Europe’s top winter vacation spots

Winter is usually a magical time of year for outdoor enthusiasts and Christmas lovers, and there’s no better continent to experience it than Europe. This continent truly elevates winter, offering breathtaking ski resorts, delectable mulled wine, reindeer sledding, and quaint Christmas markets. See the top 15 winter vacation spots in Europe that our editorial staff has selected:

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Austria’s Kitzbühel

A prominent ski resort worldwide, this small alpine town east of Innsbruck is known for its superb skiing conditions as well as its breathtaking landscape and an abundance of upmarket stores along the town center’s streets.

In addition to skiing, you can enjoy a variety of other outdoor winter activities while you’re here, such horse-drawn carriage rides, snowshoeing in the mountains, and tobogganing.

Salzburg Airport (SZG) is the closest airport.

December to February: 5–6°C on average

Kitzbühel, a quaint village, has an amazing and captivating past. The town was established in the thirteenth century, and the outstanding Kitzbühel Museum tells the history of the region’s agricultural, mining, and artisanal industries. The Kitzbüheler Skiwunderteam, a group of six friends who dominated the 1950s ski scene, is also honored in the exhibits. Currently, Kitzbühel is among the most vibrant towns in the Tirol. Thursday nights are PURA VIDA nights in July and August. On the Stadtpark meadow, a yoga class commences the activity program. Children will be entertained in the plaza by clowns, fire-breathers, balloon artists, and bubble blowers, while live music contributes to the joyous atmosphere.

Rovaniemi, Finland

Situated exactly on the Arctic Circle, Rovaniemi is a location that screams Christmas more than any other. This city, which is recognized as Santa Claus’ actual hometown, will make you feel really joyous! No matter your age, you will enjoy everything this site has to offer, including husky long trail experiences, rides in reindeer sleighs, and a whole Santa Claus village.

It’s also one of the few places from which you can see the Aurora Borealis, sometimes referred to as the Northern Lights, which appear from August through April.

Rovaniemi Airport is the closest airport.

December through February’s average temperature is -5°C.

Situated on the Arctic Circle, Rovaniemi is a city brimming with culture and life, surrounded year-round by unspoiled wilderness and breathtaking natural phenomena. Take a hike in a national park during the fall to experience the arctic environment. Travel along the enchanted Northern Lights’ arcs being pulled by a husky sled. Snuggle up in a glass-covered hut under the stars. Alternatively, spend a summer evening curled up over a campfire at a nature cabin, taking in the starry night and the breathtaking arctic fells.

The North’s gastronomic capital is regarded as Rovaniemi. Savor the delectable dishes of the area, such as sautéed reindeer seasoned with wild herbs, mushrooms, and the tastiest berries that have matured under the Midnight Sun, and grilled whitefish.

Rovaniemi has plenty to offer families looking for fun things to do, such skiing trips at Ounasvaara Ski Resort and visiting the Angry Birds Park, which is home to the world of Angry Birds. Experience a breathtaking polar trip at the Science Centre Arktikum. Last but not least, don’t forget to realize a childhood fantasy of seeing Santa Claus, the most adored inhabitant of Lapland.

Austria’s Vienna

Is Vienna the best place to go in the winter? not just in Europe but everywhere in the world. Luxurious and sophisticated, Vienna attracts millions of visitors year with its top-notch dining options, assured snowfall, confident Baroque architecture, and world-class concerts at the State Opera House.

Vienna International Airport is the closest airport.

December to February: 5–6°C on average

Czech Republic, Prague

Ah, Prague wintertime! A mug of gluhwein (mulled wine), Old Town Square’s Christmas markets, the picturesque rooftops covered in snow as viewed from the watch tower, and the Vltava River crossed by a historic stone arch bridge. There’s no better way to feel the wonder of Christmas.

Plan your trip for about December 20 to witness the city come to life with thousands of Christmas lights, music, and celebrations.

Prague Airport (PRG) is the closest airport.

December to February: 3-5°C on average

Greetings from Prague, a wildly popular tourist destination and one of the world’s most charming cities!

Prague is stunning, with its cobblestone streets, charming small colored houses, and lovely main square embodying many of the romantic clichés. Rich history to top it all off!

The Czech Republic is well-known for two things: its inebriated, kleptomaniacal president who employed pointless bouncers, and its 1.5L per adult daily average beer intake (see YouTube for all these amusing anecdotes).

