BEST DESTINATIONS FOR EUROPE IN WINTER

Best Destinations for a Winter Escape in Europe

There are so many wonderful destinations for a winter holiday in Europe. From snow-covered mountains to basking in the winter sun, or historical cities decorated by twinkling lights and Christmas trees.

Whether you want to relax in nature, drink traditional mulled wine in a beautiful Christmas market, or explore historical cobbled streets without the crowds, hopefully, this list has the perfect Winter holiday destination for you!

TBILISI, Georgia

by Emily from Wander-Lush

Mild temperatures and an absence of snow and sleet make winter one of the best times to visit Tbilisi, Georgia. A city known for its cosy wine bars, restaurants and thermal baths, there are plenty of ways to pass the time when the weather outside is chilly.

Daytime temperatures usually sit around 10 degrees Celsius throughout December and January, rain is scarce – and when the skies are clear and blue, it’s paradise outside. Explore the Old Town on foot or take a hiking trail into the hills above the city for a view. If it’s too cold out, coffee or wine hop between the city’s best cafes and bars in trendy Vera district, or while away an afternoon at the steamy sulfur baths, which are similar in some ways to the hammams in Istanbul.

A predominantly Orthodox nation, Georgia celebrates Christmas in early January. Christmas lights and markets take over the streets from the start of December, while special days such as Epiphany and Bedoba (a Georgian tradition that says you should spend January 2 treating yourself to set the tone for the year ahead) provide an insight into local culture. December 31 is the biggest celebration, with fireworks and crackers going off well into the early hours of the morning.

Snow in Tbilisi during winter is rare; if you’re searching for snowy landscapes, head to Kazbegi for a Greater Caucasus mountains escape, or to Bakuriani to ride the country’s only scenic railway through a winter-wonderful landscape of snow-capped trees.

ST PETERSBURG, Russia

by Ellis from Backpack Adventures

St Petersburg in Russia is a true winter destination. Cold and a thick blanket of snow is guaranteed turning the city into a magical winter wonderland. Frozen canals lined with pastel-coloured palaces still give the former capital of Russia a royal feel. Once home to the Tsars of Russia, St Petersburg remains an elegant city with plenty of things to do. 

In winter, the palace gardens and parks of the city are full of people that come here to go ice skating or sledging. A number of festivals such as Christmas, new year and maslenitsa bring joyful fairs and markets throughout the city, bringing people out and about. Even the fishermen brave the cold weather to go ice fishing on the frozen Neva river. 

If things outside get too cold there are also plenty of indoor activities to warm up. St Petersburg has a number of interesting museums. The Hermitage alone can take up a full day of exploring the large art collection of the Tsars. The Romanov palaces in and around St Petersburg are also well worth a visit. 

The Nevski Prospekt is the most popular street in St Petersburg. It is very close to some of the city’s most beautiful churches and cathedrals and also has some of the best restaurants in town. This is where you can try a number of Russian specialities such as pelmeni, borscht and pierogi pies. 

Russian winters are famous for being icy and cold. Let that not deter you from visiting St Petersburg in winter. Just bring enough warm clothes and you will be rewarded with a beautiful city that has lots to offer.

St Petersburg, Russia - beautiful Winter destinations to visit in Europe

TALLINN, Estonia

by Daniel and Ilona from Top Travel Sights

Tallinn is one of the best budget winter destinations in Europe. The city is beautiful at any time of the year, but it looks especially stunning when covered with snow.

One of the best things to do in Tallinn in winter is to climb to the top of Toompea Hill. From here, you have a fantastic view of the city’s red roofs and the layer of snow on top of them. On a clear day, you might even see the Baltic Sea from here.

Walking through the Old Town is one of the highlights of Tallinn. You can easily spend hours wandering through the cobblestone streets and admiring the historic buildings. Make sure to stop by the Town Square to see the Town Hall. If you visit in December, you can explore the Christmas Market here and see a large Christmas tree. Both Tallinn and Riga claim the record for setting up the first Christmas tree in the world, and while it’s not clear which tree is older, Tallinn is definitely one of the first places in the world where people decorated a tree for the holidays.

