15 European Winter Wonderlands That Will Take Your Breath Away

Warm-weather lovers, this is going to be a post about amazing winter holidays. You can leave know and be forever doubting what you’ve missed. Or you can stay and let us change your mind… We are sure that after going through our slideshow of the best European cities to visit during wintertime, you’ll end up loving winter as much as we do… Or even more! #12, #10 and #1 are some of our favorites!

#15. Interlaken, Switzerland

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There’s no better city to top our list than the European sports capital. The city is located on a narrow strip of land between Lake Thun and Lake Brienz, and full of activities for you to enjoy during your stay.

Photo: Courtesy of John Yavuz Can

Did you know that there’s a train that takes you to the top of Jungfraujoch? If you decide to take this train, you will disembark at Europe’s highest train station at 3454 meters! Once you’re there you can visit the restaurants, the Lindt Swiss Chocolate Heaven, the ice palace, go skiing or sledging, and ride the elevator to the Sphinx Observatory for stunning 360° indoor and outdoor views, too!

#14. Copenhagen, Denmark

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Copenhagen is the birthplace of hygge (which is, basically, the Danish concept of “coziness”). Who wouldn’t want to be surrounded by that during their winter holidays? If you enjoy spending warm and comfortable holidays, this city has it all, from inviting hotels to pastry shops, there’s nothing you won’t enjoy.

Photo: Courtesy of Alfonso Calero

Outdoor activities lovers, don’t worry, we have something special for you, too! Michelin-starred restaurants, Tivoli Gardens, and canal views are waiting for you to visit them. Also, don’t forget to visit the worldwide famous Nyhavn. During the winter, the buildings there look extra colorful against a snowy background.

#13. Hallstätt, Austria

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With a perfect “storybook setting”, Hallstätt  is located on the shores of Austria’s Hallstätter See, also known as Lake Hallstatt. 12th-century churches, candlelit restaurants, and a market square are only some of the many attractions Hallstät has to offer. Not to mention, they become even more charming during the winter. Especially, when when the already-scenic Dachstein Mountains are covered with snow.

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Like many Austrian towns, this lovely village has several winter activities to offer. Skiing, snowshoe hiking, or taking a horse-drawn carriage ride. Also, there many beautiful places in which you can stay, which offer the most breathtaking panoramic views, and saunas and steam rooms where you can relax after a long day of skiing or sightseeing.

#12. Bruges, Belgium

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Not only is Bruges Europe’s best-preserved-medieval city, but also but one of the most charming, especially during the holiday season. Imagine wandering the cobblestone streets and looking up to find every tree and storefront filled with twinkle lights.

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After a long day of sightseeing or ice skating (or both!), nothing beats warming up with mugs of Belgian hot chocolate in historic Craenenburg Cafe, or simply relaxing by the fireplace. So… What are you waiting for? Start packing!

#11. Dublin, Ireland

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Céilí dancing, traditional storytelling, and a fire ceremony await you at Smashing Times City of Dublin Parade if you decide to visit Ireland’s capital during the holiday season. Around New Years Eve, Dublin hosts events like Luminosity and the world’s largest Celtic Drum session.

Photo: Courtesy of Janet Meehan

Know that we haven’t forgotten about you, night pub lovers! Cozy places with live music where you can enjoy a nice pint (or more, hehe) are scattered all over Dublin, waiting for you to visit them. As far as accommodation goes, can you believe that there are some hotels with an actual heated bathroom floor?

#10. Paris, France

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If Paris per se is an amazing destination to go to, can you imagine (as a winter lover) going there during the winter? Pure awesomeness! Parisians and tourists enjoy as the City of Lights becomes even more dazzling with thousands of lights on the Champs-Elysées and over-the-top Christmas displays at Galeries Lafayette.

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Whether you are walking across the Pont Alexandre III bridge or strolling through the gardens at Versailles, there’s nothing you won’t enjoy while visiting Paris. Seriously, where else would you have a hotel with its own upscale Christmas Market that sells everything, from roasted chestnuts to smoked salmon and caviar? (Yes, there actually is a hotel with all of that!)

