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Winter season in Europe last from late November to February. These top winter city breaks in Europe will definitely drive the blues away!

Be ready for snow, ice, chilly to cold weather and of course, the best thing about winter, Christmas markets!

To help all you ladies pack for your winter break, check out my winter packing list for Europe.

25 WINTER CITY BREAKS IN EUROPE

#1 Canary Islands, Spain

The Canary Islands is a Spanish archipelago off the coast of Africa but it comes under Spain. It is an autonomous community though.

Would you believe me if I told you it’s actually warm here during “winter”?! Enjoy the warm weather on the beaches of this island. It is perfect for beach babies like me!

Special Factor

The warmth! Need I say more?

Image result for canary islands

Sights to See

The Canary Islands are made up of 7 main islands – Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura, Lanzarote, La Palma, La Gomera and El Hierro. Tenerife and Gran Canaria are the two most populous and popular islands.

So, you can pick one and spend the weekend leisurely soaking up some rays.

Getting There

You can check out Kiwi for great and cheap flight deals.

Ferries take quite a while to reach the islands from the mainland of Spain so unless you’re staying on the islands more than a week or two, you can skip this option.

Travel Tip: Fly to Madrid or Barcelona so you catch a cheaper flight to Canary Islands.

Festival alert!

Immerse yourself in Spanish culture and festivities if you visit in February as you’ll get to witness the Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife where colourful dance processions and floats parade through the capital city.

#2 Tallinn, Estonia

Tallinn and the Old Town have a charm of its own throughout the year but the place turns especially beautiful in the winter. The snow-covered cobbled streets and sheets of white covering building tops will remind you of a fairy tale setting. Here’s a glimpse of what it looks like.

Special Factor

Tallinn Christmas market and the Christmas experience with it

Sights to See

The Tallinn Christmas market is everything Christmassy that you’ll ever want. The city centre puts on display every year since 1441, a Christmas tree, making it the first-ever and oldest Christmas tree on display. You’ll even get to see Santa arriving by his reindeer-pulled sleigh.

Getting There

Tallinn International Airport is only 4km from the city centre. Half-hourly buses or trams will take you to and fro in 10-15 mins.

Rent a car while on the islands as it is the easiest way to get around.

#3 Rovaniemi, Finland

Hello Winter Wonderland! Finland is an epitome of all things festive – a lit Christmas tree, Santa Claus and his reindeer, the Northern lights and a slew of activities to choose from (mentioned below). Go ahead and unleash the inner child within you.

Special Factor

The Northern Lights, Arctic Circle and Santa Claus Village.

trees on field covered with snow during Aurora Borealis Phenomenon

Sights to See

Santa Claus Village is the star attraction and the epicentre of all the activity in the capital city. You can meet Santa himself and even ride his reindeer! Apart from this, you can choose among various activities like going around on a husky sled, skiing, snowmobiling and even try your hand at ice fishing.

Take the Northern Lights tour to chase the aurora.

Getting There

Santa Claus village is 8 kms away from the city and will take you 10-15 mins to get there. There are half-hourly trains and buses plying between the two. The Rovaniemi airport is right next to Santa Claus village (did someone say Santa’s personal airport?). So, once you land there you can even walk out of the airport and into the village.

While there, you can choose from a range of accommodation types near the Santa Claus Village. For a unique experience, you could book yourself a stay in one of the glass igloos that let you camp out in the snow and have glass tops that let you watch the Northern Lights from inside your “room”.

#4 Nuremberg, Germany

Would I even be a “local” if I didn’t list this here? But biases aside, the Christkindlesmarkt at Nuremberg is one of the most popular Christmas markets in terms of history and tradition. It is believed to date back to the early 17th century so that makes it one of the oldest too.

Personally, I love the Nürnberg Christmas market and it is my only favourite thing about winter.

Special Factor

Weihnachtsmarkt/Christkindlmarkt (Christmas market) all the way!

Places to See

I’ve visited the Nuremberg Christmas market about a week or so back and last year, so I can tell you first hand that it is beautiful and I fell in love with it. Nuremberg’s central square, the Hauptmarkt, is all lit up and there are traditional stalls everywhere selling specialties of the region. It was so gorgeous!

One of main traditions here is the commencement of the market with the parading the Chriskind, Christmas Angel.