If you need to warm up, hop into one of Tallinn’s many museums. The Great Guild Hall is perfect for learning about the history of the city.

Or head to Maiasmokk Cafe, the oldest operating cafe in Estonia. The cafe is famous for its marzipan, but in winter, you should also try the Vastlakukkel. These cream buns are a traditional Carnival treat, but with a bit of luck, you can find them throughout the whole winter.

TROMSO, Norway

by Megan from MeganStarr.com

Tromso, Norway is the gateway to Arctic Norway and it is one of the best places to visit in Europe during the winter. This is Norway’s largest city in the Arctic, and it’s also one of the best winter locations on the continent, as you can enjoy snowshoeing, whale watching, northern lights, and dog-sledging!

Tromso is an ideal destination for families, couples, and independent travellers. You can fly there straight from a few European cities, but most passengers will need to connect in Oslo first. You can also travel up the Norwegian coast on the Hurtigruten and make your journey by boat.

Once you’ve arrived in Tromso, you’ll be spoiled with choice! There are various dog-sledging tours and whale watching tours in Tromso to keep you occupied during the days before heading to the wilderness and away from the light pollution to catch the aurora at night.

Seeing the northern lights is another popular activity in Tromso. There are several northern lights excursions in Tromso that you can take with an experienced guide to increase your chances of viewing them.  Many excursions include other activities, such as a Sami cultural tour, during which you will learn about the Sami people and their lifestyles which also include their chants called joik, food traditions, and reindeer. You will also have a chance to feed the reindeer when there.

The Norwegian city is a fantastic spot to visit during the winter months, and it is certainly one of the best places to visit in Europe if you’re looking for a snowy, adventurous time somewhere.

ZAKOPANE, Poland

by Karolina from Polish Foodies

Zakopane is one of the best winter escapes in Europe. It’s located in the heart of Tatras, Poland’s highest mountains. There are many ski slopes around, so if you are a fan of winter sports, you won’t get bored in Zakopane! Those who can’t ski may go hiking. There are many routes that are safe to go during the wintertime. Some of them are Dolina Chocholowska or Dolina Kościeliska.

Zakopane is called the winter capital of Poland, so there are plenty of things to do in the town even for those who don’t like sports. They may walk down the famous Krupowki street and go shopping. If you want to buy some souvenirs from your trip to Poland, there is no better place to go.

Zakopane is full of interesting museums, such as Be Happy Museum, Wax Figure Museum and many more.
It’s also one of the best places to try traditional Polish food! When in Zakopane, be sure to eat pierogi (the famous Polish dumplings), bigos, and oscypek (cheese that originates from Tatra Mountains). 
If you have a sweet tooth, try delicious karpatka cake or makowiec (poppy seed 

WROCLAW, Poland

by Alexandra from The Alternative Travel Guide 

Wrocław is beautiful at any time of the year, but it has a special charm in December when its Christmas market opens. Conde Nast Traveler listed it as one of the most beautiful Christmas markets in Europe.

Wroclaw belonged to Germany until the end of World War II, which is why the cultures of Eastern and Western Europe are interwoven here. The Christmas Market (Jarmark Bożonarodzeniowy in Polish) has been held in the streets of the Old Town since the 16th century. It is unique in its kind as it features a combination of German frugality and Slavic pomp.

Several hundred stalls offer delicious food, Christmas decorations, handicrafts, and traditional sweets from Poland and the neighbouring Czech Republic, Germany, Ukraine, Latvia, Lithuania, Belorus, and Slovakia. Gourmets will love the national dishes and products – smoked cheese from the slopes of the Tatras, Lithuanian potato sausages, and Hungarian holiday pastries with various fillings. Near the Christmas market, there are several unique places to stay in Wroclaw to spice up your trip.

In Poland, winter is a real winter with snow. So it is worth coming here in the appropriate warm winter clothes and waterproof warm shoes. The Polish variant of mulled wine “Grzaniec,” served in special holiday mugs in the Christmas market, will keep you warm in cold weather. 

