Best European cities to visit in winter

Prague - Best European cities to visit in winter
Prague

To many, Europe is seen as a top destination to visit during the warmer months. It’s believed there is more to do as guests to these different countries can explore the great outdoors without fear of being cold or having to trek to different places through harsh weather. Surprisingly though, Europe is also a great place to visit during the winter. While it’s a little chilly, you’ll be able to experience this continent in a unique way that you can’t during any other time of the year.You can ice skate on ponds, ski down majestic mountains covered in fresh snow, and enjoy flavorful warm meals inside the many cozy restaurants scattered around Europe without having to worry about the hassles that come with the crowds during the summer season.If you’re interested in finding some of the bestEuropean cities to visitin the winter, keep reading. Below you’ll find a list of some of the top cities to explore recommended by 32 travel bloggers.

Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh is one of the Best European cities to visit in winter
Edinburgh

contributed by Thais Saito of World Trip Diaries

For a winter city-break in Europe, Edinburgh is a delight! First of all, it’s stunning, with beautiful architecture, parks, squares, and more. Then there’s the food, of course. Even though it may not be known for its food, Scotland has some amazing unique food, like the Scotch Egg.
Of course, there’s whisky (yes, the ones made in Scotland are whisky while the ones made abroad are whiskey). You can even take a tour to see how it’s made.

And, of course, it’s such a small city, you can visit all the important and famous sites in one or two days – depends on how fast you move. Why not let go of Google Maps and just wander around aimlessly while there?
If you do get lost and need some guidance or help to get back, Edinburgh’s public transport is great and you can reach any part of the city easily!

It’s perfect during winter because it’s low season, which means lower price tags on almost everything, smaller crowds, and it’s just so beautiful with a layer of super white and fresh snow! (Well, as a bonus for Harry Potter fans, it’s a city full of interesting sites related to the books – or movies).

Tallinn, Estonia

Tallinn is is one of the Best European cities to visit in winter
Tallinn

contributed by Stefan and Sebastien of the Nomadic Boys

Tallinn, the capital of Estonia is one of our favourite winter city breaks. We came here over a weekend in late December and absolutely loved it. We stayed in a guesthouse we found on TripAdvisor, right in the middle of the old town. Tallinn’s old town was declared a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage in 1997 because unlike any other capital city in Europe, it has managed to wholly preserve its medieval structure and as such is nicknamed “the medieval pearl of Europe”.

We loved the old town of Tallinn because it is so picturesque. The cobblestone streets are all originals, which along with the medieval churches, grandiose merchant houses, barns and warehouses, date back as far as the 11th century. It also has super cute houses, cafes and sightseeing highlights like the Kiek in de Kök (a 15th-century defensive tower), the Gothic Town Hall, built in the 13th century, and a 64m-high tower located in the main square. It looks like something out of a fairy tale.

There are also several cafes in the old town you can duck into for a hot chocolate/coffee break from the cold outside, which we definitely recommend. What makes Tallinn that extra special is during the winter time, it is usually covered with a blanket of snow, making it even more picturesque than it normally is. This is why we love visiting Tallinn during the winter month.

You might also be interested in: Tallinn in winter.

Lincoln, UK

Lincoln is one of the Best European cities to visit in winter
Lincoln

contributed by Heather of Conversant Traveller

The cathedral city of Lincoln is all about cobbled streets, historic sweet shops and ancient architecture. It’s the sort of place you can’t help but fall in love with, and the wood-beamed ceilings, fascinating heritage and vibrant culinary scene attracts visitors from all over the world. Throw in a sprinkling of snow, some colourful fairy lights and a world-class Christmas market and it’s the perfect destination for a winter city break.

Most people start off by checking out the 11th Century cathedral. Once the tallest building in the world, it’s now the third largest cathedral in Britain and famous for its rose windows and excellent roof and tower tours. Lincoln Castle is also well worth a visit and holds one of the 4 remaining copies of the Magna Carta signed by King John in 1215 at Runnymede. Exploring the cultural quarter of the city by moonlight is rather romantic during winter, made even more special by groups of traditional carol singers and festive market stalls that run throughout December in the lead up to Christmas.

There are also lots of quirky little shops and galleries selling everything from hand-made soap and plum bread to antique furniture and handcrafted jewellery. Just make sure you wear sturdy shoes as the city is built on a hill and some of the streets are quite steep. Which will ease the guilt of indulging in some of the foodie delights here in the centre, such as Brown’s Pie Shop and Roly’s Fudge.

Annecy, France

Annecy, a great european city to visit in winter
Annecy

contributed by Leyla of Women on the Road

Annecy, the “Venice of the Alps”, receives most of its visitors in summer. They stroll along its picturesque canals, delightful lakeside and hike its majestic mountains. When winter comes, the crowds evaporate, leaving behind a city filled with charm, delightfully quiet and walkable. As your footsteps crunch along the crisp cobblestones of the old town, sounds of laughter filter out of the many welcoming restaurants which have remained open in winter – filled with locals and brimming with authenticity. And, no standing in line. (A special tip: if you love pastries, drop by Rigollot at the end of the arcaded street – he once won the prize for the world’s best pastry chef!)

Also, on the practical side, more hotel rooms are available in winter and the prices lower, so winter is easier on the pocketbook.