Since 1918, the nation’s name has changed nine times! Their national anthem asks, “Where is my home?” repeatedly, and we’re still not sure if that’s because they’ve had too many beers and are having trouble locating their house or if it’s because the nation has changed its name and borders too often!

In relation to boundaries and culture, Germans displaced the Protestants who had been fighting the Catholics during the conflict. After 300 years, the nation nearly lost its native tongue, with only 15% of its population speaking Czech.

Time for culture to end!I’m returning to Prague right now! The city is well-known for its various bridges, the most exquisite of which is Charles Bridge, which hosts many musical performances and art exhibitions. We have passed it numerous times, and its beauty has never let us down!

We also explored the Castle’s grounds and environs, and most significantly, we went to the magnificent (and opulent!) St. Vitus Cathedral and St. George’s Basilica. The large organ, the fresco, and the towering ceilings have all amazed us. Every day at 12 p.m., there is another royal tradition known as the Change of the Guard, which is reminiscent of what we witnessed in Copenhagen two weeks prior!

After visiting a church or synagogue at least 20 times in 4 weeks, this vacation around Eastern Europe also turned into a “religious” road trip! We visited the Church of Our Lady Victorious to witness the Infant Jesus of Prague, who has been anointed numerous times by popes. We noticed that he changes clothes almost every day and that his wardrobe is larger than ours!

We also visited the stunning and opulent Saint Nicholas, Steveho Jilji, and Notre Dame de Tyn.

When in Prague, one should also spend time in the Old Town Square and its surrounding streets, admiring the numerous historic buildings with their exquisite facades, churches once more, and the incredible Astronomical Horloge (which is currently undergoing renovations, so we weren’t able to see it). It appears to be a doll village!

We spent a good deal of time one morning seeing the Jewish district, which used to be a ghetto because Jews were prohibited from living anyplace else. Fortunately, a few of structures were spared, including the Spanish synagogue, the Pinkas synagogue, and the cemetery! One of the oldest Jewish cemeteries in Europe, it has some 12,000 graves stacked one above the other over the years, with a few trees filtering the sun.

Avoid missing them.At last, we strolled around Kampa Island, discovering a French market, a little, charming cottage, and a water mill. Upon John Lennon’s passing, the villagers erected a wall dedicated to peace and love, which we also discovered. Very courageous given that the Soviet Union was still in power.The metronome, which dominates the city and counts the excessive number of days wasted due to Communism, is another indication that the nation was once under Soviet rule.Prague was also the site of the French soccer team’s victory over Belgium, which was witnessed by thousands of fans in a park. We’re heading to the championship game!

Estonia’s Tallinn

One of those major cities in Europe that you would not think to add on your schedule at first, but you’ll be glad you did is Tallinn.

In the winter, its gothic architecture and cobblestone streets are enchanting. You may spend a day vacation here doing anything from visiting the Estonian History Museum to ice skating and sipping coffee at a quaint little cafe.

Tallinn Airport is the closest airport.

December through February’s average temperature is -2-1°C.

Belgian city of Bruges

Like many other towns on this list, Bruges is stunning all year round, but the winter months bring with them a certain kind of charm that is unmatched by the other seasons. With everything from charming carriage rides to mouthwatering chocolates, stunning Christmas markets, and three-month-long festivals, this city is among the top winter travel destinations in Europe.

Budapest, Hungary

Budapest is not only one of the most beautiful but also one of the most affordable winter travel destinations in Europe. Seize the opportunity to enjoy the St. Stephen’s Basilica light show amid sparser crowds. Take a ride on the ice, pick up some roasted chestnuts, or wait in line for a mouthwatering Chimney Cake (Kürtőskalács), a traditional dessert that you will rapidly become addicted to after just one taste!

The neo-baroque Szechenyi Baths complex is a must-visit if you enjoy thermal baths. Situated directly within Budapest’s City Park, it’s a popular winter destination for tourists.

Scotland’s Edinburgh

Throughout the winter, Edinburgh’s charming streets will entice you with an abundance of goodies. Princes Street Gardens’ Christmas market begins in November, so you have plenty of time to sample the many warming delicacies and mulled wines, as well as choose lovely presents for your loved ones. You won’t want to miss Christmas at the Botanics, when the entire garden is transformed into a magical woodland with exquisite light displays.

The traditional supper of haggis with neeps and tatties (turnips and potatoes) is enjoyed by the Scots on Burns Night, which celebrates the life and works of poet Robert Burns. The celebration takes place on January 25.

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