From sun-soaked Spanish islands to the snowy Arctic circle, there are so many unforgettable places to visit in winter in Europe.
Whether you want to brave the freezing temperatures and staggeringly beautiful snow-covered scenes of Northern Europe, head to warmer destinations like the Canary Islands for some winter sun or check out popular Christmas markets in Europe’s best cities, there’s something for everyone in Europe in the winter.
I’ve included some of my favourite European winter destinations in this article, but I’ve also asked a few other travel bloggers for their contributions.
So here we have a thorough list of places to visit in eastern and western Europe in the cooler months!
So whether you are looking for somewhere to visit in the middle of winter or a great shoulder season destination, this blog post is here to help!
Best European City Breaks
Sitting at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, landmarked by the beautiful Bosphorous River and its many mosques, Istanbul is fantastic in any season. But there are some reasons why Istanbul in winter is especially appealing.
Istanbul doesn’t usually see snow, but it can be chilly during the winter months. However, you can still get a lot of lovely brisk sunny days – perfect for sightseeing and taking some photos of the gorgeous city.
Many of Istanbul’s attractions are also indoors, so they are wonderful in all seasons. And one definite plus is that you won’t need to queue anywhere near as much in the winter months – I waited 90 minutes to go up the Galata Tower one August but walked straight in another time I visited in February!
You’ll also be able to get much cheaper deals on hotels. Turkey has lots of wonderful places to stay, but the prices go up significantly in the summer. You’ll be able to enjoy luxury on a budget in Istanbul in winter. Here’s my blog post on where to stay in Istanbul.
Finally – Turkish food is one of the most underrated cuisines. It’s tasty, hearty, warm and flavoursome. This makes it the perfect warming cuisine for a cold winter’s day. Try gözleme and pide, and don’t miss out on a full Turkish breakfast!
All in all, Istanbul is an excellent place for a winter city break!
Sunny Lisbon is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe and a fantastic place to visit in winter, with plenty of attractions, places to drink Portuguese wine and gorgeous blue skies.
In fact, Lisbon is one of the warmest winter destinations on the continent. As soon as you step off the plane you’ll be graced with mild temperatures, and some days might even be t-shirt weather. I was there in January and had a good few sunny days.
Plus, there is plenty to do. Lisbon’s best attractions, such as the Basilica, the Miradoures and the Alfama neighbourhood, are just as good in winter – maybe even better than in the summer, because it’s not scorching hot! Of course, you can also do a day trip to Belem or the famous palaces at Sintra.
You’ll find that Lisbon in winter is not quite as busy as the summer months, but this is a good thing – you’ll have plenty of room to explore!
With destinations like the Canary Islands offering year-round warm weather, Spain is one of the most popular European countries for winter sun. However, Madrid can be as cold as other European cities in the thick of winter – it does even snow here sometimes.
Nonetheless, Spain’s capital can also have milder temperatures – it really depends on the year! I flew from London to Madrid one February and it felt a lot more comfortable weather-wise in Madrid – it was easy to explore even during the evening.
The best way to learn about Madrid’s history and culture is to do a walking tour, and these frequently run throughout the winter months. You can also do a specialised Spanish inquisition tour!
Other attractions, like the various museums and Retiro Park, are lovely during the cooler months.
You can also easily do some day trips from Madrid in the winter, including to Toledo and Segovia.
Although British weather is unpredictable, its capital city is an amazing place to visit during the colder months – especially around Christmas time.
London does Christmas like no other. The British capital has fun-filled attractions like Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park, plenty of Christmas markets, some of the world’s best decorations in Harrods and the pantomime on West End. There’s loads to enjoy here!
London isn’t one of the coldest European cities – it rarely gets snow – but it can be chilly, and the fun festive atmosphere will make you feel like it’s a real winter wonderland.
It does get dark quite early in London in December (around 4:00 pm), so do factor this in when you’re making plans!
If you are visiting London in January and February, you might get snow (it typically snows once per year) – and I’d recommend heading out to the nearby countryside if you do!
If the weather is rainy or windy (which can and does happen), most of London’s biggest museums are free to explore, and you could also enjoy the diverse food and drink scene of the capital.
The home of hygge, Copenhagen knows how to make you feel all sorts of cosy in winter. Charming cafes put on their outdoor heating, provide woollen blankets and throw out sheepskin rugs to keep you snug, while steaming mugs of coffee or hot chocolate will warm you up for a day’s exploring.
There’s plenty to do in winter in Copenhagen too, so rug up warm and hit the streets. Shoppers will be delighted with the range of stylish stores and trendy boutiques, those who are entertaining kids will adore the fun and festive Tivoli Gardens, and culture lovers can explore the city’s many museums, castles and galleries.