ATHENS, Greece

by Alena from Athenian Riviera

Athens in winter should be right at the top of your bucket list and there are plenty of good reasons why! First of all, Greece is blessed with good weather, all year round, meaning that one can enjoy the sun even on the coldest winter days and one can enjoy the beach from March until mid of November. For those who are fascinated with history, visiting Athens in the winter is a very good idea as monuments can be visited any time of the day, while in the summer the unbearable heat does not make that experience very pleasant.

Athens is a city that combines both ancient and modern worlds, full of history and culture, thousands of restaurants, cafeterias, bars, happy people, and good vibes. One of the best ways to discover the beautiful capital of Greece is by strolling around, discovering tiny alleys where you can find cosy cafeterias, atmospheric bars, restaurants with exceptional food. One of the best things to do in Athens is to explore its various charming neighbourhoods.

Do not miss the chance to explore the beautiful Athenian Riviera, which although is a hot summer destination, during winter you can enjoy it in a different way. Hop on a metro towards Glyfada, where you will be able to do some good shopping, eat at delicious restaurants serving all types of cuisine, don’t skip brunch, walk by the beach among many other cool things you can do here.  Visit the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center where you can spend a fun afternoon on the ice-skating rink, grab a hot chocolate or mulled wine, take an educational seminar and watch the dancing fountains performance.

Additionally, as the winter is not a tourist high season in Greece, prices for accommodations drop drastically – and let’s not forget Greece is an affordable country compared to other European cities.

DUBROVNIK, Croatia

by Martina from PlacesofJuma

Dubrovnik in Croatia is a real insider tip for a winter holiday destination in Europe! The world-famous port city is really crowded with tourists during the warm summer months, but in winter you can experience the medieval town from a completely different side. Only a few tourists are drawn to the port city at this time, and so you can enjoy this beautiful old town from its best side during a sunny winter break.

Even in winter, there is a lot to do in Dubrovnik! This UNESCO World Heritage City has many romantic alleys and churches to explore, and a walk along the Dubrovnik old walls is a must on every trip.

In addition, the city offers a “Winter Card”, where you get in the quite expensive Dubrovnik fabulous discounts in numerous restaurants, souvenir stores, cultural houses and wellness centres. Also, the famous wall of Dubrovnik is much cheaper at this time of year.

During the Christmas season, the Dubrovnik Christmas market is also held in the Sponza Palace. A lovely location for enjoy winter flair in Croatia. In February, on the other hand, Carnival is celebrated along the famous Stradun street.

LAKE LIPNO, Czechia

by Cosette from KarsTravels

Lipno nad Vltavou in the Czech Republic is perfect in wintertime. The town is on the banks of Lipno lake and surrounded by mountains. You get a perfect winter picture with snow-covered mountains and a frozen-over lake.

There are several fun things to do in Lipno nad Vltavou. First of all, ice skating. A track is being kept snow-free on the frozen lake. This is enough for hours of ice skating fun. Second, there’s a treetop walkway on top of the mountain. The walkway is 40 meters high and from on top, you have perfect views.

There’s plenty of room for sledging on the mountain. Swoosh down again and again. Then there’s also the Bobova Draha Lipno. A bobsled on a rail, with which you go up and down the mountain.

Last but not least thing to do in Lipno nad Vltavou is ski-ing. The Snowpark Lipno Lyžařsky areál has 13.5 kilometers of ski slope and 4 ski lifts.

You need to have snow chains with you in your car, but you likely don’t need to use them.

PRAGUE, Czechia

by Veronika from Travel Geekery

Prague is an all-around beautiful place to visit but Prague in winter? Absolutely magical. Prague with its roofs and spires all covered in a beautiful white blanket is a sight straight out of a fairytale.