Near Annecy, you’ll be wrapped in alpine snow within the hour if you’re looking for winter sports. You can ski in the Grand Bornand and La Clusaz, half an hour from the city. If you’d rather stay away from heights, just snowshoe around the lake. Hiking trails are all accessible in winter, and you’ll enjoy the extraordinary mountains that tower above the lake. You might even catch sight of some mountain wildlife!

Push a little further and you can visit Chamonix, Geneva and Lyon – it’s hard to beat Annecy’s location. And if you happen to visit in December, don’t miss the lovely Christmas market which is growing each year and attracting visitors from the entire region.

Innsbruck, Austria

Innsbruck the perfect European city destination for a winter break
Innsbruck

contributed by Carolyn Schonafinger of HolidaysToEurope.com.au

Innsbruck, the capital of Austria’s Tirol region, is the ideal place for a winter getaway. Winter visitors flock to Innsbruck for snow sports on the surrounding alps but there’s plenty on offer for the non-skier or snowboarder, too. And best of all – it’s all at your fingertips.

Nine ski resorts are within easy reach of Innsbruck – in fact, you can be on the slopes in just half an hour.  It’s not uncommon for visitors (and locals) to spend the morning on the slopes and the afternoon strolling downtown Innsbruck. As host to two Winter Olympics, Innsbruck’s ski resorts can challenge even the best skiers but there are also slopes suited to beginners and children.

In town, Christmas markets appear on the streets from mid-November adding a festive atmosphere to this already pretty city.  A huge Christmas tree is installed near the Golden Roof and the entire Old Town is lit with sparkling fairy lights. Wandering the market stalls you can’t help but soak up the festive cheer.  More than just a place for buying Christmas presents, the markets are a meeting place, too, where locals catch up with friends and spread the festive spirit over a glass of gluhwein (mulled wine) and some roasted chestnuts.

With stunning baroque architecture, a 16th century palace, an Alpine zoo, and fabulous shopping amongst its other attractions, Innsbruck will keep you entertained. For a winter getaway in a picture postcard destination, Innsbruck, with its backdrop of snow-capped Alps, is the perfect choice.

Strasbourg, France

Strasbourg winter getaway in Europe
Strasbourg

contributed by Thomas of Trip Gourmets

Strasbourg is situated in the beautiful region of Alsace in France. It is the capital and also the largest city of the Grand-Est region. It is also the official seat of the European Parliament. But of course, none of these are the main reason why you should visit this fairytale city in winter. What makes Strasbourg really worthy as a winter city break destination is its lovely historic city center; the Grande Île (grand island). This picturesque old town was actually the first whole city center to be granted the status of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

The Grand Île is an actual island formed by the river Ill. This gives the whole city an idyllic feeling. Not many things are as romantic as having a cosy winter stroll along a river, marvelling at the charming medieval buildings while eating some hot chestnuts, and warming up afterwards with some vin chaud in one of the many homely bars or restaurants. Around Christmas you can even stroll through the magnificent Strasbourg Christmas market and get your fix of delicious Christmas sweets like gingerbread. 

Another highlight of Strasbourg is the majestic Gothic sandstone cathedral which is also home to an astrological clock. If you’re feeling energetic, you can also climb the tower of the sixth-tallest church in the world for some wonderful views over the city. 

Bilbao, Spain

Bilbao Best European cities to visit in winter
Bilbao

contributed by Mike of 197travelstamps.com

Bilbao in Northern Spain is the ideal destination for a winter city break in Europe. If the weather is good and the sun is shining, you can explore the beautiful old town or head up Artxanda Mountain for some impressive views over the city. Winter is also the perfect season to spend some time inside, enjoying a good glass of wine and some delicious food. And the perfect place to do that in Bilbao is the Mercato de la Ribera. The market is filled with food stalls offering Pintxos, a type of small Tapas served on a piece of bread. Hop from one little stall to the next and choose your favorites.

The most famous tourist destination of Bilbao is the Guggenheim Museum. It doesn’t matter if you are an art lover or not, you will definitely fall in love with this incredibly beautiful building designed by star architect Frank Gehry. I could spend hours just walking around and admiring the façade of the Guggenheim Museum. The exhibitions inside of the museum may be a little startling if you are not an aficionado of modern art but give it a try and jump into the world of modern art! It is fun!

Paris, France

Paris - Best European cities to visit in winter
Paris

contributed by Lena of Salut from Paris

Paris is certainly on the bucket list of many travellers and while most of them prefer to visit Europe during summer, winter definitely held it’s upsides. Paris is never really off season, but that’s being said: Winters in Paris are nevertheless less crowded, with lower queues and potential even better deals when renting a hotel room.  While Paris is a very walkable city with many outdoor activities like the Eiffel Tower or Montmartre, it comes also with a huge range of indoor things to do. Especially art interested travellers will profit from visiting the Louvre, the Musée d’Orsay or the lesser known Orangerie.
Paris is also worth a visit in the weeks before Christmas. The Champs Elysées are illuminated with festive lights and several Christmas Markets are opening all over town. One of the biggest one is at La Defense. Apart from an excellent view on the Arc de Triomphe, La Defense hosts as well one of the biggest shopping malls around Paris, a great place if you’re missing a few souvenirs or Christmas presents.
A classical Parisian highlight during Christmas are the big department stores like La Galerie Lafayette or Printemps. Not only are their facades beautifully decorated, the window displays are showing different Christmas scenes with animated figurines, trains and wrapped presents – a must visit for every winterly Christmas stroll through Paris.
You might be interested in: 7 days in Paris and The best Christmas Markets in France.