Ice skating rinks pepper the city streets, and spas and saunas await to warm you up afterwards. If you’re visiting Copenhagen at Christmas, you’re in for even more of a treat as the city is adorned with twinkling lights, giant Christmas trees, and many seasonal markets selling all sorts of festive food and homemade trinkets.
It’s usual for Copenhagen to experience snowfall from December through to early March, so you may well be fortunate enough to encounter the city’s streets under a blanket of white, making the trip even more magical!
By Nadine from Le Long Weekend
Unwind in Budapest, Central Europe’s historic spa city known. The capital of Hungary is known for its striking bathhouses, hearty cuisine and gorgeous architecture. The photogenic city sits on the Danube River and has many impressive buildings with old-world charm.
Winter is one of the best times to visit Budapest. The weather may be chilly, but it’s the most satisfying time to soak in the city’s warm, mineral-rich waters. Budapest has over 100 thermal springs and a spa culture that goes all the way back to Roman times.
There are many relaxing things to add to your Budapest itinerary in winter. And top of the list is spa-hopping to discover the city’s opulent bathhouses. Here are some of the best spas in Budapest:
- Széchenyi is the largest and most famous bathhouse in Budapest. The neo-baroque palace has 18 pools with natural hot spring waters and 10 sauna/steam rooms.
- Rudas Baths is a popular Turkish bath featuring a modern rooftop pool overlooking the city.
- Another magnificent bathhouse is the art-nouveau style Gellert Bath with its beautiful mosaic and tile work.
Afterwards, walk up to Buda Hill (also known as Castle Hill) and browse the winter market. Grab a cup of hot apple cider and admire the views over the Danube River.
Then, fill your stomach with some heartwarming Hungarian cuisine. For authentic, high-quality cooking, make a reservation (far in advance) for Hungarikum Bistro. Another delicious spot is Százéves Étterem. The restaurant dates back to 1831 and plays live traditional music. The Hungarian capital is a wonderful place in winter!
By Cecily from Groovy Mashed Potatoes
Prague is a beautiful destination at any season, but add pure white snow and the magic of Christmas, and it turns from beautiful to otherworldly. Prague’s spires all covered in a perfect white blanket is a sight you won’t forget for the rest of your life.
Of course, you have to be lucky to see fresh snow. It might happen any time between the end of November to the beginning of March, you never know!
If you’re really lucky, you’ll catch a fresh snowfall in the evening. Once it gets dark, Prague’s sights empty – especially in the dead of winter. The Old Town and the Lesser Quarter are full of tiny streets where you barely meet anyone. It’s also worth hiking up to Prague Castle – the view is magnificent.
If you visit Prague at Christmas time, you’ll be able to soak in the unique Christmas atmosphere. Prague boasts several charming Christmas markets. The biggest and the most traditional market at the Old Town Square often gets too crowded but is still worth checking out. For a more intimate atmosphere, head to the Prague Castle Christmas market, which revels in festive atmosphere and old-world charm.
Any traveller who loves romantic destinations or fairy tales is guaranteed to be enchanted by Prague in winter.
By Veronika from Travel Geekery
Tallinn is the perfect European winter destination. With its medieval Old Town, the city looks beautiful at any time of the year, but it is especially pretty when covered with fresh snow.
Plus, you will run into far fewer tourists in the narrow alleys of the Old Town in winter.
One of the best things to do in Tallinn in winter is to walk up to Toompea Hill. From here, you can enjoy the view of Tallinn’s red roofs and chimneys contrasting with the white snow.
Plus, you can head to Kiek in de Kök, a piece of the city wall that remains intact and from where you also have a great view of the Old Town.
If you need to warm up from the cold, you should head to one of the many cafes and restaurants. Maiasmokk Cafe is the oldest operating cafe in Estonia, and it’s a great place to try traditional Estonian food.
If you visit in December, you can also get a hot drink at the Christmas market. Pay attention to the Christmas tree. Tallinn and Riga were the first cities in the world to set up Christmas trees.
By Daniel and Ilona from Top Travel Sites
Paris in winter is a great place to be. Sure, days are shorter and the weather is cold and often rainy, but it is difficult not to have fun in the City of Light!
Wintertime in Paris starts with the Christmas markets and decorations. Places not to miss in Paris in December are the Tuileries Christmas Market, the Eiffel Tower Christmas Market, and the giant ice skating rink under the dome of the Grand Palais.
December is also the time of food festivals and festivals for children. Events like the Light Festival at Jardin des Plantes, the Festival du Merveilleux at the Musée des Arts Forains, or the Disney Christmas Festival are always delightful.
The end of the holidays is the perfect time for visiting new exhibitions and art galleries or to revive your wardrobe for cheap at the winter sales.
January and February are the low season in Paris, which means that the tourist attractions’ lines are shorter and places less crowded. Also, flight or train tickets to Paris are cheaper than usual, and there’s a wider choice of accommodation for better prices.
