Warm drinks, hearty food, and elegant outfits. Honestly, who doesn’t love the winter feeling?
Thinking of that, we put together a list of the 30 best winter destinations in Europe to inspire your trip in the next season.
How you experience winter in Europe can be very different depending on the place you’re going – Norway offers a real snowy winter; on the other hand, Tenerife has one of the best winter suns you can find. Curious now?
Yes, this article has winter destinations for all tastes.
So no excuses not to spend next Christmas in Europe and check one of these cities off your bucket list.
Read on and let yourself get inspired!
In today’s post we’ll talk about:
- Dublin, Ireland
- Lisbon, Portugal
- Bucharest, Romania
- Berlin, Germany
- Vienna, Austria
- Ghent, Belgium
- Tromso, Norway
- Belfast, Northern Ireland
- Amsterdam, the Netherlands
- Valetta, Malta
- Cairngorms, Scotland
- Montpellier, France
- Edinburgh, Scotland
- Paris, France
- Glasgow, Scotland
- Luxembourg City, Luxembourg
- Rome, Italy
- Faro, Portugal
- Ljubljana, Slovenia
- Istria, Croatia
- Venice, Italy
- Budapest, Hungary
- Fuerteventura, Spain
- Munich, Germany
- Tenerife, Spain
- Riga, Latvia
- Warsaw, Poland
- St Petersburg, Russia
- Prague, Czech Republic
Best Winter Destinations In Europe
1. Dublin, Ireland
If you follow our blog, it’s not a secret we’re completely crazy about Ireland.
That’s because they have excellent beer, tasty food, green-hued landscapes, and lots of mystical places to be discovered.
Granted, it rains a lot in Ireland, but with the right gear and packing list, you’re good to go.
We recommend spending a couple of days in the city and then venturing on one or two day tours from Dublin.
Oh, and if you want to feel a member of the royal family, spend a night in one of their fabulous (and some pretty affordable) Irish castle hotels.
2. Lisbon, Portugal
Why go to a cold place when you enjoy a winter sun destination in Europe?
Lisbon is high in our list of recommendations because of the local atmosphere – it’s so laid-back!
It rinses the soul. You should try it.
Besides, if the weather won’t warm you up, the city’s hill will. So here goes our best Lisbon travel tip: wear good walking shoes regardless of the season.
3. Bucharest, Romania
Bucharest is an underrated gem in Europe.
The Romanian capital has countless reasons to be a perfect winter destination and to be an ideal Christmas in Europe spot.
Starting by the hearty food, warm locals who will enthusiastically tell you more about their country’s history, and affordable activities.
Moreover, Bruna went on a day trip to among others, the Bran Castle and Brasov, and she completely loved it.
But her favorite Romanian castle is surely Peles. Once you see it, you’ll understand why.
She went there in January so the castle was surrounded by fluffy, white snow. It was magical.
4. Berlin, Germany
Berlin is a hipster, lively, cool, and affordable place to visit in the winter.
We were surprised to see many cafes and venues had unique underground styles, hip crowds, and fair prices.
German beer is worldwide famous, so that’s how we managed to stay warm in the city. 😉
Also, while in Berlin, we decided to go to Sachsenhausen, a nearby concentration camp museum, and we highly recommend a visit there.
The stories you hear there together with all historical war spots you see throughout the city and country are seriously moving.
5. Vienna, Austria
We say Vienna is Budapest’s fancier sister because the architecture – at times – made us think of Hungary’s capital.
Although Vienna is one the expensive side, the city is worth the investment as it is jam-packed of beautiful buildings and good venues.
Also, Vienna’s Christmas Markets are one of the best in Europe. Our favorite one is the market in front of the city hall. The whole setting looks like a fairytale movie.
6. Ghent, Belgium
The compact medieval city of Ghent, with its cobbled streets and fairy-tale charm, is often overlooked by travelers who make a beeline for Bruges.
But increasingly, more travelers are discovering its quaint canal-side architecture, edgy art scene, and quirky bars.
Time your visit between the winter months of November and January for the Gentse Winterfeesten, a Winter Festival embracing all things Christmassy and cold:
- sparkling light displays
- traditional festive markets selling both local and international foods as well as craft treats
- an ice-rink under the City Pavillion
- an ice grotto to meet Santa
- thrilling fairground rides
- a giant Ferris wheel affording panoramic views of the city and beyond
Take a visit to Gravesteen during the festival and you will see rooms of the medieval castle, which showcases weaponry and torture devices, transformed into a Winter Wonderland with balloons on the ceiling, piles of presents and snow scenes.