If you visit in the Christmas season, you’ll experience Prague in a festive coat and, as you could imagine, it suits her well. Lovely Christmas markets pop up all over the city and unite both locals and visitors in Christmas cheer. The Old Town Square is where the largest and the most traditional market is held. The tree-lightning ceremony is a major event in the city and attracts quite some crowds! Once too crowded, the magic can get lost. But rest assured there are still many other Christmas markets to check out – above all the Prague Castle Christmas market.

Sightseeing in winter is no less fun and Prague’s abundance of cosy cafés will keep you warm in between. To warm up actively, consider going ice-skating. A small ice rink is located even in the historical centre – at Ovocný trh.

If you’re in Prague on the night of December 5th, you’ll witness Saint Nicholas accompanied by devils and angels roaming the streets, praising good kids and reprimanding misbehaving ones.

COPENHAGEN

As the birthplace of Hygge, there’s no better place to get cosy in winter than the Danish capital. Come winter, Copenhagen’s cafes deck themselves out with blankets, woollen rugs and outdoor heaters, so you can still enjoy dining outside with friends. Warm-up with steaming cups of coffee before heading out to explore the city on foot, or ride the city’s efficient metro system.

There’s plenty to do in Copenhagen in winter, whether you’re travelling solo, as a couple, or with kids. Hit Europe’s longest shopping street, Strøget, for some serious retail therapy, head along to the Tivoli Gardens for a full day of family fun, or museum hop your way around the city. Don’t forget to check out the most famous of Copenhagen’s canals, Nyhavn, and jump on a boat tour for a unique way to appreciate the city’s architecture.

In winter, ice skating rinks pop up around the city and are generally free (you’ll need to hire skates), and if you’re visiting Copenhagen at Christmastime, don’t miss the festive markets, parades and events that take place.

Do keep in mind that daytime hours are fairly short in Copenhagen in winter, with the sun setting as early as 3.30 pm. So you’ll need to get out and about early to make the most of the city’s attractions – but don’t worry, there’s plenty to do after dark too!

BERLIN, Germany

by Ali from Berlin Travel Tips

Berlin might not be the first place you think of for a winter escape, but it’s a fantastic city to visit during the holiday season. From late November to late December, you’ll find dozens of Christmas markets in Berlin, from traditional to quirky, low key to upscale. If you’re looking for a place to spend the holidays, Berlin is a great choice.

The Charlottenburg Palace Christmas market is one of the best. Set against the backdrop of a gorgeous palace, you couldn’t ask for a better location. Here you’ll find vendors selling traditional Christmas gifts and decorations, tasty food, and a variety of mulled wine to keep you warm.

The Gendarmenmarkt Christmas market is just as beautiful. It’s located on one of the prettiest squares in the city and in front of three historic buildings. This one is a bit more upscale, but it still has a cosy vibe. It costs one euro to get in, but once you see how pretty this one is, you won’t mind the small entrance fee.

You can combine a visit to the Charlottenburg Palace Christmas market with a visit to the palace itself. Gendarmenmarkt is a short walk from Brandenburg Gate, Museum Island, and Unter den Linden. And with so many other great Christmas markets, you can easily do your sightseeing during the day and stop by a Christmas market in the evening for dinner and hot wine. Just remember it gets cold in the winter, so dress in warm layers, and don’t forget a hat and scarf.

VENICE, Italy

by Kirsty from Lost in Landmarks

Venice is on many people’s wish lists of places to travel and travelling there in winter should be on your radar too.  Venice is stunning year round but winter brings a real mystical quality to the city too with misty mornings, quiet streets and a charm that is unbeatable.  

Venice is still a popular destination in the winter but there are much fewer tourists meaning that you’ll find it much easier to be alone when wandering the streets – you’ll likely still get lost though!  The big tourist sites like St Mark’s Square are best seen first thing in the morning before lots of people arrive but since winter has a later sunrise it’s not too onerous and the morning light is really pretty.  

February in Venice brings not only Valentines day and a rush on the city with couples but also the Carnival which is a multi day celebration with people dressing up, wearing masks and enjoying boat trips, balls and operas.