The quiet days end by mid-February when couples invade the French capital to celebrate love and life on Saint Valentine’s day!
By Elisa from World in Paris
Munich, the capital city of Bavaria, is an urban masterpiece. Historic, vibrant, and culture-rich, this city attracts droves of tourists throughout the year. But there’s just something about this cosy city that lends itself to winter brilliance.
During the chilly days, travel from museum to museum, exploring halls decked out in Da Vinci and Monet. There is also excellent shopping in Munich. With interior heating making them comfortable, browsing the stores is a great way to spend a few happy hours.
If you’re not in the mood to meander, visit a public swimming pool. This might seem like an odd idea for winter, but Bavarian heated indoor pools are incredible, with saunas, fun slides, and more. It’s a great way to get warmth back into your toes!
In the evenings, head to a traditional beer hall, one of Bavaria’s most popular attractions among tourists and locals alike. You’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to the beers on offer, which will warm you from the inside out. Be sure to ask for a Maß. This one-litre jug of beer is the standard in Munich, and indulging in a glass or two is a cultural experience to remember.
By Katja from WanderCapeTown
Luxembourg is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Europe in the winter season. The city feels very wintery from December to March, and December and January are the coldest months.
Sometimes covered in snow during these months, the temperature in winter in Luxembourg is between -1° and 8°C. This wintery landscape is just one of the many reasons why visiting this place in winter is a must.
Adventurers can enjoy popular winter sports like bike tours or hikes with scenic views. Ice skating is another activity that most visitors love during winter.
One reason why Luxembourg is so popular during the winter is that it really celebrates the season! As soon as winter arrives, the city is bedecked in Christmas lights. Travellers can explore Luxembourg City Christmas Market and enjoy the celebrations of Candlemas Day.
It is also the season of wine and cheese in Luxembourg – and you can relish this with incredible views of the country’s castles. Complete your stay at one of the best hotels in Luxembourg which are luxurious and comfortable.
By Paulina from Paulina on the Road
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
One of the best places to visit in Europe in winter is the city of Amsterdam. The capital of the Netherlands is great to visit throughout the year but during the winter, it becomes even more magical!
One of the best things to do in Amsterdam during winter is a canal cruise. During this, you’ll go through the canals of Amsterdam and learn about the city. During winter this is a lovely activity, especially when it’s snowing, as the canals of Amsterdam and their houses look even more picturesque!
Another one of the best winter activities in Amsterdam is going to Amsterdam Winter Paradise. This is a winter festival where you can do all sorts of indoor and outdoor winter activities, such as ice skating.
Furthermore, when it’s icy during winter, the canals of Amsterdam might freeze and you can ice skate on the canals. This is a unique winter experience that you have to try out when you can!
Also, you should definitely try out oliebollen, a traditional winter Dutch treat. They are ball-shaped doughnuts that you top with powdered sugar.
By Dymphe from Dymabroad
Bratislava is a wonderful destination to experience Europe in winter! Especially during the Christmas season, the capital of Slovakia is amazing.
During this time, the old town shines with beautiful lights, and there are many fabulous Christmas markets to discover.
Throughout Christmas time, the city is full of local specialities, delicious food, and charming crafts. People come together for mulled wine and to enjoy the unique atmosphere of the local Christmas Market.
Don’t miss trying loksa, a salty pancake or traditional strudl, a crisp cake filled with apple and raisins. This is best accompanied by mulled wine made from the region’s red!
There are plenty of other amazing things to do in Bratislava in the winter too. For instance, take a walk along the Danube and enjoy the seasonal beauty.
For the best view, take the lift up to the UFO – the town’s best viewing platform. Also lovely is the old town, where you will find the famous statues of Bratislava. And don’t miss the Castle of Bratislava, a wonderful white historical castle with a charming garden and amazing city views.
By Martina from PlacesofJuma
Berlin doesn’t usually get a lot of snow, but it’s a wonderful city to visit in the winter for its Christmas markets. Berlin is unique in that there are dozens of Christmas markets spread out all over the city, each one different from the next. This gives you a great opportunity to do some sightseeing along the way.
Some of the most popular Christmas markets in Berlin include Gendarmenmarkt and Charlottenburg Palace. Gendarmenmarkt is one of the prettiest squares in the city, and the Christmas market there is framed by three gorgeous historical buildings. The vendors tend to be a bit more upscale than at most other markets, and there’s a 1 euro entrance fee, but it’s worth it.
The Charlottenburg Palace Christmas market is wonderful due to its setting in front of the palace. You’ll find traditional vendors offering chocolates, wood carvings, decorations and ornaments, and lots of other gift items. Entrance is free, and it’s one of the few markets that’s open on Christmas Day.