 Ljubljana, Slovenia

Ljubjlana - Best European cities to visit in winter
Ljubjlana

contributed by Vrithi of Epicurious Passport

With such reasonably priced airfare on easyJet and Wizzair, Ljubljana is the perfect winter getaway if you live in Europe. Ljubljana is filled with amazing architecture, great food, plentiful bridges, quaint coffee shops and cheery Christmas markets.

Ljubljana is ranked among the most attractive European capitals with its December illuminations and Christmas fair. Each year from December to January Ljubljana is lit up in festive cheer. Not only is it lit up, it is known for the most original light displays. The Ljubljana Castle turns into a fairy tale-like setting.

The vibrant Festive Fair, which houses the Christmas Market, is a must visit. The Festive Fair, which includes numerous food and drink stalls, becomes the center of the city’s social life in December, while its nearby town squares turn into venues for countless free music. Spend the evening at the Festive Fair where you can sip on some Mulled wine and try some great sausages, all while listening to some great music.

Ice fantasy inLjubljana will add to the festive time, where visitors will be able to enjoy more than 2000 square meters of ice skating surfaces in the Zvezda Park. The Ice Fantasy is usually between the end of November and lasts till January.

If you are in the city for New Years eve, Ljubljana celebrates it in the public square with great pomp and show. If you are visiting after the festive season, the blanket of snow on the beautiful landscapes is a sight to behold. The picturesque Lake Bled, just an hour away, with the awe-inspiring views is a must do while in the area.

You might be interested in: Things to do in Ljubljana.

Bucharest, Roumania

Bucharest - Best European cities to visit in winter

contributed by Allison of Eternal Arrival

Bucharest is a great city in Europe to visit in the winter because many of the best things to do in Bucharest are indoors! I love passing the time in a cozy café serving up artisan style coffee — you can’t miss the delicious coffee at Origo, just outside the Old Town. Bucharest also has lots of hidden cafés and gardens which have cozy indoor rooms in the winter.
Serendipity Tea Room is another great place to while away the winter in a warm, comfortable place. Bucharest is also home to some of the best bookstores in Europe. You can easily while away half the day browsing through the titles at one of the locations of Carturesti, a famous small chain of bookstores in Romania.
The Carusel location in the Old Town is insanely photogenic, but the Verona location is even more welcoming and fun to spend time in on a cold day. There’s also a Christmas market in the winter, with plenty of hearty food, mulled wine, and handmade crafts. With covered Parisian-style arcades and the amazing, ultra-large Therme Spa just outside of the city center, there’s plenty to do in Bucharest in the winter and stay warm!

Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon. Best European cities to visit in winter
Lisbon

contributed by Cindy of Travel Bliss Now

Lisbon is the perfect winter time destination for those that want a break from wintry weather.  It’s one of the sunniest cities in Europe and, owing to its Mediterranean climate, the average high temperature is 15 degrees during the winter months.

This is a city where  residents continue to enjoy their espressos and pasteis de nata (custard tarts) at outdoor cafés all year round.  As an added bonus, the trees are loaded with ripe oranges from December through February, so be sure to have a glass of fresh-squeezed juice.  To complete your cold weather escape, take a day trip to Sintra National Park where you can take a leisurely walk in lush gardens or on a sandy beach.

Lisbon is becoming an increasingly popular city to visit in the summer months, but the crowds thin out nicely in winter.  That means you’ll encounter minimal, or no lineups for the main attractions like the Santa Justa Lift, which provides a panoramic view of the city.  It’s also easier to find a seat on the iconic tram number 28 that runs through the city, or to wander through the narrow, winding streets of Alfama, the oldest and a must-see neighbourhood in Lisbon. Delicious Portuguese food and wine are affordable year-round in Lisbon, but in winter, there are more hotel rooms available and at almost half the price you’d pay in summer.  It’s ideal for a last-minute winter escape.

Krakow, Poland

Krakow - Best European cities to visit in winter
Krakow

contributed by Sonja of Migrating Miss

Krakow is the perfect city for a European winter break. Even thought it’s chilly, there are plenty of ways to stay warm! You can sit outside the cafes on the main square next to a heater with a blanket and a hot drink, and enjoy overlooking some of the beautiful historic architecture.

If you’re there before Christmas, be sure to try the mulled wine at the Christmas market! But that’s not the only hot alcoholic drink on offer, you can also step into a pub and expect to see hot beer for sale too. The food in Krakow is delicious, and there are plenty of winter warmers to keep you happy between sightseeing. Try Borscht (beetroot soup) and Pierogi’s from Przypiecek, open 24 hours a day.

When you’re not eating and drinking, you can visit Krakow’s sites like Wawel Castle, and the museum that is in what was once the Schindler Factory. If you want to see more of the city, take a horse and carriage ride from the main square. You can also take a day trip to the Wieliczka Salt Mine. You won’t be any colder underground! Although it’s temping to avoid colder places during the winter, Krakow should be an exception.

