Visiting Europe during the winter months has a charm of its own. Even though temperatures drop, most of northern Europe tend to turn into a magical winter wonderland that very few places in other continents can rival.
If you’re planning a winter escapade to Europe, you’re probably wondering where to even go, so we decided to round up some of our favorite cities and town to visit once the cold hits Europe.
From Swedish Lapland to bustling cities in the Baltics and Germany’s Romantic Road, here are some of the best destinations to visit in Europe in winter.
Germany is THE go-to place for all things Christmas markets, and Nuremberg is one of the best destinations in the country to visit to get an authentic taste of what they’re all about. This tiny Bavarian gem is home to some of the most famous Christmas Markets in the country, all of which you can explore while taking in the medieval vibes and walking on cobblestone streets.
With so many stalls to check out, traditional food to try, and an array of sweets to nibble on, a trip to Nuremberg during December does not disappoint. Don’t forget to leave your schedule open the day after your visit to the Christmas markets, as you’re bound to be feeling a bit tired after drinking all that mulled wine!
After visiting Nuremberg, you can continue exploring the many castles and villages that make this part of Germany such a cool destination to visit. Bavaria sees a significant amount of tourists during the summer, but it’s so much quieter during the winter, so you won’t have to share those kick-ass views of Neuschwanstein draped in the snow with anyone else.
Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, is a city that truly takes the magic of its own once the snowfall comes. Even though we often go for smaller cities when exploring Europe, Tallin is relatively small and still holds that old-world charm that makes small towns in Europe so sought after. While here, make sure to check out the Old Town Christmas Market if you happen to be visiting during December, as well as the stunning Christmas tree that towers over the main square.
If ice skating is your jam, you can also pop by at the old town, or take a break from the cold temperatures by visiting a sauna or spa.
Some destinations in Europe look super extra during the winter, and Hallstatt probably stands tall against them all. Backdropped by the snow-capped Alps and cute alpine houses, walking through Halltstad feels like stepping into a storybook town with its traditional wooden houses, its lakefront views, and unbeatable mountain views.
While here, you can try your hand at skiing as well as other winter sports, or you can also opt to hike up to the Hallstatt Skywalk that towers over the town. If winter sports and hiking aren’t your jam, you can also just cozy up at the numerous coffee shops and museums that line the old town.
Up until a couple hundred years ago, the only way to access Haltstat was by boat or hiking. Nowadays, getting to the town is much easier, but that should give you a pretty good idea of the astounding nature that surrounds the town!
If you love spending time in nature and practicing winter sports, then Zermatt in Switzerland is one of the best destinations to visit in Europe for you! This quaint Swiss town is famously known for being one of the top places in Europe for winter honeymoons, and it’s also well-famed for being the home to Matterhorn, one of the most popular mountains in Europe and a top destination for climbers.
If you’re visiting Europe in the winter, chances are you wouldn’t mind seeing the Northern Lights, and the quaint town of Tromso in Norway’s Arctic Circle is one of the best places to see Aurora Borealis with the naked eye.
Aside from giving you the chance to experience nature’s coolest light shows, a visit to Tromso allows visitors to try their hand and an array of winter sports like dog sledding. If you’re into all things culture, you can also take a tour to meet and learn more about the Sami People and their reindeer.
Prague, Czech Republic
Prague is a gem of a city to visit year-round, but once the snow hits, it turns into a winter storybook setting like no other. Plus, you’ll get just a portion of the tourists that often prefer to visit in the summer.
If you visit during December, make sure you plan a stop at the city’s famous Christmas markets to get your holiday spirits on while drinking mulled wine and window shopping across the many stalls offering traditional food and handmade trinkets to take back home.
Aside from its Christmas market, Prague is also famous for its lively nightlife, so it makes for a fun destination to visit. Tip: try all the beer you can! Czechs are ranked the top beer drinkers in the world, so they definitely know their craft!
If you want to get to one of the northernmost points in the world for a chance to get to see some serious snow and try all the fun winter sports, Abisko in Swedish Lapland is one of the best destinations for that. Seeing the northern lights, sleeping in igloos, and getting all that husky love are just a few of the highlights of visiting Abisko.
Keep in mind that the sun doesn’t rise at all for a few weeks in December and January, so make sure to plan your trip to Lapland around those dates.
And that’s our list of the best destinations to visit in Europe in winter! Even though we are sure there are a ton more places to check out, these are definitely some of our favorites and the perfect starting point for your winter escape to Europe.