Winter dons many appearances in Europe. While the polar north is riddled with heaps of fresh snow and sunless weeks, the mild Mediterranean features lingering sunshine and cosy cafe culture to elevate the Christmas spirit. Therefore, winter is an inspiring time to visit Europe and explore its plethora of grand cities and charming villages.
With fewer queues outside motels and shops, you can easily fit more into your itinerary. That said, the off-season prices make European travel wallet-friendly and even more enriching – you could spend 3 months travelling Europe in the winter and spend the equivalent of only a month travelling in summer!
Here are five European destinations that exude a distinctive charm, especially during winter and are a must-visit during Christmas and New Year.
This is part of our Destinations series – See more great destinations to travel to in 2021
1. Rovaniemi, Finland
Rovaniemi is the designated terrestrial residence of Santa Claus, and therefore, it is only apparent that you can find fistfuls of Christmas clichés donning the cityscape. Here you can easily find your most favourite bearded person hanging out in the impressive Arctic Circle grotto. Not to mention the fact that reindeers and snow are aplenty here. So, this fantastic Finnish city is the place to be when it’s time to sing carols and wait for the stocking to get heavy.
2. Dublin, Ireland
Ireland’s capital city is not only famous for its impressive resume of iconic structures and quaint little pubs, but there’s another realm of intrigue that this place holds. For a few years now, Dublin has played hosts to the mesmerising Smashing Times City of Dublin Parade, which is a colourful festival to honour the Winter Solstice.
That said, New Years’ eve is another spectacle when the streets are alive with traditional storytelling, ceili dancing and a fire ceremony to cap off the year. Events such as Luminosity and the Celtic Drum session (the world’s largest) also set the mood around town.
3. Copenhagen, Denmark
In winter, the fairytale city of Copenhagen offers an irresistible combination of European festivities and warm, fuzzy delicacies. This spectacular city, home of Hans Christian Andersen (the most prolific storyteller in history), hosts a flurry of cosy cafes and bars to light up your winter evenings here.
It is especially gratifying to watch the flurrying snow outside as you gulp down on a warm beverage. Another kitsch delight that you can explore here, around Christmas time, is the 19th-century Tivoli amusement park, where body-warming mugs of mulled wine and heart-warming illuminations will surely melt away your inhibitions. Here’s how you could spend 3 days in Copenhagen, a great winter itinerary.
4. Transylvania, Romania
While Bram Stoker’s iconic interpretation of Dracula may have introduced you to this breathtakingly beautiful European city, it is ironic that Stoker never actually visited Romania. Therefore, it would be hard for you to find parallels between fact and fiction.
Nevertheless, Transylvania is yet another pristine European region whose grandeur reaches its peak in the winter, when the steel-grey skies and bare trees receive a fresh smattering of snow, and the memorable Bran Castle opens its gates to every onlooker.
5. Venice, Italy
Fondly known as the Bride of the Sea, Venice is a hauntingly beautiful and slightly weird city that epitomises romance in a million ways. While the spring season brings out the colours of this distinctive canal city, it is especially in the winter that Venice truly outshines its neighbours.
The city’s Carnevale festival in February is a European highlight, which features elaborate costumes and spooky masks to showcase the colourful history of the city. That said, even if you miss out on the festival, you should experience the enthralling countdown of New Year’s Eve here.
European Winter Travel – Wrapping it up
While Europe is generally regarded as the best region to spend summer in, it is the winter season when you can genuinely experience Europe’s most beautiful.
Whether it is the warmth of staying in an Alpine cottage, beside the roaring fireplace flames or the thrill of riding down the slopes in Interlaken in your favourite jacket, every European vacation is a story in itself. That said, visiting Europe may not be as easy as it sounds.
For starters, you would have to make reservations well in advance before you set foot there. Otherwise, you would have to deal with hordes of vacationers.
Secondly, you would have to consider buying international travel insurance, without which, you would always feel the pinch, whenever your flight gets cancelled, or your baggage gets lost.
Remember vacation time can be thoroughly enjoyable only when you are free from all sorts of inhibitions. Therefore, get yourself busy preparing the itineraries and packing the bags, while travel insurance takes cares of everything else.
Disclosures: This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase anything after clicking on one of these links we may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Our full disclosure policy can be found here.