We were visiting Ghent with kids (aged 1 and 3) and we particularly loved the medieval dungeon transformed into a tranquil Christmas setting complete with carols and Christmas Tree.
As you walk around the city center, pick up a hot chocolate or waffle from a street stall to warm you up. You will smell the waffles before you see them!
Jenny at TraveLynn Family
7. Tromso, Norway
Tucked inside the Arctic Circle in Northern Norway, Tromso is not the most obvious choice of place to visit during the Winter.
You might be surprised, though, to learn that the climate in the city is not too cold, with average temperatures of 6 degrees Celsius in December and January.
The days are very short during the winter, and the sunsets at around 3 pm, which might be a little confusing for your body.
Tromso, however, is the ultimate destination for those who love the winter and especially the Northern lights.
It has the Northernmost university in the world, so the city has plenty of young people and bars to visit at night, and its small size makes it easy to be explored walking.
The local tourist office offers many options of tours around the area, like visiting Sami tribes, seeing reindeers, skiing and tours to chase the Northern Lights and go around driving your own snowmobile, which is a fantastic experience, crossing frozen rivers and waterfalls.
Needless to mention, if you’re lucky to see the Northern Lights when you’re there, those magic dark green stripes that dance through the night sky will be a once in a lifetime experience!
Like the rest of Norway, a trip to Tromso can get expensive, so previous financial planning is advised. The Polar Museum is also worth a visit and the city is pretty safe for female solo travelers. It can be reached by flights from Oslo.
Leticia at Happee Travelers
8. Belfast, Northern Ireland
Belfast, in Northern Ireland, is amazing! During winter, it’s magic.
First of all, there are many festivities, from Christmas, New Year’s, Valentine’s, to St. Patrick’s Day (17th of March). Belfast is a great place to see it all!
It’s best enjoyed during the winter due to the low season. This means fewer crowds everywhere and some pretty sweet deals all around! It is cold, though.
Belfast is right around the middle of the country, making it a great base while in Northern Ireland.
And if you like Game of Thrones, there are many filming locations within an hours drive.
During the weekends, there’s St. George’s Market with lovely food and live music. It was a great break from the cold outside.
And, of course, there’s the Titanic Museum because. Why not? For people with kids, there’s The Gruffalo walk and the many, many museums. The Transport Museum was very highly rated.
Thais at World Trip Diaries
9. Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Possibly one of the most unstable weathers in this list, Amsterdam has a quite interesting winter. Some years it gets icy and the canals freeze. In others, it can reach 15ºc around Christmas.
There is no way to predict what the temperatures will be like, but one thing is for sure: there is a bunch of things to do in Amsterdam!
The museums in the city are amongst the best ones I’ve ever visited: Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh, and Moco Museum. The latter showcases the artwork of Banksy and Andy Warhol, among other big names.
Food-wise, the traditional Dutch Apple Pie will certainly cure your winter blues. Dutch food isn’t very famous worldwide, but I can assure you, they have some delicious dishes in Amsterdam that are perfect in cold weather.
But don’t worry, you can easily go on a day trip to another Dutch city and taste their regional treats. Either way, I’m sure you’ll love it.
Read next: Romantic things to do in Amsterdam
10. Valetta, Malta
When winter arrives and you crave the sunshine, consider taking a trip to Valletta, Malta. This small city is the most southerly capital in Europe and enjoys sunny days year-round.
As a country, Malta sees very little rainfall and temperatures in January are the lowest, yet still on average around 16 degrees during the daytime.
This winter sun destination is small, with just one international airport, Luqa. It is serviced by low-cost carriers and so another great reason to visit is the low cost of flights.
Valletta itself was declared the European Capital of Culture 2018 and offers visitors many things to see and do.
The streets are narrow and cobbled, with interesting architecture that transports you into the past. With a strong Italian influence, food is a big part of Maltese life, with amazing pizza and gelato to be found all over the capital.
For a quick snack, pick up some pastries from one of the many local “pastizzeria”. You can take boat rides around the harbor and surrounding areas easily and for reasonable prices.
For those wishing to relax, take a stroll through beautiful Upper Barrakka gardens and be rewarded with great views. Or perhaps you wish to find a secluded spot next to the ocean and soak up some precious winter rays!
