Europe

13 Top Places to Visit in Europe in the Winter (2024/25)


Disclosure: Your support helps keep our site running. We may get a referral fee at no cost to you if you click on our links and make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Share...

Travelling to Europe in the winter has a certain allure. Winter can completely transform a place and give you an experience that you just can’t get at other times of the year.

The majority of people might believe that going on vacation in the summer is the only sensible option, but there are benefits to being outside in the chilly weather as well. The possibility to experience winter sports or other activities, like looking for the northern lights, is made possible by the short days and snowfall.

Christmas and New Year’s Eve, on the other hand, are significant occasions that are associated with the winter season. These celebrations give the local customs and culture a chance to shine, exposing you to an aspect of a place you might not normally see.

Although not every place is appropriate for winter travel, for those that are, it totally makes sense to pay a visit. Let’s explore some top winter travel destinations in Europe and what makes each one so unique.


1. Prague, Czech Republic – A medieval winter wonderland & with incredible Christmas Markets

Prague is a great place to visit in the winter since it has one of the most magnificent Christmas markets in all of Europe.

Early December brings the arrival of winter in Prague, which lasts until well into February. The crimson rooftops and church spires of the Old Town are frequently dusted with snow.

Prague’s Masopust, or carnival season, runs from February to March. This is a fantastic time to visit during the chilly months to see a fantastic parade of enormous puppets and outrageous costumes.

The city that Franz Kafka adored just seems more enchanting in the winter when ice rinks pop up all over the place and old churches host classical music events for the delight of tourists.

Other attractions in Prague include more than a hundred museums and galleries, an indoor water park, one of the world’s oldest libraries (the Strahov Library), fantastic shopping, and much more.

Charles Bridge in the Winter
Image by @mikecleggphoto / team

2. Bergen, Norway – Found among fjords and mountains

Bergen, which is surrounded by fjords and mountains, is a good base for people who want to explore the stunning views that this combination of natural elements creates.

The largest ‘gingerbread town’ in the world is constructed in Bergen during the months of November and December. During this time, the Bergen Maritime Museum gives visitors a glimpse of the nation’s close ties to the sea.

Bergen in January is one of the most beautiful places in the world to visit, with stunning vistas of the fjords shrouded in mist, northern lights flashing over the city, and colourful wooden houses blanketed in snow.

Wintertime visitors will enjoy exploring Bergen’s picturesque harbour as snow blankets the surrounding. Sit at a café close to the sea and get a hot chocolate while enjoying a nice cinnamon roll. Then, ride the funicular up Mount Fløyen for a breathtaking overview of the entire city.

Norwegian fjords are best viewed from the sea, and cruises are offered throughout the winter. There are also options to enjoy snowshoeing, sledging, or cross-country skiing in the nearby mountains.

Top Experiences for Bergen
Bergen in Norway in the winter
Photo © tan4ikk | depositphotos.com

3. Tallinn, Estonia – A winter fairy tale

Tallinn oozes beauty due to the picturesque spires, churches and castles that dot the city and its setting on the Baltic Sea.

Tallinn is a lovely place to visit if you like the snow, with a snowy season that typically begins in late October and ends in April. Pack lots of warm clothing and footwear if you plan on exploring the beautiful, snow-covered city on foot and learning everything about its treasures and secrets.

Explore the Christmas markets, take in the rooftop views of Tallinn from Kohtuotsa, browse for regional goods at Balti Jaam Market, ice skate at the temporary rink next to St. Nicholas Church, and more.

Since Tallinn can sometimes get rather chilly in the dead of winter, it makes sense that people enjoy a decent sauna and spa during that period. Unwinding at a pub or cafe while observing the snowfall outside is, of course, an option.

Visit the stunning Alexander Nevsky Cathedral and eat a big lunch at an authentic Estonian restaurant to avoid the cold.