While here, do try my personal favourite, Glühwein (mulled wine with rum), munch on a Bratwurst and savour a Lebkuchen.

Getting There

The Nuremberg airport, the second-busiest airport in Bavaria after Munich Airport, is 7.5 kms way from Nürnberg city and will take you 15-20 mins to get to. You can also opt for the underground U-Bahn which plies once every 10 mins and will take you to the city centre in 13 mins. From there, you can walk it to Hauptmarkt.

#5 Berlin, Germany

Another city in Germany that you could visit during the winter is its capital, Berlin.

December marks the start of Christmas markets everywhere and Berlin is no different. The city experiences VERY cold weather but everyone comes out to witness the city decked up in lights and stalls.

Special Factor

Weihnachtsmarkt/Christkindlmarkt or Christmas markets all the way!

Architecture, Landmark, Flag, Berlin, Bundestag, Snow

Places to See

Although there’s one at practically every corner, here are the top Christmas markets in Berlin:

The famous ones are the Alexanderplatz Christmas Market (Mitte) and the Winterwelt am Potsdamer Platz. Apart from these two, the Gendarmenmarkt Christmas market and the Lucia Christmas Market are favourites too.

Getting There

Berlin Airport and Berlin city are roughly 9 km apart. The airport has a bus station that takes you to the city in 23 mins and there’s a bus leaving every 6 mins. You can also take the bus to the nearest underground U-Bahn station and then take the train to the city which will take you 21 mins overall.

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#6 Munich, Germany

Another city in Germany that you could visit during the winter is Munich.

Although it has a tumultuous past, December is the time everything is forgotten and the festive mood takes over. The buildings seem like they were whitewashed because of the snowfall.

Special Factor

Weihnachtsmarkt/Christkindlmarkt or Christmas markets all the way!

winter city breaks in europe- munich

Places to See

Take a walk from Marienplatz to Peterskirche and admire the winter views.

I love the fact that you’ll find numerous bakeries that would make children and adults happy in Germany and Munich is no less.

If you’re a beer lover, Germany is known for its countless beer brands and one place you’ll absolutely love is the Hofbräuhaus München. It is a huge 3 floor beer hall dating back to the 16th century that houses a Bavarian restaurant, hosts performances and of course, you can gulp down beer all day long.

You can even try out a traditional dish called Käsespätzle.

Getting There

Munich Airport and Munich city are roughly 37 kms apart. The U-Bahn or S-Bahn trains will take you to the München Marienplatz station which is in the city centre in slightly less than an hour and there’s an S-Bahn train leaving every 12 mins. The bus journey will also be an hour approximately. If you’re taking a taxi the journey is done in half the time.

#7 Paris, France

Paris HAD to be in this list! Paris is one of those evergreen cities that looks wonderful in any weather and can be visited all year round.

Like they say, Paris is always a good idea.

Especially in the off-season as a winter break.

Special Factor

It’s PARIS! But seriously, less crowds at all tourist attractions should be reason enough.

winter city breaks in europe Eiffel Tower, Paris photo

Sights to See

The Eiffel Tower, The Louvre, Sacre-Coeur are all less crowded during the winter. The City of Love will be all decked up in winter looks like a model on the runway at the Fall/Winter Fashion Week.

Not to mention the Christmas markets and villages that Paris hosts. The top 3 that you can visit are:

The famous Marché de Noël at Notre Dame which is right next to Notre-Dame Cathedral and has a huge, decorated Christmas tree to help you spot it. You’ll find the signature identifier, Swiss-style wooden chalets or tents, lined up on the periphery selling all things Christmas.

The massive Le Village de Noël at Les Halles which is one of the biggest Christmas markets in Paris and has an Enchanted Forest to keep the kids entertained.

Then we have the Abbesses Christmas Market at Montmartre which offers panoramic views of the city so don’t forget to stop and admire the views.

There’s even a Champs-Elysées Christmas Market among so many others across the city.

Paris isn’t called the “City of Lights” for nothing. The streets and lanes are all covered in lights and will sparkle just like the Eiffel Tower each night.

Don’t forget to sip on vin chaud or hot mulled wine, eat roasted chestnuts and crepes and shop to your heart’s content.

