are a Norwegian archipelago known for its spectacular peaks and views of the Northern Lights during wintertime. With countless viewing points, harbor towns, and fishing villages, these islands have a magical charm that comes alive when the snow falls! Accordingly, for anyone who seeks snow covered vistas, it is one of the best European winter destinations with snow.

If your main goal is to see the Northern Lights, go further north and make sure that you get away from the city lights. Lakes are a good bet in Lofoten, and you’re more likely to see the lights when the weather is clear.

Another must-visit is the Rorvikstranda Beach. It’s more popular in the summer months when people swim and camp here, but it is the perfect place to see spectacular views in winter. With snow-capped mountains in the distance and the sparkling waters, it’s definitely a great place to relax.

Overall, the Lofoten islands are a treasure trove of hidden gems and dramatic sceneries. While many people come here for a day trip, it’s worth staying for at least three nights to fully explore all that these islands have to offer.

The temperature in Lofoten can vary throughout the year, with its warmest month being August (61.8°F). For a wonderful winter wonderland in this archipelago, note that the temperature can reach as low as 34.5°F between December and January. There is lots of snow from November to April, with the heaviest snowfall in December, January and February with approximately 11 inches per month.

It’s really easy to drive to the Lofoten islands from other parts of the country. For those wanting to fly in from abroad, the closest international airport is Harstad/Narvik Airport. The drive to Lofoten will take around 2 hours and 45 minutes. Alternatively, you can fly into Bodø Airport as it connects to many international airports.

Bradley says, “In terms of accommodation, there are a lot of dreamy Airbnbs that can help you experience the islands in a memorable and authentic way. If you prefer a hotel, located in the islands’ biggest city, Thon Hotel Svolvær is a new, eco-friendly hotel known for its clean and modern interiors.”

best European destination to enjoy winter sports

Brasov, Romania

By Jade from The Migrant Yogi

Brasov, Romania is the ultimate getaway for a winter vacation with snow in Eastern Europe. Nestled on the plateau of Transylvania surrounded by the Carpathian Mountains, it’s no wonder this place draws tourists from all over Europe and beyond. It is also one of the best places in Europe to do winter sports and other activities in the snow.

Within the city limits, you can get a full Romanian cultural experience. Visit the Black Church (which isn’t black) which got its name from a fire. It is famous for its domineering presence in the Old Town and offering one of the greatest organs in Europe. It has over 4000 pipes and was constructed in the 1800s. Brasov also has one of the narrowest streets in the world, Strada Sforii.

Hike Tampa Mountain to the iconic (and Hollywood-esque) Brasov sign. Though, be forewarned – one of the top things to know before visiting Transylvania is not to feed the bears! Tourists get in trouble for this constantly.

In addition to the epic hiking opportunities in Brasov and the surroundings, snow sports abound here, particularly if you wander outside the city limits to Poiana Brasov, located just about an hour’s drive.

Skiing and snowboarding are among the top things to do. It is one of the cheapest places to go skiing in Europe and if offers 8.5 miles of ski slopes. The mountain range is Postavarul Massif, the highest point being Postavarul at 5800 feet (1799 m).

In addition, there are two gondolas that go high into the mountains as well as other lifts where you can either sightsee, hike or snowshoe.

The average temperature in the winter months ranges from 26 degrees Fahrenheit to 370 degrees Fahrenheit (0 to 6 degrees Celsius) from November to March, so be sure to pack some layers to keep warm. The snowiest week is the last week of January, in case you’re hoping for heaps and heaps of the fluffy white stuff. You will typically see late snow storms in March and April.

To get to Brasov, you’ll can fly into either Bucharest or Sibiu, or Brasov’s new international airport (once opened). From Sibiu, it takes around two hours to reach Brasov by car. From Bucharest, the ride increases slightly to two and a half hours. By train, expect the rides to take much longer as the rail system in Romania isn’t as developed as in other parts of Europe.

Jade says, “ Hotel Casa Wagner Brasov is a top pick among international and Romanian tourists alike for the best place to stay in Brasov.”

best European cities to visit to see winter and snow

Reykjavik, Iceland

By Lowri from Many Other Roads

Iceland is known as the land of fire and Ice. If you are looking for a winter holiday with snow, Iceland is one of the best in Europe. From frozen craters to snow covered hills, Iceland is a dream destination for anyone who loves the winter elements. Iceland has so many great spots for the perfect winter getaway but there is one that you can’t help but fall in love with – Reykjavik. 

The capital city of Reykjavik has plenty to offer its visitors, especially in the winter season. One of the most popular things to do is to stroll around the harbour and take in the snowy views. Not only is it home to some great museums such as the Saga museum, it is also offers some of the best places to eat in Iceland. 

Another great spot in Reykjavik to admire the scenery is near the Hallgrímskirkja church. As it doesn’t look like most churches in Europe, the unique architecture of the Hallgrímskirkja church makes it well worth visiting. In addition, it is one of the most magical spots in the snow and a fantastic spot for photos.

To explore this snowy winter land, it is best to rent a car. However, if you aren’t confident driving in these conditions, then wait and drive in Iceland in March . You will still find winter conditions but weather warms a bit and driving conditions improve. 

For a snowy winter wonderland, there is no place like Iceland. Add Reykjavik to your list of places to visit for the ultimate winter getaway.

The winter season tends to be from November-March with temperatures in Reykjavik averaging around 32-37°F. But if you want your trip to have lots of snow, the best time to visit is from December through March. December, January and February sees around 9 inches of snowfall each month whereas there is 7 inches in March.

There are a few airports in Iceland but most flights come into Keflavik international airport. The airport is about a 45 minute drive to Reykjavik so it is pretty easy to reach. As Iceland has no train service, the only way to get to the city is by bus or car. 

Lowri says, “The Capital of Iceland is full of wonderful places to stay on your trip, no matter your budget. Midborg is one of the most popular locations, especially for first time visitors to Reykjavik. This neighbourhood is in the heart of the capital and great for shopping and eating. One of the top picks in this location is Hotel Fron , a charming hotel in a fantastic location.”

best snowy winter wonderlands to visit in Europe to do winter sports

Bansko, Bulgaria

By Lyubomira from Bulgarian On The Go

When talking about snow and winter sports in Bulgaria, the first place that comes to people’s mind is Bansko – the country’s biggest and most famous winter resort. Bansko is located in the beautiful Pirin Mountains, and apart from being a preferred European winter getaway with snow, it’s also a beautiful small town with a lot of history and landmarks one can visit. 

Bansko is known to charm its visitors with its romantic cobbled streets, traditional taverns and lovely architecture. Discovering the Old Town is a must-do when visiting, as there is a lot to uncover – from churches and monuments to house-museums of remarkable Bulgarians.  

Number one on the list of things to do in Bansko in winter is to definitely try some winter sports. Bansko has been a regular host to the FIS Alpine Ski World Cup, a top international circuit of alpine skiing competitions. For skiing and snowboarding, there are 26 miles (48.2 km) of slopes and 14 ski lifts. Elevation is between 3000 and 8200 feet (990 and 2,560 m).

For those non-skiers, one of the best things that you can do is take a snowmobile tour through the spectacular forests of the Pirin Mountains. For a slower pace, take a snowshoeing trip up to one of the mountain huts. You can also rent a toboggan and sled.

The winter temperature in Bansko remains around 32°F with some fluctuations, and the sun is usually shining bright. In January, for example, the temperatures can be anywhere between 40°F and 25°F, in February – between 37°F and 23°F, and in March – between 43°F and 27°F.

The amount of snow that falls in the wintertime is anywhere between 5 and 10 inches per week, but the mountain peaks remain covered at all times. Bansko usually keeps its snowy landscape all the way through March. 

The easiest way to get to Bansko is to first fly to Sofia and then catch a bus or drive. The bus takes around 3 hours and leaves from the Central Bus Station, whereas driving takes just about 2 hours.

Lyubomira says, “A good hotel option is KapHouse , which is just a few minutes walk away from the ski lifts and also from the town center.”

best snowy winter wonderland to visit in Europe

Sierra Nevada National Park, Spain

By Paulina from Visit Southern Spain

Sierra Nevada National Park is a natural and scenic beauty located in the lap of Granada and Almeria in Spain. The National Park is spread from the Alpujarra to El Marquesado. It covers a total area of 320 square miles and features one of the tallest mountains in Europe. In addition, it is home to more than 20 mountains and a number of rivers, forest areas and lakes. Sierra Nevada National Park is one of the best winter trips with snow in Europe.

There are several things that you can do in Sierra Nevada National Park in the winter months. The Sierra Nevada Ski, Snowboard and Mountain Resort offers you 62 miles of ski runs with 21 gondolas and chairlifts.

If you are not keen to downhill ski, you can take a ride on one of the lifts to the park’s highest points. It takes visitors to peaks like Veleta and more scenic trails. After that, you can explore the popular hike of Los Cahorros Gorge which can be reached from Monachil. It is a 6 mile trail and opens you to breathtaking views of the hills in the Monachli Valley. The view from the top is especially marvellous in winter. You will love it if you wish to see lots of snow.

After the picturesque hiking trail, you can go rock climbing, even in winter. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced rock climber, Sierra Nevada National Park has opportunities for everyone. You can rent equipment if you do not have your own.

The average temperature in December, January and February varies between 36.7°F and 24.8°F. There is generally a snow depth of 8.6 in (22cm) in November, but by March, there could be as much as 116 inches (297cm) at the top.

The nearest airport to Sierra Nevada National Park is Granada Airport. You have to drive 27 miles (44km) to reach the destination.

Paulina says, “A great accommodation spot is Melia Sierra Nevada .”

best places to visit in Europe for snow and winter sports

Stockholm, Sweden

By Philipp from Journication

Looking for a beautiful European city with a high chance of snow and plenty to experience? 

Then Stockholm is the place for you. Sounds rather cold and dark? Far from it! The Swedish capital has not only many museums and large department stores for extensive shopping trips in winter, but there are also great  things to do in Stockholm in winter.

Skansen Park is considered the world’s oldest open-air museum. Here you can admire many original houses and even whole farms from all parts of Sweden. Many craftsmen offer daily performances. For example, the blacksmith showcases how they forge metal and the glassblower creates works of art. 

Attached to the Park is also a zoo, where you can admire typical Nordic animals. You can look forward to seeing reindeer, moose or wolves. However, in winter, the bears hibernate. 

Skansen Park in winter is very special. At this time of year, the area is usually wonderfully covered in snow. There is a real Christmas atmosphere when you walk through the streets surrounded by typical Swedish houses. The Park is beautifully decorated with cozy lights and all kinds of decorations.   

In the winter months, you can expect temperatures between 28 degrees Fahrenheit and 31 degrees Fahrenheit (0 to -2 degrees Celsius). Expect snow from November through March. However, the best months snowfall is December, January and February with around 3 inches each month.

From Arlanda International Airport its easy to travel to Sweden’s City Center by train.

best winter sports destinations in Europe

Dolomites, Italy

By Caroline from Veggie Wayfarer

There is no better European destination to experience a true white winter than the Dolomites in Northern Italy. The Dolomite Alps are a paradise for lovers of winter sports such as skiing, snowshoeing, winter hiking, sledding, but also more relaxing activities including indulging in a thermal spa. It is one of the best places in Europe to experience all the good things that winter and snow bring in a stunning setting.

The Dolomites are an expansive area, covering a whopping 15,942 km² (almost 4 million acres). The very best  areas to stay in the Dolomites  during winter are Val Rendana, Val di Rabbi and for the first-time visitors, the famous Val Gardena area. The little village of Ortisei in Val Gardena is the perfect pieds-à-terre to set-off on any numerous winter activities.

In particular, there is spectacular cross-country skiing areas in Val Gardena, in addition snowshoe excursions into the forests where you will be surrounded by nature. If you are traveling with your family, you will find lots of tobogganing opportunities as well as ice rinks for skating in almost every village.

And of course, there is an abundance of fantastic downhill skiing and snowboarding. The Dolomites Val Gardena / Alpe di Siusi ski area is part of the Dolomiti Superski, a world-famous network of 12 ski areas in the Dolomites which you can access using just one ski pass. This includes the longest ski slope in South Tyrol, the “La Longia”. It is more than 6.2 miles long (10 km), offers 4100 feet (1,273 m) of elevation gain and stretches from mount Seceda to Ortisei.

Average winter temperatures hover between 14°F and 23°F, the valleys tend to be a little warmer while the cold winds on the slopes can feel arctic. A good windbreaker and plenty of warm clothes are an absolute must!

The beauty of the Dolomites Alps is that when it snows, it does so in thick sheets of snow that stick to the ground. The average snowfall for the colder months of the year looks as followed:  December 6.6 inches (17cm), January 16 inches (40cm), February 17 inches (43cm) and March 14.5 inches (37cm). The first snow tends to hit the ground starting end of October and will stay until March/April of the following year.

The nearest airport to fly into the Dolomites is located in Venice (either Venice Marco Polo or the budget airline airport of Venice Treviso). Renting a car will give you maximum flexibility to discover this majestic region. Driving from Venice Marco Polo airport to Val Gardena is a beautiful 3h30 drive, along the way you pass sweeping vistas and snow-capped mountaintops galore.

There are strict rules for driving in winter in the Dolomites which include the mandatory use of winter tires and snow chains starting the first of November. Make sure to check with your rental company what the latest rules are, and which of the mandatory items are included in your rental package. 

best European cities to visit in winter for snow

Helsinki, Finland

By Kenny from Knycx Journeying  

Located by the coast of the Baltic Sea, Helsinki was founded in the 16th century. It offers a rich history and strong cultural influence as the capital of Finland. The city is nicknamed the “Daughter of the Baltic” and is one of the best European winter city breaks with lots of snow. 

A few keywords are often used to describe Helsinki: “Compact”, “Cultural”, and “Clean”, making it easy to  plan a winter itinerary in Helsinki .

First of all, it is convenient to get around the city center on foot or by tram and visit a number of world-class museums. Those include the Design Museum in the design district and the National Museum. As for art, there are several exceptional galleries, such as the Ateneum Art Museum for a world class collection of Finnish Art and Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma. Purchase for free entry into many of these popular attractions.   

Next, visit Helsinki Cathedral, an eye-catching landmark in Senate Square, where you can also have a taste of local food at the Christmas Markets on Aleksanterinkatu if you visit in late November or December.

In addition, the nearby SkyWheel Helsinki is an observation wheel with fantastic views of the city and beyond. It also features a SkySauna – the first of its kind in the world. Afterwards, make sure you admire the unique Temppeliaukio Kirkko, a Lutheran Church carved into solid granite.

Bundle up and take a ferry across the harbor to Suomenlinna, an important heritage site in Finland. Built in the mid 18th century by Sweden on eight islands located at the entrance of Helsinki’s harbour, this fortress is an interesting example of European military architecture. Try and coordinate the ferry ride for sunrise for beautiful views.

Lastly, no trip to Helsinki is complete without stopping by a Finnish Sauna. It is a wonderful way to socialize, relax and also warm up as it snows in winter.  

The snowy period in Helsinki lasts for five to six months, starting from the end of October to mid-April. January has the most snow in Helsinki with an average snowfall of four to five inches, and the temperature drops to 3 to 25°F.  

Helsinki is a travel hub in Finland, served by Helsinki-Vantaa Airport. It connects with many international destinations all over the world. The airport is located about 10 miles (17 kilometers) away from the city center.   

Kenny says, “One of the best hotels in Helsinki is Hotel Kämp , which is located by the Esplanadi, with an in-house spa.”

best cities to visit in Europe to see snow

Berlin, Germany

By Pamela from Directionally Challenged

An overlooked destination for a snowy winter wonderland is the beautiful city of Berlin, Germany. The city comes alive with the first snowfall and continues through the winter months. 

As one of the  best cities in Germany , Berlin has so much to offer visitors. If you’re comfortable walking around in the cold, the city’s Christmas markets are unlike anywhere else in the world. You’ll find glassblowers, artisans, mulled wine, and warm treats. From November to mid-January the Berline Botanical Garden gets decorated for the holidays and even has its own ice rink!

If you need a break from the cold, there are plenty of museums in Berlin to warm up in, such as the Germany Historical Museum or the National Gallery.

For a great panoramic view of the city head up to the TV tower. If you prefer to see the city skyline, head to the Tiergarten and up the Victory Garden.

While it snows throughout all of winter (November-February), January typically has the most snowfall with 1.5 inches. Temperatures in winter are usually a little above freezing (mid-30s Fahrenheit, or 2-3º Celsius). 

Most people who visit Berlin fly directly into the city through Berlin Brandenburg Airport. There are public buses that provide transportation to the city center for around 4€. 

Pamela says, “A great mid-range hotel located in the city center is the Park Inn by Radisson . It’s within a few miles of many of Berlin’s attractions. There is even a bus station near the hotel for travelers using public transportation.”

best snowy winter vacations in Europe

Besançon, France

A wonderful place for a snowy winter escape in Europe can be found in the Eastern France Bourgogne-Franche-Comté region, more specifically in the Jura and Doubs department. The region is known for delicious wine, authentic villages untouched by over-tourism and Comté, the salty cheese that takes its name from the region.

In the winter months, it is also the quintessential getaway for lovers of outdoor winter activities including cross-country skiing, snowshoe hiking, snowboarding and even dog sledding.

In addition to outdoor adventures, learn all about the history of the local salt production in the UNESCO classified sites of Saline Royale Arc-et-Senans and the Salins-les-Bains salt museum.

Alternatively, head out to Arbois to have a delicious wine tasting in the Domaine de la Pinte vineyard. Try your hand at the famous Yellow Wines from the Jura, the  MacVin  digestif or a delicious dessert wine that goes by the name  Vin de Paille .

Winter temperatures range from low 30s F to low 40s F. The upper Jura region is known to get a lot colder at times with an average snowfall of 24 inches (62 cm).

Best Way To Reach Destination

Daily trains run between Besançon and Paris. It can take as little as 2.5 hours to reach Jura and Doubs department.

Base yourself out of Hotel le Sauvage in Besançon to be close to both the slopes and the fantastic activities in the city.

best winter city break in Europe with snow

Riga, Latvia

Riga is a city in Latvia that is a perfect place for a snowy winter trip . It is incredibly budget friendly and off the beaten path for many travellers. Riga is filled with cobbled stone streets and lots of historic sites to explore. There are also many great bars that serve delicious food on a budget. When it snows, everything becomes even more beautiful.

If you want to see the most incredible views over the city, go to the Panorama Riga Observation Deck. This is a circular terrace and observation deck belonging to the Latvian Academy of Sciences. It costs a few euros to visit and is absolutely one of the best spots in Riga. 

Latvia is one of the cheapest  countries in Europe . You can enjoy some of the best food without breaking the bank. When you need to come in from the cold, nothing is better than eating traditional Latvian food such as potato pancakes, bread soup, and black bread with cheese at an affordable price.

Riga is full of amazing buildings, but the best is the Three Brothers. This group of buildings are charming and the oldest dwellings in Riga. The buildings can be found in Maza Pils Street near Central Dome Square. 

In winter, you can expect snowy winter conditions without the crowds for the Christmas markets. Riga has cold winters with temperatures ranging from -2°C to -6°C (28°F to 23°F). You can expect between 4-5 inches of snow each winter month.

From Riga International Airport, it takes about 15-30 minutes to reach the City Centre. A bus from the Airport is the cheapest option. However, buses don’t run at night so if you arrive late, you will have to get a taxi. 

Riga is full of amazing hotels so you have plenty of options. For a stay that is truly unique, book a stay at the elegant Hotel Gutenbergs . This is an elegant hotel and breakfast is included.

Iceland best snowy winter destinations

Thingvellir National Park ,  Iceland

If you want to visit one of the most unique UNESCO World Heritage sites then look no further than Thingvellir National Park. You can walk between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. They are drifting apart by around 2 cm every year. In so doing, cracks are developing and shaping a beautiful canyon that is home to many amazing attractions.

One of the best things to do in Thingvellir National Park is to walk to Oxarafoss  Waterfall . This famous movie location from “Game of Thrones” is popular so exploring it in winter will allow you to avoid the crowds.

There are various hiking paths in Thingvellir National Park with beautiful views. One of them is a 20-minute walk from Oxarafoss Waterfall to Hakið Visitor Center to see Thingvallavatn, the second largest lake in Iceland.

Thingvellir National Park covered with snow is spectacularly beautiful. In winter, you will have amazing light for your pictures as the “golden hour” lasts much longer in winter in Iceland than in any other location around the world. (The golden hour is the period of daytime shortly after sunrise or before sunset, during which daylight is redder and softer than when the sun is higher in the sky.)

When not hiking or taking photos, try to catch the the Northern Lights or explore ice caves.

The average temperature in January is between 28.6 F and 37.4 F. You can expect beautiful sunny days, but also heavy snowing a few hours later (around 4 inches each winter month). The weather in Iceland is very unpredictable so make sure to be ready for every situation.

Keflavik Airport is just a 1-hour drive from Thingvellir National Park and less than 40 minutes drive from Reykjavik.

You can find plenty of accommodations in Reykjavik, such as Freyja Guesthouse & Suites or Black Pearl Apartment Hotel .

Winter is a great time to explore a different side of Europe. There are many beautiful cities, towns, national parks, and mountain ranges that get lots of snowfall and offer you the opportunity to not only see stunning vistas filled with snow and ice, but also enjoy winter sports. Consider skipping that next beach holiday and leave your shorts and t-shirts at home. Instead, pack fleeces and boots and seek out these wonderful European snowy destinations.

Similar Posts

Postojna Cave and Lake Bled, Slovenia: An Epic One Day Road Trip

Postojna Cave and Lake Bled, Slovenia: An Epic One Day Road Trip

Last Updated on March 13, 2024 by Nicole Lake Bled, Slovenia. How many times did I see photos of this…

28 Best US Destinations To Escape Extreme Summer Heat (2024)

28 Best US Destinations To Escape Extreme Summer Heat (2024)

Last Updated on March 13, 2024 by Nicole For most of us, we long for warm summer weather, especially if…

20 Best Places To Visit In The USA In August (2024)

20 Best Places To Visit In The USA In August (2024)

Last Updated on April 19, 2024 by Nicole August is one of the best times to visit the United States,…

28 Best Cheap Summer Destinations In Europe (2024)

28 Best Cheap Summer Destinations In Europe (2024)

Last Updated on March 13, 2024 by Nicole Europe offers budget travelers a lot of choices when it comes to…

21 Beautiful US Islands To Visit In Summer (2024)

21 Beautiful US Islands To Visit In Summer (2024)

Last Updated on March 13, 2024 by Nicole The United States is blessed with over 18,000 islands. Normally, they are…

Aran Islands And Cliffs of Moher In A Day (2024)

Aran Islands And Cliffs of Moher In A Day (2024)

Last Updated on March 13, 2024 by Nicole If you have read any of my previous blogs about our 10…

Leave a Reply Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Privacy Overview

DOWNLOAD THE ITINERARY

  • Email Address *

Protect Your Trip »

Best winter vacations in europe.

Just about every European city becomes chock full of tourists during the summer months. However, those crowds are avoidable if you're willing to embrace cooler temperatures. Not only will you run into fewer travelers during this time you're also likely to score travel deals, especially on cruises . To guide you through the continent's wintry choices,  U.S. News  combined reader votes and expert analysis to rank the best winter vacations in Europe. Start planning your next trip using these ideas, and help us decide next year's list by voting for your favorite destinations.

european towns to visit in winter

A winter visit to Rome may have you bundling up to see iconic sights like the Colosseum and the Trevi Fountain, but you'll have ample opportunities to warm up, too. Head indoors to admire Michelangelo's famous Sistine Chapel before sampling some of the city's world-renowned pizza and wine. Prices for accommodations drop dramatically, and deals on Italian products are abundant during the offseason.

european towns to visit in winter

The charms of Paris are alive and well in winter. Warm up while sipping coffee in romantic cafes, and spend time visiting heated indoor museums like the Musée du Louvre, the Musée Rodin and the Musée d'Orsay while the crowds are away. If you don’t mind the cold, walk down the Champs-Elysées at Christmastime and enjoy the illuminated trees that line the boulevard.

european towns to visit in winter

Winters in Amsterdam can be chilly, but those willing to endure the cold will enjoy significantly discounted hotel rooms and flights. Most of Amsterdam's attractions are open year-round, and, during the winter months, the city offers holiday festivities and many places to ice skate. What's more, the Amsterdam Light Festival is a bright display of international artwork from November to mid-January.

european towns to visit in winter

Budapest gets pretty cold in winter and snowfall is frequent. But, you can snag inexpensive hotel stays and plan your trip around indoor activities like the Hungarian National Gallery. Christmas markets also offer delicious food and unique treasures to buy as gifts. If you're feeling adventurous, warm up with a dip in the city's outdoor thermal baths.

european towns to visit in winter

Although you'll still find some visitors in Venice during winter, you can expect airfare and hotel rates to be cheaper. Crowds in St. Mark's Square will also thin out as a mist falls over the island, providing stunning photo-ops for those willing to endure temperatures in the high 30s. If you visit in February or March, you'll witness the exciting festivities of Carnevale.

european towns to visit in winter

Prague's castles and underground restaurants are perfect spots to seek refuge from the city's winter weather and enjoy a Czech beer. Travelers will also encounter fewer crowds at the city's museums, which are open year-round. For those willing to brave the cold, there are festive options like Prague's beloved Christmas markets and outdoor ice skating rinks.

european towns to visit in winter

If you like the idea of beautiful castles, cathedrals and other Baroque buildings covered in snow, one look at Salzburg, Austria, might be enough to lure you in. Add in Christmas bazaars in the town square and easy access to some of the finest ski areas in the Alps nearby, and you'll be sold on vacationing in this charming city during the winter.

european towns to visit in winter

Vienna welcomes winter with advent markets, public ice skating rinks and plenty of lavish parties. Add wintry touches like snow-covered rooftops and nearby ski slopes into the mix and you'll find yourself in a European winter wonderland. Classical music concerts in extravagant music halls and a world-famous New Year's celebration are marquee events unique to this city.

european towns to visit in winter

The Austrian Alps peek through the skyline of this charming city, home to the 1964 and 1976 Winter Olympics. Innsbruck, with its abundance of ski resorts and winter attractions, offers all-inclusive packages through the region's ski organization, Olympia SkiWorld Innsbruck. For less sporty travelers, the medieval streets with snow-capped rooftops, tolling cathedral bells and romantic coffee shops are perfect for strolling.

european towns to visit in winter

Set in the shadow of the Swiss Alps and nestled next to Lake Lucerne, this German-speaking town is about as picturesque as it gets in the winter. Visitors can enjoy sports like snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and winter hiking at a number of resorts and trails that surround the medieval town. Or, journey to the summit of Mount Pilatus for an unforgettable meal in the clouds.