It’s unlikely you’ll get snow or really cold weather in winter in Venice however be prepared for damp and rain which of course can still be pretty cold.  Venice also sometimes floods in winter and while they do provide boardwalks to help out it’s a good idea to also bring waterproof shoes.

LUXEMBOURG

by Zoe from Together in Transit

One beautiful destination for a winter escape in Europe is the picture-perfect location of Luxembourg. Wintertime in Luxembourg is a great place to choose as your next destination, with a yearly chance of a lot of snow mostly in the North part of the country due to its’ elevation.

In the city centre of Luxembourg, you can find the cosiest and most warm welcoming restaurants situated all over. Each with overhead heaters, blankets and serving local warm dishes and hot drinks – not forgetting Gluhwein at Christmas! The city also usually has an ice rink in the centre square and live music being played. 

Else find yourself exploring in the natural areas of the country, such as the Mullerthal hiking trails or exploring a castle or two like at Vianden. There are plenty of locations to enjoy during Winter, with many things still open for activities or tours too. Making it great to enjoy wintertime with family, friends or loved ones with some local fun. Public transportation is free for all and most main roads are well looked after during winter conditions to get around. 

If you are there when it snows, it’s so pretty that it will be hard to leave. The city is like a winter wonderland with white covered buildings, children building snowmen at the parks and Christmas city lights twinkling. You can also head out of the city to many locations for snowball fights, walks and tobogganing on the local hills and fields. 

Tips for travelling to Luxembourg in Winter include making sure you dress appropriately for the weather and suitable shoes for walking – even in the city with the hills. If you are planning on driving, it’s mandatory to have winter tires in Luxembourg. 

AMSTERDAM, The Netherlands

by Dymphe from Dymabroad

Amsterdam is one of the best destinations for winter in Europe. The city is famous for its many museums and picturesque historic city centre, such as the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. Also, there are many instagrammable places in Amsterdam.

Even though the city is great to visit throughout the year, it is during the winter season that the city truly becomes magical. When it is winter in Amsterdam, and especially when it snows, the famous canals and canal houses look even more wonderful. So when it is snowing, you should definitely do a canal cruise during which you see the canal and the canal houses from the water which gives you the best view.

Another thing to do in Amsterdam is going to Amsterdam Winter Paradise, a winter festival where you can do all kinds of indoor winter activities. For example, you can go ice skating there! Also, you should try out the traditional winter treat of the Netherlands: Oliebollen. These are ball-shaped doughnuts with powdered sugar that are delicious!

BRUGES, Belgium

by Emma from Emma’s Roadmap okay for you!

“Bruges is not only a magnificent and romantic city all year round but it’s even more magical in winter! Also called ‘Venice of the North’, Bruges is definitely a destination that should be put on your bucket list. Year-round you can visit the Belfry and have an amazing view over the city, take a romantic boat ride on the canals in between the swans and learn about history in one of the many high-class museums. 

What makes it so special to visit in winter is, without a doubt, Bruges’ cosy Christmas market and amazing Christmas decorations. In recent years, they’ve also organized a light show all over the city so you can admire the historical buildings from another perspective.

Another popular attraction is the ecological ice skating rink, not made from real ice (for which you need expensive and polluting installations) but a more environmental-friendly alternative.

Winter temperatures in Bruges will mostly be between 0 – 10 degrees Celsius which means it almost never freezes so dress appropriate but don’t expect to see a lot of snow. The city is easy to reach by train or car and you’ll be perfectly fine exploring everything on foot!

ALSACE, France

by Bec from Wyld Family Travel

If you are looking for an epic place to spend winter in Europe then The Alsace Region of France is for you. With amazing food, world-class wine, picturesque towns and Christmas markets that are second to none, there are so many wonderful things to do in the Alsace.

Most people flock to the larger towns of Strasbourg and Colmar for the markets and to get their fill of the Christmas spirit but there are so many other places to visit. While the Christmas markets are known worldwide for a very good reason and should be on your french bucket list there are smaller towns and markets dotted throughout the region. Smaller towns like Ribeauville, Riquewihr and Kaysersburg have wonderful markets with a truly local feel to them. 