Getting There

Paris is 35 km from the Paris Airport. It will take you 26 mins from the city to the airport and 33 mins vice versa by train. There’s a train that leaves every 9 mins from the airport and 12 mins to the airport.

#8 Colmar, France

This city has a mix of French and German influences since it’s near the German border.

My last road trip a few weeks ago was to Colmar and a couple of other towns nearby and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Pictured below are a few of many Instagram-worthy buildings that I chanced upon. Just imagine this fairy tale setting in winter!

Special Factor

Christmas markets

Sights to See

The cobbled streets of Colmar is all lit up for the festive season.

There are six Christmas markets in Colmar all linked via these illuminated cobbled streets and one more beautiful than the other. So much so that they’ve been voted as the most beautiful in Europe.

Colmar’s cuisine has a mix of French and German flavours so don’t forget to try some local cuisine. Don’t miss the local wine while here either.

Getting There

Colmar has an airport but it is not frequented a lot except by charters.

The closest airport to Colmar in France is the Strasbourg airport which is around 60 kms away and will take you about an hour to drive to or 35 mins via rail.

Colmar is 2.5 hours away from Paris by train.

If you’re in Switzerland, you can take a FlixBus from Basel which leaves for Colmar every 3 hours and takes roughly the same time as from Strasbourg, i.e. an hour, or 45 mins via train. Or a train from Zurich which will take you 2-2.5 hours to get to Colmar.

#9 Chamonix, France

If you’re an adrenaline junkie or love adventure sports, then Chamonix is the place to be. This alpine city got its fame when it hosted the Winter Olympics way back in 1924.

Special Factor

Snowboarding, skiing, other winter adventure sports

winter city breaks in europe france

Sights to See

Take in the views of Mont Blanc or even hike up trails to viewpoints that show you the highest mountain in the Alps and Europe.

Take a cable car to a viewpoint that will show you a 360° view of the French, Swiss and Italian Alps. There’s even a glass cage that you can step into, hanging over a precipice.

A gondola lift takes you from France to a point in Italy over the Glacier du Géant.

Getting There

The closest airport to Chamonix is the Geneva Airport which is approximately 100 km away or 1-1.5 hours. You can choose from an airport transfer, bus or even train (be prepared for train switches).

You can hire a car and drive from Geneva to Chamonix.

Lyon Airport to Chamonix will take you around 2-2.5 hours.

#10 Ljubljana and Lake Bled, Slovenia

The cobbled streets of Old Town in Ljubljana and the picturesque Lake Bled are sights to behold in winter. For a detailed itinerary you can read my one week in Slovenia article here.

Special Factor

Two beautiful places in one winter weekend trip.

winter city breaks in europe slovenia

Sights to See

Stroll along the banks of the River Ljubljanica, cross the iconic Triple Bridge and walk the cobbled streets of Old Town while taking in the view. Take a funicular to the hilltop Ljubljana Castle which was originally constructed as a 11th century medieval fortress and later rebuilt.

I’m sure you’ve all come across the picture postcard image of a lone island in the middle of a lake with mountains in the background and a church spire standing tall on it. That’s Lake Bled and Bled Island for you. You can head out on a day trip here from Ljubljana.

The onset of winter turns this postcard sight into an even more beautiful fairy tale-esque vision. The island is covered with mounds of snow atop the few establishments there and the alpine lake, with the Julian Alps serving as the backdrop, turns into a sheet of ice that you can walk or skate on.

Take a walk around the lake or, if the lake isn’t frozen over, take a row boat or the popular Pletna (hand-propelled wooden gondola) across the lake to the island.

The church on the tiny island is the Church of the Assumption of Mary. You can also visit the 12th century Bled Castle to get a panoramic view of Bled.

Getting There

From the Ljubljana airport to the city takes around 45 minutes to an hour by bus.

Ljubljana has hourly buses to Lake Bled or you can even go by train. The journey is about 1.5 to 2 hours, respectively, depending on which transport you opt for.

While there, pick one of the many options of accommodations close to the city centre for easy connectivity. The city centre is a pedestrian zone and the entire city can be covered on foot since it is small in size.

#11 Kranjska Gora, Slovenia

This winter sports town looks surreal when covered in snow and boasts of the best ski resorts in Europe.

