17 Best Places to Visit in Europe in December With Family

European Christmas Market

From gorgeous places to escape for some winter sun to the most festive of Bavarian Christmas markets, there’s a magic that descends upon Europe in December that – despite often subzero temperatures – makes it the top of many family bucket lists.

We got to experience an incredible nine cities in our last European adventure in December on a train tour of Europe, but for this article, we’ve reached out to other family travellers for even more inspiration on where you could include in a Europe winter itinerary with kids.

Top Tips for Experiencing Europe In December

You will want to read this post alongside our European travel guides, including:

Don’t forget the long-awaited ETIAS (online Visa waiver) will likely come into effect in early 2024. So even if you’re from a country that doesn’t need a Schengen Visa to visit Europe, you may still need an ETIAS for all members of your family.

A collage of images from Europe in December with winter blue  colours - titled  17 Fabulous Places to Visit in Europe in December

Bansko, Bulgaria

Suggested by Vicki from This Parenting Thing

Average December Temperatures: Expect daytime highs of 36°F (2°C) and lows of 23°F (-5°C)

As part of our full-time travel adventure, we decided that some snow for winter would be nice and if we could find somewhere with other travelling families hanging out, then even better.

Luckily for us, at Worldschool Hub in Bansko, Bulgaria, ticked all our boxes, and we arrived in December.

My first recommendation is to check out the Sunday market in town. Packed with fresh vegetables, herbs, spices, pickles, crafts and sweet treats. Super affordable, and plenty of freebies for the younger kids from the stall holders.

OG - Vicki - Bansko

Next up, hot springs. There is a lot in the area, and after visiting a few, for families, we feel that Alpha Spa and Pool is best. Fabulous outdoor, naturally heated pools with a shallow one for those less confident swimmers, a colder one for the hardier and a super warm hot tub to thaw you out nicely. They also have saunas and steam rooms, as well as a bar and restaurant to keep you going for hours.

Bansko is a ski town, and although the milder weather this year meant that the slopes couldn’t open fully in December, we enjoyed riding up the Ski Gondola to the bottom slopes of the Pirin mountains and playing in the snow there. Sledging, snowball fights and snow angels all topped off with hot chocolates and mulled wine. The lack of snow also meant we could hike up the “snow road”, enjoying the woodland hikes and picturesque streams and rivers running down the mountain.

Don’t miss the New Year’s Eve fireworks in the main square and the New Year’s Day folk festival full of amazing music and incredible costumes.

Bankso is a wonderful cheap destination in Europe if you’re looking for a great value outdoor European adventure with your family.

Barcelona, Spain

Suggested by Melissa from The Family Voyage

Average December Temperatures: Expect daytime highs of 56°F (13°C) and lows of 40°F (4°C)

Barcelona is a delightful addition to your European winter itinerary! It balances the best of both worlds, with a festive atmosphere but relatively low crowds and mild temperatures. When the temperature dips at night, it’s easy to pop in for every child’s favourite Spanish food, churros con chocolate.

Many of the city’s streets and alleys are adorned with overhead light displays as the country’s municipalities compete for who has the best decorations. If you’re seeking Christmas markets, you’ll find the largest in front of Barcelona Cathedral and smaller ones sprinkled throughout the city in places like La Sagrada Familia and the Columbus Monument. The large ones operate from late November until just before Christmas.

Families deciding where to stay in Barcelona with kids should consider El Born. This charming neighbourhood is still in the walkable historic centre, but it’s less rowdy than the nearby Gothic Quarter. Be careful as you seek accommodations, as many rooms in the city only accommodate two or three guests.

Dublin, Ireland

Suggested by Catherine from Travel Around Ireland

Average December Temperatures: Expect daytime highs of 47°F (8°C) and lows of 39°F (4°C)

A great European city to visit with kids in December is Dublin, Ireland. Apart from Christmas, December is typically a quieter time when it comes to tourists, but unlike some cities in Europe, everything remains open in the Irish capital.

Dublin has some Christmas markets centred around Mary Street and Henry Street, the main shopping street on the north side of the city. There are some smaller markets in other areas of the city.

OG - Catherine - Dublin

On the south side, Grafton Street has Christmas lights to enjoy while browsing the shops, and there are other light displays around the city to get visitors into the festive spirit.

All tourist attractions remain open, and many guides are also running their walking and food tours of Dublin, during which you might just visit a Christmas market or two.

To be in the heart of the city, stay on the southside in Temple Bar (but beware of noisy Christmas parties at night), or close to St Stephen’s Green.

Note that the 8th of December is the day during which many people from outside Dublin flock to the city to do their Christmas shopping. So, it can get busy on this day. But, aside from that, December is a great time to visit Dublin with kids.