Demi at Around The World With Her
11. Cairngorms, Scotland
Winter in Scotland is a magical experience, as the crowds have all but gone, and the air that moves over the heather-hewn hills and moors is cold but quiet.
The cozy town of Aviemore, sitting just on the western edge of Cairngorms National Park, is the perfect place for a winter getaway.
The Cairngorms, Scotland’s largest natural park, is known for their natural beauty and adventurous activities, and wintertime provides no exception. From Aviemore, the Cairngorm Reindeer Centre is an easy drive into the mountains and is a must-visit.
The Centre hosts the only free-roaming reindeer herd in the country, and there are opportunities for the Centre’s guides to take you up on the hills to see these beautiful creatures in person.
Times of operation do vary in the wintertime, so be sure to check their website for more information.
Just a bit further up the road, Cairngorm Mountain sits high among the hills, where you can ski and snowshoe numerous trails. Keep an eye out for ptarmigans in their snow-white winter plumage blending into the snowy hills, a rare and thrilling sight.
Aviemore hosts dog sledding activities in wintertime, and after a day full of adventure, you can pop over to the Cairngorm hotel for a warm beverage by the fire whilst listening to live Scottish music.
Don’t miss the fresh fish and game dishes at The Old Bridge Inn or the Winking Owl, and have a taste of Asher’s Bakery’s meat pies or sausage rolls.
To experience feeling truly royal, visit Blair Atholl Castle for the holidays, as they offer Christmas fairs, banquets, and even Santa’s grotto. You’ll love spending winter in Scotland’s stunning Highlands!
Christa at Expedition Wildlife
12. Montpellier, France
Montpellier a city in the south of France may seem more like a summer destination than a winter one, but don’t let that discourage you. Montpellier is the PERFECT winter destination in Europe. “Why” you ask?
Firstly, because there is so much to see and do! Whether it’s the winter markets (Les Hivernales), the incredible light shows or watching the Open Sud de France (Tennis) there is always an event on.
When you’re not watching an event? Wandering around the spectacular city, exploring the scenery and trying out local cuisine is the best way to spend your time.
Being a south coast city, Montpellier has a fusion of France meets the Mediterranean not only in the mild and pleasant Winter climate but in their delicious meals too.
But, If you’re searching for a local bite, Montpellier has no single specialty dish. Instead, Montpellier possesses a culinary culture filled with fresh fish, goats cheeses and fresh seasonal vegetables.
During Winter, Montpellier becomes a lot less touristy, meaning you can roam freely away from crowds and large groups. However, it does become more studenty.
With over 50% of the population under the age of 35 and being one of the highest-rated student cities in France, you can guarantee the Winter nightlife will be just as appealing as the summer.
Breanne at Brie-Anne
13. Edinburgh, Scotland
One of our favorite winter destinations has to be Edinburgh. The cold, wintery days provide the perfect mood for exploring the ancient buildings, and streets that weave their way through the city.
There is something about walking the cobbled streets, wrapped up in your winter clothes, that really adds to the atmosphere. Our recommendations include a visit to the Scotch Whisky Experience.
For starters, a few drams of whiskey is a really good way to keep those winter chills at bay. The Edinburgh Castle is also a must-see, especially for first-time visitors.
One of the best things to do, however, is to book yourself onto a ghost tour. We went on a tour that took us through Greyfriars Kirkyard which is apparently one of the most haunted places in the city.
Wrapped up in our winter best, we trudged through the graveyard with only a torch to light the way. The frosty winter air adds to the chilling atmosphere of the tour.
For food during your Edinburgh stay, we recommend trying a deep-fried Mars Bar. This artery-clogging delicacy invented in Scotland might just beat haggis on the weirdness scale.
And of course, all those extra calories will help with the cold weather. Mind you we certainly don’t recommend having more than one!
Lizzie at Wanderlust and Life
14. Paris, France
Paris in the winter is an absolute delight: crisp air, smaller crowds, and tranquil beauty that hangs over the city all give winter in Paris an extra special atmosphere.
While the gardens won’t be blooming and you’re likely to see more clouds than the sun (though, such is life in Paris!), winter in Paris also means:
- ice skating in front of the Eiffel Tower (because Paris is always a good idea!)
- sipping hot chocolate at cafes
- admiring Christmas decor in the beautiful cathedrals (remember, Paris is the city of love)
- warming your hands with delicious crepes bought right on the street
- the opportunity to get lost in Paris’ many museums without feeling guilty about staying inside
Besides, accommodation in Paris is much cheaper this time of the year.