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Special Factor

Ski resort and adventure activities

winter city breaks in europe

Sights to See

The resort is located in seven different municipalities of Kranjska Gora and is meant for adventure lovers. You can pick from the range of activities available like cross-country skiing, hiking, mountaineering, snowboarding and sledding. You can even try night skiing.

The resort has 18 different slopes with varying difficulties and also boasts of a Snow Fun Park within its premises. There’s even a snow-covered beach nearby.

You can visit the bordering Triglav National Park and go via the Vršič Pass to Soča Valley if you have the time. But I think you’ll end up spending all of your time trying out stuff at the ski resort.

Getting There

Kranjska Gora is a 30-40 mins drive from Bled and an hour’s drive from the Ljubljana airport.

#12 Prague, Czech Republic

Like I’ve said before, Prague is one of the best places to visit during the winter as it becomes a Winter Wonderland. The freezing temperatures might bring down your sprits a little but as soon as you see the prices everywhere and not very crowded streets, it’ll get your mood right back up.

It is also regarded as a romantic city and the winter season makes for the perfect romantic setting.

winter city breaks in europe prague

Special Factor

Charles Bridge and Prague Castle.

Sights to See

Take the Prague castle tour and get an aerial view of the city from the top.

Roam the cobbled streets of Old Town which are covered in snow and ice during the winter.

Prague is another city that is famous for its Christmas markets. You’ll find two of these here 5 mins apart by foot – one at Old Town, and the other at Wenceslas Square.

Getting There

Prague city is around 15 kms from the Prague Airport and takes 25-30 mins. The main station is 12 mins by train from the city centre.

Local transport is cheap but the city is best explored on foot.

#13 Seville, Spain

This Andalusian capital will leave you warm and fuzzy because winters are quite warm here. Famous for flamenco, its architecture and the bull fights, Seville will leave you wanting more of its weather and tapas post the weekend binge.

Special Factor

Giralda Tower, Real Alcazar of Seville and tapas

winter city breaks in europe seville

Sights to See

Walk the streets of Seville taking in the culture and architecture bursting through every corner. Or you can leisurely stroll through Plaza de España in María Luisa Park.

Climb to the top of the Giralda tower for a spectacular view of the town.

The Real Alcázar of Seville is Europe’s oldest Royal residence and a walk in its lush gardens will transport you back to medieval times.

Catch the nativity scene at the Seville Cathedral which is a 15th century in the heart of the city.

Take one of the many tapas trails or watch a Flamenco performance in one of the designated clubs.

Getting There

Seville Airport is located 11 kms away from the city centre and takes just short of an hour. A bus ride will take you around 30-35 mins. Spain’s capital, Madrid, is 3 hours by train from Seville.

#14 Crete, Greece

Crete, Greece’s largest island, is another region that is warm practically throughout the year since the climate is primarily Mediterranean. It does experience snowfall but only in the mountainous region. The southern part enjoys more sunny days and warmth than the northern part.

Special Factor

Warm and sunny weather, beaches

winter city breaks in europe greece

Sights to See

You can check out the Birthplace of Zeus, the Lasithi plateau.

Crete is a beach paradise so go soak up some sun and get all the vitamin D that you can. For this, you can head to Elafonisi Lagoon or Balos Lagoon. Both are about 1.5-hours’ drive away from Chania but in different directions.

Don’t forget to gorge on some delicious Greek cuisine while here.

Getting There

Crete Region has two main airports servicing the island – Chania International Airport servicing the west and Heraklion International Airport, the primary one, servicing the capital city and the central part of the island. There is a 3rd smaller community airport, Sitia Airport, servicing the eastern part but only seasonal charters land there.

Heraklion Airport is Greece’s 2nd busiest after Athens airport. The city centre is about 3 kms from the airport so it will take you 5-10 mins to get to the capital city.

You can also take a ferry from Athens to Crete.

Once at Crete, you can opt for the cheap and easy to use bus service. Or you can rent a car and explore the island on your own.

#15 Amsterdam, Netherlands

This Dutch capital turns even more wonderful during winter. The canal waters sometimes freeze over turning them into wonderland for skaters. The streets are covered with snow.

Special Factor

Winter Parade, ice-skating in front of a museum, fireworks display on New Year’s Eve

winter city breaks in europe amsterdam

Sights to See

Experience the magical Festival of Lights held annually from December to mid-January.