Berlin is magical during the Christmas season. Christmas markets start towards the end of November and run until right before Christmas Day, though some do run for a few days to a week after Christmas. Dress warm, grab a mug of mulled wine, and relish the holiday spirit!
By Ali from Berlin Travel Tips
Scotland is a magical place to visit in winter. From late November, the autumn foliage gives way to snow-capped peaks and frosty glens. Scotland also has some of the darkest skies in Europe, making it the perfect destination for stargazers. You might even see the Northern Lights if you’re lucky!
If a winter city escape is what you’re after, head to Edinburgh. In the run-up to Christmas, festivities in the city centre are in full swing. Twinkling lights dazzle in the crisp air, and you can shop for presents at the Christmas Market on East Princes Street. There are also plenty of food stands with delights such as mulled wine and raclette.
Across the city, you’ll find silent discos, light shows and themed pub crawls. Attractions have festive touches too, including giant Christmas trees in Edinburgh castle. Of course, you also have plenty of snug bars to nip into for a dram of Scotch or two.
However, the best time to visit Edinburgh is the turn of the New Year when the city plays host to Hogmanay. Your New Year’s Eve celebrations will never be the same again once you take part in the annual three-day festival of street parties, torchlit processions and live concerts.
By Francesca from Little Lost Travel
Snowy Winter Destinations
This one isn’t technically in Europe, but it’s close enough – and Cappadocia is a winter wonderland, so I couldn’t not include it!
This area is famous for its stunning landscapes, intricate history and beautiful hot air balloons. In the winter, Cappadocia is covered by a dusting of snow, adding to its magical appearance!
You can do most of the attractions in Cappadocia even while it’s snowing. It’s a popular place for hiking (we did the Goreme to Uchisair walk through the beautiful valleys), touring around caves, learning about local culture and of course going up in the famous hot air balloons!
After exploring for a while, you can enjoy the delicious cuisine of Cappadocia, which includes warming lentil soup, pide which is Turkish pizza and, of course, local wine.
One of the best places to visit in Europe during the winter is Tromso, Norway – the gateway to the Arctic! This is Norway’s largest Arctic city, and it is one of the top winter destinations on the entire continent as it is a premier place for the northern lights, whale watching, dog-sledging and more!
Tromso is the perfect place to visit for families, couples, or solo travellers. You can fly there directly from a few places in Europe; however, most travellers will have a connection in Oslo beforehand. You can also take the Hurtigruten up the Norwegian coast and arrive by boat.
Once in Tromso, your options are aplenty! There are several dog-sledging tours available as well as whale watching tours. The whales are usually up Skjervøy so the trip can take up an entire day, but they are worth it – if you get to see the orcas, it is absolutely magical!
Another popular thing to do in Tromso is to see the northern lights. You can take one of the Tromso northern lights tours so you have an experienced guide and a better chance of seeing the elusive phenomenon!
Many of the tours combine other activities, such as a Sami cultural tour where you will learn about the indigenous Sami people. In this part of the tour, you will have a chance to hear their joik (chants/songs), eat their traditional stew, and feed the reindeer.
If you are in Tromso during Christmas, you will have the opportunity to taste a typical Norwegian Christmas meal which usually consists of pinnekjøtt, tynneribbe, or lutefisk (all regional offerings), tyttebær sauce (lingonberry), kålrabistappe (mashed rutabaga), pickled cabbage, and boiled potatoes.
Tromso is a wonderful place to enjoy the winter season and it is easily one of the best places to visit in Europe during the colder months!
By Megan from Megan Starr
Hallstatt, the fairytale village of Austria, is another beautiful destination to visit in Europe in winter. Being a charming lakeside town surrounded by gigantic mountains and baroque architecture, Hallstatt looks even more magical when covered in fresh white snow.
Visitors can reach Hallstatt by train, bus, or driving from nearby cities like Vienna, Salzburg, or Munich. The views are particularly incredible by road, and the paths are nicely maintained and often cleared of snow. For trains, Hallstatt station is across the lake, so you can take a ferry to get to the town.
Once there, get your bearings by taking a stroll around the Marketplatz and getting lost in its quaint alleys. Since Hallstatt is home to the world’s first salt mine, you may come across many cute souvenir shops selling various kinds of salts there. You can also go on a tour of the Salzwelten Altausse, which remains open in the winter, and learn about the history of salt production.
Hallstatt is also home to several viewpoints that are ideal for pictures. For example, Aussichtspunkt Hallstatt, the postcard-perfect viewpoint of the village with its wooden houses dotted along the Hallstatter lake and snowy mountains at the back, is a must-see spot to visit in Hallstatt.
By Charu from Travel with CG
Chamonix in France is a great European destination to visit in the winter. Located in the heart of the French Alps, Chamonix is close to the border of Switzerland and Italy. The tallest mountain in the Alps, Mont Blanc, is located in the area, making this town a popular destination for skiing and winter sports.