If you are looking to avoid the Christmas Market season you will still find many of the towns beautiful after all the tourists have left. Many towns have wine caves that are happy to welcome you in for a sample of their local wine. Some serve traditional Alsacian foods as well which are hearty and guaranteed to keep you warm on the coldest of days. You can hop from town to town taking in the sights as you go as well as stopping to sample amazing homemade foods served in the small shops. Many offer you a cup for house-made Vin Chaud that warms you completely from the inside and no two cups are the same.

Ruined castles located high on hills overlooking the valleys below all seem to have a story behind them. Chateau Koenigsbourg is the grandest of them all and is still furnished with some amazing, unique items. A visit to the Fortwenger Gingerbread Museum is a treat for adults and kids alike with an area where you can see the workers making and decorating the gingerbread sold in the store on site. Trying to leave without buying some is impossible!

Struthoff Concentration Camp located high in the Vosges Mountains will leave you with chills not just from the cold. The old barracks and high barbed-wire fences are a stark contrast to the beauty the Alsace holds.

Mount St Odile and Neuf Braisch are wonderful places to wander and learn about the Alsace. In these places, you will not only see beauty but also how the Alsace has adapted and changed. Winter is the perfect time to see and experience the Alsace.

YORK, England

by Coralie from Grey Globetrotters

York is an ancient and beautiful city in northern England, almost exactly halfway between London and Edinburgh. This fascinating city has more attractions per square mile than any other city in the UK, including the famous 13th century York Minster cathedral and the medieval city walls. There’s something for everyone to enjoy in York whatever the season, but when the Christmas market comes to town, it becomes an even more magical place to explore.

In addition to all the Christmassy stalls you’d hope to find in the atmospheric centre of the city, there’s delicious food a-plenty in the medieval Shambles market, fine ales and lagers at the York Brewery. You can even visit the inspiration for Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley.

Why not immerse yourself in a Christmas wonderland at Käthe Wohlfahrt’s only shop in Great Britain to discover beautifully handmade and hand-painted Christmas decorations and gift ideas lovingly crafted from glass and wood? If you’re feeling brave, take a spooky evening ghost tour or venture into the York Dungeon, or take a step back in time to explore the chilling York Cold War Centre or the fabulous Yorvik Viking Centre.

York is an absolute treasure trove, with plenty of historical sites to enjoy and you’ll never run out of things to see and do! The best way to explore the city is to buy a York Pass, which includes discounted entry charges to most of the city’s attractions and transport. Once you’ve explored the city of York, take a day trip out into the glorious North York Moors, the Jurassic Yorkshire Coast or the stunning Yorkshire Dales to fall in love a little bit more with this thrilling part of England.

DUBLIN, Ireland

by Isabelle from Issy’s Escapades

Dublin, Ireland makes for a fantastic place to visit all year round, but if you’re seeking utmost fun and merriment during your visit, then a winter escape to Dublin is most worthy of your consideration. 

The Irish are known worldwide for their good-natured love of partying and ‘having the craic’ (an Irish phrase which means to have fun) and in the lead up to Christmas time and the New Year, celebration mode is in full swing in Dublin as pubs, restaurants and shops are packed to the rafters as Irish people catch up with friends and loved ones. The city centre is positively buzzing with good vibes and energy and it would be impossible to have a bad time in Dublin during this time of year!

While places to eat and drink might be a little busier than usual (top tip, make sure to book these well in advance before you travel unless you want to be left disappointed), there are also fewer tourists in the city too.

What this means, is that Dublin’s most popular sites are a bit quieter than usual, so it’s the perfect time to see things like the Book of Kells, visit the Guinness Storehouse and learn about Irish emigration (and trace your Irish roots, if your ancestors come from Ireland) at EPIC, The Irish Emigration Museum, which was voted as Europe’s Leading Tourist Attraction” at both the 2019 and 2020 World Travel Awards.

The city centre is also beautifully decorated for Christmas – make sure to check out the decorations at the Gingerman pub, the Temple Bar pub, the lights on Grafton Street and the magical St. Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre during your visit. 