#9. Venice, Italy

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Of course, Venice was going to make it into our list. If you love some peaceful and quiet moments, then winter is your ideal season to pay a visit. The city lives up to its La Serenissima (“The Serene”) nickname, as the canals are quiet and shrouded in mist and you can actually visit St. Mark’s Basilica without a stranger’s selfie stick poking you in the eye!

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Furthermore, most of the hotels offer discount rates, and with their in-room chandeliers you will definitely feel like you’ve entered a secret Venetian world!

#8. Edinburgh, Scotland

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Would you enjoy a three-day bacchanal celebrating the New Year, with outdoor concerts, fireworks, and dancing Scots? Yes? Then book a trip to Edinburgh and be part of Hogmanay Festival! Don’t enjoy partying much? Don’t worry, Scotland has got many more things to offer you…

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You can go shopping in the city, go skiing in Pentland Hills Regional Park or walk among the winter-flowering plants at the Royal Botanic Garden, and then end your day drinking a fine whisky at a one of the speak-easy-like bars in the city.

#7. Berlin, Germany

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Germany’s capital is mostly known for having more than 60 Christmas markets, including the picturesque WeihnachtsZauber, which is surrounded by incredible landmarks such as Französischer Dom and the Konzerthaus.

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In spite of being quite famous for the many Christmas markets, Berlin has so much more to offer:  Michelin-starred restaurants, a voracious nightlife with buzzing nightclubs, and a thrilling art scene featuring edgy museums such as the Pergamonmuseum or the KINDL.

#6. Budapest, Hungary

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There’s no better time to visit Budapest than during the winter.  To be able to see the Hungarian Parliament surrounded by ice drifts on the Danube is a one of a kind experience.

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After a long day of sightseeing, visiting museums, and the many, many grand cafes, thermal baths will be waiting for you to give you the ultimate relaxation experience.

#5. Lucerne, Switzerland

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This gorgeous city from Switzerland has everything to make you winter vacation more unique. Museum tours and ferry rides on Lake Lucerne.

Photo: Courtesy of Paul S. Bartholomew

Dozens of winter sport resorts feature many activities for you to stay in motion for your entire winter break: cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, snowboarding, and sledgingAnd the best of all, is that as a traveler you don’t have to worry about how to get to these hotels, because you can access them very easily, by train or bus.

#4. Vienna, Austria

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2018 was Vienna’s year. It was voted the best city in Europe on Reader’s Choice Awards. So… why not give it a try? The Austrian capital is the perfect scenario for your winter holidays.

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Watch free outdoor simulcasts of the opera and listen to classical holiday concerts. The city is not only packed with culture, but also with culinary experiences, such as hot chocolate and Sacher torte, a local treat you don’t want to miss!

#3. Prague, Czech Republic

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Oh, the beautiful Prague… Apart from featuring historic pubs and incredible Baroque architecture, no city matches its ability to transform into a winter wonderland.

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The city’s Christmas markets are some of the best of Europe. The main ones take place in Old Town and Wenceslas squares. When you go there, don’t let the Gothic architecture distract you from trying the trdelník (fried dough) and the mulled wine!

#2. Bergen, Norway

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From colorful wooden buildings to a scenic harbor, and sweeping views of the surrounding fjords, Bergen has all the makings of an idyllic Nordic village.

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The town looks beyond beautiful during the winter. Especially, because during that time, you get to view the elusive Northern Lights. We suggest you plan your visit from October to March, the best months to see the Northern Lights in Norway.

#1. Ljubljana, Slovenia

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This one is a real-life fairy-tale setting. If you visit Ljubljana during December, you’ll get to see the Baroque architecture surrounded by Christmas lights. However, if you are not so eager to be surrounded by large crowds, you can book a trip after the holidays, so you’ll have tons of room to freely stroll the pedestrian-only Old Town and sip coffee by the riverside cafes.

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To make the most out of your visit to this Slovenian city and to have the best day-trip experience, add Lake Bled and the Julian Alps to your itinerary.

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