Raekoja plats, Old Town Hall Square and Town Hall in Tallinn
Image by @mikecleggphoto / team

4. Nuremberg, Germany – Holiday lights in a medieval town

Wintertime is a terrific time to visit almost any German city, but Nuremberg is unquestionably one of the most unique. You can’t really top the sight of holiday lights in a medieval town, especially if there is a little December snowfall.

One of the top Christmas markets in Germany is the Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt, which dates back to 1628. Against a backdrop of historic structures, over a hundred stalls are present selling everything from the well-known regional ‘Rauschgoldengel’ (gold-foil angel decorations) to the customary lebkuchen gingerbread.

Everything from the plain bratwurst sausage to the highly irresistible local gingerbread, lebkuchen, is a traditional dish that should not be missed. Both can be enjoyed while sipping on a hot cup of mulled wine called glühwein, which will make you forget how chilly the outside temperature is.

After finishing their shopping, travellers can enjoy holiday music in the Lorenzkirche church, which features one of the largest organs in the world or wander up cobblestone streets to the premise of Nuremberg Castle, where they can then visit the city’s toy museum to learn about the long-standing history of making wooden toys.

Nuremberg in Germany
Photo © TTstudio | depositphotos.com

5. Zermatt, Switzerland – Paradise for expert skiers

Zermatt, a breathtaking skiing and hiking region in Switzerland, is located at the base of the famous mountain Matterhorn.

Zermatt is a quiet village for the majority of the year. But when winter comes, skiers of all levels swarm there to use the 360 kilometres of pistes. With off-piste and beautiful runs at almost four thousand metres, Zermatt’s ski area is a paradise for expert skiers.

You can embark on a hike instead of just hitting the slopes, such as the well-known Five Lakes Trail, which passes past the alpine lakes Grünsee, Stellisee, Grindjisee, Moosjisee, and Leisee. Depending on the conditions The Matterhorn may be seen beautifully reflected in the majority of these lakes.

There are many activities in Zermatt for people who don’t ski. Zermatt offers lots of sunshine during the cooler months, ideal for a trip in the wilderness for those who want to attempt snowshoeing and winter hiking. Sledging, tobogganing, and guided treks are also available for those who prefer to explore off-the-beaten-path options.

Travel from Zermatt to Gornergrat on the cogwheel railway for some breathtaking views of the Matterhorn. Although the views from the train will be spectacular, the best is unquestionably from the peak of Gornergrat.

Zermatt during the winter
Photo © anshar | depositphotos.com

6. Amsterdam, Netherlands – Light festival and frozen canals

Visit the charming Dutch capital city for the annual Amsterdam Light Festival (December through January). You will be in awe of the stunning light displays that fill the entire city and reflect in the canals as you turn each corner.

If you’re fortunate, you might have the opportunity to ice skate on frozen canals. If not, there are many ice rinks spread out over the city. Of course, you can’t forget about the lovely Christmas markets.

The enormous ice rink located outside the iconic Rijksmuseum is open throughout the remainder of the time. Yes, Amsterdam is well-known for its nightlife, coffee shops, and red-light district, but it’s also a cultural hub.

Visiting the city’s renowned art galleries and museums is undoubtedly a good way to stay warm. On chilly days, hearty Dutch snack dishes like pancakes, stroopwafel, oliebollen, and chocomel are even more enjoyable.

For National Tulip Day on the third Saturday in January, you can also visit the impromptu tulip garden in Dam Square.

Amsterdam winter
Photo © nilaya | depositphotos.com

7. Venice, Italy – A city softened by winter mist

The floating city of Venice is one of the most well-liked tourist destinations in the world. Therefore, schedule your visit to the city of canals for when it is least crowded.

The city truly conforms to its namesake, ‘La Serenissima’ (The Serene), in the winter. Wintertime in Venice is peaceful and softened by winter mist, hotels offer reduced rates, and you can visit St. Mark’s Basilica without crowds.