A cute tradition followed here called Sinterklaasavond is celebrated annually on December 5th. Think Christmas gift-giving but 20 days in advance.

Imagine ice skating in front of a museum. Towards the end of December, temporary ice rinks are setup across Amsterdam and the most popular one is around Rijksmuseum called Ice. A winter market with a number of stalls set up shop along the ice rink and events are held daily until New Year’s Eve.

Alongside this, the Winter Parade is another seasonal event that takes place in Amsterdam. A long table is setup inside Amsterdam’s oldest church, Zuiderkerk which serves as a stage and later as a banquet table for guests.

Don’t miss out New Year’s Eve in Amsterdam as the fireworks display completely takes over the night skies above Centraal Station, Amstel river and IJ bay.

While here you can also enjoy Amsterdam’s culinary scene.

Getting There

Amsterdam is well-connected by flights to and from major cities. You can check out Kiwi for cheap flights to Amsterdam.

Amsterdam airport is 20 km away from the city centre and will take you about 20 mins. A train ride is faster and will take you 6-10 mins with a train leaving the airport every 6 mins.

You can also opt for the Eurostar ride to Amsterdam if you don’t want to fly in.

#16 Salzburg, Austria

Salzburg is known world over for being the birthplace of prolific composer, Mozart and the ever-popular movie, Sound of Music. But this city has so much more to offer.

Special Factor

Salzburg’s Christkindlmarkt or Christmas Market

Sights to See

Salzburg’s Christkindlmarkt is another one of the oldies. You can head to Residenzplatz to see the décor, events and stalls that populate the place.

Keeping true to its musical roots and connections, local groups gather to put up a show called Salzburg Advent Singing every December. These traditional performances date back hundreds of years and is a very popular event around the area.

If you are musically inclined and love the Sound of Music, you can take a tour that visits locations around Salzburg where the movie was filmed. Or you can visit Mozart’s residence and dine while listening to Mozart’s concert.

Don’t forget to try the local specialities – the glühwein or mulled wine and lebkuchen or a traditional Christmas cookie resembling gingerbread.

Getting There

Salzburg Airport is the 2nd largest airport in Austria. It is located about 6 kms from the city centre and takes 20 mins to get there by bus or taxi.

Since Salzburg is closer to Germany, Munich is 1.5 hours away by train while the Austrian capital of Vienna takes 2.5 hours to get to.

#17 Vienna, Austria

The Austrian capital makes for a wonderful winter break. Vienna is host to another one of the popular Christmas markets.

Special Factor

Viennese Dream Christmas Market, Spittelberg Christmas Market and the décor of the city

winter city breaks in europe vienna

Sights to See

The Viennese Dream Christmas Market outside Rathaus or Vienna’s City Hall is very poplar one and a crowd favourite. Here you can go ice skating, eat cookies, listen to carollers (or join ‘em) and take in all the Christmas sights & sounds with the City Hall all illuminated as a picturesque backdrop.

Don’t miss the beautifully illuminated St. Stephan’s Cathedral at Stephansplatz (pictured above).

Visit the Schönbrunn Palace to see the architecture and learn about its history spanning 300 years. The Palace courtyard also hosts a Christmas and New Year’s market.

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Apart from these, there are multiple Christmas villages across Vienna.

Don’t miss experiencing the world-famous UNESCO cultural heritage, Vienna Coffee House Culture, especially if you love coffee. It’ll keep you warm.

Enjoy a Mozart Kugel while in Vienna.

Getting There

Vienna city centre is situated 20 kms away from the Vienna Airport. It would take you 18 mins by the Railjet or Railjet Xpress trains.

#18 Bruges, Belgium

This Belgian city has a charm of its own and will make your winter weekend memorable. Get transported back to medieval times as you stroll along the canal bridges and cobbled streets with pockets of snow sprinkled everywhere.

Special Factor

Christmas treats (chocolate) & enchanting medieval vibes (horse carriage rides)

winter city breaks in europe belgium

Sights to See

Visit the Grote market or market square in the heart of Old Town to shop at the Christmas market with a backdrop of the gingerbread house and cosy up in one of the pretty cafés.

Ride around in the horse drawn carriages along decorated fir trees and a beautifully lit city square.

The market square is also where you’ll find the Belfort belfry tower. You can climb up this tower’s spiralling staircase and the view will be well worth the effort and exercise.