FARO, Portugal

by Paulina from Paulina on the Road

Faro is one of the popular destinations to visit, situated in the Algarve region. With hilltop castles, ancient churches, and picturesque beaches, Faro starts to get pleasant all around during the months of December to January. It is best to visit there in the winter season because of the less rush, pleasant weather, water sports, cheaper accommodation, carnival in February and a lot of fun activities. The travellers can find where to stay in Algarve for comfortable accommodation as Faro is not a destination to explore in one day.

It is a great place to spend your winter holidays because it is the southernmost region of Portugal and has a Mediterranean climate. It sees mild winter days with mild rain, which absolutely calls for fun winter sports and exploring the beautiful beaches. The average temperature of this little district during the coldest month is about 12 degrees celsius.

While many come to Faro for its coastal setting, which sees around 300 days of sun, many travellers get attracted to its cultural highlights. Visitors can enjoy the cobblestone streets of this compact town and the beautiful cathedrals. The best things to do in Faro during winters include surfing (do not forget to pack your wet suit), enjoying water sports like boat tours and dolphin watching, attending the Carnival of February with live music parades, and more, witnessing epic coastal cliff views, going on a bike trip along the scenic coastal roads and playing golf.

Faro is popular for its Christmas that travellers must not miss. They can book accommodation and enjoy the district during day time and stay in at night as it gets too cold.

Winter travel trip- Although Faro is not too cold during the winter season, some nights can be unexpectedly chilly. So pack your clothes accordingly.

MALAGA, Spain

by Alison from Alison in Andalucia 

Winter is a wonderful time to visit Andalucía, and one of the best places to escape to is Malaga, the capital of the Costa del Sol.

Daytime temperatures in the winter months are generally a pleasant 17/18c which makes it ideal for spending time outdoors whether that’s wandering the historic streets of the old town, taking a walk along the coastal path (the Senda Litoral de Malaga), or climbing up to the Castle of Gibralfaro for amazing views over the city and coastline.

Malaga is the birthplace of Pablo Picasso and you can visit the Picasso Museum in the beautiful Buenavista Palace to see almost 300 pieces of his work. The city is also renowned for its street art which you’ll find primarily in the neighbourhoods of SOHO and Lagunillas. 

Of course, no visit to Andalucía is complete without sampling some of the region’s culinary delights and, in Malaga, you’ll be spoilt for choice whether you want simple tapas bars or prefer fine dining. Start your day with a café con leche or a plate of churros con chocolate at Café Central in Plaza de la Constitución and be sure to visit El Pimpi, a popular bodega partly owned by another famous Malagueño, Antonio Banderas.

Without a doubt, however, the main reason to visit Malaga in winter is to see the Christmas lights. The main display is on Calle Larios and, three times every evening, the crowds gather in Plaza de la Constitución to watch the breathtaking sound and light show. Make sure you get there early for the best view as this is one thing not to be missed!

TENERIFE, Spain

by Greta from Greta’s Travels

If you’re looking for one of the best winter escapes in Europe, then Tenerife in Spain is the perfect destination for you. Located in the Canary Islands, just over 100km from the coast of Africa, these islands are blessed with year-round sunshine and warm weather.

Tenerife is the biggest amongst the Canary Islands, and you will find a huge variety of landscapes concentrated in this 2,034 km squared island.

Tenerife is home to Mount Teide, a volcano 3,715m tall. On this island, you can spend your morning chilling at the beach, then drive up to Mount Teide for an afternoon hike amongst this unique lunar landscape. In the north of the island, you will also find Anaga Rural Park, an area with distinctive green mountains and lots of awesome hiking trails.

Tenerife is also the perfect destination for water sports lovers. Thanks to the consistent wind and wave conditions you can practice surfing, windsurfing and kitesurfing at any time of year.

The most popular area to stay in Tenerife is without a doubt the coastline from Costa Adeje to Los Cristianos, in the south of the island, since it’s the warmest and sunniest. However, you will find lots of cheaper and more unique accommodation options in smaller towns like El Medano, Las Galletas or Arona.