Lapland, Finland

Suggested by Katy From Otis and Us

Average December Temperatures: Expect daytime highs of 19°F (-7°C) and lows of 8°F (-13°C)

Lapland is truly magical in December and an incredible Winter family holiday. There are so many options for Lapland holidays, including package holidays and DIY holidays. You can fly into Helsinki, the capital of Finland and head to a Christmas market before moving on to Lapland for the ultimate Christmas destination.

OG - Katy - Lapland

Lapland is the northernmost region of Finland and is known for the Northern Lights and, of course, is the home of Father Christmas. Lapland offers an abundance of family-friendly activities in December, including husky rides, reindeer safaris, snowmobile safaris, skiing, sledging, and a visit to see Santa!

It can be difficult to decide which resort to stay in Lapland. We flew into Helsinki and then took connecting flights to Kittila, staying near Yllas, however, there are many resorts to choose from, including Rovaniemi, Levi, Luosto, and Saariselka. There are also many accommodation options for families in Lapland too, including in a glass igloo, hotel, apartment or log cabin!

Combine a visit to Helsinki with a stay in Lapland for a truly magical family-friendly Christmas break.

London, England

Suggested by Cathy from Mummy Travels

Average December Temperatures: Expect daytime highs of 48°F (9°C) and lows of 40°F (4°C)

From light trails to festive markets, pop-up ice rinks, family-friendly theatre and other Christmas events, London really is magical in winter – plus, you’ll find a string of things to do at Christmas in London with kids.

The Christmas lights are switched on in the main shopping streets from early November, while you’ll find special light trails popping up at some of the historic houses and palaces too. Don’t miss the Christmas markets, with around 10 to choose from. Winter Wonderland, with its rides, shows, Santa’s grotto, an ice rink and stalls, is one of the biggest, so it has timed tickets and an entry fee, but stroll through others, including some by the riverside, in Leicester Square and in Trafalgar Square.

Add in ice skating in the shadow of the city’s most iconic buildings, a steam train with Santa aboard, pantomimes and child-friendly theatre productions, special family activities at the main attractions and some unforgettable hot chocolate; it’s perfect for a winter break.

Unsurprisingly, London gets very busy during the Christmas season, so visiting earlier in December is a good way to enjoy the festive fun but avoid the crowds. Bear it in mind when booking accommodation, too: consider areas like the South Bank, close to key attractions with their own festive events but away from the busiest shopping streets.

Munich, Germany

Suggested by Keri from Mama Loves A Drink

Average December Temperatures: Expect daytime highs of 37°F (3°C) and lows of 26°F (-3°C)

The clinking of beer hall steins and the chime of the Glockenspiel in Marienplatz is only part of the magic of Munich during the festive month of December. The wonderful warm aromas of gingerbread and pretzels fill the air, along with traditional Glüwhein and Kinderpunsch in every flavour combination you can imagine at Chrsitkindlmarkt, one of Europe’s largest Christmas markets.

This traditional Bavarian market has roots dating back to the 14th century and sprawls across several locations of Old Town München. The stunning neo-Gothic town hall in Marienplatz takes centre place through much of lat December until Christmas Eve, with live Bavarian Stubenmusik and choirs frequenting the balcony with performances throughout the festive season.

A mulled wine hut in the English Garden Munich in mid winter snow

Our Munich highlight in December was a snowy trip to the Englischer Garten, where a crisp silence falls over the giant urban park. The warming scents of bratwursts and chestnuts fill the space normally filled with summer sunbathers to make for a picture-perfect white Christmas scene.

If you’re travelling to Munich by train, there’s a wide selection of hotels, many offering family-sized rooms situated around Karlsplatz (between München Hauptbahnhof and the Old Town), where the majority of market stalls can be found.

Paris, France

Suggested by Annabel from Smudged Postcard

Average December Temperatures: Expect daytime highs of 44°F (7°C) and lows of 36°F (2°C)

The French capital is a beautiful city to explore at any time of year, but December is a particularly special time to visit Paris with children.

Although Paris is cold in December, there are plenty of places to buy a warming crepe for the kids too much on as they wander through the pretty streets. To encourage reluctant young visitors to walk that little bit further, Paris has the perfect reward – unlimited free rides on the carousels (or merry-go-rounds) which are dotted through the city.

OG - Annabel - Paris

The best place to head for is Place de l’Hôtel de Ville, which is beautifully decorated with lights projected onto the town hall. Here, families can enjoy rides on the carousels together. There is a small selection of stalls here selling vin chaud and hot chocolate.