Winter in Paris is also the perfect time to see a show–whether that’s checking out the opera, hitting a club like the famous Moulin Rouge, or simply checking out one of Paris’ several classic movie theatres, Paris has options for every taste.
While winter weather in Paris is typically cold and often wet, temperatures remain fairly mild and snow is rare–so bring a warm coat and some cozy boots!
Wandering the streets of Paris in winter is just as magical as in the summer, if not more so, and it is an experience well worth having at least once.
Kate at Our Escape Clause
Read next: What to do in Paris in 4 days
15. Glasgow, Scotland
(To the tune of 12 days of Christmas…)
On your second trip to Scotland, add Glasgow to your itinerary…
Sure everyone sings about Scotland’s capital, Edinburgh with its Old Town and Harry Potter locations but Scotland’s biggest city is where the action is at.
Street art murals, hipster bars, and an excellent music scene, Glasgow is great all year round but really shines come December so consider it for your next European Christmas break.
George Square, close to the main shopping drag, Buchanan Street, turns into a Winter Wonderland with rides, stalls, and decorations.
A second Christmas market can be found at St Enoch’s Square because one is never enough! Gifts from independent makers can be purchased at Sloan’s Market, Merchant Square Craft Market, and BAAD Glasgow.
Glasgow’s vibe is that the ‘people make Glasgow’ so supporting locals is recommended.
The official lights switch-on takes place November 18th then the festive month is filled with pantomimes (oh no it isn’t), music and a mad Santa dash (five thousand Santas running for charity!)
Gemma at Two Scots Abroad
16. Luxembourg City, Luxembourg
Luxembourg City is definitely one of my favorite destinations in Europe, and I think in winter it’s a great place to be. Even though it is a capital city, it’s so small you can easily go around on foot, and there’s a lot to see and do.
The city center is UNESCO-listed, and just a short walk away you’ll find the Chemin de la Corniche, a scenic walk over the former city walls with great views on the lower city and river valley, and the Bock Casemates, a series of tunnels and fortifications dug into the rock atop which the city was built.
A cold wintry day is also ideal to check out Luxembourg City’s best museums, like the National Museum of History and Art with various kinds of exhibits ranging from archaeology to paintings, and the Museum of Modern Art (MUDAM), completely decorated by artists.
Winter is also perfect to enjoy some tasty Luxembourgish food, which is usually hearty and meat-heavy, or have a sweet break at the Chocolate House, right opposite the Grand-Ducal Palace, with lots of cakes and hot chocolates.
There’s also a lovely winter festival called Winterlights, with ice rinks, lights and Christmas Markets all over the city – a wonderful way to enjoy the holiday season in Luxembourg!
Margherita at The Crowded Planet
17. Rome, Italy
Walking around the cobblestoned streets of Rome is truly a magical experience.
It’s like taking a step back in time, and every turn you make you’ll discover another beautiful moment, charming neighborhood, or gorgeous church.
The entire city is like a free museum, and I think the best time to visit is during the colder winter months! “Why?” You might ask.
Well, because it is so much less crowded, and makes for a much more pleasant sightseeing experience.
Rome is undoubtedly one of the most popular cities in the world for tourism, which makes summer a rather hectic time to visit.
So, take it from me — plan a winter weekend in Rome and check out the Pantheon, Spanish Steps, and iconic Colosseum with very few other tourists around! You can thank me later.
Dave at Jones Around The World
Read next: Romantic things to do in Tuscany
18. Faro, Portugal
With over 300 days of sunshine every year, Faro is a fantastic place to whittle away a few days, week, or months in winter. The city is hands down the best winter sun destination in Europe!
Faro is the largest city on the Algarve, a region that’s known for its beautiful beaches, warm weather, and laid-back lifestyle.
Although Faro is quite far on the Eastern side of the Algarve, it’s still possible to get anywhere on the Algarve fairly easily: even Aljezur on the Western Algarve is just over an hour by car.
You also have the benefit of being close to the Spanish border, perfect for visiting places like Seville, Jerez, and Cadiz, and you’re close to the Algarve’s only airport as well (Faro Airport).
While it’s too cold for swimming, it’s still worth paying a visit to some of the Algarve’s many beautiful beaches. Praia de Faro is the nearest beach to Faro City Centre, but many locals prefer to visit less crowded beaches like those on Ilha da Deserta.