Don’t forget to indulge in Belgium’s famous chocolate at the Choco Story Museum and frites (chips) at the Frites Museum.

Apart from this, you can also take a brewery tour and try out any of the hundreds of beers available.

Getting There

You can take the hourly Intercity train from Brussels airport to Bruges with one train switch which will take you approximately 1.5 hours.

Book your hotel accommodation in advance as Bruges is quite popular during December and everything fills up fast.

#19 Zagreb, Croatia

Zagreb is the capital of Croatia and it turns into a lovely sight during the winter. Cosy cafés, lit up streets and the happening nightlife will keep you busy throughout your winter break.

Special Factor

Advent in Zagreb, Christmas markets, Ice-skating park

winter city breaks in europe croatia

Sights to See

If you’re spending Christmas in Croatia, do check out the Christmas markets. They are a sight to see and they were voted as being the best in Europe for 3 years in a row – in 2016, 2017 & 2018.

Ban Jelačić Square in the city centre has the best of the lot. The lovely, charming stalls sell a variety of stuff that will make you pick up at least a few items from.

The Advent in Zagreb is a sight to behold and something special. There is something to do for adults and children alike.

King Tomislav Square has a large, open-air ice-skating park constructed every year right in the centre so hello winter wonderland.

If you’re in the mood to try a bit of skiing, Mount Sljeme, a popular ski resort on the edge of the city, is the place to head to.

Try the local cuisine while here. 

Getting There

Zagreb is about 15 kms away from Zagreb Airport. If you rent a car and drive to the city, it’ll take you about 20-30 mins. Sixt is a reliable site to rent a car in Europe and they have a lot of options as well.

#20 London, England

It would be a shame if I did this list and skipped out London. London sure knows how to Christmas! With the whole city lit up, angels and lights falling from the skies and rooftops, snowflakes and angels hanging on the streets and window displays depicting everything Christmas related, it mimics everything you feel during the festive season.

Special Factor

Light displays, lit streets, Covent Garden

Image result for london december

Sights to See

Covent Garden is a covered market that is famous for being a shopping spot. But for Christmas, this area gets into holiday mood. In December you’ll find huge Christmas trees, sparkly lights, shiny baubles, ornaments hanging from everywhere.

Carnaby Street is usually lit up with neon displays but the theme changes every year.

Hyde Park has a wonderful Winter Wonderland setup with roller coasters, an ice rink and stalls that serve you hot chocolate to keep you warm.

Don’t miss the angel looking from above on Regent’s Street (pictured above).

Getting There

London is a major city that is connected to all other cities very well, be it through flights or rail. To visit the above-mentioned spots, you have to fly into the popular and one of the busiest, Heathrow Airport.

The places mentioned above are about 25 kms from Heathrow Airport and will take you roughly 40 mins by rail. While Gatwick is 67 kms away and will take you 1.5 hours by rail.

#21 Porto, Portugal

Porto is known world over for its wine – the original Port wine, and you can finally have it at its birthplace.

Special Factor

Port wine tasting at wineries

Image result for porto portugal winter

Sights to See

Walk along the banks of the Douro river wrapped in thick coats and boots.

See the Dom Luís I Bridge from one of the riverside benches.

Stroll down the alleys of Ribeira where you’ll find a bunch of photogenic spots next to pastel-coloured houses.

Visit traditional spots or tascas (taverns) to indulge in wine, lots of it! And food!

Getting There

Porto Airport is 13 kms away from Porto city and will take you 15-20 mins to drive to.

#22 Budapest, Hungary

Imagine this: The weather is chilly, you’re covered from head to toe to prevent a frost bite, everything around you is white and fluffy like the clouds and the next thing you know, you’re taking it all off to enjoy a hot water spa.

Ah the dream and the feeling!

Budapest might just turn out to be your best and favourite winter break after this experience.

Special Factor

Széchenyi Thermal Spa

winter city breaks in europe : budapest

Sights to See

Your first and last stop in your weekend itinerary should be the Széchenyi Spa. It is an outdoor thermal bath with several pools and a special rooftop pool from where you can see the Danube and the city around you.

Do try some Hungarian dishes, mulled wine or the Hungarian national fruit brandy “pálinka” and top it off with a hot chimney cake.