You might be interested in: Things to do in Krakow and Krakow in Winter.

Pisa, Italy

Pisa - Best European cities to visit in winter
Pisa

contributed by Marcelle of The Wild Life

To see the leaning tower of Pisa after it appeared in so many comics and cartoon films during my childhood, was very exciting! My daughter and I, visited Pisa for a weekend this winter. Pisa lies beautifully embedded in the green foothills between the mountains of Tuscany and the sea. I was surprised of how much snow can fall in Tuscany while we drove from Milan to Pisa. We must have past at least five snowplows.

Pisa appeared much smaller and more unpretentious than I had expected. With temperatures below 7ºC, not many tourists went to see Italy’s famous monument which otherwise attracts gigantic crowds. Parking wasn’t a problem and just a few hawkers tried their luck. Even the queue to ascend the leaning tower was just a few minutes wait.

The climb to the top of the leaning tower is quite demanding. The stone steps are not easy as they have been worn down over the centuries. In winter, with fewer people visiting, you can admire the views from the top for longer. In high season, you better by your ticket in advance to skip the line, arrive early and not on the weekend.

It was great to finally see the famous landmark! I also liked the Cathedral and the Baptistery and was surprised how shiny clean and white all these ancient buildings contrast with the neat surrounding lawns. After leaving the Piazza dei Miracoli, visit one of the quaint cafés or restaurants in town to round off your experience the Italian way.

You might also be interested in One day in Pisa.

Rovaniemi, Finland

Rovaniemi - Best European cities to visit in winter
Rovaniemi

contributed by Natalie of Love and Road

If you are seeking adventure and unforgettable moments you next winter getaway must be to Rovaniemi in Finland. Pack your bags with warm clothes and be ready to explore the raw beauty of Lapland, the home of Santa Claus and Northern Lights. There are many awesome things to do in Rovaniemi, from cross-country ski, snow trekking, arctic safaris, visit reindeer farms, husky sled, meet Santa Claus, cross the arctic line and of course witness the stunning Aurora Borealis.
To enjoy the best of Rovaniemi you will need at least 3 to 4 days there. Winter is the best time to see the Northern Lights and my recommendation is to plan your safari for the first night in town. If you are not lucky on the first try you still have other nights to go hunting for the magical Northern Lights. There are many safari trips in Rovaniemi, activities that last the whole day or only a couple of hours, one thing is sure, you must try at least one snow sport. We did a fat tire mountain bike tour during sunset with a night ride over the frozen river, amazing but super tiring. After a long day enjoying the outdoors go to a Finnish sauna for a warm and relaxing time.
Rovaniemi is a small town and all the activities happen nearby, so you can do a lot in a long weekend or short holiday. There are plenty of hotels in town, from budget-friendly to super luxurious and glass igloos. We traveled to Rovaniemi in January and during the fours days we manage to do a lot and see the Northern LIghts two nights in a row, definitely an experience of a lifetime.

Seville, Spain

Seville - best city breaks in europe
Seville

contributed by Maegan of The Wanderlust Dietitian

Seville, Spain is the perfect winter getaway, especially since it is known as the frying pan of Spain. The city is in full bloom by spring time. From floral-lined streets to intricately designed bridges there is beauty everywhere.

My favorite spot in Seville is the Plaza de Espana. The plaza was built in 1928 and used in many cinema scenes and the size of five football fields! There are 48 alcoves with benches and four bridges which represent the four ancient kingdoms of Spain: Castille, Aragon, Navarre and Leon. The mosaics, tiles, ceilings, walls, and lamp posts were breathtaking in their Moorish forms.

For spring concerts and a break from the sun, check out the Metropol Parasol. This wooden structure has a rooftop walkway and is the largest wooden structure in Europe! Seville lights up at night with jazz halls, outdoor bars, and big screen TVs play the latest futbol matches! If you are a culture groupie like me, you will LOVE Casa de la Memoria for a night of live Flamenco dancing!

The sidewalk cafes and shops that trace each major street is the cherry on top to escaping to this beautiful city! Add this city to your winter city break bucket list!

You might be interested in: One day in Seville.

Lille, France

Lille - best city breaks in europe in winter
Lille

contributed by Hadas of The Fashion Matters

Lille, a beautiful city located in the North of France, makes the perfect winter break. From its popular Christmas market to its shopping and restaurant choices; Lille is a must visit destination for those who want to see more of France. Although often overlooked, there are many great reason to visit Lille, especially during winter.

First of all, Lille has a great transport connection with the rest of Europe as it is one of the stops on the Eurostar. This makes Lille easily accessible especially from Brussels, Paris and London. Secondly, Vieux Lille, the old part of the town, has a flamboyant architecture which is beautifully restored and is undoubtedly the most beautiful part of the town. It is filled with a great selection of restaurants, bars and boutiques.

During Christmas time, there’s a huge Christmas market and a big wheel at Lille’s main square the Grand Palace. Lille’s winter wonderland is guaranteed to be a great experience to everyone either you’re traveling with family, kids, alone or with a partner; Just sip on a mould wine and enjoy the atmosphere. If you’re into trying the local cuisines, the town’s delicacy are mussels which are sold at almost every restaurant in town. In addition, don’t miss a visit to the Palais des Beaux-Arts, a famous art museum in an impressive building.