In the evenings, it’s worth checking out some of Faro’s restaurants to try local Algarvian and traditional Portuguese cuisine.
Local dishes include frango Piri – Piri, oysters from the nearby Ria Formosa, and javoli, and there are also plenty of other national dishes like bacalhau, leitão, and cataplanas that deserve a place on your foodie bucket list.
James at Portugalist
19. Ljubljana, Slovenia
You must have already heard about the magical city of Ljubljana, Slovenia, about its colorful Disneyland-like houses, small-town charm, and laid-back atmosphere.
Maybe you have already visited the city and were totally amazed by it, because, who wouldn’t… Whether you have been to Ljubljana or not, wintertime has one great reason for you to come back – the Christmas lights and markets.
If Ljubljana looks magical during the year, in winter it changes into a surreal fairytale-like city. Every year, the first weekend of December has a special happening – turning on the Christmas lights.
They were designed years ago by various artists and the city recycle them every year, changing the composition and placement a bit, so it’s actually always different.
I remember the feeling, entering Preseren square from Copova street and getting the first glance of the Christmas lights, always wondering what they changed this time.
Stroll through the old town and enjoy the Christmas lights decoration. Search for angels, geometrical shapes, planets, and falling stars.
Stop by the many cute wooden stands to buy mulled wine or small gifts – the city center is full of them and they will amaze you with the originality and variety of handmade articles.
And most importantly, don’t forget to take pictures, they will warm your heart for many winters to come.
Tereza at Czick On The Road
20. Istria, Croatia
The fresh truffles here are divine. The winter yields us the seasonal mushrooms such as fresh white truffles, winter black truffles, and noble black truffles.
Can you imagine treating yourself to such expensive and wonderful truffles? It is truly a once in a lifetime experience.
After you get done dining in style and luxury, consider booking yourself a wellness day at one of the spas all around Northwestern Istria. You can relax and melt your stress away in the sauna or try an Ayurvedic massage.
You can experience a real Turkish Bath, too! You can also consider getting a bike and cycling your way around Istria for good exercise and the opportunity to see some great scenery. You might consider cycling around Novigrad, where cycling paths are well-maintained and easy to follow.
You can start at the Novigrad Peninsula, for example, and follow the path all the way down to the town of Dajla. This goes right along the coastline, and you can see the sea in all its beauty.
For a nice indoor activity, consider Groznjan-it has 20 art galleries and studios for your viewing pleasure!
There are also plenty of gorgeous hills around the surrounding area, too-they look lovely in any season. Make sure to spend some time visiting Istria in the wintertime!
Kaila at Nylon Pink
Andorra is a great destination in the winter for ski lovers. It is very affordable and not very well known, which is great as you will never have to wait in long queues at the lifts.
You can also combine your holiday with a short city break as there aren’t any flights to Andorra. You can fly to Barcelona and then take a transfer bus, which takes about 3,5 hours.
Grandvalira is the largest resort in the country with 210 km of slopes. This many ski slopes will keep you busy during your time in the country. Everyone will find a slope for their ability.
The resort has many equipment hires and lockers, so it is very easy and convenient to organize your holiday. If you are a beginner you can book skiing lessons, they have many English speaking staff.
If you are not really into skiing there are several hiking trails you can explore or you can try snowshoeing. If an active holiday is not really your thing, then you can visit a beautiful spa and just relax.
Don’t forget to try some delicious Andorran specialties. Sausages, cured ham and cheese are very popular!
Eniko at Travel Hacker Girl
22. Venice, Italy
Venice is one of the best winter destinations in Europe, and winter is one of the best times of year to visit Venice.
Venice’s biggest problem is overcrowding, but not during winter. It’s the quietest time of year, so you get to miss the crowds (or not).
You can often have the prime spots in Venice, like St Mark’s Square, all to yourself. Especially if you visit those spots first thing in the morning or late in the evening.
Without the crowds, Venice is so much more magical. In winter you can wander the labyrinth of lanes and alleyways without seeing a soul, or sit in the front of a vaporetto down the Grand Canal and savor the experience for yourself, rather than having to jostle in crowds to get on and off.
Winter is also the one time you can get some fantastic accommodation deals in Venice. So, rooms near San Marco that would cost over €500 a night in high season can be snapped up for as little as €100 in mid-January.
