Some people like to escape to warm and sunny destinations come winter, but some cities are at their best during the Christmas season. Festive lights, colourful markets, cosy cafes, and a refreshing lack of crowds make these Christmas destinations worth the cold.
Vienna is one of the best cities in Europe, no matter the season. With its amazing mix of neoclassical palaces, old Christmas markets and warm coffeehouses, the Austrian capital is a must see in the winter. You can check out various holiday concerts and balls, including the Vienna Philharmonic Ball and the Neujahrskonzert, and try delicious treats like gluhwein, hot chocolate and sacher torte. Also, check out the Viennese ice skating rinks and the ski fields in the surrounding Alps.
Located to the north of the Arctic Circle, the Finnish Lapland is said to be the true home of Santa Claus. Its Santa Claus Village is open throughout the year and is a true winter wonderland. Covered with snowy fir trees and home to various festive experiences like reindeer sleigh rides, husky safaris, and even a visit to Santa’s office it is a joyful experience. You can also learn how to bake cookies from Mrs Claus, and meet with Saint Nicholas himself, as well as exploring the Arctic wildlife and the Northern Lights.
One of the best-preserved medieval cities in Europe, Bruges turns into a fairytale landscape each winter. Its winding canals and cobblestoned streets are lit up with thousands of twinkly lights each year. Christmas markets and ice skating rinks abound here, and if you want to escape from the cold, its easy to warm up with mugs of Belgian hot chocolate and delicious waffles.
This small Austrian village on the shores of Hallstätter See near Salzburg is one of the most picturesque places in the country. Its 12th-century churches, charming restaurants, and market squares become more charming during the winter, especially when the Dachstein Mountains that surround it are covered with snow. It is the perfect place to go skiing, snowshoe hiking, or take a horse-drawn carriage ride.
Also Read: The Best Alpine Ski Resorts In Europe
Copenhagen has been one of the top Christmas destinations in Europe for decades, in large part due to its amazing festive markets at the Tivoli and Christiania. The city is also famous for its winter hospitality and its Danish hygge (or “cosiness”). Christmastime also sees its canals and restaurants filled with festive cheer.
There is no bad time to visit London, but the festive winter months truly transform the city. Christmas lights illuminate Oxford Street while famous department store Harrods unveils its theatrical window displays. Hyde Park also opens its annual Winter Wonderland, with its food stalls, ice rinks, and Ferris wheels. There are also festive pantomimes and shows to be enjoyed at the West End.
The Slovenian capital is truly a fairy-tale setting, especially come winter. The city’s amazing Baroque architecture is surrounded by sparkling Christmas lights. You can also stroll through the charming Old Town, or enjoy coffee at the many riverside cafes. Also, check out the nearby Julian Alps to the north, and the picturesque Lake Bled.
8Quebec City, Canada
For an amazing Christmas experience, few places are as charming as Quebec City. Its amazing historic district is filled with cobblestoned streets and 16th-century buildings which are covered in decorations and snow each winter. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
9Prague, Czech Republic
Prague is one of the most enchanting Christmas destinations in the world. The cobblestones streets of the old town and the spires of the city’s Castle Hill and St Vitus Cathedral are all covered in festive decorations. The city is also home to colourful stalls and Christmas markets at Wenceslas Square, Republic Square, Prague Castle and Havel’s Market.
Berlin is famous around the world for its Christmas markets. There are over 60 of them, but the most well known is the picturesque WeihnachtsZauber, which features amazing products from artisans from across Germany. You can also enjoy the city’s many amazing restaurants and clubs, as well as its amazing museums.
Switzerland in winter is a top destination and is full of ski slopes and resort towns. However, for something different you can visit nearby Lucerne. Located on Lake Lucerne, it is known for its amazing museums and ferry rides.
This French-Canadian metropolis has the most European Christmas setting across the Atlantic. The city hosts the wonderful French-themed Défilé de Noël festival each year, as well as a Santa Claus Parade, and multiple Christmas fairs. There are also weekly fireworks displays and plenty of delicious festive French foods to enjoy.
Set underneath the stunning Northern Lights, the Icelandic capital is lit up each winter. It is also home to the Yule Town Christmas Market and the famous Winter Lights Festival in February. On New Year’s Eve there is also an amazing fireworks display. You can also visit other amazing Icelandic location nearby, such as the pools of the Blue Lagoon, or the impressive Gullfoss waterfall which is fed by the Langjökull glacier and freezes each winter.
Edinburgh in winter is known for its three-day New Year festival, Hogmanay. Said to be one of the largest street parties in Europe, it includes fairground rides, outdoor concerts, firework displays, and lots and lots of dancing. You can also visit the snowy ski slopes of the Pentland Hills, the Scottish Highlands and the Cairngorms National Park.
Located in the picturesque Alsace region of France, Strasbourg sits on the border with Germany. It is home to one of the oldest Christmas markets in Europe, which features charming wooden huts and delicious roasted chestnuts, brezel, tartes flambées or choucroute to keep the cold at bay.
16New York City, USA
Like everything else it does, New York in winter is larger than life. The holiday season sees countless events and celebrations, including the iconic Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree and skating rink. You can also check out the ornaments and decorations on Sixth Avenue and in Dyker Heights, or the famous Times Square ball drop on New Year’s Eve.
Located on the Rhine River in western Germany, Cologne is one of the country’s top Christmas destinations. During the holiday season, it fills up with lively Christmas markets selling everything from festive pastries and children’s toys to handmade glass ornaments and wood carvings.
Christmas in Stockholm is a unique mix of traditional and contemporary. You can visit the Christmas market, go ice skating around the Kungsträdgården, or enjoy the traditional julbord (a Yuletide version of the smörgåsbord) which includes everything from the smoked reindeer to Christmas ham. Also sped tie exploring Sweden’s unique Christmas traditions, such as a living Christmas calendar.
Are there any Christmas destinations we may have missed? If so, be sure to share them in the comments below.