A ride on one of the Seine boats is a great way to admire the sights of Paris from a warm interior. Top tip: wrap up warm if you plan to scale the Eiffel Tower – it’s a lot chillier at the top than it is at the bottom!

Paris is great throughout December – it’s not essential to visit during Christmas. The period between Christmas and New Year is a little quieter and a great time to tick off some of the tourist attractions.

The Luxembourg Gardens are always a hit with families – stay at Hotel Baume to be within easy reach of this popular park. The hotel has suites and interconnecting rooms.

Prague, Czechia

Suggested by Erin from WanderlustwithKids

Average December Temperatures: Expect daytime highs of 36°F (2°C) and lows of 28°F (-2°C)

Prague is a great destination to visit in December with kids.

Prague’s Old Town Square transforms into a winter wonderland complete with a large, beautifully-decorated Christmas tree and thousands of festive lights. The largest of Prague’s Christmas Markets is held here and has an array of stalls selling everything from traditional handcrafted gifts to tasty treats like crepe-like palačinky and sweet trdelnik.

In addition to the Christmas Markets, Mikuláš Day, known in other countries as St. Nicolas Day, is a fun event for kids.

OG - Erin - Prague

On December 5th, Mikuláš, along with an angel and a frightening-looking character named Krampus, is seen throughout town, visiting children at the Christmas Markets to see if they have been good.

If they have, the angel writes their name down in a large book, and Mikuláš knows to bring them a present.

And for a festive way to see the best of the city, hop on the Christmas Tram, which is decorated with lights and takes a circular route past some of the most popular sights in Prague.

There are plenty of family-friendly accommodations in Prague, whether you’re looking to stay in the midst of things in the Old Town or in a quieter area in the New Town.

Reykjavik, Iceland

Suggested by KyAnn from KidTripster

Average December Temperatures: Expect daytime highs of 36°F (2°C) and lows of 28°F (-2°C)

Those who visit Iceland during the holiday season will discover that it’s a place of myth and majesty.

The myth relates to tales of Christmas trolls. There’s not just one single Santa, but instead, 13 mischievous Yule Lads. For 13 nights leading up to Christmas Eve, children leave shoes on windowsills. If they’re good, the lads leave them treats, if not, the lads might leave a rotten potato.

OG - KyAnn -Reykjavik

The majesty comes in the form of frozen waterfalls, snowy landscapes, and steaming hot springs. You might get lucky and see the Northern Lights. Well-known tourist destinations like the Golden Circle and the black sand beach are still accessible in winter, although we recommend that you leave the driving to professional tour operators.

Base yourself in Reykjavik. Tours pick up passengers at hotels around the city. We love the historic Kvosin Hotel. Rooms include kitchenettes, which are always helpful for families. The hotel’s within walking distance of major attractions in Reykjavik.

During the month of December, Downtown Reykjavik sparkles with holiday lights and festive decor. Small Christmas markets take place in and around Reykjavik on weekends. Christmas begins at 6 pm sharp on Christmas Eve, marked by the simultaneous ringing of church bells around the country.

Collage of places to visit in Europe in December at night

Rome, Italy

Suggested by Marta from Mama Loves Rome

Average December Temperatures: Expect daytime highs of 54°F (12°C) and lows of 38°F (3°C)

If you are looking for a fabulous destination for a December city trip with kids, then look no further than Rome!

The Eternal City is endlessly fascinating for kids and has activities so varied you are sure to find something your children will love, whatever their age.

OG - Marta - Rome

December is a great time to visit the Colosseum, kids’ number one must-see. It is also a great time to visit St Peter’s Square at the Vatican, which boasts one of the best Christmas trees in the city and stunning Piazza Navona, with its cute Christmas market.

As well as historical landmarks, kids’ activities in Rome include mosaic classes, cooking classes, treasure hunt tours, and outdoor pursuits such as biking in the Borghese Gardens, lovely during this chilly yet often sunny time of the year.

The Christmas season in Rome starts on the 8th of December, and visitors’ numbers grow steadily from that day to the end of early January included. Booking of attractions and accommodation is a must. For the best experience, secure accommodation in the Pantheon/ Navona area or the Monti neighbourhood, among the most charming and best located in Rome.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany

Suggested by Marianne from PastaPretzels&Passports

Average December Temperatures: Expect daytime highs of 37°F (3°C) and lows of 28°F (-2°C)

Rothenburg ob der Tauber is a charming medieval town located in the Franconia region of Germany. It’s a popular destination for tourists all year round, but in December, it transforms into a winter wonderland that’s truly worth visiting.