Berlin, Germany

Berlin- best city breaks in europe in winter
Berlin

contributed by Margherita of The Crowded Planet

Berlin is one of my favourite cities in Europe, because there’s just so much to see and do! And call me crazy, but I think Berlin in winter is amazing. True, the weather in the city is not great in winter, but between museums, places to eat, historical buildings and even day trips out of the city, there’s enough to keep you busy on a rainy, chilly day. I’ve visited Berlin more than 10 times, at least 8 of those in winter, and I always find new things to do – some of my favourites are visiting Tempelhof airport inside, taking a tour of Berlin’s underground bunkers, visiting the Berlin Wall Memorial near Bernauer Strasse and spending a whole day at the Computerspielemuseum, playing retro video games like it’s 1989!
I am also a big foodie and I usually get super hungry in winter – and Berlin always delivers on the foodie front! Some of my favourite places to eat in town are Berlin Burger International in Neukolln, Silo Cafe in Friedrichshain for brunch and Thuringer Stube near Prenzlauerberg for traditional German food, a rarity in Berlin, perfect to warm you up on a cold winter day!
You might be interested in: 4 days in Berlin.

Lucerne, Switzerland

Lucerne- is great for a winter city break in Europe
Lucerne

contributed by Parampara & Parichay of Awara Diaries

When you think of Winter & Europe, the first country to pop up in your mind will definitely be Switzerland. This is bound to happen because this heaven on Earth is definitely a Winter Wonderland. But you might ask, what part of Switzerland is perfect for a winter getaway? Zurich, Geneva, Interlaken, Bern, they all are popular ones but Luzern (or Lucerne) is one of the most beautiful cities to be in for a winter getaway.
Luzern has a small town charm with big city facilities. Spending an evening near Kapellbrucke (Chapel Bridge) is one of the most romantic things I have ever done in life. Exploring the old town of Luzern is something I’d recommend for sure. Swiss Transport Museum is one of the best museums in the world & will take up an entire day of your stay for sure.
If you are interested in daytrips, you can go to Mt. Pilatus, Mt. Rigi or Mt. Titlis from Luzern. It is the perfect base for these excursions. You can also take up the Lake Luzern Cruise during one of the evenings to make the vacation even more memorable.
Pro tip for food: Do not forget to eat at Tibits which is located inside the Luzern Train Station.

Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

sarajevo - city in Europe perfect for a winter break
Sarajevo

contributed by Kami of Kami and the Rest of the World

Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, might not sound like the most obvious winter destination but let me assure you it is a fascinating place to visit, any time of the year. While summer might be hot and humid in the winter months you can enjoy Sarajevo comfortably. If you are lucky you can see the city under the snow – it looks magical, like from a fairy-tale!

Sarajevo is where the cultures collide, where East meets West, literally (look for a sign on Ferhadija street!). That’s also one of the most important cities in the history of 20th century Europe. In Sarajevo World War 1 started, the city was also under the longest siege in the modern warfare history (almost 4 years). Numerous scars will surely remind you about those tragic events.

As you might know Sarajevo was the host city of 1984 Winter Olympic Games and still it’s easy to find the remnants of that time around. But that also means Sarajevo offers some decent and affordable skiing options, especially at nearby Jahorina and Bjelasnica mountains. The newely (re)opened cable car to Mount Trebevic can take you in few minutes from the heart of the city up to high mountains.

Thanks to the location in the valley Sarajevo is also the city of great viewpoints and amazing sunsets. It can get challenging to walk up the steep street but the view is always rewarding. And once you get chilled to the marrow you can stop in either one of the small cafes to drink strong and thick as tar Bosnian coffee or at cevabdzinica to eat famous Sarajevian grilled meat.

Venice, Italy

Venice, european city break in winter
Venice

contributed by Michael of Mscgerber.com

Venice is without a doubt one of the most magnificent cities on our planet. Yet, the historical city tends to be overcrowded all the time. Crossing the Rialto Bridge without feeling the sweat of other tourists seems to be completely impossible, especially when traveling there during the most-visited summer months. However, there is an uncomplicated way to avoid this: Just visit the beautiful city of Venice during winter.

I spent a weekend in Venice last December after I already visited it some years ago during summer – what a difference. I could experience the magic city of Venice in its whole beauty – particularly early in the morning. The feeling to stand on an empty Piazza San Marco or to even stay on the Rialto Bridge for ten minutes – completely alone – is something I will never forget.

Another crucial factor to visit Venice in winter, at least in my opinion, is he possibility of witnessing snow. The snowflakes just add some more magic to a place that is already out of this world. I’m used to snow and still, seeing snow in Venice was completely different and I enjoyed it a lot. So, what are you waiting for? If you want to enjoy Venice without millions of tourists: go there in winter.

You might be interested in: 2 days in Venice.