Vote to Add these Destinations to the Rankings

european towns to visit in winter

You May Be Interested In

european towns to visit in winter

Best Places to Visit in Europe for 2023-2024

european towns to visit in winter

Best Christmas Vacations

Best places to visit in winter.

european towns to visit in winter

Best Places to Visit in January 2024

european towns to visit in winter

Best Cheap European Vacations for 2023-2024

If you make a purchase from our site, we may earn a commission. This does not affect the quality or independence of our editorial content.

Recommended

The 28 Best Water Parks in the U.S. for 2024

Holly Johnson|Timothy J. Forster May 8, 2024

european towns to visit in winter

The 18 Best Napa Valley Wineries to Visit in 2024

Lyn Mettler|Sharael Kolberg April 23, 2024

european towns to visit in winter

The 25 Best Beaches on the East Coast for 2024

Timothy J. Forster|Sharael Kolberg April 19, 2024

european towns to visit in winter

The 50 Best Hotels in the USA 2024

Christina Maggitas February 6, 2024

european towns to visit in winter

The 32 Most Famous Landmarks in the World

Gwen Pratesi|Timothy J. Forster February 1, 2024

european towns to visit in winter

9 Top All-Inclusive Resorts in Florida for 2024

Gwen Pratesi|Amanda Norcross January 5, 2024

european towns to visit in winter

24 Top All-Inclusive Resorts in the U.S. for 2024

Erin Evans January 4, 2024

european towns to visit in winter

26 Top Adults-Only All-Inclusive Resorts for 2024

Zach Watson December 28, 2023

european towns to visit in winter

Solo Vacations: The 36 Best Places to Travel Alone in 2024

Lyn Mettler|Erin Vasta December 22, 2023

european towns to visit in winter

26 Cheap Beach Vacations for Travelers on a Budget

Kyle McCarthy|Sharael Kolberg December 4, 2023

european towns to visit in winter

  • explore europe in the cooler months
  • Privacy Policy

Sign up for Newsletter

Signup for our newsletter to get notified about sales and new products. Add any text here or remove it.

Europe in Winter

  • Northern Europe
  • Southern Europe
  • Western Europe
  • Eastern Europe

Balkans , Central Europe , Eastern Europe , Northern Europe , Southern Europe , Western Europe

25 best places to visit in europe in december.

Classic postcard view of famous Hallstatt lakeside town in the Alps with traditional passenger ship on a beautiful cold sunny day with blue sky and clouds in winter, Salzkammergut region, Austria

There’s no better place than Europe in December. 

Sure, the days might be short and the weather a little on the chilly side (although it’s warmer in the south!), but festive celebrations are in full swing. 

Whether you want to embrace the cold weather in Lapland or enjoy both sunny weather and Christmas traditions in the south , there are hundreds of festive destinations to visit. 

Plus, December’s the start of the ski season in Europe, with mountain ranges all over Europe – from the Alps to Bulgaria’s Pirin Mountains – welcoming snow-happy tourists in their droves. 

Not a fan of the festive season? There are even some destinations where you won’t notice the holiday spirit much, that focus more on nature, winter sunshine or snowsports. 

I asked some other travel experts to recommend some of the best places to visit in Europe in December, so whether you fancy a festive break, somewhere snowy or some sunshine, you’ll find it on this list! 

Table of Contents

Places to visit in Europe in December for Christmas celebrations

December’s not all about Christmas, but it’s a large part! 

Christmas markets fling open their doors at the start of the month (some even at the end of November); cities and towns all over the continent twinkle with fairy lights. 

Visit Rovameni to see Santa Claus , or stroll around some of Germany’s best festive markets . 

Most major cities in Europe have some sort of winter activity in December; but here are some of the best. 

Read on to discover the most Christmassy places to visit in Europe! 

1. Rovameni, Finland

Dog sledding through snowy landscapes in Rovameni, Finalnd.

It’s hard to find a destination better suited for December than Rovameni, Finland. 

Located in Lapland, the city is known as the official hometown of Santa Claus!

At Santa Claus Village you can meet Santa, explore the Post Office (and mail a postcard – for this year or next!), see his squad of reindeer and enjoy a photo opportunity with the giant snowman!

There are plenty of other things to do in Rovaniemi in the winter: snowmobiling, reindeer sledding, and dog sledding are among some of the best!

Snow is frequent, and temperatures are often well below freezing; you can actually cross the Arctic Circle in Rovameni!

Another reason to visit in December, thanks to the long winter nights, is the high chance to see the Northern Lights (also called Aurora Borealis). 

Venture outside the city, away from light pollution, and be amazed by the vibrant colors dancing in the sky.

If Mother Nature allows, you may be able to see them in the city as well.

For an uninterrupted view, consider staying in a glass igloo, which are kitted out with alarms that wake you up if the Northern Lights are visible – and you can see them while warm in bed! 

By Pamela from The Directionally Challenged Traveller

Festive town of Obidos, Portugal, in December, with festive lighting in the streets.

Portugal might not be the first place you consider when looking for a Christmassy atmosphere – but Óbidos is actually one of the most festive places in Portugal ! 

Óbidos is a beautiful place to visit all year round, with its Medieval castle walls being the main attraction, along with its cobbled streets and colourful homes. 

But the Christmas village is undoubtedly a highlight. With festive decorations, an ice rink and stalls selling hot cocoa, the Christmas Village in Óbidos `Vila Natal` starts annually around the end of November until the first week of January.

There are many activities for children, including the chance to visit Santa!

Portugal still has a pleasant climate in winter, but due to the humidity in Óbidos, it can be blistering cold, so do wrap up.

It won’t snow, but chilly Atlantic winds are possible. Luckily there are plenty of cosy restaurants and places to enjoy a hot drink. 

Sitting just an hour’s drive from Lisbon, it’s an ideal side trip from the capital. 

Despite the Christmas market, Óbidos is much quieter in winter compared to the high season in summer; so you can enjoy the walled city in peace! 

By Marga from Discover Portugal

3. Tallinn, Estonia

Central Market in Tallinn before Christmas with a giant Christmas tree in the middle

Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, is a fantastic winter destination – especially in December.

In December, the entire city is adorned with Christmas lights and decorations.

The Old Town Square includes a large Christmas market selling traditional handicrafts.

Tallinn even claims to be the birthplace of the Christmas tree tradition – with a large Christmas tree at its center!

December usually sees the first snow in Tallinn, the white-dusted streets and serene rooftops only add more charm to the city’s historic old town – which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

December can be freezing in Tallinn and days are short.

Luckily there are a good number of indoor activities!

You can visit a traditional Estonian sauna, try Estonian food in one of the cozy restaurants or learn more about the country’s intriguing history under Soviet occupation in one of the city’s excellent museums such as the Vabamu museum, the TV tower or the KGB prison cells.

December is a quiet month in Tallinn with fewer tourists around, making prices more budget-friendly than during the peak summer months.

By Ellis from Backpack Adventures

4. Bratislava, Slovakia

Bratislava Castle with a Christmas tree in the foreground

December time in Bratislava is magical, as the festive feeling flows through the Slovakian capital.

The famous Christmas markets should be first on your Bratislava itinerary.

Here you can try local delicacies such as the famous Bryndzové Halušky and Lokse – both are unique potato dishes with different twists.

Bryndzové Halušky is a savoury flavour, however, the Lokse is sweet and usually served with Nutella or honey. 

You can’t visit Bratislava without a trip to the castle , an iconic landmark in the city that dates back centuries.

The castle is a prominent feature of the capital, as it overlooks the whole city from its position upon a hill.

Another architectural delight in the city is the Church of St Elizabeth, which is unique due to its bright blue colour and Art Nouveau style design.

Visiting the church makes for a great free activity in Bratislava, and if you are lucky when visiting in December, it may be covered in snow!

By Tom from Tom Henty’s Travel

5. London, England

London, UK - December 30, 2015: Christmas lights decoration at Oxford street and lots of people walking during the Christmas sale, public transport, buses and taxies

London’s a little chilly in December (although nowhere near as much as places further north in Europe!), but it remains a highlight when it comes to festive destinations. 

The biggest city in Western Europe, London has an extensive selection of Christmas markets spanning across the city centre and suburbs (there’s even one in Bromley, the commuter-focused suburb I grew up in).

From Southbank to Winter Wonderland, you can virtually hear jingle bells and smell the mulled wine at every step in the British capital! 

Light displays are abundant throughout the capital; my favourite is the angels on Regent Street. 

If you’re Christmassed-out, there’s plenty more on offer in London too. 

London’s a fantastic city for a winter trip , thanks to its plethora of museums – the biggest and best of which are free. That’s right, you can walk around millennia of the earth’s past at the Natural History Museum or go back in British design history at the V&A museum without paying a penny!

Fancy a winter warmer? While British cuisine is typically the laughing stock of Europe, there’s no denying that you can find delicious food in London, largely thanks to its multicultural population.

Whether you’re craving ramen that tastes like it’s from downtown Tokyo or a classic curry – originally from India but that has merged with British flavours over the decades – London definitely delivers when it comes to its food scene. 

Outdoor activities, bar walking around Christmas markets and ice skating rinks, aren’t abundant in London itself in December, but there are plenty of winter day trips that you can take from the city to enjoy British nature. I highly recommend the seaside town of Brighton! 

 6. Hallstatt, Austria

Classic postcard view of famous Hallstatt lakeside town in the Alps with traditional passenger ship on a beautiful cold sunny day with blue sky and clouds in winter, Salzkammergut region, Austria

If you’re looking to soak up all the wintertime magic in December, head to Hallstatt, a fairytale town in the Austrian Alps.

The town’s colorful gingerbread houses, perched between pine trees on mountain slopes, look charming year-round – but come December, though, they usually have lights, garland, and even icicles festooning their rafters.

You could spend hours wandering around its Old Town, taking in the stunning views of the adorable old buildings, the turquoise waters of Lake Hallstatt, and the snow-capped Alps.

Beyond its storybook village, there are plenty of things to do in Hallstatt to soak up holiday cheer.

For example, the town throws its own Christmas market on 8th December each year. 

You can warm up with a steaming mug of gluhwein; peruse the vendors’ stalls of wooden toys, hand-made ornaments, or cozy mittens; or admire the life-sized nativity set, hand-carved by a local carpentry school.

If you’re travelling with kids or simply want to maximize the Christmas vibes, visit the Hallstatt area the first weekend of Advent.

In the neighboring town of Obertraun, the children of the area gather on the shores of Lake Hallstatt at night, lit up only by candlelight.

Saint Nicholas himself will silently glide out ashore on a wooden boat; hand out small treats for the waiting crowd, like apples and oranges; and recite a Christmas poem.

And, as quickly as he arrived on shore, he’ll slip back into the night, only to be seen again the following December! 

By Jessica from Uprooted Traveller

7. Vilnius, Lithuania 

Vilnius winter panorama from Gediminas castle tower. Vilnius. Lithuania

Vilnius, Lithuania is the perfect winter city break for travellers who want to immerse themselves in a true European winter wonderland.

During December, the city is filled with bright holiday energy and festively decorated streets, shops, and restaurants. Coloured lights, Christmas trees, and glittering ornaments are just about everywhere you turn.

There are so many fun things to do in Vilnius , too!

Definitely check out the Vilnius Christmas market, in the center of town, where you can purchase unique gifts and souvenirs, like hand-knit gloves, ornaments, wooden toys, and amber jewels.

The weather in winter can be quite chilly, with temperatures dropping down to the single digits. And, beware – the sun will set as early as 4pm on some winter days.

However, the wintery chill and snow add an enchanting touch to the already charming city!

If it snows, you could try sledge riding down the Hill of Three Crosses!

Despite being less crowded at this time of year, Vilnius is anything but dull. The chill in the air, the snowfall, and the festive decorations and music make it all feel like a fairy tale.

By Monica from This Rare Earth 

8. Lugano, Switzerland

Christmas tree in Lugano

For a stunning but small location to visit in December in Europe, Lugano in Switzerland, located in the Ticino canton, could be your next destination!

Although it snows a lot in Swiss winter , don’t expect snowman-building weather here. 

Lugano can have a sprinkle of snow but mostly it’s just a little cold and sunny combined, making it great for a winter trip with sunshine!

During December, Lugano hosts a local Christmas market right in the city centre that has numerous stands selling local treats, festive drinks and wintery decorations/souvenirs.

Many cafes and restaurants also provide blankets and heaters to keep you warm while visiting.

When not visiting the Christmas markets and city, there are other local highlights , including a funicular to the top of Monte Brè for some wintery city scenery from above. The viewpoint is stunning and reachable for all.

Alternatively, book a visit to a local spa, such as at Villa Sassa, for some well-deserved chill time. 

Need to refuel after all that exploring? Don’t miss the highly-rated pizzeria Acqua e Farina . It’s such a great place for pizza that even locals find it hard to choose just one from the menu!

By Zoe from Together In Switzerland

9. Dusseldorf, Germany

Dusseldorf at Christmas, with brightly lit up carousel

With plenty of winter charm and festivities, it’s worth visiting Düsseldorf in December.

Renowned as the fashion capital of Germany, Dusseldorf is a vibrant and modern city, while still retaining its historical charm.

The modern and unique architecture stand in contrast to the 18th-century buildings, and are a highlight to see anytime of the year.

And while it doesn’t boast warm temperatures, Dusseldorf’s chilly climate adds to the festive atmosphere.

The Christmas Markets that are found throughout the city offer a variety of handcrafted gifts, delicious seasonal treats, and of course, mulled wine to sip.

With seven Christmas markets spread throughout the city, there are plenty of options to shop for that perfect gift and soak up the festive atmosphere.

Or head to Königsallee Boulevard, known as Kö to the locals, which is the city’s upscale shopping street. Here you’ll find designer boutiques, luxury brands and well-known shops.

Also worth visiting are Dusseldorf’s numerous museums, which offer a chance to escape from the weather and warm up indoors.

The Kunstpalast Museum boasts an impressive collection of classical and contemporary works, while the NRW Forum showcases experimental art and multimedia installations.

What makes Dusseldorf a great place to visit in December, is its perfect balance of holiday spirit without the overwhelming crowds found in larger cities.

By Erin from Wanderlust with Kids

10. Prague, Czechia

The beautiful Christmas tree and Tyn Church in the Old Town Square in Prague, Czech Republic.

Prague is dreamy as it is, but it becomes all the more enchanting during the holiday season, perhaps with the first dusting of snow. 

Prague is pretty cold during December and snowfall gradually increases towards the end of the month.

The temperatures range between -3 to 2 degrees Celsius – but don’t worry, the festive air will keep you warm!

December is a month of celebration – yet the city is not as crowded as it is during the peak summer season.

Visit the Czech capital city in December to experience these celebrations, not as many tourists (although it is one of the most renowned European cities for its Christmas markets) and lower prices. 

Keep in mind that the prices do tend to go higher as Christmas approaches, so try to book in advance if you’re visiting later in December. 

While you’re exploring the stunning city, don’t miss Prague Castle. 

Home to the president of the Czech Republic, it has been the residence of several monarchs in the past.

It is one of the most impressive buildings in the Czech Republic and also has a lot of cultural and historical importance.

Also, don’t miss the many other beautiful and unique Prague monuments – the city has a ton of quirky architecture!

Don’t miss the Charles Bridge – every day in December, a lamp lighter dressed in historical clothes, lights the gas lamps on this bridge manually!

Then there are the enchanting Christmas markets in Prague.

These markets are filled with wooden toys, souvenirs, delicious food, winter clothing and much more.

The Old Town Square has some of the biggest Christmas markets with various musicians lighting up the atmosphere with their performances.

Try “Trdelnik”, a delicious pastry which you can find in any of the Christmas markets or “Svařák” a popular mulled wine.

Staying in Prague until New Year’s Eve? Good idea! It’s a popular destination right at the end of the year, with some incredible fireworks. You could even book a boat ride to watch the fireworks from the water!

By Lavina D’Souza from Continent Hop

11. Luxembourg

LUXEMBOURG CITY / DECEMBER 2019: Celebrating the Christmas time in the city

December in Luxembourg? Expect fewer tourists and a winter wonderland awaiting your arrival.

The month brings with it a shimmering blanket of snow, making Luxembourg a top contender for your European winter escape.

Dive into charming Christmas markets, where you’ll find festive magic minus the dense crowds.

While Luxembourg may be small in size, its offerings are vast and varied. Winter unveils affordable thrills—think exhilarating hikes, ice-skating, and scenic bike tours. Join the locals at Guillaume II’s ice rink, a winter favorite.

For a sprinkle of festive charm, meander through the Christmas markets. Iconic festive spots include Place De La Constitution and Place De Paris. And while you’re at it, treat your taste buds to traditional delights—smoked pork with beans and crispy potato fritters stand out.

No trip would be complete without a journey to the iconic Vianden Castle, where history and impressive architecture intertwine.

Wondering where to stay in Luxembourg ? Consider Mama Shelter Luxembourg for a mid-range cost or Hotel Le Place d’Armes for luxurious a choice.

By Paulina from Paulina on the Road

12. Vienna, Austria

vienna-rathaus-market

Vienna is one of the most beautiful destinations in Europe to visit in December.

The entire city becomes a fairytale, dressed in festive lights, decorated with baubles and tinsel and filled with wonderful Christmas markets. 

The main attractions in December in the Austrian Capital are the Christmas Markets.

There are several big ones, located in front of the town hall, in the courtyard of Schonbrunn Palace, in front of Karl’s Church or at the Belvedere Palace, but also many small stalls which sell Mulled Wine all over the city.

In the markets, you’ll find many different traditional Austrian Christmas foods, as well as plenty of beautiful handmade decorations for the tree.

The main Christmas market, in front of the city hall, also features a large ice rink, where you can ice skate between giant decorations.

This is even more special at night when the lights in the trees surrounding it are all lit.

The weather in December in Vienna is generally very cold, so make sure to wear layers and thermals – especially if you want to spend time walking around the Christmas markets!

Snow and temperatures under 0 degrees are normal for this time of the year as well.

Need to warm up? Head to the smaller churches around the city centre – in the evenings they often host carol concerts!

By Joanna from The World in my Pocket

Skiing destinations in Europe in December

The ski season begins in December in Europe ( sometimes as early as November in the Alps ) and resorts all over France, Switzerland, Austria, Bulgaria and even Spain throw open their doors. 

There are hundreds of skiing destinations in Europe; but here are some of the best that you might want to visit for festive cheer and plenty of snow! 

13. Bansko, Bulgaria

Wooden chalet, houses and snow mountains landscape panorama in bulgarian ski resort Bansko, Bulgaria

December is the wake-up month for Bansko, Bulgaria . As the chance of snow increases, Bansko comes alive!

The ski season usually starts around 15th December – when the whole town kicks into high gear.

Nestled in the UNESCO heritage site of the Pirin mountains, Bansko is not only a fabulous ski resort but a well-preserved ethnographic Bulgarian town.

As you walk down the cobblestone streets, you’ll be enchanted by the 19th-century stone churches, authentic houses and inns from the Revival period of Bulgaria, and of course traditional mehanas ready to fill your belly with delicious Banska Kapama (sauerkraut and various types of meat cooked for hours in a clay pot).

Don’t forget the world-renowned wine!

If you come in the second half of December, chances are you’re going to ski.

With 15 ski lifts and over 75 km of slopes, Bansko is the best place for winter sports in Bulgaria; some of the lifts go as far up as 2530 m.

That’s right, when it comes to skiing, Bansko gives the Alps a run for their money! 

By Simon from Backpack Moments

14. Morskie Oko, Poland

Winter Mountain landscape of Morskie oko in Tatra national park at sunrise. Icy Sea Eye lake in Tatra mountains

If you want a winter hike while visiting Europe in December, Morskie Oko , located in the stunning Tatra Mountains in Poland, is highly recommended!

Morskie Oko, sitting in the mountains, is much colder than other destinations in December, with heavy snowfall being likely. 

Due to this, the area won’t be too crowded – and while winter hiking is great fun, it’s advisable to walk with a guide. 

There are some fantastic things to do in the area around Morskie Oko, too.

Visit Zakopane , the Winter Capital of Poland and enjoy skiing, snowshoeing and snowboarding!

Since Morskie Oko is remote, you might have to take multiple modes of transportation to reach it. 

From Krakow, take a train or bus to Zakopane. 

From Zakopane, take a public bus to Palenica Białczańska.

By Reshma from The Solo Globetrotter

15. Val d’Aran, Spain

Val D'Aran in North Spain (Vielha)

High in the Pyrenees mountains (around a six-hour drive from Barcelona) sits the Val d’Aran, a beautiful area of Spain with a very rich culture. 

Val d’Aran centres around Vielha, a (very) small city. In December, it’s one of the few places in Spain where you’re highly likely to find a blanket of snow!

We visited Vielha in December a few years back and loved the ski-town atmosphere that it had. From Vielha, you can take a bus to Baqueira Beret, the biggest ski resort in Spain (lots of people stay in Vielha for a skiing holiday). 

We also took a bus up to Les, which is right by the French border, and spent a dreamy afternoon at their spa – they have an outdoor hot tub which is surrounded by snow-dusted mountains. 

Buses also run around the other villages; we visited Bagergue, a sleepy village with beautiful architecture and a high-altitude cheese factory (Hormatges Tarrau). 

One of the most interesting things about Val d’Aran is that, despite being part of Catalan and speaking Catalan, they actually have their own language, Aranese. Many people we met in the region spoke five languages: Aranese, Catalan, Spanish, English and French (due to their proximity to the border!). 

Definitely listen out for this while you’re there (the people at the tourist office are very friendly and happy to answer any questions) and also, don’t forget to try pinchos , traditional local bar snacks! 

16. Mayrhofen, Austria

Mayrhofen Austria, covered in snow

With over 60 cable cars and chairlifts, Mayrhofen in Zillertal is a hidden gem of winter skiing, snowboarding, tobogganing, snowshoeing and high-altitude Spritz drinkers.

Beyond the impossibly cute alpine village draped in lights, I love this area because it’s at the end of a very long valley that most people skip and it feels much more local than the famous Austrian ski towns.

Plus, the steepest groomed slope in Austria is here. It’s called Harakiri and it’s got a 78% gradient! (Not for me!)

I love visiting Mayrhofen in summer , but December is special because of the variety of things to do and the guarantee of snow on the Hintertux glacier.

Too many times I’ve planned a December mountain trip to be greeted with slushy pistes and only a few runs open.

The Mountopolis ski area offers gentle things like winter walks with amazing views for skiers and non-skiiers alike! 

My top three things to do include skiing and snowboarding, visiting the Nature’s Ice Palace and taking the kids to the indoor heated Mayrhofen Adventure pool with slides and jacuzzis.

The Ice Palace takes about an hour but you literally ride a boat through an underground cave of ice. You can take a private tour or go stand-up paddleboarding also.

By Morgan Fielder from Crave the Planet

17. Gudauri, Georgia

Snowboarding in Gudauri, Georgia

If you want less crowded and off-the-beaten-path places to visit in Europe in December, consider Gudauri ski resort in Georgia. With its location against the backdrop of the Greater Caucasus Mountain Range, Gudauri is one of the most unique places to visit in Georgia during winter!

The resort, at an elevation of 2,200 meters above sea level, basks in abundant sunlight, and its slopes extend beyond the tree line – the slopes are actually ideal for free riders and extreme sports enthusiasts.

Beyond skiing and snowboarding, Gudauri offers tobogganing, paragliding, and helicopter tours. Gudauri is conveniently located close to Tbilisi, the capital (around 2 hours by car).

The driving route leads along the Georgian Military Highway- you can stop to see several landmarks along the way, including the Ananuri Fortress and Georgia-Russia Friendship Monument. Reaching Gudauri is viable via public transport from Tbilisi’s Didube Bus Station, renting a car, or arranging a direct transfer from Tbilisi Airport through a travel agency.

By Baia from Red Fedora Diary

18. Interlaken, Switzerland

Interlaken in Switzerland, kayaking on the water and surrounded by mountains.

Looking for the best places to visit in Europe during December? Look no further than Interlaken, Switzerland!

Well known to the world’s population of adrenaline junkies, Interlaken is a charming city situated between two crystal clear lakes – Lake Brienz and Lake Thun.

Its stunning alpine scenery makes it one of the top destinations to visit year-round, but it especially shines in December!

Picture a thick, glittering blanket of snow covering charming Swiss chalets, picturesque churches and antique streetlights – framed on all sides by towering, snow-capped mountains.

Add a piping hot mug of hot Swiss chocolate…and you’ve got the picture of Interlaken, Switzerland in December.

There are many things to do in Interlaken in December, but the number one attraction in this Swiss mountain town is hitting the slopes.

Be warned however, if you’re not a strong skier, it’s recommended to sign up for some lessons from an expert. The slopes of the Swiss Alps are not for the fainthearted!

If skiing isn’t your strong suit, don’t fret – Interlaken has tons of exciting activities to enjoy during December.

Gear up for a winter kayaking excursion (pictured below), get ready for adventure while night tobogganing down the alps, or stay nice and cozy inside for a chocolate-making class by Funky Chocolate.

In Interlaken in December, the possibilities are endless!