It seems odd to have to pay the lowest price for the best experience, but that‘s what you get visiting Venice in winter.
Faye at Delve Into Europe
23. Budapest, Hungary
Budapest, home to fairytale architecture, exciting nightlife, thermal baths, and mouthwatering cuisine, shines year-round. Visiting Budapest in winter, however, is nothing short of spectacular.
The cooler months reveal Budapest’s panoramic views all dusted with snow. Matthias Church, St Stephen’s Basilica and Parliament Building look magical when sparkling with frost.
Plus, the colder months give you a reason to step inside these famous buildings and view their stunning interiors.
Ice-skate at City Park where the lake transforms into Europe’s largest outdoor ice rink or escape the chill by languishing in Széchenyi Bath, one of Budapest’s hot thermal spas.
Rejoice in the cooler weather as an excuse to experience hearty Hungarian cuisine. Sample the national dish of gulyás (goulash soup), pörkölt (stew) or töltött káposzta (stuffed cabbage).
Wander Central Market Hall and drink like a local with a shot of Unicum, a herbal liqueur. Warm up at a historic Budapest café with a coffee and traditional cake, such as Dobos torta or Esterhazy.
Stroll the many Christmas markets, sip mulled wine or taste a hot Chimney Cake (kürtőskalács) straight off the coals. At the end of the day, head to one of Budapest’s ruin bars to keep those winter temperatures at bay.
Marie at A Life Without Borders
24. Fuerteventura, Spain
When you think about great winter destinations in Europe, beaches probably won’t come to your mind. Nevertheless, there are certain areas that belong to Europe where the climate that allows people spending time on the beach even at Christmas.
The beaches in Fuerteventura, one of the main Canary Islands in Spain, are for instance a perfect place to enjoy a non-typical European vacation in winter.
Amongst the Canary archipelago, Fuerteventura has the largest extension of picture-perfect sandy beaches that will instantly take you to a paradise.
The golden sand beaches situated near the large sand dunes of the Corralejo Natural Park or the white sand beaches around El Cotillo in the Northwest will make you feel in the Caribbean.
You can also explore the Jandia Natural Park situated in the small peninsula on the South.
In spite of great winter temperatures and many hours of sunshine, there can be quite windy days (as the name of the island actually indicates), which is a great option to practice water sports.
There are facilities to teach you the basics of kite-surf or paddle surf, and you can easily rent all kind of equipment.
Fuerteventura has great has flight connections from Continental Spain, Germany, and the UK, and you can also get there easily by ferry from Lanzarote Island.
Gabor at Surfing The Planet
25. Munich, Germany
The capital of Bavaria, Munich seamlessly combines old European charm with modernity. It’s a city full of history and arts. Ornate palaces, baroque churches, and world-class museums keep visitors busy.
Highlights include the old-world Marienplatz (main square), the jaw-dropping Residenz, and the Neue Pinakothek with its Impressionist paintings. Not to mention, enjoying celebrations at the famous beer hall, Hofbrauhaus.
With convenient mass transit and a city center that’s easy to explore on foot, winter is a wonderful time to visit. Crowds are few. The temperature rarely dips below freezing.
So, you can still take a stroll around town. But, if the snow is falling and temperature dipping, there’s plenty to do indoors. And, it also hosts several festive Christmas markets in December.
Besides being a cultural center, Munich acts as the gateway to Bavaria. This charming region in southern Germany is a fantasy landscape bursting with mountains and castles.
Bavaria is said to be the most beautiful area of Germany. And, I agree. Plus, seeing the region covered in snow adds an extra touch of magic making it an unforgettable place to explore. It truly is a winter wonderland.
April at The Unending Journey
Read next: 20 magical Christmas markets in Europe
26. Tenerife, Spain
Looking for a decent winter sun holiday in Europe? Well, Tenerife is just around the corner from the UK and a short flight away.
While your friends will be complaining about the cold and snowy weather, you can enjoy yourself on the hot, white sandy beaches of Tenerife, Spain. Doesn’t that sound like the perfect plan for winter?
Tenerife is the largest island of the famous Spanish Canary Islands. Today, it is one of the most popular winter destinations because not only are the beaches beautiful, but the food and weather are simply amazing.
In addition to all these facts, Tenerife is surprisingly affordable, and you can easily enjoy a quality restaurant meal within your budget!
Avoid the miserable weather in Europe during winter and check yourself into the Hotel Botanico and The Oriental Spa Garden.