In addition to skiing, there are plenty of activities and attractions in the area to keep you busy. One popular attraction is “Mer de Glace, ” a huge glacier with ice caves and trails, accessible via the bright red Montenvers Train. Another popular activity is to drive through the Mont Blanc tunnel, which cuts through the mountain of Mont Blanc to connect France and Italy.
If you visit Chamonix, be sure also to visit Aiguille du Midi, which is a mountain peak accessible via cable car. Here you can experience the Aiguille du Midi Skywalk, “Step Into the Void”, an entirely glass room/terrace jutting out from the mountain.
Be sure to leave some time for exploring Chamonix Centre, a quaint village with plenty of restaurants, bakeries and shops. Here you will find the Park Hotel Suisse & Spa, which offers day passes and a rooftop hot tub overlooking the alps.
By Shannon from Traveling Teacher Girl
As if Romania’s Transylvania region could get any more spectacular, its medieval castles and Saxon cities look even better wrapped in a blanket of snow.
This is the perfect winter destination in Europe for any type of traveller – whether you’re looking for an ambling railway journey through majestic mountains, a city break, or a winter sports escape.
A road trip through wintry Transylvania is a great way to experience the region’s charming old towns and Carpathian landscapes. Starting from the capital city, Bucharest, make your way north to Brasov to visit several impressive castles including Peleș, a contender for one of the most beautiful castles in Europe, and the mythical Bran Castle.
The heart of Romania is home to half a dozen fortified cities, including Sibiu, Alba Iulia and Sighișoara. Each offers a picturesque town square, old walls and towers, and at least one bell tower that you can climb for a view. One of the best things to do in Sighisoara in winter is walk up the Covered Stairway and wander the ice-crusted grounds of Cimitirul Bisericii, a beautiful old ivy-covered cemetery.
At day’s end, banish the evening chill with a glass of local wine and a spread of hearty Romanian food, including sarmale (cabbage rolls), mamaliga buttery polenta and papanasi, the country’s signature dessert of cheesy sweet donuts with cherry jam and sour cream.
By Emily from Wander Lush
Iceland is undoubtedly one of the best places to visit in Europe in winter. With astonishing sights and experiences that are only available in this season, it’s the perfect time to visit Iceland.
Most visitors to Iceland start their trip in Reykjavik. The world’s most northerly capital city is a magical place in the colder, darker months. The central Tjörnin lake freezes over, the buildings are dusted with snow (pavements are kept blissfully clear, thanks to underground heating), and the city’s Christmas lights stay on until early spring, giving everywhere a fairytale feel.
Outside the city, the magical winter experiences continue. Visit the famous Blue Lagoon thermal baths and relax in the warm, mineral-rich water while you take in the frozen, moon-like surroundings. On the Golden Circle tour (a must for any trip to Iceland), you may be lucky enough to see the mighty Gullfoss waterfall almost stopped in its tracks by ice.
The long winter nights in Iceland are also the best time to see the Northern Lights. The sun sets at between 3:00 and 4:00 pm in December, and only rises at 11:00 am, giving visitors lots of time to witness the magical lights dancing in the night sky.
By Helen from Helen on her Holidays
Kazbegi is a hill-top town in the Caucasus mountain region in Georgia, near its border with Russia. One of the most beautiful towns in the Caucasus mountain region, this place is covered in snow in winter and looks like a festive wonderland. Due to heavy snow in this region, there are many ski resorts near Kazbegi.
The Gudauri region of Georgia, which is 30 km from Kazbegi, is popular amongst skiers. Georgia is a very affordable country for travellers, so skiing near Kazbegi is a favourite winter activity. For this reason, Kazbegi usually features in a Georgia winter itinerary.
Not only it is famous for winter sports but it also has religious connections due to the ancient hilltop monastery. During winters, this ancient monastery looks stunning as it is surrounded by snowy peaks.
Also check out the luxury Rooms Hotel, which is the best place to get snowy photos – and they have a spa to warm up in afterwards!
The ideal way to reach Kazbegi from Tbilisi (and the International Airport of Georgia) is by taking a road trip. The road trip from Tbilisi to Kazbegi is also a very scenic drive, and there are many stops or attractions on the way.
So for wonderful views of snow-clad Caucasus peaks, pine trees, monasteries, and affordable skiing, Kazbegi is an incredible winter destination in Eastern Europe!
By Yukti from Travel With Me 247 Blog
While most people flock to Iceland or Tromso in winter, there is an abundance of wonderful Arctic destinations in Europe that you can visit without the crowds. One such gem is Abisko, Sweden. Located north of the Arctic Circle in Swedish Lapland, Abisko is a small mountain town adjacent to Abisko National Park, about a one hour train from Kiruna.