By Madison from Madison’s Footsteps

Winter sun in December in Europe

If you’re craving more mild temperatures, head south! 

These European destinations still have festive traditions, but they’re also often warm enough to walk around in a light jacket – or maybe even a t-shirt if you’re really lucky!

From Spain to Greece, here are Europe’s best winter sun destinations. 

19. Valencia, Spain

Valencia, Spain - Dec 16, 2017: People having fun in christmas spirit on Christmas fair with carousel on Modernisme plaza of the city hall of Valencia on 16th of December, 2017 in Valencia, Spain.

Fancy visiting somewhere festive, but still with a chance of sunshine? Head to Valencia in December!

As winter settles in most parts of Europe, average temperatures in Valencia range from 8 to 17ºC.

This makes it an ideal escape from the harsh winter climates found elsewhere on the continent!

During December, Valencia comes alive with twinkling lights, charming Christmas markets and beautifully decorated streets.

Christmas in Valencia is a big deal – and locals celebrate it by meeting up with friends and family in cafés throughout the whole month of December.

The iconic Plaza del Ayuntamiento hosts a grand Christmas tree, an ice rink and the New Year’s Eve party.

One place you cannot miss is the City of Arts and Sciences.

This futuristic architectural complex is a must-visit sight in Valencia any time of the year, but during December, it also hosts the best Christmas market in town.

If you want to do Christmas shopping, stroll through the historic Old Town.

Visit the famous Central Market for delicious local delicacies, and admire Valencia Cathedral and other architecture along the way.

Also, indulge in the local cuisine with every chance you get!

December is an excellent time to savour traditional dishes, such as churros, buñuelos, and candied almonds.

By Lara from Valencia Revealed

20. Barcelona, Spain

Christmas Market in Barcelona

While Barcelona won’t be as hot as, say, Malaga in December , it still basks in warm weather and remains an inviting city to visit at the end of the year! 

It’s an underrated Christmas market destination , with multiple across the city – the most famous being the Market of Saint Lucia, which has a history spanning back to the 18th century and is located in front of Barcelona Cathedral. 

Do learn about Caga Tió , the Catalan log that poops candy at Christmas, while you’re in the markets – it’s a tradition unique to the area!

Sunshine is common in Barcelona in December, and Gaudi’s fabled architecture glimmers under the low-lying light. 

You might not be able to laze back on Barceloneta Beach, but you’ll definitely enjoy walking along it, perhaps taking in a beautiful winter sunrise!

And, if you’re feeling particularly brave, you could take a quick dip in the Med; it’ll be chilly, but it’s much warmer than the sea in the north. The air temperature is usually mild and it hardly ever snows !

While there are plenty of festive things to do in Spain’s second-largest city, this is actually Barcelona’s low season. In the summer, the city buzzes with tourists; you can expect long queues at popular attractions and high prices for accommodation and flights. 

But in the winter, Barcelona has an entirely different vibe; more intimate and exclusive. Most attractions are still open, and while beach clubs may be closed, you can guarantee that you’ll still be able to locate some fantastic (local!) tapas and Spanish wine.

If you want to experience Barcelona more as the locals do, December’s a fantastic time to visit!

21. Alacati, Turkey

Windmills in Alcati, with bright blue skies

If you’re looking for the best places to visit in Europe in December, then Alacati on the Aegean Coast of Turkey is a great choice.

Alacati is a beautiful Greek town located on the Turkish Riviera.

Established by Ottoman Greeks in the 17 th century, Alacati is known for its unique stone villas, a medieval marketplace, a church-turned-mosque, narrow, meandering streets dotted with boutiques, cafes, and artisan shops, and of course stunning beaches.

The historic Cesme Castle is not very far away.

One of Alacati’s must-visit attractions is the windmill park which has four massive windmills dating to the 1800s.

Even though the windmills are non-functional today, the park provides sweeping views of the Turkish countryside.

December is a good time to visit Alacati because it is the low season everywhere on the Turkish coast.

That means it is a great time to grab some good deals on accommodation and tours. Further, you’ll find Alacati’s attractions literally empty.

Days in December are sunny and average temperatures range between around 8°C – 14°C – never too cold ( it snows in parts of Turkey, but not this area on the coast), which means you can spend lots of time outdoors! There may be some rain, so be sure to pack a rain jacket.

By Soumya from Stories by Soumya

22. Lanzarote

Cactus garden in Lanzarote, Canary Islands, Spain

Looking for a sunny December vacation, that’s not too expensive, with delicious food and wine? 

Then check out Lanzarote !

Lanzarote is the Spanish Canary Islands, an Atlantic Ocean archipelago.

In the winter season , the barometer still sits at a mild 20°C most days – so it’s usually still beach weather!

The most famous beaches are Playa de Famara, Playa de Papagayo, Playa Flamingo, Playa Chica, and Playa de las Conchas.

These beaches have gold sand and crystal clear water to relax, read a novel and have lunch at a nearby local restaurant. A huge mistake when visiting Spain is not trying the local food – and the Canary Islands are no exception. 

Be sure to taste the Papas Arrugadas, local small potatoes served with Mojo Sauce.

The Estofado is a local stew made with beef, chorizo, chickpeas, and veggies.

Or, try Puntillas de Calamar, fried baby squid.

There’s also a local sweet wine called Malmsey, made from the Malvasia grape variety grown on the island on the volcanic soil. On a Sunday, don’t miss the Teguise Market, a charming town in the middle of the island where to buy the best local products like handmade wooden items and local food.

The Aloe museum, where to learn everything about the aloe vera in Lanzarote and purchase some of the best natural products, is also worth a visit.

By Valentina from Valentina’s Travel Guide

23. Fethiye, Turkey

Fethiye Turkey, panorama landscape from a vantage point.

Fethiye is a great place to visit in December for a sunny winter getaway.

The weather is still relatively warm, with average temperatures around 17°C – so it’s not uncommon to see people sunbathing or taking long beach ways along the city’s Calis Beach!

Despite the heat, there’s still the sprawling Fethiye Christmas Fair.

This is set up along the beach promenade where you can shop, eat and drink to your heart’s content.

Make sure to try the domuz degil sausage, gozleme and mulled wine.

You won’t find any snow in Fethiye during December, so you can still hike and sightsee outdoors.

Visit the Amyntas Rock Tombs, stroll through the ancient ruins of Lycian City, or take to the skies on a paragliding adventure.

One of the most popular things to do in Fethiye is to take a day trip to Oludeniz Beach, a famous white-sand stretch just down the coastline.

You can take a guided tour or drive there – car hire in Turkey is generally very affordable. 

Fethiye is also much less crowded in December with beachgoers sticking to the hot months of June to August. This also allows for cheaper all-around trip costs including accommodation, food and travel.

By Haley from Haley Blackall Travel

24. Ksamil, Albania

Ksamil, Albania, bright blue water and golden sands

Located in southern Albania, Ksamil is home to some of the best beaches in Albania and has incredible views of nearby islands.

It is an ideal place for December if you’re looking for warmer weather, relaxing activities, and reduced costs.

While December isn’t by any means hot , it’s much milder than most other places in Europe .

In December, Ksamil experiences a high of around 15°C and a low of 8°C.

This makes it among some of the warmest places in Europe during the month!

During and around Christmas, you’ll see decorations and locals preparing celebrations. There are also festivities for New Year’s Eve, including fireworks and live entertainment.

With Albania’s peak season being in July and August, the low season occurs in December, resulting in several benefits.

The two most notable are the less expensive accommodation costs and crowds.

One of the best things to do in Ksamil in December is visit its Four Islands.

These individual islands are located right off the coast of Ksamil and are one of the most popular activities. They are easily accessible by boat, and you can even visit each one in just one day!

Also, don’t miss the excellent beaches in Ksamil, such as Plazhi Ksamilit and Lori Beach.

In December, you’ll have more freedom to explore to the decreased crowds.

While it may be cooler, you can still enjoy walking on the beach – some hardy souls even swim in the sea in December!

Ksamil has several great bars and restaurants, including Blue Water and Bar One – and the nightlife is still decent in December! 

By Tamara from My Elated Odyssey

25. Saturnia, Italy

Saturnia, hot springs in Italy.

Saturnia is one of my favourite places on this planet.

It has delicious food, excellent year-round weather, and incredible landscapes.

In winter, it’s truly spectacular. While it’s cooler than other winter sun destinations on this list, mild days are possible, and the summer crowds leave a certain serenity, and the golden and silver colours of the pools reflect against the sky.

There are plenty of appeals to Saturnia, including its beautiful little restaurants, quaint wine bars, vineyards, and admire incredible landscapes. But if you want something truly special and unusual, why not dive into one of the many thermal springs in the region?

As the weather turns colder, the hot waters gushing from geothermal waterfalls become all the more inviting. 

Although not widely known among tourists, Tuscany has plenty of hot springs.

The signs up and down the highway direct you to local thermal springs – look for the word ‘Terme,’ which translates to ‘thermal.’

Before to long, you’ll be sitting in a warm, natural bath outside in the winter, surrounded by tall cypress trees, while a waterfall spouts out warm geothermal water.

Quite frankly, it’s one of the most unusual and beautiful experiences, and it’s a bucket list experience!

In the winter, it’s much quieter and cheaper. In the summer it is packed with tourists! The most famous thermal spring in the region is Terme di Saturnia in the region of Saturnia. I

t’s the most Instagrammable, photogenic place, but as this one is the most famous, it can get very popular throughout the winter months!

Renting a car and exploring the area is very easy; it’s stunningly beautiful… you won’t regret it!

By Adriana from Wanderlicious

FAQs about visiting Europe in December

european towns to visit in winter

Is December a good time to visit Europe?

Certainly! While Europe in December means colder weather in most regions, it also brings festive atmospheres, Christmas markets, and fewer tourists.

Plus, if winter sports are your thing, Europe’s ski destinations are at their prime.

Where is nice to travel in Europe in December?

Europe offers myriad destinations in December.

You’d love the festive vibe of cities like Vienna, Prague, and Strasbourg with their renowned Christmas markets.

If snow-covered landscapes are your preference, the Alps are a dreamy choice.

Where is still warm in Europe in December?

Looking for a milder climate in December? Your best bets are the southern parts of Europe. Places like the Canary Islands, Southern Spain, Malta , and Cyprus offer relatively warmer weather.

Where is the best place to visit in December?

The “best” place is subjective, depending on your preferences.

For a winter wonderland, think of the Alps.

If you’re chasing festive vibes, Vienna or Munich are hard to beat. For milder weather, the Canary Islands offer a respite from the cold.

Is Greece warm in December?

Greece in December is milder than northern Europe but isn’t exactly beach weather.

You can expect temperatures ranging from 10°C to 17°C, with the islands being cooler.

Is Greece nice in December?

Absolutely. While Greece may not offer beach days in December, its mild weather, fewer tourists, and a more relaxed vibe make it a unique time to explore ancient ruins, enjoy local cuisine, and experience authentic Greek culture.

What is Portugal like in December?

Portugal in December tends to be mild, especially in the south. Lisbon and the Algarve region experience temperatures ranging from 10°C to 17°C.

While you might face some rainy days, it’s an excellent time to enjoy Portugal without the tourist rush.

Is December a good time to visit Spain?

Yes, December is a great time to visit Spain, especially if you prefer fewer crowds. While Northern Spain can be chilly, regions like Andalusia remain milder. Spain’s festive decorations and holiday celebrations are an added bonus.

What is the warmest place to travel in December?

In Europe, the warmest spots in December include the Canary Islands, Malta, Cyprus, and certain parts of Southern Spain, like the Costa del Sol.

Where is the prettiest place to spend Christmas?

Europe boasts numerous beautiful Christmas destinations. Strasbourg in France claims the title of “Christmas Capital,” with its enchanting markets. Other contenders are Rothenburg in Germany, Rovaniemi in Finland (Santa’s hometown), and Tallinn in Estonia with its medieval charm.

' src=

Claire Martin

Claire is an expert in exploring Europe in the winter! She's from the UK and has been to over 20 countries on the continent in the winter season. She loves every bit of Europe in the cooler months, including finding winter sunshine in Spain, skiing in the Alps and the charm of the Nordic countries in the festive season.

Leave a Reply Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.

Claire's Footsteps

All Destinations , Europe

34 epic places to visit in europe in winter.

Famous and luxury place of Val d'Isere at sunset, Tarentaise, Alps, France

From sun-soaked Spanish islands to the snowy Arctic circle, there are so many unforgettable places to visit in winter in Europe. 

Whether you want to brave the freezing temperatures and staggeringly beautiful snow-covered scenes of Northern Europe, head to warmer destinations like the Canary Islands for some winter sun or check out popular Christmas markets in Europe’s best cities, there’s something for everyone in Europe in the winter. 

I’ve included some of my favourite European winter destinations in this article, but I’ve also asked a few other travel bloggers for their contributions. 

So here we have a thorough list of places to visit in eastern and western Europe in the cooler months! 

So whether you are looking for somewhere to visit in the middle of winter or a great shoulder season destination, this blog post is here to help! 

Best European City Breaks

Istanbul, turkey.

european towns to visit in winter

Sitting at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, landmarked by the beautiful Bosphorous River and its many mosques, Istanbul is fantastic in any season. But there are some reasons why Istanbul in winter is especially appealing.

Istanbul doesn’t usually see snow, but it can be chilly during the winter months. However, you can still get a lot of lovely brisk sunny days – perfect for sightseeing and taking some photos of the gorgeous city.

Many of Istanbul’s attractions are also indoors, so they are wonderful in all seasons. And one definite plus is that you won’t need to queue anywhere near as much in the winter months – I waited 90 minutes to go up the Galata Tower one August but walked straight in another time I visited in February! 

You’ll also be able to get much cheaper deals on hotels. Turkey has lots of wonderful places to stay, but the prices go up significantly in the summer. You’ll be able to enjoy luxury on a budget in Istanbul in winter.  Here’s my blog post on where to stay in Istanbul.

Finally – Turkish food is one of the most underrated cuisines. It’s tasty, hearty, warm and flavoursome. This makes it the perfect warming cuisine for a cold winter’s day. Try  gözleme  and  pide , and don’t miss out on a full Turkish breakfast! 

All in all, Istanbul is an excellent place for a winter city break! 

Lisbon, Portugal

european towns to visit in winter

Sunny Lisbon is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe and a fantastic place to visit in winter, with plenty of attractions, places to drink Portuguese wine and gorgeous blue skies.

In fact, Lisbon is one of the warmest winter destinations on the continent. As soon as you step off the plane you’ll be graced with mild temperatures, and some days might even be t-shirt weather. I was there in January and had a good few sunny days.

Plus, there is plenty to do. Lisbon’s best attractions, such as the Basilica, the Miradoures and the Alfama neighbourhood, are just as good in winter – maybe even better than in the summer, because it’s not scorching hot! Of course, you can also do a day trip to Belem or the famous palaces at Sintra. 

You’ll find that Lisbon in winter is not quite as busy as the summer months, but this is a good thing – you’ll have plenty of room to explore!

Madrid, Spain

european towns to visit in winter

With destinations like the Canary Islands offering year-round warm weather, Spain is one of the most popular European countries for winter sun. However, Madrid can be as cold as other European cities in the thick of winter – it does even snow here sometimes. 

Nonetheless, Spain’s capital can also have milder temperatures – it really depends on the year! I flew from London to Madrid one February and it felt a lot more comfortable weather-wise in Madrid – it was easy to explore even during the evening. 

The best way to learn about Madrid’s history and culture is to do a walking tour, and these frequently run throughout the winter months. You can also do a specialised Spanish inquisition tour!

Other attractions, like the various museums and Retiro Park, are lovely during the cooler months.

You can also easily do some day trips from Madrid in the winter , including to Toledo and Segovia. 

european towns to visit in winter

Although British weather is unpredictable, its capital city is an amazing place to visit during the colder months – especially around Christmas time.

London does Christmas like no other. The British capital has fun-filled attractions like Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park, plenty of Christmas markets, some of the world’s best decorations in Harrods and the pantomime on West End. There’s loads to enjoy here!

London isn’t one of the coldest European cities – it rarely gets snow – but it can be chilly, and the fun festive atmosphere will make you feel like it’s a real winter wonderland. 

It does get dark quite early in London in December (around 4:00 pm), so do factor this in when you’re making plans! 

If you are visiting London in January and February, you might get snow (it typically snows once per year) – and I’d recommend heading out to the nearby countryside if you do! 

If the weather is rainy or windy (which can and does happen), most of London’s biggest museums are free to explore, and you could also enjoy the diverse food and drink scene of the capital.

Copenhagen, Denmark

Copenhagen Denmark COLLAB ONLY

The home of hygge, Copenhagen knows how to make you feel all sorts of cosy in winter. Charming cafes put on their outdoor heating, provide woollen blankets and throw out sheepskin rugs to keep you snug, while steaming mugs of coffee or hot chocolate will warm you up for a day’s exploring. 

There’s plenty to do in winter in Copenhagen too, so rug up warm and hit the streets. Shoppers will be delighted with the range of stylish stores and trendy boutiques, those who are entertaining kids will adore the fun and festive Tivoli Gardens, and culture lovers can explore the city’s many museums, castles and galleries. 

Ice skating rinks pepper the city streets, and spas and saunas await to warm you up afterwards. If you’re visiting  Copenhagen at Christmas , you’re in for even more of a treat as the city is adorned with twinkling lights, giant Christmas trees, and many seasonal markets selling all sorts of festive food and homemade trinkets. 

It’s usual for Copenhagen to experience snowfall from December through to early March, so you may well be fortunate enough to encounter the city’s streets under a blanket of white, making the trip even more magical!

By Nadine from Le Long Weekend

Budapest, Hungary

Chain Bridge and  Royal Palace  in Budapest at winter day Hungary

Unwind in Budapest, Central Europe’s historic spa city known. The capital of Hungary is known for its striking bathhouses, hearty cuisine and gorgeous architecture. The photogenic city sits on the Danube River and has many impressive buildings with old-world charm.

Winter is one of the best times to visit Budapest. The weather may be chilly, but it’s the most satisfying time to soak in the city’s warm, mineral-rich waters. Budapest has over 100 thermal springs and a spa culture that goes all the way back to Roman times.

There are many relaxing things to add to your  Budapest itinerary  in winter. And top of the list is spa-hopping to discover the city’s opulent bathhouses. Here are some of the best spas in Budapest:

  • Széchenyi is the largest and most famous bathhouse in Budapest. The neo-baroque palace has 18 pools with natural hot spring waters and 10 sauna/steam rooms. 
  • Rudas Baths is a popular Turkish bath featuring a modern rooftop pool overlooking the city. 
  • Another magnificent bathhouse is the art-nouveau style Gellert Bath with its beautiful mosaic and tile work.

Afterwards, walk up to Buda Hill (also known as Castle Hill) and browse the winter market. Grab a cup of hot apple cider and admire the views over the Danube River.

Then, fill your stomach with some heartwarming Hungarian cuisine. For authentic, high-quality cooking, make a reservation (far in advance) for Hungarikum Bistro. Another delicious spot is Százéves Étterem. The restaurant dates back to 1831 and plays live traditional music. The Hungarian capital is a wonderful place in winter!

By Cecily from Groovy Mashed Potatoes

Prague, Czechia

european towns to visit in winter

Prague is a beautiful destination at any season, but add pure white snow and the magic of Christmas, and it turns from beautiful to otherworldly. Prague’s spires all covered in a perfect white blanket is a sight you won’t forget for the rest of your life.

Of course, you have to be lucky to see fresh snow. It might happen any time between the end of November to the beginning of March, you never know!

If you’re really lucky, you’ll catch a fresh snowfall in the evening. Once it gets dark, Prague’s sights empty – especially in the dead of winter. The Old Town and the Lesser Quarter are full of tiny streets where you barely meet anyone. It’s also worth hiking up to Prague Castle – the view is magnificent. 

If you visit Prague at Christmas time, you’ll be able to soak in the unique Christmas atmosphere. Prague boasts several charming Christmas markets. The biggest and the most traditional market at the Old Town Square often gets too crowded but is still worth checking out. For a more intimate atmosphere, head to the Prague Castle Christmas market, which revels in festive atmosphere and old-world charm.

Any traveller who loves romantic destinations or fairy tales is guaranteed to be enchanted by  Prague in winter .

By Veronika from Travel Geekery

Tallinn, Estonia

Tallinn in winter COLLAB ONLY

Tallinn is the perfect European winter destination. With its medieval Old Town, the city looks beautiful at any time of the year, but it is especially pretty when covered with fresh snow.

Plus, you will run into far fewer tourists in the narrow alleys of the Old Town in winter.

One of the  best things to do in Tallinn  in winter is to walk up to Toompea Hill. From here, you can enjoy the view of Tallinn’s red roofs and chimneys contrasting with the white snow.

Plus, you can head to Kiek in de Kök, a piece of the city wall that remains intact and from where you also have a great view of the Old Town.

If you need to warm up from the cold, you should head to one of the many cafes and restaurants. Maiasmokk Cafe is the oldest operating cafe in Estonia, and it’s a great place to try traditional Estonian food.

If you visit in December, you can also get a hot drink at the Christmas market. Pay attention to the Christmas tree. Tallinn and Riga were the first cities in the world to set up Christmas trees.

By Daniel and Ilona from Top Travel Sites

Paris, France

Notre Dame de Paris at dusk, France.

Paris in winter  is a great place to be. Sure, days are shorter and the weather is cold and often rainy, but it is difficult not to have fun in the City of Light!

Wintertime in Paris starts with the Christmas markets and decorations. Places not to miss in Paris in December are the Tuileries Christmas Market, the Eiffel Tower Christmas Market, and the giant ice skating rink under the dome of the Grand Palais.

December is also the time of food festivals and festivals for children. Events like the Light Festival at Jardin des Plantes, the Festival du Merveilleux at the Musée des Arts Forains, or the Disney Christmas Festival are always delightful.

The end of the holidays is the perfect time for visiting new exhibitions and art galleries or to revive your wardrobe for cheap at the winter sales.

January and February are the low season in Paris, which means that the tourist attractions’ lines are shorter and places less crowded. Also, flight or train tickets to Paris are cheaper than usual, and there’s a wider choice of accommodation for better prices.

The quiet days end by mid-February when couples invade the French capital to celebrate love and life on Saint Valentine’s day!

By Elisa from World in Paris

Munich, Germany

Munich in Germany, christmas market

Munich, the capital city of Bavaria, is an urban masterpiece. Historic, vibrant, and culture-rich, this city attracts droves of tourists throughout the year. But there’s just something about this cosy city that lends itself to winter brilliance.

During the chilly days, travel from museum to museum, exploring halls decked out in Da Vinci and Monet. There is also excellent shopping in Munich. With interior heating making them comfortable, browsing the stores is a great way to spend a few happy hours. 

If you’re not in the mood to meander, visit a public swimming pool. This might seem like an odd idea for winter, but Bavarian heated indoor pools are incredible, with saunas, fun slides, and more. It’s a great way to get warmth back into your toes!

In the evenings, head to a traditional beer hall, one of Bavaria’s most popular attractions among tourists and locals alike. You’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to the beers on offer, which will warm you from the inside out. Be sure to ask for a Maß. This one-litre jug of beer is the standard in Munich, and indulging in a glass or two is a cultural experience to remember.

By Katja from  WanderCapeTown

Luxembourg, Luxembourg

Luxembourg city

Luxembourg is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Europe in the winter season. The city feels very wintery from December to March, and December and January are the coldest months. 

Sometimes covered in snow during these months, the temperature in winter in Luxembourg is between -1° and 8°C. This wintery landscape is just one of the many reasons why visiting this place in winter is a must.

Adventurers can enjoy popular winter sports like bike tours or hikes with scenic views. Ice skating is another activity that most visitors love during winter.

One reason why Luxembourg is so popular during the winter is that it really celebrates the season! As soon as winter arrives, the city is bedecked in Christmas lights. Travellers can explore Luxembourg City Christmas Market and enjoy the celebrations of Candlemas Day.

It is also the season of wine and cheese in Luxembourg – and you can relish this with incredible views of the country’s castles. Complete your stay at one of the best hotels in Luxembourg  which are luxurious and comfortable.

By Paulina from Paulina on the Road

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Amsterdam in Winter COLLAB ONLY

One of the best places to visit in Europe in winter is the city of Amsterdam. The capital of the Netherlands is great to visit throughout the year but during the winter, it becomes even more magical!

One of the best things to do in  Amsterdam during winter   is a canal cruise. During this, you’ll go through the canals of Amsterdam and learn about the city. During winter this is a lovely activity, especially when it’s snowing, as the canals of Amsterdam and their houses look even more picturesque! 

Another one of the best winter activities in Amsterdam is going to Amsterdam Winter Paradise. This is a winter festival where you can do all sorts of indoor and outdoor winter activities, such as ice skating.

Furthermore, when it’s icy during winter, the canals of Amsterdam might freeze and you can ice skate on the canals. This is a unique winter experience that you have to try out when you can! 

Also, you should definitely try out oliebollen , a traditional winter Dutch treat. They are ball-shaped doughnuts that you top with powdered sugar.

By Dymphe from Dymabroad

Bratislava, Slovakia

Bratislava Christmas Market (002) (002) (002) COLLAB ONLY

Bratislava is a wonderful destination to experience Europe in winter! Especially during the Christmas season, the capital of Slovakia is amazing.

During this time, the old town shines with beautiful lights, and there are many fabulous Christmas markets to discover.

Throughout Christmas time, the city is full of local specialities, delicious food, and charming crafts. People come together for mulled wine and to enjoy the unique atmosphere of the local Christmas Market. 

Don’t miss trying loksa , a salty pancake or traditional strudl , a crisp cake filled with apple and raisins. This is best accompanied by mulled wine made from the region’s red!

There are plenty of other amazing things to do in Bratislava in the winter too. For instance, take a walk along the Danube and enjoy the seasonal beauty.

For the best view, take the lift up to the UFO – the town’s best viewing platform. Also lovely is the old town, where you will find the famous statues of Bratislava. And don’t miss the Castle of Bratislava, a wonderful white historical castle with a charming garden and amazing city views.

