Europe by the season: Where to go in Winter

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Knowing where to go in winter in Europe can really make or break your trip. There are some fantastic city breaks to have year round, but in order to make the most of the European winter you really need to know where to go to capture that winter magic. Whether its knowing where to go for the best powder, where to cozy up in cute and charming winter towns, or just where to get the best hot chocolate in Paris – we’ve got you covered! Here’s where to go in Europe in winter, which is matched with Christmas celebrations across the region!


Winter in Europe

Winter is the perfect time of year to head indoors and fully realise the underlying culture in museums, galleries, or rugged up outdoors in the famous European Christmas Markets. Here’s where to go for whichever kind of trip you’re after on your winter European getaway!

City Breaks


Lets start with an obvious choice and one of the most magical cities to find yourself in at Christmas time. London comes to life in the winter with gorgeous Christmas decorations, Harrods lights up, the posh hotels fill their lobbies with elaborate Christmas trees and the whole city is filled with Christmas spirit. Be sure to go ice skating at Somerset House and drink an indulgent hot chocolate on-the-go to keep yourself warm.


Paris is another obvious choice, as the pure magic of this city multiplies tenfold with the Christmas spirit. Hotel de Ville is an iconic spot for ice skating, Angelina serves a great hot chocolate and the Champs Elysees even has its own little Christmas market setup.


One of my favourite winter cities came as a surprise to me and although the skies were fairly grey, the city itself came alive in winter. Copenhagen is an expensive choice so be sure to save your pennies (or stay just a few nights as I did), however it is entirely worth while and a tiny bit cheaper over the cold season. Do yourself a favour and head into the local bakeries to warm up with a tasty treat (my personal favourite are the flødebollers – found almost everywhere).

Prague + Budapest

If you have a little more time on your hands and are looking to make a weeklong escape, I’d highly suggest combining Prague and Budapest, two of my all time favourite cities in central Europe. Prague is a delight year round but covered in a blanket of snow it becomes even more magical. Budapest is another great city that I am extremely fond of and both of these choices are substantially cheaper given they retain their own currencies (not on the Euro). Budapest is worth spending a few days to warm up in the public thermal baths which are an experience in themselves.

Vienna + Salzburg

Another great city escape combination are two of my Austrian favourites: the capital, Vienna, and nearby Salzburg (home to the Sound of Music). Both of these cities are charming year round, however with a strong chance of snow they are two of my top choices for a winter escape. If you have more time, be sure to stop by Hallstatt on your way between the two (pictured above) as it is as charming in real life as you are led to believe by the pictures.


Christmas Markets

Nurembourg, Germany

The Nurembourg Christkindlesmarkt is hands down my favourite Christmas market in Germany. The entire town seems to embrace the festive season and the streets are absolutely filled with stands offering mulled wine, bratwursts, candied nuts, and all the snow globes your eyes can handle.

Strasbourg, France

One of the most talked about Christmas Markets in France is located in Strasbourg, close to the border to Germany. All the usual suspects are on offer, as well as some great hints of French influence (crepes anyone!?)

Bruges, Belgium

Bruges is a fairytale town that is prettier than a postcard. The town quite literally looks as if it has been dreamed up and put before your eyes to enjoy. If you visit over the winter you can enjoy a small but charming ice rink, Christmas offerings, and if you’re lucky some snow.

Heidelburg, Germany

Another great German Christmas market is located in Heidelberg which is located in southwest Germany close to the Black Forrest (also a great area to explore in the colder months).

GoPro Brooke Saward Ski Lesson

Ski trips

Chamonix, France

Located near the junction of France, Italy and Switzerland, this is one of the most popular ski destinations in all of Europe and for good reason – it is gorgeous! The views are enough reason to visit here!

Zermatt, Switzerland

Zermatt is one of Switzerland’s premier ski destinations that combines the sport of ski with ski culture: après ski!

St. Anton, Austria 

Another great option is to make your way to Austria for a slightly less expensive ski trip but still with great slopes and in particular, St. Anton for a fantastic après ski scene!

Zakopane, Poland

I simply have to include this gorgeous little town near Krakow as it offers a great alternative for those on a budget.



Christmas Markets throughout Europe

As mentioned above there are many great Christmas markets to discover throughout Europe (many not mentioned) and these are truly the highlight of the winter season in Europe.