One of the main reasons to visit Rothenburg in December is to experience the town’s famous Christmas market. Known as the Reiterlesmarkt, it features a variety of traditional crafts, wooden toys, and gifts, as well as delicious food and drink.

Enjoy live music and entertainment while you shop, and don’t forget to try a cup of white Glühwein – a Rothenburg speciality. The markets are open from the end of November until the end of December, so there’s plenty of time to take in all the sights and sounds of the holiday season.

Another highlight of a December visit to Rothenburg is the town’s Christmas lights. The streets are lined with beautiful, colourful lights, creating a magical atmosphere that’s perfect for a romantic stroll or a family outing.

At night, experience the town’s charm with a family-friendly candlelit Night Watchman’s tour. Meander through the town’s narrow streets, past beautifully lit buildings and monuments, all while learning a bit of the town’s history.

Other activities to enjoy in Rothenburg during December include visiting local museums, such as the town’s famous Christmas museum, exploring some of the historical buildings like the Gothic St. James Church, or walking along the town’s famous fortification walls.

So pack your bags and head out to this charming German town for a memorable and magical December family vacation.

Salzburg, Austria

Suggested by Jenn from Those Johnson Boys

Average December Temperatures: Expect daytime highs of 37°F (3°C) and lows of 26°F (-3°C)

Salzburg is a quaint city surrounded by a dramatic landscape, making it the perfect spot to experience a fairytale-like vacation. From exploring a fortress to sipping coffee (or hot chocolate for the younger ones!) at the same cafes frequented by Mozart, you’ll feel like you stepped back in time.

In December, the magic of Christmas really comes alive in Salzburg. You may even get a snowy day, turning the city into a winter wonderland.

OG - Jenn - Salzburg

While you’ll come across several Christmas markets scattered around the city, you can’t miss the Salzburg Christkindlmarkt at the Dom and Residenzplatz. Its roots date back to the 15th century, making it one of the oldest Christmas markets in the world. It’s open from mid-November until January 1st.

When looking for accommodation, choosing a hotel in Altstadt (Old Town) will put you right in the heart of the main attractions. If you’d rather be located closer to the train station, Neustadt is a great area to stay.

Seville, Spain

Suggested by Astrid from The Wandering Daughter

Average December Temperatures: Expect daytime highs of 61°F (16°C) and lows of 43°F (6°C)

The city of Seville is an ideal European city to visit in December if you’re looking to escape the cold in Southern Spain. Not only is Seville decked out in festive lights during December, but you’ll also experience pleasantly mild weather.

Many of Seville’s beautiful buildings date back thousands of years. The city is influenced by the Phoenicians, Romans, Arabs, and other cultures. Catch a glimpse of these cultures with a visit to the Royal Alcazar or watch a flamenco show at Teatro de Flamenco. Then, stroll through Seville’s historic streets while munching on delicious churros and buñuelos.

In December, keep an eye out for nativity scenes, known as belen. You’ll find them at churches and cathedrals. However, businesses will also install nativity window displays. To stay close to the action, find a hotel in Casco Antiguo. Alternatively, look for hotels in the Triana neighbourhood, which is home to a handful of great restaurants.

Stuttgart, Germany

Suggested by Diana from Travels in Poland

Average December Temperatures: Expect daytime highs of 40°F (4°C) and lows of 29°F (-2°C)

A major city in southern Germany, just a two-hour drive from the French, Austrian, and Swiss borders, Stuttgart is a great place to visit for December before continuing on to other beautiful locations. The Stuttgart “Weihnachtsmarkt is one of Germany’s oldest and largest Christmas markets, visited by millions every year. It typically runs for one month, from November 23 to December 23 and has stalls in different areas of downtown Stuttgart.

There is a children’s fairyland that takes children on a steam train ride around a beautiful miniaturized version of Stuttgart. There are concerts at Alten Schloss that are free to the public and various other types of entertainment.

There is typically a Nordic market, a children’s area, and numerous artisan shops not seen at other markets, and in 2022, the market added a Winter Hut, with ice stick shooting and an array of food and beverage items such as the infamous gluhwein Germany is known for. There is usually an annual ice rink, though, in 2022, it changed to a skating rink to help the city reduce energy costs.

With over 300 merchants, the entire Christmas market is quite special, as Stuttgart is nestled in a valley, thus, twinkling lights from houses and buildings nearby are hard to miss. Kronenhotel Stuttgart is a great palace to stay in, as this 4-star hotel is centrally located with easy walkable access to the centre.