In Abisko, you can tick all the things off your Arctic winter bucket list: go dog-sledging with a team of friendly huskies, meet Sami reindeer herders and their reindeer, and of course, marvel at the majestic Northern lights which roar to life overhead nearly every single night!
In fact, Abisko is the best place to see the Northern lights in Sweden and perhaps all of Europe, as the weather in Abisko is more stable than in coastal locations like Tromso and Reykjavik, which often are marred with cloud cover.
Besides aurora chasing and dog sledging, you can go snowshoeing and winter hiking, try your hand at cross country skiing, walk around frozen waterfalls in Abisko National Park, or spend the day in a cosy lodge in front of the fire admiring the snow outside!
And if you want to stay in an ice hotel, there’s one not far from Abisko in nearby Jukkasjärvi, just outside Kiruna.
By Alison from Eternal Arrival
Lipno nad Vltavou, Czechia
One of the best European winter destinations is Lipno nad Vltavou. It has snow, winter sun, nature and great activities. It’s the ideal place to be outside all day long.
Lipno nad Vltavou is a town situated along the Lipno lake. During the winter, the lake freezes over and is ideal for ice skating. Nothing beats exploring a frozen lake surrounded by snow-covered mountains!
There are plenty more fun things to do in Lipno nad Vltavou too. On the snow-covered mountains is Snowpark Lipno Lyžařsky areál, which has 13.5 kilometres of ski slope and four ski lifts. As well as skiing, you can go sledging on the mountain.
There are two other attractions on the mountain, one being the treetop walkway. This is on top of the mountain and is 40 metres high. The top of the walkway gives spectacular views. The second attraction is Slideland Bobova Draha Lipno, a bobsled that goes up and down the mountain on a rail.
By Cosette from KarsTravels.
Places to visit for winter sun in Europe
While Sardinia has a reputation for being a perfect summer holiday destination thanks to its gorgeous beaches, it’s actually an incredible place to visit throughout the year. One thing worth noting is that there isn’t just one Sardinia in the winter, but many. The island is quite big and there are a variety of climates – so while the coast can be mild even in the coldest winter months, the central mountain regions get a fair amount of snow and even have their own ski slopes!
Cagliari, the capital of Sardinia, is the perfect place to visit if you are looking for some winter sun. The city is jam-packed with interesting archaeological sites – don’t miss the Roman Amphitheater and Tuvixeddu Necropolis, gorgeous churches such as the Santa Maria Cathedral and the thriving food and nightlife scene.
If you are looking for nature, you will find it right within the city. Poetto beach is a quick bus ride from the centre of town. It’s perfect for a walk, even in the winter. From there, you can access Molentargius Nature Reserve, a lagoon where pink flamingoes live. And if you fancy a hike, just head to Calamosca beach and find the trail to the Sella del Diavolo for impressive views of the gulf.
Another city that is a popular tourist hot-spot in the summer but lesser-visited in the winter is Alghero, a lovely Catalan enclave in the northwest of Sardinia. Make sure to enjoy a sunset walk along the bastions, and don’t miss a visit to Neptune’s Caves, Capo Caccia (perfect for a walk) and Palmavera Nuraghe, a unique archaeological site. From Alghero, you can also reach the picturesque Bosa.
Finally, winter is just about the best time of year to enjoy the earthy dishes of the local cuisine, accompanied by the delicious Sardinian wine.
By Claudia Tavani from Strictly Sardinia
If you’re looking for winter sun, outdoor activities, incredible nature, cute towns, and friendly locals, Algarve in winter is the perfect place for your trip.
The beautiful southern region in Portugal has it all. In a time of year where there are fewer tourists, you can really take in the beauty of the impressive cliff formations at Ponta da Piedade or walk along the Sagres Cliffs.
With some of the country’s most incredible beaches, the good news is that daytime temperatures can reach 25 degrees on a nice, sunny day. But it can rain too, so make sure you bring a wind and waterproof jacket in case. Luckily, there are plenty of museums and cute cafes you can visit if you’re unlucky with the weather.
Make sure you don’t miss out on Tavira and Olhão in the Eastern Algarve where you can go on boat trips over to the impressive islands of Ria Formosa Natural Park. Spend a fews days in Albufeira or Lagos. In between, you should not miss out on a boat trip to Benagil Cave, one of the most famous sea caves in Europe. The cave has a mesmerising beach lit up from a huge pothole in the cave ceiling.
By Linn Haglund from Brainy Backpackers
Malaga, the capital of Spain’s Costa del Sol, is one of the warmest winter destinations in Europe with typical daytime winter temperatures of around 17°C. At just three hours’ flight time from the UK, it is perfect for a long weekend break when you need some winter sun!
