Are you looking to visit Europe on your winter holiday? Good for you. The Old World has a charming side that you only get to see in wintertime. If you haven’t made up your mind yet as to where to go in Europe for your winter holiday, check out our recommended winter destinations in Europe.
Most of the tourists Athens receives every year flock to the city in summer, to visit the many resort islands dotting the Greek archipelago. But if you travel to Athens in winter, you’ll get to enjoy the city without the crowds. You can leisurely explore ancient sites like the Acropolis, where the Parthenon and the Temple to Athena Nike are located. But because winter isn’t Athens’ peak tourist season, a lot of the traditional tavernas would be closed. And while you can go on an island-hopping tour, you will have to check which islands are open for visitors before you go. Still, winter is wonderful for exploring Athens without jostling with the crowds, which is why we consider it one of the top winter destinations in Europe.
Denmark is the country of Hans Christian Andersen, author of some of the world’s most beloved fairytales. When you go to Copenhagen, you can pay homage to the statue of The Little Mermaid, one of Andersen’s most tragic heroines. But there is more to do in Copenhagen in winter than just looking at The Little Mermaid. You can go ice skating at Frederiksberg Runddel’s ice rink. You can visit the city’s famous museums and galleries like the National History Museum and the National Gallery of Denmark. If you love Carlsberg’s beers, you can check out their brewery. Whatever you decide to do in Denmark, you should never miss visiting Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen’s very own winter wonderland. Browse the wares at the Christmas market, check out the rides, and warm up with some tasty food and toasty drinks.
Prague, Czech Republic
Just like Athens, Prague gets most of its visitors in summer. But we’re placing the city in this list of top winter destinations in Europe because Prague is simply beautiful in winter. The magnificent Gothic and Romanesque architecture the city is known for becomes truly charming when blanketed with snow. They become even more romantic against the light produced by the gaslights on the thoroughfares. But Prague is not all Old World winter charm. After all, the city is known for its trendy nightlife, and you can do a pub crawl without having to deal with the tourist crowd. You should also check out the Christmas market at the Old Town Square for some yummy Czech food and unique Christmas presents. Ice skating at the public rink under the Prague 3 TV Tower is, of course, a must.
Rovaniemi, the capital city of Lapland, claims to be the official home of Santa Claus. So you can expect the city to truly come alive with the Christmas spirit in December. You can start your winter holiday here by visiting Santa Claus Village and have a chat with Santa himself, and maybe play with Rudolph at the village’s reindeer farm. While you’re at Rovaniemi, you can cross the Arctic Circle, learn how to build an igloo, go ice fishing, ride a snowmobile, go skiing, and other fun things you can do on snowy ground. At night, spend some time outdoors and watch the aurora borealis light up the dark sky. The festive atmosphere in Rovaniemi is why we think it’s one of the best winter destinations in Europe.
Don’t be fooled by the notion that winter is always dark and extremely cold in Reykjavik. It’s true that it’s dark most of the time because of its location far north, but it’s warmer in this capital city of Iceland than you might expect, with average winter temperatures ranging between 2C and 10C. Winter in Reykjavik is also best spent outdoors – skiing, glacier hiking, exploring ice caves, dog sledding, snowmobiling, bird watching, and many other winter activities. Definitely the best thing to do in Reykjavik is viewing the aurora borealis at night. A close second best is swimming in the hot springs surrounding the city.
If you’re hankering for a winter holiday in Europe but don’t fancy spending it all in snow-clad terrains, you should put Seville in your travel itinerary. Seville’s scorching summer weather becomes tamer and more pleasant in winter. It could rain some, but it rarely snows. While you’re in Seville escaping the cold winter weather, you can spend your days filling up on scrumptious tapas, see its famous sites like the Alcazar Palace and the Seville Cathedral, learn how to dance the flamenco, and enjoy the nightlife. Celebrating Christmas is a strong tradition in Seville, so you can pick up a few gifts at the Christmas markets. While you’re at it, visit the Feria del Belen, where you can admire the lovely nativity figurines and watch the locals buy new additions to their Christmas décor.
A list of top winter destinations in Europe won’t be complete without mentioning Zurich. There is magic in spending winter in Zurich, even if the weather is mostly cold and gray. Winter is a great time for exploring the city – visiting museums like the Swiss National Museum and the FIFA World Football Museum, shopping at Banhofstrasse, and taking a stroll in the woods near the city. If you want something more exciting, you can go on a day trip to the ski resorts just outside the city. And whenever the cold gets to you, you can shake it off by indulging in rich cheese dishes like fondue and raclette, and by soaking in a thermal bath at a spa.