Aside from icy roads and the incessant re-runs of Christmas movies, I love everything about the winter season. From the bare trees to the crunch of the grass as you step out on a morning, it’s by far my favourite time of year. However, as much as I love a good old English winter, spending a few cosy days in a picturesque European town, with warm drink in hand and local music all around me sounds a lot more appealing. I’ve put together a list of the best destinations across Europe for spending some time this winter, and why each of them are individually spectacular in their own right.
Budapest is the epitome of a European destination in winter. Sit outside in the hot thermal water of the gorgeous Széchenyi baths, luxuriate among the baroque walls and watch old guys play chess on floating boards. Or, why not visit the Turkish baths and chill out with a coffee and a chaser of the national drink, pálinka.
St. Petersburg, Russia
People enthuse about the “white nights” of midsummer Russia, but winter is the time for a truly white weekend with snow on the ground. The combination of pink skies and baroque and neoclassical architecture under a blanket of snow makes for a truly magical sight.
During the winter months, Paris bursts out of its sleepy autumn quiet and comes to life. Trees up and down the Champs-Élysées are strung with garlands of glistening lights as festive tunes echo through the streets. December is a very relaxed time in Paris, and the ideal time to meander around the city’s main attractions whilst sipping on some mulled wine. Perfect.
Edinburgh is world-famous for its Hogmanay celebrations, but the Christmas season in general in the city is one of the best winter experiences in Europe. Princes Street Gardens are transformed into a winter wonderland complete with a snowball arena and an ice rink. The German market is perfect for presents and mulled wine, and the fairground makes it fun for all ages.
Close to Bucharest, Sinaia is one of the most popular mountain resorts in the country, as well as the largest ski resort in Romania. Aside from winter sports, the town offers a wealth of historic, artistic and cultural treasures so you won’t have to travel far to see a fairy-tale like castle.
Reykjavik, the cool capital. Wrap up warm and take a trip to enjoy some of the striking natural wonders of this fascinating country. Travel through quaint towns and villages before the thrill of snowmobiling on the glaciers and skiing down the pistes. Of course, no visit to Iceland would be complete without a trip to chase a sighting of the incredible Northern Lights.
Medieval Bruges is simply stunning, and in the winter this charming town is even more picturesque. Bruges is filled with beautiful decorations, dazzling lights, and plenty of Christmas markets to keep everyone entertained. If it’s cold enough, you might even be able to ice skate along the city’s wondrous canals, and then duck into a cafe for a mouth-watering Belgian hot chocolate.
What could be better than the stunning city of Lucerne on the shores of a lake with breathtaking snow capped mountains? Enjoy the clear fresh alpine air as you walk along the promenade, taking in the sheer beauty of this wholly natural town. Why not hop on board one of the iconic Swiss paddle steamers and enjoy a cruise along the lake?
Are you visiting Europe for a winter break this year? Maybe you’ve visited one of our suggestions before… let us know!