By Martina from  PlacesofJuma

Berlin, Germany

european towns to visit in winter

Berlin doesn’t usually get a lot of snow, but it’s a wonderful city to visit in the winter for its Christmas markets. Berlin is unique in that there are dozens of Christmas markets spread out all over the city, each one different from the next. This gives you a great opportunity to do some sightseeing along the way.

Some of the most popular  Christmas markets in Berlin  include Gendarmenmarkt and Charlottenburg Palace. Gendarmenmarkt is one of the prettiest squares in the city, and the Christmas market there is framed by three gorgeous historical buildings. The vendors tend to be a bit more upscale than at most other markets, and there’s a 1 euro entrance fee, but it’s worth it.

The Charlottenburg Palace Christmas market is wonderful due to its setting in front of the palace. You’ll find traditional vendors offering chocolates, wood carvings, decorations and ornaments, and lots of other gift items. Entrance is free, and it’s one of the few markets that’s open on Christmas Day.

Berlin is magical during the Christmas season. Christmas markets start towards the end of November and run until right before Christmas Day, though some do run for a few days to a week after Christmas. Dress warm, grab a mug of mulled wine, and relish the holiday spirit!

By Ali from Berlin Travel Tips

Edinburgh, Scotland

european towns to visit in winter

Scotland is a magical place to visit in winter. From late November, the autumn foliage gives way to snow-capped peaks and frosty glens.  Scotland  also has some of the darkest skies in Europe, making it the perfect destination for stargazers. You might even see the Northern Lights if you’re lucky!

If a winter city escape is what you’re after, head to Edinburgh. In the run-up to Christmas, festivities in the city centre are in full swing. Twinkling lights dazzle in the crisp air, and you can shop for presents at the Christmas Market on East Princes Street. There are also plenty of food stands with delights such as mulled wine and raclette. 

Across the city, you’ll find silent discos, light shows and themed pub crawls. Attractions have festive touches too, including giant Christmas trees in Edinburgh castle. Of course, you also have plenty of snug bars to nip into for a dram of Scotch or two. 

However, the best time to visit Edinburgh is the turn of the New Year when the city plays host to Hogmanay. Your New Year’s Eve celebrations will never be the same again once you take part in the annual three-day festival of street parties, torchlit processions and live concerts. 

By Francesca from Little Lost Travel

Snowy Winter Destinations

Cappadocia, turkey.

Cappadocia in Winter Uchasair Castle

This one isn’t technically in Europe, but it’s close enough – and Cappadocia is a winter wonderland , so I couldn’t not include it! 

This area is famous for its stunning landscapes, intricate history and beautiful hot air balloons. In the winter, Cappadocia is covered by a dusting of snow, adding to its magical appearance!

You can do most of the attractions in Cappadocia even while it’s snowing. It’s a popular place for hiking (we did the Goreme to Uchisair walk through the beautiful valleys), touring around caves, learning about local culture and of course going up in the famous hot air balloons!

After exploring for a while, you can enjoy the delicious cuisine of Cappadocia, which includes warming lentil soup, pide which is Turkish pizza and, of course, local wine. 

Tromso, Norway

Tromso  in winter COLLAB ONLY.JPG

One of the best places to visit in Europe during the winter is Tromso, Norway – the gateway to the Arctic! This is Norway’s largest Arctic city, and it is one of the top winter destinations on the entire continent as it is a premier place for the northern lights, whale watching, dog-sledging and more!

Tromso is the perfect place to visit for families, couples, or solo travellers. You can fly there directly from a few places in Europe; however, most travellers will have a connection in Oslo beforehand. You can also take the Hurtigruten up the Norwegian coast and arrive by boat.

Once in Tromso, your options are aplenty! There are several dog-sledging tours available as well as whale watching tours. The whales are usually up Skjervøy so the trip can take up an entire day, but they are worth it – if you get to see the orcas, it is absolutely magical!

Another popular thing to do in Tromso is to see the northern lights. You can take one of the  Tromso northern lights tours  so you have an experienced guide and a better chance of seeing the elusive phenomenon!

Many of the tours combine other activities, such as a Sami cultural tour where you will learn about the indigenous Sami people. In this part of the tour, you will have a chance to hear their joik (chants/songs), eat their traditional stew, and feed the reindeer.

If you are in Tromso during Christmas, you will have the opportunity to taste a typical Norwegian Christmas meal which usually consists of pinnekjøtt, tynneribbe, or lutefisk (all regional offerings), tyttebær sauce (lingonberry), kålrabistappe (mashed rutabaga), pickled cabbage, and boiled potatoes.

Tromso is a wonderful place to enjoy the winter season and it is easily one of the best places to visit in Europe during the colder months!

By Megan from Megan Starr

Hallstatt, Austria

hallstatt in winter COLLAB ONLY

Hallstatt, the fairytale village of Austria, is another beautiful destination to visit in Europe in winter. Being a charming lakeside town surrounded by gigantic mountains and baroque architecture, Hallstatt looks even more magical when covered in fresh white snow. 

Visitors can reach Hallstatt by train, bus, or driving from nearby cities like Vienna, Salzburg, or Munich. The views are particularly incredible by road, and the paths are nicely maintained and often cleared of snow. For trains, Hallstatt station is across the lake, so you can take a ferry to get to the town.

Once there, get your bearings by taking a stroll around the Marketplatz and getting lost in its quaint alleys. Since Hallstatt is home to the world’s first salt mine, you may come across many cute souvenir shops selling various kinds of salts there. You can also go on a tour of the Salzwelten Altausse, which remains open in the winter, and learn about the history of salt production.

Hallstatt is also home to several viewpoints that are ideal for pictures. For example, Aussichtspunkt Hallstatt, the postcard-perfect viewpoint of the village with its wooden houses dotted along the Hallstatter lake and snowy mountains at the back, is a  must-see spot to visit in Hallstatt .

By Charu from Travel with CG

Chamonix, France

Chamonix Mont Blanc, France, facade of train station, French Alps and snow mountain peaks

Chamonix in France is a great European destination to visit in the winter. Located in the heart of the French Alps, Chamonix is close to the border of Switzerland and Italy. The tallest mountain in the Alps, Mont Blanc, is located in the area, making this town a popular destination for skiing and winter sports.

In addition to skiing, there are plenty of activities and attractions in the area to keep you busy. One popular attraction is “Mer de Glace, ” a huge glacier with ice caves and trails, accessible via the bright red Montenvers Train. Another popular activity is to drive through the Mont Blanc tunnel, which cuts through the mountain of Mont Blanc to connect France and Italy. 

If you visit Chamonix, be sure also to visit Aiguille du Midi, which is a mountain peak accessible via cable car. Here you can experience the Aiguille du Midi Skywalk, “Step Into the Void”, an entirely glass room/terrace jutting out from the mountain. 

Be sure to leave some time for exploring Chamonix Centre, a quaint village with plenty of restaurants, bakeries and shops. Here you will find the Park Hotel Suisse & Spa, which offers day passes and a rooftop hot tub overlooking the alps. 

By Shannon from Traveling Teacher Girl

Transylvania, Romania

Winter panorama of downtown Brasov, Romania

As if Romania’s Transylvania region could get any more spectacular, its medieval castles and Saxon cities look even better wrapped in a blanket of snow. 

This is the perfect winter destination in Europe for any type of traveller – whether you’re looking for an ambling railway journey through majestic mountains, a city break, or a winter sports escape.

A road trip through wintry Transylvania is a great way to experience the region’s charming old towns and Carpathian landscapes. Starting from the capital city, Bucharest, make your way north to Brasov to visit several impressive castles including Peleș, a contender for one of the most beautiful castles in Europe, and the mythical Bran Castle.

The heart of Romania is home to half a dozen fortified cities, including Sibiu, Alba Iulia and Sighișoara. Each offers a picturesque town square, old walls and towers, and at least one bell tower that you can climb for a view. One of the best  things to do in Sighisoara  in winter is walk up the Covered Stairway and wander the ice-crusted grounds of Cimitirul Bisericii, a beautiful old ivy-covered cemetery.

At day’s end, banish the evening chill with a glass of local wine and a spread of hearty Romanian food, including  sarmale  (cabbage rolls),  mamaliga  buttery polenta and  papanasi , the country’s signature dessert of cheesy sweet donuts with cherry jam and sour cream.

By Emily from Wander Lush

Reykjavik, Iceland

Reykjavik the capital city of iceland in winter view from above

Iceland is undoubtedly one of the best places to visit in Europe in winter. With astonishing sights and experiences that are only available in this season, it’s the perfect time to visit Iceland.

Most visitors to Iceland start their trip in Reykjavik. The world’s most northerly capital city is a magical place in the colder, darker months. The central Tjörnin lake freezes over, the buildings are dusted with snow (pavements are kept blissfully clear, thanks to underground heating), and the city’s Christmas lights stay on until early spring, giving everywhere a fairytale feel.

Outside the city, the magical winter experiences continue. Visit the famous Blue Lagoon thermal baths and relax in the warm, mineral-rich water while you take in the frozen, moon-like surroundings. On the Golden Circle tour (a must for any  trip to Iceland ), you may be lucky enough to see the mighty Gullfoss waterfall almost stopped in its tracks by ice.

Plus, you can even do outdoor activities like whale watching in Iceland in the winter!

The long winter nights in Iceland are also the best time to see the Northern Lights. The sun sets at between 3:00 and 4:00 pm in December, and only rises at 11:00 am, giving visitors lots of time to witness the magical lights dancing in the night sky. 

By Helen from Helen on her Holidays

Kazbegi, Georgia

Kazbegi Georgia COLLAB ONLY

Kazbegi is a hill-top town in the Caucasus mountain region in Georgia, near its border with Russia. One of the most beautiful towns in the Caucasus mountain region, this place is covered in snow in winter and looks like a festive wonderland. Due to heavy snow in this region, there are many ski resorts near Kazbegi.

The Gudauri region of Georgia, which is 30 km from Kazbegi, is popular amongst skiers. Georgia is a very affordable country for travellers, so skiing near Kazbegi is a favourite winter activity. For this reason, Kazbegi usually features in a  Georgia winter itinerary . 

Not only it is famous for winter sports but it also has religious connections due to the ancient hilltop monastery. During winters, this ancient monastery looks stunning as it is surrounded by snowy peaks.

Also check out the luxury Rooms Hotel, which is the best place to get snowy photos – and they have a spa to warm up in afterwards! 

The ideal way to reach Kazbegi from Tbilisi (and the International Airport of Georgia) is by taking a road trip. The road trip from Tbilisi to Kazbegi is also a very scenic drive, and there are many stops or attractions on the way. 

So for wonderful views of snow-clad Caucasus peaks, pine trees, monasteries, and affordable skiing, Kazbegi is an incredible winter destination in Eastern Europe!

By Yukti from Travel With Me 247 Blog

Abisko, Sweden

Northern lights in Abisko, Sweden at the lake Torneträsk

While most people flock to Iceland or  Tromso in winter , there is an abundance of wonderful Arctic destinations in Europe that you can visit without the crowds. One such gem is Abisko, Sweden. Located north of the Arctic Circle in Swedish Lapland, Abisko is a small mountain town adjacent to Abisko National Park, about a one hour train from Kiruna.

In Abisko, you can tick all the things off your Arctic winter bucket list: go dog-sledging with a team of friendly huskies, meet Sami reindeer herders and their reindeer, and of course, marvel at the majestic Northern lights which roar to life overhead nearly every single night! 

In fact, Abisko is the best place to see the Northern lights in Sweden and perhaps all of Europe, as the weather in Abisko is more stable than in coastal locations like Tromso and Reykjavik, which often are marred with cloud cover.

Besides aurora chasing and dog sledging, you can go snowshoeing and winter hiking, try your hand at cross country skiing, walk around frozen waterfalls in Abisko National Park, or spend the day in a cosy lodge in front of the fire admiring the snow outside!

And if you want to stay in an ice hotel, there’s one not far from Abisko in nearby Jukkasjärvi, just outside Kiruna.

By Alison from Eternal Arrival

Lipno nad Vltavou, Czechia

Lipno nad Vltavou - KarsTravels COLLAB ONLY

One of the best European winter destinations is Lipno nad Vltavou. It has snow, winter sun, nature and great activities. It’s the ideal place to be outside all day long.

Lipno nad Vltavou is a town situated along the Lipno lake. During the winter, the lake freezes over and is ideal for ice skating. Nothing beats exploring a frozen lake surrounded by snow-covered mountains!

There are plenty more  fun things to do in Lipno nad Vltavou too. On the snow-covered mountains is Snowpark Lipno Lyžařsky areál, which has 13.5 kilometres of ski slope and four ski lifts. As well as skiing, you can go sledging on the mountain.

There are two other attractions on the mountain, one being the treetop walkway. This is on top of the mountain and is 40 metres high. The top of the walkway gives spectacular views. The second attraction is Slideland Bobova Draha Lipno, a bobsled that goes up and down the mountain on a rail.

By Cosette from KarsTravels.

Places to visit for winter sun in Europe

Sardinia, italy.

Sardinia COLLAB ONLY

While Sardinia has a reputation for being a perfect summer holiday destination thanks to its gorgeous beaches, it’s actually an incredible place to visit throughout the year. One thing worth noting is that there isn’t just one  Sardinia in the winter , but many. The island is quite big and there are a variety of climates – so while the coast can be mild even in the coldest winter months, the central mountain regions get a fair amount of snow and even have their own ski slopes!

Cagliari, the capital of Sardinia, is the perfect place to visit if you are looking for some winter sun. The city is jam-packed with interesting archaeological sites – don’t miss the Roman Amphitheater and Tuvixeddu Necropolis, gorgeous churches such as the Santa Maria Cathedral and the thriving food and nightlife scene. 

If you are looking for nature, you will find it right within the city. Poetto beach is a quick bus ride from the centre of town. It’s perfect for a walk, even in the winter. From there, you can access Molentargius Nature Reserve, a lagoon where pink flamingoes live. And if you fancy a hike, just head to Calamosca beach and find the trail to the Sella del Diavolo for impressive views of the gulf. 

Another city that is a popular tourist hot-spot in the summer but lesser-visited in the winter is Alghero, a lovely Catalan enclave in the northwest of Sardinia. Make sure to enjoy a sunset walk along the bastions, and don’t miss a visit to Neptune’s Caves, Capo Caccia (perfect for a walk) and Palmavera Nuraghe, a unique archaeological site. From Alghero, you can also reach the picturesque Bosa. 

Finally, winter is just about the best time of year to enjoy the earthy dishes of the local cuisine, accompanied by the delicious Sardinian wine.

By Claudia Tavani from Strictly Sardinia

Algarve, Portugal

Algarve - Brainy Backpackers

If you’re looking for winter sun, outdoor activities, incredible nature, cute towns, and friendly locals,  Algarve in winter  is the perfect place for your trip.

The beautiful southern region in Portugal has it all. In a time of year where there are fewer tourists, you can really take in the beauty of the impressive cliff formations at Ponta da Piedade or walk along the Sagres Cliffs.

With some of the country’s most incredible beaches, the good news is that daytime temperatures can reach 25 degrees on a nice, sunny day. But it can rain too, so make sure you bring a wind and waterproof jacket in case. Luckily, there are plenty of museums and cute cafes you can visit if you’re unlucky with the weather.

Make sure you don’t miss out on Tavira and Olhão in the Eastern Algarve where you can go on boat trips over to the impressive islands of Ria Formosa Natural Park. Spend a fews days in Albufeira or Lagos. In between, you should not miss out on a boat trip to Benagil Cave, one of the most famous sea caves in Europe. The cave has a mesmerising beach lit up from a huge pothole in the cave ceiling. 

By Linn Haglund from Brainy Backpackers

Malaga, Spain

Malaga from el Palo in Winter

Malaga, the capital of Spain’s Costa del Sol, is one of the warmest winter destinations in Europe with typical daytime winter temperatures of around 17 °C. At just three hours’ flight time from the UK, it is perfect for a long weekend break when you need some winter sun!

While it may be too cold to swim in the sea from one of the city’s many beaches, it’s the ideal weather for a stroll along the Senda Litoral de Malaga – the coastal path which runs almost the length of the Costa del Sol from Nerja to Manilva.

For culture vultures, Malaga has a vast choice of museums, including the Picasso Museum dedicated to the works of the city’s most famous son, as well as a thriving street art scene. 

The real draw during the winter months, however, is the festive lights. Calle Larios is home to the main display where you can watch the spectacular sound and light show each evening. The show takes place three times a night so make sure you get to Plaza de la Constitución in plenty of time to get the best view. Even better, turn up early and head to Café Central for a plate of churros con chocolate while you wait

Alison Nicholson from Alison in Andalucia

Palermo, Italy

Veggiewayfarer- Palermo Edit

The Mediterranean island of Sicily is one of the sunniest places in Europe during the winter. With an average temperature of 20°C, it is the perfect place to escape colder climates and get in some much-needed vitamin D.

Aside from the wonderful weather, the island is also known for its incredible food scene.  Street food in Palermo  will be one of the highlights of your trip! Try Pasta a la Norma or go adventurous and order some pasta with fresh sardines (delicious). Just make sure to leave some room for an arancina (fried rice ball with ragu) or a brioche containing a giant scoop of Gelato.  

Walk off all this deliciousness while visiting the highlights of Palermo: Norman Palace, Church of Gesu and Church of San Cataldo. Then, if you have a bit of time, catch a bus and visit Monreale or the nearby fishing village of Cefalè to dig into some of the region’s best seafood.

Weather permitting you could even venture out to the beach at Mondello, a fancy suburb of Palermo which is all but deserted during wintertime.

Locals prefer the beach during the summer when temperatures soar above 40°C. Walk around the suburb, take in all opulent  liberty  villas, and enjoy the tranquillity away from the bustling historical centre of Palermo.

By Caroline from Veggie Wayfarer

Tarifa, Spain

TarifaTGD COLLAB ONLY

The most southerly town in Spain, Tarifa is just 24 miles across the Strait of Gibraltar from Morocco. Tarifa has a foot in both the Atlantic and Mediterranean seas, giving the town an exciting blend of cultures, perfect for a stop on a Spanish road trip.

In winter, the weather is mild, creating ideal conditions for hiking, mountain biking and wind sports.

Known as the windiest place in Europe, Tarifa is a great spot to get into kitesurfing or wind sailing. 

If you prefer dry land, hike into the surrounding mountains for stunning views of the landscape, seas and Northern Africa, hire a mountain bike and enjoy the local downhill tracks or just head for one of the many stunning beaches nearby.

To really appreciate the unique location, cross the bridge from the mainland to Isla de Tarifa, where the Atlantic and Mediterranean meet.

You can’t quite get to the bottom of Spain as the island is closed to visitors, but you’re as close as anyone can get!

By Izzy from The Gap Decaders

Santorini, Greece

amoudi bay-santorini -monique skidmore- trip anthropologist COLLAB ONLY

The advantage of southern Europe in winter is the lack of crowds and most especially, the lack of cruise ships!

One of the most beautiful, sought after and crowded bucket list experiences is a holiday to Greece’s supermodel island, Santorini. In winter, the average maximum temperatures on land and sea drop and conditions can be windy.

However, sailing around Santorini, hiking along the caldera edge from Fira to Oia, snorkelling, diving, tasting wine in wineries and discovering the ancient city of Akrotiri are all still possible on Santorini in winter, despite the cooler weather.

There are certainly fewer summer-time facilities open, but still plenty to enjoy. For example, the beach huts along Kamari and Perissa beaches are closed, but the seaside tavernas with their fresh just-off-the-boat seafood in places like Amoudi Bay and Akrotiri Beach are open, and it should be possible to get a table right beside the water.

Some restaurants and hotels, especially small hotels, are closed from November or December until about Easter. However, many are international brands that stay open all year. Some  Santorini hotels with private pools  and hot tubs or jacuzzis are available with cheaper rates over this period, meaning you can watch the world-famous sunset over the caldera, volcano, and the Aegean Sea while sipping champagne in the pool from your own terrace!

If you’ve always dreamed of Santorini with its blue-domed churches and white houses set against the brilliant deep blue of the Aegean Sea, winter is your chance to get high-quality food and accommodation at reasonable prices and without the crowds.

By Monique at Trip Anthropologist

Dubrovnik, Croatia

View over the roofs of old town Dubrovnik with church towers, ocean and island in winter, Croatia

Gorgeous Dubrovnik is a famous European holiday destination in summer, but Dubrovnik is one of the sunniest winter destinations in Europe as well. 

Dubrovnik in winter  is one of the best Mediterranean cities to escape the cold in other parts of the continent! 

In addition, if you would like to visit Dubrovnik without infamous summer crowds and heat, think of visiting Dubrovnik in winter. In winter, ‘The Pearl of the Adriatic’ grants the ultimate relaxation and serenity accompanied by lots of sunshine. Moreover, exploring marvellous Dubrovnik Baroque and Renaissance churches, monasteries, and palaces without crowds in winter is a special treat. 

Again, roaming ancient marble-cobbled streets of Dubrovnik and walking Dubrovnik City Walls relaxed and unrushed in winter is true bliss. While you might not swim in the cold Adriatic Sea in winter, you will most certainly enjoy sitting in the sun next to to it!

On the 3rd February, Dubrovnik celebrates St. Blaise Day, the feast day of the saint patron of the city. The feast is listed on UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list. Join the celebration of St. Blaise Day in February and you will see Dubrovnik in a special light. 

Dubrovnik is also one of the most romantic cities in the world, so if you are travelling with your partner, you’ll love spending St. Valentine’s Day here!

By Milijana Gabrić from World Travel Connector 

Other charming places to visit in Europe in winter

Lake bled, slovenia.

Panoramic view of famous Bled Island (Blejski otok) at scenic Lake Bled with Bled Castle (Blejski grad) and Julian Alps in the background on a beautiful sunny day in winter, Slovenia

Imagine a mesmerising blue frozen lake surrounded by high mountain peaks, covered in a white blanket of fresh snow. Then there is a tiny island in the middle of the lake, and a shiny white church on top. Finally, on the shores, perched atop a tall cliff, there is a medieval castle with striking red roofs overlooking it all.

This is Lake Bled, and while Bled is a fairy-tale-like destination any time of the year, it is even more remarkable in winter when it turns into a proper wonderland.

In winter, Bled is much less crowded and cheaper than during the high season in summer. On top of that, you get to choose from an array of winter activities to make your lake Bled holidays even better. There’s plenty of winter sports, spas and excursions for you to choose from, making  Lake Bled in winter  an ideal tourist destination!

December is particularly magical because of the Christmas decorations, Christmas markets and a selection of festive events and traditions. If you’re feeling brave try the locals’ favourite, a very refreshing cold dip in the freezing lake on January 1st.

By Zi from Craving Adventure

Colmar, France

european towns to visit in winter

Colmar, with its population of 60,000 people, is one of the most popular destinations in the Alsace in North East France. 

Colmar is easily reached from Paris  in around 3 hours by high-speed train and the nearby Strasbourg, which is 64 kilometres away. This picturesque town borrows heavily from both France and Germany, with the German Border only 20 minutes away.

In Winter the town comes alive, with visitors from all over the world descending on its famous Christmas market. Starting in late November, Colmar comes into its own when over 300 market stalls seem to populate any spare areas in the town. 

Colmar France embraces the Christmas market spirit better than most towns across Europe. The market in Colmar is not just in one place, it is dotted all over the old town area. Colmar can and does receive a light dusting of snow in the winter, while many days are crisp with blue skies.

The famous little Venice area of towns draws visitors in the see the traditional coloured Alsace houses and ride a gondola.

While the Alsace region of France can see snow, it can also be very mild. This allows tourists to visit surrounding sites such as wineries, châteaus and more!

By Mark from Wyld Family Travel​

Cornwall, UK

european towns to visit in winter

Cornwall is the UK’s most popular staycation destination – the beaches here are out of this world! 

The region is an incredibly popular summer destination, but go to Cornwall for a winter break, and you’ll feel like you’ve got the coastline to yourself! 

It certainly won’t be sunbathing or wild swimming weather, but you might be lucky and get some lovely crisp sunny days, perfect for walking the South West Coast Path and enjoying epic coastal views! Just be aware that it will start getting dark at around 4:00 pm. 

There are also plenty of indoor Cornwall attractions to enjoy if the weather isn’t so kind, like the Royal Cornwall Museum in Truro , the TATE in St Ives and the National Maritime Museum Cornwall in Falmouth. 

Visiting Cornwall in winter is a rare chance to see this popular region with very few other tourists! 

Winter in Europe FAQs

What are the winter months in europe .

The winter months in Europe officially run from December to February, although many cultures date their winter from December 21st to March 21st. 

However, the wintery atmosphere of Europe often starts in November, with destinations installing Christmas markets and the weather getting colder!

Often it can feel springlike by the end of February, with warmer days and milder weather. However, in some destinations – particularly in the mountains – the cold can continue into April. 

What is the weather like in Europe in winter? 

It depends! You can get weather of -20 degrees or 25 degrees, depending on where you are. 

Does Europe get snow in winter?

Yes, lots of it! For the snowiest destinations, head to Scandanavia, particularly northern Sweden, Norway and Finland, to the mountains (the Alps are the most famous, but there are lots of mountains across Eastern Europe too!), or countries like Czechia, Poland and Slovakia. 

Which part of Europe is warmest in winter? 

Head south for warm weather in winter – in fact, your best bet is probably the Canary Islands, which are Spanish islands off the coast of Africa. However, you can also find sun in southern Spain, Italy, Greece, or any of the islands in the Mediterranean. 

What is the snowiest country in Europe? 

Scandinavian countries, due to their proximity to the north pole. 

What is the coldest country in Europe? 

Norway takes that crown, due to its high latitude. The average temperature is -6.8 degrees celsius, but bear in mind that the country is quite long – so it is much milder in the south than in the Arctic north!

Amazing Europe winter travel destinations!