While it may be too cold to swim in the sea from one of the city’s many beaches, it’s the ideal weather for a stroll along the Senda Litoral de Malaga – the coastal path which runs almost the length of the Costa del Sol from Nerja to Manilva.
For culture vultures, Malaga has a vast choice of museums, including the Picasso Museum dedicated to the works of the city’s most famous son, as well as a thriving street art scene.
The real draw during the winter months, however, is the festive lights. Calle Larios is home to the main display where you can watch the spectacular sound and light show each evening. The show takes place three times a night so make sure you get to Plaza de la Constitución in plenty of time to get the best view. Even better, turn up early and head to Café Central for a plate of churros con chocolate while you wait
Alison Nicholson from Alison in Andalucia
The Mediterranean island of Sicily is one of the sunniest places in Europe during the winter. With an average temperature of 20°C, it is the perfect place to escape colder climates and get in some much-needed vitamin D.
Aside from the wonderful weather, the island is also known for its incredible food scene. Street food in Palermo will be one of the highlights of your trip! Try Pasta a la Norma or go adventurous and order some pasta with fresh sardines (delicious). Just make sure to leave some room for an arancina (fried rice ball with ragu) or a brioche containing a giant scoop of Gelato.
Walk off all this deliciousness while visiting the highlights of Palermo: Norman Palace, Church of Gesu and Church of San Cataldo. Then, if you have a bit of time, catch a bus and visit Monreale or the nearby fishing village of Cefalè to dig into some of the region’s best seafood.
Weather permitting you could even venture out to the beach at Mondello, a fancy suburb of Palermo which is all but deserted during wintertime.
Locals prefer the beach during the summer when temperatures soar above 40°C. Walk around the suburb, take in all opulent liberty villas, and enjoy the tranquillity away from the bustling historical centre of Palermo.
By Caroline from Veggie Wayfarer
The most southerly town in Spain, Tarifa is just 24 miles across the Strait of Gibraltar from Morocco. Tarifa has a foot in both the Atlantic and Mediterranean seas, giving the town an exciting blend of cultures, perfect for a stop on a Spanish road trip.
In winter, the weather is mild, creating ideal conditions for hiking, mountain biking and wind sports.
Known as the windiest place in Europe, Tarifa is a great spot to get into kitesurfing or wind sailing.
If you prefer dry land, hike into the surrounding mountains for stunning views of the landscape, seas and Northern Africa, hire a mountain bike and enjoy the local downhill tracks or just head for one of the many stunning beaches nearby.
To really appreciate the unique location, cross the bridge from the mainland to Isla de Tarifa, where the Atlantic and Mediterranean meet. You can’t quite get to the bottom of Spain as the island is closed to visitors, but you’re as close as anyone can get!
By Izzy from The Gap Decaders
The advantage of southern Europe in winter is the lack of crowds and most especially, the lack of cruise ships!
One of the most beautiful, sought after and crowded bucket list experiences is a holiday to Greece’s supermodel island, Santorini. In winter, the average maximum temperatures on land and sea drop and conditions can be windy.
However, sailing around Santorini, hiking along the caldera edge from Fira to Oia, snorkelling, diving, tasting wine in wineries and discovering the ancient city of Akrotiri are all still possible on Santorini in winter, despite the cooler weather.
There are certainly fewer summer-time facilities open, but still plenty to enjoy. For example, the beach huts along Kamari and Perissa beaches are closed, but the seaside tavernas with their fresh just-off-the-boat seafood in places like Amoudi Bay and Akrotiri Beach are open, and it should be possible to get a table right beside the water.
Some restaurants and hotels, especially small hotels, are closed from November or December until about Easter. However, many are international brands that stay open all year. Some Santorini hotels with private pools and hot tubs or jacuzzis are available with cheaper rates over this period, meaning you can watch the world-famous sunset over the caldera, volcano, and the Aegean Sea while sipping champagne in the pool from your own terrace!
If you’ve always dreamed of Santorini with its blue-domed churches and white houses set against the brilliant deep blue of the Aegean Sea, winter is your chance to get high-quality food and accommodation at reasonable prices and without the crowds.
By Monique at Trip Anthropologist
Gorgeous Dubrovnik is a famous European holiday destination in summer, but Dubrovnik is one of the sunniest winter destinations in Europe as well.
Dubrovnik in winter is one of the best Mediterranean cities to escape the cold in other parts of the continent!
In addition, if you would like to visit Dubrovnik without infamous summer crowds and heat, think of visiting Dubrovnik in winter. In winter, ‘The Pearl of the Adriatic’ grants the ultimate relaxation and serenity accompanied by lots of sunshine. Moreover, exploring marvellous Dubrovnik Baroque and Renaissance churches, monasteries, and palaces without crowds in winter is a special treat.