Just keep in mind to travel prior the second half of January, when Carnevale (a festival for which Venice has long been known) begins and prices start to rise.

You may still take a gondola ride when the canals are not frozen; just wrap up warmly as you go through the foggy waterways. Campo San Polo, one of the largest squares in Venice gets transformed into a massive ice-skating rink in December.

Although flooding caused by Venice’s ‘acqua alta’ (high water) is most likely to occur during the winter, this rarely causes any problems for travellers, and could also be seen as a unique experience.

Venice canals and fog
Photo © Alpegor6 | depositphotos.com

8. Bregenzerwald, Austria – A winter wonderland

For snowshoeing and cross-country skiing, the Bregenz Forest is the place to go. You’ll likely get to experience this winter wonderland on your own since there are many kilometres of trails available.

The region is renowned for its ‘Damüls’ (cuddle path) and full-moon snowshoeing excursions through the forest. Visitors come in the winter to take advantage of access to the Damüls-Mellau ski region’s snow-dusted slopes.

The adjoining country inn and restaurant is a nice spot to stop for a cup of hot chocolate as you travel to your destination even though the fanciful wooden huts are closed during the winter.

Among the twenty-three lovely villages in the Bregenz Forest, the towns of Au and Bezau provide quick access to ski tracks, sleigh rides, winter hiking as well as sledging. When you need a break from the cold, there are still lots of indoor activities available, such as visiting museums and galleries, artisan buildings showing regional handicrafts etc.

Bregenzerwald
Photo © ubrimo | depositphotos.com

9. Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy – The pearl of the Dolomites

Cortina d’Ampezzo, sometimes known as ‘the Pearl of the Dolomites, is one of Italy’s top ski resorts and is about two hours north of Venice. It is perhaps best known for hosting the 1956 Winter Olympics.

As well as the ski areas additionally, there are fantastic hiking routes that you can use for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in the winter as well as an Olympic ice stadium where you can try ice skating, curling, and even practice sledging at an international mushing dog sledging school.

In December, the town transforms into a winter wonderland, along with the bustling Corso Italia center. One of the most well-known retail alleys on the Peninsula, Cortina’s vibrant core is noted for its hot chestnuts and lovely wooden huts selling regional crafts, artwork, jewellery, and antiques.

But in December, the town is filled with awe because to the numerous eighteenth-century structures and charming cafés that are decked out for the holidays. Be sure to sample Bombardino, the famous beverage served on Italian ski slopes, or Calimero, which is the same beverage but contains an espresso shot.

Cortina D'Ampezzo
Photo © boerescul | depositphotos.com

10. Strasbourg, France – A picture-perfect French city

Although the capital of France, Paris, may win the hearts of all lovers, there is a picture-perfect French city near the German border that excels at winter attractiveness. Strasbourg is a charming mediaeval city known for its half-timbered homes and charming waterways, which are beautiful year-round.

When it comes to offering classic Christmas there’s an enormous Christmas trees on Place Kléber. Enjoy sometimes with a coating of snow as you stroll through the vendors with a cup of hot cocoa.

The sandstone Gothic Cathedral of Our Lady is the city’s most notable landmark and a must-see year-round. The Baroque Palais des Rohan is another excellent wintertime destination. During the winter they make for a fantastic indoor retreat. Strasbourg’s gastronomy is just one area where the Franco-German influences are evident.

Without relaxing in a café by the sea and trying an apple and cinnamon flambée, no trip to the city feels complete.

Strasbourg
Photo © olgacov | depositphotos.com

11. Budapest, Hungary – Getaway for relaxation

One of the nicest capital cities in Europe to visit in the winter is Budapest. When coated in snow, the city’s iconic structures such as the Buda Castle and Fisherman’s Bastion look even more stunning.

There is no ideal time to experience Budapest’s thermal spas and hot springs than during the chilly winter months. Rudas baths and the Gellért are the most remarkable if you’re looking for gorgeous architecture, while the Széchenyi baths are the most famous and busiest.