I hope that this Europe in winter post has inspired you to find some winter magic on the continent!

european towns to visit in winter

  • New Zealand
  • The Philippines
  • The Netherlands
  • United Kingdom
  • Inspiration
  • Overland Itineraries
  • Packing Lists
  • Travel Tips
  • Working Abroad
  • Accomodation Guides
  • Overland Travel
  • Preserving Cultures
  • Protecting Animals
  • Living Abroad

Wandering Wheatleys - Logo

The 15 Best Places to Visit in Europe in the Winter

  • Facebook 71
  • Pinterest 85

Best Places to Visit in Europe in the Winter

From skiing and snowboarding to surfing and spas, the best places to visit in Europe in winter range from world-class ski resorts in Switzerland to the sunny Portuguese coastline. 

In Europe, there’s something for everyone in the winter months. You’ll find snow sports galore in the Alps and Pyrenees, while in northern Europe, it’s the perfect time of year to hunt down the Northern Lights . 

Get festive in Germany’s Christmas markets , enjoy the thermal spas of Budapest or Reykjavik , and visit Santa Claus himself in Finnish Lapland. And if you need some winter sun, there’s plenty to be had in the Algarve or in the south of Spain (where you can even ski in the morning and sunbathe in the afternoon).

With so many places to travel in Europe in winter, you might not know where to begin. That’s why we’ve compiled our list of the absolute best winter destinations for you. Stick to these fun and unique European getaways, and there’s no doubt you’ll have an amazing time exploring this beautiful part of the world!

Don’t forget to check out our web story: The 15 Best Places to Visit in Europe in the Winter

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase or booking through one of our links we may earn a small commission (don’t worry, it’s at no extra cost to you).

1. Tallinn, Estonia

Best Europe Destinations to Visit in Winter: Tallinn, Estonia

With a long history dating back to the 13th century, Tallinn has managed to conserve its magnificent medieval Old Town masterfully. And while temperatures regularly drop to below freezing in the winter, the Estonian capital’s cobblestone streets, romantic ramparts, and dreamy towers are transformed into a snow-clad wonderland. 

You’ll need to pop on your thermals and wrap up warm, as the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Old Town becomes the fairytale backdrop to one of Europe’s best Christmas markets. The streets are filled with wooden market stalls and carol singers, and you can sip on mulled wine and enjoy Estonian festive treats like blood sausage and gingerbread (not together!) as you countdown to Christmas. 

Best Places to Visit in Europe during Winter: Tallinn, Estonia

Estonians embrace a harsh winter on the Baltic Sea, and if the cold gets too much, you can always shelter in a cozy cafe or bar with a hot chocolate or a craft beer. If you start to embrace the cold weather yourself, then why not strap on your skates and hit up the Uisupark Ice Rink in the Old Town, which is lit up by the dazzling Christmas lights of the St. Nicholas Church? 

2. Dresden, Germany

What Places to Visit in Europe during Winter: Dresden, Germany

Germany is always one of the best places to travel in Europe in winter, and if you love a good old-fashioned Christmas market , you’re going to love Dresden.

The capital of Saxony is no stranger to the Germanic Christmas market tradition, having hosted their own almost every year without fail (a few wars aside) since the year 1434 AD. That makes Dresden’s historic Striezelmarkt the oldest Christmas market in Europe, although it’s come a long way since the medieval city first hosted a single-day celebration so many centuries ago.

Must See Places in Europe during Winter: Dresden, Germany

Now Dresden’s Striezelmarkt – thought to be named for the specific type of stollen cake that’s sold here – is a sprawling affair that lasts not just one day but for the entire Advent period. From late November until Christmas Eve, Dresden’s Altmarkt and the surrounding streets and squares of the Old Town are thrown over to all things festive.

Enjoy the dulcet tones of Dresden’s best carol singers, sink a pint or two of local beer, and, of course, indulge in a few slices of stollen and as much Gluhwein as you can handle!

3. Rovaniemi, Finland 

Best Europe Destinations to Visit in Winter: Rovaniemi, Finland

In winter, where better to be than the home of Santa Claus? The savvy Laplanders have long claimed that the icy arctic tundra of northern Finland is the domain of Father Christmas himself, and in the 1980s, they went so far as to construct a mammoth Santa Claus Village and amusement park to stake their claim on the winter legend. 

All year round, Rovaniemi dedicates itself to Christmas, but visit from November onwards and you can immerse yourself in a true winter wonderland. The city itself is a 1.5-hour flight from Helsinki, and although the days are impossibly short and the weather frighteningly chilly, you can still explore unique attractions like Arktikum , a museum that is dedicated to Lapland’s history and Arctic research.

Places to Visit in Europe in Winter: Rovaniemi, Finland

Not far from the city, and the Arctic Circle runs through Santa Claus Village. Sure, it’s cheesy as hell, but you can meet the big man himself, send your loved ones Christmas cards from Santa’s very own home, and ride a genuine reindeer sled in the snow.

One of the best European cities in winter, it’s a guaranteed white winter in Rovaniemi, and you’ll have a huge chance of seeing the Aurora Borealis in the night sky above. You can stay in ice hotels, learn about the Sami reindeer herders, and try your hand at all manner of winter sports, including dog sledding and snowmobiling. 

4. Gudauri, Georgia

Must See Places in Europe during Winter: Gudauri, Georgia

Gudauri is one of the most unsung ski resort towns in Europe, and if you’re looking for an off-the-beaten-track winter sports getaway, this is one of the best cities to visit in Europe in winter.

Gudauri is located in Georgia ‘s Caucasus mountain range. During the Soviet era, this was one of the most popular ski resorts in the entire USSR, but things changed drastically when the country gained independence in 1991. Things are changing yet again, though, and Gudauri’s slopes are busy with Georgian, Middle Eastern, and, increasingly, European skiers during the winter season. 

Must Visit Places in Europe during Winter: Gudauri, Georgia

The resort itself is home to all the lifts, runs, and chalets an experienced skier could ever need, but at a fraction of the price of European ski hotspots in the Alps. Increasing numbers of English-speaking instructors also make Gudauri the perfect place to learn to ski or snowboard (and again, at a budget price). 

Georgia’s already well-known for its gorgeous mountain scenery and ancient wine-making traditions, so you can expect the après ski (with virtually unlimited Georgian wine and plate after plate of khinkali ) to be absolutely amazing!

5. Val d’Aran, Spain

Places to Visit in Europe in Winter: Heliskiing

Val d’Aran is one of the best European winter destinations, but it’s little-known outside of Spain and France. Visit this little mountain valley in the Pyrenees, and you’ll not only find an exciting winter paradise, but a unique region that’s home to a fusion of French and Spanish language, culture, and cuisine. 

Take a look at a map of the Pyrenees – the mountain range that divides Spain from France – and you’ll see that Val d’Aran sits on the northern slopes. This means that technically, this beautiful Pyrenean valley should be in France, but due to a quirk of medieval history, it’s actually in Spain. Until 1948, when a long tunnel was carved through the mountain, the entire region would be cut off in the winter.

Best Europe Destinations to Visit in Winter: Heliskiing

Learn more about the history with a visit to the Museum of Val d’Aran in Vielha, Val d’Aran’s erstwhile capital city. Tall stone churches rise across the valley, where you can hike or snowshoe to hilltop towns in search of local eats like the famous Aranese stew. Val d’Aran is also famous for its hot springs, and in Arties, you can spend an afternoon soaking up the thermal water after plunging into an ice bath. 

But Val d’Aran is best known for its skiing. The slopes of Baqueira are perfect for all abilities, while those with a wilder side can even attempt a spot of heliskiing in the winter.

6. Budapest, Hungary

What Places to Visit in Europe during Winter: Budapest, Hungary

Budapest is a city break destination that needs very little introduction, and it’s easily one of the best places to visit in Europe in winter.

We love Budapest for an incredible number of reasons. First off, the Hungarian capital has a fascinating history stretching back to the Romans, while its unusual mix of Ottoman, Austro-Hungarian, and socialist architecture speaks of its often turbulent location at the crossroads of Central Europe.

Must See Places in Europe during Winter: Budapest, Hungary

Cross the mighty River Danube and you can take the funicular to Buda Castle , where royal palaces and the iconic Fisherman’s Bastion are resplendent in the cold winter air. Down in Pest, you’ll find that from November to January, places like Vorosmarty Square and St. Stephen’s Basilica are all dedicated to festive markets, where you can warm up with a big bread bowl of goulash or a mug of mulled wine. 

Escape the chill weather of a Budapest winter with a trip to the city’s museums, including the Hungarian National Museum or the dark but fascinating House of Terror , which tells the story of Hungary’s descent into totalitarianism in the 20th century. 

And, of course, there’s no chance you’re visiting Budapest in the winter without experiencing the city’s famed thermal spas, including Gellert Thermal Bath and Szechenyi Thermal Bath , where you can warm up after a cold day’s sightseeing. 

7. Bergen, Norway

Best Europe Destinations to Visit in Winter: Bergen, Norway

Bergen might be Norway ‘s second city (after Oslo, of course), but in winter, we think it’s one of the best places to visit in Europe. 

Legend has it that Bergen, which is located on the west coast of Norway, was founded on Seven Mountains (just like ancient Rome was founded on Seven Hills) by a once bloodthirsty Viking who’d had enough of war. 

It was indeed founded by a Viking king, and for many years, was even the capital of a Norwegian kingdom, but as you count the snowcapped mountain peaks, you’ll realize there are many more than seven surrounding the city!

Places to Visit in Europe in Winter: Bergen, Norway

In winter, Bergen’s mountainous scenery is glorious. Take the funicular up to Mount Floyen, and you’ll see the city’s colorful architecture arrayed before you like a Christmas painting. 

If it’s not too windy, then the cable car can whisk you upwards to Mount Ulriken, where you can dine in the Skyskraperen restaurant high above Bergen. And if the weather isn’t cooperating, just hop into the Hanseatic Museum , the Bryggens Museum , or the Bergen Maritime Museum to learn more about the city’s history and culture. 

But Bergen is also your gateway to Norway’s western fjords, and in winter, sightseeing cruises are very much still running. You could even take the impressive Flam Railway into the heart of the fjords, with a short but spectacular 12-mile train ride that whisks you through wintery scenery and ends with a local craft beer in Flam’s microbrewery. 

8. Lake Bled, Slovenia 

What Places to Visit in Europe during Winter: Lake Bled, Slovenia

If you’re looking for postcard-perfect winter scenes, then Lake Bled will be love at first sight. Although Lake Bled is seemingly hidden away in the Julian Alps, it’s also just an hour’s drive north of Ljubljana , the Slovenian capital. It’s also an even shorter 30-minute drive from Slovenia ‘s main international airport, which is increasingly well-connected, even in the winter. 

That makes Lake Bled the perfect winter escape, and you can book yourself into a lakeside hotel overlooking what could be frozen waters. If it’s cold enough, then yes, Lake Bled can freeze, but this only happens in particularly cold winters, every few years.

Must See Places in Europe during Winter: Lake Bled, Slovenia

From November onwards, though, you’re guaranteed to ditch the crowds and have this beautiful place to yourself. From December, the snow starts to cap the surrounding mountain peaks, and by Christmas, the lakeside itself, including the famous cliff-top castle and the church on the lake, are draped in a wintery haze of snow and ice. 

9. Salzburg, Austria 

Places to Visit in Europe in Winter: Salzburg, Austria

Salzburg , the home city of Mozart, is a veritable treat for the senses throughout its long winter season. With the Old Town’s medieval streets draped in Christmas lights, you’ll love hearing classic Austrian carols (including “Silent Night,” which was first performed on Christmas Eve in 1818 in a church close to the city) and classical music drifting across snowy rooftops.

Salzburg’s historic Christmas market dates back around five centuries, and with iconic sights like the Hohenzollern Castle and the Nonnberg Abbey as the backdrop, you couldn’t ask for a better setting. Grab a mug of Gluhwein , then catch a concert in the lavish Mirabell Palace. 

Visit Mozart’s birthplace all through the winter to learn more about the roots of the famous Austrian composer. In January, you can also celebrate Mozart’s birthday (January 27, 1756) and take part in the musical extravaganza that is Mozart Week! 

Winter sports fans will love a trip to Salzburg as much as the budding musicians because the city is perfectly placed by the Austrian Alps. There are many excellent ski resorts within an hour or so drive of Salzburg, including Bad Gastein, Zell am See, and Kitzbuhel.

10. Andorra 

Must Visit Places in Europe during Winter: Andorra

With an area of just 181 square miles (469 square kilometers), you might be surprised to see the microstate of Andorra making our list of the best destinations to travel to in Europe in winter.

This might be one of the smallest countries on the continent, but in winter, Andorra is an adventure playground for snow sports lovers. What it lacks in size, Andorra more than makes up for with soaring mountain peaks and high-altitude ski runs.

Must See Places in Europe during Winter: Andorra

That’s no surprise given the tiny country’s location in the Pyrenees mountains between Spain and France, with the highest point in Andorra reaching 9,652 feet (2,942 meters). Even the capital, Andorra la Vella (population 22,000), is at an altitude well over 3,281 feet (1,000 meters), so you can expect snow and lots of it.

In winter, the country’s hiking trails become cross-country ski routes, and you can traverse the mountain slopes and forests on epic cross-country adventures. Andorran ski resorts like Grandvalira and Ordino Arcalis are some of the best on the continent, while increasingly, other unique winter sports activities like dog sledding and snowmobiling are becoming popular. 

And in case we haven’t sold it to you, Andorra’s après ski is one of the best in Europe – not surprising, really, given that the Principality is duty-free!

11. Bansko, Bulgaria 

Best Europe Destinations to Visit in Winter: Bansko, Bulgaria

If you’re a digital nomad, then there’s a high chance you’ve already heard about Bansko. This Bulgarian ski resort town at the base of the Pirin Mountains has been attracting remote workers for years, especially so in the winter.

Digital nomads love the sense of community here, including the many festivals, events, and meetups aimed at remote professions. However, you don’t need to be a digital nomad to enjoy a trip to Bansko. 

Best Places to Visit in Europe during Winter: Bansko, Bulgaria

Although it used to be firmly off the beaten track, Bulgaria’s budget skiing has really put Bansko on the map. A day pass at Bansko Ski Resort will set you back just a fraction of the cost of a pass in France or Switzerland, while those staying for weeks or even months (as many do!) can score cost-effective season passes. 

Accommodation in Bansko can be found right by the gondolas, the après ski is always fun, and the nearby village of Banya is known for its thermal waters – the perfect antidote to a day in the snow. 

12. Reykjavik, Iceland

Must See Places in Europe during Winter: Reykjavik, Iceland

Traveling to Iceland in the dead of winter might seem like a crazy plan, but if you’re serious about seeing the Northern Lights, this is one of the best places to visit in Europe in winter.

You’ll need to wrap up warm for this one (don’t forget the thermal underwear!), but brave temperatures of up to 27°F (-3°C) and daytime with as little as 5 hours between sunrise and sunset, and you can have an incredible time in Reykjavik , the Icelandic capital.

Must Visit Places in Europe during Winter: Reykjavik, Iceland

Icelanders are used to the short days and cold weather, and you can join Northern Lights tours out into the wilderness in search of the fabled Aurora Borealis. From Reykjavik, you can often see the lights themselves (although they are never as strong), while city-wide attractions like the Saga Museum , the National Museum of Iceland , and the Whales of Iceland are very much open in winter. 

And if the cold gets to be too much, just take a dip in the Blue Lagoon or one of the many thermal baths found in Reykjavik! 

13. The Algarve, Portugal 

Best Europe Destinations to Visit in Winter: The Algarve, Portugal

If you’re looking for a bit of winter sun, then why not book an Algarve getaway? Portugal ‘s southern coastline has incredibly mild temperatures, and even in winter, you can expect highs of up to 64°F (18°C).

Although the Atlantic Ocean will be too cold for an enjoyable swim (that doesn’t stop everyone, though), the beaches are still soaked in sunshine while the resorts and hotels offer excellent deals and discounts compared to their summer prices.

Best Places to Visit in Europe during Winter: The Algarve, Portugal

Many surfers take advantage of the Algarve’s big winter waves, particularly on the region’s western shore, which bears the brunt of any storms. The southern coast is much more tranquil, and you can still enjoy boat rides to famous spots like the Benagil Caves when the seas are calm.

Winter is the perfect season for walking, too. Take in the historic sights of Lagos or Faro, for example, hike to Ponte de Piedade for stunning cliff-top views, or tackle the beautiful hike into the Seven Hanging Valleys. 

14. Sierra Nevada, Spain 

Must See Places in Europe during Winter: Sierra Nevada, Spain

The Sierra Nevada is a long mountain range cutting across southern Spain, and in winter, it’s home to the most southerly ski resort in Europe.

Head to the slopes of the Sierra Nevada Ski Station , and you’ll find yourself tackling runs that reach a maximum altitude of 11,155 feet (3,400 meters). The ski season here is short but sweet, and you can find runs for almost all abilities. 

Must Visit Places in Europe during Winter: Sierra Nevada, Spain

You’ll also have views of Veleta, the third-highest mountain in mainland Spain, upon whose slopes you’re skiing. The resort itself is just a 45-minute drive from Granada, the Andalusian city where the Spanish Moors made their last stand in the 15th century. 

Visit the Alhambra (without the summer crowds) and enjoy the famous free tapas that come with every drink purchased in a Granadan bar. You could even head down to the Costa del Sol for some winter sun and a dip in the sea!

15. Switzerland

What Places to Visit in Europe during Winter: Switzerland

It’s impossible to leave Switzerland off any list of the best places to travel to in Europe in winter. Swiss cities like Zurich , Basel , and Geneva are coated in layers of snow throughout much of the winter, and with lively Christmas markets filling Old Town squares, there’s never a better time to visit.

But Switzerland is also home to thousands of miles of ski runs that crisscross its steep mountain slopes. Swiss ski resorts might be notoriously expensive when compared to up-and-coming winter sports destinations in Eastern Europe, but you’ve got guaranteed powder and a rich ski tradition going back centuries. 

Must Visit Places in Europe during Winter: Switzerland

Les Portes du Soleil, Grindelwald, and St. Moritz are just a few of the most famous ski resorts in Switzerland. For an authentic winter experience though, we recommend riding the Glacier Express to Zermatt, where you can ski in a fairytale resort town that sits in the shadow of the iconic Matterhorn.

There you have it! The 15 best places to travel in Europe in winter. What’s your favorite European destination to visit in winter?

Looking for more travel inspiration? Check out our favorite travel books!

SHARE THIS ON PINTEREST

Best Places to Visit in Europe in the Winter

Richard is an award-winning travel writer based in Southwest England who’s addicted to traveling off the beaten track. He’s traveled to 75 countries and counting in search of intriguing stories, unusual destinations, and cultural curiosities. Richard loves traveling the long way round over land and sea, and you’ll find him visiting quirky micronations and breakaway territories as often as he’s found lounging on a beach (which is a lot). When he’s not writing for BBC Travel, National Geographic, or Lonely Planet, you can find Richard writing for the Wandering Wheatleys or updating his off-beat travel blog, Travel Tramp.

Related Posts

The Best Hotels in Antwerp, Belgium

The 12 Best Hotels in Antwerp, Belgium

Best Lisbon Tours & Day Trips (Rossio Square)

Lisbon Sightseeing: The 7 Best Lisbon Tours & Day Trips

The Best Hotels in Tirana, Albania

The 12 Best Hotels in Tirana, Albania

Leave a comment cancel reply.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

All products and listings featured on Condé Nast Traveler are independently selected by our editors. If you purchase something through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

The Best Places in Europe to Soak Up the Winter Sun

By David Annand and Connor Sturges

Image may contain Shoreline Water Outdoors Nature Ocean Sea Land Promontory Coast Scenery Beach and Sand

Brazil or Bali may be more synonymous with scorching-hot beaches in January, but there are alternatives for when you just want a quick blast of vitamin D to see you through to March. From golden islands that sizzle well into autumn and beyond, to European city break destinations bathed in elusive December sunshine, these winter-sun destinations in Europe mean escaping the blustery winter days is easily achievable. For some further-flung ideas, see our pick of the best winter-sun destinations.

All listings featured on Condé Nast Traveler are independently selected by our editors. If you purchase something through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Best for nature lovers December temperature range 5066°F  Its easy to forget that Cyprus is only about 130 miles off the...

Best for: nature lovers December temperature range: 50-66°F

It’s easy to forget that Cyprus is only about 130 miles off the coast of Lebanon. And, unsurprisingly, its winter temperatures run closer to those of the Levant than much of continental Europe, which means T-shirt weather during the off-season. Winter is also a great time to go hiking in Cyprus’s dense forests, where you can stumble across fascinating Byzantine monasteries.

Where to stay: The seaside city of Paphos is a brilliant base for exploring the island and is home to many of the best hotels in Cyprus , including Almyra design hotel . In the north are some of the island’s prettiest beaches, where loggerhead and green turtles come to nest, along with the beachside Anassa hotel (closed 28 November to 31 March), located a short boat ride away from the Blue Lagoon.

Best for dyedinthewool sun seekers December temperature range 1121°C  In summer the breeze that hits Lanzarote and...

Canary Islands

Best for: dyed-in-the-wool sun seekers December temperature range: 11-21°C

In summer, the breeze that hits Lanzarote and Fuerteventura is a blessed relief from the intense heat and a major draw for windsurfers. In winter, said breeze brings with it a bit of a chill, so you’re better off heading to the other Canary Islands : Tenerife or Gran Canaria . The former has made great strides in repositioning itself as a cultural hub with an art gallery designed by Swiss firm Herzog and de Meuron and Santiago Calatrava’s concert hall in Santa Cruz. And the latter has plenty of charm beyond the overdeveloped tourist spots. The capital, Las Palmas, has a lively food scene and the landscape, particularly around the village of Artenara, is manna for hikers. Flights to both islands from London are under four and a half hours.

Where to stay: In Las Palmas, Bed and Chic is a cool 12-room hotel reminiscent of the Ace Hotel look, but without the pretension. On Tenerife, Hotel San Roque , is a pretty 18th-century manor house where dining and lounging take place around the turquoise courtyard pool.

Best for thrillseekers  December temperature range 5968°F  The longtime destination of choice for Britains bluerinse...

Best for: thrill-seekers (but still good for pensioners, too) December temperature range: 59-68°F

The long-time destination of choice for Britain’s blue-rinse brigade, staid old Madeira has been busy reinventing itself as a place for adrenaline-fueled adventure. And why not? The island is an outdoor Eden in miniature, with black-sand beaches, tumbling canyons, and epic rock faces. Which means great mountain biking and wonderful views for those who dare to go paragliding. The network of levadas (water-irrigation channels carved into the volcanic island) makes for thrilling trail running. It is also, as far as we know, the only place to offer year-round urban tobogganing in wicker sledges, which are steered downhill at great speed.

Where to stay: The island's most famous hotel is Reid's Palace, A Belmond Hotel —a pink cliffside palace with a Michelin-star and stunning ocean pool. If you're traveling in a group, Okulus sleeps eight, and thanks to its curated interiors, is easily the coolest villa in Madiera.

Best for getting away from it all December temperature range 4864°F  Continental Europes most southwestern region has...

The Algarve, Portugal

Best for: getting away from it all December temperature range: 48-64°F

Continental Europe’s most south-western region has its own sunny microclimate that makes it consistently warmer than the rest of Portugal. You won’t be in a bikini in winter, but the pleasant T-shirt temperatures mean that an increasing number of hotels and restaurants stay open year-round, and cities such as Albufeira retain a buzz. Away from the package tourist haunts, there are dramatic red-cliff coastlines and Moorish villages dotted among the hills to explore.

Where to stay: Enjoy a tranquil escape to Casas da Quinta de Cima , where a series of nine little cottages sit on a serene farm estate in rural eastern Algarve. For something more grand, reserve a room at Bel Vista , a turn-of-the-century villa hotel with a swimming pool framed by slender palm trees, a L’Occitance Spa and a one-star Michelin restaurant by Chef João Oliveira. See our pick of the best hotels in the Algarve for more options.

Best for culture seekers December temperature range 4959°F  Perhaps surprisingly the Greek capital stays much warmer...

Athens, Greece

Best for: culture seekers December temperature range: 49-59°F

Perhaps surprisingly, the Greek capital stays much warmer than many places on the country’s salty-aired coastline once winter rolls in. All the better for those who want a slice of sunshine without being marooned on a beach somewhere. Athens is a classic city-break destination, but an influx of artists, chefs and hoteliers over the past few years means the quirky neighborhoods and must-visit restaurants are now as much a draw as the big-hitting sites. Spend days exploring the many museums, libraries and galleries—we particularly like the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center, which is home to the National Library of Greece, the Greek National Opera and a 42-acre park.

Where to stay: For a room with a view, some suites at xenodocheio Milos have huge terraces overlooking the old Parliament. If you're here for some sun and food, Ergon House is more than just a restaurant with rooms – the ground floor is a perpetually buzzy deli, roastery, bakery and dining room. See our pick of the best hotels in Athens for more.

Best for openwater swimmers December temperature range depending on which island you're on temperatures range from...

The Greek Islands

Best for: open-water swimmers December temperature range: depending on which island you're on, temperatures range from 54-63°F

The gorgeous Aegean is surely the loveliest of Europe’s seas, and the water of many of the Cyclades, such as Paros, Santorini , and Milos , is still tolerable in winter, making it a year-round destination for swimmers. In places like Santorini, visiting in the off-season means you can explore the picturesque vistas without the crowds, while Rhodes is known to have clear blue skies and warm temperatures well into winter.

Where to stay: Many Greek Island hotels close their doors between the end of October and the start of May, but there are a handful that continue to welcome guests. On Santorini, Opsis Cave Houses are one of the properties in Oia that still welcomes guests. Best of all, the views are entirely uninterrupted across the glittering blue sea.

Best for ecoconscious adventurers December temperature range 5564°F  You might think that including the Azores is...