Again, roaming ancient marble-cobbled streets of Dubrovnik and walking Dubrovnik City Walls relaxed and unrushed in winter is true bliss. While you might not swim in the cold Adriatic Sea in winter, you will most certainly enjoy sitting in the sun next to to it!
On the 3rd February, Dubrovnik celebrates St. Blaise Day, the feast day of the saint patron of the city. The feast is listed on UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list. Join the celebration of St. Blaise Day in February and you will see Dubrovnik in a special light.
Dubrovnik is also one of the most romantic cities in the world, so if you are travelling with your partner, you’ll love spending St. Valentine’s Day here!
By Milijana Gabrić from World Travel Connector
Other charming places to visit in Europe in winter
Lake Bled, Slovenia
Imagine a mesmerising blue frozen lake surrounded by high mountain peaks, covered in a white blanket of fresh snow. Then there is a tiny island in the middle of the lake, and a shiny white church on top. Finally, on the shores, perched atop a tall cliff, there is a medieval castle with striking red roofs overlooking it all.
This is Lake Bled, and while Bled is a fairy-tale-like destination any time of the year, it is even more remarkable in winter when it turns into a proper wonderland.
In winter, Bled is much less crowded and cheaper than during the high season in summer. On top of that, you get to choose from an array of winter activities to make your lake Bled holidays even better. There’s plenty of winter sports, spas and excursions for you to choose from, making Lake Bled in winter an ideal tourist destination!
December is particularly magical because of the Christmas decorations, Christmas markets and a selection of festive events and traditions. If you’re feeling brave try the locals’ favourite, a very refreshing cold dip in the freezing lake on January 1st.
By Zi from Craving Adventure
Colmar, with its population of 60,000 people, is one of the most popular destinations in the Alsace in North East France.
Colmar is easily reached from Paris in around 3 hours by high-speed train and the nearby Strasbourg, which is 64 kilometres away. This picturesque town borrows heavily from both France and Germany, with the German Border only 20 minutes away.
In Winter the town comes alive, with visitors from all over the world descending on its famous Christmas market. Starting in late November, Colmar comes into its own when over 300 market stalls seem to populate any spare areas in the town.
Colmar France embraces the Christmas market spirit better than most towns across Europe. The market in Colmar is not just in one place, it is dotted all over the old town area. Colmar can and does receive a light dusting of snow in the winter, while many days are crisp with blue skies.
The famous little Venice area of towns draws visitors in the see the traditional coloured Alsace houses and ride a gondola.
While the Alsace region of France can see snow, it can also be very mild. This allows tourists to visit surrounding sites such as wineries, châteaus and more!
By Mark from Wyld Family Travel
Cornwall is the UK’s most popular staycation destination – the beaches here are out of this world!
The region is an incredibly popular summer destination, but go to Cornwall for a winter break, and you’ll feel like you’ve got the coastline to yourself!
It certainly won’t be sunbathing or wild swimming weather, but you might be lucky and get some lovely crisp sunny days, perfect for walking the South West Coast Path and enjoying epic coastal views! Just be aware that it will start getting dark at around 4:00 pm.
There are also plenty of indoor Cornwall attractions to enjoy if the weather isn’t so kind, like the Royal Cornwall Museum in Truro, the TATE in St Ives and the National Maritime Museum Cornwall in Falmouth.
Visiting Cornwall in winter is a rare chance to see this popular region with very few other tourists!
Winter in Europe FAQs
What are the winter months in Europe?
The winter months in Europe officially run from December to February, although many cultures date their winter from December 21st to March 21st.
However, the wintery atmosphere of Europe often starts in November, with destinations installing Christmas markets and the weather getting colder!
Often it can feel springlike by the end of February, with warmer days and milder weather. However, in some destinations – particularly in the mountains – the cold can continue into April.
What is the weather like in Europe in winter?
It depends! You can get weather of -20 degrees or 25 degrees, depending on where you are.
Does Europe get snow in winter?
Yes, lots of it! For the snowiest destinations, head to Scandanavia, particularly northern Sweden, Norway and Finland, to the mountains (the Alps are the most famous, but there are lots of mountains across Eastern Europe too!), or countries like Czechia, Poland and Slovakia.
Which part of Europe is warmest in winter?
Head south for warm weather in winter – in fact, your best bet is probably the Canary Islands, which are Spanish islands off the coast of Africa. However, you can also find sun in southern Spain, Italy, Greece, or any of the islands in the Mediterranean.
What is the snowiest country in Europe?
Scandinavian countries, due to their proximity to the north pole.
What is the coldest country in Europe?
Norway takes that crown, due to its high latitude. The average temperature is -6.8 degrees celsius, but bear in mind that the country is quite long – so it is much milder in the south than in the Arctic north!
Amazing Europe winter travel destinations!
I hope that this Europe in winter post has inspired you to find some winter magic on the continent!