Europe has something to offer travellers all year round, but winter brings with its own unique experiences. One perk is that overall tourism tends to decline, leaving you free to explore the sights without the usual hustle and bustle of the Summer. Prices also tend to be cheaper but if your budget doesn’t quite reach, many sites offer fast financial help. If you’re thinking about travelling to Europe this winter, here are our top 10 destinations for you to consider.
1) Paris, France
Despite political mud-slinging, Paris remains a safe and hugely popular destination for tourists – especially those looking for a romantic getaway.
It holds this appeal regardless of the time of year, but there’s a certain charm about getting wrapped up warm on a crisp winter evening and exploring the sights with your significant other. From stately museums to elegant cafes, Paris offers a relaxed pace. It’s even better in the winter when you can avoid most of the crowds.
2) Prague, Czech Republic
Prague in the Czech Republic is an increasingly popular city and has developed a slightly more conservative-Amsterdam reputation, in that its places of vice are definitely there, but you won’t know from looking at the outside.
Of course, it offers a lot more than that. Castles, underground restaurants and over-ground street food, modern cafes, outdoor ice rinks, and a beloved Christmas market, are just some of the things to add to your to-do list. But remember, it really does get cold!
3) Rovaniemi, Finland
It doesn’t get more Europe, Winter, and Christmas than Rovaniemi in Finland – one of the ‘official’ homes of Santa Clause.
If you want a sleigh-ride through the snow to a grotto in the middle of the woods, at sub-zero temperatures, to meet the man himself, then this is the place to visit. There’s also an interesting science centre on forestry and at the right time, you can also see the mysterious Northern Lights!
4) Abisko, Sweden
Spectacular views of the Northern Lights are also available from Abisko, Sweden, which is pretty much the farthest North you can reach in Europe by train. Skiing, Husky Mushing, and simply exploring the snowy nature of the national park trails will take up the rest of your time.
5) Athens, Greece
Everyone should visit Athens at least once in their life to experience the ancient landmarks, such as the Acropolis and Parthenon, and we believe winter is the best time to do so. Not only will you avoid the sweltering heat, but you’ll also avoid the masses of tourists that can at times spoil the view.
6) Amsterdam, Netherlands
Amsterdam’s attractions stay open all year round but can be a lot cheaper in the winter – so that’s the perfect time to visit one of the most popular cities in Europe.
Yes, there are ‘coffee shops’ and a bustling ‘red light district,’ but there is also amazing architecture, quaint boutiques, museums (including Anne Frank House), and a beautiful canal that you can cruise.
7) Seville, Spain
The old-world ambience of Seville is worth experiencing at any time of the year, but the Summer heat can be a little overwhelming. The cooler winter months allow you to take in the Gothic Cathedral (site of Columbus’s tomb) and Alcazar castle complex in comfort. You can also check out seasonal attractions, such as their buzzing holiday markets and nativity scenes.
8) Budapest, Hungary
In Budapest, winter is highlighted by an enormous outdoor ice rink at the Városligeti Műjégpálya, Central Park. After skating arm-in-arm with your lover, why not visit the Szechenyi thermal baths, which are open all year round, for some heated swimming and luxury pampering?
9) Jasná, Slovakia
If you want a luxury skiing trip at a reasonable price and without the usual pretentiousness, then Jasna in Slovakia is the place to be. You can also visit the famous Ice Cave or hike the beautiful Tatras Mountains.
10) Venice, Italy
One of the staple destinations of travellers to Europe, Venice remains popular thanks to its unique canal, Renaissance and Gothic palaces, and an endless list of landmarks and attractions. February is an ideal time to visit in the winter as you will catch the masked Carnevale, which is like something out of Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut.
As you can see, despite the common wisdom to travel to the sun in winter, Europe offers some great experiences – some only available during the winter months. Have you travelled to Europe during winter and have some of your own favourite destinations? Let us know in the comments below!