Copenhagen, Denmark

Copenhagen - winter city break
Copenhagen

contributed by Brianne of The Lady Brianne

When I think about winter in Copenhagen, I cannot help but think of hygge, the Danish concept of warmth and coziness. The buildings are like gingerbread houses, the streets are cobblestone and there are little twinkle lights around trees and overhead as arches announce the Christmas Markets. Endlessly walkable and filled with kind faces, the city embraces those who stroll her old streets with the respite of warm interiors; teeny tiny shops to settle in for a coffee or hot chocolate, intimately lit restaurants with velvet curtains and the comfort of Nordic cuisine, stone churches built hundreds of years ago with enormous organs and sturdy handmade wood seating.
Enjoy the city from outdoors and you will find humble pleasures in the many neighborhood holiday markets. Working blacksmiths, handmade ornaments and Christmas decorations, sausages cooking over charcoal, warm mulled beverages, and Grød, a filling porridge that brings the feeling of hygge right into your belly.
The Danish are hearty and savor their treats in the open air and in doing the same, you will find yourself emboldened, suddenly believing yourself capable of withstanding a snow squall while sitting on a bench, now fortified by the treats you’ve ingested. The cold weather keeps visitors to a minimum and the city feels like a secret; you will likely encounter few fellow pedestrians as you follow the idyllic and uneven streets of stone to your next hygge experience.

Prague, Czech Republic

Prague - Best European cities to visit in winter
Prague

contributed by Claire of Tales of a Backpacker

Prague is an incredible city at any time of year, and is even more beautiful in winter.  Prague’s majestic architecture survived the two World Wars almost unscathed, and this already stunning city takes on a fairy-tale feel with a dusting of snow, and becomes even more mysterious as the morning sun peeks through the cloud and the mist swirls around the river.  Although the temperatures can drop to well below zero, come prepared with plenty of warm layers and your effort will be rewarded!  Prague is popular at any time of year, but visit Prague in winter when there are fewer tourists, fewer bachelor parties and prices are lower so you can get some great deals on accommodation.

Get up early to take photos of an eerily quiet Charles Bridge, and wander the old town as the snow crunches beneath your feet to feel like you’ve been transported back in time.  The cold weather is an excellent excuse to seek shelter in a warm bar or café, where you can sample Czech food like goulash and dumplings or cabbage soup, and of course the ubiquitous Czech beer.  Traditional Czech cuisine is hearty and warming, perfect to enjoy on a cold winter’s day.  Prague also has plenty of museums, art galleries and theatres to keep you occupied if the weather really is too cold to be outside, so Prague is one of the best cities in the world to visit in winter!

You might be interested in: What to do in Prague in 3 days.

Rome, Italy

Rome - Best European cities to visit in winter
Rome

contributed by Angela of Rome Actually

Provided that Rome is gorgeous every time of the year, it makes for a fantastic destination for a winter city break. Mild temperatures allow you to wander around the ruins of the ancient capital from the Colosseum to the Roman Forum to the Baths of Caracalla, while rainy days inspire you to visit its galleries and museums such as Galleria Borghese, Musei Capitolini and Centrale Montemartini, where ancient and modern are beautifully combined. The main beauty of Rome in winter is that, with the exception of the Christmas period, you won’t find the huge lines of the summer months.
Winter is also the perfect season to curl up in some cosy coffee shops, at a typical Italian bar for some good cappuccino and croissant, or at one of the many traditional restaurants such as Armando Al Pantheon, Flavio Al Velavevodetto, Sora Lella or Da Checchino dal 1887.
It goes without saying that visiting Rome during Christmas inevitably adds to the charm of the city. While the Vatican will be brimming with pilgrims and visitors both in St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museums, you will breathe the yuletide spirit also in other Roman neighbourhoods. Open markets are set up in many of the big squares and sell local products from the Lazio region or other parts of Italy, clothes, jewellery, Italian wool products such as hats, scarves and jumpers, homeware and anything that can become a nice Christmas gift.
You might be interested in: 5 days in Rome and Where to stay in Rome.

Porto, Portugal

Porto - Best European cities to visit in winter
Porto

contributed by Mark + Miranda of The Common Wanderer

Winter in Europe can be a magical time to travel; landscapes transform into winter wonderlands, there are less tourists to contend with, and the whole continent just gets a lovely cosy feel about it. But while many travellers opt to enjoy the quintessential snowy winter breaks like Christmas markets in Germany, skiing on the slopes of the Alps, and winter wonderland adventures in Scandinavia, what about those who are craving some winter sun? Enter Porto, a former port town on the River Douro in Portugal’s north. 

With an average winter temperature of 15c and glorious winter sunshine regularly, Porto is the perfect city for a weekend break where you don’t need to pack a suitcase full of thermals and scarves. Then, there’s the mouthwatering food, stunning vistas, slower pace, and unique culture – and the most brilliant sunsets over the River Douro and the iconic Dom Luis I Bridge! 

Spend a perfect winter weekend in Porto wandering through the twisting laneways of the historic Ribeira district, cosy up in one of the many wine bars and sample some famous port wine, jump aboard one of Europe’s oldest trams and explore the city, discover the incredibly unique architecture (including the bookstore that inspired JK Rowling!), and enjoy mouthwatering traditional dishes of grilled octopus at a riverside restaurant while the warm winter sun gives you some much-needed vitamin D therapy. A weekend in Porto is the perfect remedy for any winter blues! 

You might also like: 2 day in Porto.