And if you’re interested in the Christmas market, there’s one right in front of Saint Stephen’s Basilica with an ice rink in the middle. They even put on a laser show on the walls of the Basilica.

Budapest also has numerous cafés with lovely festive decorations setup.

You can visit the ruin bars at night with the famous Szimpla ruin bar even decorated in a theme.

Getting There

The Intercity Express will take you from the airport to the city centre in 30-45 mins covering roughly 22 kms and the frequency between the trains is 15 mins.

#23 Krakow, Poland

Krakow is a well-preserved medieval city near the border of Czech Republic. The expansive Rynek Glówny (market square) turns lively during the winter to brighten up the atmosphere.

Special Factor

Christmas markets, St. Francis Basilica nativity scene

Kraków, Cloth Hall Sukiennice, Architecture, Monument

Sights to See

The Christmas market has Krakow’s artisans and locals selling their produce and wares in colourful wooden stalls that line the market.

Catch the traditional winter activities like the Cracovian Christmas Crib Contest.

The Kraków szopka or nativity scene at St. Francis Basilica on Christmas Day is an annual event enjoyed by many.

New Year’s Eve night calls for celebrations and that’s what you get at the market square. The locals gather around the market square and countdown together. There are free concerts held that evening to entertain everyone who comes there. You can even experience the free New Year’s Eve party held at Tauron Arena.

You can have the smoked meats, gingerbread, chew on some spiced cookies, sip on mulled wine flavoured with cinnamon and warm up with some hot chocolate.

Getting There

Krakow city centre or market square is 18 kms away from the Krakow Airport and is a 20 mins drive. The train will take you there in 40 mins with a switch in between.

#24 Oslo, Norway

Oslo, Norway’s capital, is known to be the happiest city in the world. The residents find it blissful and the tourists love the hospitality. Situated along the edge of the Oslofjord, this green city is also where the Nobel Prize awards are given from.

The city is quite popular and crowded during the summer but it becomes more beautiful and less crowded during winter breaks although it is slowly gaining popularity.

Special Factor

Christmas market, Holmenkollen Ski Jump

winter city breaks in europe :oslo

Sights to See

November marks the beginning of the Christmas market, Jul I Vinterland, when Oslo turns into a winter wonderland. This Christmas market is held in the square outside the 19th century Royal Palace.

You can ride on the Ferris Wheel, skate on the ice rink and try some delicious Norsk (Norwegian) cuisine in one of the many food stalls setup there.

You can even try the smaller markets on the outskirts of the city.

You can take a boat tour of the beautiful white Oslo Opera House and catch a performance on it.

Make sure to try the Holmenkollen Ski Jump located 10 kms from the city. Although this place is open all year round, during the winter they let you rent a sled and ride it down the 2 km track.

You can view the sunset from the wooden boardwalk at Huk beach. And don’t forget that during the winter the sun sets very early and you’ll lesser hours during the day.

Getting There

Oslo Airport is 50 kms away from Oslo city which takes less than half an hour and there’s a train leaving every 20 mins. If you’re renting a car, it’ll take you roughly 40 mins.

#25 Venice, Italy

Venice is one of the best winter breaks you can take during the end of December. You’ll enjoy New Year’s Eve here. I kept this for the end as there’s no better place to be at the end of the year.

Special Factor

New Year’s Eve

winter city breaks in europe: venice

Sights to See

On New Year’s Eve, head to Piazza San Marco nice and early as the place starts to fill up by 9 or 10 pm. The Italian city of love will leave you charmed and you’ll start the New Year on a lovely and memorable note.

Everyone gathers here to listen to the musicians playing melodious tunes right until midnight. And the icing on the cake is that sometimes Bellini gives out small bottles of bubbly so that you can ring in the New Year in style.

Fireworks light up the Italian skies and everyone wishing each other “Buon Anno!” whether you’re a friend, family or a stranger.

Getting There

Venice Airport is 13 kms away from Venice city. The ride from airport to the city will take you roughly half an hour. If you rent a car, which I highly recommend to explore the city, the journey can be covered in half the time.

So, there you have it! 25 of my favourite winter city breaks in Europe. Let me know in the comments where you plan to go!

Top winter city breaks in Europe, Pinterest image for top europe destinations to visit in the winter


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