Tenerife is especially good to visit in winter since the temperatures remain mild, ranging from 15°C to 20°C in the months from November to February, with as little as 5 rainfall days per month. If you’re into water sports, this is also the period when you can expect the biggest waves and strongest winds.

Overall, Tenerife is a great destination for winter escapes, which offers something for every time of traveller.  

ICELAND

by Sam Opp from Find Love & Travel

Iceland is an incredible winter escape to experience in Europe. Get ready to step into a winter wonderland full of waterfalls, glaciers, and dramatic landscapes! Although Iceland is close to the arctic circle, the winter temperatures are pretty mild considering the location. The temperatures are generally around 1- 2 degrees Celsius or 32 – 33 degrees Fahrenheit, therefore Iceland is not incredibly frigid.

Some of the best things to add to your Iceland itinerary during the winter are to experience the Northern Lights, climbing over or through glaciers, chasing waterfalls, hiking, skiing, and experiencing Iceland’s landscapes and wildlife. Some of the wildlife you are likely to see are Icelandic horses, seals, reindeer, and even whales.

The Northern Lights brings most people to Iceland during the winter. The best time to see the Northern Lights in Iceland is from September until March. Iceland even has a daily forecast you can use to track the Northern Lights, although the best way to see the Northern Lights is by taking a tour. Tours know the best places to see the Northern Lights and you will be guided by a professional who knows the land.

There are also several winter festivals in Iceland including Þorrablót, Icelandic midwinter festival, usually taking place from January to February, Christmas which lasts 26 days, and New Year’s Eve. During Christmas time, all of Reykjavik is lit up with Christmas lights and there’s tons of Celebration and festivities around the city. Christmas itself is celebrated on Christmas Eve (and just about everything closes) instead of Christmas Day and ends January 6th. New Year’s Eve Reykjavik is known to light up with dozens of fireworks for hours making it a true celebration. 

Some tips to keep in mind when visiting Iceland during the winter is to bring waterproof clothing and pack layers since Iceland can be very wet and windy. Furthermore, be prepared to have 4 wheel drive and potentially chains on your tires during winter adventures.

11 Comments

  1. Fantastic list of places you’ve put together! I’ve been to quite a few of these places before but not in the winter. I wold love to see St Petersburg again but in the snow – it looks so pretty!

  2. How funny that I stumbled upon your blog post! We are planning a trip to Norway for February. Well, by planning, I mean we haven’t planned anything yet, but we are going to :). So happy to hear that it’s one of the best places to visit in Europe during the winter! I would also absolutely love to see Iceland in the winter; we went in the summer, but I’m sure it’s a totally different experience when covered in ice and snow. I visited Copenhagen a few years back during late fall and loved all of the foliage, but I know Danes absolutely love Christmas and decorating, and I would love to see the city that time of year too! The way it was described here sounds so cozy and sweet too. Great blog post; thanks so much for sharing this list! Xx Sara

  3. WOW, what an epic list! I like the mix of warm & cold places, and I love that you can see both on a winter in Europe…. all within just a short flight or train ride from one another! I’ve been dying to visit Tenerife, but how cool to combine it with a Bruges trip.

  4. Omg! This has me daydreaming! Winter is my favourite season and there’s something so capitvating about Europe in the winter. Luxembourg and Alsace look magical!!! Thanks for the inspiration!

  5. A beautiful collection. There is nothing more magical than a topping of snow on the mountains for fabulous city architecture. Would love to visit all of these places. Thanks for sharing.

  6. absolutely love winter, hopefully, this year the Christmas markets will open (if safe to do so). I’m actually on the lookout for where to do a city break, so thankful for all the inspiration. Tallinn looks beautiful under a blanket of now.

  7. There are so many beautiful places in Europe to visit during winter. My favourites are Stockholm in Sweden and Kitzbuhl in Austria. Thanks for the great list and inspiration of where to head to during my winter European travels next.

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