Best for: eco-conscious adventurers December temperature range: 55-64°F

You might think that including the Azores is stretching the definition of Europe to breaking point, but the Atlantic archipelago is actually about five hours from London . And, in any case, they’re not your typical isolated island group. For starters, it’s never that hot here, even in summer. People don’t visit to laze on the beach Maldives-style. They come because it’s a natural nirvana, rich in wildlife, full of rugged, dramatic craters and caverns, hot springs and lush forests. All of which are being sustainably managed: only 5 per cent of the land is developed, and the islands are dotted with marine conservation parks.

Where to stay: Stay at Santa Barbara Eco-Beach or the similarly green-minded Sete Cidades Lake Lodge , both on São Miguel. See our Azores hotels guide for more.

Best for design buffs and hotel obsessives December temperature range 5263°F  Its frankly ridiculous 300 days of...

Best for: design buffs and hotel obsessives December temperature range: 52-63°F

Its frankly ridiculous 300 days of sunshine a year would be the standout selling point for most islands of Malta’s size, but the understated Mediterranean gem is also a history-soaked gastronomic hub, packed with first-class hotels and surrounded by some of the world’s best diving sites. Visit in winter for a weekend exploring striking Valletta, the ancient capital that’s had a bit of a revival of late, converting some of its gorgeous townhouses into excellent design hotels. The restaurant scene is thriving, too. Head to Panorama at the British Hotel in Valletta or Barracuda near the Sliema coast for a taste of traditional Mediterranean food.

Where to stay: Domus Zamittello in Valetta is a restored baroque masterpiece by the bombed-out opera house, with painted coffered ceilings. Iniala Harbour House offers a front-row seat to the Grand Harbour across its four smartly renovated townhouses.

Best for adventurous foodies December temperature range 5263°F  Italys southernmost island is closer to Tunis than Rome...

Best for: adventurous foodies December temperature range: 52-63°F

Italy’s southernmost island is closer to Tunis than Rome and has winter weather to match. Visiting at this time of year allows you to get up close to Sicily’s incredible historic spaces, such as the Temple of Concordia in Agrigento, which is reliably overrun in high season. With a distinct food culture, Sicily has gastronomic delights beyond summer’s glut of glorious fruit and veg – visit in February to experience the sea urchin season in full swing.

Where to stay: Belmond Grand Hotel Timeo is Sicily's grand dame hotel, with opulent marble bathrooms and a pianist that cajoles couples to dance on the elegant balcony overlooking Amalfi-style Taormina. We also love Agriturismo trailblazer Monaci Delle Terre Nere , one of the region's smartest and most stylish country hotels. For more, see our pick of the best hotels in Sicily .

Best for stopandflop and families December temperature range 5061°F  Straddling two continents Turkeys enormous landmass...

Best for: stop-and-flop and families December temperature range: 50-61°F

Straddling two continents, Turkey’s enormous landmass is diverse enough to justify its nickname: the land of four seasons. For winter sun, the best part of the country to visit is, predictably, the south coast, particularly the area around Antalya. There’s a long stretch of fairly upmarket hotels to the west of the city, many of which are family-friendly entertainment retreats in their own right, with golf courses and adventure playgrounds beside the beach. On Turkey’s wilder southwest coast, there’s the pretty city of Bodrum and lovely Didyma with its astonishing ruined temple.

Where to stay: For an authentic low-season experience, check into one of the pansiyon guesthouses dotted across the city. Owners will enthusiastically share their recommendations for a city that dies down considerably compared to summer. For something more private, check into Kalkan's Villa Pairidaeza —where the sunsets need to be seen to be believed.

Seville Spain

Seville, Spain

Best for: Sun-soaked city exploration December temperature range: 46-63°F

Year-round direct flight routes and mild temperatures make Seville the perfect choice for travelers searching for some mid-winter vitamin D. Ditch the Michelin-man coats in favor of light jackets and utilise the sunny conditions for pictures of the magnificent Plaza de España, al fresco lunches along the winding alleyways that siphon off Plaza Pumarejo, and afternoon drinks under blue skies atop Hotel Doña María. Head to Seville between the last week of November and the end of December to pick up handmade crafts and sweet treats from the Christmas markets .

Where to stay: The hottest stay in the sunny city right now is Nobu Hotel and Restaurant Sevilla , having opened its doors in spring 2023. Set in the Plaza de San Francisco, the 25-room property is ideally located for experiencing all the city offers over a long weekend. Admire the cathedral and surrounding rooftops from the terrace, and sample fresh seafood sashimi dishes in the sleek signature restaurant.

view of Villefranche Sur Mer on Cote D Azur French Riviera in France

The French Riviera

Best for: Low-season glitz December temperature range: 43-61°F

Granted, you won’t be donning swimwear on Plage des Ponchettes or spotting A-listers in Nice 's beach clubs come December. However, with up to nine hours of sunshine a day, the winter months are ideal for exploring Nice and the surrounding French Riviera towns—without the crowds that flock here each summer. Check out the Christmas village at Place Massena in Nice, spot the pop-up nativity scenes around the city, or pop to glitzy Monaco for a lavish lunch and glide around the ice rink.

Where to stay: Anantara Plaza Nice is a luxe urban oasis centrally located for sightseeing and sunny lunches along the promenade. There’s a glamorous rooftop terrace for sea views and destination restaurants ideal for those occasional rainy nights.

A version of this article originally appeared on Condé Nast Traveller .

Recommended

Hôtel du Couvent: First Guest

Hôtel du Couvent: First Guest

Domes Novos Santorini, Autograph Collection

Domes Novos Santorini, Autograph Collection

Europe Travel Guide

Europe Travel Guide

By signing up you agree to our User Agreement (including the class action waiver and arbitration provisions ), our Privacy Policy & Cookie Statement and to receive marketing and account-related emails from Traveller. You can unsubscribe at any time. This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Find anything you save across the site in your account

These 7 Charming European Towns Are Frozen in Time

By Katherine McLaughlin

Matera province high angle view of the 'Sassi di Matera' at twilight.

Nothing lasts forever, but sometimes buildings stand for a very, very long time. These charming European towns, which appear frozen in time, are proof of that. While there is much to celebrate about contemporary architecture , historic buildings offer powerful records about how our ancestors lived—and how many still do today. They preserve culture, demonstrate values, and remind us that great ideas aren’t always new ones. Whether on a journey to better understand a city’s history or simply eager to experience a few days in a place that feels like another era, these destinations should be a must-visit. Below, seven European towns that feel frozen in time.

Hospices de Beaune

Beaune, France

Known for its bustling wine business, Beaune is about a four-hour train ride from Paris. Aside from being known for its most popular beverage, the European town is often described as a “fairytale village” thanks to its large collection of historic buildings. The most famous is the Hospices de Beaune, seen here. Now a museum, the 15th-century building structure began as a charitable almshouse.

Matera province high angle view of the 'Sassi di Matera' at twilight.

Matera, Italy

Located in Basilicata region in Southern Italy, Matera is most famous for its ancient town, Sassi di Matera . Thought to be one of the first human settlements in the country, the area is comprised of cave dwellings dug into the rocks. However, the area was evacuated in the 1950s as many of the residences were unsafe. Once more known as a poverty-stricken area, efforts from the Italian government have reframed it as a unique tourist destination. In addition to the cave homes, the town is known for its monasteries and churches, such as the Romanesque Matera Cathedral.

Bibury and the cotswolds

Bibury, England

There are plenty of charming villages to visit during a trip to the Cotswolds, but Bibury should be considered a must-see. Just a short drive from Cirencester—often described as the “capital of the Cotswolds”—the town is full of stone cottages, ivy-covered hotels, and rolling hills. Arlington Row, seen here, is one of the most photographed attractions in the village. Constructed in 1380, the row houses were originally built as a wool store, but were turned into weavers’ residences in the 17th century.

Lavender in Simiane La Rotonde village Provence

Simiane-la-Rotonde, France

Lavender fields surround Simiane-la-Rotonde in a vibrant display of purple magic. Built on a small hill in Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, the Château des Simiane-Agoult, a medieval castle, and the surrounding village have remained largely unchanged since they were constructed in the 12th century.

Cudillero fishing village in Asturias in northern Spain.

Cudillero, Spain

While much of Cudillero ’s economy is driven by tourism, the historic fishing villa is not overtaken by mega-resorts or gift shops. Just a five-hour drive from Madrid, the village retains its old-school feel thanks to a collection of colorful buildings encircling the main port.

The City Portree In The Scottish Highlands

Portree, Scotland

The main town on the Isle of Skye, Portree is a popular destination in the Sottish Highlands. Undoubtedly, its colorful port, designed by Thomas Telford, is a frequent point of interest for visitors. Like other Scottish islands, the rugged landscape is another notable draw and worthy of exploration.

Town and fortress of Klis near Split view Dalmatia region of Croatia

Klis, Croatia

A Game of Thrones fan may think they’re looking at Meereen , a city seen in the fourth season of the show. In real life, Klis Fortress , which dates back to the 5th century, stood in as the fictional town. The town gets its name from the Croatian word “klisura,” which means steep cliff.

All products are independently selected by our editors. If you buy something, we may earn an affiliate commission.

21 European cities that are even better in winter

By Caitlin Morton

Europe in winter snowy cities

Many warm-weathe r devotees are too quick to bypass planning a visit to Europe in winter, instead flocking to its sun-kissed beaches each summer. But we’re here to make the case for embracing the cold season and the snow-covered landscapes it brings. A crisp day in Europe can be – dare we say? – downright blissful, and certainly beautiful .

Beyond the Christmas market rush, most major cities are refreshingly crowd-free and inexpensive during the chillier months, and they offer outdoor adventures and cosy experiences well worth travelling for. (Seriously, how good does a warm mug of real hot chocolate in a riverside Belgian cafe sound?)

Whether you want to plan a trip for the end of this year or are already looking ahead to 2024, these photos of Europe in winter will have you booking your next visit in no time. Read on for 21 European cities – and a few villages, if we’re getting technical – that we think are best when the temperature drops.

Arctic Treehouse Hotel Rovaniemi Finland

Rovaniemi, Finland

Finnish Lapland is a winter wonderland like no other, perhaps best exemplified in the region’s capital city of Rovaniemi. Aside from being perhaps the best place to spend Christmas (the town claims to be the official hometown of Santa Claus, after all), Rovaniemi is packed with reindeer farms, husky sledding, ice skating rinks, and Northern Lights safaris that make it a must-visit for adventurous families. If you’d prefer something a little less festive and a little more pensive, book a few nights at the Arctic TreeHouse Hotel . Here you can sip glogg by the fire, eat cloudberry ice cream and smoked salmon, and take in views of the snow-blanketed forests from your warm bed.

Prague

Prague, Czech Republic

When a dusting of snow coats St. Charles Bridge and Old Town’s church spires, the whole of Prague transforms. But the city also has some of Europe’s best Christmas markets – outside of Germany, at least – where even the most jaded traveller will succumb to the trdelník (fried dough) and mulled wine sold in festive stalls.

Christmas at Somerset House London

London, England

Christmas in London has timeless appeal – with its decorated Georgian townhouses, lively markets, and a dash of Dickensian charm. But the winter months that bookend the holidays have their own charms, as well. Visitors can go ice skating at Somerset House, then warm up with a museum visit and quintessentially British afternoon tea. Be sure to slot out a couple of day trips to nearby cities like Cambridge and Bath, where you can admire the impossibly charming streets and hole up in even more cosy restaurants.

Vienna Austria

Vienna, Austria

Vienna is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe , no matter the season. But we’re particularly fond of the Austrian capital in the winter, when you can double down on hot chocolate and sachertorte, watch free outdoor simulcasts of the opera (loads of people attend, even when it’s freezing), listen to classical holiday concerts, and snap photos of Schönbrunn Palace and St. Charles Church (pictured) covered in snow.

Zermatt Switzerland

Zermatt, Switzerland

Visiting Switzerland during ski season is kind of a no-brainer – especially if you plant yourself in Zermatt. Sitting at the foot of the country’s famed Matterhorn mountain, this impossibly gorgeous resort town has an abundance of serious skiers, fresh powder, and epic views from the lifts. Its ​​après-ski scene (which, let’s be honest, is just as important as the slopes) is also the best around: refuel with some alpine cuisine at Brasserie Lusi and take in a spa treatment or two at Hotel Firefly .

Tallinn Estonia

Tallinn, Estonia

Tallinn practically overflows with charm, thanks to its turreted castles and a lovely location on the Baltic Sea. The city has one of the best-preserved historical centres in Europe, with many of its medieval churches and merchant houses falling under UNESCO protection. The views of the city centre from Toompea Castle are beautiful no matter the season, but they pop even more under a layer of snow – in fact, they make those cold, Baltic winters downright bearable.

With its cobbled streets old city quarter and baroque architecture Zagreb has everything you would expect from a Central...

Zagreb, Croatia

With its cobbled streets, old city quarter, and baroque architecture, Zagreb has everything you would expect from a Central European capital – plus a few extra-special perks come wintertime. The city erupts with yuletide cheer during its annual Advent in Zagreb festival, complete with 25 Christmas markets, ice skating rinks, and glittering lights galore. Schedule a day trip to nearby Plitvice Lakes National Park to see the 16 terraced lakes and waterfalls completely frozen over – an imagination-defying landscape that simply must be seen in person.

Bergen Norway

Bergen, Norway

Bergen has all the makings of an idyllic Nordic village: colourful wooden buildings, a scenic harbour and sweeping views of the surrounding fjords. The town looks pretty in the summer, sure, but it’s during the winter months that you get to view the Northern Lights during their peak season. If you’re going to be freezing up in Scandinavia, you might as well get to cross an astronomical wonder off of your bucket list .

Occurring annually between December and January the Amsterdam Light Festival brings some illumination to the Dutch...

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Occurring annually between December and January, the Amsterdam Light Festival brings some illumination to the Dutch capital, courtesy of light installations from all over the world. The 12th edition of the festival will launch on 30 November, with the theme “Loading… Revealing Art, AI and Tech” promising more creative pieces of art than ever. While the city does draw considerable crowds during the holiday season, the tourist numbers tend to drop with the temperatures, so the later winter months are prime for enjoying snow-shrouded canal views and cosy restaurants in peace. And we swear: Dutch food, hearty with lots of bread and potatoes, is even more satisfying on cold days.

Ilulissat Greenland

Ilulissat, Greenland

Greenland’s western town of Ilulissat draws tourists for several reasons: the UNESCO-listed Ilulissat Icefjord, dog sledding, relative accessibility (you can fly there from Iceland or Denmark), and its proximity to iceberg-filled Disko Bay. The biggest crowds descend during summer – chasing that midnight sun, no doubt – but Visit Greenland strongly recommends coming in winter: “The stunning silence of a thick snowy terrain, speckled by a few howls of the Greenlandic dog, is an experience everyone should try at least once in their lives.” You’ll also avoid high hotel prices and swarms of mosquitoes, which are surprisingly populous in Greenland during the summer months.

Venice Italy

Venice, Italy

Venice has become notoriously overrun during peak season – with UNESCO identifying it as a destination in danger . But come wintertime, the city actually lives up to its La Serenissima (“The Serene”) nickname. The canals are quiet and shrouded in mist, hotels give discounted rates, and you can actually visit St. Mark’s Basilica without a stranger’s selfie stick poking you in the eye.

Strasbourg at Christmas

Strasbourg, France

A blend of French and German cultures (it’s located right near the border with Germany), Strasbourg naturally stuns in the winter months. Grey skies are more common than snowfall in the Alsace region, but we say it’s worth visiting no matter the weather. Strasbourg’s Christmas markets are renowned (they were first held here in the 16th century), causing the scent of mulled wine and bredele cookies to waft through the streets. The brilliant hanging lights that illuminate the city’s centerpiece, the Cathédrale Notre Dame de Strasbourg, are also a sight to behold.

Europe in Winter Budapest Hungary

Budapest, Hungary

Winter is, hands down, the best time to visit Budapest. Seeing the Hungarian Parliament surrounded by ice drifts on the Danube could make even the strictest of beach bums embrace the cold. And you’re sure to find all of those grand cafés, museums, and thermal baths infinitely more welcoming after spending a few chilly hours exploring the city.

Dublin at Christmas

Dublin, Ireland

Ireland’s capital is one of our favourite places to visit in winter – and not just because of all those cosy little pubs. Every December, the city hosts the magical Smashing Times City of Dublin Winter Solstice Celebration, a festival honouring the solstice (22 December) with céilí dancing, traditional storytelling, and a fire ceremony. Dublin also lights up even more around New Year’s Eve, with events like the light festival Luminosity, and the world’s largest Celtic drum session set around town. Of course, there is also beauty in the season itself: James Joyce’s short story “The Dead” even pays tribute to the city’s snow-covered graveyards.

When you visit the birthplace of hygge  you better believe your winter vacation is going to be inviting. That lovely...

Copenhagen, Denmark

When you visit the birthplace of hygge (basically the Danish concept of “cosiness”), you better believe your winter vacation is going to be inviting. That lovely feeling can be found throughout Copenhagen, from pastry shops to inviting hotels. Don’t feel like you have to stay indoors to enjoy the season, though. Those Michelin-starred restaurants, Tivoli Gardens, and canal views are certainly worth bundling up for. And is it just us, or do the buildings of Nyhavn look even more colourful against a snowy background?

A winter's morning on Calton Hill looking towards Edinburgh City covered in snow

Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh’s Hogmanay Festival – a three-day bacchanal celebrating the New Year, with outdoor concerts, fireworks, and dancing Scots – is reason enough to book a trip to the city. Not much of a partier? Shop for some cashmere, then curl up with your new scarf at the speakeasy-style Panda and Sons . You can also work up a sweat skiing in Pentland Hills Regional Park or walking among the winter-flowering plants at the Royal Botanic Garden.

The snow covered village of Hallstatt in the Austrian Alps

Hallstatt, Austria

Yes, it's technically a village, but nowhere fits the phrase “storybook setting” better than Hallstatt, which sits pretty on the shores of Austria’s Hallstätter See (about an hour’s drive east of Salzburg). The town's 12th-century churches, candlelit restaurants, and market square only become more stunning during the winter months, especially when the already-scenic Dachstein Mountains are capped with snow. As with most Austrian towns, Hallstatt does winter activities well , with skiing, snowshoe hiking, and horse-drawn carriage rides all up for grabs.

Bruges at Christmas

Bruges, Belgium

Europe’s best-preserved medieval city is also one of its most bewitching, especially during the holiday season . Let’s start with its light displays, when every tree and storefront seems ablaze with twinkle lights (just look up as you wander the cobbled streets). When your fingers start going numb, warm up with mugs of Belgian hot chocolate in the historic Craenenburg Cafe .

Ljubljana Slovenia

Ljubljana, Slovenia

Slovenia’s capital city is a real-life fairytale setting, come sunshine or snow flurries. Visit during December to see the Baroque architecture surrounded by Christmas lights; or dodge the crowds and book a trip after the holidays, when you’ll have tons of room to stroll the pedestrian-only Old Town and sip coffee by the riverside cafés. You can also add Lake Bled and the Julian Alps to your itinerary, as Ljubljana makes the perfect base for Slovenian day trips.

Berlin Germany

Berlin, Germany

Germany is known around the world for its Christmas markets – its capital city alone has more than 60 of them, including the incredibly picturesque WeihnachtsZauber, which is surrounded by landmarks like Französischer Dom and the Konzerthaus. But don’t think that Berlin’s wintry appeal starts and ends with the holidays. Travellers can enjoy the city’s Michelin-starred restaurants, buzzing nightclubs, and edgy museums well into the new year, sans the summer crowds.

Sighisoara Transylvania Romania

Transylvania, Romania

Visiting the Gothic castles and dense forests of Transylvania on a bright summer day is great. But visiting when the mountains are quieted by snow and the sky has a bleak, wintry haze to it? Way more appropriate. While we are well aware that Transylvania is an entire region, there are so many cities that shine in the winter that it’s impossible to choose just one: Sibiu has a glittery Christmas market with 100 merchants, an ice rink, and a Ferris wheel. Brașov is a great home base for exploring some of Romania’s most famous castles, including Bran Castle and Peleș Castle (both less than an hour away). And Sighișoara is a classic medieval town with a UNESCO-protected historic center and colourful houses that look especially striking against crisp, fresh-fallen snow.

A version of this article originally appeared on Condé Nast Traveler US .

Luggage and Living (English)

Luggage and Living (English)

10 Warm and Charming Cities in Europe To Escape To

Posted: June 17, 2024 | Last updated: June 20, 2024

<p>Europe is hardly the first destination that comes to mind when, in winter, you yearn for tanning in the Mediterranean or dreamy exotic beachsides spread under a sweltering summer sun. The continent is, however, replete with decently warm cities during the coldest months, and an online community of adventurers thinks you'll be surprised to find warm winter getaways in Europe like you're on a Safari in Africa or on a sunlit island far off somewhere in the Caribbean.</p>

Europe is hardly the first destination that comes to mind when, in winter, you yearn for tanning in the Mediterranean or dreamy exotic beachsides spread under a sweltering summer sun. The continent is, however, replete with decently warm cities during the coldest months, and an online community of adventurers thinks you'll be surprised to find warm winter getaways in Europe like you're on a Safari in Africa or on a sunlit island far off somewhere in the Caribbean.

<p>If you seek warmth between the lush estate of ancient architecture and small colorful boats ferrying for fish and the sandy banks of small sunny islands, Malta, according to one traveler, is your best port of call in Europe's coldest months. Another globetrotter recommends Malta for its ease of access, adding that you can travel the whole of Malta in 45 minutes.</p>

If you seek warmth between the lush estate of ancient architecture and small colorful boats ferrying for fish and the sandy banks of small sunny islands, Malta, according to one traveler, is your best port of call in Europe's coldest months. Another globetrotter recommends Malta for its ease of access, adding that you can travel the whole of Malta in 45 minutes.

<p>Seated under one of the comfiest weathers in Europe, Las Palmas, by the account of <a href="https://www.reddit.com/r/digitalnomad/comments/16pao49/best_warm_and_compact_city_in_europe/?sort=top">one forum member</a>, hardly experienced bad weather. "I stayed there for eight months and never had more than half a day of bad weather. Someone adds that you wouldn't have a language problem since most locals in Las Palmas speak English and Spanish fluently.</p>

2. Las Palmas, Canaries

Seated under one of the comfiest weathers in Europe, Las Palmas, by the account of one forum member , hardly experienced bad weather. "I stayed there for eight months and never had more than half a day of bad weather. Someone adds that you wouldn't have a language problem since most locals in Las Palmas speak English and Spanish fluently.

<p>Valencia, for its ease of transportation and all-year-round warmth, is the favorite go-to place for most Europeans on the thread when they seek sunny climates. The scenery, food, and locals make Valencia a special place to visit.</p>

3. Valencia, Spain

Valencia, for its ease of transportation and all-year-round warmth, is the favorite go-to place for most Europeans on the thread when they seek sunny climates. The scenery, food, and locals make Valencia a special place to visit.

<p>Limassol is tipped as the city with the best of both worlds. It's a blend of modern architecture and timeless old towns spread across fishing harbors and houses dating back centuries," someone explains. A second person says they enjoy Limassol for its warmth, scenery of Greek ruins, and ancient castles replete with ancient histories.</p>

4. Limassol, Cyprus

Limassol is tipped as the city with the best of both worlds. It's a blend of modern architecture and timeless old towns spread across fishing harbors and houses dating back centuries," someone explains. A second person says they enjoy Limassol for its warmth, scenery of Greek ruins, and ancient castles replete with ancient histories.

<p>Portugal is another top favorite for expats looking to work abroad. The country’s growing economy, low cost of living, and promising job market make it an attractive location for those seeking work abroad. The country is rich in culture, great-tasting cuisine, historic architecture, and scenic coastlines, making it a beautiful place to live and work.</p>

5. Porto, Portugal

Home to colorful buildings, narrow streets, and Ribeira, a Unesco World Heritage site, a contributor remembers Porto for its warmth between January and March when other cities are sizzling cold. Several other people reminisce on Porto's renowned wine cellars and original Portuguese cuisines that make for the perfect winter getaway.

<p>Croatia isn't famous in Europe as a tourist destination, but some people recommend Dubrovnik for its sunlight and coastal cities that have enchanted visitors since medieval times. "I recommend Dubrovnik for its picture-perfect old towns. Dubrovnik is a great place to start if you're a history buff and enjoy spending time in the sun."</p>

6. Dubrovnik, Croatia

Croatia isn't famous in Europe as a tourist destination, but some people recommend Dubrovnik for its sunlight and coastal cities that have enchanted visitors since medieval times. "I recommend Dubrovnik for its picture-perfect old towns. Dubrovnik is a great place to start if you're a history buff and enjoy spending time in the sun."

<p>The second Portuguese city on the list, Portugal's southernmost city is revered for its quaint and quiet neighborhood that makes for a perfect meditation holiday. In winter, you can expect 20+ days of sunshine to walk through Faro's long beaches, play golf, cycle, or watch birds.</p>

7. Faro, Portugal

The second Portuguese city on the list, Portugal's southernmost city is revered for its quaint and quiet neighborhood that makes for a perfect meditation holiday. In winter, you can expect 20+ days of sunshine to walk through Faro's long beaches, play golf, cycle, or watch birds.

<p>Most of the UK is covered in snow in the winter months, but the British overseas territory just at the tip of Spain doesn't share the rain and the cold. Several people think Gibraltar is a small place that may not fulfill your wanderlust, but there's a long list of things to do, including exploring its antique caves, botanical gardens, and world war tunnels.</p>

8. Gibraltar, United Kingdom

Most of the UK is covered in snow in the winter months, but the British overseas territory just at the tip of Spain doesn't share the rain and the cold. Several people think Gibraltar is a small place that may not fulfill your wanderlust, but there's a long list of things to do, including exploring its antique caves, botanical gardens, and world war tunnels.