Zurich, Switzerland

Zurich European winter City Break
Zurich

contributed by Arzo of Arzo Travels

Are you looking for a perfect city break for the winter? Then head to Zurich, Switzerland. Zurich is one the most popular travel destinations in Switzerland and if you ask me I can totally understand it. However, Zurich in winter is absolutely beautiful – whether you head to Lake Zurich, stroll along Limmatplatz, enjoy the view from Lindenhofplatz or head to the mountains – there is a lot to do even in the winter. If you are too cold and prefer spending your time indoors then you can visit one of the plenty of museums.

If you like Christmas shopping then you´ll surely find presents in the Bahnhofsstraße – the most expensive shopping street in the world. Just bring credit cards without limitations and or extra cash as Zurich is expensive. Before Christmas many areas are beautifully decorated – but it is not only fun to visit in December, but even afterwards.

Due to the excellent location you are within less than an hour at the Rhine Falls. While most people head to areas like Grindelwald or Zermatt for a winter break (where it is all about skiing) Zurich is also a perfect choice as popular skiing resorts are not too far away. Interlaken is about two hours by train or car- so if you do not want to spend a whole weekend skiing then you can do a nice day trip from Zurich.

Barcelona, Spain

Best European cities to visit in winter
Barcelona

contributed by Wendy of Empty Nesters

Our December visit to Barcelona last year was delightful!  We finally had the chance to visit all the lovely and historic sites we had read about.  Temperate weather, minimal crowds and several charming Christmas markets added to our experience.  For those considering a trip to this famous city I believe a winter visit will make your trip even better.

First and foremost, this city is less crowded in the winter.  If you are hoping for shorter lines at top sites, reasonably sized tour groups, and lower prices, then the months of December, January and February are ideal.  We were pleasantly surprised when we showed up for a guided tour of Gaudi’s Parc Guell and just one other couple joined us.  At Camp Nou, the home of FC Barcelona, there was absolutely no line for the museum and stadium tour.

Barcelona’s temperate winter weather is also a plus. Average temperatures range from 50 to 61 degrees fahrenheit with occasional rain.  I was told during our trip that Barcelona’s location on the Mediterranean Sea is the reason it typically experiences milder weather compared to other popular places in Spain.

And finally, if visiting before Christmas, the charming markets are an added bonus.  These markets are not as large and well known as those in France and Germany, but they are scenic nonetheless and worth some time to browse.  We visited Fira de Santa Llucia near the Gothic Cathedral and Fira de Nadal a la Sagrada Familia, which as the name suggests is across the street from the famous church. Barcelona has frequently been named as an “overtouristed” city, but that was not our experience when visiting in winter.  So if your travel schedule is flexible, skip the summer visit and come in winter instead.

Stockholm, Sweden

Stockholm- Best European cities to visit in winter
Stockholm

contributed by Christopher of Traveling Mitch

Stockholm is a city that isn’t easy to get to, but once you’re there you never want to leave. What many people haven’t grasped who haven’t visited is that it’s quite literally a collection of islands (14, to be exact) that forms Sweden’s capital. These 14 islands are connected by more than 50 bridges, and it’s quite a sight to see from out on the water. That would be my first tip for Stockholm, find a way to get out on the water – the bright facades of the houses will make it more than worth your trouble.

There are indeed plenty of sights to see. Gamla Stan, which is essentially the old quarter, is in brilliant condition and you could get lost in its narrow streets for days. The crown jewel, in my humble opinion, is a visit to the Vasa Museum. The Vasa Museum is one of its kind, as it portrays a perfectly preserved ship that sunk in the harbour in the 17th century.

It’s a city that is colourful and vibrant in all the right ways, and the cuisine is well worth a taste. The meatballs, as reputation dictates, are quite delicious, but the reindeer isn’t half bad either. With Stockholm, cosmopolitan meets antiquity, and it works in spades.

You might be interested in: 3 days in Stockholm and Winter in Stockholm.

Tromso, Norway

Tromso - Best European cities to visit in winter

contributed by Ryazan of Everything Zany

When it comes to spending a perfect winter city break, Tromso is definitely near the top of my list of destinations. Known as the Northern light city and the gateway to the Arctic region of Norway, Tromso will continuously amaze you on what it has to offer. The city has a little bit of everything for everyone whether you are into nature, sports, night life or museums.

A visit to the Arctic Cathedral is also a solemn experience. You can’t miss the cathedral in Tromso’s skyline because of its unique modern triangular architecture design.If you are up for a winter adrenalin rush, you can also go and do winter sports in Tromso.

Tromso’s winter transportation and public roads are also well equipped for the harsh winter conditions, Tromso even has heated pavements and underground road system that can enable you to travel around the city no matter how bad the weather gets.The main reason why Tromso is called the Northern Light city is due to the magnificent Northern Lights that blanket the whole city and the Arctic region with its glorious beauty. Polar Nights can also be experienced here in Tromso, which isanother winter phenomenon that only happens in the Arctic region where the sun never rises above the horizon and seems to always be night for more than a month!