Carnival in Venice

This is perhaps the most exciting time of year to be in Venice, when the streets are filled with Venetian masks and there’s an excitement in the air that you won’t get during the high summer season. The carnival takes place the day after Ash wednesday each year.

Salzburg Music Festival

Known to many as the home of music itself (Mozart was born here and the Sound of Music was based/filmed here), this gorgeous city comes to life over the annual winter Salzburg Music Festival. Room rates drop substantially in winter (sometimes half the price) so it is a great chance to see the city if you’re on a budget.

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    Miles of Happiness - Marie
    January 5, 2016 at 2:00 pm

    This theatre festival in Avignon is also a must see! Every July in Provence 🙂

    Daniela @ Grumpy Camel
    January 4, 2016 at 6:48 pm

    I also recommend going to Prague, but the city is magical throughout the year so don’t worry if you can’t visit in winter 🙂

    MDL Technical Staff Skilled Grade 1 Recruitment 2016
    January 4, 2016 at 5:40 pm

    A big thank you for your post.Really looking forward to read more. Much obliged………………..

    January 4, 2016 at 2:41 pm

    So many great places! I just got back from a trip visiting a few of these places last month and it was so magical.

    January 3, 2016 at 9:24 pm

    I love living in Europe because everything seems so close

    Diva In Me
    January 3, 2016 at 1:20 pm

    I love some of these places you’ve mentioned. You’re right about Budapest and Prague. They’re beautiful and definitely had to spend a few days to discover the beauty of that two cities. I’m saving your post so that I can plan for a ski trip in the future, with your suggestions =)
    Happy Year 2016 and may you be blessed with abundance =)

    January 3, 2016 at 1:18 pm

    OOH! they all look so beautiful

    January 3, 2016 at 12:22 pm

    What gorgeous places!

    January 3, 2016 at 9:45 am

    Couldn’t agree more with a lot of these! Currently exploring Prague for the second time (during winter, of course) and am loving it even more this time. I was just in Copenhagen last week too, and while a little cold, it was absolutely lovely. And yes, it is EXPENSIVE!

    January 3, 2016 at 8:16 am

    I went to Prague just before Christmas and it was magical!

    Brittany Justham
    January 3, 2016 at 8:00 am

    This list is great! I want to study abroad in college in London from September through December, so it would be definitely magical to experience the winter and Christmas there!

    Travelblogger Lisa
    January 3, 2016 at 6:51 am

    I’m going to Málaga in 1.5 weeks, to go to ththe beach

    Hope you have a happy and safe 2016 🙂


    January 3, 2016 at 3:00 am

    Bob Adam is an ugly bearded cunt. He should be avoided at all costs! Peace for 2016.

    January 3, 2016 at 2:50 am

    Haha this is a really nice way to start a new list ! 🙂

    January 3, 2016 at 2:38 am

    Cool that you included Zakopane, Tatra Mountains are underrated and so beautiful.

    Gabi @ Books & Trips
    January 3, 2016 at 2:22 am

    Zurich is great to visit in the winter as well – pure magic all around!

    I’m heading to Brugges in two weeks, I cannot wait! Though I am sure I will be freezing!!!

    Suze - Luxury Columnist
    January 3, 2016 at 1:51 am

    What a fantastic round up, I love Chamonix as you can do so much more than ski there, though I must say I am craving some heat! Where would you suggest that’s hot in Europe – the Canary Islands?

    Tessa / Bramble & Thorn
    January 2, 2016 at 3:07 pm

    These places all look amazing! As an Australian, being in Europe during winter is a huge novelty because we so rarely see snow here!

    Tessa at Bramble & Thorn

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    Lennae Stubbs
    January 2, 2016 at 10:53 am

    Love this post. just wondering if you have visited Norway, Iceland, Sweden or Finland in the Winter? Would they be just as nice during this time of year?

    Lennae xxx

    • Brooke Saward
      January 2, 2016 at 12:52 pm

      Sure have 🙂 visited both Sweden and Finland and winter and loved them both! Though I do have a little obsession with winter :p xx

    January 2, 2016 at 8:37 am

    I love Bruges but never been there in the winter. Maybe I should try this!
    Thanks for the other tips though. Not a big fan of winter but this looks amazing.

    Marlies, Magnificent Escape

    January 2, 2016 at 8:21 am

    I am not a winter traveler but the cities you named sound great in Winter as well 🙂

    Lowest Room Rates
    January 2, 2016 at 7:43 am

    Innsbruck is a great place to be especially in winter. There are great skiing options.