If you prefer to skate outside, it’s hard to match the City Park Ice Rink, which is among the oldest in Europe and has Vajdahunyad Castle as a backdrop. You can also take a Danube River cruise for breathtaking views of UNESCO World Heritage sites.

You should also include a trip to the St. Stephen Basilica light show on your list of things to do. Warm yourself with classic Goulash in the evening before heading out at one of the Jewish Quarter’s ruin bars.

Spa in Budapest in the winter
Photo © Neirfys | depositphotos.com

12. Rovaniemi, Finland – The official home of Santa Claus

Are you looking forward to Christmas and hoping that Santa will visit you?

Instead of waiting, visit the Santa Claus Village and look around Santa’s post office in Rovaniemi. For adventurous families, Rovaniemi is a must-visit destination because of its abundance of ice-skating rinks, reindeer farms, husky sledging, and Northern Lights experiences in addition to being maybe the ideal site to celebrate Christmas (after all, it does claim to be Santa Claus’ official home).

The Ounasvaara outdoor region surrounding the town is ideal for snowshoeing through snow-covered woodlands. Try watching the spectacular Aurora Borealis while inside a glass igloo for an even more amazing experience.

Make reservations for a couple of nights at the Arctic TreeHouse Hotel if you’d like to experience something a bit less festive and quieter. Here, you may have glogg by the fire, enjoy smoked salmon and cloudberry ice cream, and watch the snow-covered forests from the warmth of your bed.

Instead, if you want to warm yourself and relax, try the Finnish sauna.

Top Experiences for Rovaniemi
husky sledding in Rovaniemi
Photo © erix2005 | depositphotos.com

13. Hallstätt, Austria – Home to fairy-tale churches & alpine houses

Hallstätt, which is bordered by the snow-capped Dachstein Mountains and situated on the banks of Hallstätter See, is a picturesque Alpine town full of Alpine houses and fairy-tale churches from the twelfth century.

Hallstätt is equally beautiful all year round, but it truly shines when it is coated in snow. The Hallstätt Skywalk, perched high above the city, offers the best perspective of winter Hallstätt if you’re up for the challenge, but getting there takes a hike that isn’t always feasible in the midst of winter.

Explore the charming town on foot to enjoy the Christmas lights, markets, and nativity scenes. Hike one of the many nearby trails and stop by the Altaussee Salt Mine. Dachstein Krippenstein, Dachstein-West, and Loser are three ski regions that are close by if you’re interested in participating in winter activities.

You can also visit Hallstatt on a day trip from Salzburg or Vienna,

Hallstatt winter
Photo © pandionhiatus3 | depositphotos.com

Summary

If you let your restlessness take over, travelling to Europe in the winter will provide you with breathtaking views, joyful activities, thrilling winter sports, and experiences that you’ll cherish for a lifetime. The diversity, intrigue, and breathtaking beauty of Europe—which is still one of the most unique, fascinating, and beautiful continents in the world—are all elevated when winter arrives.

Everything is covered in snow, from the tiny villages to the high peaks, and the joyous holiday atmosphere permeates the towns, cities, and villages. You’re going to experience a winter paradise unlike any other, for sure!

Get more inspiration and discover other places to go during the winter around the world.


Find flights and hotels

Start your search using our form below:


Author

Written by

Arunabha Chakraborty

Arunabha is a travel writer and digital marketer located in Kolkata, India. He is passionate about writing and photography and enjoys documenting his wanderlust experiences through his blog, encouraging others to travel and create unforgettable memories. He found a passion for travel writing right after his master’s degree. You can follow his travels on Instagram and his blog.

 Read full bio | See more articles from Arunabha

Noticed a mistake? Let us know.

Image credits
Article main photos via depositphotos.com. Read more about where we source images.

Related Articles

See more articles in the Europe category