<p>Crete is Greece's largest island, and even though it can get a little wet during winter, the sunny days beat the rain. Crete boasts hundreds of miles of beaches, and you can never run out of good food and hospitable locals on the island. Visiting Crete in winter also means you'll escape the overwhelming trudge of tourists characteristic of summertime.</p>

9. Crete, Greece

Crete is Greece's largest island, and even though it can get a little wet during winter, the sunny days beat the rain. Crete boasts hundreds of miles of beaches, and you can never run out of good food and hospitable locals on the island. Visiting Crete in winter also means you'll escape the overwhelming trudge of tourists characteristic of summertime.

<p>Sitting on some of the world's oldest rocks, the warm Sirocco wind that blows in from Africa makes winter in Palermo warm and mild. Someone described it as the place to savor unreal street food before a near-endless spread of turquoise sea waters every day, all year.</p>

10. Palermo, Italy

Sitting on some of the world's oldest rocks, the warm Sirocco wind that blows in from Africa makes winter in Palermo warm and mild. Someone described it as the place to savor unreal street food before a near-endless spread of turquoise sea waters every day, all year.

<p>We know there’s no correct answer, but what makes a place an American must-see wonder? From the coastlines to well-known big cities, the United States consists of several locations that are considered mesmerizing due to their attractions, accommodations, dining options, and more. While you might be dreaming of international beaches, plenty of desirable destinations are in our backyard, so we’ve rounded up a list of 10 mesmerizing places every patriot must explore.</p>

Must-See American Wonders: 10 Mesmerizing Places Every Patriot Must Explore

We know there’s no correct answer, but what makes a place an American must-see wonder? From the coastlines to well-known big cities, the United States consists of several locations that are considered mesmerizing due to their attractions, accommodations, dining options, and more. While you might be dreaming of international beaches, plenty of desirable destinations are in our backyard, so we’ve rounded up a list of 10 mesmerizing places every patriot must explore.

<p>While in a place where cultures we're not aware of exist, it's easy to unknowingly do some things that are either offensive or embarrassing. It's all a part of the learning experience that comes with exploring new territories. But some actions, regardless of the location, could be perceived as universally shameful, as people have confessed in an online discussion board.</p>

Don’t Be That Person: 11 of the Most Insulting and Shameful Things Travelers Have Done Abroad

While in a place where cultures we’re not aware of exist, it’s easy to unknowingly do some things that are either offensive or embarrassing. It’s all a part of the learning experience that comes with exploring new territories. But some actions, regardless of the location, could be perceived as universally shameful, as people have confessed in an online discussion board.

<p>Many of us have been there—a couple of funny incidents that happened in other countries. But it's different for various backpackers who met in an online forum to discuss the dumbest and stupidest things they've done around the globe. From unlikely mistakes to epic misunderstandings, every story is a testament to the unpredictability of life.</p>

“What Am I Thinking?” 11 Dumbest Things People Revealed Doing Abroad

Many of us have been there—a couple of funny incidents that happened in other countries. But it’s different for various backpackers who met in an online forum to discuss the dumbest and stupidest things they’ve done around the globe. From unlikely mistakes to epic misunderstandings, every story is a testament to the unpredictability of life.

<p>Even though temperatures are rising across the globe, some places on Earth remain cold and icy throughout the year. Your average winter coat is no match for the freezing temperatures in these extreme cold spots, but that doesn’t stop adventurers from exploring their snow-covered beauty.</p>

Welcome to the Winter Wonderland: 10 Coldest Places on Earth Today

Even though temperatures are rising across the globe, some places on Earth remain cold and icy throughout the year. Your average winter coat is no match for the freezing temperatures in these extreme cold spots, but that doesn’t stop adventurers from exploring their snow-covered beauty.

<p>The handyman inside us often takes out our curiosity and hype, pulling us towards fascinating common tasks. These activities, while seeming simple at a glance, cleverly mask their actual intricacies. We might even think of them as straightforward, no-sweat tasks. Once we delve into the process, we realize it's not as easy as it initially seemed. Being a subject in an online forum, these tasks, according to people, can go from easy peasy, lemon squeezy to hard fart lemon tart.</p>

It’s Just Easy on the Outside: 11 of the Most Common Tasks That Are Harder Than You Think

The handyman inside us often takes out our curiosity and hype, pulling us towards fascinating common tasks. These activities, while seeming simple at a glance, cleverly mask their actual intricacies. We might even think of them as straightforward, no-sweat tasks. Once we delve into the process, we realize it’s not as easy as it initially seemed. Being a subject in an online forum, these tasks, according to people, can go from easy peasy, lemon squeezy to hard fart lemon tart.

More for You

29 foods that are poisonous to dogs

29 common human foods you may not realize are poisonous to your dog

The World’s Most Expensive Yachts—Including Some That Cost Billions

The World’s Most Expensive Yachts—Including Some That Cost Billions

Mount Rainier, a snowcapped volcano, looms over Puyallup Valley near Orting, Washington. The prospect of a lahar — a swiftly moving debris flow caused by melting snow and ice typically during a volcanic eruption — poses a threat to surrounding communities. - Ed Ruttledge/U.S. Geological Survey Cascades Volcano Observatory

Why Mount Rainier is the US volcano keeping scientists up at night

Here’s What the US Minimum Wage Was the Year You Were Born

Here’s What the US Minimum Wage Was the Year You Were Born

Buffett's son says dad made him 'figure out' life

'There was no blank check': Warren Buffett's son Peter says his billionaire dad made him 'figure out' life for himself while growing up — here are 3 things he learned

Indiana Fever Coach Sends Intense Message to Caitlin Clark Before WNBA Debut

Indiana Fever Coach Christie Sides is Getting Roasted For Controversial Decision vs. Chicago Sky

A clogged bathroom sink

The Common Household Ingredient That Can Unclog Slow-Draining Sinks And Tubs

overhead canned foods on table

12 Underrated Canned Foods You Should Be Eating More Often

Your resting heart rate is a key sign of fitness and longevity. Improve it with 2 types of workouts.

Your resting heart rate is a key sign of fitness and longevity. Improve it with 2 types of workouts.

30 General Now-You-Know Facts They Didn’t Teach in School

28 Facts They Didn’t Teach Us In School

Richest Female Comedians, Ranked by Net Worth

Richest Female Comedians, Ranked by Net Worth

Innovative projects like this make it easier than ever for all of us to play a role in building a more sustainable future.

New York City turns retired power station into something incredible: 'Able to power more than 10,000 households'

Here's the true value of a fully paid-off home

Here is the true value of having a fully paid-off home in America — especially when you're heading into retirement

carnival-cruise-fleet

Carnival Cruise Line won't bring back passenger-favorite amenity

Fashion, film, and music would never be the same.

30 Icons of the 1970s

Doug Burgum

Republican Fact-Checked on Accusation Against Joe Biden During Interview

A TSA officer slipping his hand into a purse as it goes through a checkpoint at Miami International Airport. He was charged with grand theft and organized schemes to defraud.

10% of travelers have had their medicines confiscated. Here's how you can avoid it.

7 weird jobs that are well-paying but nobody knows about, according to a viral Reddit thread

7 weird jobs that are well-paying but nobody knows about, according to a viral Reddit thread

european towns to visit in winter

"The First Time I Visited The US I Thought This Was A Restaurant Scam": Non-Americans Are Sharing The Things That Are Totally Common In The US But Bizarre In Other Countries

Scientists transform hazardous material into breakthrough building product with major benefits: 'A massive win'

Scientists transform hazardous material into breakthrough building product with major benefits: 'A massive win'

World Wild Schooling - Traveling Adventures

World Wild Schooling

Instagrammable Places in Europe Hallstatt Austria

12 Cool Destinations in Europe To Escape the August Heat

Some of the links might be affiliate links and, at no extra cost to you, we earn a small commission. See our disclaimer for more info.

As much as we all look forward to summer, August can get sweltering hot and severely uncomfortable. Luckily, while much of Europe sizzles under the summer sun, some destinations still benefit from mild temperatures. 

From fjords in Norway to tranquil lakes in Finland, cool cityscapes, and snow-capped mountains across the continent, Europe offers a variety of destinations perfect for beating the August heat.

If you are looking for destinations that let you enjoy beautiful scenery amidst cool weather even when the rest of Europe is battling heat waves, we have got you covered in this article. We have chosen these destinations based on temperatures lower than 73°F (23°C). Choose one or several of these destinations for an opportunity to beat the August heat. 

Zermatt, Switzerland

Cool Destinations in Europe to Beat Heat in August Zermatt, Switzerland

We'll email this post to you, so you can come back to it later.

Join the list for travel inspiration

Nestled in the Swiss Alps, Zermatt is a picturesque village perfect for escaping the summer heat. Ditch the idea that you must visit Zermatt in winter – a summer escape to Zermatt is just what you may need. The natural scenery will amaze you, and the slower pace of life will be a welcome respite from the chaotic urban life. At 5,315 feet above sea level, the average high temperature in August is only 66°F (19°C). 

If you are into active exploration, this picturesque village’s hiking trails are waiting for you to discover. You can also challenge yourself with mountain climbing, rock climbing, biking, or summer skiing – Zermatt offers a thrilling array of activities to make your summer memorable.

🏨 Explore all your hotel options here

After an active day, refuel at one of the traditional Swiss restaurants. Fondue, raclette, and rosti are all must-tries, best enjoyed on an outdoor patio with stunning views of the Matterhorn.

Read also: Summer Destinations in Europe To Visit in August

Edinburgh, Scotland

Destinations in Europe_Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh’s blend of culture, natural beauty, and perfect summer temperatures make it an ideal cool destination to escape scorching summer temperatures.  In August, the average highs in this city are in the mid-60s Fahrenheit (16 degrees Celsius), which is ideal for sightseeing and outdoor activities.

Start your exploration at Edinburgh Castle. The history-filled castle sits atop an extinct volcano and offers panoramic city views. Below, Princes Street Gardens in the city center provide a shady respite. When the sun’s out, the gardens get filled with buskers and sunbathers.

Moreover, Edinburgh’s historic streets and medieval architecture are great ways of going back in time. Explore the Royal Mile, which runs from Edinburgh Castle to the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the official residence of the King in Scotland. The street is filled with cozy pubs and charming shops you can pop into during your exploration.

Read also: Cool European Destinations in June

Copenhagen, Denmark

Cool Destinations in Europe to Beat Heat in August Copenhagen, Denmark

Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark, offers a vibrant city vibe with its world-class restaurants, museums , amusement parks , and picturesque canals. Even in August, Copenhagen remains cool, making it a desirable escape from the summer heat. 

In August, the average high is only around 66 °F (19°C), perfect for strolling around the city. Spend some time at Nyhavn, a 17th-century canal and entertainment district, admiring colorful houses and cafes. Then, visit the National Museum of Denmark for a little immersion into Denmark’s history and culture.

Tivoli Gardens, one of the world’s oldest amusement parks, is incredibly charming at night when thousands of lights illuminate the gardens; make sure to visit both day and night.

Read also: Summer Destinations in Europe in June

Helsinki, Finland

Destinations in Europe Helsinki, Finland

Helsinki offers a mildly cool climate with a gentle breeze in August, a perfect escape from the summer heat. Located on the coast of southern Finland, August temperatures range between 53.6°F and 73.4°F (12°C and 23°C). With such a favorable climate, you can wander the city’s parks, such as Esplanade and Kaivopuisto. In addition, the Helsinki archipelago, off the coast, provides opportunities for boating, kayaking, and swimming in the Baltic Sea.

Helsinki also has a vibrant cultural scene with many indoor activities. For instance, you can visit contemporary art museums like the Amos Anderson Art Museum or Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art. You could also try Finnish food in the Market Square, take a sauna cruise,  or go on a sightseeing canal trip.

Read also: Refreshing Destinations in Europe in July

Oslo, Norway

Destinations in Europe Oslo, Norway

A trip to Oslo in August is perfect for beating the heat while enjoying natural scenery , culture, food, and outdoor activities. In August, this city experiences mild temperatures, averaging between 57°F (14°C) and 72°F (22°C). This is significantly cooler compared to many other destinations during the summer. The crisp air and low humidity make it perfect for being outside. 

Explore Oslo’s natural surroundings, like the Marka wilderness, known for its hiking and biking trails. The Vigeland Sculpture Park is also a must-see, with over 200 granite and iron sculptures spread over 80 acres of lawns and paths.

Moreover, spare some time to visit the National Museum, which houses over 400,000 exhibits, including paintings and sculptures.

Read also: Pedestrian-Friendly European Cities

Dublin, Ireland

Destinations in Europe Dublin, Ireland

Dublin boasts a temperate maritime climate, ensuring mild temperatures even during the peak of summer. Average temperatures in August hover around a comfortable 59-68°F (15-20°C). This refreshing weather starkly contrasts the sweltering heat experienced in many other European cities.

Dublin has numerous parks and gardens perfect for strolls and picnics. Phoenix Park, one of the largest enclosed public parks in any European capital , features expansive green spaces, serene lakes, and the Dublin Zoo. St. Stephen’s Green, in the city’s heart, is a lush Victorian park ideal for relaxing and enjoying the cool summer weather.

This city is also a haven for shoppers with varied options, from high-end boutiques to traditional craft stores.

Read also: Must-Visit European Capitals

Hallstatt, Austria

Cool Destinations in Europe to Beat Heat in August Hallstatt, Austria

A stay in this storybook destination will make you feel like you’ve stepped into a fairy tale. Hallstatt sits nearly 1,000 feet above sea level. This high altitude is behind its mild summers, with August temperatures hovering around mid to upper 60s Fahrenheit (around 16 Celsius). Besides the towering mountains , Lake Hallstatt provides an additional cooling effect, with cool breezes blowing offshore every now and then. 

Make time for the Hallstatt Salt Mine, a site of an ancient salt mining operation dating back over 7,000 years. Take a tour to learn about Hallstatt’s history of “white gold.”

You can go hiking, rock climbing, paragliding in the mountains, or swimming in designated areas of Hallstatt Lake.

Read also: Stunning Small Towns in Europe

Bergen, Norway

Destinations in Europe Bergen, Norway

Visit Bergen, and you’ll return home refreshed and recharged, with memories of scenic fjords. The city experiences average highs of only 65°F (18 °C) in August, perfect for day-long exploration.  You can enjoy fantastic sea breezes while strolling the historic Bryggen Wharf or hiking in the mountains. 

The city has a charming historic center with picturesque wooden houses, cobblestone streets, and a vibrant food scene focused on local seafood. For panoramic views of Bergen and the fjords beyond, take the Floibanen funicular up to Mount Floyen. At the top, hiking trails lead to secluded lakes, hidden waterfalls, and scenic lookouts.

The long summer days mean you’ll have plenty of daylight left to keep exploring this cozy Norwegian town late into the night.

Read also: Incredible Neighborhoods in Europe

Berchtesgaden, Germany

Destinations in Europe Berchtesgaden, Germany

Whether you prefer active adventures or a more relaxed pace surrounded by natural scenery, Berchtesgaden offers an ideal summer escape in the Bavarian Alps. The refreshing temperatures, crisp mountain air, and lack of crowds make August an appealing time to visit this German gem. Temperatures rarely top 70°F (21°C) during the month. 

You can hike in the Bavarian Alps, with trails for all skill levels. If hiking is not your thing, walk the paved promenade along Königssee Lake or ride the electric boats to St. Bartholomew’s Church for panoramic views.

You can also visit The Eagle’s Nest, Hitler’s former mountain retreat, which is now open for tours. The drive up the winding road through dense forests offers lookouts with stunning views of the surrounding landscapes .

Read also: Surreal Places in Europe

Vilnius, Lithuania

Destinations in Europe Vilnius, Lithuania

Located in the southeastern part of Lithuania, Vilnius experiences a humid continental climate with warm summers and cold, snowy winters. August temperatures in Vilnius are often in the mid to upper 70s Fahrenheit (around 21°C), much cooler than most of Europe. 

Vilnius is a very walkable city, with most attractions in the Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site . Some top things to do include exploring the narrow cobblestone streets, visiting Vilnius Cathedral and Gediminas’ Tower, strolling through Vilnia River Park, and seeing the Gate of Dawn.

That aside, you can’t go wrong with traditional Lithuanian cuisine, such as potato pancakes, beetroot soup, or stuffed cabbage rolls.

Read also: Safest Cities in Europe

Pori, Finland

Destinations in Europe Pori, Finland

Located on Finland’s west coast along the Baltic Sea, the small city of Pori provides relief from the August heat. With its riverside location and proximity to the Gulf of Bothnia, you’ll enjoy refreshing breezes and chillier temperatures in August. Daytime temperatures hover around 68°F (20°C), while nights can drop to about 53.6°F (12°C).

Spend time at the charming old harbor, where historic wooden ships and boats dock. The harbor area has shops, cafes, and restaurants with outdoor patios where you can sip a cold drink. You can also drop by the 19th-century Central Pori Church to admire its Gothic architecture.

Read also: Must-Visit Cities in Europe

Haarlem, Netherlands

Destinations in Europe Haarlem, Netherlands

Haarlem has a rich history stretching back to the Middle Ages, with architectural wonders like the Grote Markt main square and St. Bavo’s Church. But beyond its historical attractions, Haarlem’s location and climate make it ideal for beating the extreme August heat. 

Like much of the Netherlands, Haarlem is crisscrossed by picturesque canals that provide natural cooling in the summer. On a hot day, the temperature around the canals can be up to 41°F (5°C) cooler than in the city center.

With its proximity to beaches, cooling canals, and indoor attractions, Haarlem is a great place to beat the summer heat.

Read also: Most Beautiful Cities in Europe

Pin It Now, Read It Later

World Wild Schooling - https://worldwildschooling.com 12 Cool Destinations in Europe To Escape the August Heat - https://worldwildschooling.com/cool-destinations-in-europe-in-august/

12 Famous Landmarks in Spain That Will Make You Say ‘¡Viva España!’

12 Surprising Facts About France You Probably Didn’t Learn in French Class

12 Surprising Facts About France You Probably Didn’t Learn in French Class

12 Beautiful Places in Europe Where You Can Live for Less Than $1,500

12 Beautiful Places in Europe Where You Can Live for Less Than $1,500

Don’t Be That Tourist: 12 Things Not To Do When Visiting Portugal

Don’t Be That Tourist: 12 Things Not To Do When Visiting Portugal

12 Underrated French Beach Towns That Fly Under the Radar but Shouldn’t

12 Underrated French Beach Towns That Fly Under the Radar but Shouldn’t

12 Beautiful Castles in Spain That Look Like They’re Straight Out of a Storybook

12 Beautiful Castles in Spain That Look Like They’re Straight Out of a Storybook

12 Greek Beach Towns Where You Can Live Large for Less

12 Greek Beach Towns Where You Can Live Large for Less

Loading…

Something went wrong. Please refresh the page and/or try again.

12 Least Walkable Cities in the World Where Walking Is More Challenging Than You Think

12 Least Walkable Cities in the World Where Walking Is More Challenging Than You Think

12 Beautiful Places Where You Can Live for Less Than $2,500 a Month

12 Beautiful Places Where You Can Live for Less Than $2,500 a Month

12 Medieval Towns in France So Beautiful, You’ll Feel Like You’re in a Fairytale

12 Medieval Towns in France So Beautiful, You’ll Feel Like You’re in a Fairytale

These 12 Beautiful European Destinations Won’t Break the Bank – All Under $1,000 a Month

These 12 Beautiful European Destinations Won’t Break the Bank – All Under $1,000 a Month

12 Beautiful Places Where You Can Live for Less Than $750 a Month

12 Beautiful Places Where You Can Live for Less Than $750 a Month

12 Medieval European Towns So Beautiful, You’ll Feel Like You’ve Stepped Into a Fairytale

12 Medieval European Towns So Beautiful, You’ll Feel Like You’ve Stepped Into a Fairytale

12 Fairytale Villages in Greece You Won’t Believe Are Real

12 Fairytale Villages in Greece You Won’t Believe Are Real

Travel planning resources.

🛏️ Book hotels 🚗 Rent a car 🎡 Find tickets and tours ✈️ Book flights

🚕 Find airport pickup ⛴️ Book ferries 🚂 Find train tickets ⭐ Get travel insurance

World Wild Schooling - https://worldwildschooling.com 12 Cool Destinations in Europe To Escape the August Heat - https://worldwildschooling.com/cool-destinations-in-europe-in-august/

Rachel is a content writer interested in creating engaging narratives on travel, home management, personal finance, and parenting. When free, you can catch her writing for her personal blog, flawlesshorizon.com,  watching TikToks, or exploring hidden gems in her city.

Share this:

european towns to visit in winter

Similar Posts

Bois de la Cambre – Wonder Woods

Bois de la Cambre – Wonder Woods

13 Historic Sites on the Greek Islands That Tell Ancient Tales

13 Historic Sites on the Greek Islands That Tell Ancient Tales

Cycling through trees

Cycling through trees

Cinque Terre with Kids | Best Things to Do | Where to Stay

Cinque Terre with Kids | Best Things to Do | Where to Stay

12 Underrated French Beach Towns That Fly Under the Radar but Shouldn’t

35 Best Things to Do in Barcelona with Kids (+Map)

Leave a reply cancel reply, discover more from world wild schooling.

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Type your email…

Continue reading

10 Best Beach Towns In Europe This Summer

4

Your changes have been saved

Email Is sent

Please verify your email address.

You’ve reached your account maximum for followed topics.

  • Immerse yourself in Europe's best beach towns for a summer filled with sun, sand, and culture.
  • From Norfolk's picturesque Wells-next-the-Sea to Spain's historic Baiona, find the perfect spot for relaxation by the beach this summer in Europe.
  • Discover hidden gems like Lithuania's Šventoji and Bulgaria's Sozopol for a serene and budget-friendly European beach retreat.

This summer, Europe's beach towns offer an enchanting blend of sun, sand, and culture that promises to delight travelers of all kinds. From the picturesque coastal villages nestled along dramatic cliffs to the serene stretches of golden sand that invite endless days of relaxation, the best summer destinations in Europe are the continent's beach towns, hands down.

Picture yourself strolling through charming streets lined with quaint cafés and local shops, savoring fresh seafood at waterfront restaurants, and exploring historic landmarks and medieval streets that whisper tales of the past. Whether you're drawn to vibrant nightlife, tranquil seaside retreats, or family-friendly beaches, there's a perfect spot waiting for you.

Whether it's the United Kingdom's quaint seaside locales, the beautiful Mediterranean islands and their almost tropical-like beach communities, or Eastern Europe's highly underrated yet scenic cities and towns by the sea, the continent has it all, especially in the warm, inviting summertime. Need some convincing? Check out the best beach towns in Europe to visit in the summer.

7 Cool Summer Destinations In Europe To Beat The Heat

Discover refreshing European destinations to beat the summer heat. From tranquil lakes to lush forests, find your perfect summer getaway.

10 Wells-next-the-Sea, Norfolk, United Kingdom

Wells-next-the-sea offers a vast sandy beach, picturesque beach huts, and a delightful harbor perfect for a summer family getaway.

Wells-next-the-Sea, a charming seaside town in Norfolk, has become a favorite destination for beach holidays in the UK. This delightful town offers a great variety of independent shops, cozy accommodations, and excellent restaurants. Among its culinary highlights are the two fish and chip shops located opposite the harbor, providing a quintessential seaside dining experience.

The true gem of Wells-next-the-Sea is its expansive beach. Stretching for miles, this vast expanse of sand is part of the Holkham National Nature Reserve. Accessible from the town via an elevated walkway or a quaint little train, the beach near the town is lined with colorful beach huts, making it a popular spot even during the winter months.

As you venture further from the huts, the beach becomes increasingly wild and remote, offering a serene escape. The area behind the beach features sand dunes and pine forests, providing a picturesque setting for walks year-round, but summer brings a special charm despite the influx of visitors.

The beach's sheer size ensures plenty of space, especially when the tide is out, making it easy to find a peaceful spot. For families, Wells-next-the-Sea is an ideal beach town. The town boasts a well-equipped playground featuring a pirate ship, a favorite among children, and an ice cream shop conveniently located nearby. The harbor is a hotspot for crabbing, and seals can often be seen lounging on the sand, adding to the town's appeal.

9 Baiona, Galicia, Spain

Known for its medieval center, scenic beaches, and proximity to the cies islands, baiona provides a rich cultural and coastal experience..

Galicia, a region in Spain known for its cooler, rainier climate, offers a lush and verdant landscape quite different from the hotter, drier parts of the country. The coastline is particularly stunning, featuring rugged hills and numerous sandy beaches, many located on the region's islands. Baiona stands out as a charming seaside town here, perfect for those seeking a destination rich in history and character.

Encircled by defensive stone walls, Baiona’s medieval center is a maze of narrow streets lined with enticing tapas bars. This historical ambiance is complemented by a selection of sandy beaches within walking distance of the town center. For those willing to venture a bit further, a ferry ride to the Cies Islands is highly recommended, where Rodas Beach is one of the most famous and beautiful stretches of sand in the region.

Adding to Baiona’s allure is a replica of Christopher Columbus’s ship, La Pinta, docked in the port. This historic vessel marks the spot where Columbus first returned to Europe from the Americas in the 15th century, adding a fascinating historical dimension to the town's maritime charm.

8 Šventoji, Lithuania

A peaceful retreat on the baltic coast, šventoji features serene beaches and a laid-back atmosphere ideal for a relaxing summer holiday.

The Lithuanian coastline remains a hidden gem among European beach destinations, retaining much of its natural charm. With most tourists and locals flocking to Palanga, Šventoji offers a quieter and more relaxed beach experience. The town's beach is accessible year-round and ideal for a peaceful family getaway.

Featuring soft, natural-looking white sand and picturesque dunes, the beach is conveniently located about ten minutes from the main accommodation areas. This proximity means no long walks or drives are necessary to enjoy the seaside.

Šventoji’s main street is lined with small cafés, restaurants, and shops where visitors can purchase souvenirs and beach essentials. Beyond the beach, Šventoji offers a range of activities including inline skating, biking, horse riding, and a small amusement park.