Reims, France

Reims - Best European cities to visit in winter
Reims champagne vineyard views

contributed by Luke and Meagan of Two Restless Homebodies

At only 45 minutes away from Paris by high speed train, Reims is a perfect place to get away for a winter weekend – but you’ll feel quite at home if you stay longer. Because winter one of this area’s off seasons, AirBNBs and tour slots abound, and you and the locals will have the city to yourselves. Everyone is more relaxed without crowds of tourists around, so you’re more likely to get a taste of Reims culture and chat with locals as you duck into cafes to get out of the wind.

Peruse museums and one of France’s most opulent and historically significant cathedrals – Notre Dame de Reims – nearly alone, or schedule a tour to see Reims’ vineyards and champagne country, which are still spectacular, even in winter. Just a lovely, stay in town and tour Reims’ many champagne houses, like Taittinger, Veuve Cliquot, or Mumm. After all, nothing knocks of a chill quite like a delicious flight of brut champagne! Follow your tastings with a few Fossier rose biscuits, and you’ll truly have had a perfect Reims experience.

Or, if modern, city style is more your coupe de champagne, spend a day wandering around the Galeries Lafayette and Reims’ lovely outdoor shopping district – just be sure to bring (or buy as a souvenir) one of the big scarves currently fashionable in France to keep you warm if the “Beast from the East” decides to make an appearance. No matter your interests, you won’t regret a winter getaway to Reims!

Sofia, Bulgaria

Sofia, Best European cities to visit in winter
Sofia

contributed by Stephanie of Sofia Adventures

Sofia is a great place for a winter getaway since you can enjoy the beautiful views dusted with snow, but you can also enjoy winter sports. Since the city has its very own mountain, Mount Vitosha, you can actually go skiing or snowboarding while on your city break. The Cathedrals and churches here look especially beautiful in the snow, especially if there are beautiful winter clouds in the distance.
After outdoor activities, you can come back to the city, get dressed up, and enjoy a night on the town. Sofia is full of amazing restaurants and bars. Head to the rooftop bar at Sense for amazing views of Alexander Nevsky, then head to one of Sofia’s elegant, delicious, and inexpensive restaurants. A lot of people head to the Balkans to travel on a strict budget, but if you spend a tiny bit more you can enjoy a ton of luxury for a price that’s half of what you could expect in western Europe.
In addition to winter sports, there are a ton of fun things to do in Sofia, including fabulous museums and gorgeous street art. Make sure to spend time on Vitosha Boulevard, where every restaurant and bar has winter-friendly outdoor heated seating if you still want to people watch.

Bremen, Germany

Bremen is one of the best Best European cities to visit in winter
Bremen
contributed by Lia of Practical Wanderlust

Bremen, Germany is a German fairytale town we’d actually never heard of before we began planning our trip to Europe. It’s a bit off-the-beaten path, and you won’t find it on most “where to visit in Germany” lists. We decided to visit the medieval town based almost entirely on beautiful and charming photos and rumors of legendary, classic German Christmas Markets (confession: we actually plan quite a lot of our travels based on photos and food…) But despite it’s relative unknown-ness, Bremen is a must-visit stop on any trip to Germany in winter, particularly during the holidays! Bremen is a short hour and a half bus or train ride away from much larger Hamburg, Germany, making it a perfect day trip from Hamburg – but don’t limit yourself to just a day trip to Bremen. It’s definitely worth it to stay for longer.

Winter in Bremen is a magical holiday wonderland, filled with good cheer, delicious food and historic beauty. From the 1,200 year old Old Town with its stunning Rathaus (a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site), to the famous legend of the Bremen Town Musicians, to TWO amazing Christmas Markets (one of them is Medieval themed!), Bremen is full of winter charm and surprises. Be sure to spend a day exploring the entire Old Town by foot, so you don’t miss hidden alleys like the Museen Böttcherstraße or the Schnoor.

London, England

London is one of thr best Best European cities to visit in winter
London

contributed by David of Delve into Europe

London is a perfect city to enjoy a winter break because there is so much to do and see that you barely notice the (occasionally) inclement weather. And if it happens to be clear, crisp and cool, the city is magical during the long evenings and nights with so many buildings so beautifully lit up.

Winter is the ideal time to explore some of London’s multitude of museums. The British Museum alone has over 8 million artefacts, many obtained during the days of the British Empire. Across town, the trio of outstanding museums in South Kensington – the Natural History, Science and Victoria & Albert (V&A) could detain you for at least a day.

There is also an abundance of art galleries – the National Gallery on Trafalgar Square has so much to see that I used to limit myself to one section per visit.  The Tate Britain and Tate Modern are also among the world’s finest. London is also one of the best cities in the world for entertainment. The West End always has a great range of shows and musicals on, and it’s one of the best cities in the world to see live music as there’s always so much on.

The food is pretty marvellous too – the melting-pot of the city reflected in the diversity of its restaurants, from the tiny Vietnamese stall in Camden Market to Chinatown to the wonderful traditional Italian cafes to the curry houses and beigel bakeries of Brick Lane, there are so many places we’ve come to love.

Europe is a remarkable place to visit, even during the winter. The destinations mentioned above are some of the top cities everyone traveling to Europe during the winter should consider visiting. You’ll be able to explore not only the intricate cultures of each of these places, but do so at affordable rates and during less crowded times. Because of this, you’ll be able to experience Europe is a unique way during this chilly time of the year.

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