This spa retreat has stunning views of Tenerife, amazing facilities for adults and children and the rooms are beyond your ordinary hotel rooms. Great value for money.
It is the perfect location to forget about all the stress. All in all, you can enjoy a relaxing winter vacation in the warm island of Tenerife. Once you start going on beachy winter holidays, you’ll never want to spend winter at home again!
Michelle at Greedy Gourmet
27. Riga, Latvia
Riga is the capital of Latvia, where many historians believe that this is the place where the first Christmas tree was erected back in 1510. The Baltic states have gained more and more popularity as a holiday destination in the past years.
During winter, there are many things to do in Riga such as visiting castles and historical museum.
However, the best thing to do is to enjoy the Christmas market where you can find great winter food that is popular as winter food such as hot Laima Chocolate and Riga Black Balsam and of course to give ice skating a twirl.
Latvians are also a fan of hockey, if you are as well, watch a game and cheer with the locals. While you can also pamper yourself and check out the Latvian saunas in the city.
If you are worried about accommodations and its prices, there are plenty of affordable hostels in Riga, most of them are located in the Old Town which is perfect.
Mary at A Mary Road
28. Warsaw, Poland
In our opinion, Warsaw, the capital of Poland, is one of the most underrated cities in Europe. It has everything you expect from a European capital: loads of history, staggering beautiful architecture, activities to last you for months, delicious food, and much much more!
While it is true that summer in Warsaw is sunny and charming, there is something even more of alluring to visiting during the winter. The Old Town is emptier and, if you are lucky, covered in cinematic snow.
There are plenty of museums to explore when it is too cold outside, and countless cute cafes to visit as you make your way along the city.
Polish food is also made for winter, with warm and comforting dishes – our favorite is Pierogi, but there are many others to try!
Some of the must-visit attractions include the reconstructed Old Town (the view from the St. Anne’s Church Tower is magical!), the Lazienki Palace and Royal Park, the Wilanow Palace and Gardens, and the Warsaw Uprising Museum – but there’s much more to see and do in Warsaw!
Learn more about how we fell in love with the city during our Erasmus in Warsaw.
Maria and Rui at Two Find A Way
29. St Petersburg, Russia
St Petersburg is called the “Venice of the North” for one reason, it’s canals and small alleys are very similar to the ones in that city.
As it’s very up north, this water canals freeze out every winter and snowfalls over the streets, parks, and buildings. This gives St Petersburg a dreamy look like it was just taken out of a fairy tale.
Although the days are cold and short, traveling to Saint Petersburg in winter is a must-do during your life.
They are really used to low temperatures, so you will not be cold on the inside, and with a good coat and thermic clothes you will be fine to enjoy the city, it’s museums like the famous Hermitage in the Winter Palace, and skating on ice in the canals and lake.
Don’t hope to get on a boat tour, as they do not work in this season. But you can still visit the parks, which will be covered with snow but still so beautiful.
Don’t forget to try Russian food. In winter, they eat mostly soups like the Borscht, a soup usually made with beef broth, beetroot and some vegetables; all garnished with some sour cream.
Alejandra at Universo Viajero
30. Prague, Czech Republic
Prague is a wonderful city to visit at any time of year, but it becomes simply magical in winter.
Although the temperatures often drop below freezing, any snowfall makes Prague even more beautiful, and in winter the crowds are much less so you can enjoy wandering around the streets of the old town in peace – as long as you wrap up warm!
Prices are often lower during the winter months too, so bargain hunters can get great deals on tours and accommodation. Besides, the top sights of Prague won’t be so crowded.
In December, Christmas Markets fill Old Town Square, Wenceslas Square, and Peace Square, and stalls appear around the castle as well. Keep warm with some tasty winter food and drinks like Medovina (honey wine) or hot chocolate.
While you’re in Prague, don’t miss the view from the Old Town Hall clock tower, and a walk up to Prague Castle will keep you moving!
Charles Bridge is best visited first thing in the morning for photographs, especially after a snowfall so it is worth an early morning wake up call.
If the weather takes a turn for the worst, there are plenty of museums to visit in Prague such as the National Film Museum, The National Gallery, and even the Apple Museum which has over 450 Apple products from 1976 to the present day.
Claire Sturzaker at Tales of a Backpacker
So, which one of these winter destinations is your favorite? Is there any other you would add to this list? If so, which one?
Drop us your answers in the comments. We’d love to hear from you!