7 Cap Ferret, France

This stylish, low-key destination is renowned for its oyster shacks, sandy beaches, and beautiful atlantic coast views.

Cap Ferret, a picturesque peninsula on France’s Atlantic Coast, is a haven for oyster lovers. Located in Arcachon Bay, Cap Ferret is easily accessible by boat from Pyla-sur-Mer. The area is renowned for its beachside shacks offering fresh oysters harvested directly from the sea.

This slender strip of land, stretching into Arcachon Bay, comes alive in the warm months, attracting visitors with its pristine beaches, pine forests, and captivating ocean views. Summer in Cap Ferret means enjoying fresh oysters at beachside shacks, cycling through scenic trails shaded by pine trees, and surfing the impressive Atlantic waves at spots like Plage de la Torchère.

The town's relaxed ambiance is complemented by its chic, predominantly French clientele, offering a perfect blend of rustic elegance and coastal tranquility. With its stunning sunsets, vibrant local markets, and serene walks along sandy shores, Cap Ferret is a summer haven for those seeking a stylish retreat away from the hustle and bustle.

10 Destinations Throughout Europe That Feel Like Summer All Year Long

From the golden shores of the Canary Islands and Sicily Coast, these incredible destinations in Europe enjoy summer-like weather all year.

6 Taormina, Sicily, Italy

Offering stunning views of the mediterranean and mount etna, taormina combines historical charm with beautiful beaches and vibrant summer festivals..

Taormina is perched high above the Mediterranean and is one of Europe's most captivating beach towns, despite being packed in summer. The town offers stunning views of the coastline and the smoldering Mount Etna. Though not directly on the beach, Taormina is connected to the sea via a cable car that descends to the coastal road, where steps lead to the shore.

The beach, with its shingle and pebble composition and clear waters, features a narrow pebble path to the Isola Bella nature reserve. In peak season, the cable car can be busy, but buses provide an alternative route to the coast. Dining options abound near the beach, and even in April, the chilly yet refreshing sea invites a quick swim.

Back in Taormina, the Ancient Greek amphitheater, enhanced by the Romans, offers breathtaking views and hosts contemporary music events, like a performance by Elton John. Wandering through Taormina, especially Piazza IX Aprile and Corso Umberto, is a joy, with picturesque cafés perfect for an afternoon respite.

5 Rovinj, Croatia

This picturesque town boasts cobblestone streets, a rocky coastline perfect for swimming, and a charming old-town atmosphere.

Located on Istrian's Peninsula, Rovinj is among the best beach towns in Croatia with cobbled streets that extend into the sea. Its rocky coastline is ideal for swimming, and the surrounding area offers cyclable paths through forest parks and small bays.

The Istrian countryside, known for its truffles and local cuisine, includes hilltop towns like Motovun, reminiscent of Tuscany but without the overwhelming tourist crowds. Rovinj feels more accessible and laid-back compared to Dubrovnik and Tuscany. It enjoys warm, sunny weather throughout the summer, making it ideal for beach outings, water activities, and outdoor explorations.

The town comes alive with numerous festivals, cultural events, and lively nightlife during the summer months. The Rovinj Summer Festival features music, dance, and theatrical performances in various venues around the town.

7 Beach Towns In The U.S. That Look Like Europe

You don't have to travel all the way to Italy or France for the beaches. Experience European charm in one of these stunning American beach towns.

4 Cassis, Southern France

With its beautiful calanques, pebble beaches, and vibrant market, cassis is perfect for a summer filled with natural beauty and local culture..

Cassis, one of France's best beach towns for a summer vacation , is famed for its historic center, exquisite white wines, bustling port, and vibrant market. It’s also an ideal destination for a beach holiday. Plage de la Grande Mer, centrally located and family-friendly, offers convenience and safety with on-site lifeguards. Nearby, Plage du Bestouan attracts a younger crowd with its beach bar, while Plage de l’Arène is celebrated for its natural beauty.

The coastline is dotted with locals lounging on rocky surfaces and diving into the crystal-clear sea. For those who enjoy a walk or paddling, the Calanque beaches, such as Port Pin and the breathtaking Calanque d’En Vau, offer serene swimming spots nestled between dramatic cliffs.

Cassis’ beaches are mostly pebbly, but the region offers plenty of activities beyond sandcastle building. The calm Mediterranean waters are perfect for swimming, and pedalos and kayaks are available for further exploration. Family-friendly accommodations include La Demeure Insoupçonnée, while Les Roches Blanches provides a luxurious seaside experience.

3 Etretat, Normandy, France

Famous for its dramatic white cliffs and artistic history, etretat offers breathtaking views and rich cultural heritage.

Etretat, located in Normandy in Northern France, is one of the most picturesque and must-see natural wonders in France . Situated on the Alabaster Coast, this area is renowned for its dramatic white cliffs and charming fishing villages. The region has a rich artistic history, famously inspiring many Impressionist painters who sought to capture its unique light and beauty.

Claude Monet was particularly enchanted by Etretat, spending numerous days painting the town and its beach from the cliffs at sunrise and sunset. His works have helped make Etretat world-famous, drawing many visitors each year eager to see the landscapes that Monet immortalized.

The town itself features traditional Norman architecture and quaint streets perfect for leisurely strolls and shopping. However, Etretat's main attraction is its stunning beach flanked by the iconic white cliffs. A sea promenade runs parallel to the beach, but for the best views, a climb to the little chapel Notre Dame de la Garde is recommended.

Visitors can also enjoy the local cuisine, particularly the fresh fish and seafood offered by beachfront restaurants, often paired with fine wine or cider.

Beyond Paris: Leave The City Of Love For These 10 French Destinations

See a lesser-known side of France in the beautiful, historic towns outside Paris. Some are close, while others are further away from the capital.

2 Naxos, Cycladic Isles, Greece

Featuring some of greece's best sandy beaches, historic sites, and a charming town, naxos town is ideal for a summer island adventure..

Among the myriad of Greek islands, Naxos stands out for its less touristy charm and breathtaking beaches. Part of the Cycladic group southeast of Athens, Naxos is the largest island in this cluster, which are some of the least-crowded and quietest Greek islands , and can be reached by ferry from the more accessible Santorini or Mykonos. This relative inaccessibility means fewer crowds and a more authentic experience.

Naxos Town, also known as Chora, is the island's capital and a quintessential Cycladic town with its whitewashed lanes and blue doors. Though filled with tourist shops, it retains its charm with numerous restaurants and cafés. The town boasts one of the largest beaches on the island, a vast stretch of sand extending uninterrupted for several kilometers.

Overlooking the town is the ancient, unfinished temple known as Portara, or "Big Door," which offers a fantastic backdrop for a dive into Greek mythology. According to legend, this is where Dionysus met Ariadne. It's best to visit this site either early in the morning or in the cool of the evening.

Visit These 10 Alternative Greek Islands Before The End Of Summer

Discover hidden gems & escape to enchanting beaches on these alternative Greek Islands before summer's farewell. Unforgettable adventures await!

1 Sozopol, Bulgaria

This ancient town combines historical charm with beautiful sandy beaches and vibrant local culture, making it a perfect summer destination.

Sozopol on Bulgaria’s beautiful Black Sea coast is one of Europe’s finest beach towns and a highlight of any Bulgarian travel itinerary. While foreign tourists often flock to the more famous resorts around Varna, savvy travelers and locals know that Sozopoli is a beautiful hidden gem and is one of the reasons why Bulgaria is one of the best Eastern European countries for a summer holiday .

The beaches around Sozopol are long, sandy stretches with crystal-clear waters perfect for swimming. They are very family-friendly and offer excellent camping opportunities just beyond the golden dunes, making this town an ideal spot for budget-conscious travelers or those on extended trips.

The best times to visit Sozopol are between May and July or in September and October, when the weather is pleasant and the beaches are less crowded. During peak season, pop-up eateries appear along the beach, providing a variety of dining options. Sozopol itself boasts numerous restaurants serving delicious Balkan cuisine.

Beyond its beaches, Sozopol is steeped in history, being one of the oldest towns in Bulgaria. Founded in the Bronze Age and later established by the Greeks in the 7th century BC, the town offers a wealth of historical sites to explore. Visitors can wander its ancient streets, visit the castle, and enjoy the annual art festival held each September. Sozopol’s blend of historical charm and beautiful coastal scenery makes it an ideal destination for both sightseers and beachgoers.

Election latest: Senior Tory says bets on date are 'stupid' but seeks to play down scale of scandal

Many more people than the leading Tories already identified are being investigated by the gambling regulator over election betting, Sky News understands. Earlier, James Cleverly told Sunday Morning With Trevor Phillips he has "no reason to believe" any cabinet ministers are involved.

Monday 24 June 2024 02:09, UK

  • General Election 2024

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

  • 'Many more people' under investigation in Tory election betting scandal
  • Cleverly: 'No reason to believe' any ministers involved
  • Tory betting scandal: What is the law around gambling?
  • Labour candidate's office vandalised in 'anti-democratic attack'
  • Live reporting by Faith Ridler

Election essentials

  • Manifesto pledges: Alliance Party | Conservatives | Greens | Labour | Lib Dems | Plaid Cymru | Reform | SNP | Sinn Fein | Workers Party
  • Trackers:  Who's leading polls? | Is PM keeping promises?
  • Campaign Heritage: Memorable moments from elections gone by
  • Follow Sky's politics podcasts: Electoral Dysfunction | Politics At Jack And Sam's
  • Read more:  Who is standing down? | Key seats to watch | What counts as voter ID? | Check if your constituency is changing | Guide to election lingo | Sky's election night plans

We'll be back at 6am with all the latest from this busy election campaign, which has entered its latter days before polls open on 4 July.

Until then, you can scroll through the posts below to catch up on the day.

Join us for more live updates on Monday.

It's an election campaign - and that means political donations have ramped up.

What exactly are the rules on donations? Do they change for elections? Who gets the most money? Why do people donate? And can parties give funds back?

Here, we explain...

Veterans minister Johnny Mercer has tonight offered further details of an "awkward" hustings in Plymouth, after which he claimed his Labour rival was "bloating" his military service.

Mr Mercer, who is standing as the Conservative candidate for the Plymouth Moor View constituency, took aim at his Labour opponent Fred Thomas after the event on Wednesday.

The minister questioned whether the Labour candidate had served in combat missions during his time as a Royal Marine, as had been reported by the Guardian newspaper in 2023.

Labour has said Mr Thomas is unable to discuss much of his role in the armed forces because of its "sensitive" nature.

Now, in a lengthy social media post, Mr Mercer described the event, which he said "descended into anarchy".

In response to Mr Mercer's comments, Labour's shadow defence secretary John Healey said: "The Commanding Officer of the Special Forces Support Group wrote of Fred's integrity and his character. Those words will not have been penned lightly. Mr Mercer should do the right thing and withdraw his deeply disrespectful remarks."

By Adam Boulton , Sky News commentator

Have you ever taken part in an opinion poll? I was about to say I haven't and then a dim memory surfaced from decades ago of a nice lady with a clipboard asking me questions in the Berkshire town of Pangbourne.

Whether or not your opinions have been sampled, you will have found it impossible to miss coverage of polls during this election campaign.

Reporting of opinion polls has been such a feature of the race that some are complaining about it. The controversy has been inflamed after the dramatic results shown in recent MRP polls,  such as this week's YouGov survey for Sky News .

Critics range from those who argue polls are one-day wonders that take coverage away from the "real issues" to others grumbling that polls distort how people vote, even though they may turn out to be wrong.

In this election, there are at least 18 separate companies publishing voting intention polls. They are busier than ever now the campaign is under way.

Read the rest of Adam's column here:

A flurry of general elections since 2015 has brought an unprecedented churn in our parliamentary representatives.

This year, two in five MPs aren't seeking re-election and the picture for the Conservatives is record-breakingly grim.

An unparalleled total of 23% of Conservative MPs are calling it a day in 2024, more than the previous high of 22% of Tories who quit in 1997, another year of boundary changes.

In contrast, only 15% of Labour MPs are resigning.

There are many reasons MPs quit: from retirement, family commitments and health concerns to career change, abolished constituencies, and the prospect of defeat.

But their decision to depart can reveal much about life in Westminster and have a significant impact on parliament's mix of experience, demographics, and the direction of political parties.

Dr Sofia Collignon, associate professor in Comparative Politics, analyses the churn in our representatives here:

Our politics show hosted by political correspondent Ali Fortescue has just wrapped up for today.

But don't worry - the Politics Hub will be live at 7pm on Sky News every night through the election campaign.

And until then, you can keep up with all the latest right here.

This is the question asked by our political correspondent Darren McCaffrey ...

In 2019, Liz Truss was once again elected MP for South West Norfolk - her fourth election win.

The then international trade secretary and later prime minister romped home to victory with nearly 70% of the vote.

Her constituency was one of the safest in the country.

Now, if the polls are to be believed, it is hanging in the balance.

Watch below as Darren tries to track Ms Truss down:

The full list of candidates in the South West Norfolk constituency is:

• Earl Elvis of East Anglia - The Official Monster Raving Loony Party • James Bagge - Independent • Gary Conway - Heritage Party • Pallavi Devulapalli - Green Party • Lorraine Douglas - Communist Party of Great Britain • Terry Jermy - Labour Party • Toby McKenzie - Reform UK • Josie Ratcliffe - Liberal Democrats • Liz Truss - Conservative and Unionist Party

Crossbench peer Lord Darroch is next up with Ali Fortescue.

She asks if Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer becoming prime minister would change the UK's relationship with the European Union.

"Yes, there will be a reset," he says. "I think that he is hosting a European political community summit in Blenheim House within a couple of weeks of the election."

Lord Darroch says Sir Keir will likely be "the star of that show".

"If he wins as big as some of the polls suggest, this will be a historic margin of victory.

"All the other leaders will want to meet him, and talk to him, and discover how he did it."

He will find himself "almost mobbed" at this summit, Lord Darroch claims.

Our live poll tracker collates the results of opinion surveys carried out by all the main polling organisations - and allows you to see how the political parties are performing in the run-up to the general election.

It shows a drop in support in recent days for Labour and the Tories - with a jump for Reform and the Liberal Democrats.

Read more about the tracker here .

The Metropolitan Police have opened an investigation into criminal damage after Labour candidate for Walthamstow Stella Creasy's office was attacked.

Photos shared by Ms Creasy on social media appear to show the that the glass of one of the windows and the front door was hit several times.

Detectives Superintendent Dion Brown, one of the senior officers responsible for policing Waltham Forest, said: "It is entirely unacceptable for the office of one of London's prospective parliamentary candidates to be targeted in this way.

"An urgent investigation is under way, and officers have attended the scene and are already following up active lines of enquiry, which will include full analysis of all available CCTV footage.

"The incident is believed to have occurred between 03:10hrs and 03:30hrs on Sunday, 23 June.

"I urge any witnesses or anyone with information to contact police and share what they know.

"Anyone who witnessed the damage being caused, or who has other information, should call police on 101 with the reference 2621/23jun."

Ms Creasy sent a message to the perpetrators herself, writing on social media: "You don't intimidate me and you don't belong in the political process.

"Same as those circulating malicious and false leaflets. Police already on this to find you - will press for the strongest penalties for such an anti-democratic attack and I know Walthamstow won't be cowed or influenced by your violence either."

Here is the full list of candidates standing in the constituency of Walthamstow:

  • Imran Arshad, Workers Party of Britain
  • Mohammed Ashfaq, independent
  • Stella Creasy, Labour Party
  • Dan Edelstyn, independent
  • Sanjana Madan Mohan Karnani, Conservative Party
  • Martin Lonergan, Reform UK
  • Ruth Theresa Rawlins, independent
  • Rosalinda Ayo Rowlands, Green Party
  • Nancy Taaffe, Trade Union and Socialist Coalition
  • Rebecca Taylor, Liberal Democrats

Be the first to get Breaking News

Install the Sky News app for free

european towns to visit in winter

IMAGES

  1. 20 Best Winter Destinations in Europe

    european towns to visit in winter

  2. 15 Best Places to Visit in Europe in Winter

    european towns to visit in winter

  3. 20 Best Winter Destinations in Europe

    european towns to visit in winter

  4. 16 Gorgeous Winter Villages in Europe to See in 2024

    european towns to visit in winter

  5. 20 Best Winter Destinations in Europe

    european towns to visit in winter

  6. 11 Secret and Adorable Towns in Europe You Have to Visit This Winter

    european towns to visit in winter

VIDEO

  1. Best Winter Getaways In North America

  2. 24 April

  3. The Most Charming European Towns To Visit In 2024 #facts #travel #europe

  4. Sarantos Old Town in Europe Official Music Video European instrumentals Vasílis Tsitsánis Yossi

  5. The European Carnivorous Plant Exchange And Exhibition 2006 in Bonn

  6. A Day Trip To Český Krumlov

COMMENTS

  1. 20 Best European Cities to Visit in the Winter, According to ...

    Istanbul, Turkey. Fajrul Islam/Getty Images. "Istanbul's unique blend of history, culture, and stunning architecture is enchanting year-round. In winter, you can explore iconic landmarks like ...

  2. 21 European Cities That Are Even More Charming in Winter

    Read on for 21 European cities—and a few villages, if we're getting technical—that will help you make the most of the coldest season. ... Winter is, hands down, the best time to visit Budapest.

  3. 25 Unmissable European Cities to visit in Winter (2024 update)

    Lisbon, Portugal. One of the best winter city breaks in Europe- Lisbon. Recommended by Kristen from Our Passion for Travel. When seeking European sunshine in the winter, Lisbon is an easy option. A visit here during the depths of winter in December and January will see average highs of 15 degrees and lows of 8 degrees.

  4. 21 European cities that are even more charming in winter

    21 European cities that are even more charming in winter. Summer temps can't compete with mulled wine and snow-dusted canal houses. By Caitlin Morton. 28 December 2023. Courtesy Arctic TreeHouse Hotel. There's nothing quite like visiting Europe in winter. While most travellers start researching tropical beaches and faraway islands the ...

  5. The Best 32 European cities to visit in winter

    32 European Cities to visit in winter. 1. Edinburgh, Scotland. Edinburgh. contributed by Thais Saito of World Trip Diaries. For a winter city-break in Europe, Edinburgh is a delight! First of all, it's stunning, with beautiful architecture, parks, squares, and more. Then there's the food, of course.

  6. 32 BEST Destinations To Spend Winter In Europe

    Traveling to Europe in the winter is the perfect time to visit, and Budapest is one of those truly special cities. There are way fewer tourists in town, which has several benefits: cheaper accommodation rates, less crowded attractions, and more tolerable temperatures, making it more enjoyable.

  7. 25 Wonderful Destinations for Winter in Europe (Sun, Snow, or Christmas!)

    The Canary Islands, Spain. Arguably the most classic winter sun destination in Europe, the Canary Islands are-like Madeira-located off the northwest coast of Africa (though even further south than Madeira). Without a doubt, the Canary Islands are among the warmest places in Europe in winter! READ NEXT.

  8. The 15 WARMEST Places to Visit in Europe This Winter

    15. Isles of Scilly, United Kingdom. Located just off the coast of Cornwall, the Isles of Scilly is the warmest place in England during winter. We actually stayed in Penzance (just on the main land before you get to these islands) in the winter and quite enjoyed the peacefulness and temperate climate of the area.

  9. 10 classic European winter vacations to try

    Winter comes in many guises in Europe. In the polar north there's serious snow, the northern lights and weeks without sun. Around the mild Mediterranean, you'll find lingering warmth well into the season. And in the center of Europe: cozy cafe culture and halls decked with Christmas spirit. It's an inspiring time to visit grand cities ...

  10. 21 European Cities That Are Even Better in Winter

    Finnish Lapland is a winter wonderland like no other, perhaps best exemplified in the region's capital city of Rovaniemi. Aside from being perhaps the best place to spend Christmas (the town claims to be the official hometown of Santa Claus, after all), Rovaniemi is packed with reindeer farms, husky sledding, ice skating rinks, and Northern Lights safaris that make it a must-visit for ...

  11. The European cities that are even better in winter

    Banská Bystrica, Slovakia. In a long, deep valley straddling the Hron River, and against a backdrop of the Kremnica Mountains, this Slovakian city is one of Europe's most beautiful in winter. From twinkling lights to fjord-side wooden houses - these are the European city sites taking winter wonderland to a whole new level.

  12. 20 Best Winter Destinations in Europe

    3. Tallinn, Estonia. Great big capitals can be great to visit in winter, but their smaller, cuter siblings can be too. Take the Estonian capital of Tallinn, for example. Centering on a pretty walled old town, this is the historic core of Tallinn that most tourists stick to.

  13. 15 Best Places to Visit in Europe in Winter

    Budapest, Hungary. Map of Places to Visit in Europe in Winter. 1. Zermatt, Switzerland. Zermatt. During most of the year, Zermatt is a sleepy village. Come winter, though, skiers of all abilities descend upon it to take over the 200-plus kilometers of pistes.

  14. 20 Best Snowy Winter Vacations In Europe (2024)

    It is one of the best cities with snow to visit in Europe in winter. Winter sports aren't the only thing for which Innsbruck is known. People come from far and wide to see the golden roof, the symbol of Innsbruck, in the Old Town. The roof was built in the 15th Century and was tiled with 2,657 fire-gilded copper shingles in the early 16th ...

  15. Winter in Europe: 22 Best Places to Go (2024)

    Here's some destination inspiration for enjoying Europe in winter in 2022: Best Places to Visit in Europe in Winter 1. See the Northern Lights in Iceland. Iceland is one of the best places to see the Northern Lights in Europe. This natural phenomenon, Aurora Borealis, can typically be seen between sometime in September to March and April.

  16. The 15 Best European cities to Visit in Winter: For Every Pocket

    That is the best way to plan a budget multi-city trip to Europe in winter. You can visit 3 of the best European Christmas market in one single holiday! Winter in Bratislava is snowy, romantic and still super colorful. There's a lot to see and do in Slovakia, and always on a budget! Eurovea is a great shopping mall right on the Danube river bank.

  17. 10 Best Winter Vacations in Europe

    Budapest. #4 in Best Winter Vacations in Europe. Budapest gets pretty cold in winter and snowfall is frequent. But, you can snag inexpensive hotel stays and plan your trip around indoor activities ...

  18. 25 best places to visit in Europe in December

    17. Gudauri, Georgia. If you want less crowded and off-the-beaten-path places to visit in Europe in December, consider Gudauri ski resort in Georgia. With its location against the backdrop of the Greater Caucasus Mountain Range, Gudauri is one of the most unique places to visit in Georgia during winter!

  19. 34 Epic Places to Visit in Europe in Winter

    Luxembourg, Luxembourg. Luxembourg is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Europe in the winter season. The city feels very wintery from December to March, and December and January are the coldest months. Sometimes covered in snow during these months, the temperature in winter in Luxembourg is between -1° and 8°C.

  20. Best European Cities to Visit in the Winter

    The best cities in Europe are even better in the winter. From Vienna to Lisbon, here's where to go for Christmas break, a ski trip, or just for a cheaper vacation spots during the off season.

  21. The 15 Best Places to Visit in Europe in the Winter

    The 15 Best Places to Travel in Europe in the Fall. 4. Gudauri, Georgia. Gudauri is one of the most unsung ski resort towns in Europe, and if you're looking for an off-the-beaten-track winter sports getaway, this is one of the best cities to visit in Europe in winter. Gudauri is located in Georgia 's Caucasus mountain range.

  22. The Best Places in Europe to Soak Up the Winter Sun

    From golden islands that sizzle well into autumn and beyond, to European city break destinations bathed in elusive December sunshine, these winter-sun destinations in Europe mean escaping the ...

  23. 20 Best European Cities To Visit In The Winter

    Thankfully, Europe has other options — one of which is Valletta, Malta. "Malta boasts a mild Mediterranean climate, even in winter, making it one of the best European cities for a vacation. You can explore (Valletta's) rich history, architecture, and vibrant culture without the scorching summer heat," says Totengco.

  24. These 7 Charming European Towns Are Frozen in Time

    Located in Basilicata region in Southern Italy, Matera is most famous for its ancient town, Sassi di Matera.Thought to be one of the first human settlements in the country, the area is comprised ...

  25. Europe in winter: 21 European cities that are even better in the off

    Finnish Lapland is a winter wonderland like no other, perhaps best exemplified in the region's capital city of Rovaniemi. Aside from being perhaps the best place to spend Christmas (the town claims to be the official hometown of Santa Claus, after all), Rovaniemi is packed with reindeer farms, husky sledding, ice skating rinks, and Northern Lights safaris that make it a must-visit for ...

  26. 10 Warm and Charming Cities in Europe To Escape To

    The continent is, however, replete with decently warm cities during the coldest months, and an online community of adventurers thinks you'll be surprised to find warm winter getaways in Europe ...

  27. 12 Cool Destinations in Europe To Escape the August Heat

    The Vigeland Sculpture Park is also a must-see, with over 200 granite and iron sculptures spread over 80 acres of lawns and paths. 🏨 Explore all your hotel options here. Moreover, spare some time to visit the National Museum, which houses over 400,000 exhibits, including paintings and sculptures. Read also: Pedestrian-Friendly European Cities

  28. Hottest summer ever? Experts reveal what could be in store for Europe

    Heatwaves have hit Europe earlier than ever this year, with Greece, Cyprus, Türkiye and Italy already hit by extreme heat, with some places seeing temperatures 10C above the seasonal average.

  29. 10 Best Beach Towns In Europe This Summer

    Check out the best beach towns in Europe to visit in the summer. Related. 7 Cool Summer Destinations In Europe To Beat The Heat Discover refreshing European destinations to beat the summer heat. From tranquil lakes to lush forests, find your perfect summer getaway. ... making it a popular spot even during the winter months. As you venture ...

  30. Election latest: Senior Tory says bets on date are 'stupid' but seeks

    Our live poll tracker collates the results of opinion surveys carried out by all the main polling organisations - and allows you to see how the political parties are performing in the run-up to ...