Venice, Italy

Suggested by Marta from Mama Loves Italy

Average December Temperatures: Expect daytime highs of 44°F (7°C) and lows of 33°F (1°C)

Venice is one of the world’s most beautiful cities and a fantastic destination for a December city trip with kids. Entirely built in water and famous for its evocative atmospheres, Venice is like a giant playground for families, a place with many fun activities that will keep kids and adults busy and entertained!

During a winter visit to Venice, families can enjoy the famous Doge’s Palace, the incredible St Mark’s Basilica and, of course, a gondola ride. Art-loving kids can have fun taking one of the many hands-on workshops, teaching them local arts such as mask making and glass making, great activities for winter, especially when bad weather is possible. Active kids will love taking a rowing class or going ice skating on one of the ice rinks that dot the city in winter.

OG - Marta - Venice

Venice gets busy during Christmas, and early booking of activities and accommodation is mandatory. Visitors’ numbers peak around the 8th of December, a National holiday, and again during the week between Christmas and New Year but tend to be low during the rest of the month. Stay in Cannaregio or Dorsoduro, two beautiful and well-served areas with accommodation options to suit all budgets.

Vienna, Austria

Suggested by Keri from Little City Trips

Average December Temperatures: Expect daytime highs of 37°F (3°C) and lows of 28°F (-2°C)

Vienna is a classic European city to visit in December, with some of the best Christmas Markets dotted all around the city. The most famous is “Wiener Christkindlmarkt” – Vienna Dream Christmas Market at Rathausplatz. Not the largest of all the markets, but the ice skating rink set in front of City Hall is one of the largest in Europe and the most magical of Christmas settings.

The fun continues across the city with the year-round fun fair Prater, a great spot for kids, whatever the season. At Wintermarkt am Riesenradplatz, you can ride one of the oldest wooden Ferris wheels in Europe before jumping in your dodgem car, visiting the Chocolate Factory or Madam Tussauds, then warm up with your hot chocolate, kinderpunsch, Glühwein or Schnapps!

There are more Christmas markets to be found in Stephansplatz, Schönbrunn Palace, Maria Theresien Square, and one of our favourites, the Arts and Crafts market on Karlsplatz, where the focus is on local handicrafts.

A christmas market in Vienna on a sunny December day

Most markets in Vienna run from late November and up to the 23rd of December (Christmas is celebrated by families in Austria on the evening of the 24th), though some continue through until the first week of January.

Staying near the very centre of town and Stephansplatz will give you the most options for heading to the markets on foot each evening or catching the affordable and convenient Wien Metro.

Warsaw, Poland

Suggested by Mark from Poland Travel Expert

Average December Temperatures: Expect daytime highs of 34°F (1°C) and lows of 25°F (-4°C)

Warsaw, in winter, can be a great destination for a family trip with kids. The city offers many activities that can be enjoyed indoors, such as visiting museums, art galleries and indoor playgrounds. Some popular sightseeing options include the National Museum, the observation deck at the Palace of Culture, the Hop on hop off bus and the Pinball Station.

For indoor playtime, check out the Playground at the Warsaw Uprising Museum or the Children’s Room at the Museum of King Jan III’s Palace at Wilanow. You will find all the December Christmas lights equal anywhere in Europe. They were quite stunning.

OG - Mark - Warsaw

Outdoor activities, such as ice skating, are also available in the winter, with several rinks around the city, such as the one at the Old Town Square. Additionally, you can take a stroll through the colourful Christmas markets, where you can find traditional crafts and food.

The best part of the city to stay in is in and around the Royal Castle area of Warsaw. We choose the budget option for our winter accommodation in Warsaw and stayed at Safestay, an upmarket hostel with all the features of a hotel.

It’s important to note that Warsaw can be quite cold during the winter, so make sure to dress warmly and bring appropriate clothing and gear for your children.

We hope you’ve found the perfect inspiration for your next December trip in amongst this fabulous selection of European destinations. From magical Christmas markets to making the most of snowy weather and meeting Father Christmas himself, Europe can make the perfect winter family vacation.

More Europe Travel Inspiration

Looking at visiting Europe with kids at another time of year? We’ve got plenty of ideas and inspiration for your European plans, why not check out next:

Helpful? Bookmark this page or save it to Pinterest for later

Our Globetrotter - Pinterest - Best Places to Visit in Europe in December
Our Globetrotter - Pinterest - Best Places to Visit in Europe in December

Disclosures: This page contains affiliate links to our preferred suppliers, which earn us a commission if a qualifying purchase or booking is made. You can find our full disclosures, privacy policy, and website terms of use here.

© Our Globetrotters | Images remain copyright to their respective contributors unless otherwise credited | Feature Image CanvaPro | Average temperature data comes from WeatherSpark

Like it? Share it!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.